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April 20, 2014

It's Earth Week...and there's a lot going on
...including my live broadcast from the Green Metropolis Festival!

Earth Day 2014 will be officially celebrated this Tuesday, April 22. But, in the 21st Century, we no longer have the luxury of paying attention to our planet for one single day. That's why I'm going to list a few things here and you can choose an event or a project that fits your style.

Let's start with something that happens next Sunday.

One week from today The Mike Nowak Show hits the road again, as we broadcast live from the Green Metropolis Fair at the Irish American Heritage Center, 4626 N. Knox Avenue in Chicago. This is an all day event that celebrates Chicago's sustainable living and wellness communities, and, best of all, it's FREE!

Of course, we hope you'll stop by for my radio show. But there are a lot of other things going on at the fair, including

  • Hands on family-friendly activities: farm animals, composting, gardening stalls and more!
  • Retail market with local sustainable business vendors.
  • Food market with local restaurants and chefs.
  • Presentations on organic gardening, sustainable living, energy savings, composting, CSAs, and more!

Check out the Fair on Facebook. Among the various presentations, these two might catch your interest:

11:00am - Five beautiful Acres – and No Chemicals! Secrets from Chicago's Lurie Garden
The five-acre Lurie Garden in Chicago's Millennium Park was designed by world-renowned planting designer Piet Oudolf. The Lurie Garden's 240 varieties of perennials provide 4-season interest and are managed without the use of any chemicals. Their sustainable gardening practices make it the ideal respite for countless birds and beneficial insects, and a wonderful destination for Chicagoans and visitors alike. In this presentation, Jennifer Davit, the Lurie Garden Director, will provide an overview of the garden's history and share detailed information on the garden's yearly maintenance. Learn more about how you can incorporate sustainability measures - like using less fertilizer and water - and providing wildlife habitat- into your garden.

1:00PM – Urban Composting
Whether it's a worm bin in your kitchen, or a big compost pile in your backyard, turning your garbage into rich, black compost is easier (and less smelly!) than you think! Join the Urban Worm Girl Amber Gribben to find out why red wigglers rule!!

By the way, there's ample free parking, and the center is conveniently located off I-90/94. But you can also take the CTA Blue Line and get off at the Montrose stop, or try one of multiple bus routes. Better yet, be really green and ride your bike. Bike parking is available.

Last week, we tried to talk to event organizer Mary Beth Rebedeau of Green Parents Network (GPN) from Argentina. Well, that didn't exactly go as planned. So we will try again today, now that she's back in Chicago. By the way, if you're interested in the Fair, you can contact her via email (above) or at 708.361.6000 or 708.641.2752 (cell).

More ways to mark Earth Day 2014:

The Global Climate Convergence
With the slogan, "People, Planet & Peace Over Profit," The Global Climate Convergence is an education and direct action campaign that begins this spring, with “10 days to change course,” running from Earth Day to May Day.It seeks to unite the many separate movements springing up across the planet. Earth Day-to-May Day 2014 (April 22 - May 1) will be the first in a series of expanding annual actions. Global Climate Convergence Chicago has its own series of actions, including

Chicago: Earth Day March - April 22 - It starts at the Thompson Center (State of Illinois Building, 100 W. Randolph Street), gathering at 4:30pm, with the march stepping off at 5:15pm. Protests will be directed at businesses like Boeing, BP, and Chase HQ.

Setting the World on Fire, The lawsuit against Koch Industries & BP, the environment, and money in politics - April 23 at Chicago Temple, 77 W. Washington Street, Chicago - As petroleum coke--otherwise known as petcoke--continues to pile up on Chicago's southeast side, the Honorable Ian Levin (ret.) and Bob Pavich comment on the erosion of our democracy by monied interests. This talk is sponsored by a number of organizations, including Frack Free Illinois, Southeast Environmental Task Force and Tar Sands Free Midwest.

City Council Zoning Committee Hearing regarding petcoke - Stand with the Southeast Environmental Task Force against petcoke at the City Council Zoning Committee hearing. City Hall, 121 N LaSalle Street in Chicago, 2nd floor, 10:00 a.m. Tom Shepherd from the SETF joins me on the show this morning to talk abou this issue.

People, Planet, and Peace Over Profit: Fighting for a Future Without Climate Change - April 24 at UIC Student Center East, 750 South Halsted Street in Chicago - An educational forum sponsored by System Change Not Climate Change, this event features discussions about climate change and the fight to stop this disaster to our planet from happening.

And you can find even more activities on the Global Climate Convergence Calendar.

Another way to honor the planet: investigate the TPP

If you don't know what the TPP or Trans-Pacific Partnership is, you're not exactly alone. While those of you who listen to Chicago's Progressive Talk are probably aware of how this deal could change the way that we do business in the world (and not necessarily for the good), far too many folks have not even heard of it.

Here, in a nutshell is how Salon describes the TPP:

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is the first international commercial agreement pursued by this administration to date from scratch. And, it would be the largest one since the 1995 World Trade Organization. It would link Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, Mexico and Canada into a “free trade” zone similar to that of NAFTA.  The subject matter being negotiated extends far beyond traditional trade matters. TPP's 29 chapters would set binding rules on everything from service-sector regulation, investment, patents and copyrights, government procurement, financial regulation, and labor and environmental standards, as well as trade in industrial goods and agriculture.

And therin lies the problem. Many, many organizations think that this would basically spell the end of democracy in the U.S., allowing corporate rules to override legislation.Thought that might be overstating the case, the secrecy of the negotiations give one pause.

The TPP has been on my radar screen for awhile, but because I have only two hours each week to talk about issues (less than that, actually), I haven't gotten around to putting this front and center. That changes this week, thanks to Barbara Murphy from Park Forest. She wrote:

I think you have some interest in the " TPP " (Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement) that the government is pushing for a "fast track" to pass this nefarious so-called trade agreement involving 12 countries (some already joined, some in negotiations, involving countries along the Pacific Rim).  Many of us, who have any awareness whatsoever, are deeply concerned about the passage of the TPP and a sister-like version, the TTIP .  Unfortunately, most people have never ever heard of it at all, because of its secrecy.  Fortunately, there've been leaks.  For that reason, some of us have joined together with the Illinois Fair Trade Coalition to create educational forums.  Take note that some of these events have been posted on the Expose the TPP as well.  A brief breakdown of these forums is as follows:

April 27th, Joliet Public Library, 150 North Ottawa Street, 2-4pm (Hosted by South Suburban Council for

May 1st, Chicago Civic Lab, 114 North Aberdeen, 6:30-8pm.

May 4 th , Flossmoor Public Library, 1000 Sterling Avenue, 2-4:30pm (Hosted by South Suburban Council for

June 13th, Chicago Uri- Eichen Gallery, 2101 South Halsted , gallery opens at 6pm, panel discussion on trade/economic policy, NAFTA, and the TPP from 7:30pm-9pm.

and more are in the works, in Naperville , Aurora, and other Chicagoland areas.

I welcome Carson Starkey, Field Director of the Illinois Fair Trade Coalition to the program this morning to talk more about the issue, and to highlight the forums in Illinois in the next couple of months.

Yet another way to honor the earth: dispose of your chemicals properly

I was pleased to see an email from the Midwest Pesticide Action Center (MPAC - formerly the Safer Pest Control Project) about how to dispose of unwanted or expired pesticides. They note that there are Household Hazardous Waste Collections in many municipalities in May and June, as well as facilities that allow for regular pickups in Chicago, Rockford, Naperville, and Lake County. Visit the Illinois  Environmental Protection Agency's  website for locations.

As MPAC notes,

Participating in these events not only prevent chemicals from polluting local waterways and ground water supplies, they also allow families to safely remove toxic chemicals from the reach and exposure of children and pets. Keeping pesticides out of our waterways is important as they threaten wildlife, such as birds, fish, bees, and other aquatic organisms, and human health.


My favorite plant health care sites are back

As I try to note as often as possible (but probably not enough), if you're a serious gardener, you should try to keep on top of pests and diseases with regular reports that come from both The Morton Arboretum and Illinois Extension.

The one from the Morton Arboretum is called the Plant Health Care Report and two issues have been released this year:

One of the coolest things in the most recent report is a link to a story called Using Growing Degree-Days for Insect Pest Management. The point is that you can't use the current date to determine if insects will be a problem. You need to know the Growing Degree - Days (GDD), which takes into account the average daily temperature by calculating the number of "heat units" received. This system can be more accurate than the calendar method for estimating insect development and timing management strategies

The report from Illinois Extension is called the Home, Yard & Garden Pest Newsletter. The first issue of this publication hasn't been released yet, but you should click onto the link above to sign up and receive regular free reports.

A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing but, if you ask me, some knowledge is better than no knowledge.




Past Shows




Mary Beth Rebedeau


Tom Shepher of the Southeast Environmental Task Force


Countries of the Trans-Pacific Partnership


Illinois Fair Trade Coalition