The Greenest Place In Town, Bike Helmets & Warming

The Greenest Place In Town, Bike Helmets & Warming

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Column & Photo By Becky Hammond

FERNDALE’S GREENEST SPOT: There is a list of reasons that Ferndale’s Library is our top local green spot, besides that conspicuous roof. The Oakland Press ran a story last month about the library’s United States Green Building Council award recognizing the building’s silver- level ranking, listing LED lights, awnings, reflective roof materials, geothermal heating and cooling, watering the grounds with collected rain water, energy-efficient glass, and CO2 sensors that automatically open vents as green features.

But libraries in general have always been green. When we share materials we reduce amount of resources used, and libraries provide a great deal of information for green and local living, as well. A walk through the Ferndale library last Saturday revealed an impressive variety. Michigan guidebooks are shelved in the 917s (local travel is green travel) and include guides to hiking, canoeing, scenic drives, and breweries. Look under 632 for gardening books, including natural pest control. Natural health is shelved under 615-616. Between 796 and 799 I saw books on urban biking, and hiking and fishing how- tos. Books like the Eco-Living Handbook and Cradle to Cradle are under 333. There are even books on outdoor and handcrafted weddings (395).

The DVD collection has crafts like knitting, and acclaimed series like Planet Earth and Blue Planet. The magazine section has Mother Earth News, and some indirectly- green offerings, like bicycling (as long as you don’t fly to bike), Vegetarian Times, local travel resources like Midwest Living and Lake Superior, and Utne, which always has something related to the environment.

Bikes and Helmets Department: According to NPR, California is considering a bill making bike helmets mandatory for adults. 21 states and DC have helmet laws, usually for

riders under 16. There are 49 local ordinances nationwide, including two in Michigan, in our Metroparks and in the town of Starkville. NPR mentioned that 91% of cyclists killed in accidents were not wearing helmets. No doubt helmet laws save lives. Yet Michigan repealed our motorcycle helmet law in 2012. Only a fourth of Michigan motorcyclists ride helmet- less, but they accounted for nearly half the deaths in 2013.

Ferndale is a bike-friendly city, with lanes, an abundance of downtown racks, and our Downtown Ferndale Bike Shop. Would we ever join Starkville in making helmets mandatory for adults? When we do all get our bikes out, we’ll be dodging plenty of potholes. Our bad roads and the weird inability of Lansing to just deal with funding road repair remains a puzzle.

Backyard Habitat News: Gardening is the only American hobby more popular than feeding birds, and we Americans spend, according to Wikipedia, over

$3 billion a year on feeders and seed. With the ongoing concern over rats, maybe relocating feeders could help. High places like balconies could be used as feeding stations to keep the inevitable spilling of seeds off the ground. I’m putting seeds in shallow dishes for ground feeders like cardinals and juncos and bringing them in at night. Apparently trays are available that hang beneath feeders to catch falling seed (and the seed that some birds seem to enjoy flinging). I notice a steady decline in number of birds at my feeders the last few years and it worries me. Hawks will clear the yard instantly, but hawks are not around every day; they patrol different spots in the hood. Anyone else notice less birds? By the way, if we poison the rats, we poison their predators.

Seed Department: Western Market has organic seeds for sale, both vegetables and herbs. They have heirloom and open-pollinated varieties, and some favorite hybrids like Roma tomatoes.

Warming: NASA says 2014 was the warmest year on record. Climate Central in New Jersey states that 13 of the 15 warmest months occurred since 2000, and the odds of that happening without man-made greenhouse gasses are less than 1 in 27 million.

Although Michigan had what I personally considered to be a wonderful winter, NOAA has declared the winter of 2014-15 as the warmest on record. And Don Wuebbles, a professor at the University of Illinois, points out that 2014 being the warmest on record is surprising given that it was not an El Nino year. Sobering news about a change happening faster than expected.

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Becky Hammond still thinks Michigan is a great work of art. She hopes that this remains kind of a secret, though.

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