Learn to Save Seeds from Your Food Garden

seedHow to Save Seeds, Monday June 26 , 6 to 8 p.m.
Garfield Park Lodge, 334 Burton St. SE, Grand Rapids 49507. Free!

 

Did you know that when you grow organic or heirloom varieties in your food garden, you can save the seeds to start new plants the next growing season? In addition to growing your garden budget, growing from saved seeds ensures a produce yield that is more nutritious and tastier.

Also, from a food justice perspective, saving seeds is activism for promoting seed freedom, food sovereignty and standing with Mother Earth and the environment.

Come and learn exactly how to save seeds from all different types of food plants — and help build an alternative to the failing industrial food complex. OKT also has a free hand-out on seed-saving. Download it here.

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Report: Michigan communities, water face twin assaults from environmental budget cuts

 

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These cuts will directly reduce remediation of the toxic plume poisoning families living near Madision and Hall St. SE.

Reposted from LINC-UP June 14, 2017

 

LCV, MEC urge lawmakers to consider combined impact of state, federal proposals

LANSING — Michigan lawmakers are rushing to pass budgets that slash core environmental programs — especially ones protecting our lakes and waterways — without considering the dire impacts they will have when combined with likely cuts at the federal level, a new report from the Michigan Environmental Council and Michigan League of Conservation Voters warns.

The report, prepared by Public Sector Consultants, compiles for the first time all the known environmental programs and protections for public health that are threatened by steep budget cuts currently proposed in Lansing and Washington. At risk are essential programs for protecting the Great Lakes, ensuring safe drinking water and cleaning up toxic contamination, the analysis indicates.

“This report shows that irresponsible, sweeping cuts at the state and federal levels will have real-world impacts from Menominee to Monroe, Taylor to Traverse City,” said Lisa Wozniak, Michigan LCV executive director. “This report is a wake-up call. We urge our elected officials in Lansing to pump the brakes and stop rushing to pass a budget that will only hasten our race to the bottom when it comes to the environment.”

Both the state House and Senate have proposed significant cuts to the Department of Environmental Quality budget. At the same time, President Trump has called for cutting the Environmental Protection Agency budget by nearly a third. Combined, those cuts would fundamentally weaken the the DEQ’s ability to protect public health and natural resources, since federal funds — mostly from the EPA — make up more than a quarter of DEQ’s budget in the 2017 fiscal year.

“We want Michigan residents to understand that the drastic budget cuts lawmakers are rushing to pass before summer break will mean less enforcement of the bedrock environmental standards that hold polluters accountable and protect our families from poisoned drinking water and dangerous air pollution,” said Chris Kolb, MEC president. “Failing to fund these essential programs will only cost us more down the road and put public health at risk in the meantime.”

Most notably, the House and Senate budgets do not address the fact that Clean Michigan Initiative funds, used to clean up hazardous sites in Michigan communities over the past decade, will no longer be available next year. By not replacing those funds, lawmakers are in effect cutting $14.9 million in cleanup funds for contamination that threatens drinking water supplies, our rivers and lakes, and the health of Michigan families.

Both chambers also cut Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposed $4.9 million to address the emerging threat of vapor intrusion, which occurs when poisonous gases enter buildings built on sites where contamination wasn’t cleaned up. Buildings in Michigan have been evacuated recently because of vapor intrusion and blood tests have found high levels of toxic chemicals in the blood of some people at those sites. The state estimates there are about 4,000 sites statewide at risk for vapor intrusion.

“These cuts aren’t just line items on budget documents, they are real threats to the health and safety of Michigan residents,” said Jeremy DeRoo, co-executive director of LINC UP, a community development organization in Grand Rapids working to educate and protect local residents from toxic vapor intrusion. “Our cities are facing many environmental risks that are now being exacerbated by these proposed budget cuts — everything from worrying about whether the water coming out of their taps is safe to drink to living everyday with air laced with toxic chemicals.  Now is the time to address these problems head-on.  Ignoring them won’t make them go away.”

The report also looks at the impact on Michigan communities of major cuts to federal environmental programs proposed by President Trump. It specifically looks at key projects funded by the federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, Superfund, Brownfield, and Sea Grant programs, which are at risk of losing funding under the president’s current budget proposal.

“Our analysis shows that the Legislature’s significant cuts to environmental programs will have direct impacts on the ability of local governments and organizations to protect public health and the natural resources that are vitally important for Michigan’s economy and quality of life,” said Julie Metty Bennett, senior vice president of Public Sector Consultants. “The report also serves to inform policymakers on the range of cuts proposed at the state and federal level, effectively causing a one-two punch to their ability to ensure Michigan’s environmental policy is carried out in a way that maintains their constituents’ expectations in recreation, economic activity, and public health.”

– See more at: http://lincup.org/news/reportmichigancommunitieswaterfacetwinassaultsfromenvironmentalbudgetcuts#sthash.AFsGptHJ.dpuf

Free composting class June 19

wgtw_compost_lg_textOn Monday June 19, OKT is hosting a free Composting class from 6 to 8 p.m. at Garfield Park Lodge, 334 Burton St. SE 49507. Come and learn about the true nature of compost and how to end up with the rich humus that your garden needs.

What is compost?   The term “compost” is overused and not clearly defined by those using it.  Commercial industries, backyard gardeners and community gardens say that they are composting but that’s not always the case. Commercial compost you buy at the garden shop or big box store is not regulated—and can even contain toxic industrial wastes. True composting results in fluffy humus that’s rich in carbon.  While similar to potting soil in texture and color, it is much healthier for your garden.

This is the third in a series of four food gardening classes that OKT is offering this May. Next Monday June 26, OKT will share “How to Save Seeds.”

Free food garden class tonight!

How to Plan Your Food Garden, Part 2Deanna 2
6 to 8 p.m. Monday June 12
Garfield Park Lodge
334 Burton SE 49507

Free and open to all!

Are you interested in planting your own urban food garden and don’t know where to start? During this free workshop, you will learn food garden basics with farmer and OKT food garden coach, Leslie Huffman.

Next Monday, June 19, OKT will share how to compost. On June 26, we will talk about how to save seeds from this year’s food garden for the next planting season. These classes take place at the Garfield Parl Lodge from 6 to 8 p.m., as well.

2017 Equity Profile highlights potential for equity to drive shared prosperity

d4d9f39aca054e979f1356c054ec4613_175x175_croppedReleased by Partners for a Racism-free Community 

An Equity Profile of Grand Rapids, released April 28 , highlights inequities in income, employment, education, and opportunity in Grand Rapids. The report was developed by PolicyLink and the Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) at USC, with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Since 2011, PolicyLink and PERE have engaged in a formal partnership to amplify the message that equity—just and fair inclusion—is both a moral imperative and the key to our nation’s economic prosperity as America’s demographics shift and communities of color emerge as the new majority. An Equity Profile of Grand Rapids underscores while the city demonstrates overall strength and resilience, gaps in income, employment, education, and opportunity by race and geography place its economic future at risk. In 2014, more than 40 percent of residents were people of color, double the share (20 percent) in 1980. Diverse groups are driving growth and change in the region and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

“The City of Grand Rapids believes in equity-informed decision making which is why we are committed to creating and implementing an equity dashboard and scorecard,” said Stacy Stout, Assistant to the City Manager, City of Grand Rapids. “We don’t want data paralysis, we want action; if you have analysis without the action it often results in managerial racism and that hurts the community. Tools like the PolicyLink Equity Profile help us better visualize that work.”

“Robust data about the state of equity in Grand Rapids is essential for crafting strategies to improve outcomes for vulnerable children,“ said Huilan Krenn, Director of Learning and Impact at the W. K. Kellogg Foundation. “Our foundation is committed to enabling communities to take data-driven actions using the powerful data contained in the Equity Profile.”

“There has been growing consensus amongst economists that more equitable cities and regions experience more sustainable growth,” said Jessica Pizarek, Associate at PolicyLink. “This is also true for Grand Rapids.  If racial gaps in income were closed, its economy would be $4 billion stronger. We call this the ‘racial equity dividend.’”

Other key findings in the report include:

• Since 1980, communities of color have driven the city’s population growth.  While Grand Rapids’s population has not grown much overall (only a net increase of about 9,000 people), its demographic makeup has changed significantly.  All of the city’s population growth since 1980 has come from communities of color, which has countered steady decline in the number of residents who are White.
• Young people are leading this demographic shift.  Three in fiveyouth under the age of 18 in the city are non-White.  Looking to the future, Grand Rapids will become a majority people-of-color city around 2050, just behind the nation, which will become majority people-of-color in 2044.
• In 2014, 12 percent of all residents who could work and were employed full time but still lived below 200 percent of the poverty line.  Latinos have the highest rate of working poverty, at more than 26 percent.
• Median hourly wages have dropped for all residents since 2000, but Black workers saw the largest decrease of nearly $3 per hour from 2000 to 2014. Latino workers continue to earn the lowest median wage of all groups at $12.30 an hour.

“I am glad PolicyLink is elevating data about racial inequities, particularly at a time when we are being presented with new studies locally showing disparate interaction with law enforcement in Grand Rapids communities of color,” said Faye Richardson-Green, Executive Director of Partners for a Racism-Free Community.

The equity profile and potential solutions included therein will serve as a unique resource for local advocates and residents seeking to address disinvestment in communities of color. To this end,PolicyLink and Partners for a Racism-Free Community are holding a panel discussion and community forum around equity in Grand Rapids this morning at DeVos Place (303 Monroe Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503). To download a copy of the report, click here:

http://nationalequityatlas.org/sites/default/files/GrandRapids_final_profile.pdf

About PolicyLink
PolicyLink is a national research and action institute advancing economic and social equity by Lifting Up What Works®. For more information, visit PolicyLink.org.