Sustainable Arlington Committees
Each of our committees has its own page where you can find a description of the committee's purpose and activities, as well as contact information.
You are invited to attend our monthly meetings. You will find the agendas and minutes from our meetings in the right column of this page. If you are a registered member, you can post potential agenda items to the agendas and minutes forum. The most recent posts appear on the right column of this page.
I wanted to share my spring project with everyone through the blog. I'm in the process of building 2 new raised beds on what has always been my large grassy lawn. I have always planted a garden to grow vegetables in a plot next to my house. I've done pretty well with that plot but last year I decided that the sunniest part of the yard should be tapped for more garden both to grow more vegetables and to reduce the amount of space that was covered by otherwise unproductive grass.
I'm now putting my plans into action. The plan is to add 2 4X8 foot raised beds. I've purchased the lumber (18 4X4 by 8 ft. untreated fir fence posts) and I've also ordered a Juliana Mini 3 green house for my seedlings, etc. I'm also going to setup a composter which is something I've also been meaning to do for some time now. I'm planning on using the "Square Foot Garden" method. (I'll provide a link to the site shortly). This method uses a amixture of 1/3 each compost, vermiculite, and peat. There's no "soil" involved. This method divides the garden into 1 foot squares rather than planting in rows.
As I build my beds and greenhouse I will post pictures and more details about what I'm learning along the way.
Stay tuned for more details....
Lots of progress to report. I've now purchased all of the materials and constructed my raised beds. I purchased 4"X4"X16' fir fence poasts for the beds. I got the lumber at Cambridge Lumber. For the amount of lumber I purchased delivery was free.
I purchased corner brackets and mending plates to connect the lengths of fir together to form my two 4'X8'X1' boxes. I treated the wood with pure tung oil combined in equal parts with citrus solvent to help it penetrate the wood and dry more quickly. The coats dried in a few hours.
I purchased peat, vermiculite (coarse), and 5 varieties of compost to start things off. These three ingredients get mixed 1/3 each to product the growing medium. I put a layer of cardboard in the bottom of the boxes to kill the grass and weeds while letting the water drain through the bottom when saturated.
I used eyelets to connect nylon chord to mark the 1'X1' squares (square foot gardening) and planted my first bunch of plants. I will be getting the second box into production this weekend.
The boxes cost about $150 per for the materials. The soil mix cost quite a bit as well and I will add some details when I get a chance along with pictures.
I haven't had a chance to dive into the other piece of this project which is to assemble the leanto style greenhouse that I am putting on the side of my house.
In the meantime, I also decided to replace my traditional lawn with a "no-mow" lawn of fescu grasses....I'll write another blog on this as I get going on it. The basic idea is that the new grass will be over-spread on top of the current lawn. The fescue grasses will crowd out the old grass and the weeds. It will provide a nice looking and feeling lawn but require very little water and no mowing!
More to come...
This past fall, we had a pellet stove installed and we really like it. It’s an insert to our fireplace that burns small pellets made of compressed sawdust. It heats the living room and most of the downstairs very well. We still use our regular furnace and radiators, mainly for heating upstairs. But if you leave the stove running for several hours it does a pretty good job of heating the whole house.
We bought the pellet stove from Energy Unlimited in Wayland. I also expect that we’ll be buying fuel from them.
So far this year, the stove has been our primary heat source although we do use our gas furnace regularly. Our bills and gas consumption have gone down significantly– on the order of 30%. Of course, we’ve had to pay for pellet fuel which cost $300 for a ton and $50 for delivery.
We keep up the pallet in the our garage because the pellets need to stay dry. We’ve burned through the first ton and are ordering a second ton now.
In terms of labor, you have to carry the 40-pound bags of pellets in from outside, obviously, and pour them into the stove from the top. We have been emptying the ashes out every two weeks and using a vacuum to clean it out thoroughly. We throw the ashes on the compost. We’ll also have to get the chimney checked regularly and the stove cleaned professionally.
My biggest concern with the stove so far is getting the fuel. Pellets were not available around here last winter. And getting a second delivery from our supplier has been delayed a couple of times. Places like Home Depot also sell pellets, so that’s another option. I’m told that getting high-quality pellets are important.
The stove itself cost about $2200. Altogether, the stove, installation, and delivery of ton of pellets costs over $3000.
It gives off a dry heat, blown out with the fan and it’s really nice having a fire going. Before we rarely used the fireplace, because it was so wasteful, heat-wise. You can’t smell smoke outside when the stove is burning like you can when you burn wood in a fireplace.
In theory, wood pellets are a renewable resource, although I don’t know about ours for sure. We get them from a lumber company which has set up a subsidiary to make pellets from its sawdust. In general, it seems environmentalist give pellet stoves good marks as a heating option.
See more here at
Thomas L. Friedman has hit many nails on the head in his analysis of what this country needs to do to deal with global warming, population growth, and the expansion of the world's middle class. This book is the current selection of the Arlington Democratic Town Committee Book Group. All are welcome to attend the discussion of Hot, Flat, and Crowded on Sun., Jan. 4, from 3 to 5 at Ken Larsen's house at 4 Frost Street. Please contact Ken at 648-5332 if you have any questions.
Here's my favorite review of what I feel is an essential-to-read book.
-- David Landskov
Reviewed by Joseph S. Nye Jr
Sunday, September 7, 2008; Page BW03
HOT, FLAT, AND CROWDED
Why We Need a Green Revolution -- And How It Can Renew America
Farrar Straus Giroux. 438 pp. $27.95
Like it or not, we need Tom Friedman.
The peripatetic columnist has made himself a major interpreter of the confusing world we inhabit. He travels to the farthest reaches, interviews everyone from peasants to chief executives and expresses big ideas in clear and memorable prose. While pettifogging academics (a select few of whom he favors) complain that his catchy phrases and anecdotes sometimes obscure deeper analysis, by and large Friedman gets the big issues right.
Almost a decade ago, in The
Of course, rousing a full-bellied nation, groggy from decades of energy overconsumption, is no small task. As the current election debate reminds us, the United States has proven inept at developing a serious energy strategy. Our approach, says one expert quoted by Friedman, is "the sum of all lobbies"; we have energy politics rather than energy policy. In the aftermath of 9/11,
Friedman believes we need to become "green hawks," turning conservation and cleaner energy into a winning strategy in many different arenas, including the military. ("Nothing," he writes, "will make you a believer in distributed solar power faster than having responsibility for trucking fuel across Iraq.") We should stop defining our current era as "post-Cold War," he says, and see it as an "Energy-Climate Era" marked by five major problems: growing demand for scarcer supplies, massive transfer of wealth to petrodictators, disruptive climate change, poor have-nots falling behind, and an accelerating loss of bio-diversity. A green strategy is not simply about generating electric power, it is a new way of generating national power.
Incremental change will not be enough. The three-time
Friedman cites an estimate by
Friedman is skeptical of treaties, and he argues that "a truly green America would be more valuable than fifty Kyoto Protocols. Emulation is always more effective than compulsion." He makes a good case that "outgreening" other countries would contribute to America's soft power as well as our hard power. "We are still the city on the hill for many Chinese," he notes, "even though they hate what we've done at times at the top of the hill." But the problem of China could overshadow what we do at home. In 2007, China surpassed the United States as the world's leading emitter of carbon dioxide. Chinese argue that on a per capita basis each of their citizens is responsible for only one-fifth the emissions of an American, and that developing countries should not have to cut back until they reach rich countries' CO2levels. This is a formula for global disaster. As Friedman says, "Mother Nature isn't into fair. All she knows is hard science and raw math."
China uses coal, a particularly CO2-intensive fuel, for 70 percent of its commercial energy supply, while coal accounts for a third of America's total energy. China builds more than one new coal-fired power plant each week. Coal is cheap and widely available in China, which is important as the country scrambles for energy resources to keep its many energy-intensive industries running. But Friedman does not deal with the issue of cleaner coal in China, and no amount of renewable energy in America will solve the problem. At the rate China is growing, a Chinese switch to renewables will come too late.
What can the United States do about this security threat? The bombs, bullets and embargos of traditional security policy are irrelevant. A 2007 report from the
Joseph S. Nye Jr. is University Distinguished Service Professor at Harvard and author, most recently, of "The Powers to Lead."