It’s easy to tell ourselves that we puny humans couldn’t possibly be affecting the earth’s environment.
We do affect our environment. That’s the bad news.
The good news is that while we have the power to harm our environment, we also have the power to improve our environment!
On 10/10/10, Western New Yorkers are invited to join people from around the world to tackle a project to “cut carbon and celebrate climate solutions.”
That invitation comes from 350.org, a group whose mission is to inspire the world to rise to the challenge of the climate crisis. The group chose its name because scientists say the safe limit for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is 350 parts per million. Unfortunately, we’re now over the limit with 390 parts per million.
350.org lists several ideas you can do as an individual or as a group to help decrease carbon in the atmosphere. One idea is helping in a community garden. You may have a community garden in your own neighborhood. If you don’t know of any community gardens, join the folks at Buffalo ReUse who have garden workdays on Wednesdays and Fridays.
If you’re interested in starting a community garden, check out Grassroots Gardens of Buffalo. It is a community gardening program in Western New York working with public and private sectors to revitalize neighborhoods and build quality of life through the reuse and beautification of vacant land.
You could also get a group together to plant a tree. Planting trees is fun, friendly, and a great way to engage the community, and each one you plant will be a little carbon-sequestering machine for years to come.
An unusual activity is a free workshop on modern-day straw bale construction technique. Bales of straw, which serve as as insulation, are incorporated as a permanent part of the structure.
The project is the renovation of a 180-year old barn at Singer Farm Naturals in Appleton (near Olcott) in Niagara County. You may watch or participate in stacking locally sourced straw bales to form an insulating wrap around the old barn.
The event will be held from dawn to dusk on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 9 and 10 at the Eco Barn, 6730 Lake Rd., Appleton. (On Lake Road you’ll see a sign for Singer Farm and what looks like a house, but go past that to get to the red Eco Barn).
The event is free, but attendees must pre-register by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. You may attend either or both days.
Tom and Vivianne Singer Szulist, owners of Singer Farm Naturals, were looking for space to use as a retail outlet for their dried fruit and other products. They also wanted a building to use as an education center on green practices and reducing our carbon footprint.
The barn was on the verge of being demolished. Instead, Tom and Viv decided to use it for their educational and retail space, renovating it using green building techniques. In the process, they’re preserving interesting architecture. In the photo at left, you can see the old ceiling beams, still covered in bark. Those beams may be made from American chestnut, which is now rare.
The renovation itself provides the first lessons to be taught at the education center. People who attend the straw bale workshop will see how the bales are dropped into place. When the string binding the bale is cut, the straw expands to fill the area. It makes great insulation.
“It’s a very renewable resource,” Tom added.
While using straw as insulation would seem to be fire hazard, the straw is packed in so tightly that there is not enough oxygen available for it to burn, Tom explained. Proponents say it actually offers good protection from fire.
Other local activities include:
- The Green Buffalo Run to raise awareness of green issues. The run will be held from 9 a.m. to noon Sunday, Oct. 10 at the Jewett Entrance of Delaware Park. There is no registration, no timers, no starting gun, no water stations; just an opportunity for a great run with friends.
- Bike Ride/Walk to the Ralph for Global Day of Climate Action. Bills fans across Western New York will be riding bikes and walking to the Buffalo Bills home game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
- Waterworks in Lyndonville.The goal is to set up an Energy Exchange Resource Center at the library for local residents to get information and assistance on renewable energy projects. From 1o a.m. to 4 p.m. on Oct. 10, attendees will plan and gather materials for the Resource Center, assigning tasks to maintain the Center for the community. Bring materials, prototypes of renewable energy projects and information. Refreshments will be available.
- Campus Cleanup. Students will clean the campus and separate recyclable material all day on Oct. 10 in Sanborn.
- 350 Day of Action at Fredonia State College. Activities will be held from noon to 7 p.m. on Oct. 10. They include a phone-in regarding an EPA ruling on coal ash and bottom ash as hazardous waste; an eco-art show/activity that involves making art out of recylced products and trash; a bug walk along Canadaway Creek; a display of 350 species living in Fredonia, and a carbon footprint quiz/questionnaire.