Free Showing of the Film “Food, Inc” at UPAC Tomorrow Night (4/30)

Years ago, I had the privilege to work for Ev Mann of the Center for Creative Education. At that time, their headquarters were in Stone Ridge, NY.  Coming up from New York City as a musician with a background in Production Management, it was my good fortune to have seen their ad for someone like me to assist the Administrative Director, Mary Farel.

Those couple of years were two of the most fulfilling in my professional life.

Although Ev has had close ties working with the children and schools in the city of Kingston, he moved his operation from Stone Ridge into Midtown back in 2005/2006 where he continues to bring music, culture, dance and drums to the youth and families in our area.

On Friday night (4/30) The Center for Creative Education in partnership with Active Voice and Participant Media bring a FREE screening of the ever important film FOOD INC to UPAC in the city of Kingston.  Click on this LINK to see the flyer for this event.

On the ground, we are witnessing alarming numbers in childhood obesity – yet at the same time, 1 in 8 children will go hungry each and every day.

It’s critical that as a community, we work to change our daily habits. In Kingston, every one of our schools (and I believe there are 14) will have some form of garden in them. That’s a huge accomplishment that has taken place in just two years time.

Gardens are the buzz word in Kingston. Let’s continue to nurture them and encourage our children to get growing at home and at school.  Take your family and visit a local farm, and pick something fresh off the vine to taste.

There is nothing quite like it.

– Rebecca Martin


SchoolgardenreourcesinNYC

Kingston Natural Foods

Hudson Valley Seed Library

CSA’s in the Hudson Valley: From Chronogram Magazine

Infrastructure Planning Project Community Meeting this week (4/28)

With all the current infrastructure problems in the city of Kingston, I thought this informative meeting was important to post – as is.

Thanks.

– Rebecca

GI Introductory Handout – Kingston

INFRASTRUCTURE PLANNING PROJECT COMMUNITY MEETING

When: Wednesday, April 28

Time: 6-7 pm

Where: Ulster County Legislative Chambers, 6th Floor Ulster County Office Building (COB), 244 Fair Street, Kingston NY 12401 (enter from parking lot in back of building)

Hi everyone this is Victor-Pierre and on behalf of Clearwater and The Hudson Valley Regional Council I would like to invite you to our Green Infrastructure (GI) Community meeting to discuss Green Infrastructure Planning. I have had the privilege of meeting most of you at recent training in Kingston on Green Jobs and at the Climate Smart Community Pledge meeting and was excited that you expressed interest in attending our GI community planning meeting. Hope to see you soon.

The Hudson Valley Regional Council (HVRC) is implementing a green infrastructure (GI) planning project in Kingston and six other communities in the Hudson Valley region in New York State. In each locale, community-based teams, guided by our community outreach leaders, will participate in site assessment training workshops, public outreach and the planning of 10 concept projects at promising sites.

Goals –

1. In Kingston we want to build the capacity of municipalities, their consultants and other local stakeholders to understand, plan for, implement, and maintain GI practices.

2. We will develop an inventory exisitng GI demonstration projects and identify the potential for expanded GI projects and sites, including at least 10 detailed conceptual plans in each of seven selected communities in the region.

Who is this meeting for?

We need a local team that can provide a variety of skills and resources:

Students and teachers · Municipal officials · Business leaders and owners · Homeowners and neighborhood groups · Scouting groups · Garden clubs and community gardeners · Design professionals · Builders, landscaping contractors, plumbers · Environmental/Conservation committees · Other interested citizens

Contacts at Clearwater for this project in the City of Kingston are:
Victor-Pierre Melendez:     victor@clearwater.org (845) 265-8080 ext. 7144

Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Inc. 724 Wolcott Ave Beacon, NY 12508

Kingston Celebrates Earth Day with Earth Week

There are a whole week of events scheduled in celebration of Earth Day this year, 2010. Here’s the scoop:

EARTH WEEK 2010: Kingston Celebrates Earth Day’s 40th AnniversaryGreen Streetscape Improvements on Broadway

Date: April 20, 2010

Time:     2:30pm

Location:  Adjacent to 630 Broadway (Intersection of Broadway and Oneil Street)

The City of Kingston will hold a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony on Broadway to signify the installation of Mr. Big Belly Solar Compactors and dozens of Bicycle Racks along the Midtown Broadway Corridor. These streetscape improvements were made possible through the NYS Main Street Program, administered through the Rural Ulster Preservation Company. This funding has allowed the City of Kingston to improve amenities along Broadway with the purchase of 4 solar powered trash compactors and recycling units. Kingston will be one of the first cities in New York to purchase and implement these unique waste handling systems. Over time, these units will decrease the number of trips necessary to empty refuse along Broadway, while working to beautify the Midtown Area.  Representatives from Direct Environmental Corporation, makers of Mr. Big Belly will be on hand to demonstrate the units and answer questions.
Funds were also use to purchase bike racks, which will be placed along Broadway this Spring to encourage more Kingstonians to bicycle to and from residences and businesses along the Broadway Corridor.

RUPCO worked closely with the City of Kingston and the Green Corridor Project, which includes representatives from Sustainable Hudson Valley, Kingston Parks and Recreation Department, Mid Hudson Energy Smart Communities, RUPCO and numerous environmental professionals and Kingston residents to make this project a success. The Green Corridor Project aims to link environmentally minded businesses and institutions along Kingston’s main thoroughfare to attract and encourage a green economy in Kingston.
For more information, contact Steve Noble, 845-481-7336 or snoble@kingston-ny.gov

Forsyth Nature Center Hosts Kingston’s Storyteller Laureate

Date: April 22, 2010

Time:     4pm

Location:  Forsyth Nature Center, Kingston, NY

The Forsyth Nature Center will celebrate a very special Earth Day this year with Karen Pillsworth, Kingston’s Storyteller Laureate. Karen’s vibrant and energetic telling of stories for the earth will inspire audiences of all ages. All participants will receive an Earth Day gift of a tree sapling donated by the Friends of Forysth Nature Center. This event is free and weather permitting. For more information, you can call 845-481-7339 or visit the Forsyth Nature Center’s website.

Kingston Clean Sweep

Date: April 24, 2010

Time:     9am-12pm

Location:  Kingston Corridor

A spring clean-up of litter lying along the newly instituted “Kingston Corridor” will take place on Saturday, April 24, 9 a.m. to noon. The Kingston Clean Sweep is being sponsored by the Friends of Historic Kingston with support from the City of Kingston and more than 20 other local business and service organizations.

The city will be divided into eight sections, each overseen by one or more of the participating organizations. Volunteers will be provided with City-supplied trash bags that will be collected by the Department of Public Works following the event.  People are asked to bring their own work gloves and a broom, if possible, to sweep dirt piles from the sidewalks.  The event will take place rain or shine.

Volunteers are still needed in several sections along the “Kingston Corridor” which runs from the Thruway Circle down to the Rondout Creek.  Anyone who wishes to volunteer can call the Friends of Historic Kingston at (845) 339-0720 or e-mail fohk@hvc.rr.com .

Why Residents Must Continue to Recycle

With the abrupt change made this week to the recycling schedule (that is now bi-weekly) we grew deeply concerned. Not because we think weekly pick-ups are ‘the way to go’. But because the change was made without any effort to inform or educate the public. As it is, through the hard work of Julie and Steve Noble and Jeanne Edwards, Kingston was sort of on the up and up on improving it’s recycling numbers. That might be history unless something is done and soon.

Sure, not every municipality offers recycling to their residents. That may even be where we are heading. The fact of the matter is, Kingston has offered it as a service and we have come to expect it. If more people now feel inconvenienced and decide to trash their plastics and all, we are not only heading in the wrong direction but we are also encouraging a whopper of an expense in the long run.

Why? At this time, Kingston pays UCRRA (Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency) $71 a ton to then ship our garbage up the river some 250 miles. That’s what makes it so expensive. Weigh that against the national average, which is around $42.08 per ton.

Landfills are close to capacity. Perhaps not this year or next, but in the very near future our garbage may be shipped even further away. Now does that make any sense?

So please, hold onto your recycling until your new scheduled pick-up day. Give your bottles and cans an extra wash out to prepare them to sit for a week longer. That only takes a few seconds of your time. If you simply can’t wait, delivering your recyclables, yard waste and brush to the transfer station is free.

Encourage your Alderman to help solve this problem through good discussion and solid examples by looking outside of Kingston to see what might be useful to us.

– Rebecca Martin

Here are a couple of helpful links.

City of Kingston: New Recycling/Yard Waste Pick-Up Schedule

KingstonCitizens.org: Why Pay As You Throw?

KingstonCitizens.org: Plastics By Numbers

Leave It On The Lawn, Kingston! Mulching and Composting Brochure

Water Water Everywhere (But Not The Kind To Drink). Does Kingston Have A Plan?

I’m traveling abroad currently and have happened into the recent floods that Ireland is experiencing now. Due to unprecedented bouts of rain in short periods of time, a good deal of their infrastructure (such as roadways) and residential properties built in the last 20 years are now underwater. Most were built on flood plains. Not a particularly wise move on the Planner’s part, but not particularly unique either.

Although some are slow to blame global warming for the weather’s strange behavior, what is happening in Ireland is right on track with past predictions of warming consequences there.

Flying out of Galway this morning and seeing so much of it consumed by flood water, I wondered whether or not planner’s in Kingston have given the topic the attention it really deserves.

It isn’t unreasonable to make this a top priority, and it would be wise to hold ongoing public meetings and host special guest speakers to help flesh it out. Kingston is already in the midst of some pretty serious flooding and sewage overflow issues.

While we’re at it, how about developing an overall master plan? I don’t think the cost concerns is a good enough reason not to pursue it. Kingston can’t afford not to do it in some shape or form.

FURTHER READING:

KingstonCitzens.org’s “ENVIRONMENTAL FOCUS ON KINGSTON” took a closer look at storm water collection as part of a solution. Read more  HERE

On Ireland’s current flood:    FLOOD WATERS.

– Rebecca Martin

After The Election: Recycling Campaign Lawn Signs

After an election cycle, have you ever wondered what to do with those campaign lawn signs that you agreed to place on your property? Do you call the candidates and offer them back? Take them apart to recycle them? Re-use them for lawn sales?

I decided to take a look on-line to see if New York State had any lawn sign recycling program in place.

Nope. At least not so far as I could see. There are, however, several municipalities who have created such a thing (in Florida for example and of course California).

I wonder if those running for office would agree to do away with lawn signs. Not plausible? Then how about holding onto them to re-use in the case that they run again in the future. Most everyone has an attic, right?

Here is a good link to ‘Planet Green’ where you can read more about the recycling possibilities.

– Rebecca Martin

Environmental Focus on Kingston: Why Pay As You Throw?

The City of Kingston has a mounting waste management problem.  Forced reductions in budgets and workforce due to economic shortcomings will only put a temporary bandage on a hemorrhaging situation.

The reason is simple; weekly, unenforced curbside collection and hauling our garbage more than 250 miles away to the Seneca Meadows Landfill, is extremely expensive and is getting more so with each passing year.

In 2008 the city paid tipping fees of $71/ton to UCRRA, who ultimately hauls the waste upstate.  The national average is $42.08/ton.

It’s time to fundamentally rethink the ways we manage our waste disposal methods.  Public opposition is understandable and expected.  After all, as my mother explained to me without batting an eyelash, traditional weekly collection of garbage is number one on the list of Kingston’s Ten Commandments. And she was serious.

I didn’t say it would be a popular idea among citizens, but here’s why it should be:

1. Pay As You Throw (PAYT) encourages equity among users by charging fees based on the amount of waste a household actually disposes of.  It treats garbage disposal more like a utility such as your electric, water or phone bill.  Rather than charging everyone the same embedded fee in annual taxes, it allows the customer to have control over what they pay by controlling what they throw out.  It provides a direct link to consumer behavior and the cost generated by it.

2. Research shows that users of PAYT programs will alter their waste disposal habits in a number of positive ways in an effort to produce less waste and therefore pay less for disposal costs.  In terms of buying habits, consumers will be more likely to buy frequently used items in bulk in an effort to reduce packaging wastes.  Recycling habits improve, and items once carelessly tossed can be viewed as having a valuable reuse.  PAYT also motivates users to compost yard waste and kitchen scraps as another proven method of keeping excess waste from their personal waste stream.

This has a positive environmental impact given that the average person generates 4.4 pounds of garbage a day.

This approach to waste disposal is not new.  Over the past decade it has really taken off and gained popularity among municipalities across the nation.  In 2006, the Environmental Protection Agency estimated there were over 7,000 communities across the country that employ a PAYT system.  This included 42% of communities in NYS.  These programs report an overall waste disposal average decrease of 14-27% and an increase in recycling rates typically between 32-59%.

Here in Kingston the topic was first introduced in 2003, when city resident Emilie Hauser worked with several aldermen to propose studying the potential benefits it could have on our tax dollars and environment.  It was brought up again in early March 2008 by city environmental educator Steve Noble.  The most recent discussion on it came from the mayor’s office just last month.  We think now is the time for the Common Council to roll up their sleeves and take a serious look at the merits of PAYT.  If after doing their homework on the issue they determine it not to right for Kingston, then we expect them to put forth another viable solution.

All PAYT systems are not created equal.  Communities tend to create hybrid programs that meet and address their specific needs.  Typically users purchase disposal bags, tags or vouchers directly from the municipality.  Another possibility is the mandated purchase and use of specifically sized collection containers.  Payment options can include a direct sale purchase, use of a voucher system, monthly, quarterly or budget billing.  Some communities make allowances for seniors on fixed incomes and families that fall below certain income levels by offering subsidies, incentives or rebates to help control costs.

The constant in all successful applications of this method of waste management is that education and public involvement are critical to rendering it successful.  The EPA suggests that well implemented plans are phased in over an 18 month period.  During that time the ultimate goals desired from such a program are developed as well as a timeline for implementation.  Studies and data collection of volume and type of waste the community produces are conducted, joint citizen/official panel task forces are formed, and educational outreach programs begin.  During this time decisions on container options, rates structured plans, pilot programs, changes in city ordinances, and plans for effective enforcement need to be meted out.   Even beyond final implementation, educational outreach programs and enforcement need to continue.

Whether or not you love or hate the concept of Pay As You Throw, given our current economic development and path, you may not have a say on the ultimate decision.  Dragging our feet on an issue that is well researched, studied, documented and used by thousands of communities is doing us more harm than good.  The time is perfect for interested citizens to do their own research and to step forward to motivate our elected officials on moving one way or another on this important topic.

Maintaining status quo is no longer an acceptable approach.

Did You Know: The EPA has volumes of information on the subject and is a great place to get your feet wet!  You can start educating yourself by clicking here.

Don’t leave until you take our survey!  We want to know where you stand on this!

– Wilbur Girl

“Leave It On The Lawn, Kingston!” Program Launched

It’s no secret that the federal “Leave It On The Lawn” program has done great things in many municipalities nationwide. It has arrived here at home with the support of the City of Kingston in collaboration with the Kingston Land Trust’s garden committee to “help Kingston help itself”  by asking Kingston citizens to consider managing their landscape waste this fall.   The first scheduled leaf  pick-up is October 15th which is only ten days from now.   Come on Kingston Citizens!  Click on the links below to help to get you started. Don’t believe this initiative can save you big bucks in tax dollars and make a major difference in the (and your) environment? Read on….

– Rebecca Martin and Wilbur Girl of KingstonCitizens.org’s  blogspot

Leave It On The Lawn, Kingston!


The City of Kingston with the support of the garden committee through the Kingston Land Trust asks the citizens of Kingston to re-think bagging their leaves this season.

During the year, at least 20 percent of the solid waste generated by Kingstonians comes from grass clippings, tree leaves and other landscape wastes. Bagging these materials or placing them into the curbside collection system wastes an important natural amendment leading to poor soil quality and costs the people of Kingston more in increased taxes and service fees by the use of additional trucks, labor and fuel.

Approximately half of landscape waste is composed of tree leaves.  The “Leave It On The Lawn, Kingston!” Leaf Management Plan is an environmentally sound program designed to significantly reduce the volume of leaves saving citizens tax dollars while improving their soil quality, naturally.

Options for Managing and Using Leaves
Leaves are truly a valuable natural resource. They contain 50 to 80 percent of the nutrients a plant extracts from the soil and air during the season. Therefore, leaves should be managed and used rather than bagged and placed at curbside for collection.

Here’s what you can do to make some simple and important changes:

Mulching by Mowing  (click on this link to learn detailed how to’s)
Leaf mowing is the most efficient way to manage your leaves and takes 1/4 of the time than traditional raking and bagging. For larger lawns, though not entirely necessary, this can be more effective when a mulching mower is used. To get started:

1.    Mow over your dry leaves in the same manner you would if you were mowing the grass.  If you have a great deal of leaves and a small parcel, rake the leaves out evenly before mowing.
2.    Repeat if necessary.
3.    Leave your shredded leaves on the lawn for a chemical-free fertilizer that will give beautiful results.
4.    You can also rake and transport your shredded leaves to your gardens, shrubs, trees or composter.

Composting Landscape Waste (click on this link to learn detailed how to’s)
Kingston’s urban environment allows for many different methods of composting.  There are a variety of composter styles and sizes to choose from, or, simply make your own.

1.    TO COMPOST YOUR LEAVES: take the shredded leaves alone or with other yard waste materials and place in a wire bin or any type of composter of your choosing.  Remember  that the smaller the pieces, the faster they will break down into reusable organic matter.  For a quicker result, turn your materials with a pitch fork or similar tool occasionally.  In time, underneath your compost pile, you will have rich, dark soil for all of your gardening needs.
2.    TO COMPOST SHREDDED LEAVES WITH KITCHEN WASTE:  in an appropriate bin, add equal parts brown and green materials.  “Brown” materials include leaves, straw, non-glossy paper, wood, bark chips, paper napkins and coffee grounds. “Green” materials include fruit and vegetable peelings, rinds, and eggshells.
3.     NEVER add any animal products, oils or hazardous materials.  Turn the pile occasionally to aerate it and make sure it’s moist but not soggy.  The decomposition process can take anywhere from three months to a year.
 

By composting you’ll have RICH soil for FREE!  It will save time, money and our city’s precious resources.

Get started today and lend a hand to help Kingston help itself!