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Almanac Archive 11/21/2011

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Quote of the Week
"We are not to throw away those things which can benefit our neighbor. Goods are called good because they can be used for good: they are instruments for good, in the hands of those who use them properly."
--Clement of Alexandria
(c. 150 - c. 215)
Mystery Photo

Despite persistent pedalling, this bike is definitely not going anywhere. Any guesses on what these folks are trying to accomplish? Once you have your guess, take a look at this close-up clue.

Conservation Calendar

Felix Neck Fall Festival:

Friday, Nov 25
This year, Felix Neck's annual Fall Festival features live bird demonstrations, horse drawn hay rides, music by the Flying Elbows, food, crafts, and more. Volunteers are still needed for some jobs: if you are interested in helping sustain this great community event, please contact the sanctuary at 508-627-4850 or felixneck@massaudubon.org

Permaculture: Hands-On Learning
Friday, Nov 25, 2:00-4:00 pm, Native Earth Teaching Farm, Chilmark.
Native Earth is having the second planting day for their permaculture project, the Edible Forest Garden. This week's session will focus on nuts with the planting of chestnut and hickory trees. For more information and directions, see their website, or call 508-645-3304.

Cut your own Christmas Tree
Saturday, Nov 26, 9:00 am to noon, Cedar Tree Neck Sanctuary, West Tisbury.

Sponsored by Sheriff's Meadow Foundation. Please be advised that all trees are “Charlie Brown” style Christmas trees. Bring gloves; saws and hot cider provided. Call 508-693-5207 for more information.

Discussion: Reducing Nitrogen in Ponds
Wednesday, Nov 30, 5:00 pm, West Tisbury.

Join Earle Barnhart and Hilde Maingay for a discussion on alternative strategies for reducing nitrogen in coastal ponds. At the Howes House (near Alley's, in front of the library). Call 693-3453 for more information.

Eco Crafting
Wednesday, Nov 30, 6:00 pm, Edgartown Library.

Fashion a purse, mittens, tote bag or hat from a felted sweater. Choose from a variety of felted sweaters at the library, or bring one of your own. The group is limited to five and reservations are required. For details, call 508-627-4221.

Winter Farmers Market
Saturday, Dec 3, 10:00 am to 1:00 pm at the Ag Hall in West Tisbury.

From their website: "The summer may be over but the West Tisbury Farmers Market continues through December. The Winter Market is an off season favorite, held indoors at the New Ag Hall with over 25 vendors, great food and live music!"

Walk Aquinnah with the Land Bank
Sunday, Dec 4, 1:00 pm.

Natural history walk at the Aquinnah Headlands Preserve. Call M.V. Land Bank at 508-627-7141 for more information.
Local Cranberries for Thanksgiving

Fresh, certified organic cranberries for sale, locally grown by the Vineyard Open Land Foundation at at their historic Cranberry Acres bog. Proceeds support the continuing renovation of the bog (which will be familiar to those who frequently travel Lambert's Cove Rd). Fresh VOLF cranberries are $10 lb, $5 1/2 lb. Organic sweetened dried cranberries are also available for $14 lb. To order, e-mail Carol Magee at VOLF@gis.net or call 508-639-3280.

In Season Recipe
Cranberry Sauce

Berries about to burst in the heat

There is simply no comparison between homemade cranberry sauce and anything you're likely to find in the store. Even if you prefer the traditional version of the All-American gelatinous classic (and good luck getting that much jiggle out of this recipe!), this year why not try out a cranberry sauce with complex flavors, local ingredients, and natural sweeteners? It's not like they won't still be making those cans next year.

The interesting thing about this recipe is that it's entirely different depending on whether you use apple cider or orange juice. Both are good, but I prefer the OJ version (with pineapple); cider (and no pineapple) might be a better choice for those looking for something more consistent with the traditional style.

  • 12 oz fresh cranberries
  • 1 3/4 C orange juice or apple cider
  • 3/4 C honey
  • 1 tsp grated orange peel
  • 2 cinnamon sticks broken in half
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt (dash or to taste)
  • 1 small can of crushed pineapple (optional)
Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.  While stirring occasionally, simmer until berries burst and sauce thickens (about 15 minutes). Remove cinnamon stick, cloves, and bay leaf. Refrigerate and serve chilled.
Monday, November 21, 2011

Local News

Thanks to all our Regular Almanac Readers!
At the Vineyard Conservation Society, we are very thankful for our regular readers of the Conservation Almanac. It is reassuring to know that well over 1,000 people are interested in environmental issues and protection as they relate to our island; that connection to the public helps us know that what we’re doing is important not only to our membership, but to the island community as a whole.
Of course, while the Almanac will always be free, much of what we do – for example, protection of Moshup Trail through legal defense – carries significant financial costs. If you’re not already a member, please consider joining today. In addition to your much-appreciated moral support of the Almanac, you can help us sustain those more costly efforts.
VCS Recycling Initiative:
Survey Wrap-Up

The Legendary Dumptique of West Tisbury: Beyond Recycling

Led by David Nash, VCS recently undertook an island-wide survey of recycling efforts. In this final installment of the report, Dave summarizes some of the important findings and offers some parting thoughts on further opportunities to improve recycling efforts on the Vineyard.

The shrink wrap model as well as the VCS experience with the Steamship Authority are useful examples of how to help identify and create new recycling opportunities and maybe even solve unique waste management situations. We surveyed Vineyard Decorators and noted the efforts they use to recycle polyethylene wrapping from furniture shipping.

Our survey didn’t include many of our local efforts to recycle such as the recycle operation known as “Dumptique” at the West Tisbury transfer station. This is the perfect example of how recycling really is nothing more than exploring alternative uses for materials and items before simply discarding. Farmers routinely recycle compostable materials in their fields and Morning Glory Farm takes that a step further by operating a passive composting facility which accepts leaves, grass and small brush. Keene Excavation uses stump grinders and equipment to create mulch from land clearing debris. Many businesses and individuals rely on the MV Community Services sponsored electronics collection events representing an affordable alternative to more costly disposal at our transfer stations and certainly a more acceptable environmental alternative then illegal dumping.

Businesses which have taken the time to evaluate their waste management options often come up with cost saving alternatives and many simply do what they can to maximize their efforts to recycle. Our local waste haulers are in a very competitive business but when we interviewed all of them we found a common theme to be a willingness to work with their customers to both save them money and make their waste management task easy and effective. Haulers can help deal with limitations to recycling such as cost and available space.

Two of our island haulers, Allied Waste (recently purchased by ABC Disposal) and Bruno’s participate in LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified projects. LEED is essentially a green building initiative which features a unique certification process to assure compliance with the standards and practices which LEED promotes. . . .  LEED participating haulers need to provide waste management options on site to assure that the post-construction management of wastes and recyclables is accountable enough to assure the correct management of these materials. The entire LEED process is extensive and the waste handling part is critical to its success. LEED compliance, however, is very expensive.

Please see our website for the full-length version of this article, or start from the beginning if you've missed anything.

Other News

Why Climatologists Just Won't Answer the Question Already

Climate scientist Richard Betts recently submitted a good explanation of why many scientists think it’s inappropriate, counterproductive, or even impossible to give a simple, firm answer to the question “How much global warming is too much before it becomes dangerous?”

"Asking a climate scientist to define a “safe” or “dangerous” level of global warming is like asking a weather forecaster to decide whether you should cancel your wedding, school sports day, or other event because he’s issued a severe weather warning.

The weather forecast is only one factor in the decision to cancel the event – other factors include how sensitive the event is to weather, how easy it is to make adjustments either in advance or on the day in order to cope, and the consequences of cancellation compared to battling on. Ultimately the decision to cancel or not will be a judgment call, which you will have to take yourself once you have carefully considered all the angles
." (Continued at NY Times)

Betts makes an important point, and makes it well: I can understand why climate scientists would be fed up with constantly being asked by the public to just “pick a number already!” Further, the IPCC’s choice to actually do so (3.6 deg F above preindustrial temperatures is the official “danger level”) carries significant risks: fatalism from scientists who think that much warming is already inevitable, defeatism from the general public if and when we reach that level, and political opportunism from fossil fuel interests when there is any deviation from the predictions.
Betts goes on to explain that while climate scientists can provide information on probabilities and magnitudes of the various impacts of climate change, it is up to society to consider the science, determine its own attitude toward risk, and choose those policies and practices that best balance its competing interests. My concern with taking the position that “it’s all just a matter of one’s attitude toward risk,” though, is that while true in a literal sense, it whitewashes the magnitude of the consequences, and the social and political reality of who will be affected, relative to who is making the decisions about energy policy.
So, fine. There’s no particular level of warming that is, or is not, dangerous. Depending on how you look at it, the world is dangerous. Hurricanes happen, and even with the best planning, construction, and emergency response, lives are lost. Nevertheless, the odds of someone I know dying in a hurricane are very small; in a warmer world with more frequent and powerful hurricanes, it might be twice as likely while still being very improbable. But does that mean it doesn’t matter? As a society, we certainly expend a lot of effort (and money) avoiding far less probable risks.

Taking Flight

A smaller murmuration in Somerset England (photo by Tim Graham for the Guardian)

Finally, for anyone who hasn't seen it and has two minutes to spare, check out this video that has been circling the web for the past few weeks. Two canoeists in Ireland recorded the spectacular movements of a huge flock of starlings, or murmuration, a term akin to a murder of crows or skein of geese (that is, what a gaggle instantly becomes upon taking flight; sometimes it seems we have more words than we really need).

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Copyright (C) *2011* *Vineyard Conservation Society* All rights reserved.

Original content by Jeremy Houser unless otherwise noted.