Friday, November 28, 2008

Michael Pollan discusses food policy on Bill Moyers Journal

Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto is on the Bill Moyers Journal TV show on PBS tonight. He is a great writer and an advocate for local foods. This is an excellent synopsis of his writings about the interconnection between governmental food policy and health, food security, the environment, and energy.
This show will be repeated in the next couple of days on several PBS stations and it is viewable archived on the PBS web site.
I strongly encourage you to watch this. It is well worth your time. He is an engaging speaker and conversationalist with an important message.
Link to the archived episode is below.

Also, Michael Pollan has a nice web site with all his essays (most published in The New York Times Sunday Magazine) and other info and links. Most of the information in his books is found in the essays.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Logo Choices

The logos above were crafted by a very talented local, David Downing. Let's use this post and the comments area below it to carry on some discussion about the choices, all of which look great to me. What do you think?

Broadcast Stations vs. Glasgow's Economy

Cross Posted from The Red, Blue & Green Blog

When the EPB meets this week they will be considering the latest offers from the television broadcasters relative to what they are going to charge the people of Glasgow for the privilege of viewing their programming via the EPB cable system. You will recall that this is the broadcaster's little "agreement among friends" to extract massive payments for programming that everyone is accustomed to receiving for free. Curiously, they all decided to make these demands this year.

The EPB Board will be considering some painful choices. We know our customers are already rocked by financial hardship. The economy is in trouble. The cost of electric power is spiraling. In short, everyone should realize that this is not the time to demand more money from folks who are already hurting. But, that is exactly what the broadcast television stations are doing.

A couple of things are certain. Some of the broadcast stations you have been getting for years will disappear on January 1, 2009. However, all is not lost as we may be able to add a couple of stations back to our lineup that have been gone for a long time. Finally, it is also certain that the very best deal we can negotiate will still result in an increase in the rate for our basic tier of programming. Right now it looks like the increase will be in the neighborhood of $1.75 per month for the basic broadcast tier, but that final decision will be up the EPB Board when it meets.

I think everyone should know that our friends at WBKO in Bowling Green are being the most hard- nosed about demanding money (if we agree to what they are demanding they will be taking $50,000 per year out of Glasgow's economy) and refusing to negotiate more reasonable terms. Each of the other broadcasters started off asking a certain amount and then were willing to negotiate with us for lower amounts. This has not been the case with WBKO and as time winds down, it does not seem like they are going to change.

This is another example of the problems faced by Glasgow's local economy. There are simply too many businesses (like WBKO) that are determined to export money from Glasgow's economy while providing precious little for us in return. These are the problems that Glasgow's new movement, Sustainable Glasgow is being created to address. We simply have to learn how to provide more goods and services for ourselves such that we can keep our money in local circulation and enjoy the "multiplier" effects of sustaining local businesses. In the future, every time I look at WBKO's programming I will be thinking about the $50,000 per year they are taking from us and how that money might have helped a local business person grow his business in Glasgow. I hope you will too.

Of course, WBKO feels that the information and entertainment products they produce are well worth that money. But an event this weekend at The Plaza Theater reconfirmed my belief that we can inform, and certainly can entertain ourselves as well. If you were one of the roughly one thousand folks who attended the bluegrass music event at The Plaza Theater this weekend, you know what I am talking about. Local government officials made a fantastic decision to purchase and renovate this facility. Local employees and volunteers at The Plaza Theater assembled the talent and produced the show. They also sold tickets, ushered folks, sold concessions, and ran the lights and sound systems. To a large extent, the talent was local as well, and that closes the circle on my theory. We have a place, we have the management folks and talented volunteers, and we have local talented musicians. We also have wonderfully talented local thespians - The Far Off Broadway Players who are working hard to entertain us locally as well.

So, my point is this. Distant companies who are enriching themselves by siphoning off Glasgow's wealth better pay attention to the changing tide. Sustainable Glasgow intends to work diligently to identify places where our treasure is leaking out of the community to vendors who might be relying too heavily on our slumber. Together, we can awaken Glasgow's determination to protect itself and provide for our own needs.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Renewable Everything

If you get a chance watch the Green Warriors series on CNN this week. This is a link to an enterprise featured - one showing how a bit of "out of the box" thinking can result in a whole new way to fuel our country.

It seems you can grow more than just food in greenhouses!


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Thoughts on Sustainable Glasgow

I am hoping for more readership of this blog now that Sustainable Glasgow has been introduced to the community through recent media coverage. In that hope, and in this entry, I wish to expand on the principles and philosophy thus far presented, particularly for those with a new interest or curiosity in this movement.

The local economic, quality, security, safety and health issues surrounding food are the initial focus of effort of this movement.That is appropriate, as there is nothing that touches our lives any more intimately than food. And we are well situated to make local food availability a reality.But the principles of sustainability and localism extend into almost everything in our lives: water, energy, transportation, education, communication, local commerce and industry, local restaurants-and even local live entertainment. These issues are all on the table to be addressed as we gather interest and momentum. So if your interest is piqued by one these issues,then get involved, join up, and stay tuned.

The principles we espouse are aimed at improving the quality of our community life by promoting local enterprise, thereby keeping dollars spent here in circulation in our local economy. The principle of local dollar multipliers takes effect: when you purchase from a locally owned business, the dollar you spend is very likely spent locally, then locally again, etc. and you see the multiplying effect. A dollar spent at a "big box" retailer (and you know who they are) is shipped out of this community so fast that it would make your head spin - and that dollar certainly will never again see light in Barren or surrounding counties.

Besides the purely economic aspect of localism, there is the issue of quality of experience in our commerce. In a big box store, the total conversation is typically "paper or plastic?" or "credit or debit?" Compare that to the experience of a purchase at a locally owned business where relationship and service are a matter of pride. The most stark contrast is the supermarket shopping experience vs. the farmers' market experience. Shopping at a farmers' market is an enriching, conversational experience of great satisfaction and quality purchases - and highly recommended. I need not describe the shopping experience in a supermarket.

We have found through experience in this country that more is not always better, that quality is more important than quantity. Studies show that despite having bigger homes, more and bigger cars, and lots of "stuff" we are no happier than were people fifty years ago who had much less. So what is missing? I propose that it is a loss of sense of community and shared experience and sacrifice - a loss of authenticity. Consumerism as a lifestyle has failed us. We need strong communities, family, friends, neighbors, a personal quality and mutual trust in our commerce, and a pride in place.

This is not to suggest that we become insular. We should welcome all who come here and we should keep our minds open always to ideas for improvement. We should reach out to other communities and cultures and integrate the ideas that work for them to improve our lot. And we should certainly keep in mind that we are all united in this country by the priciples of our founding that have given us the opportunities to live free and make these choices. We can do all this without losing our uniqueness.

Our greatest opportunity to make the world and this country better is to make our little piece of it better. That is my hope for Glasgow and Barren County. That is the mission of Sustainable Glasgow.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Meeting Minutes, November 20, 2008

Sustainable Glasgow

Minutes from November 20, 2008, Regular Meeting

The regular meeting of Sustainable Glasgow, Inc. was held at 7:00 A.M., November 20, 2008, at 110 East Public Square, Glasgow, Kentucky.
The meeting was called to order by Acting Chairperson William Ray presiding, and, recorded by Acting Secretary William Ray.
Present were William Ray, William Travis, Vivian Garrett, Rhonda Trautman, Lisa Simpson Strange, Daniel Iacconi, Carl Dickerson, James P. Haynes, and Jerry Ralston.
The Acting Chairperson then declared that the first item of business would be a review of the Sustainable Glasgow activities, to date, and a summary of the underlying reasoning behind the creation of the group. Vigorous discussion ensued with all attendees participating with ideas and agreement with the principles behind the creation of the Sustainable Glasgow movement.
The Acting Chairperson stated that the next item of business would be a review of the Articles of Incorporation drafted by John Rogers. The Acting Chairperson shared copies of the document with the attendees and asked for volunteers to become the initial directors and incorporators. Eventually William Ray, William Travis, and Jerry Ralston were appointed initial directors and Joseph Trigg (though absent he had already agreed) and Rhonda Trautman agreed to be incorporators. The documents were then executed and William Ray agreed to deliver them to John Rogers for filing. At the call of the Acting Chairperson for the next item of business, the press release proposed to inform the community of the formation of Sustainable Glasgow was shared with the group. After lengthy discussion there was a consensus to release the information to the media immediately and that the initial documents are incorporated into these minutes as follows:

PRESS RELEASE - For Immediate Release - November 20, 2008

Sustainable Glasgow is the name adopted by a group of locals who have been meeting informally to develop local solutions to some recent negative national, state, and local issues mainly focusing on energy, security, food, and the economy. The idea was born in conversations over dinners and breakfasts in local eateries and came to life in the living rooms of a few of its initial members. Sustainable Glasgow’s mission statement is elegantly simple, and broad enough to allow it to accomplish many things as the future unfolds: Sustainable Glasgow is dedicated to contributing to the development of the theory and practice of sustainable living in the Barren County area. We seek to provide the ideas, information, education, infrastructure, and political will, that inspires and facilitates community members to bring about systemic changes in all of our institutions that are necessary to create a sustainable economy for the region surrounding Glasgow, Kentucky.

“Simply put, we want to actively promote the happiness of local citizens and create security for our community against the sort of frightening events that have recently rocked our nation,” stated one of the original members, Barren County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jerry Ralston. “We believe that our community should have as a goal a more sustainable, stable local economy, and that our efforts should start with the creation of a local food economy,” stated another founding member, Dr. William Travis. “We have a great opportunity to develop local food production which will result in improved quality and security of our food choices,” added Travis. “This could drive entrepreneurial opportunities for those interested in careers in agriculture, food processing and retail. We are, of course, the top agricultural county in the state.”

While Sustainable Glasgow started off with only five or six folks sitting around a member’s dining room table, the group was recently incorporated and now consists of more than fifty local members, with membership expected to grow exponentially. The members strongly believe that since Glasgow is surrounded by productive farm land, the establishment of a food system of local producers and local consumers exchanging goods for currency in a sustainable fashion is achievable. The local dollar multipliers – dollars spent with locally owned businesses are then spent locally again, and again – make this a win-win for all involved.

The members feel that encouraging a sustainable food economy (local food production and distribution) will generate local employment and business opportunities which will be more resilient than Glasgow’s historic reliance on heavy industry as the focus of its economic development efforts.

Though the group is new, the movement they are promoting is not. “Sustainable community groups are popping up all over the country,” said founding member and EPB Superintendent William Ray. “Like them, our principles are evolving as new members join our movement, but some of our core principles are already known and they include: exposing the true costs and benefits of public and private sector decisions, educating decision makers, voters, and students about the real state of our economy and society, and establishing Glasgow as our place in the world and digging in, and taking responsibility for what happens here. Ultimately, our goal is to promote a community where citizens can achieve greater security and satisfaction.”

Sustainable Glasgow plans to form powerful partnerships. They see themselves as one part of the local puzzle, not experts prepared to dictate solutions. They plan to lead by example and say what they are for, not what they are against. Jerry Ralston summarized by saying “We believe in continuous learning and open minds. We hope our efforts will create a ripple effect by proposing new ideas for our community which will spread quickly across Glasgow’s economy.” “Good ideas spread fast, we look forward to adding many more interested citizens to our group over the next few months.”

Anyone interested in learning more about Sustainable Glasgow can visit their website at or contact William Ray at to request membership in the email group communications being utilized to pull the group together.

The Acting Chairperson stated that the next item of business would be a discussion of funding sources. William Ray reported that Glasgow EPB might provide some level of initial funding under its overall local economic development mission. Further discussion ensued relative to what it means to be a member of Sustainable Glasgow instead of just a member of the listserv. Eventually Jim Haynes moved that membership applications be prepared and that a membership fee of $20 is collected to fund some initial minimal expenses and establish some level of commitment by members. This motion was seconded by Vivian Garrett and unanimously voted in the affirmative. Additionally, there was discussion and a suggestion that a local CPA firm might be interested in handling the accounting work for Sustainable Glasgow and that they should be approached as soon as possible. William Ray agreed to handle this initial contact.
At the call of the Acting Chairperson for the next item of business, discussion was held on the meeting format, and regular meeting dates. Lively discussion ensued, resulting in a consensus that the regular business meetings should continue to occur on the third Thursday of the month at 7:00 A.M. at 110 East Public Square, Glasgow, Kentucky, but further that educational meetings be scheduled at other times so that longer format informational sessions could be offered as necessary to accomplish one of the central goals of Sustainable Glasgow; that of educating the general populace about the localism and local food economy issues and local environmental and infrastructure issues that impact the people of Glasgow and Barren County.
There being no further business to come before the meeting, a motion was made by Jerry Ralston that this November meeting adjourn to meet again on December 18 at 7:00 A.M. This motion was seconded by William Travis and unanimously voted in the affirmative.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Here are some pictures (for posterity) from our last meeting.
Please enjoy.

If it is OK, I could bring a camera tomorrow

Upcoming Meeting - Thursday Morning

We will have our first regular meeting in our new location on Thursday morning, November 20, 7:00 a.m. on the square in the vacant store front building just under Alexander Law Office. Continental breakfast will be provided! Just look for the door between Glasgow - Barren County Chamber of Commerce and Main Street with the Sustainable Glasgow sign on the door!

The tentative agenda looks like this:

1. Discuss SG history and principles for new attendees.

2. Review Articles of Incorporation and Choose initial directors.

3. Review Press Release

4. Discuss initial funding

5. Consider regular meeting format, should we plan a brief educational program for each meeting?

6. Open discussion of goals and objectives

7. Adjourn

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Attention Locavores! We have a meeting location!

Due to the wisdom of William J. and Meg Travis, and the benevolence of Buddy and Zara Alexander, we now have a fantastic place for our regular monthly meetings of Sustainable Glasgow! The address is 110 E. Public Square. It is a vacant store front on the same side of the square as the Chamber of Commerce and City Hall, right beside the door for Alexander Law Office.

The space has chairs and tables. We will scare up a coffee maker and a little refrigerator so we can have some cold drinks and water. We will also figure out how to have some local food there when we meet. What more could we ask for? It is right in the middle of the town we want to move forward!

Remember the next meeting is at 7:00 a.m. on Thursday, November 20. I will put an agenda together ASAP.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Green Market Expo

If you were not there today, you missed a great opportunity to meet and greet fellow locavores and hear our own William J Travis, MD, explain how what we eat, and what the things we eat, eat in turn, affects our lives and our communities. Luckily, someone videotaped the talk and I am working to get a copy of that tape so we can play it on cable television in Glasgow. If we can track it down you simply must make time to watch his talk as it really forms the foundation reasoning behind our efforts and dreams for Sustainable Glasgow.

For me, one of the most exciting things about the Expo was the discovery of other "locavores" in the community or in surrounding counties, that already truly believe in the things we believe in. One dazzling example is the folks at Country Girl at Heart Farm Bed and Breakfast. I didn't get the whole story about the operation and the website (linked above) is still under construction, but it appears to be a family operation built upon the lifelong dream of an amazing woman to run a bed and breakfast that also immerses guests in the experience of working and living on a family farm. This is under construction just up the road in Munfordville and seems like one of the most brilliant ideas I have seen or heard of. It is simply amazing to see how localism can create its own momentum toward growth and employment while we still spend so much money trying to beg businesses to come here, often without anything to show for the money and efforts.

I can't wait to head up US 31W to Munfordville and see this operation. More than seeing it, I can't wait to spend my first night there and eat a big old country breakfast produced within sight of the table that breakfast is served upon. Congratulations Country Girl at Heart Farm!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

At Our LOCAL Library

Tonight I attended the last of a series at the Mary Wood Weldon Library entitled Going Green at the Library. The session was “Know What is in Your Water” Elaine Diggs Plus: What We Are Doing Locally” Shannon White (4th Going Green series) and it was really outstanding. Ms. Diggs and Mr. White both exhibited broad knowledge and passion about the subjects and a very lively and enjoyable discussion ensued. The bad part was that there were only about five attendees.

I know the folks at the library worked hard to attract these speakers and put on useful information about our community and how we can make it better. I know how hard it is to communicate with folks in Glasgow about important information about events like these. I only knew about it because I went to the library site long ago and signed up there for the monthly newsletters which inform me of events at the library. I suggest you do this as well! Once there, use the link on the left of the page to email them and ask to be added to their mail list. Our library is staffed by folks who are dedicated to bringing valuable information and resources to the community. They did a great job of that with the Going Green series and the programs are definitely worth attending as an alternative to sitting on the couch and watching television.

We all got a chance to discuss this site and Sustainable Glasgow. I think we have a few more interested folks as a result of that discussion.

Edible Schoolyards?

Just got the following from the "BG Green Group" that is way ahead of us in pursuing sustainability issues in Bowling Green. It is a thought provoking piece.

The recent Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education had 1,700 in attendance! I wanted to share a synopsis of the keynote by Vandana Shiva, on food - "the currency of life."

Raleigh, N.C. — Vandana Shiva, the physicist and environmental activist, spoke here at the national conference of the Association for the Advancement for Sustainability in Higher Education this morning. Her topic was food — what she calls “the currency of life” — and how an industrial food system has poisoned the soil and pushed people off their land.

The speech hit on a number of agricultural issues that have been widely discussed recently and made popular by writers like Michael Pollan and Barbara Kingsolver. There is no doubt that food issues will be increasingly important in coming years, as agriculture is stressed by climate change, dwindling petroleum supplies, and environmental degradation in the form of loss of biodiversity and erosion. (Read essays in The Chronicle‘s Buildings & Grounds about this topic here and here.)

Ms. Shiva said that “the issue of food has increasingly become an issue of peace” because stresses on traditional agriculture and the industrialization of food have led people to wage war against nature, against each other, and even against their own bodies, in the form of cancers and obesity. The industrialization of food has led to empty countrysides both here in the U.S. and in India, Ms. Shiva’s native country.

“An empty countryside has never been a good human design,” she said, because it means that people are cramming into megacities and are falling away from the skills needed to raise food in traditional ways.

Colleges have a big role to play in fixing agriculture because they are partly to blame for its problems: The so-called Green Revolution, which created fertilizer-dependent industrial agriculture, is a result of research done at colleges and universities. “The solutions will have to come out of the place where it started,” she said.

She pointed out that Alice Waters, the Berkeley chef and food activist, had gotten a lot of attention for her Edible Schoolyard project, in which middle-school students are learning about agriculture and cuisine by growing gardens. Colleges should start setting up their own edible grounds, she said.

“Why shouldn’t edible schoolyards be on every campus?” she asked. —Scott Carlson

Monday, November 10, 2008

Alltech's President at WKU -Glasgow

This morning a bit more than one hundred Glasgow - Barren County residents and officials attended a talk by Dr. Pearse Lyons, President of Alltech. I was totally unfamiliar with Alltech even though the signs trumpeting the upcoming Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games are all over the Commonwealth. I am not sure if his talk was meant to promote the Equestrian Games or Alltech or Dr. Lyons, but a bit of each was done.

Alltech's website tells a lot more about this company and they seem to be on the sustainability wagon with us. However, it appears that they might also be a part of the "feed your cattle plenty of pharmaceuticals" band wagon as well, but right now that is not clear to me. At any rate, he was very encouraging about how many infrastructure projects are possible and advisable for small communities in Kentucky to move toward a sustainable food economy. To a large extent he painted a picture of a perpetual motion machine wherein local producers of grass, grain, and other cellulose plants feed into beef and dairy operations which, in turn, produce waste and biomass that is then turned back into electric power and other energy sources that can then be plowed back into the energy requirements of producing the grass and grains. It was just another way of discussing what we are already all about.

They had the right audience there. Many local officials were nodding. Educators from local k-12 schools as well as WKU were nodding in agreement as he painted this scenario and virtually guaranteed us all that this is not only doable, but also affordable and capable of actually producing new jobs and net income while also providing sustainable food economy for a place like Glasgow.

All that is needed after a talk like that is for some passionate locals to take up the gauntlet of pushing our local officials to walk the talk instead of just listening to the talk. That is where we come in, is it not?

Seems there are "sustainable" efforts going on everywhere.

I ran across this article from yahoo that points to how many different institutions are considering sustainable practices.

I'm impressed with the amount of attention this topic is getting and also with how much it seems to come up in conversations here in Glasgow. I'm optimistic about getting this initiative underway.

Sustainable Glasgow Meeting Pictures

At our last Sustainable Glasgow meeting, I took pictures of everyone in the group. Each member's picture came out well and you could observe the seriousness of the discussion taking place. Now, if I can figure out how to get the pictures on the Blog, I will post them. Stay Tuned!!!!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

And Something to Twitter About...

The post just submitted should have included some more information. If you look at our website, you will see something new on the left side. I added a Twitter update gadget. I have been studying Twitter for a couple of months and trying to understand it. If you click on the "Follow Billy Ray on Twitter" link on the page and if you follow through the simple sign up process for Twitter, you will get automatic updates from me. Of course, you can also see these updates on our Sustainable Glasgow site without even signing up.

Twitter allows one to give 140 character answers to the eternal question, "What are you doing?" and have those updates automatically distributed to others via websites, blogs, and even cell phones. This might be worth something or nothing, it is just something I am playing with and I will try to submit some regular little updates over and above these full blown posts to the blog. Of course, I will strive to make those posts somehow relevant to our objective of promoting localism and the reinforcement of Glasgow's local economy.

Sunday Morning Update

The elections are over and, from a Sustainable Glasgow perspective, they went quite well. Now it is time for us to move on several fronts. First of all, I promise to get with John Rogers and move our incorporation documents along toward execution. I am sure that will result in the need for us to formalize our meetings, elect officers, adopt rules, etc. I am going to add this to my list of things to do immediately.

One thing we all need to be pondering is just where and when we need to have our monthly meetings. I believe the morning time is going to be good, but I am doubtful that we will find George J's a good location. We hope that the meetings will swell to include 20-30 folks and that will require a venue that allows us the quiet necessary for all to hear and be heard. Please consider this and help us find the right place.

Next, since it is now post-election, it is time for us to consider unleashing our press release. For those of you who have not yet weighed in on this document, here is how it stands presently:

Please refer to the draft distributed via email...if we left it posted here we would be effectively releasing it already!

If anyone has any more suggested changes to this document, please let me know! We need to decide when to turn this loose at our next meeting.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

A Chance to Walk Our Talk

Sustainable Glasgow is all about localism . . . the idea of local people providing for local needs. Now comes a chance for us to show we are serious. This link appeared in Friday's Glasgow Daily Times and Charlie Goodman also reiterated the information at the Thursday meeting of Glasgow Rotary. Let's all show up at the auditions on Monday or Tuesday night, show that we can read, and that we are ready to support the Far Off Broadway Players in their efforts to provide our entertainment locally!

Again, click here, to see the full story from the Daily Times.