Category Archives: Meet Local Green Peeps!

Meet Local Green Peeps!

Chances are, if you are reading this, you support green causes. You go to meetings, you visit local farmers’ markets, and soon you start running into familiar faces. You know their names, but have you ever wondered what they do to be ? Well, Meet Local Green Peeps! hopes to satisfy your curiosity about area green people and what they do to be GreenAR in the Natural State. So, without further ado, let’s get started!

Vital Statistics (Name & Location): Ann Bowick Owen, Little Rock

What Do You Do?: I work as an environmental educator in the RES-Q (Responsible Environmental Stewardship Quest) program at the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service 4H Center, as well as an informational specialist at the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center in Little Rock.

Now that both of my kids are in college, I’ve become more active in a number of organizations. I serve on the board for Central Arkansas Master Naturalists and hold volunteer certifications as a Master Naturalist and a Pulaski County Master Gardener. I’m on the steering committee for the newly forming Arkansas Interfaith Power & Light chapter and am a member of the Green Faith Alliance, Sierra Club and the Ozark Society.

I chair the Environmental Stewardship Task Force and serve on the Outreach Ministry at Second Presbyterian Church. I recently taught an adult Sunday school class called Just Eating about issues related to food and faith. I serve on the City of Little Rock’s Sustainability Commission, chairing the Communications Committee and serving on the Green City Operations Committee. I recently joined the board of the Arkansas Sustainability Network.

Steps Taken to be GreenAR: My husband Rick and I have been making a concerted effort to continually reduce our carbon footprint. We chose to remodel our smaller, older home rather than move to a newer, larger one, and we made several improvements to our home this spring following an energy audit by ClearResult in January – we’ve realized a substantial savings on our electric and gas bills since then! We recently replaced our dying hot water heater with a tankless one and our washer with an Energy Star model.

We’ve made other lifestyle changes as well. We eat lower on the food chain, we strive to live more simply, we compost and recycle, we each drive a Prius, we purchase environmentally-friendly products, we donate useable items, and we take classes like the ones offered by the Arkansas Earth Institute to learn best practices from others. I’m also a fanatic about picking up litter!

Hard-to-Take Steps: I’d like to be a bike or bus commuter but haven’t found a practical way to do that yet. We love to travel and want to learn how to do it more greenly and about carbon offsets.

Future Steps to be GreenAR: I want to establish a home garden!

Favorite AR Groups & Businesses: We love being Arkavores. We shop routinely at the Certified Arkansas Farmers Market in Argenta and are members of Arkansas Sustainability Network’s Local Food Club and the Foodshed Farm’s Basket-A-Month program. We enjoy supporting local restaurants that feature Arkansas foods: Ashley’s, Lily’s Dim Sum, Boulevard Bread, Za Za, The ROOT Cafe (soon to open on 7th Street), and we love to shop at The Green Corner Store on Main Street. Also, I’m a thrift junkie, so I search for treasures at local resale shops as often as I can!

If You Can Do One Thing to Make the Natural State Even More Natural, What Would You Do? I’d make Arkansas coal independent – it would improve our health, our environment and our economy.

Know a green Arkie? Leave a comment and let me know how I can get in touch with him or her.

Meet Local Green Peeps!

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Chances are, if you are reading this, you support green causes. You go to meetings, you visit local farmers’ markets, and soon you start running into familiar faces. You know their names, but have you ever wondered what they do to be ? Well, Meet Local Green Peeps! hopes to satisfy your curiosity about area green people and what they do to be GreenAR in the Natural State. So, without further ado, let’s get started!

Vital Statistics (Name & Location): Nancy E. Landrum, Sherwood, AR

What Do You Do?: I teach strategic management and sustainable business courses at niversity of Arkansas at Little Rock. In addition, I research and publish on topics related to sustainable business (my new book has just been released! Sustainable Business: An Executive’s Primer). I have a consulting business, Sustainable Business Design, and I am working with others to launch the Sustainable Business Network of Central Arkansas. As if these ventures don’t keep me busy enough, I am the proud mother of two lovely daughters.

Steps Taken to be GreenAR: I do all I can to support the growth and development of the local sustainable business community. I am also trying to be a good role model and teach my children to make sustainable lifestyle choices and to give back to our community. For example, for my daughter’s 8th birthday, instead of additional gifts (which we don’t need), her chosen “birthday gifting project” asked for ready-made food and snack items which we delivered to a local food bank.

Hard-to-Take Steps: Reducing the impact of my daily commute and travel between meetings/appointments. I wish I could live the “slow” life, but it’s a far off vision.

Future Steps to be GreenAR: Promote wider adoption of green business practices; continue the journey toward making better lifestyle choices and teaching my children.

Favorite AR Groups: It would have to be our fledgling Sustainable Business Network of Central Arkansas. I’m quite excited at the potential and look forward to this group taking off. We expect this group to be a source of networking, education, mentoring, and promotion for sustainable and green businesses.

If You Can Do One Thing to Make the Natural State Even More Natural, What Would You Do? Improve recycling programs across the area, expand public transportation options, require sustainability education in elementary, secondary, and higher education, create more options for renewable energy… oh, wait, did you say “one”?

Know a green Arkie? Leave a comment and let me know how I can get in touch with him or her.

Meet Local Green Peeps!

Me in EurekaChances are, if you are reading this, you support green causes. You go to meetings, you visit local farmers’ markets, and soon you start running into familiar faces. You know their names, but have you ever wondered what they do to be ? Well, Meet Local Green Peeps! hopes to satisfy your curiosity about area green people and what they do to be GreenAR in the Natural State. So, without further ado, let’s get started!

Vital Statistics (Name & Location): Jamie Ewing. Little Rock.

What Do You Do?: Environmental Attorney for the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality.  I primarily work on water issues.

Steps Taken to be GreenAR: I moved closer to the office, so I have a shorter commute.

Hard-to-Take Steps: I’ve seen websites of amazingly creative people that fill their lives with handmade clothing, home decor, etc., that is made from recycled sources.  I would love to be able to look at something from a thrift store and see an entire new life to it.  So, to start, I’m working on my sewing and knitting skills.

Future Steps to be GreenAR: I want to fill a larger portion of my food “budget” with local sources.  I can do better with more planning.

Favorite AR Produce: GREENS!!

Favorite AR Groups: Arkansas Earth Institute and Central Arkansas Land Trust

Favorite AR Businesses: The Green Corner Store and Beeyoutiful (not AR-based, but my sister-in-law works for natural supplements business, and they are big supporters of sustainable living in neighboring TN)

If You Can Do One Thing to Make the Natural State Even More Natural, What Would You Do? Put in public transportation to the North Shore Office Park (home of ADEQ) and Cook’s Landing

Know a green Arkie? Leave a comment and let me know how I can get in touch with him or her.

Meet Local Green Peeps!

aed-billboard-3-2008-005Chances are, if you are reading this, you support green causes. You go to meetings, you visit local farmers’ markets, and soon you start running into familiar faces. You know their names, but have you ever wondered what they do to be ? Well, Meet Local Green Peeps! hopes to satisfy your curiosity about area green people and what they do to be GreenAR in the Natural State. So, without further ado, let’s get started!

Vital Statistics (Name & Location): My name is Claire LaFrance, and I live in Little Rock, Arkansas, the Hillcrest neighborhood to be exact. Originally from Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, but moved here two years ago and fell in love with the Natural State.

What Do You Do?: I am the Executive Director of the Arkansas Earth Day Foundation, a small non-profit that is most prominently known for the annual Arkansas Earth Day Festival. I also work as Policy Associate for another environmental Little Rock-based non-profit called the Ecological Conservation Organization, or ECO. My partner in crime Rob Fisher and I work on issues nationally and in Arkansas such as Climate Change, Kid Safe Chemicals and antibiotic use in industrial farming.

Steps Taken to be GreenAR: I feel like I live a pretty normal life; I am no environmental superhero. I do what I can with everyday choices that, I believe, add up to a great impact on our earth. I certainly have a personal motto that goes far beyond practice what you preach. I feel like it makes me a better environmental educator and activist to master the small lifestyle choices. I bring re-usable bags to the grocery, never buy or use plastic water bottles, tend a small vegetable garden, bring my own mug for coffee, and compost at my house. I’m an avid recycler and continue to believe that the loudest voice we have in this country is our choices in what we buy. The choices that we make as consumers guide what stocks the shelves and what management practices big companies utilize. So, as a reformed vegetarian, I buy my organic chicken believing that every bird is one step closer to a cultural revolution!

Hard-to-Take Steps: Living in the activist world is a little different from having a normal job. It is a hard balance to stop working, literally. I feel like I live and breathe the environment, bring my work home and then have to show up to every environmental event possible. Although a little draining, I am thankful that there is an active environmental movement here in Arkansas.

It’s difficult to always practice what you preach, but I try to stay consistent with my beliefs. If I could offer advice to anyone, it would be SHOW UP, LEARN UP and SPEAKING UP. This goes for hearings on issues, to political rallies. Even I struggle with this model. However, it comes from a belief that there is a lot of complaining we do about the world, but it will not change unless we something about it.

It is important to always keep learning, especially on an issue like the environment. It is such a complex issue that affects us all. It is difficult and political but that doesn’t mean each person can’t make a difference. The environmental movement needs us all to do our part. The old saying “be the change that you want to see in the world” holds more truth than ever before. If you see an injustice, be the one to fight it. Everyone thinks that someone else is handling things. It is just not the case. With more emphasis than these words can express, go out there and be the difference. If you do not know how, start somewhere like the Arkansas Earth Day Festival, learn as much as you can, and you will be surprised how your place in this world will find you!

Future Steps to be GreenAR: I think I may have covered that in my previous rant. I could always do more things for the environment and that is something I struggle with. I definitely plan to live in the country one day, hopefully making my life a bit more self-sufficient and sustainable. I will continue to work as an activist or public servant as long as there are things that I think should be changed.

Favorite AR Groups & Businesses: As a shameless promoter, my heart is with those businesses and individuals that plan to participate in the 2009 Arkansas Earth Day Festival. It is a hard economic climate for giving but together, our booth holders, sponsors and tireless volunteers are all helping us prove that this “green” thing is not just a fad, and that environmentally friendly choices can be the most economical. Check out the wall of honor on our website at ArkansasEarthDay.org

If You Can Do One Thing to Make the Natural State Even More Natural, What Would You Do? Dissolve the Public Service Commission, Arkansas Rural Electric Coops, Arkansas Chamber of Commerce (Devil that wears Prada), and the natural gas industry that lobbied against all the environmental bills in the Arkansas legislature. Other than making state legislators take a canoe trip down the Buffalo then watch the Inconvenient Truth, I would encourage all Arkansans with an environmental conscience to call their elected officials and explain their views.

Know a green Arkie? Leave a comment and let me know how I can get in touch with him or her.

Meet Local Green Peeps!

Max & Michelle Sestili

Max & Michelle Sestili

Chances are, if you are reading this, you support green causes. You go to meetings, you visit local farmers’ markets, and soon you start running into familiar faces. You know their names, but have you ever wondered what they do to be ? Well, Meet Local Green Peeps! hopes to satisfy your curiosity about area green people and what they do to be GreenAR in the Natural State. So, without further ado, let’s get started!

Vital Statistics (Name & Location): Max & Michelle Sestili, Hot Springs, Arkansas

What Do You Do?: Max is the Stormwater Coordinator for the City of Hot Springs, protecting rivers and lakes from construction site runoff and other environmental hazards.  Michelle is a recently unemployed Human Performance Improvement/Corporate Training consultant, now a full-time homesteader.  Both are active volunteers in the local community. Max volunteers at the Mid-America Science Museum, teaching children about science, water and energy.  Michelle is involved in the local Keep America Beautiful chapter (2009 Organization of the Year: Hot Springs/ Garland County Beautification Commission www.hsgcbc.com) as President, Hot Springs Earth Day co-chair, Arbor Day chair, Trash Bash secretary and Adopt-A-Road trash pick-up volunteer.

Steps Taken to be GreenAR: We built our own earth-bermed home (2/3 underground) sized with a minimal 1080 sq. ft. footprint that includes passive solar features to maximize energy efficiency through all seasons, high quality low-e argon filled windows/doors, Bosch hydro-ignition gas tankless hot water heater (no pilot light), R54 blown-in cellulose insulation in the attic along with a metal roof and reflective rigid insulation another R8, highly energy efficient appliances and electronics (installed on surge protectors and always turned off when not in use, of course), and diamond ground concrete floor.  Almost all materials were purchased locally with the exception of the tankless hot water heater and bituthene water-proofing used for the underground portions that were only available in Little Rock.  We also installed 2 separate plumbing lines, one for black and another for greywater, which will allow us to reuse our greywater (future project).  Minimal waste – we were able to salvage all scraps for reuse or for friends’ projects (less than 100 lbs of wet drywall refuse went to the landfill).  All of our furnishings with the exception of our couches and mattress are reused or repurposed.

We also have an organic garden (40×50) and several raised beds for asparagus, blueberries, strawberries and herbs.  We started an apple and pear orchard, which should begin bearing fruit in a year or two, and hope to add plums, grapes, and figs soon.  What we can’t grow, we supplement with yummy goodies from our local farmers’ market.  We can, dry and store food as possible.  While we’ve unfortunately had to remove a few dead trees, we’ve planted 2 to replace each 1 we’ve cut down, and used the wood & brush to create wildlife habitats.  We recycle all that we can.  We have 4 compost bins – 1 for kitchen scraps, 3 others in decreasing sizes to handle the garden and yard jobs.  We keep a small flock of chickens for eggs.  We actively trade and barter with our fellow homesteading neighbors (seeds, plants, veggies, chickens/eggs, construction materials, tools, time/hands/expertise, etc.).  We use baking soda and vinegar to clean anything and everything!  We conserve energy and water in every way we know how (always learning something new, though).

Hard-to-Take Steps: Dish washing!  The highly energy efficient Bosch dishwasher, combined with eco-friendly dish detergent, is maddening!  Yes, the Bosch is energy and water saving, but the dishes do not come clean enough using any one of the eco-friendly detergents on the market. It’s such a waste to pre-wash.  If anyone has any advice, please let us know!!  And, I will admit, there are days I wish I had chlorine bleach, but no no no, I will persevere and find ways to get those shirts white in well water without it!

Future Steps to be GreenAR: Solar panels and/or wind turbine power generation.  Expand our gardening areas to increase current crops and add new ones.  Build a greenhouse to extend growing seasons.  Complete the greywater re-use system for produce/orchard watering purposes.  Enlarge and deepen our pond for catfish.  Fence in our 11 acres for goats to eliminate the use of the tractor for mowing purposes (gas consumption and emissions) .  Plant more indigenous trees including a windbreak for the house, orchard and garden.  In the distant future, we would like to try beekeeping, and perhaps add a few head of cattle (pasture raised beef and milk).

Favorite AR Produce, Groups & Businesses: We love everything from the farmers’ market and from all of the businesses that support our local e-Day Event (the Hot Springs Earth Day celebration on May 17, 2009).  It would be hard for me to pick a favorite since they’re all so wonderful and diverse.  More info on e-Day exhibitors (and the best group of green businesses in Hot Springs and all of central Arkansas) at www.hsgcb.com.

If You Can Do One Thing to Make the Natural State Even More Natural, What Would You Do? Reduce litter!  Arkansas is by far the most naturally beautiful state out of the dozen we’ve lived in , but it has more litter on the side of the road than any!  I would also put an end to the myth of clean coal and stop the SWEPCO advances.

Know a green Arkie? Leave a comment and let me know how I can get in touch with him or her.

Meet Local Green Peeps!

nonewcoalChances are, if you are reading this, you support green causes. You go to meetings, you visit local farmers’ markets, and soon you start running into familiar faces. You know their names, but have you ever wondered what they do to be ? Well, Meet Local Green Peeps! hopes to satisfy your curiosity about area green people and what they do to be GreenAR in the Natural State. So, without further ado, let’s get started!

Vital Statistics (Name & Location): Leah Hennings, Little Rock

What Do You Do?: I am a citizen activist always and a veterinarian/ scientist during the work week.

Steps Taken to be GreenAR:

I believe that the easiest way to be green is to simplify.  My family and I have made the choice to decrease our total consumption.  That one step allows us to make less garbage, use less energy, and walk more lightly on Earth.  The first step we really took as a family was to go almost 100% vegetarian.  Decreasing meat consumption is among the most ‘green’ lifestyle changes a person can make.  In order to decrease our garbage, we recycle everything possible, buy food items in the largest possible package, and I make our bread and sauces from scratch.   We also compost, and that hasn’t been too difficult for us because we use the simplest possible method.  We keep our thermostat at almost painfully low temperature in the winter and equally painfully high temperature in the summer, and we open the windows whenever possible.  My daughter and I buy only used clothing (obviously there are some things one really should purchase new, like socks), and we get great bargains and nice-looking clothes from our favorite resale shops.   We buy used furniture or  scavenge whenever possible. We buy fair-trade products, especially coffee.  I use biodegradable and natural cleaning products around the house.  I believe that local economies are the greenest, so we try to purchase everything from small, local businesses.  My rule of thumb is that any business with greater than 3 franchises outside Little Rock is too big.  And fast food of any kind is right out.  We buy local foods whenever possible, and I preserve local foods for winter use.

Of course, just walking the walk isn’t enough.  I believe that being green also means speaking up for the environment and social justice.  I volunteer with local organizations like Arkansas Earth Day Foundation, Arkansas Earth Institute, Basket-A-Month CSA Program, and Arkansas Sustainability Network.  I also manage a blog (www.citizensdailylobby.com) whose purpose is to empower Arkansans to make a difference in government.  My mission is to encourage everyone to “talk the talk” to those in power.

Hard-to-Take Steps: I really would like to ride the bus, but so far haven’t found enough hours in my day to dawdle at  bus stops with the Central Arkansas Transit system’s rather dismal schedule.  I would like to make cheese and yogurt, but I’m finding it hard to get going.

Future Steps to be GreenAR: There are some energy efficiency steps we need to take in the house, but those involve rather high start-up costs, and we haven’t been able to take those steps yet.  I would like to have a produce garden of my own.  I am also planning to start making more of our household cleaners from scratch.

Favorite AR Produce, Groups & Businesses: There are so many!  I would have to say that my favorite produce comes from Arkansas Natural Produce, followed at a close second by Willow Springs Market Garden.  It just wouldn’t be politic to pick a favorite group or green business, but I am so proud of everyone who has started/will soon start local green businesses.

If You Can Do One Thing to Make the Natural State Even More Natural, What Would You Do? I would keep coal plants and coal mines out of our state.  There is a big movement in Arkansas to encourage the mining of lignite coal, and that has to stop!

Know a green Arkie? Leave a comment and let me know how I can get in touch with him or her.

Meet Local Green Peeps!

Cliff Beacham

Cliff Beacham

Mary Beacham

Mary Beacham

Chances are, if you are reading this, you support green causes. You go to meetings, you visit local farmers’ markets, and soon you start running into familiar faces. You know their names, but have you ever wondered what they do to be ? Well, Meet Local Green Peeps! hopes to satisfy your curiosity about area green people and what they do to be GreenAR in the Natural State. So, without further ado, let’s get started!

Vital Statistics (Name & Location): Mary & Cliff Beacham, Conway, AR

What Do You Do?:

Cliff:  I teach sociology at University of Central Arkansas (I promote green living in my classes whenever possible).

Mary:  I’m the office manager for Health & Counseling Services at Hendrix College.

We’re both members of Faulkner County Supporters of Sustainable Communities (FCSSC), and we’re very active in our local food group.  The food group promotes backyard organic gardening and buying food from local farmers.  We spent the last few weeks participating in a garden blitz!  We built raised bed containers for several people in the food group, and our group also installed raised bed gardens at the Bethlehem House in Conway.

Steps Taken to be GreenAR: We raise organic vegetables and fruit, compost, recycle, and buy local whenever possible. We’re trying to increase beneficial insects, including honey bees to our yard by planting lots of flowers and herbs to attract them.  We support/ purchase fair trade products.  We participated in two discussion groups (Voluntary Simplicity and Menu for the Future) sponsored by Arkansas Earth Institute.

Hard-to-Take Steps: Turning our 60’s ranch house into an energy efficient home!  We’ve installed CFL light bulbs, added insulation, and installed ceiling fans.  We want to do MUCH more.

Future Steps to be GreenAR: Build a super energy efficient home using eco-friendly construction so that we can live off the grid & grow most of our own food.

Favorite AR Groups & Businesses:

If You Can Do One Thing to Make the Natural State Even More Natural, What Would You Do? We’d love to see college campuses and public schools growing some of their own food (organically, of course) so that students can experience where food comes from!  It would be great to increase the number of home gardens, as well.  And – why not have a working garden on the state capitol grounds?  Is there a vegetable garden in our governor’s backyard?

Know a green Arkie? Leave a comment and let me know how I can get in touch with him or her.