My City Paper column on November 17 dealt with the need to get federal money into the campaign to retrofit American homes, for the sake of the economy and the environment. A reader just sent me an interesting piece of news from New York City about a program to retrofit homes and other buildings using private money and local foundations in an array of partnerships. Maybe we could get something like that started in Charleston. Maybe the loudmouths who decry using federal money for anything but building air craft carriers and cruise missiles could organize it and get it started. But their skills are probably limited to complaining and criticizing what the rest of us do to make this country work. But I digress...
Here is the site and below is a clip. Take a look: http://prattcenter.net/retrofit-nyc-block-block
Retrofit NYC Block by Block packages and explains financial incentive programs that cover some (and sometimes all) of the costs of energy upgrades. These include incentives from the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority (NYSERDA), Con Edison, National Grid, the Weatherization Assistance Program and tax incentives. Retrofit NYC Block by Block also helps build new partnerships with job training organizations and contractors to create employment opportunities for community residents.
Retrofit NYC Block by Block was piloted in 2009-'10 as Retrofit Bedford Stuyvesant, in partnership with Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation. The Pratt Center has published a report, "Retrofit Bedford Stuyvesant, Block by Block: 2009-2010 Pilot Summary Report," summarizing the impact of the pilot phase and drawing lessons for future outreach efforts.
I spent Sunday kayaking the Edisto River and the tributary which drains Four Holes Swamp. I was in a tandem boat with Gregory Forman, a far more experienced kayaker. It was a beautiful day and the river was like glass for much of the afternoon. In seven hours on the water we saw several storks and herons, saw (and heard) a number of woodpeckers and other birds. There were yellow-bellied sliders (turtles, for the uninitiated) sunning on logs along the river bank. We saw trees that had recently been gnawed down by beavers and I was lucky enough to be looking in the right direction as a four-foot gar made a great, arcing leap from the water.
Mostly what we discovered was quiet and solitude, miles of trees and water without a single house or car in sight. We encountered three outboard motorboats in our day on the river, and we could hear cars on a nearby highway. Other than that, it was wilderness — or as close to wilderness as we are likely to find in this part of the country.
As much as I appreciate the convenience and other advantages of living in the city, I also understand the spiritual enrichment that comes from getting away from it all — if only for a few hours. When we work and vote and march and give money to save the environment, that word probably has a different meaning to every one of us. Yes, it's the air we breathe and the water we drink, of course, but it is also these remote places that we rarely see, these delicate, interwoven webs of light and shadow; of earth, air and water; of flora and fauna; all existing completely independent of humans and our plans and machinations, our politics and economics.
Or that's the way it should be. But increasingly our lives are impinging on the lives of all other living things on this planet, even down to the most basic chemistry of life. Environmental writer and philosopher Bill McKibben says homo sapiens has already altered the course of evolution on planet earth. The next step is to destroy it completely, because the systems of living and manufacturing we have created over the past two centuries are incompatible with life as it developed on earth over the past three billion years.
To glide quietly along the waters of the Edisto in upper Colleton County is to go back in time, if not three billion years, then at least a few hundred. And to see it is to understand that every plant and creature, every stone and bend in the river, every storm that blows over it and flood that pours through it, everything is in its place, doing what it is supposed to do. The only thing out of place is mankind and unless we find a new way of thinking of ourselves and thinking of the world around us, we will destroy both.
Gregory posted our expedition on Meet Up, but no one joined us. Perhaps next time some other sojourners will come along for a quiet and reverential trip along the Edisto.
Since I wrote my column a few weeks ago on Francis Beidler Forest, local attorney Gregory Forman has organized a kayak expedition and meetup to go to Beidler Forest on October 10. It's an incredibly beautiful place. The weather should
be cooling off by then and maybe the leaves will be changing. It will be my first trip into the forest by water. Here's an open invitation. Join us if you can.
After posting a bog notice last night on the death of GOP activist Rod Shealy, it occurred to me that the least I could do was make note of the passing of my friend Jimmy Chandler, who died more than a week ago.
I first met Jimmy in 1999, when I was researching my book, Banana Republic: A Year in the Heart of Myrtle Beach. Jimmy was a deeply knowledgeable and influential environmental lawyer, who worked in his hometown of Georgetown, winning impressive David-vs.-Goliath victories against large developers and manufacturers.
I had not seem Jimmy Chandler in years, but sent a check each year to his S.C. Environmental Law Project, which he ran out of his grandparents' old house, along with one associate attorney. I was stunned and saddened to read of Jimmy's death. He leaves a wife, Rebecca, and a teenage daughter, Leigh. And he leaves many friends and much work still to be done.
Here is Sammy Fretwell's tribute to Jimmy from The State newspaper.
Conservationist Jimmy Chandler, the underdog lawyer who battled big corporations and influential developers in S.C. courts for nearly three decades, died Saturday night after an eight-month battle with cancer.
Chandler successfully battled a local paper mill from '89-91 to reduce the output of dioxin (which is believed to cause cancer) into the Sampit River, one of three rivers which empties into the bay.
Chandler, of Pawleys Island, was 60.
Since the early 1980s, the unflappable Chandler had been the face of environmental law in South Carolina’s Lowcountry and a leading advocate of protecting the marshes, beaches, rivers and lakes that define the Palmetto State.
His groundbreaking legal work stopped dredging projects in salt marshes, bridges through swamps, toxic waste sites in poor communities, and most recently, the coming of mega-garbage dumps in rural S.C. counties.
In the mid-1980s, Chandler won a landmark case in Georgetown County that has since prevented developers from digging canals through South Carolina’s vast coastal tidelands. Many consider the Willbrook dredging case one of the most important in coastal environmental law.
But Chandler’s biggest legal coup may have occurred in 2000, when he and Columbia lawyer Bob Guild persuaded the S.C. Court of Appeals to close a hazardous waste landfill on the shores of Lake Marion. Their fight against the influential Laidlaw/Safety-Kleen waste company had lasted more than 15 years.
Chandler did most of his work for environmental groups and citizens’ associations, often at reduced rates or no cost.
California is getting ready to ban cigarettes on its beaches and for good reason. Cigarette butts are filthy and they are the most numerous items of litter found on any beach — including South Carolina's. We have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Why do we let smokers trash them? It's time to draw a line in the sand. It's time to tell smokers to take their butts somewhere else. We don't want them on South Carolina's beaches.
Read about the California campaign at http://environment.change.org/blog/view/thank_you_for_saving_sea_life_smoking_ban_on_beaches