Thursday, March 6, 2008

gussy up Mother Earth

Where were you last Earth Day? Did you do your part and help gussy up Mother Earth? We hope so, but if you missed 2007 worry not, because Earth Day 2008 is right around the corner. Green Columbus is working with just about every area environmental group to make this the best Earth Day ever. The details are:

When: Saturday, April 26; worksites around town will start at 8:00 a.m., the celebration at Goodale Park runs from noon to 7:00 p.m.

Where: Worksites around Central Ohio in the morning, a celebration at Goodale Park in the afternoon.

Why: Mother Earth has been good to us and it is time to give back a little.

Who: Central Ohioans of all ages

Earth Day 2008: Now Get Busy! is brought to you by the same folks who put together last year’s Earth Day 2007: A Year in a Day. In 2007, we well surpassed our goal of soliciting one person-year of volunteer labor by enabling nearly 1,400 Central Ohioans to put in over 3,900 person-hours, almost two person-years, at 42 worksites throughout the area. This level of effort resulted in cleaner rivers, the planting of hundreds of trees, removal of non-native species from our parks, and all manner of community beautification. The morning work activities were followed by a city-wide celebration at Goodale Park that featured a free lunch for morning volunteers, booths for environmental organizations, live music, and speakers, including Mayor Michael B. Coleman.

Our plans for 2008 are even bigger. There will be 2,500 volunteer slots in the morning, and an even bigger afternoon celebration. Details about these will be coming soon, so stay tuned. We are also working with a number of other great organizations, including the Columbus Zoo, to fill a full week (yep, we’re calling it Earth Week) with great activities.
Get Involved!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Eight Random Things

My friend Ashley, tagged me for this, so here's to you:

1. I’m an ecofeminist! Wikipedia defines Ecofemism as:

• Ecofeminists argue that a relationship exists between the oppression of women and the degradation of nature, and explore the intersectionality between sexism, the domination of nature, racism, speciesism, and other characteristics of social inequality. Some current work emphasizes that the capitalist and patriarchal system is based on triple domination of the "Southern people" (those people who live in the Third World, the majority of which are south of the First World), women, and nature.

I am not really an ecofeminist, but more a fan of the ethicist Arne Næss. Neass is responsible for Ecophosphy T, which developed into the Deep Ecology movement. However, Naess thought that everyone should develop his or her own philosophy, so that is what I did. After writing about a 50 page thesis on my rational thoughts of how humans should behave. Upon sharing my paper with philosophers all over the world it turns out my ethic is most similar to a philospher, Chris Cuomo, who is an Ecofeminist, at the University of Cincinnati.

2. I desperately want to be my own boss. I am going to start my own business that can most easily be described as an ecologically friendly Home Depot! I will write more about this in a future post, but it is in the works!

Maybe run for office once I am old and crusty?

3. I fantasize everyday about moving to the mountains. Do not care which ones, but I always feel at home in the mountains. I have lived in Aspen, been to the North Cascades, Sawatch Range, San Juan Mountains, Elk Mountains, Front Range, Gore Range, Mosquito Range, Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Sierra Nevada Range, Tetons, Alps, the Dolomites and Hiked about 600 miles in the Appalachians. I am not sure if I will ever move out of Ohio? I have a lot going for me here: Family, Friends, 100 acres and a cabin in the Hocking Hills, 120-acre family farm just south of C-bus that has been in the fam since 1860 and connections out of the wahzoo, but would I be happier in an environment surrounded by people who share my passions, I don’t know.

4. I used to think that I was a superhero; I secretly still think I am. Up until I was in first grade, I wore a cape. I interchanged a black cape and a red cape, but always had a cape. My favorite song is by Guy Clark: The Cape

• Eight years old with flour sack cape
Tied all around his neck
He climbed up on the garage
Figurin’ what the heck
He screwed his courage up so tight
The whole thing come unwound
He got a runnin’ start and bless his heart
He headed for the ground


He’s one of those who knows that life
Is just a leap of faith
Spread your arms and hold you breath
Always trust your cape

All grown up with a flour sack cape
Tied all around his dream
He’s full of piss and vinegar
He’s bustin’ at the seams
He licked his finger and checked the wind
It’s gonna be do or die
He wasn’t scared of nothin’, Boys
He was pretty sure he could fly


Old and grey with a flour sack cape
Tied all around his head
He’s still jumpin’ off the garage
And will be till he’s dead
All these years the people said
He’s actin’ like a kid
He did not know he could not fly
So he did

Nowadays, it is more I think I have a higher since of empathy than just about anyone does, might be my power. In addition, I also am always pushing the boundaries of my physical limitations, whether through hiking, biking, climbing or diving I am always on a mission to go further, higher and deeper to test my own limits.

5. I don’t drink soda-pop ever. Sometimes I will drink carbonated water (often flavored carbonated water) and every once in a while I will drink tonic water (mostly just with gin.) I miss Italy where wine was cheaper than water and all the water was sparkling spring water. Bellissimo!

6. Everyone that knows me well thinks I should be a chef or in catering. This boy can cook! It doesn’t hurt that I did an undergraduate in Plant Biology. I can identify just about everything edible in the wild and can grow just about anything. I love cooking! Eating, for me, is the most sensual activity next to making love. However, Socrates thought of cooking as a form of flattery, a knack that only produces "a kind of gratification and pleasure" and no real good.

To Socrates, cookery fails to reflect a rational and ideal world but rather concerns itself with what may be considered tasty by a particular gourmand. The real good would be medicine. This is ingrained deep in my psyche. While I know this is antiquated and chefs like Jamie Oliver and Black Creek Bistro are making a difference in the world, I have a hard time arguing with Socrates.

7. I am a dreadful speller. Everything that I write has been spell checked. I also have appalling handwriting. I’m lucky that I was born in the computer age, pretty sure I would be in remedial classes and riding the short bus if I didn’t type everything. I scored 12.9th grade on everything on my CTBS test in second grade, except spelling where it was at a second grade level. That never changed.

8. I am terrible with girls.

• I am sentimental to the point of sappy. You would think that girls would like a sentimental gentleman, but they also like hard to get and alpha males. All fights I have had since middle school have pretty much been because I see a guy (pretending to be a alpha) mistreating (In my opinion) a gal, yet the gal sticks around. Evolution needs to hurry up, damn you geologic time. Gals, why don’t you realize that in the 21st century that us intelligent and sentimental boys are going to be better mates in almost every aspect.
• I over think everything and I mean everything.
• I am really persnickety and vain, not necessarily on a particular phenotype but more on intelligence, personality and interests. Now that I’ve stated that, I’m certainly not adverse to a healthy body and big beautiful eyes. I think there are only about 15 people in Columbus who I would go on a first date with.
• I am weird (Did you read the rest of this post; I rest my case)
• I am a metro-sexual and get hit on by boys much more than girls
• Most of my idealized girls turn out to be lesbians? Not sure why but I have asked out about an equal amount of lesbians and straight gals. Maybe it is that I get lesbians confused with people who share my values

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Time to Think About Your Garden?

I am planning a hefty garden this year with a little help from my friends. I know it is February, but now is the time to start a garden! First, if you want asparagus (which other than smelly pee, who doesn’t love asparagus) in one growing season, the time to plant is now! Asparagus generally don’t come as seeds, they come as a crown. As long as you get that crown below the frost line, it will start getting roots out and taking in nutrients. Also, it is time to get the Ole’ Burpee Seed Catalog out and have some fun. I am looking to plant (so far)

• Perilla
• Sun Chokes
• Beets
• Brussels Sprouts
• Cardoon
• Cape Gooseberry (ground cherries)
• Soy beans (edamame)
• Ramps

• Rhubarb
• Globe Artichokes
• Asparagus

Which exact verities am I going to get, there is still some time to ponder these important questions. I generally like things that you can’t find at the local farmer’s market or things that are native to Ohio. I haven't chosen any specific cultivars yet, but I still have some time. My wonderful sister-in-law, Emily found this gem. Oh, how I adore plants and their seemingly endless verities, I mean, Artichoke "Violetto de Romagna," Dwarf Blue Curled Scotch Kale, Giant Red Celery, Purple Calabash Tomato, Sunburst Squash, and Zebra Hybrid Eggplant oh my! If only there was a way to grow more of them on a small plot; eureka! There just might be?

Enter bio-intensive gardening! Bio-intensive gardening is basically the idea to get plants to work for you, which, I’m lazy, so that sounds good to me. Granted, there is a lot of prep work, but once you get these babies in the ground, watch out! My best recommendation is to:

1. Double dig your garden with a bit of compost or manure.
2. Plant in clumps spaced about the distance you think your roots will spread. This may take a few years to get just right.
3. Mulch that bad boy so you don’t have to water it everyday.

There is much more but as with most things, practice makes perfect. Soon you will know why that caterpillar is on your tomato plant and why that squash is loosing its leaves. Gardening is more about creativity than anything else, so have fun!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Local Matters in North Market

A good friend of mine informed me that Stephen Beard of North Market Produce is calling it quits or retiring; but don't fret Columbus foodies. Opening in that space will be Local Matters. For those of you who don't know about Local Matters they:

  • Are a charitable, educational and networking organization whose goal is to ensure that all members of our community have access to affordable, nutritious, fresh and local foods.
  • are helping to create a vibrant, sustainable and regional food system. In the process, we strive for positive environmental, social and economic change in the community of Columbus, Ohio and surrounding areas.

Rumor has it this stand will be chock full of veggies and goodness from various local farms and maybe even a place to pick up winter CSA's. Good news, cant wait to see them.

Local Matters - - 614-263-5662

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Solar Decathlon

Did anyone see this. I've been reading about it for a while and it seems really cool. Does anyone remember the AEP smart house that was torn down for the parking garage. Does anyone know if OSU competed (and if so which professor was involved?)
from the NY Times
The point of the event is to illustrate that “solar” no longer means “hippy hangout,” “ugly box” or “Spartan shack.” The homes are gorgeous on the inside, and, usually, on the outside. (Rules limit the house to 800 square feet, not counting porches, patios, and gardens; that, and the necessity to get them to Washington on trucks, dictated a certain boxiness to some of the floor plans.)
There was nothing Spartan about these homes. In fact, the name Decathlon is a reference to the ten categories that these homes can rack up points in the contest: architecture, engineering, market viability, communications, comfort zone, appliances, hot water, lighting, energy balance (bonus points if you generate more power than you use), and “getting around.”

Monday, August 27, 2007

Jeffrey Place project gets grant for solar panels


The developer of Jeffrey Place has secured a state grant to install rooftop solar panels on the next cluster of condominiums at the project.

The Ohio Department of Development granted Joe Recchie of National Community Builders $438,372 to install the panels at the North Block condos, a 75-unit section of the 41.5-acre Jeffrey Place development. National Community is attempting to turn the former Jeffrey Mining and Manufacturing site into an urban neighborhood.

The North Block condos will be at the northwestern corner of the development. The buildings were designed by Columbus architect George Acock.

Recchie said he will be seeking the highest designation of LEED certification for the project. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design designation is awarded to development projects by the U.S. Green Building Council. It identifies those projects that have embraced environmentally friendly principles.

LEED certification has become a badge of honor and a marketing tool for some cities and developers.

"A lot of these ideas are things we were already doing," Recchie said. "It had more a sense of convergence. We worked hard to develop best practices for Jeffrey Place."

The panels will cost more than $1 million, Recchie said, and will provide electricity for all of the condos. He said the panels will generate 121 kilowatts, which will flow into American Electric Power’s power grid and could allow some North Block residents to sell power back to the utility.

AEP customers have a hand in paying for the panels. The money for the Development Department’s Advanced Energy Program has roots in electricity deregulation.

In 1999, the Development Department asked regulators to create a revolving loan fund to encourage renewable energy activities. Customers of AEP, Dayton Power & Light Co., Duke Energy Corp. and FirstEnergy Corp. were assessed a 9-cent monthly fee to create the fund.

The fund currently contains $23.2 million.

In 2003, the General Assembly allowed the department to begin using 10 percent of the previous year’s receipts for grants, said Sherry Hubbard, acting office chief for the Development Department’s energy office. The grant for the North Block condos at Jeffrey Place is one of the largest ever issued.

"The grant program has been evolving over time," Hubbard said. "It began by grants to single homeowners. In 2005, we decided that there was a big part of the market that would help move solar forward. That was new construction."

All but nine of the North Block condos will be prefabricated by UniBilt Homes. In addition to the solar panels, they’ll feature geothermal heating and cooling, tankless water heaters, irrigation through storm-water runoff, vegetation on carport roofs and recycled concrete, 90,000 tons of it, taken from the site.

The project will include town house and loft-style condos. The two-bedroom town houses are 1,380 square feet and will start at $248,000. The 730-square-foot lofts will begin at $156,000.

Recchie said the grant money, which amounts to $6,642 per prefab unit, will be passed along to the buyers. The cost per square foot of the town houses, $178, is far lower than the average Downtown condo cost of $237 per square foot.

IT firm moves, secures loan

A company that creates logistics software for midsize companies has moved to Lewis Center and plans to use a state loan to expand.

Pacejet Logistics makes Web-based logistics software that helps manufacturers manage their shipping operations without paying license fees. The company recently moved from Dublin to Lewis Center and plans to use an $805,000 Innovation Ohio Fund loan to expand its employment base.

Ron Lee, Pacejet’s vice president of business development, said the company wants to double in size during the next few years.

Pacejet traces its roots to the heyday of the dot-com boom of the 1990s. It’s a spinoff of the former Frontstep, which provided enterprise resource planning software. Frontstep used to be called Symix Solutions, the public company that ran into financial difficulty in 2000.

Two years after changing its name, Frontstep was acquired by a company in Georgia called Mapics Inc., which later was acquired by Infor Global Solutions.

"We’re going to hire new developers and support people and services people," Lee said. "It’s about servicing customers and building out the software application."

Mike Pramik covers development for The Dispatch. Contact him at or by fax at 614-461-5107.

Landfill pitched as fuel source
Battelle unit thinks trash could power jets
Monday, August 27, 2007 3:23 AM
By Barbara Carmen

To those who oversee the Franklin County landfill, the latest proposal sounded like a flight of fancy: Turn garbage into jet fuel.

But a Battelle engineer said the components of the technology already work. All scientists need is a big-enough test site -- say 10 acres at the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio's landfill -- and a supply of trash. They then will stitch together cutting-edge technology to make diesel and jet fuel.

If they get a $30 million federal government grant.

Two weeks ago, SWACO's board of trustees sent a letter of support to the U.S. Department of Energy. If the team wins the grant, trustees will more closely study the deal before signing on as a partner.

"It has to work for us. That will be determined downstream," said Mike Long, SWACO's executive director.

But Long sees the possibilities if the jet-fuel plant gets built and works: a reliable, environmentally friendly way of keeping the landfill from filling up fast and a supply of plentiful, less-expensive fuel to strengthen central Ohio's position as a transportation hub.

Leading the project is Velocys, a for-profit subsidiary of Battelle in Plain City. While at Battelle, Velocys CEO Wayne Simmons led the development of much of the technology that would make it efficient to turn garbage into fuel.

Also signing on is Taylor Biomass Energy, which has developed methods to better sort recyclables from raw garbage and produce the gases needed to make the fuel.

Long's board was cautious about committing SWACO to a first-of-its-kind demonstration plant.

"The landscape is littered with projects that have failed," Board Vice Chairman Bradley N. Frick said.

Velocys, however, has twice received Ohio Third Frontier awards for developing technology that shows promise.

Trustees questioned Long about his plan to lease Velocys 10 acres for 30 years for $10 per year. The land is worth $200,000, and the deal would mean a total of $300 in rent payments.

"The project, if it reduces the waste stream, would be one of the most cost-effective SWACO has done," in helping divert trash from the landfill, Long said.

The team should know by the end of the year whether it got the grant.

"I don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater," Trustee Colleen H. Briscoe said before the vote. "This could be a really exciting project."

A business strategist on the team that put together the bid told trustees it's a good deal for SWACO.

"If the technology does what it's supposed to do ... we would double or triple the life of your landfill," said Steve Cohen, managing director of Centennial Associates and a retired Battelle vice president of technology commercialization.

"Could you mine the existing trash?" asked Jacqueline E. LaMuth, president of the board of trustees.

Yes, but first the demonstration plant must show that it works.

The plant would separate recyclables from trash, which then would be ground up and converted into carbon monoxide and hydrogen. This already works. The chemicals would be turned into fuel using Velocys' technology.

"This whole field is like exploring the ocean floor," LaMuth said. "It's hard to get at, not much is known about it, and it's extremely important."