Monday, December 6, 2010

Sustainability Potluck and Presentation

On Dec 1st, Dearborn's Sierra Club Cool Cities hosted an eye-opening presentation and a great-tasting dinner. The curious and concerned gathered at the SME Bldg, north of HFCC, to hear from several speakers and continue the conversation about having a sustainable climate, healthy food, and green cities.

Maureen McIlrath opened the evening with an inspiring slide show presentation showing the progress in the Going Green Foundations community garden. The promise of abundant produce from this urban farm has already begun, but their ambitious plans include fruit and nut trees, herb and healing gardens, and gardens for seniors and children. The idea of an organic garden at Crowley Park in Dearborn's west side grew into a vision for a fully organic urban food source. This will benefit
the community, our school children as well as for those who work the soil- tending the plants and contributing to the cause. If you have an interest in helping or just want to know more, visit their website, Going Green Foundation.

After some members of the audience went back for seconds and others went for dessert, HFCC Professor Lourdes Lore delivered the first of a 3-part series "Climate Change: A Crisis on Your Plate". This broad topic was fine-tuned for this evening's short presentation, but a handout with links and summaries assured us that we could learn more as time allowed.
While climate change is a global issue, Professor Lore focused our attention on local CAFOs (Confined Animal Feeding Operations) with a map of lower Michigan. Factory farming causes numerous problems for the environment and food safety, as well as offending those who care about the health and living conditions of livestock. Learn more at this informative site, and

Another prominent point made in this presentation was the environmental cost of transporting food across the nation and across the globe. Being an informed consumer and purchasing locally means we can support food producers with sustainable practices. Professor Lore wants us to think differently about the value of healthy food compared to cheaply made food that has costly consequences. She suggested getting involved in community supported agriculture farms (CSAs). An audience member cited Calder Dairy as a sustainable local dairy farm which still delivers milk, eggs and other dairy products in the Dearborn area. Although it isn't an organic farm, it is a small locally owned farm (you can visit and see how the animals are living). Another participant spoke of the opportunity to purchase locally grown organic produce from a partnership out of Ann Arbor. Find out more at Purchasing foods locally, reducing meat and buying from earth-friendly producers will reduce the stress on our environment. "Vote with your fork," says, which offers several ideas and helpful resources. If you want to be notified of the Winter 2011 schedule, friend us on facebook or send us your contact information via email.

The evening closed with a briefing on the Michigan Good Food Charter by Kathryn Colasanti of MSU. Michigan Good Food Charter outlines a vision for the food system in Michigan and 25 agenda priorities. Ms. Colasanti highlighted the primary goals (as the definition of good food) that can be accomplished as these priorities are put into effect.

Good Food is:
  • Healthy - It provides nourishment and enables people to thrive
  • Green - It was produced in a manner that is environmentally sustainable
  • Fair - No one along the production line was exploited for its creation
  • Affordable - All people have access to it
Would you like to get find out more about this 10 year plan or even get involved in implementing these ideas in your own life and in your community? Click here to learn more about it and begin telling others. As the general public, business community, governmental leaders and non-governmental agencies gain awareness, progress can be made.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

200 yr old Burr Oak at HFCC

This venerable tree is a must-see and a fine place to take photos. The over 200 year-old Burr Oak was given a plaque donated by our League which is exhibited on the boardwalk across from the tree which is 177 inches in circumference. To save the tree from lightning, workers have placed lightning rods on three places on the tree. Think about it! This tree was a sapling when George Washington was President of the United States.

By Joe Borrajo
Vice President of LWVDDH