Our former Communications Chair, Jennifer Hammond, has accepted the position of Executive Director. Jennifer holds an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School, has volunteered as a board member since 2010, and was recently appointed to the Town’s Climate Action Plan committee. Jennifer is energized by the opportunity to align her work with her passion for battling climate change, building strong communities and promoting alternative transportation solutions.
Also new to the board within the last year are: Rachel McKay, Cultural Liaison; Elizabeth Pfau, Community Outreach; and the newly appointed Lisel Blash, Communications. Continuing board members include President Elizabeth Baker; Vice President Renee Goddard; Treasurer Boog Bookey; Secretary and Development Director Merrell Maschino; and Event Coordinator Jen Jones. These experienced and talented members are deeply committed to the organization and to the community.
The board is currently busy making plans for 2015. We will continue taking a leading role in helping Fairfax reach its zero waste goal of achieving a 94% diversion rate from landfill by 2020. In addition to waste reduction, Sustainable Fairfax will focus on issues related to toxics, water conservation, transportation, and energy.
This year we took quick action in response to the drought, and designed a successful water conservation program including a movie, a panel discussion and a home greywater systems bike tour. We plan to continue efforts to address the drought and help residents conserve water through installing greywater systems, rainwater catchment systems, and swales as well as investing in more efficient appliances. We are also designing an alternative transportation program to inspire people to leave the car at home whenever possible.
Of course, we will also continue our popular workshops and events, including the upcoming beekeeping workshop, composting workshops, our environmental film series, Streets for People, and more.
Join Us in Making Progress
Sustainable Fairfax receives support from individual members and private foundations that believe in our mission, and every contribution makes a difference.
Please consider a donation to Sustainable Fairfax to sustain the important work we do, or if you would like to volunteer we would love to meet you (please e-mail SustainFx@gmail.com).]]>
Welcome to the EarthWalk blog – a story basket! Here you will find tales of nature mentoring and community connection; guides for games, crafts, skills, and naturalist knowledge; information about special EarthWalk events; and tidbits from our storytelling and thanksgiving circles.
This is Eve Bernhard writing - EarthWalk’s first AmeriCorps member (serving with the Vermont Youth Development Corps). Why am I here? Why do I care about community and nature-based mentoring and earth stewardship? I like to say that I was lucky to be a child in the woods. I grew up both in the mountains and alongside the awesome Hudson River. I preferred to be barefoot and with a book most of the time. It seems that many people who work with children outdoors are either inspired by their own nature-based upbringings, or retaliating to the lack of nature connection in their own childhood. I am here because I believe strongly in the power of time spent in nature to sway a person’s life for the better – to heal, to enliven and nourish. Children especially, with their open and developing minds, need nature!
I am here to learn, to learn how to teach, and to teach. I was enchanted from the beginning. The first time I saw EarthWalk was on a beautiful August afternoon, when Angella Gibbons – EarthWalk’s founder and director – invited me to come out to Hawthorn Meadow (the heart of EarthWalk’s “campus”) for a camp’s closing ceremony. Kids are instinctually curious and energetic – and tend to resist being ordered and herded and told to be quiet – often leading to chaotic spaces where adults are frustrated and kids rebel. Things are different at EarthWalk…
As Ange [Angella] and I entered the forest, she suggested that we go as the kids go – by “foxwalking” with “owl eyes”. This is to sink into your body and the senses, to step carefully and quietly, to open your eyes, ears, and nose to everything. As we exited silently from under the canopy of trees onto the soft grass of Hawthorn Meadow, a young boy dashed up to us and gave Ange a hug. ”Are you a coyote or a deer?” Ange asked. “A deer!” said the boy, and scampered off. “It’s a game called Coyote Deer,” Ange explained, “It’s like a mixture of hide and seek and tag, but the deer become coyotes if they get tagged.”
All around the meadow, there was the most peaceful hum of activity. As we walked around, we visited a group carving and whittling away, a group making baskets with (fallen) white pine bark and spruce roots. A girl offered me a sprig of wood sorrel to nibble. As everyone gathered into a big circle for the ceremony, there was certainly running and yelling and laughing, but everyone was beaming and when quiet was needed they stopped talking swiftly. As parents arrived, I overheard a conversation between a mother and her preteen son. She said, “You can sit with your friends…I know it’s probably embarrassing to sit next to me.” He answered, “No, it’s okay. No one judges you here!”
Out of all of the beautiful, memorable moments I’ve had here so far, the one that has meant perhaps the most to me was creating and breathing into fire a coal with a little girl. It was her first bowdrill coal and only my third. To make fire by friction is unparalleled – it’s empowering and inspiring. The ability to bring light and warmth to dark and cold places is a special one, and to be able to do it in this ancient way connects us to our most primal roots as earth-dwelling humans.
Not too long afterwards, on December 2014, conservation agents started to test on the field new PDAs with this app uploaded, checking that everything worked correctly and taking notes of anything that had to be changed.
After almost a month of testing the new system, on January 2015, the new recording methodology was a reality at “Costa de las Focas” reserve. Conservation agents stopped using paper files and started to record the information with this new system.
The advantages of using Cybertracker are numerous like reducing quantity of paper and ink used, and of course, time!
Thanks to this new system all the information acquire on the daily surveillance, downloads directly to the data base, reducing hours of digitalization of data and making the information more available to all the staff members (on the field and at the office). This makes its analysis more efficient which leads to an improvement on the response to any threat or infraction that could be detected.]]>
DIG Announces Partnership with 1% for the Planet
Calgary, January 26, 2015 – DIG joined 1% for the Planet (1%), pledging to donate 1% of annual sales to support non-profit organizations focused on sustainability.
”Signing on to 1% for the Planet shows DIG has a strong commitment to investing in sustainability efforts,” says John Tashiro, Interim CEO. “They’re using business as a tool to engage and motivate their stakeholders while partnering with environmental organizations that complement their brand. We’re excited to welcome DIG to our global network.”
“We at DIG are honored to join 1% for the Planet,” says Christopher Dunlap, DIG Co-founder and VP of Finance. “Their membership program is an obvious fit with our values as a corporate citizen focused not only on profit, but also people and planet.”
Members of 1% for the Planet contribute one percent of annual sales directly to any of the approved non-profit environmental organizations in the network. Non-profits are approved based on referrals, track record and sustainability focus. Over 3,600 non-profits worldwide are currently approved.
“In our 10th year we’re celebrating that our members contributed $100 million of critically needed funds and it’s just the beginning,” comments Tashiro. “We see that brands benefit too by financially investing in the environment; consumer demand drives much of this success. There’s a paradigm shift happening and we’re thrilled that so many innovative businesses are sling-shotting the movement into high gear.”
Headquartered in Calgary, AB, DIG is one of the country’s leading environmental consultancy firms, providing sustainable waste, water and energy management solutions to Western Canadian businesses, non-profit organizations and government agencies. Ultimately, DIG hopes to empower clients to take informed and responsible actions that make a positive contribution to the environmental and social health of their community.]]>
GWC’s Walter Steven Sechrest Endowment for Wildlife Protection protects endangered wildlife through anti-poaching efforts and by supporting wildlife rangers at nature reserves around the globe. We recently sat down with GWC Chief Scientist and CEO Wes Sechrest to learn about GWC’s role in anti-poaching efforts and the new endowment, established in honor of Wes’s father, Lieutenant Colonel Steve Sechrest.
Q: How big of an issue is poaching in the regions GWC is targeting?
A: Poaching is one of the biggest issues in Asia, with too many forests devoid of the loud calls of gibbons, ecosystem engineering of Asian Elephants, and the quite stalking of Tigers. Those that are left are often isolated, poorly protected, and hold the last wild populations of some of the most endangered species in the world. Illegal wildlife trade is the fourth largest black market, and feeds directly into criminal and terrorist networks, which may fund their other illegal activities. The scale is such that all groups working on social, political, economic, and conservation issues should be focused on how to turn the tide against illegal wildlife trade.
Q: What are GWC’s conservation goals with this endowment? What will be the indicators that the endowment is meeting those goals?
A: GWC and our partners are adopting a Zero Loss proposal for species such as the Saola, which means our goal is to prevent poaching of any animals in our target areas—a lofty goal. One indicator is the presence or absence of snares, which are indiscriminately set on the forest floor, targeting any large animal walking by. We aim for zero snares in our intensively patrolled areas, which are areas that we have identified as being key for rare species like the Saola, large-antlered Muntjak, and others, where the loss of any individuals could be drastic for the long-term persistence of the species. We would like the endowment to encourage collaboration amongst international organizations, local organizations, government agencies, and communities toward a common goal of protecting endangered species for the planet and future generations.
Q: How is this endowment a tribute to your father and his amazing legacy?
A: My dad Steve was a true hero. He always protected the innocent throughout his life, and I believe the largest fight that we have on this planet is to save our home—the forests, grasslands, and other habitats that allow all of us to survive. To do this, we must save the species that compose these ecosystems, for their own beauty and for the sake of us all.
Q: What are some of the poaching and wildlife ranger issues that GWC has already worked on addressing?
A: We are focused on conserving biodiversity worldwide, and one of the main issues that we tackle is dealing with existing threats. The most pressing threat for the majority of threatened species is habitat loss, as this affects all species in an ecosystem, from plants to insects to mammals. However, poaching is rampant for many of the world’s best-known species: African Elephants, Tigers, and the five species of rhinoceroses, but also for poorly known species such as the Saola, a critically endangered hoofed mammal that is a distant relative of bison and cattle.
In areas where GWC and partners have set up reserves, such as Colombia, poaching is often a distant second to habitat degradation. Our rangers in many areas prevent local poaching and timber extraction, while in some areas, particularly Asia, we have to look towards tackling a massive, organized, international network of illegal wildlife traders. These networks often exploit local communities until their forests are devoid of most large animals, creating what are called Empty Forests. We have concentrated a lot of our efforts on partnering with groups in the Annamite Mountains of Lao PDR and Vietnam to prevent poaching of the Saola and other endemic species. One of the main goals is to increase ranger training, hire additional rangers, employ new techniques (such as non-invasively sampling for warm-blooded mammals by extracting DNA from blood in leeches who have found an unwitting mammal host and then dropped to the forest floor), and also work with local communities.
Q: Where can GWC make the biggest difference in terms of poaching?
A: GWC can be most effective against poaching by working on the supply end. A lot of great groups are targeting consumer demand, both through public campaigns and education of young people. GWC, as a science-based organization, can best use its resources to help institute new systems for protecting species, increase hiring and training of rangers, and identify the key areas for short- and medium-term protection. We also see Asia, particularly Southeast Asia, as the center for the wildlife trade crisis. While a lot of attention is rightly paid to Africa, the forests of Asia have been undergoing an insidious onslaught mostly overlooked by the rest of the world. Species that occurred over much of mainland Southeast Asia and the Greater Sunda islands, such as the magnificent Javan and Sumatran rhinos, have been driven to the edge of extinction, while others such as the Kouprey and Schomburgk’s Deer are now nothing more than a footnote in natural history books. We are focusing more resources on this key front in the illegal wildlife trade crisis, and hope that more partners will join us.
Q: How do you tackle an issue that is so tied to individuals’ livelihoods and values?
A: There is a wide perception publicly that a lot of wildlife poaching is for subsistence use by local communities, but on the scale we are talking about, it is mainly driven by large criminal syndicates that feed into massive black markets. When communities benefit from this illegal wildlife trade, it is often in the short-term, helping poachers hunt out the last turtles from their rivers, the last pangolins (scaled mammals often mistaken for reptiles) from their forests, all of which feed burgeoning markets, mostly in Asia. These markets tout fake properties of animals, plants, and their parts for huge profits, perpetuating and often creating myths for unaware consumers. The local communities are left with ecosystems frayed at the edges, and often do not realize that as these native species decline, so does their own long-term health and prosperity. The complicated factor is that the rest of the world is losing not just the opportunity to save species for their own sake, but also the countless benefits to humanity of lost species—never knowing what ‘books’ are lost from the ‘library of life,’ the library that has given us almost all modern human medicines, foods, fibers, fuel, clean air and water. The international community thus has a huge stake in helping local communities protect their natural heritage.
I would like to show you an example of a new activity of my organization called “Association du Prieuré” (Maine et Loire- France).
Since 2005, my organization is working with the Regional National Parc Loire-Anjou-Touraine in the context of environment education.
This year, we’re testing straw bale gardening at school and I can see in a weekly use that is a really efficient way to work outside with kids. You can put straw bale everywhere (at least a sunny place) so a good point in school backyard.
Here are pictures of straw bale gardening with kids around 8 to 10 years old.
See you in another post.
Athletes, on the other hand, understand the importance of taking care of their body by fueling it properly in order to maintain a desired level of fitness. A university study of intercollegiate athletes determined that 88% used nutritional supplements as part of their training regimen (though there are some that resort to unnatural substances that promise to improve their performance).
The desire to improve physical performance and dominate in competition is not new. For centuries, athletes have used a variety of “performance-enhancing” concoctions including the Ancient Greek Olympians who, prior to competing, ingested dried figs, mushrooms and strychnine amongst other substances, the Norse Berserkers who consumed hallucinogenic mushrooms to increase their fighting strength and, more recently, the Chinese women distance runners who shattered world records in ’93 due in part to a daily intake of cordyceps in chicken broth.
Cordyceps (aka Caterpillar fungus) are parasitic mushrooms that live on the larvae of butterflies and moths, primarily in the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau in Central Asia. These celebrated mushrooms used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine grow in a mineral-rich soil at high altitudes and low temperature making their harvest a dangerous and treacherous activity. Because of their incredible health benefits, scarcity, remote habitat and tough geography, cordyceps were historically reserved for the Emperor’s highest court and Chinese nobility and today are sold in Asian markets for exorbitant prices.
In recent years, six varieties have been cultivated for medicinal purposes; Cordyceps sinensis being the most common and promising. This mushroom contains a broad range of compounds including vitamins E, K, B1, B2, B12, all essential amino acids, many sugars and polysaccharides, proteins, sterols and a host of macro and micro elements. In traditional Chinese medicine, cordyceps are used to treat respiratory and pulmonary disease, renal, liver and cardiovascular disease as well as immune disorders. In Tibet, it is considered a rejuvenator that increases energy and reduces fatigue.
In Western medicine, cordyceps are used primarily by two distinct groups: the elderly and athletes, though with increased research, there are promising applications for patients undergoing cancer treatments and those suffering from respiratory, kidney and liver diseases. Some athletes add cordyceps to their training regimen as research has shown it increases useful energy and endurance. A Japanese study using aqueous cordyceps extracts showed that it dilated the aorta by 40% which increased blood flow to the muscles thereby greatly enhancing endurance.
A study in Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise tested 30 healthy male athletes for 6 weeks to record the effects of cordyceps on their performance. The group that added cordyceps to its daily regimen had twice the oxygen intake of the control group. Oxygen intake is essential in supplying nutrients to the muscles, preventing fatigue and the build-up of lactic acid. Another study done by the same group on 30 healthy Chinese elderly adults showed a 9% increase in aerobic activity.
Separately, a study performed in Shrewsbury, MA at the Rippe Lifestyle institute, tested sedentary adults for 12 weeks on their aerobic capability, exercise metabolism and endurance. The healthy volunteers (ages 40-70) were divided into two groups with one consuming a mixture of cordyceps and rhodiola. Their oxygen intake, respiratory exchange ratio (RER), blood pressure and body weight were measured at 0 weeks, 6 weeks and 12 weeks.
The group that consumed the cordyceps mixture reduced their timed one mile walk by 29 seconds at the end of 12 weeks, increased their work out on a cycle ergometer by 3.1%, increased their VO2peak by 5.5% (maximum of O2 body uses during a specific time) and decreased their RER by 2.1% (ratio between CO2 produced and O2 consumed in one breath). Additionally, the group that consumed cordyceps lowered its blood pressure by 3.1% and decreased body weight by 1.2% by the end of the 12 weeks.
Research using laboratory animals also concluded that cordyceps improve performance. In lab tests, mice that had cordyceps added to their diet significantly increased their time-to-exhaustion over the control group suggesting improved performance/endurance from increased energy output and decreased fatigue. Another study using rats also determined that cordyceps improved endurance. Two groups were tested; one that had not exercised prior to testing and the other that had. The rats were given cordyceps over 15 days and tested against a control group. The animals that had not exercised improved their endurance by 79% whereas the group that had exercised prior to testing improved by 179%.
Researchers concluded that the improvement in endurance was due to the activation of the skeletal muscle metabolic regulators, angiogenesis (the development of new blood vessels important in improving physical performance) and better glucose and lactate uptake (glucose is necessary for ATP synthesis, lactate diminishes the “burn” in muscle). Others suggest the increased endurance was due to improved respiratory activity concomitant with the metabolism of lactic acid. A Boston marathon runner shared that he improved his running time by 25 minutes recently attributing his success, in part, to consuming cordyceps in tea form.
Though more conclusive research needs to be done on the influence cordyceps have on physical performance, the positive health effects these fungi have on a slew of illnesses and disease is convincing. Therapeutic effects include: anti-bacterial, anti-oxidant, anti-tumor, anti-viral, blood pressure, blood sugar moderator, cardio-vascular, cholesterol reducer, immune enhancer, kidney tonic, lungs/respiratory, nerve tonic, sexual potentiator and stress reducer. Additionally, there are some encouraging results using cordyceps in conjunction with certain cancer treatments including lung cancer, leukemia and lymphoma.
Consuming cordyceps from Asia in their natural form is not recommended as there may be many impurities, fungicidal residue and some are also stuffed with foreign objects (including lead) to increase their weight (and thus price). Cordyceps cultivated in the US organically from mycelium are considered better and safer with greater consistency, quality assurance and controlled potency. Terrafunga carries a reputable line of supplements including cordyceps that are grown organically in the US.
As many of us have resolved to eat healthier and exercise more this coming year, perhaps adding some cordyceps to our routine will give us the energy boost we need while improving our performance and endurance.
Terrafunga does not offer medical advice. Readers should seek medical advice from a licensed physician or other health care professional and not rely on information they may gather from secondary sources such as the internet.
Sources: PubMed.gov, US National Library of Medicine, International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms, 10(3):219–234 (2008), Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise, Medicinalmushroominfo.com/cordyceps, Mycomedicinals, Paul Stamets 2002]]>
It was on 2007, when our team developed and started to use with success at Cabo Blanco, an innovative tag and monitoring methodology using GPS-Fastloc receptors on individuals of the monk seal colony (Link video). Since then, this technical tool has been applied with success to numerous animals of the colony (mainly adult males) and since then it has been improving notably. On a next post we will get deeper into the methodology and results.
Up to date, none wild animal of other Mediterranean monk seal populations has been monitored using GPS tags. Therefore, the only available information, is the one obtained at Cabo Blanco.
But which are the next challenges? On these days we are being testing a new generation of GPS-Fastloc receptors (Fastloc 3) and the data reception base, manufactured by Sirtrack. Once set-up the new equipment, the next objectives will be to complete the monitoring of reproductive females and juveniles at Cabo Blanco and something completely new: to tag for the first time individuals of monk seal at Madeira! This last challenge will be possible thanks to the life project LIFE Madeira Monk seal, funded by the European Union and developed by CBD-Habitat foundation and the SPNM (Serviço do Parque Natural da Madeira)
We will keep you up dated on that too!!]]>
The images also made it to the International Mountain Biking Association’s Facebook page.
Two local Mountain Bikers and well-loved photographers Jose Galaz and Lee Sie generously donated their works of art to be used in the displays. Both photographers are SDMBA Photo Contest Winners. Check out images from a January 13th tour of the airport sign installations in the SDMBA Gallery Flickr Group
The two airport displays have a link that takes visitors to a SDMBA Airport landing page allowing easy online bike rentals from several of our sponsors, links to connect to SDMBA meetup rides and the newly launched REI Mountain Bike Club rides plus maps, places to find some fine microbrews and much more. Visitors can use our link or QR code with a smartphone to find bike rentals and rides before they get to baggage claim. Those that take us up of the offer to join us for a ride will discover the friendly people that use and manage our environments and have fun enjoying our unique parks and trail systems.
Thank you JCDecaux and the SAN Airport for all your help getting this project off the tarmac!
The Sani Community is set along the banks of the Napo River in eastern Ecuador and is located on 100,000 acres of rainforest between two protected areas: Yasuni National Park and the Cuyabeno Reserve. Our day had begun with a 5 a.m. breakfast where we were staying, the Community’s Sani Lodge set on idyllic Challuacocha Lake. The Community itself is located one canoe ride, one walk through the rainforest, and one motorboat ride away from the Lodge. We had already spent several hours birdwatching by the time we arrived at the craft house, and though it was only 10 a.m. we were happy to stop for an early bit of lunch.
After quietly browsing jewelry made by the Sani Warmi using plant fibers and brilliant orange and red rainforest seeds, and after buying several pieces to take home as gifts, we gathered around the big palm leaf and sat down on the floor. In front of each of us, a packet of food wrapped in a piece of palm leaf, twisted closed at the top, charred from its recent grilling over an open fire. Steam rose as I unwrapped my packet and Domingo cautioned that it was very hot. Inside was a piece of tilapia, sweet and juicy if also boney, topped with finely chopped palm heart. A green plantain and a manioc root, both grilled, were laid out in the center for sampling. Accompanying the meal was a small bowl of hot sauce, picante, for dipping. On a wooden skewer, a row of white cacao beans had been roasted and salted into a tasty snack. Beside David sat a small clay bowl filled with a milky white slurry. Chicha, Domingo explained, a fermented manioc drink with a yeasty, just-brewed tang.
We sampled and tasted and ate happily until there was just one food left: fat grilled grubs neatly aligned along a skewer. I felt embarrassed at my hesitancy to try them; my intellect (good protein, well cooked) was at war with my North American acculturation (eating worms!). But I took a deep breath, pulled a grub off the stick offered to me by Domingo, and stuck it in my mouth, chewing rapidly. Surprise! It tasted good, rather like bacon, smoky and salty. David, Domingo, and Lucio polished off the rest on the skewer.
We stood up, thanked the women, slipped back into our rubber rain boots left at the bottom of the steps at the entrance, and headed off once again. Domingo was in the lead, as always, spotting scope on his shoulder, as we followed him into more delights of the rainforest. Here, near the Community, he pointed out a Slender-billed Kite soaring high above us as we passed by a field of cacao trees and entered the forest in search of owls.
Domingo was our companion, teacher, and guide every day of our six days at Sani Lodge. He is a member of the Sani Community, a nephew of Don Orlando who was the driving force in the late 1990s to establish and build the Lodge. Domingo has worked at the Lodge since it opened in 2000. He taught himself how to recognize by sight and by call 350 species of birds. He learned all their names in English so that he could become a guide to birdwatching groups. He is one of the authors of the Illustrated Guide to the Birds of Sani Lodge that I purchased and carried home. I now thumb through it to remember the beautiful birds we saw (125 species total), the moments when we saw them, and to help caption the photos David took.
David and I are far from serious birders; neither one of us even keeps a life list. But we love being in the tropical rainforest, having lived for several years in southeast Asia. We were excited to finally be making our first trip into the Amazonian rainforest.
To us, Domingo’s skills at finding birds were a kind of magic. David dubbed him “the bird whisperer” for his ability to produce the call of a bird—often using his own voice, sometimes playing an audio recording—that would lure the bird close enough for us to view through binoculars or through the spotting scope he set up. Indeed, Domingo directed our eyes to these amazingly diverse and beautiful rainforest inhabitants in a way that would have been impossible on our own.
Written By: Nancy L. Penrose (Rainforest Partnership Supporter)]]>