September Saturdays tackle water, economics, food, elections
Saturday, Sept. 8, Avon Outdoor Learning Center
According to Carol Ford, Avon Outdoor Learning Center coordinator, Hoosier Riverwatch training does more than get participants’ feet wet. The goal of the free program is aimed at turning around the state of Indiana’s waterways.
The volunteer stream monitoring program promotes stewardship through education. “Knowledge is good,” Ford says. “The more people are aware of the problems, the more people will help to do something to counteract those problems, like storm water runoff.”
Participants start by gaining a basic understanding of chemical testing, biological testing and habitat assessment. After some class time, they head to a local stream with nets and buckets to collect aquatic insects, revealing more details about the tributary’s health.
The one-day basic training equips participants to sign up for regular monitoring of a particular watercourse and input data into the Hoosier Riverwatch database. Through volunteers’ quarterly waterway checks, the database tracks changes in water quality statewide.
Ford herself has seen the impact of such tracking firsthand. Following her second Hoosier Riverwatch training, she was able to help locate an illicit discharge based on e coli levels. Armed with the data, she approached the health department for action.
Ford says, “I want my grandkids to have water. I want them to have clean water. We all have to learn how to be good stewards and that’s what Hoosier Riverwatch is all about.”
Saturday, Sept. 15, Holiday Park Nature Center
Concern for the Earth led Greg Buck of the Campaign for Sustainable Economics to organize the upcoming Symposium on Economics and Sustainability. The event is the culmination of years of “cognitive dissonance” he experienced on hearing traditional economists’ view that the ecosystem must suffer to accommodate economic growth.
Through discussions of local food security, peak oil, socially responsible investing and natural capital, Buck hopes to demonstrate the necessity for a new paradigm, one grounded in caring for the Earth as humankind’s life support system.
“Economic growth for wealthy countries has turned into a problem,” he explains. “You see it on a global level when you consider catastrophic climate change, when you consider peak oil, when you consider that our species diversity is being reduced. That’s not a petty matter. It’s the diversity of plants that we can eat that allows us to survive if some species die off, whether that’s due to human cause or a more natural cause.”
Buck advocates a steady-state economy, which ensures equilibrium with the Earth’s carrying capacity. “We’ve put such a great pressure on it,” he says. “Basically, we just need to be living within our means.”
He has enlisted socially responsible financial advisor Bill Stant, campaign finance reform advocate Jack Miller, global warming expert John Blair and several politicians to speak at the free all-day event. The conference will examine Indiana’s contribution to global warming and in general rethink “business as usual.”
Saturday, Sept. 22, Carmel Friends Church
Parents hungry for information on children’s nutritional needs will be “fed” at the first all-day conference of its kind in the Indianapolis area. The Nourishing Our Children Conference brings diverse experts together to talk about restoring the health of Indiana’s children through food.
Sara Slipher of the Weston A. Price Foundation Indianapolis chapter says that conflicting information on the “balanced diet” has led to confusion among parents. “Our information is based on the research of Dr. Weston A. Price,” she says. “What he discovered is very eye-opening but at the same time very common sense.”
Price, a Depression-era dentist, began seeing increasing numbers of children with cavities and crooked teeth. He had a hunch that these dental deformities were linked to the refined flours and sugars that had become prevalent in the early part of the 20th century. He traveled worldwide to locate villages where good health was the norm, and then analyzed the villagers’ foods.
Slipher says, “He found that they were getting 10 times the fat-soluble vitamins and four times the water-soluble vitamins that people at home were getting.”
In keeping with such research, the conference faculty, including local wholistic physician Kevin Logan, MD, will emphasize the importance of “nutrient-dense” whole foods. They will pinpoint the link between diet and such ubiquitous ailments as ADHD, allergies and autism.
But the conference won’t stop there. “Once we tell you why we need to buy these good, wholesome, nutrient-rich foods,” Slipher says, “then we’ll help you find them. We believe the best place to buy these things is at your back door, from your local farmer.” Sessions on “Kitchen 101 and 102” will demonstrate food selection and preparation.
Several vendors, the majority local farmers, will offer foods for sample and purchase. Ivy Tech culinary arts teacher Chef Thomas England will serve a farm-fresh lunch.
Saturday, Sept. 29, University of Indianapolis
Tackling the roots of a corrupt system is the goal of the Indiana Clean Elections Coalition’s upcoming citizens’ summit. In light of an election system where typically the candidate with the most money wins, organizers seek to mobilize Hoosiers to remove private money from public elections.
Jack Miller, president of Indiana Alliance for Democracy, states the problem succinctly: “We have these bought and paid for politicians. The only way around it is for [the public] to fund their campaigns. We pay their salaries, so we ought to have some say in who gets elected.”
He notes that corporate control of political process is clearly linked to environmental destruction. “The more corruption there is,” he says, “the less democracy there is. And the dirtier the environment is.” Wresting the vote from corporations and putting it back into the people’s hands is critical to reversing the trend of global warming, he says.
Activists like Arizona Clean Elections director Eric Ehst and Doris “Granny D” Haddock, who walked across the country to bring attention to the need for clean elections, will bring their passion and expertise to the all-day event. A panel including Rep. David Orentlicher and Citizens Action Coalition’s Julia Vaughn will discuss ways to influence lawmakers.
The ultimate goal, Miller says, is to build a statewide coalition for reforming the election system through clean election laws. A networking reception will take place at Wheeler Arts Center the night before the conference.