Monthly Archives: September 2008

Recent News of Note

mobilepreview.jpg

Trip highlights river ecology, history

“When you think of the Savannah River you think of the ports and the issue of harbor deepening and you’ve heard about (nuclear power) Plant Vogtle,” Neal said. “You think it’s going to be an industrial corridor, but really it’s an isolated wild river. That’s what makes those issues vital. It’s a great viable wild river right at our back door.”

Read more of Mary Landers’ story in the Savannah Morning News here.

Bill Dawers: Whitaker Street, growth, city’s future shape

“… despite several years of ambitious private investment, Whitaker is in bad shape. In part, this is because of its role as a high-speed, two-lane, one-way street with no parking buffer. Longtime readers know my solution to the problem: Make Whitaker a two-way street. But there are a number of other ways to calm traffic and improve quality of life. Lanes could be narrowed, sidewalks could be widened and made accessible, crosswalks could be added, and appropriate landscaping and lighting could be installed.”

Read more of Bill Dawers’ story in the Savannah Morning News here.

Don’t pitch those incandescent bulbs yet

“People seem ready to jump on the green bandwagon, but some may be a little too eager. Maybe before we all run out and buy new Energy Star Appliances, organic cotton sheets and compact fluorescent bulbs we should stop and think about the consequences for a second. Don’t get me wrong, I will always be the first to say that we must reduce our energy consumption, our dependency on oil or improve the quality of our living and working conditions. However, let’s make sure that is what we are doing.”

Read more of Jason House’s story in Connect Savannah here.

Organic guru extols virtues of sustainable gardening

“His Farmer D Organics brand, based in Savannah, is on the lips and in the gardens of the elite. Billionaire entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson wants him to develop an organic farm at his exclusive New Jersey spa. Actress Jennifer Garner thinks his turnips ‘rock.’ Rolling Stones’ keyboardist Chuck Leavell and Atlanta adman Joel Babbit just signed him to a deal on their environmental Web site, Mother Nature Network.”

Read more of Katie Leslie’s story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution here.

Image source: Shorpy, the 100-year-old photo blog.

Sustainability Fair and Farmers Market in Statesboro

Sat. October 25, 9am-noon at 2 E. Main in Sea Island Bank Parking lot. Rain date Sat. Nov. 1, 10-2, Georgia Southern Botanical Garden in Statesboro. The event will include:

  • Information about sustainable living, vendors with “green” products.
  • Local and organic and produce.
  • Blood drive to sustain life.
  • Face painting, wildlife and more

Sponsored by: Georgia Southern University College Office of Sustainability, College of Science and Technology,Averitt Center for the Arts, Statesboro Downtown Development Authority, Convention and Visitors  Bureau, Chamber of Commerce, Georgia Southern Botanical Garden

For more information, contact Lissa Leege.

Dump the Pump

Mayor Otis Johnson will headline the next Dump the Pump event on Friday, Oct. 3, when he leads a group bicycle commute into downtown Savannah.

The first ever Dump the Pump Convoy will depart from the Habersham Village shopping center and end at the corner of Bull and Broughton streets, where the Mayor will dedicate the first in a series of bicycle racks the City is installing throughout downtown Savannah.

With high gas prices and continued supply uncertainties, more and more people are turning to alternative forms of transportation. Anyone can join the Bike Convoy, which will be guided by experienced cyclists from the Savannah Bicycle Campaign. The group event is a way to introduce bicycle commuting to people who might be interested in riding to work but unsure of routes or intimidated to start out alone.

The Convoy will leave Habersham Village at 8:15 a.m., and meet up with a second group led by the Mayor gathering at Baldwin Park at Atlantic and 41st streets. The Convoy will then ride north on Lincoln Street, ending at Bull and Broughton streets, where free coffee and bagels will be served.

Mayor Johnson will lead the press conference there beginning about 9 a.m. He will highlight a plan to roll out a series of bicycle racks through downtown — part of a broader strategy to ease traffic and parking congestion downtown, as well as promote the Mayor’s Thrive initiative, which promotes environmental sustainability, and Healthy Savannah 2012, which promotes healthy living.

This will be the fourth “Dump the Pump: Leave Your Car at Home Day” held in Savannah since April. The events are intended to raise awareness about the benefits of using alternative modes of transportation and to encourage residents to commute by carpooling, mass transit, bicycling and walking.

Dump the Pump is sponsored by the Savannah Development and Renewal Authority, the City of Savannah, Coastal Commuters, the Savannah Bicycle Campaign, Chatham Area Transit, and Pedestrian Advocates of the Coastal Empire.

Area residents can find carpool partners through Coastal Commuters (coastalcommuters.org), or learn more about local transportation options at www.savannahtransit.com or bicyclecampaign.org.

For more information, contact the Public Information Office at 651-6410.

Sales tax holiday on water- and energy-efficient products

Georgians can take steps to save energy and water by participating in Georgia’s tax-free holiday this weekend, October 2-5, 2008. Thanks to legislation passed in 2008 by the Georgia General Assembly, this tax-free holiday exempts purchases of specific water- and energy-efficient products from state and local sales and use taxes. The exemptions are limited to products with a purchase price of $1,500 or less that have been designated as meeting the requirements of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense program and the U.S. Department of Energy’s ENERGYSTAR program. Tax exemptions are available for items such as air conditioners, refrigerators, dishwashers, ceiling fans, fluorescent light bulbs, programmable thermostats, WaterSense fixtures and faucets, and high-efficiency toilets. More information here.

Atlanta is not that far away

picture-12.png

From my position next to the ice machine, I watched cars pull into the convenience store parking lot, cruise slowly past the pumps and then merge back onto North Druid Hills Road. The motorists didn’t stop because the Shell station didn’t have what they needed on Thursday night: gasoline. All over Atlanta, anxious drivers gambled, hoping the gas in their tanks would be enough to fuel their search for more fuel and keep their motors running while they waited for a turn at the pump.

Friday morning at a gas station on Buford Highway, I saw a man fill a dozen or so canisters and load them into the bed of a pick-up truck. Later that afternoon, traffic was snarled on Spring Street. The BP station across the street from the Varsity had gasoline and cars were stacked up to get it. A police officer was on the scene to keep order.

Local news coverage of the gasoline shortage included predictable comments from understandably frustrated motorists. They said the situation was “ridiculous,” “outrageous” and “crazy.” Their feelings of helplessness were summed up in one woman’s frank declaration. “There’s nothing we can do,” she said. “We have to drive.”

I agree with all of these comments, though for a different reason. It is ridiculous, crazy and outrageous for us to expect gasoline to remain cheap and plentiful, even after we’ve been presented with clear evidence that it is neither. As we move further down the Peak Oil timeline, wild swings in price and availability will likely become the norm. It’s easy to understand: As oil becomes more scarce, the disruptive effects of political turmoil, weather and even rumor are amplified.

But, do we really have to drive? For a lot of folks, that’s clearly the case. In many communities, compulsory car use is required. Driving is the only way residents can get in or out of their neighborhoods. We should use Atlanta’s current predicament as a warning. We must modify our behavior, our expectations and our built environment now to contend with the realities we will face in the coming years.

Yet I’m afraid we may be too shortsighted to recognize how Atlanta-style problems could easily be visited upon us. The guys standing in front of a Savannah convenience store yesterday evening seemed unconcerned. Talking and laughing, they paused occasionally to take sips from their soft drinks then placed the cups back on the hood of truck, which stood at the curb with its motor running.