Sunday, March 29, 2009

To Make an Omelette You Must Break a Few Eggs

This morning hundreds of volunteers are giving their time and labor to fill sand bags for the City of Fargo’s fight against the rising Red River. This work is taking place inside the FargoDome, a structure owned by the City of Fargo and normally used for football games and concerts. Driving massive dump trucks full of sand into the dome and dumping it out where citizen-volunteers then shovel it into bags for transport by other volunteers to the dikes which are being built by still other volunteers, is not what the FargoDome was designed for, but, a rising river has caused them to abandon their original plans and gladly accommodate this new activity. I doubt very seriously if the folks who run the FargoDome are concerned about the mess the sand is making or the possible liability associated with allowing those volunteers to come in and man the shovels. Rather, they realize that the new needs of the many dramatically outweigh the “business as usual” mentality.

It is impossible to watch this battle of community against the Red River without seeing parallels to our situation in Glasgow. True, we are not being threatened by a raging Red River, but we are being inundated by a failing economy which is highlighting our over-dependence on a manufacturing sector closely aligned to the automotive industry. We are threatened by our lack of planning for a sustainable food economy, wherein we are surrounded by food factories that ship all of their products away to be processed in distant food factories and eventually transported back to Glasgow after being combined with diesel fuel and questionable chemical additives. We are not threatened by a swollen river in the conventional sense, but we are threatened, nonetheless, by complacency and inattention to some essential infrastructure issues, and those are just our particular local challenges.

Our local move toward a sustainable food economy is only the local beginning of a movement that must continue across the country. As this article by Thomas Friedman points out clearly, it is not just our local economy that is down. It is not just the Dow that is collapsing. Mother nature has a Dow as well and it is sending us a signal that must be heeded. It is truly time to think globally and act locally.

Sustainable Glasgow represents the beginning of a band of volunteers willing to shovel sand and build levees. We are willing to stand on the wall to protect our community. But, we are few and we are facing problems which will require the same sort of cooperation and recognition of special circumstances that is being displayed by the City of Fargo. Let’s hope that the folks in Fargo are successful in their fight and that the people of Glasgow learn a lesson from Fargo’s struggle. When bigger problems present themselves, bigger thinking is required to protect our city from the flood.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Membership Update March 25 2009

There has been no general Sustainable Glasgow member meeting for a couple of months, but the organization is alive, growing, and exceedingly busy on many fronts. This post should help everyone understand what is taking place, what our plans are, and everyone should be able to see possible ways for everyone to get involved with our work in one way or another.

Bounty of the Barrens Market
This is our biggest initiative. BOTBM has been planned as a marketplace for local producers to present their food and other products to local consumers in a relaxed festival atmosphere with the hope of local commerce taking place. It has a home (South Central Kentucky Cultural Center parking lot). It has a planned layout (viewable just below this post on this site). It has a targeted opening date of May 30. We have established rules and regulations for vendors at the market. We are negotiating a contract among Sustainable Glasgow, City of Glasgow, and South Central Kentucky Cultural Center to cover all operating aspects of the market. We are accepting applications from interested vendors and we will have a formal meeting with all interested vendors on April 6 at the Sustainable Glasgow office on the Glasgow Public Square.

So, we have accomplished much toward the creation of the BOTBM, but we still need a lot of things. Our vision for a regular Saturday market day at BOTBM includes a number of high quality vendor booths, local musicians performing for the entertainment of the market patrons, local restaurants or non-profits preparing food for sale at the market, colorful canopies set up at the vendor booths for shade, and even the participation of our own BRAWA folks who may be bringing in adoptable dogs and cats who will be looking to get acquainted with the market patrons. All of these are things we are hoping for, but none of these will occur without the involvement of our membership! We need someone to take on the job of organizing the musical artists for market days. We need someone to help organize the weekly cooked food vendors. We need folks willing to volunteer some time on market days to help us set up, clean up, and tear down the market. If you are willing, please contact us by simply responding with a comment on this blog, emailing us at or calling us at 361-2888. Now is the time to jump in if you want to see this market happen in Glasgow. May 30 will be here in no time!

Garden Plot Project
This is not our biggest initiative, but it is vitally important and needs to get moving even more quickly than the BOTBM project. The idea with this project is to work with Glasgow Parks and Recreation folks to make public land available for garden plots for those locals who do not have access to suitable land for growing their own food. We are very lucky to have a Sustainable Glasgow member, Chris Radus, who has volunteered to chair this project. We are also very lucky to have the full support of Debbie Jones at Glasgow Parks and Recreation. Now what we need are more members who are experienced gardners to help Chris and Debbie choose the right locations, help put together a logical application process, and help advise us all on when to do what so that the project is utilized by those who could benefit. Just as mentioned above, if you can help with this project, please contact us.

The Longer View
We have other projects ongoing as well. We are preparing a presentation for the upcoming Campus Community Partners for Sustainability Conference at WKU on April 24-26. You can read more about that conference at this link. We are staying in constant contact with the local governments to keep them posted on our progress. We are also in process of asking to make presentations to the Glasgow Barren County Chamber of Commerce, Glasgow Barren County IDEA, and other local agencies. We are still working on a totally new web site, which will work much better than this one, to keep our issues and our progress constantly updated for our members.

We are doing all of these things in the hope of invigorating the spirit of self reliance in our region. We hope that the market acts as a catalyst for local folks to create businesses that seek to deliver locally produced good to local residents. We hope that new folks then start doing more business with other local businesses as they start the process of breaking ground, planting seeds, fertilizing, harvesting, etc. and that this helps stabilize employment in the local businesses that cater to these new producers (we already have evidence that is happening!). Over the longer term, we hope that new appetites for local food and goods lead us to making wise investment decisions in the form of local infrastructure like, dairy processing facilities, meat processing facilities, poultry processing facilities, bakery facilities, and other projects that will stabilize our food economy and create long term jobs and economic activity. So, don't think that Sustainable Glasgow is only about creating a farmers market! The BOTBM is only the beginning!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Is a Food Revolution Now in Season?

That is the title of a sweeping article just published in the New York Times. It is certainly worth reading and underscores the movement that is sweeping Glasgow as well as the rest of the nation. It is time for us all to reclaim our food from the multi-national firms that have been dominating it for the last few decades.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

60 Minutes Covers Sustainable Food and Health

I hope everyone saw 60 Minutes tonight with their interview of Alice Waters. If not, here is the link

She clearly described the need for sustainable food economies, benefit of locally grown food and the need to promote this via our schools.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Start Thinking About "Slow Money"

In the past 20 + years, we have observed peers, acquaintances, friends and even family playing the stock market like a casino. Even those of us who consider ourselves prudent investors are guilty of rolling the dice. The priciple in the market has always been one of trying to game the system to get something for nothing. And nothing is what a lot of those "assets" are worth.

Put cash in, with no control and only the casino's rules, and hope to hit the jackpot. We all know that the house always wins in casinos. The "house" in this case has been the "Masters of the Universe" to quote Tom Wolfe - the big players in the big investment houses and banks. We have all, to some degree, been guilty by association and complicity in their crimes. Even Ronald Reagan said, "Trust but verify."

I guess we are all sobered by this trip to the casino. The bright lights are dimmer,the liquor is wearing off, we are hung over and regretful for our drunken behavior. But we must shake it off and learn from our mistakes.

So the question is "where do I put my money?" The stock market will recover, but in the future it must be approached more warily and with greater accountability demanded. One must know this: in the stock markets, no matter how much you think you know, somebody on the inside knows more and is going to leave you flat footed and wanting. Their interests and your interests are not aligned.

Sustainable Glasgow's goal is to encourage investment in this community and region, where the benefits of your money are multiplied and observable.

I heard a story on NPR today that piqued my interest regarding community investment. The subject was an idea called Slow Money. You can listen to the story through the link below. This is an approach where local citizens invest in businesses that they believe in and can see working in clear sight. The example in the story, and the most sensible first application of this idea, is in local/regional food production. How convenient.

I expect that a smart approach for the future will be broader diversification of assets. Why not make part of your investment for the future in businesses in your community and region? Where will you find greater security, transparency,and local dollar multiplication?

I am anxious to read the book Slow Money and I hope that some of you will, too.

This Slow Money idea may drive some of our future initiatives. Read up, think about it and let's make this part of our conversation going forward.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

We're on the Radio!

This link will take you to the fine article WKYU produced about Sustainable Glasgow. Thanks Kevin Willis!

Meanwhile, thanks to Louise Mann for finding another article in the New York Times which is very relevant to our mission. This article describes legislation, being considered at this very moment, which could further enhance the position of large factory farms at the expense of local family farms that we believe hold the promise of food safety, security, and all around goodness. Take a look at it and let our legislators know we want family farms protected!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Click Me For Food Facts

The Great Disruption

Thomas Friedman, author and columnist for The New York Times, writes in this column that we are all awakening to realize our whole way of living has been a giant Ponzi scheme, and I think he is spot on. Bernie Madoff actually had nothing on Exxon or Wal Mart or Cargill, he was just small enough to be caught and prosecuted. Meanwhile, these corporate giants are "too big to fall." Hmmm, that has a familiar ring to it doesn't it?

Long live the local small business! May they always be small enough to fall but big enough to help us all walk together into a time when our obsession with worthless junk imported from distant lands is only a memory.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Another Article Which Makes the Case for Localism

Thanks to Louise Mann for this article from the New York Times which, again, makes our case that the national food distribution system is failing to offer us secure and safe food. This just underscores our mission to work with Glasgow City Government to get a garden plot program going to provide a place and means for locals to return to growing some of their own food, and to establish the Bounty of the Barrens Market to provide a place for bigger producers to exchange their locally grown food for local dollars at a festive marketplace.

Plans are underway and work is being done every day to bring these projects to fruition this year. By the looks of these news articles, which are appearing with greater frequency, we are not a minute too soon!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Monthly Membership Update

February got away from us without having a full membership meeting, but that certainly does not mean we have been on vacation. To the contrary, we are running wide open and gaining members, attracting support, and accomplishing significant milestones toward our stated objectives.

As everyone should know, President Travis presented our plans for a local marketplace and a garden plot program to the Glasgow City Council in January. The report and request for support drew unanimous support from the City Council and that put us on the way toward our vision for the Bounty of the Barrens Market. The next stop for the realization of this dream was a meeting with the South Central Kentucky Cultural Center Board, since we feel that the property surrounding this community asset is the perfect place to bring local producers and consumers together for commerce.

Once again President Travis presented the Sustainable Glasgow story and our proposed partnership with the Cultural Center to bring the Bounty of the Barrens Market into being, and, once again, the proposal was accepted by the Board. Now we are working with them to establish the ground rules under which the market will operate. Soon we should have the skeleton for a contractual agreement among the Cultural Center Board, Sustainable Glasgow, Inc., and the City of Glasgow, which will confirm our agreements and put us officially on the road to the late May or early June opening of the market.

At the same time, we have also been meeting with representatives of the very successful St. Andrews Farmers Market to get their advice and, hopefully, their agreement to partner with us in the Bounty of the Barrens Market. One thing we are all aware of is that we have this dream, but no real experience at creating or operating a local market. So, we are quite hopeful that the team from St. Andrews will join us so that we can concentrate on marketing and infrastructure development at the Cultural Center site, while the BOTB Market committee, hopefully under the direction of the St. Andrews team, works to secure vendors and work out the rules under which the market will operate. Meetings toward this goal are happening every day.

Meanwhile, Lauren is working with a number of organizations like Kentucky Proud, Kentucky Farmers Market Association, Kentucky Department of Agriculture and others who can help us navigate the many rules and regulations which will apply to our market. She is also working with Rhonda Trautman to apply for grants to help capitalize Sustainable Glasgow with sufficient funds to get us through our 2009 program of work.

We are also very lucky to have Chris Radus volunteer to chair the Garden Plot Project. He is researching similar projects in other communities and meeting with our Glasgow Parks and Recreation Department to find suitable land to get this project activated for the upcoming growing season. Our hope is to provide suitable garden plots on public property for those interested in raising a vegetable garden but without access to suitable land. This could be a great example of how we can help each other feed ourselves in this time of economic strife. If you want to be a part of this project, please let Lauren or Chis know!

For an idea that was born only about six months ago, Sustainable Glasgow is growing like crazy. Thanks to each and every one of you who are supporting this initiative with your membership, your words, and your actions. We also need to thank all of the local media, and especially Jeff Jobe of Jobe Publishing, for helping us get the word out about Sustainable Glasgow and the restorative power of localism.