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Eco-Beat

Resiliant Placitas

Placitas residents Vicki Gottlieb (seated), Vickie Peck (in foreground), and Marc Horowitz and Dan Gips (standing) at the May 8th Placitas Flea Market Resilient Placitas booth.

Fostering a resilient Placitas

Those shopping and selling at the year’s first Placitas Flea Market may have noticed a group of your neighbors set up to discuss a Resilient Placitas community. A solar oven was demonstrated, and hand-built, traditional mule-ear chairs were there to sit on. 

Interest is building in Placitas influenced by the international Transition Towns movement (http://www.transitiontowns.org/), which fosters sustainable communities. The curious, the skilled, the unskilled—all are considered essential and welcome in the process.

Resilient Placitas already includes such diverse activities as:

  • Growing local food
  • Harvesting water
  • Reducing dependence on the  electric power grid by active and  passive solar and wind power collection
  • Maintaining dark skies
  • Building things
  • Community transportation
  • Using native botanicals in healing
  • Building our sense of  community
  • Capturing community history
  • Recognizing, identifying, and tracking trends that may require more independence. 

Resilient Placitas intends to be a catalyst to connect individuals and groups in order to enrich those aspects of our community which inspire us to action. This movement is not only meant to respond to diverse local interests, but it will foster what we can better do together than as individuals and spawn focus groups that will carry forward specific projects of their own design. One of our goals will be identifying and providing community access to rich local knowledge available on an unlimited number of topics. For example, if you are interested in water harvesting, Placitas resident Dennis Fortier will describe his system at the June 19 gathering. There are local experts on a range of topics, and many other people will be willing to share their valuable and practical lessons learned.

Everyone is welcome to attend the Resilient Placitas gathering in the meeting room at the new Placitas Community Library, 453 Highway 165 near the fire station, on Saturday, June 19 from 9 to 11 a.m. 

The agenda includes a brief description of the transition town concept, a short talk on water harvesting experiences, small group discussions on topics of interest, and next steps.

 For more information, contact Vickie Peck at (505) 867-1588 or vmpeck@gmail.com.


BP Oil Disaster

The BP oil disaster is casting a long shadow over the public comment process now going on in Virginia and other coastal states that are considering putting exploratory oil wells in their offshore waters.

EarthTalk®

—The Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk:
Given the huge oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico almost two months ago, short of banning offshore drilling altogether, what can be done to prevent explosions, leaks, and spills moving forward?
—P. Greanville, Brewster, NY

The explosion of BP’s Deepwater Horizon drill rig on April 20 and the resultant oil spill now consuming coastal regions of the Gulf of Mexico could not have come at a worse time for President Obama, who only recently renewed a push to expand drilling off the coast of Virginia and other regions of the U.S.

The debate over whether or not to tap offshore oil reserves with dangerous drilling equipment has been raging since extraction methods became feasible in the 1950s. It heated up in 2008 when George W. Bush convinced Congress to lift a 27-year-old moratorium on offshore drilling outside of the already developed western Gulf of Mexico and some areas off Alaska. Despite public protests, cash-strapped governments of several coastal states wanted the moratorium lifted, given the potential for earning windfall revenues.

Obama had historically toed the Democratic party line on offshore drilling—don’t allow it—but changed his tune during his 2008 campaign to compromise with pro-drilling Republicans if they would play ball with him on his carbon emissions reduction and energy efficiency initiatives. Then on March 31, three weeks prior to the Deepwater Horizon explosion, which killed 11 workers and has caused untold environmental damage, Obama called for new offshore drilling in the Atlantic from Delaware to central Florida and in Alaska’s untapped northern waters. He also asked Congress to lift the ban on offshore drilling in the oil-rich eastern Gulf of Mexico, just 125 miles from Florida’s beaches.

A key aspect of Obama’s new plan is to assess the potential risks and benefits of each specific offshore site before drilling there can commence. While Obama’s plan wouldn’t grant any new leases until 2012, the Deepwater Horizon problem is casting a long shadow over the public comment process now going on in Virginia and other coastal states otherwise ready to sign on the dotted line for exploratory wells to go into their offshore waters. Whether or not Congress and the American people are willing to let their government expand on what appears already to be some risky business is anybody’s guess at this point.

Oil industry representatives maintain their equipment and processes are safer than ever. The U.S. Minerals and Management Service (MMS) blames the vast majority of the 1,400 offshore drilling accidents in U.S. waters between 2001 and 2007 on “human error,” not malfunctioning equipment, though some might argue that the distinction is irrelevant because there will always be human error. A small fire on the Deepwater Horizon in 2005 was found to be caused by human error, and most analysts agree some kind of bad judgment call also likely caused the rig’s ultimate demise. The MMS says it was already in the process of drafting new regulations that would require rig operators to develop programs focused on preventing human error, including operations audits once every three years for each rig.

Some members of Congress don’t think the new regulations are enough, especially in the wake of the BP tragedy. Senator Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat who has led opposition to offshore drilling, has now called for a congressional investigation of safety practices at offshore oil rigs and has asked the Department of the Interior to undertake a full review of all U.S. drilling accidents over the last decade.


Santa Ana students rev-up their solar-powered cars

Fifteen fifth graders from the Santa Ana Pueblo after school program raced solar-powered cars they designed and built on Friday, May 14 at Explora during the 16th Annual Zia Solar Car Race sponsored by PNM.

About 300 elementary students from New Mexico Indian communities competed in the event. In addition to the Santa Ana students, other participating schools included Cochiti Middle School, Mesa Elementary from Shiprock, Isleta Elementary, San Felipe Elementary, Santo Domingo Elementary, Sky City Community School, and Tesuque Day School. 

The Zia Solar Car Race is designed to stimulate interest among American Indian students in science and engineering. The program uses a hands-on approach to teach math and science. Students master these disciplines as they learn about solar energy and photovoltaic panels, as well as the mechanics of force and motion and the technology of solar-powered motors.
The project begins with PNM volunteers visiting schools to help with a solar power project. Teachers receive technical materials to teach students the basics of solar energy and engineering concepts. Teachers and volunteer consultants are trained by PNM; parent volunteers help students build their cars. Students are provided with solar-powered model car kits, as well as with technical support from 50 PNM engineers and employees.

Five PNM employee volunteers worked with Santa Ana students on assembling solar-powered model cars, built from pre-designed car kits and solar panels. The students determine the best angle to mount the solar panels and make any other modifications that they believe will maximize the speed and efficiency of their vehicles.

Awards were given for the best overall team and for design, speed, and aesthetics (to encourage producing quality work). The program, which is sponsored by PNM, began in 1994. Explora has hosted the event for five years.


Checcini

The Checcini Residence doorway. This is just one of the Placitas homes on the GreenBuilt Tour.

Sustainability week kicks off with GreenBuilt Tour

The 11th annual GreenBuilt Tour returns in June to highlight sustainable building practices that are attractive, practical, and affordable. There will be a diversity of sites being featured to emphasize that there are many ways and many benefits of incorporating green principles into design and construction.

Energy efficiency, passive and active solar, effective use of materials, water conservation, and community enhancement are just a few of the sustainable aspects being demonstrated. Many of the homes on the tour are owned and occupied by people who have generously agreed to open their doors and share what they have discovered about green living.

Bernalillo and Placitas homes comprise nearly a 1/4% of the Tour. In Bernalillo you can visit the “Casa de Paja” residence, and in Placitas there are four homes available for viewing: the “Cecchini Residence,” “Small Potatoes Sustainable Home/Farm,” “Garner Residence,” and the “Kelly Residence.”

The tour takes place between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 12 and Sunday, June 13. Homes are available for viewing during these times only. The GreenBuilt Tour guidebook provides profiles of all the properties on the tour, including directions to the property and the important green features of each home. An area map also shows the approximate location of each property to assist in planning your tour. The guide book also includes helpful articles on green building and living, and can be accessed on the website: www.usgbcnm.org.

Tour attendees will experience innovative and beautiful homes that reduce energy use and education about integrated green living. The 20+ homes are located in Albuquerque, the East Mountains, Placitas, Bernalillo, Corrales, Santa Fe, Taos and Silver City. There are no tickets required to go on the tour. Attending the tour this year will be as simple as paying $1 at the door of any home you wish to tour.

There will also be a Commercial Tour on Wednesday, June 16, in Albuquerque and Rio Rancho which will include the Pete Domenici Education Building at the National Hispanic Cultural Center, the Andaluz Hotel, the SSCAFCA offices, the Tony Hillerman Middle School, and the new V. Sue Cleveland High School. These projects have achieved, or are in the process of attaining, LEED certification of various levels from Certified to Platinum. They demonstrate green building processes in the commercial building industry. The tour includes transportation, lunch, and green conversation. For tickets visit the website: www.usgbcnm.org.

The Green Vendor Exposition and Living Green Lecture Series wrap up the weeks events on Saturday, June 19, know as Green Central. Hosted by the National Hispanic Cultural Center, Green Central will have green seminars, product displays, food, music, green film screenings and an outdoor exhibit area. Visitors can learn about solar energy products, green building materials, green vehicles and water and energy saving techniques. Green Central is free, and as a bonus, you can bring your dead electronics and recycle them for free.

For additional information about events, membership, or resources please visit www.usgbcnm.org.


Twin Warriors Golf Club

Spotlight Green Going Green

Twin Warriors Golf Club Joins Audubon International

In May the Pueblo of Santa Ana’s Twin Warriors Golf Club at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya joined Audubon International, a not-for-profit organization that provides education and assistance needed to practice responsible management of land, water, wildlife, and natural resources. The organization will assist Twin Warriors in becoming part of the conservation landscape and garner support for eco-friendly golf.

“Twin Warriors is proud to announce its membership in Audubon International. The organization’s information and resources will help us to make the golf club more environmentally friendly while still providing the best golf experience for our guests,” said Roger Martinez, general manager and director of golf for Twin Warriors Golf Club.

Audubon International will assist Twin Warriors Golf Club with providing wildlife habitat, water quality, and manage the golf club’s environmental impact. The organization will also help with documenting and publicizing the environmental, economic, and social outcomes of environmentally responsible golf course management.

The Hyatt Regency Tamaya is located on 500 acres on the Pueblo of Santa Ana, adjacent to the Sandia Mountains along the Rio Grande River. Along with its unique cultural environment offering traditional pueblo bread baking demonstrations and tribal dance performances, Tamaya also features Tamaya Mist Spa & Salon; The Stables at Tamaya; an 18-hole championship Twin Warriors Golf Club; tennis courts; and the Tamaya Cultural Museum and Learning Center.

For more information, please call (505) 867-1234 or visit www.tamaya.hyatt.com.


TOWN HALL UPDATE

Residential recycling curbside collection billing rates go into effect

—Town of Bernalillo
In July 2008, the Town implemented its first curbside recycling program. Waste Management provided the 96-gallon recycling carts upon request. Although approved for a new package base rate of $12.78 for all town residents, only those requesting the carts were charged.

Effective May 25, 2010, all residents will be charged for the original amount approved in 2008 ($12.78 per month). All residents are encouraged to request and use the recycling carts.
Recycling collection runs every other week on the same day as your normal trash pickup, but not necessarily at the same time.

Residents should recycle magazines, junk mail, office paper, phone books, brown paper bags, newspapers, plastics containers (#1-7), flattened cardboard, aluminum, steel cans, and empty aerosol cans.

Unacceptable items include plastic bags, regular garbage, and glass bottles and jars.

Take advantage of the recycling service, and call Waste Management to order a recycling cart at (505) 892-1200. Help us keep New Mexico clean and beautiful.

Corrales kicks off first annual garden tour
Corrales MainStreet, with support from Sandoval County Master Gardeners (SCMG), is presenting the first annual Corrales Garden Tour on Sunday, June 6 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Madeleine’s Place (3824 Corrales Road) will be the information headquarters where you can purchase tickets, pick up literature from Master Gardeners, and get more information regarding the tour. Featured on the tour are eight residential gardens and a community garden, located from the bosque to the sandhills. Master Gardeners will be on site at each garden to provide information and answer questions. Proceeds of the event go toward a special Corrales landscaping project. Tickets for the event are $10 and are available in advance at many locations in Corrales and garden centers in Albuquerque. Call 305-3955 for more information.

Corrales MainStreet is a community-based program to encourage the preservation of the Village of Corrales’ traditions, way of life, history, and agricultural roots by encouraging the enhancement and diversification of the economy of the Village.

The Sandoval County Master Gardeners is a volunteer organization committed to providing better gardening techniques to the community with the latest, most practical horticultural information available.

Madeleine’s Place Event Center offers concierge and event planning services and is available for rent for private and business events. More information on Madeleine’s Place is available at www.MadeleinesPlaceNM.com or by calling (505) 962-2466.


Learn about the paths, bears, mountain lions, and wild horses travel in Placitas

—Doris Fields, Ph.D.

Democratic Women of Sandoval County invite you to an evening on local empowerment with four Placiteños who are wildlife advocates. The June 16, 2010 session will highlight several important activities organized by local community members, including Laura Robbins and Cirrelda Snider-Bryan on the Placitas Community Mural Project, Peter Callen on the Tracking and Monitoring Program, which is also a mission of Pathways, and Patience O’Dowd on the Wild Horse Observation Association (WHOA). The evening will begin with a social gathering with light finger foods and drinks, and the program will begin at 7:00 p.m. DWSC meet at the Bernalillo Town Hall. For further information contact Patty Cervantes, President, at (505) 710-8539 or Linda Allison, Publicity Chair, at (505) 892-7946.

 

     

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