Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Erin Brockovich speaking in Winston Salem.

Say the name Erin Brockovich and you think strong, tough, stubborn and sexy. Erin is all that and definitely more. She thrives on being the voice for those who don’t know how to yell. She is a rebel. She is a fighter. She is a mother. She is an activist. AND, she is coming to Winston-Salem to inspire us to take action!

For details on the plight of the Yadkin River, and to register for the talk click here. It's free and sure to be thought provoking and inspiring.

This event is brought to you by Yadkin Riverkeeper, along with Presenting Sponsor Wake Forest University. The event will be held from 7 to 8 p.m. at WFU Scales Fine Arts Center, Brendle Recital Hall. Free and open to the public. There is limited seating and reservations are required.

Monday, May 24, 2010

BALLE High: Back and ready to rumble

The CPNC and STARworks crew just got back from the BALLE conference held in Charleston SC. For those of you unfamiliar with the organization, BALLE stands for Business Alliance for Local Living Economies. BALLE is a network of more than 80 community networks with more than 21,000 independent business members across the U.S. and Canada. Every year, their annual conference brings together community leaders in sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, zero waste manufacturing, independent retail, community capital and pretty much green everything.

Because the conference was in Charleston this year we were able to take a whole crew of us down for the weekend to get inspired and re-energized for the work we do.

David Korten, author of When Corporations Rule the Worldand most recently Agenda for a New Economy and The Great Turning, kicked off with a call to arms to change Wall Street and “bigger at any cost” business by changing our “stories” from fictional stories of empire to authentic “earth community” stories that highlight local self reliance, social justice and living capital.

Marjorie Kelly, author of The Divine Right of Capital and Michael Shuman, author of Going Local and The Small-mart Revolution did a great job describing new models for alternative economies that include innovative tax laws and community land trusts, “B” corporation models and cooperatives.

India Pierce Lee of the Cleveland Foundation gave an inspiring presentation about Evergreen Cooperatives and their Cooperative Laundry project that demonstrates there is far more to eradicating poverty than merely creating “jobs.”

North Carolina was well represented at BALLE this year: Our good friend Eric Henry of TS Designs, along with farmer Ronnie Burleson of Stanly County and Brian Morell of Mortex Apparel wowed the crowd with their brilliant Cotton of the Carolinas Project. T-shirts made from cotton that is grown, ginned, spun, sewn and printed within 750 miles! Dirt to shirt!

Lyle Estill talked about Pittsboro's Piedmont Biofuels and Piedmont Biofarms. I also ran into Tony Kleese from Earthwise, and it was great catching up and talking to him about community based food systems.

Probably the most moving presentation was Lily Yeh’s story of The Village of Arts and Humanities, a community-based art organization in a North Philadelphia inner city neighborhood. Yeh, a native of China, says leadership is an art and art is a form of leadership. She told the story of how art helped people in her adopted community reconnect with each other and new community values. Yeh, members of her staff, and people in her community have quietly used sweat-equity, recycled materials, and other community resources to refurbish abandoned homes and construct new ones. They have also created after-school programs, a youth theater, a crafts center, and 14 parks for more than 10,000 people. Watch her presentation at the Bioneers Conference here.

Just when you think you’re doing all these brilliant things, you go and hear someone like Ms. Yeh. Humbling. Just plain humbling.

There was too much information and too many incredible experiences and people to write about here. But that's BALLE: there are mighty big shoes to fill in even the smallest communities. If you’re looking for glory, go somewhere else. If you’re looking for energy, inspiration, humility, and transformation, go to BALLE.

We're back and we've got a lot of work to do. The good news is that there are a lot of good people to help us. We just need to connect.

So it’s Monday, and I’ve got a lot of new websites to check out and emails to send and new ideas to think about. I hope you do too.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Senior walkers take over the STARwalks trail!

Walk, dance, play, work in your yard…30 minutes a day can help you stay in shape and feeling good. Physical activity is essential for all of us. Children, adults and seniors can benefit from moderate activity every day. Take a walk with a friend on The STARwalks recycled walking trail. Recently area seniors were invited to STARworks to see and experience the new recycled rubber trail installed in front of the facility. The STARwalks Partnership consisting of people from Central Park NC, STARworks, the Troy Montgomery Senior Center, Montgomery County Health Department, Montgomery County Council on Aging and the NC Cooperative extension were awarded a grant from the Fit Community program to build the trail and launch a walking program to encourage seniors to engage in a healthy lifestyle. The trail is made from 100% recycled materials. Almost 1000 large rubber truck tires were recycled and didn’t end up in a landfill in the building of this 1/8-mile loop. The permeable surface allows water to pass through it, allows aeration of the soil underneath, and helps eliminate water runoff pollution from asphalt or concrete that can end up in nearby streams and rivers. The low-impact rubber surface is less tiring because it reduces stress on walker’s joints, particularly knees and feet. The walking program rewards senior participants with a pedometer after 10 hours of aerobic activity and a T-shirt after 20 hours. Come take a walk on The STARwalks trail! This project was made possible with a generous grant from the North Carolina Health and Wellness Trust Fund, USDA Rural Communities Development Initiative and Central Park NC.

Walkers try out the new walking trail at STARworks. The 1/8-mile track is constructed of recycled rubber.

Walkers and agency representatives came out for the opening of the STAR Walks walking trail in front of STARworks.

A Bayada nurse takes a walker’s blood pressure. Other gencies that assisted with the event included the Montgomery Council on Aging, Montgomery Health Department, Home Care of the Carolinas.

Monday, May 03, 2010

New sign for the walking trail and first graders visit the garden

This week the guys finished installing the new walking trail sign and completed a few picnic tables (in the background) for the STARworks building. The new sign will be used to convey information about the importance of walking and ways to incorporate activity into daily life.
The sign is located in the front of the building near our recycled rubber walking trail built last year with a grant from Fit Community and North Carolina Health and Wellness Trust Fund. The recycled rubber walking surface is low impact and rather bouncy as seen below.
The first graders released as many wiggles as possible before their visit to the garden. After the kids ran around the track a few times and got rid of some excess energy we took them around the back of the building where they had a workshop in the with Anne about planting and gardening. In this picture the kids are painting signs for their own gardens at home. Anne will deliver their signs this week along with a packet of mystery seeds that they can plant at home and watch grow. The first graders were a blast and have boundless energy. They also have a way of draining the energy out of grown-ups! By the end of the day Anne, Tony and I were pretty exhausted. We had one group on Thursday and one on Friday for a total of 38 screaming first-graders. They had a blast and are ready to come back soon. STARworks Garden provides workshops for elementary school students free of charge to the school or students, but that doesn't mean that the workshops are free! Workshops like this for kids with not be possible without private contributions to STARworks garden. At STARworks with think it's important that kids learn where their food comes from and that they can grow their own food at home. Kids can come to our garden to learn about where their food comes from, how worms help soil, compost and gardening . These kids had a great time and they even enjoyed pulling weeds! To make a tax deductable donation to STARworks garden or any Central Park NC project, click here.