Saturday, May 21, 2016

My 2016 Tomato Selections

Enjoyment of delicious, homegrown tomatoes is one reason to grow a kitchen garden. Some people who have room to grow only one item in a pot choose to devote their space to a tomato. 

In the Deep South, where I live, people love their "'mater sandwiches." The simplest way to make one is to smear white bread with mayonnaise, add a giant, sick slab of fresh, homegrown tomato from a giant tomato, and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Of course, there are variations. Some people toast the bread and add bacon and lettuce to make a BLT (bacon, lettuce, and tomato) sandwich. I personally enjoy adding fresh basil and a slice of fresh mozzarella cheese to my tomato sandwich, with a touch of balsamic vinegar.  In the Deep South, we also enjoy slicing a tangy, firm, green tomato into thick slabs, breading it with some salted cornmeal, and lightly frying it, to make fried green tomatoes. Fried green tomatoes are usually served with a topping similar to hollandaise sauce. 

When I was a child, my mother grew cherry tomatoes, in addition to the larger ones. To me, these tasted sweeter as well as tangier. I could never get enough of them. As an adult, I compensate by growing extra. As many get eaten in the garden as make it into the kitchen.

While common varieties that ship well (and hence can be sold at markets) are adequate, connoisseurs rave over this or that heirloom variety.  While some heirloom varieties are also available in farmers markets, they are also expensive. People who grow their own tomatoes don't just save on cost. They also get to savor the superior texture and taste that can be achieved from a home garden.

Tomatoes take at least 75 days to produce fruit from seed. They require warm temperatures to germinate, but they stop producing when temperatures go above 90 or 95 degrees F.  (When choosing varieties, pay attention to heat or cold tolerance, something I learned this year.)  Because of these temperature demands, most gardeners either start their seedlings indoors (when it's still too cold for them outside) or purchase plants in order to get a head start on the growing season. If they can be kept alive, tomatoes also produce fruit when temperatures are cooler in the fall, up until the first freeze. In addition to nitrogen, they like potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium in their soil.

This year, I purchased a half-dozen Better Boy tomato seedlings from Lowes (some are shown in the picture below). 



I also ordered some heirloom varieties that I started from seed, outdoors after the weather was warm enough. 

Relying on the Better Boys for basic red tomatoes, the seeds I ordered were Prudens Purple, Aunt Ruby Green, and Blueberry. The skin of the "blueberry" tomato is actually blue when ripe.  I also purchased one each of a Cherokee and a yellow plum (cherry) tomato at a specialty garden shop. Hence, if all goes well, I will have tomatoes that are red, yellow, green, purple, and blue! 




More of the ongoing tomato saga to follow later .... 


Lindemann's Bin 45 Cabernet Sauvignon



This post is way off topic for my blog, but it is about something that surprised me. Surprises are not always bad, including on blogs, right? 

When we moved to China in 2004, each of us was allowed to carry two bottles of wine in our suitcase. I ran out of time to shop.  One of my wonderful girlfriends agreed to go on the errand for me to purchase the 10 bottles of wine that, between the five of us, we planned to carry with us to China in our suitcases. One reason that this particular girlfriend agreed to go for me was that she and her husband were wine connoisseurs. She assured me that she and her husband were about to make one of their semi annual trips anyway. She promised me that she could make good selections.  However, my budget was smaller than hers.  I instructed her to put a price limit of $10 per bottle on the ten bottles of wine, for a total of $100.

With my girlfriend returned with the 10 bottles, she informed me, "You need to have some nice wine on hand while you're in China, and your price was a bit low, so I went a bit over budget. The difference is my gift to you." I later learned that she had used a budget of about $20 per bottle. Indeed! It was a wonderful gift!  We used the wine for special occasions such as Thanksgivng, Christmas, and when we had special guests. It was memorably delicious!

The only downside was that it spoiled my palate! I am definitely not a wine connoisseur, but I found it hard to go back to my "cheap table wine" habit of spending between five and eight dollars for a bottle of wine to have with dinner. Over time, since $20 per bottle is really outside my budget, I have gradually quit opening wine to have with ordinary dinners. Last night was an exception, however.  It was a Friday night, and we decided to open a bottle of wine. Not wanting to splurge too much, we opened what I thought was probably the lowest priced bottle in our collection, a Lindemann's Bin 45 Cabernet Sauvignon. (A photograph of the label is shown in the picture above.)

What a nice surprise! The wine was delicious! I honestly do not consider myself qualified to talk about things like aromas and flavors and tannins in wines. I was so surprised by how good this was, however, that I decided to look up official reviews of this wine to see what others said about it. Apparently, the experts agree with me.

For instance, Gil Lempert-Schwarz, a reviewer for the Las Vegas Review Journal wrote, "I taste many wines and when you find something so easy to drink and enjoy at less than $6 in a large grocery chain that is usually premium on its prices, then it’s a good deal."  Describing the wine on the palate, he wrote: "This is a juicy upfront and extremely rounded-in-flavors wine with a nice black-fruit component dominated by cassis, crushed blackberries, some cherry liqueur, slight hints of oak and extremely balanced through the midpalate, which also shows supple fine tannins that are harmonious and render the wine completely quaffable as well as delicious." (http://m.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/gil-lempert-schwarz/wine-week-lindemans-bin-45-cabernet-sauvignon ) 

Honestly, if I were a wine connoisseur, I probably would have written the same thing. It is a bit sweet and light, not particularly full-bodied, nor "robust,"  just very drinkable with a nice, well rounded, fruity flavor. Nothing to complain about here, most especially given the price. 

If you are looking for a pleasing Cabernet Sauvignon on a budget, this is definitely one I would recommend.


Saturday, May 14, 2016

Three Personal Benefits to Me of Growing a Kitchen Garden

In two previous blog posts I have discussed practical benefits of kitchen gardens (cost, health, and taste) and collective benefits (environmental, sustainability, and building community). Today, I would like to discuss six more personal, intangible factors that keep me returning to my habit of kitchen gardening. 


Slower Pace

I have a "day job" that can be fast paced and stressful. Committing a half hour per day to gardening helps me carve out personal space, engage in an activity very different from my other vocation, and restore a work life balance.  

Introspection Time

 For me personally, gardening time is quiet time. It is a long moment of silence. It is a time to look at some item in detail, whether it is weeds or bugs or dirt or new plants. It involves focusing attention on something that is not related to work or stress or other things in life. It allows for creative interruption and regrouping of ideas in a way that benefits the way I think in other areas of life.

Connectedness With Land

Watching a garden grow, on a daily basis, sometimes feels akin to waiting for a pot to boil. (I am alluding to the adage, "a watched pot never boils.")  Indeed, gardens grow even slower than the water boils! They take months, sometimes years, to reach maturity! Yet, grow and change they do!  Inexorably, plants grow, mature, wilt, and die. It doesn't hurt us to experience this cycle of life, change, and death, on a different pace than what we see in our daily, hectic, industrial lives. It is good to remember that even when things seem to be standing still, they are in fact moving forward. This leads to seasonality and connection with changing seasons, as well. Gardens remind us of seasons. They remind that seasons are real, that there are times for doing things and times for refraining.  They remind us to be patient. And they also remind us that fruit comes to those who do their part and wait. 

Self Sufficiency

There is something simply satisfying about providing food for the table. Whether it is a sprig of basil on a sandwich, parsley in a tabouli, or a curry made all from home grown vegetables, there is a satisfaction that comes from being able to say, "I grew this." 

Connectedness With Heritage

My first memory of gardening was when my mother showed me how to weed the corn seedlings that were popping up in our garden. She showed me which plants to pull up and which to leave in the ground. Then she sent me to work on my row, while she did hers. When she came back, I learned that I had pulled up all the corn seedlings and left the weeds! Fortunately, there was still time to replant, and one must admit that it was a memorable mother daughter time! Other memories of gardening involve my grandparents, my uncles, my father. All passing along their collective wisdom and a heritage that includes growing plants and living a sustainable, self-sufficient lifestyle. This is not the only connection with the past, however. My grandparents learned their farming practices from their parents, who learned from theirs, etc. When I pick up a hoe to weed, I imagine many ancestors before me who used an almost identical tool to do almost the same thing. The fact is, that I am a hobbyist whereas they were working to provide table sustenance through long winter months. Nevertheless, gardening connects me with them, with that heritage, and with the skills of self-sufficiency that they passed along to me.

Connectedness With Future

Just as my parents and grandparents passed their skills and ideas along to me, so I also want impart those to my children. I have wonderful memories of sharing the preparation of soil, planting of seeds, harvesting, cooking, and eating garden produce with my own children. As such, the heritage of my past lives on into the future, passing memory and family story to the next generation. Gardening facilitates the sharing of values and things that I value with those whom I particularly value.



Community Benefits of Growing a Kitchen Garden

In an earlier blog post, I listed cost, health, and taste as three basic reasons to start a kitchen garden. Those are individual benefits. 



Today I want to mention a few ways that our kitchen gardens benefit our communities.  This is significant, because collectively our kitchen gardens increase sustainability in a world where it's important for each of us to live lives that reduce drain on world resources. 

As of 2016, the world population is close to 7.4 Billion people. We can't help it that each of us needs to eat, but if we live more sustainably, we collectively can stretch the earth's resources and maintain our blue planet as a place of beauty for all people now and for future generations. Current industrial agricultural practices don't do that. 

The list of damaging industrial agricultural practices is too long to write about here! If you didn't know it already, in the USA the traditional model of the small time, family farm is dead. It was impossible, economically, for the small scale farmer to compete cost-wise, with large scale, industrial agriculture. 

 To make farming profitable, large scale Ag relies on planting fields of crops that are genetically homogenous, often with genetic modifications that enable them to resist herbicides so that herbicides can be applied that will kill weeds but not the genetically modified plants. Machines and / or low cost labor are used in a relatively highly mechanized way, to tend and harvest the crops, which are then sold to commercial distributors. These distributors then ship from their hubs to far flung distribution centers, where they are then purchased by third party sellers. Even the guy who stocks your local roadside stand more than likely purchases some or all of his produce from a distributor. 

Our current system results in unprecedented efficiency and a steady supply of relatively safe food. However, it also has significant negative environmental impacts and relies heavily on petroleum products. Individual gardeners, acting collectively, can retain benefits of industrial agriculture (e.g. have access to strawberries even when they're out of season here), while reducing reliance on big agriculture, thereby reducing  environmental impacts and also increasing sustainability. 

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT

The pesticides and herbicides used by industrial agriculture to prevent pests also get into the ecosystem and cause collateral damage to the environment. For instance, it's estimated that neonicontinoid pesticides are contributing to decimations of bee populations  worldwide. We are hearing that residue from the Monsanto herbicide "Roundup" is appearing throughout the food chain.  We can fight against this by purchasing organic and non-GMO foods at the store, but we also collectively can have a significant impact when we adopt environmentally friendly practices in a home garden. Individually, I am just one person, but if enough of us make small changes the impact can be significant. 

SUSTAINABILITY 

In recent decades, California farms have been some of the most productive cropland in the world, supplying USA consumers with bountiful vegetables and fruits, which are shipped to every corner of the United States. Unfortunately, this appears to be coming to an end. Why? Because irrigation has been used in an unsustainable way. Groundwater that has been used for irrigation has been depleted to a point where it soon it will be no longer available.  If you don't believe me, do a Google search for "drought in California." For purposes of this blog post, take my word for it! 

After the plants are produced on these large scale farms, harvesting and getting the produce to market relies on machinery and shipping, which requires fossil fuels.  And then there's the packaging. And sometimes there are abusive labor practices.  These practices all have negative impacts. 

Growing veggies in our home gardens enables us to bypass much of the negative, unsustainable side of industrial agriculture, even more so when we compost and reduce our reliance on chemical fertilizers.  We increase long-term sustainability when we grow food ourselves (or when we source locally and from small suppliers), when we use heirloom varieties of plants, when we implement more sustainable agricultural practices in our own sphere, when we increase plant genetic diversity, when we provide safe habitat for bees and butterflies, and when we reduce reliance on the fossil fuels used for shipping. 

COMMUNITY 

Another benefit is obvious: the opportunity to share. We build up communities and each other not just by sharing food with our neighbor or our local food bank, but by sharing knowledge and seeds and mentoring and visits with friends in our gardens.  Indeed, in this sense of building community, the garden itself can become a community activity, cultivating leaders as well as plants. To see a longer list of benefits of community gardening, check out this site: 
http://www.gardendallas.org/benefits.htm

In summary, in addition to being cost-effective, healthy and tasty, growing a home vegetable garden reduces the environmental impact of industrial agriculture, contributes to a more sustainable footprint, and builds local communities!  So now, in these two blog posts,  I have given you six pretty good reasons to think about growing your own kitchen garden (on whatever scale you wish, small or large). These six reasons are: cost, health, taste, environment, sustainability, and community.  In my next blog post, I will talk about some things that are more personal to me which add enrichment to my own gardening experience.




Practical Benefits of Growing a Kitchen Garden

I have a small, suburban garden plot. Why? I plan to blog on the topic of gardening for a while. This is the first installment of several.



There are many reasons for even a city dweller to grow some of their own food. Which reasons come to mind, for you? (Leave a comment!) For me, the reasons are both practical and philosophical. Let's start with the most basic reasons:  

COST 

Growing your own food can save on your grocery budget, of course. If you are like me, and have only a small space in which to garden, budget issues are a good reason to focus your growing efforts on expensive foods. The smaller your space, the more closely you will want to focus on quality as opposed to quantity.

In my own garden, some of the things that I grow that are more expensive to buy in the grocery store are things like tons of cherry tomatoes,  fresh basil, colorful peppers, and sugar snap peas. 

Some expensive foods, like asparagus,  can be incorporated into your landscaping, planted once, and then will produce year after year.  Besides asparagus, other examples of plants in this category are blueberries and raspberries. 

I recently paid $3.50 for a pint of blueberries in a standard grocery store. A mature blueberry plant will produce several gallons of blueberries per year and produce fruit for many years. Further, in my region, early, middle, and late varieties of blueberries can be mixed. If blueberry varieties are selected according to a staggered ripening season, a home gardener can have fresh, homegrown (and free!) blueberries all summer long. 

Perennial plants and trees, like blueberries or apples, are not free, so there is an initial investment in plants. That leads back to the issue of cost effectiveness.  

To some extent, out-of-pocket costs on the front end of establishing good plants can be reduced by making a few trade-offs. For instance, a blueberry plant that is one year old from the nursery will be substantially less expensive than a blueberry plant that is several years old. The trade-off is that purchase of a smaller plant will require one to wait a couple of years for a more bountiful harvest.  

There is also a cost involved in getting started in growing plants that last for just one season, such as tomatoes, squash, and peppers. A beginning gardener will need some how-to books, tools such as a spade and hoses, soil enrichment, and seeds or starter plants. Indeed, in some cases it may seem that investment in things like raised bed materials, soil, plants, etc., can make the investment less than cost-effective. 

For this reason, set a budget and stick to it! Perhaps in year one, only invest in a few items and equipment, focusing on a few simple, low maintenance items that you love. If you are successful, find you enjoy gardening, and want to do more, then gradually invest more in equipment as time goes by (raised beds, soaker hoses, composting bins, gardening tools, etc.). After the initial investment in getting started, future costs will be lower. As with many things, the more years you do it the more you learn and the more efficient and cost effective you become. 

Reducing out-of-pocket grocery cost is not the only reason to grow your own food, however.

HEALTH 

Many home gardeners who have small space focus their efforts on growing crops that are known to have high concentrations of pesticides and other chemicals when grown commercially.  If you do a Google search for "dirty dozen vegetables," you will find web pages that have lists of fruits and vegetables that have high amounts of pesticide and chemical residue in them. One example is strawberries. Another of these vegetables, believe it or not, is potatoes. This is because commercially grow potatoes are treated with chemicals that prevent fungus and also prevent them from sprouting.

The ability to grow organic, chemical free food is a significant reason to have a home garden. I admit, I was not raised doing organic gardening, and I am on a learning curve. This year, some bugs attacked my greens. I responded by spraying them with insecticidal soap. (The label says it is suitable for organic gardening.)  Although I did use chemicals, I knew exactly what I had sprayed on my plants and when, and so I knew when it was safe to pick and eat them. I do not have the same level of trust with regard to chemicals used on commercial crops! 

Even if a gardener does not use organic techniques in growing a garden, we know what chemicals have been used on the crops, and when they were used. The home gardener can use this knowledge to understand when the food is safe to eat without fear of pesticide residue! 

As more and more information is learned about long-term effects of pesticides on the body and the dependence of  industrial agriculture on pesticides, this has become more and more of a factor for me, personally. 

TASTE

A third reason to grow your own vegetables and fruits, is simply quality and taste.  Growers who are producing foods for shipping and mass marketing are limited in the types of plants they can produce. Namely, plants produced for mass marketing must be able to stand up to rough handling by laborers, trucking over long distances, and must have a long shelf life once they are in the store. Delicate varieties of fruits and vegetables cannot hold up to this type of handling. 

Peaches are one example of a type of fruit where the difference between a variety grown for shipping and a variety grown for home use is striking.  There's simply no comparison between peaches that will stand up to shipping and the luscious, fragrant fruit that drips nectar when you slice it and would bruise if you looked at it the wrong way. 

However, there are many more fruits and vegetables for which the difference between  produce grown for mass production and the varieties available to the home gardener is striking. Some veggies, in fact, are not even available commercially. In my garden, I grow a couple varieties of plants that are not readily available in standard grocery stores, such as small white Thai eggplant and thin purple Chinese eggplant. An example fruiting in my garden right now is Swiss chard, which does not ship well. Here is a photo of some Swiss chard I recently picked from my garden:



There are many more reasons to garden, but I will talk about those in another entry another day! In the meantime, happy gardening!




Thursday, October 8, 2015

DISASTER RECOVERY CHECKLIST FOR COLUMBIA, SC FLOOD VICTIMS



CHECKLIST FOR THE BUSINESS SIDE OF DISASTER RECOVERY


Your house, car, or business has been flooded.  Now what?  

This blog post seeks to help those in  the Columbia, SC, area who've suffered flood loss and aren't quite sure what to do next.

I've created a checklist and links to resources to get you STARTED in the right direction regarding the steps needed toward the “business and paperwork” side of recovering from natural disaster.  For additional assistance and guidance in the coming days, seek the advice of a trusted business advisor.

As soon as you can, after you and your family are safe,  begin the process of documenting your loss and applying for insurance and assistance.  The main thing is that the sooner you begin the process of compiling and organizing your documentation of loss, and applying for assistance, the better. This list will help you get started in that process:

ITEMS RECOMMENDED FOR YOUR PERSONAL DISASTER RECOVERY KIT

  • A notebook for keeping track of conversations, contacts, etc.. 
  • A plastic folder safe storage of multiple receipts 
  • Another folder for storing and organizing the papers you receive. 
  • A USB storage device for storing electronic data information such as photographs. 
  • A calendar for keeping up with important dates and meetings 
  • A camera for documenting your loss through photos 
  • An expanding file folder to keep everything in. 

DOCUMENTING YOUR LOSS

  • Place all receipts into your plastic receipts folder. Keep receipts of EVERYTHING, restaurants, plastic garbage bags you buy, hotels, etc. (whatever) 
  • Take photographs of everything, even stuff you throw away, as well as damaged items. Take pictures of trash in front of homes, flood damage inside, valuables lost. (Even if am insurance adjustor takes photos, survivors should do it also.) Store the photos on a USB that you keep in a safe place. Make a backup of your photos, as well. Keep the backup in a separate place or with a friend. 
  • Keep a journal that has notes of everyone you talk with, date and time of the conversation, topic of conversation, what was said, follow up actions, name and ID number of the person you talked to, everything. 
  • Create follow-up dates on your calendar, as a reminder. Write milestones and achievements on your calendar, as well. It will serve later as a reminder of your journey and how far you have come! 

FILING A HOMEOWNER’S INSURANCE CLAIM

  • Locate your policy (if possible): Renters, Homeowners, Auto, Flood 
  • Contact your Agent and file a claim (they may deny coverage, but the letter will be needed later) 
  • Your policy may cover water damage, even if it does not cover flood damage. The two are different! Fundamentally, flood damage is from water that results from a flood. Water that comes from other source, such as a roof leak or an exploding hot water heater, may be covered by your homeowner’s policy. Exact coverage will depend upon your policy. 


FILING A FLOOD INSURANCE CLAIM


APPLYING FOR FEMA ASSISTANCE

  • http://www.disasterassistance.gov/
  • Items you will need during the application process: 
  • Social security number, Insurance policies (homeowners, flood, auto etc), Direct deposit info for your bank 

APPLYING FOR SBA ASSISTANCE
  • https://www.sba.gov/content/sba-offers-disaster-assistance-south-carolina-residents-affected-flooding 
  • Disaster loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace disaster damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible up to $40,000 to repair or replace disaster damaged or destroyed personal property. Interest rates are as low as 4 percent for businesses and 2.625 percent for nonprofit organizations 1.875 percent for homeowners and renters with terms up to 30 years. Loan amounts and terms are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition.

GETTING LEGAL HELP

  • The S.C Bar has recruited and trained attorneys to provide free assistance to those who cannot afford legal services. Flood victims facing legal issues who are unable to afford a lawyer may call 1-877-797-2227 ext. 120 (toll-free) or(803) 576-3815 (local) between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday, to request assistance. When connected to the hotline, callers should identify that they are seeking disaster-related legal assistance, brief details of the assistance needed and in which county they are located. Individuals who qualify for assistance will be matched with South Carolina lawyers who have volunteered to provide free legal assistance. Flood victims may also request assistance online by e-mailing DisasterInfo@SCBar.org.
  • The type of legal assistance available includes:
    • Assistance with securing FEMA and other government benefits available to disaster victims;
    • Assistance with life, medical and property insurance claims;
    • Help with home repair contracts and contractors;
    • Replacement of wills and other important legal documents destroyed in the disaster;
    • Assistance in consumer protection matters, remedies and procedures;
    • Counseling on mortgage-foreclosure problems; and
    • Counseling on landlord-tenant problems.

GETTING HOUSING HELP

  • People with need for immediate assistance with housing may contact the Cooperative Ministry, phone 803-451-7398. Their criteria for intake, for people displaced by flooding, have been temporarily relaxed due to difficulty for some of supplying the necessary documentation. Try to have your driver’s license, passport, social security card or other government issued ID, and as much other documentation as possible concerning your need.
  • Some people who are renting lower income housing in low lying areas may need assistance dealing with landlords and getting repairs done to their homes. Contact South Carolina Legal Services at 888-346-5592.

GETTING TAX RELIEF

  • Tax deadlines have been extended for people living in affected counties: 
  • “The declaration permits the IRS to postpone certain deadlines for taxpayers who reside or have a business in the disaster area. For instance, certain deadlines falling on or after Oct. 1, and on or before February 16, 2016 have been postponed to February 16, 2016. This includes the Oct. 15 deadline for those who received an extension to file their 2014 return. In addition, the IRS is waiving the failure-to-deposit penalties for employment and excise tax deposits due on or after Oct. 1, as long as the deposits were made by Oct. 16, 2015.”
  • For more information, see http://www.irs.gov/uac/Tax-Relief-for-Victims-of-Severe-Storms-and-flooding-in-South-Carolina

GETTING SPIRITUAL HELP


GETTING HELP FOR YOUR CHILDREN





Monday, April 6, 2015

Take Up Your Cross, and Follow Me!

Today's musing brings together two different photographs which may shed light on what it means to "Take up your cross and follow me." This first photo is of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., removing a cross from in front of his home, in the presence of his small son.  This photo gives a different slant on the meanng of that directive, as he literally "takes it up" out of the soil in front of his home.  


Saturday, February 28, 2015

AN INVITATION TO WILDERNESS

“Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness ….” (Luke 4:1)

The forty days of Lent represents the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, enduring the temptation of Satan and preparing to begin his ministry. Lent invites us to enter into and explore the landscape of our own, spiritual wilderness. In this blog post, I would like to invite the reader to explore with me some ideas about what such a journey might look like, feel like, what tools we need before venturing into our own “wilderness,” and benefits of such a journey. (Note: a shortened version of this blog post appears HERE .)



(Christ in the Wilderness, Ivan Nikolaevich Kramskoi [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Be The Light!

What day is this, December 21, 2014?




It's the Sixth Day of Hanukkah


It's the Fourth Sunday in Advent

...........

No matter what our faith, as we light a candle, 
let us remember that even on the longest of nights, 
the light shines in the Darkness.  

The Darkness cannot comprehend the light, yet neither can the Darkness overcome the Light. 


In whatever way is available to us, 
may each of us make a decision to be the light.  


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

More Bad News About Mountaintop Removal Mining

If it would help save a forest, would you be willing to use fewer light bulbs this evening, in your home? 



If it would help keep a stream clear instead of polluted with sludge and silt, would you be willing to hang out a load of clothes to dry today, instead of using an electric clothes dryer?  


The power to heal, or the power to destroy.
Collectively, this is the power you have.  

The issue at hand is 


If you use electricity in your home, in the USA, you are contributing to this.

I've blogged about Mountaintop Removal Mining (MRM) before, HERE

However, a recent article in the Washington Post brings the issue of MRM back to mind.

There is increasing, hard evidence of the terrible effects MRM has on both humans and on the environment. *   So much so that the EPA decided to clamp down on permitting.  

How did the politicians respond to this effort by the EPA to protect the health of citizens, the economies of small Appalachian towns, and the forests and streams that life depends upon?

Did they applaud efforts by the EPA to protect human health and the environment?

NO!

The GOP-controlled House of Representatives passed legislation 
to try and cut the ability of the EPA to regulate MRM!  

IT'S TIME TO SPEAK THE TRUTH TO POWER.

Ordinary people who seek to protect the health and welfare of individuals and communities are attacked by paid industrialists as "liberals" interested in nothing but "redistribution of wealth."  

STOP LISTENING TO LIES!  LOOK AT THE FACTS!  

Wealth is being redistributed, but not from the rich to the poor!  It's being redistributed from the common people to corporations that feed on the destruction of these mountains.  But MRM is not a resuable, sustainable environmental practice.  Once they've been blown up, flattened, with topsoil washed downstream to clog up fragile water systems, the mountains and their landscape are altered forever. The land, the ecosystem, and the local economy supporting local people --  it's all destroyed and cannot be replaced

Yes, industry with its big bucks is financing lots of campaigns with lovely pictures of families claiming to touting Mom and Apple Pie and "clean energy."  The corporations are spending lots of bucks to slander environmentalists, labeling them as outsiders and "liberals." The strategy is this:  if the facts are against you, pit people against other people and conquer by dividing the people against one another.  Yet, the facts are very different from the paid corporate advertising.  

For starters,  here's the Washington Post Article.  Read it! 



And, here's a slideshow.  

THIS ISSUE IS ABOUT REAL PEOPLE, REAL LIVES.  

HELP APPALACHIAN PEOPLE SAVE THEIR COMMUNITIES AND THEIR WAY OF LIFE.