Monday, April 13, 2009

NtM - April, 13, 2009

News That Matters
Brought to you (Almost Daily) by PlanPutnam.Org

Good Monday Morning,

Take a good look at the maples this morning and you'll notice they're all budded up and ready to pop. Daffodils and crocuses are up and flowering and the radishes are coming up in the garden. The radishes don't mind the 28 degree mornings all that much but these cold mornings are becoming fewer as our hemisphere tilts ever-so-slowly towards the sun.

A Costco is planned to open in Newburgh, NY, that is. Developer Wilder-Balter has beaten back lawsuit after lawsuit to break ground on the construction of an 850,000+ sq ft mall in Newburgh called the Marketplace. Slated to occupy space there are Costco and Best Buy. Sound familiar? Of course it does. Now we see that there was a race between Paul Camarda's Patterson Crossing and W-B's Marketplace for placement of those two national chain stores. With a Costco in Brookfield, CT 20 minutes away from the Carmel PO, to our east and another one coming in Newburgh 25 minutes away to our west, is there really a need for one here? Studying the map of existing Costco's the answer is, "not really". Does anyone know if Costco is still a signed tenant for Patterson Crossing? How about a green-roofed, solar powered Ikea instead?

The Putnam County Land Trust is celebrating it's 40th Anniversary this year with a Dinner and Auction at the Star Ridge Banquet Center in Southeast on Saturday evening, April 18th. The annual benefit features an outstanding buffet, live music, a silent auction, and a live auction led by Ivan and Laura Cohen. Past auction donations have included weekend getaways, golf outings, antique furniture, wine baskets, unique jewelry, original art, lovely plants, gift certificates, and many items handcrafted just for this event. There will be displays and presentations about Land Trust properties and Putnam County’s many scenic areas. Awards and recognitions will be presented to individuals who have made a difference for the environmental community by volunteering their time, skills and resources. Tickets are $50 and is money well spent. More information is available here or call (845) 228-4520.

Towns Suing Towns
Carmel is suing Southeast on the latter's decision to pave an old road that just happens to run directly into Carmel. On the Carmel side they're not too happy about all those Southeast residents barging through what was once a cul-de-sac. Can barricades and civil disobedience be next? Stay tuned!

The Putnam County Courier is back. While it was, at least in recent memory, naught but a soapbox for "Official Putnam", FOX News has now taken the reigns and has a strangle-hold on both eastern and western portions of the county while News That Matters remains the sole independent news source for the rest of us. And, when the Aile's decide they've had enough objective free thought in this part of the county, they'll crush this column as easily as they care to. I can't imagine what they'll be writing about me during the upcoming election season.

Website Watch:
This morning we're going to take a look at two online videos, both work-safe so long as your cubicle neighbors don't mind the singing.
The first is at Norman Lear took the efforts of director Mark Johnson of Playing for Change, Producer Brent Miller, 16 performers and two choruses to bring Keith Carradine's song to life in 14 iconic locations around the USA. The singers and musicians, non-professionals all, were chosen because they are living the lyrics, not just performing them. It's not what you think, by the way. Rather, it takes a bad situation and turns it into an uplifting music video and a song you'll end up humming for the rest of the day unless you view the next video...

Antwerp's Central train station is as staid as the country it sits in (that's Belgium for those who had a standard US Education). But what would it be like if hundreds of people stopped in the middle of the floor and started dancing? Belgian television station VTM staged just an event as part of a promotional stunt. Using students and teachers from a local dance school they entranced hundreds of commuters for 4 minutes and 1 second. I'll say no more... point your browser here. This being the digital age, several of the passersby in the space also recorded the scene and in this one the jubilation of the watching crowd is more than evident.

And now, the News:
  1. Community farms share fruits of their labor
  2. Is America's Love Affair with Suburbia Over?
  3. Honeybees in Danger
  4. Planting the Healing Garden
  5. U.S. institute names 99 top ethical companies
  6. Americans stick to their guns as firearms sales surge
  7. Wall Street Digs In

Community farms share fruits of their labor

Michael Risinit

PATTERSON - Spring is a bit slow in getting to Cascade Farm this year. Rain has muddied the fields, keeping out the tractor and plow. More than a week into April, the wood stove cranks out heat for both farmer and seedlings in the greenhouse.

But the ground will dry; the days will warm; and the broccoli, swiss chard, parsley and other vegetables will make their way to the fields. Subscribers of Cascade's farm-share program will enjoy the harvest through the growing season. By buying shares, they receive a weekly installment of whatever happens to be ready - say, kale, in a few weeks, or peppers in the summer.

To help spread the bounty during this recession-cloaked season, the farm is matching any donated shares and sending that produce to a local food pantry.

Read More

Is America's Love Affair with Suburbia Over?

by Andy Sullivan

GAINESVILLE, Virginia  - Jean Bell didn't plan to take care of her neighbor's lawn when she moved to this cluster of brick townhouses hard by the freeway.

But the house next door has sat vacant for the past year and a half, and the bank that owned it wasn't keeping it up. So the retiree and her family have mowed and watered the grass to deter the burglars who have hit nearby developments.

"We all have to watch each other's homes because we don't want the property values to go down any more," Bell says. "It's scary, and I really don't know what's going to happen."

Thirty-five miles from downtown Washington, it's easy to find signs that America's relentless suburban expansion may have petered out.

Raw earth and blank concrete pads mark house lots that have sat unsold for three years.

Streets remain incompletely paved and poorly lit, the legacy of a builder that declared bankruptcy.

Read More

Honeybees in Danger

Sunday 12 April 2009

by: Evaggelos Vallianatos, t r u t h o u t | Perspective
When I was teaching at Humboldt State University in northern California 20 years ago, I invited a beekeeper to talk to my students. He said that each time he took his bees to southern California to pollinate other farmers' crops, he would lose a third of his bees to sprays. In 2009, the loss ranges all the way to 60 percent.

Honeybees have been in terrible straits.

A little history explains this tragedy.

For millennia, honeybees lived in symbiotic relationship with societies all over the world.

The Greeks loved them. In the eighth century BCE, the epic poet Hesiod considered them gifts of the gods to just farmers. And in the fourth century of our era, the Greek mathematician Pappos admired their hexagonal cells, crediting them with "geometrical forethought."

However, industrialized agriculture is not friendly to honeybees.

Read More

Planting the Healing Garden

(Lavender fields image courtesy Oregon Lavender Festival website)

One of the most frequently-asked questions at the Therapeutic Landscapes Network is about what grows in a healing garden. Many people assume that a "therapeutic landscape" is a garden filled with herbs grown and harvested for their medicinal properties - in essence, that the healing comes from the plants in the garden. And this is certainly true some of the time (for a more thorough explanation about and definition of healing gardens, therapeutic landscapes, and landscapes for health, see this post and this post). More often, though, a healing garden is simply a garden filled with plants; research has shown that the more heavily planted a garden is, the more restorative it will be. The type of plant seems to be less important, though a variety of flora that stimulates the senses is a good start.

That said, many healing gardens contain at least some medicinal herbs, which are grown for a variety reasons: Their scent, or texture, or aesthetic qualities, or for their symbolism (for example, Topher Delaney designed the Carolyn S. Stolman Healing Garden at the Avon Foundation Breast Center in San Francisco, CA with plants that were traditionally used to treat cancer). Are they always harvested, processed, and used for salutary purposes? Nope. The fact is that especially in a healthcare setting, there often isn't time or knowledge or the right equipment for, say, distilling Echinacea flowers into the tincture that you would use to boost the immune system. Are they beautiful, native, easy-to-maintain flowers that attract butterflies and symbolize health? Absolutely! Do they get harvested to ward off the common cold? Not usually.

Read More

U.S. institute names 99 top ethical companies

Mon Apr 13, 2009 7:27am EDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Ethisphere Institute on Monday named 99 companies it says are the world's most ethical, its third annual listing designed to encourage ethical practices within the global business community.

The 99 companies, which include Honeywell International Inc, Nike Inc, Patagonia, BMW Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, Johnson Controls Inc and HSBC Holdings PLC, come from 35 different industries.

"The mission of our group is to improve corporate behavior," said Alex Brigham, executive director of the Ethisphere Institute, an international think-tank based in New York dedicated to the advancement of best practices in business ethics, corporate social responsibility, anti-corruption and sustainability.

Read More

Americans stick to their guns as firearms sales surge

Amid fears that President Obama is planning a clampdown on guns, Chris McGreal reports from Culpeper, Virginia, on a new US arms race

Chris McGreal for The Guardian, Monday 13 April 2009

Guns line the walls of the firearms reference collection at the Washington Metropolitan police department headquarters in Washington

At the Guns and Ammo Warehouse they are reluctant to admit Barack Obama is right about very much. But customers enjoy the thought that his controversial campaign comment, that "bitter" small-town Americans are clinging to their guns, has proved more true than the president could have imagined.

Firearms sales have surged in the six months since Obama's election as millions of Americans have gone on a buying spree that has stripped gun shops in some parts of the country almost bare of assault weapons and led to a national ammunition shortage.

Read More

Wall Street Digs In

The old system refuses to change. Is Obama getting the message?

Michael Hirsh
Newsweek Web Exclusive

Not long ago, a group of skeptical Democratic senators met at the White House with President Obama, his chief economic adviser, Larry Summers, and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. The six senators—most of them centrists, joined by one left-leaning independent, Vermont's Bernie Sanders—said that while they supported Obama, they were worried. The financial reform policies the president was pursuing were not going far enough, they told him, and the people Obama was choosing as his regulators were not going to change things fundamentally enough. His appointed officials and nominees were products of the very system that brought us all this economic grief; they would tinker with the system but in the end leave Wall Street, and its practices, mostly intact, the senators suggested politely. In addition to Sanders, the senators at the meeting were Maria Cantwell, Byron Dorgan, Dianne Feinstein, Carl Levin and Jim Webb.

That March 23 gathering, the details of which have gone largely unreported until now, was just a minor flare-up in a larger battle for the future—one that may already be lost. With the financial markets seeming to stabilize in recent weeks, major Wall Street players are digging in against fundamental changes. And while it clearly wants to install serious supervision, the Obama administration—along with other key authorities like the New York Fed—appears willing to stand back while Wall Street resurrects much of the ultracomplex global trading system that helped lead to the worst financial collapse since the Depression.

Read More

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