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Paints and Pints:
Betty McCollum, our rep in the US House, hasn't yet joined the bipartisan House Climate Solutions Caucus (with 68 members and counting). Let's flood her offices with our handmade watercolor postcards, each showing one reason she should join it.
What's your favorite climate solution? Solar and wind? Gardens? Tool-sharing with neighbors? Public transit or biking? Paint it on a card and we'll send it to Betty. Meet
in the Urban Growler's Barrel Room. Cards, paints, and brushes provided. No artistic background needed.
The Barrel Room, upstairs at the Growler
The Climate Solutions Caucus maintains an equal number of House Republicans and Democrats. So Betty McCullom will need to join alongside a Republican. Some good news: Fred Upton, R-Michigan, the influential former chair of Energy and Commerce, recently joined.
So, if you're not attending Tuesday's local caucuses, you can take action this way. Bonus
: it's the Growler's Philanthro-Brew night. For every pint we sip, a dollar goes to Interact Arts, a local nonprofit for artists with and without disabilities.
Book discussion: David Fleming's
Surviving the Future
Saturday, February 10, 2-4 pm
SAP Library, 2245 Como Ave., St. Paul 55108
We'll discuss part 1 of this book, subtitled Culture, Carnival and Capital in the Aftermath of the Market Economy.
Indoor gardening workshop
Local Economy group
Wednesday, February 21, 6:30-8 pm
1441 Cleveland Ave N., St. Paul 55108
How can we invest in our values: a local investment club or community fund? Self-directed IRAs? Work with Slow Money MN? Join us as we explore. For info
email Sherm Eagles
Transition Town planning group
Thursday, February 22, 7-9 pm
At Mindy's, 2314 Hillside Ave, Apt 2, St. Paul
Join us in planning projects for a smaller footprint and a stronger community. Social time at 6:30.
Friday, February 23, 7-8 pm
SAP United Church of Christ
Commonwealth, St. Paul 55108
Grow fresh leafy salad greens through the winter with no lights or greenhouse: just a cupboard and a windowsill. Lee Olson of Macalester will show how. Go home with seed trays ready to sprout. $5 donation at door appreciated
Garden tool maintenance workshop
Wednesday, February 28, 6:30-8:30 pm
St. Paul Tool Library
755 Prior Ave N., St. Paul, 55104
Together with Frogtown Farm, SPTL offers this workshop: $20 suggested donation.
"Talk Climate" workshop
Tues & Wed, March 12 & 13
at the Wilder Center in St. Paul
Build your confidence! Have courageous conversations that inspire climate action. Hosted by Climate Generation.
Join our mailing list:
Submit news & views: email the
, Mindy Keskinen and Madeline Harpell.
Logo by Pat Thompson. Transition "t" and Bee by Regula Russelle.
From Diane Galvin of ECO-Logic
Rain gardens: The why and the how
by Mindy Keskinen
Cities are full of hard surfaces: roofs, roads, parking lots, sidewalks. During a heavy rainfall, water rushes through the streets. When the sky clears, most of the
rain is in the storm sewer or evaporating from the hardscape. How can we absorb more of it into our yards and gardens? One simple answer: rain gardens. Diane Galvin of ECO-logic spoke to the St. Anthony Park Garden Club last fall. Let's revisit her talk now: it's garden planning season!
Photos: Above, Diane's own front-yard rain garden in June, with siberian iris, peony, amsonia, chives, and geranium in flower. Last fall Diane spread siberian iris seed pods to encourage more blooms.
Diane defines a rain garden as an intentional landscape feature that's attractive to look at (the garden part) while serving to capture rainwater, snowmelt, and runoff, letting it infiltrate the soil within 24 hours (the rain part). It's a below-grade area, contoured so water will pool there briefly, and it's filled with plants that don't mind occasional periods of wetness.
Photo: Diane's garden pooled after a rain last spring, not bothering the geranium groundcover at all.
Rain gardens help us adapt to a changing climate, buffering the water table from the effects of severe wet and dry spells. And they help us make better use of rain when we have it. "More liquid precipitation falling due to changes in weather patterns and temperatures adds to the burden on the storm sewer system," said Diane. "That system transports pollutants into various parts of the watershed, eventually ending up in the Mississippi River. This water has to go somewhere. Why not make more rain gardens and direct this resource somewhere useful instead of allowing it to be a vehicle for further damage?"
Contours of a typical residential rain garden
Plants also help cleanse water, filtering it through their root systems. If your uphill neighbor uses a chemical lawn treatment, your rain garden can help clean up the runoff. "Rain gardens infiltrate the water into the ground where the nutrients benefit our gardens and yards, while intercepting pollutants before they hit the storm sewer system and other waters," Diane pointed out.
Every yard counts! But scaling up is even better. Worldwide, some cities are landscaping with rain gardens to combat flooding. Read the Guardian's article about China's "sponge cities
"We're not limited to the soil-bermed bowl filled with native plants," said Diane, although that's what we might picture as a classic rain garden. "It can be any shape, size, or aesthetic style. Plus, even if you don't have room for an actual rain garden, the concepts can be used elsewhere in the yard and gardens." You can take advantage of a low area by shaping the ground a bit more to catch and retain water and, if there's a natural outflow area, adding some rock to prevent erosion. Remember, at least 48 hours before you plan to dig, call 651-454-8388 to locate city utility systems so you don't damage them.
Photos: Top, Diane helped a client locate, design, and plant a shaded rain garden. Right, Pat Thompson's boulevard rain garden catches water where her sloping yard meets a sloping street. It's a three-season pollinator feast, planted with Diane's help.
For an ECO-Logic consultation on rain gardens, or other gardens, email Diane Galvin at email@example.com.
for more rain garden how-tos and photos from Diane.
is a book editor and co-editor of this newsletter.
St. Paul's trash-haul overhaul:
What about zero waste?
The good news: When St. Paul launches its new consolidated trash hauling system this October, it will save about two-thirds of the fuel the trucks now use, with less noise and wear and tear on our streets. Private companies will do the hauling, but the city will administer the system on an area-by-area basis for much greater efficiency.
The bad news: Neighboring households that arrange to share a bin can no longer split the cost: each household still has to pay at least the new minimum rate, so there's less incentive to reduce waste.
Several of us met with City Council member Russ Stark last month to discuss the new system, proposing a bin-sharing policy with a price break. But because the city has signed a five-year contract with a consortium of private haulers, a change like that isn't possible until it's up for renewal.
eanwhile, Russ has accepted mayor Melvin Carter's appointment as St. Paul's chief resilience officer, overseeing environmental policy. Congratulations to Russ, and we hope for an even more zero-waste-friendly hauling system in the future.
For now, the basics on the new system:
- It applies to all residential buildings with up to four units.
- Renters aren't billed directly; instead, the property owner is billed and passes the cost along to tenants.
- The haulers do the billing quarterly in advance. Any customer complaints go to their specific hauler, and if they're not responsive, city staff step in.
weekly large bin $434.40
weekly medium bin $408.96
weekly small bin $298.80
biweekly small bin $262.08
(quarterly charges plus an annual fee added to property taxes) stay the same for the whole contract period.
Haulers will keep data on quantity per truck (and therefore per area), which the city will compile for future planning. And when curbside organics pickup starts (no date set yet), the city
hopes the trash trucks can do those pickups at the same
time. That sounds like a great way to go.
Pat Thompson leads our Transportation group. She also works with our planning group, the boards of the SAP Community Council and the Creative Enterprise Zone, and the Friends School Plant Sale.