Dr. Tanya Berry says the thing that most often kept people from walking was the feeling that there are too many cars on the street. (Photo courtesy of Nathan Johnson, iWalk)
Researchers tell us one way to stay trim is to walk more often. But that’s hard in some neighborhoods – maybe sidewalks are bad or there’re no stores to walk to. Shawn Allee found one researcher who thinks what really stops us … is actually in our heads.
Researchers tell us one way to stay trim is to walk more often.
But that’s hard in some neighborhoods – maybe sidewalks are bad or there are no stores to walk to.
Shawn Allee found one researcher who thinks what really stops us … is actually in our heads.
Dr. Tanya Berry researches physical activity, and she surveyed people living in Edmonton, Canada.
She calculated how trim or fat they were, then she logged details about their neighborhoods, things like how many stores are nearby and how many cars pass through the area.
Berry says the thing that mattered most, and kept people from walking was a subjective feeling that there are too many cars on the street.
“There was too much traffic in their neighborhoods, it made it difficult to walk, so they chose to jump in their cars and contribute to the traffic problem.”
Berry says her research team will look at how buildings and streets can be designed to make pedestrians feel there’s less traffic than there actually is, and maybe feel more comfortable walking down the street.
Kelvin Potter on the third floor of the house he's building with scrap lumber. (Photo by Chris McCarus)
Kelvin Potter and Nate Reed gathered logs that would have been turned into firewood or woodchips. They cut them and pieced them together to make a timber frame three-story house, much like barns were made 150 years ago. From the basement to the roof the house is cheaper, stronger and less damaging to the environment. (Photo courtesy of Kelvin Potter)
Nate Reed and a fellow builder, Brandon Alioto. (Photo by Chris McCarus)
One man and a few of his friends are using some old-fashioned methods and some cutting edge techniques to build an environmentally friendly house. The builders are also using a lot of material that other people would throw away. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Chris McCarus reports:
One man and a few of his friends are using some old-fashioned methods
and some cutting edge techniques to build an environmentally-friendly house.
The builders are also using a lot of material that other people would throw
away. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Chris McCarus reports:
Four men are raising a timber frame house on an old farm
in central Michigan. Several feet up in the air, they’re piecing together
some beams, 12 feet long and 12 inches thick with some help from a small
(Sound of engine)
“Cable it! Cable it! Cable it? Yes!”
(Sound of tool dropping)
The framing is like assembling giant Lincoln Log toys. Neighbor Nick
Van Frankenhuyzen is holding a rope attached to some beams.
“Look at that. Look at how far that is extended. We lifted one of
those beams yesterday by hand and they’re not light. Now this wall has to
come back. This has to pop out again to make that one fit and I don’t
know how that’s gonna happen.”
Facing these kinds of challenges is what people in the green building
movement seem to relish. Kelvin Potter owns this farm. He’s using materials
that most builders overlook.
Potter: “Yeah we saved all these timbers, developers were burning all these.
So. These were all going up in smoke. And some of these logs came off my
neighbor’s property. They had died and were standing. We dragged ’em over here. He planted them. He’s
standing right there.”
Van Frankenhuyzen: “Yeah we’re standing on them. And then Kelvin
said I sure could use them. Because they’re the right size. Go get ’em. So he did. And here they are. Can’t believe it. Much better than firewood.”
Kelvin Potter’s home is one example of a growing trend in green building.
The U.S. Green Building Council includes 4000 member organizations. It’s
created standards for protecting the environment. The standards include
reusing material when it’s possible, using solar and wind energy, renewable
resources, and non-traditional materials. Sometimes from surprising
(Sound of truck)
A city truck dumps wood chips onto a municipal lot. On other days it
dumps logs like sugar maple, oak and pine. The trees came from routine
maintenance of parks, cemeteries and streets.
Kelvin Potter is also here, checking for any fresh deliveries. While other
guys come here to cut the logs with chainsaws for firewood, Potter says he
makes better use of it as flooring or trim. Even saw mills don’t take advantage of this kind of wood. That’s because
trees cut down in backyards often mean trouble for the mills.
“Sawmills typically aren’t interested in this material because there is
hardware, nuts, bolts, nails, clothes lines, all sorts of different things
people have pounded into them by their houses. ”
Potter says sawmills use big machines with expensive blades that get
destroyed. So THEY throw the logs away. Potter instead keeps the logs and
throws away his blades. He uses cheap ones, making it worth the risk.
When it’s finished, Kelvin Potter will have an environmentally friendly
house, even if it doesn’t meet all the criteria to be certified as a “green
Maggie Fields works for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.
She says there are many ways to build green. Anything that helps the
environment is a big improvement on the status quo.
“Every material that we reuse is a material that doesn’t have to be cut
from the woods, if that’s where it’s coming from, or remanufactured. And that means that the pollution that’s associated with that material getting
to that use state isn’t having to be created. So, it doesn’t matter if they
get the green seal. If they’re taking steps along that that’s great.”
(Sound of climbing ladder)
Kelvin Potter is climbing a ladder to the belfry of his new house. He
shows off his shiny steel roof, the kind now covering barns. He compares it
to asphalt shingles.
“It lasts 100 years versus 15, 20 years. We actually fill a lot of landfills with shingles. They don’t compress. They don’t decompose. Steel will
go right back into making more roofing or cars or what not. It’s a win-win
situation. It’s a lot cheaper all around and I can’t see why it’s not a lot
The point Potter and other green builders are trying to make is, good
building material isn’t just the stuff marketed at lumberyards. They say, “Look around. You might be surprised what you can use.”
Overpopulation of deer is causing problems for forest
understory, farmers, and increased car/deer accidents.
Some programs are encouraging hunters to take an extra
deer and donating the meat to charity. (Photo by Lester Graham)
The hunting season for deer has ended or is about to end in most states. But the deer are still plentiful. Overpopulation of deer has led to an increase in deer-and-car crashes. Too many deer also damage the understory of forests. In some states, though, the deer overpopulation also means more deer meat is made available to low-income people. That’s because hunters, meat processors and food banks are working together to get venison to the poor. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Skye Rohde
The hunting season for deer has ended or is about to end in most states. But the deer are
still plentiful. Overpopulation of deer has led to an increase in deer and car crashes. Too
many deer also damage the understory of forests. In some states, though, the deer
overpopulation also means more deer meat is made available to low-income people.
That’s because hunters, meat processors and food banks are working together to get
venison to the poor. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Skye Rohde reports:
It’s only been in the last decade or so that states have begun allowing hunters to donate
wild game to charitable organizations. In New York, meat processors and hunters started
the Venison Donation Coalition in 1998. Starting out, they gave a thousand pounds of
deer meat to food pantries in two counties.
Kathy Balbierer handles the coalition’s public relations. She says since that first thousand
pound donation, the program has grown…
“Last year, we had 108,000 pounds of venison donated, which on the average is, you
know – a deer is 40 pounds. It was approximately 27,000 deer. This year we have 119
participating processors throughout the state serving 52 counties.”
It’s an idea that hunters and meat processors across the nation are embracing. There are
venison donation programs in almost every state. Some, such as those in New York and
Illinois, are administered by state government. Others, like Michigan’s and Minnesota’s,
are run by private organizations.
Here’s how it works. First, a hunter who wants to donate meat takes it to a participating
processor. Ed Tanguey operates a meat processing facility in Kirkville, New York. He
says it’s a pretty simple process.
“Once the hunters show up to the building, we’ll have them come into our skinning room.
We’ll have them fill out some paperwork and once it’s brought in, we’ll start to skin the
deer, remove the hide and trim off any meat that’s not edible. We’ll bring the deer into
our cutting room.”
Butchers section the deer into shoulder, torso and hindquarters.
(sound of grinder starting up)
Then Tanguey sets up the grinder and grabs the meat from the cooler.
He packs the ground meat into five-pound black-and-white tubes and slaps a label on
with his name and the hunter’s license number on it.
Tanguey has processed 250 deer so far this season, 44 of them for the Venison Donation
Coalition. The coalition pays him a reduced rate, about a dollar a pound. Once there’s
enough meat in Tanguey’s cooler, he calls the Food Bank of Central New York to pick it
Tanguey says this is his way of giving back to his community.
“When I see a hunter bringing in his son or grandson and they’re giving a second deer or
a third deer to the food bank, I think it’s going to pass it on to them. And years from now
we’ll keep the coalition supplied with some more food for the food bank.”
Jim Giacando is operations manager at the Food Bank of Central New York. He says
200 of the 600 agencies he works with ask for venison.
“In our freezer, we have almost 1,000 lbs ready to distribute, and it’s already committed
to a number of agencies throughout our 11-county area. And we’ll be distributing it this
week and next week, and then hopefully we’ll receive more in and fill more orders.”
The food bank will receive venison up until January. But Giacando says the greatest
challenge is keeping up with the demand for deer meat. A lot of people want it.
“I think we actually may have to get to a point where we might have to say ‘you know,
you can’t order that much. We have to keep it for all the other programs.'”
(ambient sound in church)
One of the food pantries asking for the deer meat is the University United Methodist
Church in Syracuse, New York. Norma Goel ordered venison from Giacando’s food
bank. The church’s food pantry feeds about 150 people every week.
Goel says she can’t buy as much food for the pantry as she’d like to because of the
church’s limited budget and an increase in the number of poor people asking for food.
She says farm-raised meat is a high-priced commodity…
“We’re always looking for a way to provide meat to participants in the pantry. And it’s
become increasingly difficult to buy frozen meat that the food bank has. By and large,
we’re not purchasing frozen meat from the food bank because we can’t afford it.”
So the deer meat is a cheaper alternative. Last year, Goel ordered venison too late to
receive any. This year she got all she could for the pantry: 60 pounds. She only has to
pay the handling costs – the coalition covers processing.
Goel says she’ll encourage people to use the deer meat in place of ground beef because
it’s high in protein and low in fat. She says the 60 pounds will feed a lot of hungry people
in her community.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, this is Skye Rohde.
Although a well-manicured lawn offers certain benefits... not everyone thinks it's worth the effort. (Photo by Ed Herrmann)
Some people still prefer a more natural look. (Photo by Ed
One of the great rituals in suburban America is mowing the lawn. A manicured lawn seems to say that the house is well cared for, that it belongs to the neighborhood. Great Lakes Radio Consortium commentator Ed Herrmann wonders whether this obsession for the perfect lawn is worth the effort:
One of the great rituals in suburban America is mowing the lawn. A
manicured lawn seems to say that the house is well cared for, that it belongs
to the neighborhood. Great Lakes Radio Consortium commentator Ed
Herrmann wonders whether this obsession with the perfect lawn is worth the
(sound of evening insects)
It’s a late summer evening and at last I can go outside and enjoy the
sounds of the neighborhood. There’s a little breeze, the air is cooler. The
chorus of insects is soothing, gentle but insistent, an ancient throbbing
resonance. Much better than during the day…
(roar of lawn machines)
Summer days in the suburbs are the time of assault, when people attack their
lawns with powerful weapons from the chemical and manufacturing
industries. Anyone who uses the words “quiet” and “suburbs” in the same
sentence has never been to a suburb, at least not in summer.
It takes a lot of noise to maintain a lawn. Besides the mower, you’ve got edgers, trimmers,
leaf blowers, weed whackers, core aerators, little tractors, big tractors, slitting
machines. I don’t know whatever happened to rakes and hand clippers. One
thing’s for sure. This quest for lawn perfection wouldn’t be possible without
the industrial revolution.
So where did we get the idea that a house should be surrounded by a field of
uniform grass kept at the same height?
Well, with apologies to the Queen, I’m afraid we must blame the British. It
seems that, along with our language, our imperial ambitions and our
ambivalent morals, America also gets its notion of what a lawn should look
like from the English. Of course, the estates of the English aristocracy were
tended by a staff of gardeners. England also has a milder climate, and the
grass that looks so nice there doesn’t do as well in North America. In the
1930’s the USDA came up with a blend of imported grasses that would
tolerate our climate. Since these grasses are not native, they need help, and
that calls for fertilizers, pesticides and lots of extra water. Since normal
people can’t afford gardeners who trim by hand, that means lawn machines.
American industry to the rescue.
(mower starts up, fades under next sentence)
A quick Google tells me that today we have 40 million lawn mowers in use.
Each emits 11 times the pollution of a new car, and lawn mowers contribute
five percent of the nation’s air pollution. Plus more than 70 million pounds of
pesticides are used each year and over half of our residential water is used
for landscaping. Don’t you love those automatic sprinklers that come on in the
rain? Add to that all the time that people spend mowing and edging. Of
course the two billion dollar lawn care industry is thrilled about all this
enthusiasm, but I gotta ask, “Is it worth it?”
Call me old fashioned, but I actually prefer the looks of a meadow with mixed
wildflowers and grasses to the lawn that looks like a pool table. My own lawn
is somewhere between. It’s mowed, but it’s what you might call multicultural.
There are at least five different kinds of grass with different colors and
thicknesses, plus clover, dandelions, mushrooms, a few pinecones, and a
rabbit hole or two. There’s also some kind of nasty weed with thorns, but even
that has nice purple flowers if it gets big enough.
Clover, by the way, used to be added to grass seed because it adds nitrogen to
the soil. Now we just buy a bag of nitrogen fertilizer, so who needs clover?
And what’s wrong with
dandelions? You can eat them, some people even make wine out of them,
they have happy yellow flowers; yet to most people they indicate your yard is
out of control. So I’m down on my hands and knees pulling dandelions. I’m
not sure why, but I hope it keeps the neighbors happy.
One thing I won’t give in to, though, is the chemical spraying trucks, painted
green of course, that roll through the neighborhood.
I can only hold my breath. (sound of trucks and mowers) Try not to listen. And
wait for the evening. (evening insects)
(air conditioner starts up)
Although, with all these air conditioners, even the night’s not too quiet.
But that’s another story.
Host tag: “Ed Herrmann is an outdoor enthusiast living in the
suburbs of Detroit.”