Spices & Herbs: The Variety of Life with Keegan Rodgers

Keegan C. Rodgers, Head Baker at the People's Food Co-Op, will lead an interactive & lively talk on the history, processing, uses & chemical reactions of spices & herbs in baking. Discussion will also include a review of some popular & unusual flavor combinations. Other items used in baking such as baking soda, baking powder & cream of tartar will also be reviewed. Some spices & herbs which may be discussed include all spice, basil, cayenne, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, rosemary, salts & thyme. Attendees will leave with a new perspective of spices and literature to take home.

Sustainable Housing DIY with the University of Michigan LBC

Living Building Challenge Team at the University of Michigan provides retrofit designs for local buildings to help them become self-sustaining structures. The team is working with a local family to retrofit their historic net-zero energy house to a net-positive water house and provide a platform for community collaboration and education in the process.

FAA Draft Environmental Assessment

Today, the Federal Aviation Administration is releasing and making available for public review and comment a Draft Environmental Assessment (Draft EA) for the Cleveland-Detroit Metroplex. The CLE-DTW Project would improve the efficiency of airspace in the Cleveland-Detroit Metroplex by optimizing aircraft arrival and departure procedures to and from the Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (CLE) and Detroit Metro Airport (DTW) as well as outlying satellite airports. The Project may involve changes in aircraft flight paths and altitudes in certain areas, but would not result in any ground disturbance or increase the number of aircraft operations within the Cleveland-Detroit area.

To evaluate the potential environmental impacts of the CLE-DTW Metroplex project, the FAA has established a General Study Area, consisting of areas around CLE-DTW and outlying satellite airports. The General Study Area will be used to evaluate the potential environmental impacts resulting from changes in aircraft routing proposed to occur below 10,000 feet above ground level (AGL).

Documents and additional information related to this assessment can be viewed here.

Endangered Birds

On July 4, 2017 I saw a bald eagle flying over the Huron River! It was the first time I had ever seen a bald eagle in the wild. During the past several decades bald eagles were a very rare sight in the Ann Arbor area. After reductions in the use of dangerous pesticides such as DDT and 40 years on the endangered species list, bald eagle populations have significantly recovered in southeastern Michigan and around the United States.

”Bald Eagle Numbers Soaring in SE Michigan” is a short article in The Daily Telegraph (published in Adrian, MI). It has information on the recovery of bald eagles in southeast Michigan.

You can find out more about both Bald Eagles and Golden Eagles on the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service website.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology Birds of North America Online database is a very informative resource. You can find it by subject under “Science & Technology”, or you can find it alphabetically by name. For each bird species there are sections covering a variety of interesting topics including “Demography and Populations” and “Conservation and Management”.

12 Birds Back From the Brink by Nancy Furstinger highlights 12 different bird species that have made a comeback after being close to extinction. This book discusses both the reasons why species numbers declined to dangerous levels, and the actions that were taken to save them from extinction. It emphasizes the dramatic differences that human behavior can make in the survival or extinction of a species. Although intended for kids, the information in this book may be interesting to readers of all ages.

Here are some more kids’ books on endangered birds that both kids and adults may enjoy:

Endangered and Extinct Birds by Jennifer Boothroyd introduces both endangered and extinct birds. This book is easy to read and has lots of photographs.

Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World’s Strangest Parrot by Sy Montgomery tells the story of how scientists and volunteers are trying to save the unique and fascinating kakapo parrot of New Zealand. Like a number of other bird species in New Zealand, the kakapo parrot cannot fly.

Olivia’s Birds: Saving the Gulf by Olivia Bouler features Olivia’s colorful illustrations of many types of birds. As an 11 year old, Olivia used her artistic talent to raise money for the vast numbers of birds devastated by the catastrophic 2010 Gulf oil spill. This book shows that even young people can make a difference by taking action!

Parrots Over Puerto Rico by Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore has information on how scientists are trying to save Puerto Rican parrots from extinction. Puerto Rican parrots are the only parrots native to the United States. This book includes fantastic collage artwork and information on the history of Puerto Rico.

A Place for Birds by Melissa Stewart has lots of colorful illustrations, facts about birds, and suggestions for how people can help birds to survive.

If you’d like to try drawing some birds, Draw 50 Birds by Lee J. Ames includes all types of birds: common, rare, recovering, and extinct. There are no written instructions in this book, just drawings.

Perfect Pies & Tarts with Keegan Rodgers

Keegan C. Rodgers, Head Baker at the People's Food Co-Op, leads this hands-on and lively workshop on how to make the perfect pie dough.

Participants will take home enough dough for two single crust pies or one double crust pie. Learn the difference between pies and tarts, understand the different fillings and crusts for pies and tarts, and understand how to blind bake a pie shell.

Attendees will leave with new baking skills and literature to take home. Tastes of Keegan's baked goods will be included, too!

This event is cosponsored by the People's Food Co-Op and is part of an ongoing baking series.

Electric Vehicles | City of Ann Arbor 2018 Sustainable Ann Arbor Forum

A panel of electric vehicle (EV) experts will discuss electric vehicles in Ann Arbor and how EVs will become a growing part of our transportation future—including autonomous vehicles. Come meet local electric vehicle owners and check out their vehicles. There will also be a “ride and drive” event sponsored by the Michigan Electric Auto Association. The ride and drive event will precede the Forum from 5-7pm just outside the library on Library Lane.

Sustainable Ann Arbor is an annual series presented by the City of Ann Arbor and hosted by the Ann Arbor District Library. The series includes four events held monthly through April, each with a focus on a different element of sustainability from Ann Arbor’s Sustainability Framework.

This event is cosponsored by the City of Ann Arbor and details of the series will be posted online on The City of Ann Arbor's Sustainability site. For information and videos from current and past Sustainable Ann Arbor Forums, please visit the City’s Sustainability website.

Nature Close at Hand

“If we come to love nature not only when it is rare and beautiful, but also when it is commonplace and even annoying, I believe it will heal the great wound of our species; our self-imposed isolation from the rest of life, our loneliness for nature.”

You might be aware that squirrels eat acorns, but did you know that they usually only eat the top half, or why? Have you ever noticed how many pigeons have injured or malformed feet? Do you find yourself crossing the street to avoid the pungent odor release by some ginkgo trees? These are just a few of the questions Grist senior writer Nathanael Johnson was trying to answer as he roamed the streets of San Francisco with his young daughter. Johnson grew tired of answering her “that?” questions with basic answers so he decided to look more closely at the natural world that exists in every city. He shares what he found with humor and wisdom in Unseen city: the majesty of pigeons, the discreet charm of snails & other wonders of the urban wilderness.

Johnson divides the book into the subjects of his discovery; pigeon, weeds, squirrel, bird language, ginkgo, turkey vulture, ant, crow, and snail. In each of these areas, he shares his observations, the impetus for his particular investigations, and what he learned through reading and in conversation with experts.

Johnson brings a sense of wonder to his encounters and shares with us what it feels like to slow down and to really investigate the natural world outside the door. Through this close lens, he is able to satisfy his curiosity about pigeons’ misshapen feet, to forage for edible plants, to learn why only the top halves of acorns are eaten, to better understand the language of birds, to know why it is that ginkgo trees smell so rotten, to revile less the turkey vulture, to be amazed at the organization of an ant, to wonder at the intelligence and wit of a crow, and to decelerate to a snail’s pace. Johnson reminds us that because these creatures have adapted so well to living in human environments, we might not notice them. We “tend to think of nature and civilization as being irreconcilably opposed: Civilization’s gain is nature’s loss. But in fact, cities have become a prime habitat for speciation, hybridization, and, in short, rebirth.”

“We honor least the nature that is closest to us,” Johnson rightly observes. Reading this book is a good first step towards changing that.

Read alikes include The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey, The Soul of An Octopus: a surprising exploration into the wonder of consciousness by Sy Montgomery, and Superdove : how the pigeon took Manhattan-- and the world by Courtney Humphries.

A Plastic Ocean

No water, no life. No blue, no green. Sylvia Earle

Scientists used to think that the oceans are so large that we could never entirely pollute them. How could we possibly fill two thirds of the entire planet’s surface with garbage and toxic waste?

Well, it is happening. You might say it has happened. The documentary, A Plastic Ocean, brings together an international team of scientists, researchers and filmmakers, to reveal a situation that is urgent and heart-breaking, but is not too late to change. The film is beautiful and horrifying at the same time.

Plastic never breaks down; you probably realize this. The ultraviolet rays of the sun, however, break it up. The oceans are filling with small pieces of plastic which are everywhere, even in the cleanest waters left on the planet, which are around the island of Tasmania. Scientists estimate there are 5 trillion pieces of plastic floating in the oceans. These tiny pieces of plastic are confusing seabirds and sea mammals alike, and they are eating them. You can imagine what happens next. If you can’t imagine it, the documentary makes it clear.

Not every community puts out their plastic on the curb every week to be picked up and recycled. Only a small amount of waste plastic is recycled at all. Island communities in the south Pacific, and poor communities in the Philippines and other Asian countries, are awash with discarded plastic garbage, which fills the beaches and rivers and is carried out into the oceans. Five countries create more plastic waste in the ocean than the rest of the world together. Something can be done about this.

A Plastic Ocean reveals the problem, but also suggests solutions. Ultimately, solutions depend upon the cooperation, support, and sacrifice of everyone. The first thing is to inform ourselves, and understand the nature and extent of the problem, and this film is a good place to start. Then, we have to make different choices.

Endangered Species

An endangered species is an animal, plant, or other species that is at risk of becoming extinct in the near future. Current scientific evidence indicates that the rate of species extinctions is increasing.

How to Save a Species by Marilyn Baillie, Jonathan Baillie, and Ellen Butcher features endangered species from around the world and the scientists who are trying to save them. It includes species on the brink of extinction, as well as those who have recovered after almost becoming extinct. To find the most current information on the endangered species highlighted in this book, see the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. To learn more about how scientists are trying to save some of the most endangered species on Earth, see the EDGE of Existence website. How to Save a Species is written for kids, but many adults will also find this information interesting.

Here are a few more books about endangered species that both kids and adults may enjoy:

Endangered Animals by Ben Hoare is part of the Eyewitness series. This book also discusses endangered species and the ways humanity can help them survive.

Save the Planet: Helping Endangered Animals by Rebecca E. Hirsch is part of the Cherry Lake Publishing collection. This informative ebook can be downloaded as a PDF when you log in to your AADL web account.

Draw 50 Endangered Animals by Lee J. Ames gives step-by-step illustrations for drawing endangered animals. There are no written instructions in this book, just drawings. This book is part of the Draw 50 series.

The following books about endangered species are geared towards younger kids:

Almost Gone: The World’s Rarest Animals by Steve Jenkins is filled with great illustrations and includes facts about fascinating endangered animals from around the world.

Endangered! by Barbara L. Webb is an informative, easy to read book with lots of photographs. This book is part of the Green Earth Discovery Library series.

Gone Wild: An Endangered Animal Alphabet by David McLimans is a Caldecott Honor Book. This is a unique picture book that also includes information that may be of interest to older readers.

It Stinks to Be Extinct! by Susan Blackaby is written in an easy to read format and includes nice photographs and valuable information about endangered animals.