Sunday, April 27, 2008

Office Hours, Antioch Commencement, Green Pricing, Wendell Berry

(Picture: courtesy Dayton Daily News, is of graduating Antioch College student, India Davis)

Our next Village Council meeting is this coming Monday, 5th May, so I'll have a fuller report once I've seen the packet of materials. I will be having my normal office hours tomorrow (Mon, 4/28), 12-1 pm, Emporium.

We're planning to have a teleconference with the Antioch University Board of Trustees at some point in the next couple of weeks to discuss the ongoing issues around the planned closing of the College--please let me know what your concerns are, as villagers, and any ideas you have about how we should approach this conversation. (Particularly if there's any further news this week regarding negotiations).

Like many of you, I did attend the Antioch College 156th Commencement this weekend, and it was beautiful and inspiring--and infuriating that the beautiful work being done there is in such dire jeopardy. The youthful energy of the place is still alive, even if there aren't so many students as there were in its heyday--there's a non-toxic beauty to those students! And the art on campus was amazing, astonishing.

And, again, don't forget to sign up for Green Pricing! We have already well exceeded, in fact we've more than doubled, the national average of sign ups for Green Pricing (they average about 2.5% in markets where it's available). We're at about 6% right now; we're supposed to get 10% of all households before we can implement it. We believe we can get there, but we definitely need YOU and your family to participate!

Remember, you can download the form at our new EC blog--or just email me and I'll send you one, electronically.

Finally, I just read a beautiful, thought-provoking, philosophical, literary essay by Wendell Berry in this month's Harper's entitled, "Faustian Economics: Hell Hath No Limits." Everyone should read it. Here's a snippet--

"To recover from our disease of limitlessness, we will have to give up the idea that we have a right to be godlike animals, that we are potentially omniscient and omnipotent, ready to discover 'the secret of the universe.' We will have to start over, with a different and much older premise: the naturalness and, for creatures of limited intelligence, the necessity, of limits. We must learn again to ask how we can make the most of what we are, what we have, what we have been given. If we always have a theoretically better substitute available from somebody or someplace else, we will never make the most of anything. It is hard to make the most of one's life. If we had two lives, we would not make much of either. Or as one of my best teachers said of people in general: 'They'll never be worth a damn as long as they've got two choices.'"

It's online here, for subscribers--
Or go to the library. Or borrow one from a friend.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Environmental Commission Blog!

I wanted to alert everyone to the Yellow Springs Environmental Commission's new blog. 
I've just written a new entry on Michael Pollan's amazing NY Times piece, "Why Bother?"  over there.  And there's lots of other information, there: if you need a (corrected) copy of the "Green Pricing" flyer you can get it there, and you can speak direclty to the Commission through the comments function.  All aboard!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Village Council: 4/21 Mtg. Agenda; Antioch: Art + Article in NY Sunday Times, and more!

Dear people!
1) My normal office hour will resume on Mon 4/21 (12-1 pm in the Emporium)
2) Village Council Mtg: Monday evening 4/21 (7 pm at the Bryan Center)--
Agenda Items of Interest:
  • 2 Resolutions: regarding
  1. The village manager's employment agreement for this year
  2. Cooperative paving program with the Greene County Engineer. Will create new overlays on a few streets--including some "chip seal" work and some regular overlays in "certain streets and parking areas within the Village" (I'm not sure which streets they are at this time). Budgeted from levy monies; expected cost: $352,362.
  • Special Reports
  1. Annual Reports (re: 2007) from Env. Comm and Village Mediation
  2. Dana Patterson, of the Coretta Scott King Center (see this article from this week's YSNews about the tragic and, to me, unconscionable loss to our community), will speak to Council about our goal of being "a welcoming community of opportunity to people of diverse races, cultures, and incomes."
  3. Home, Inc. will also provide an update.
  4. Electric Systems Task Force, Phase I report
  5. Student Noise at Antioch
  6. Sidewalk Repairs Process Update
  7. Green Space Fund --I think this is a clarification, relating to the rental incomes that are to be earmarked for this fund.
  8. Calendar time lines for completing the major work of the Council.
    There's also an article about Antioch in tomorrow's New York Times, in the Education supplement of the Sunday paper, "The College that Would Not Go Gently" by Patricia Cohen (it's already up online).  It's focused on those who chose to stay, or to come, for this past year and their "fierce love" for the College.  Initial reaction: fairly positive.
    Additionally, I've been asked to urge everyone to attend the various Antioch College campus art shows, which I believe will be up through graduation next week, although the openings for all of them were yesterday afternoon:
  1. A Community Art Show: "Antioch is My Home" 2nd floor of the Art Building
  2. An end-of-semester Visual art and photography exhibition: in Noyes Gallery, Art Building
  3. Senior projects in photography: Tania Hutchinson, "Elephants" in 130 McGregor; plus Elizabeth Dobson "A One-Woman Circus Act" & Ceci Cheaney, "I Carry you with me," both on the 3rd floor of South Hall
  4. An End of Semester Exhibit called "The Raw and The Cooked" in the Herndon Gallery
    4) Quick update on Environmental Commission: Green Pricing.  It's been a great Earth Day weekend, with much activity. 
    But, a letter in the paper promulgates a mistaken view of "Green Pricing" program: We need 10% of the village to sign up, as individuals for this program. Your doing so will NOT force the other 90% of the village to participate. 10% is the benchmark set by Village staff in order to make this program manageable for them and to pay for itself. 
    If we don't get 10% of the village, then NO ONE will get to participate. And, please be aware that if you sign up and then have a change of heart, you can easily opt-out again by contacting Village offices. I urge you to participate in "Green Pricing"--it's a good program, in support of a cause that I believe we all MUST "opt" into: reducing our carbon footprint!

    5) April is National Poetry Month. Read some poems! (You can start with the one below!)
    Wild Geese 
    You do not have to be good. 
    You do not have to walk on your knees 
    for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. 
    You only have to let the soft animal of your body 
    love what it loves. 
    Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. 
    Meanwhile the world goes on. 
    Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain 
    are moving across the landscapes, 
    over the prairies and the deep trees, 
    the mountains and the rivers. 
    Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, 
    are heading home again. 
    Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, 
    the world offers itself to your imagination, 
    calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting--
    over and over announcing your place 
    in the family of things.

    © Mary Oliver. Online Source

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Update: Antioch etc., Planning & Environmental Commission

Hi, all--It's been a busy week.

1) Village Council update: Our Village Council meeting, including a long executive session, on Monday went til midnight; we moved forward on three resolutions connected to the improvements to our waste-water treatment facilities, finalized our goals for the year (yes, in April!), briefly discussed the noise ordinance and concerns about Antioch College noise, had special reports on the King Street detention basin, our website & the visioning process, and, during Citizens' Concerns, heard from a lot of you on the Antioch College situation. (Exec. session focused on Village Manager employment agreement).

Re: Antioch crisis: We passed a resolution to write a letter urging the Antioch U Board of Trustees to meet with the Antioch College Continuation Corporation, face-to-face. It's now being reported to us that such a meeting will happen. Meanwhile, we're seeing plans move forward for a non-stop Antioch, regardless, which are intriguing and exciting, as reported by ACCC spokesperson Ellen Borgeson and student Jeanne Kay.

I am concerned about the College campus and what the University's plans are for securing it, given the announced layoffs. I am planning to ask our legal council to look into what rights we as a community have to expect that that campus be secured and maintained by the owners if it should be empty for any length of time. If others of you have thoughts about what our community interest is in regard to local consequences to this potential shuttering of the campus at the heart of our town, please let me know.

The Electric System Task Force will be making its Phase I report at our next meeting on the 21st, and we'll be reviewing our Sidewalk Policy.

2) Planning Commission: The proposed planned unit development of the Barr property (321 Xenia Ave) will again dominate our meeting tomorrow night (Mon. 4/14, 7 pm; Council Chambers). Our PC packet is thus thick this week again with letters and thoughts, positive and negative, about the FCC's plans for this property that lies in a key residential area adjacent to our downtown. Our village manager, Eric Swanson included a note in our packet that the PUD process is a two-step process: we are at this point looking at the "concept" stage, not the final plan: we will vote either that we like the concept (go forward with hammering out the details) or we say that the differences are too great to be worked out. But in either case, the plan will then go to the Village Council.

I have already stated that it is my intention to support this effort, although I recognize the plan is not perfect and that many of my supporters oppose the plan--my stance is posted in the previous entry on this blog. I respect all of you who disagree with my position on this issue. Please know that I am still listening to all the voices and reading the letters of folks on all sides of this public debate. In general, I believe that it's been a healthy debate and that people have engaged in it in good faith. I genuinely thank everyone for making me feel the complexities raised by this plan, which are not trivial.

3) No office hours tomorrow: I have to be at Wittenberg for an interview during my normal office hours, and also have to meet with students who are working on end-of-term projects. So I will be at Wittenberg all day.

4) Environmental Commission: We are also a busy group with several important events planned ahead of Earth Day. First, I hope you all received the notice about "green pricing" in your utility bill this month, which allows you--if you wish--to pay a little extra as a support for building and investing in greener energy resources. We need 10% of us to sign on for the project to fly, so let's do it.

Corrected costs: It costs only $0.015 (1 1/2 cents) per kilowatt hour to add this optional plan to your bill. So, if you use 500 kilowatts of energy, it would only cost you an extra $7.50 that month (that's 500 multiplied by .015--there is a typo on our original flyer). This is a great way to start on a path of greater energy efficiency, to put pressure on yourself to reduce your family's usage--and reduced, more efficient usage is the best source of energy we have. Given that our Council voted against coal, we need to move in this direction, right now.

"Spring Fling" Earth Day Events this coming weekend:

Friday night 7-9: Death to the Incandescent! That's our rallying cry. We'll be stationed at a table on Xenia Ave, in front of Living Green, with information about green pricing, the value of switching your regular bulbs to compact fluorescents (CFL), and how to recycle CFLs responsibly.
Saturday early afternoon 12-2:30: More death to the incandescent! Same as above.
Sat. late afternoon 3:30-5:
FREE Film Screening: "Garbage: The Revolution Starts at Home!" Little Art Theatre! Co-sponsored with other good people/groups. Bring friends! Bring family! Bring people you don't even really like! Here's the film's website:
Immediately following: SHORT Panel discussion of the issues raised by the film, with local experts Bob Brecha, Donna Haller, and others, centering on the plan of starting with the concrete, practical step of turning entirely to the CFL.