Mecklenburg Livable Communities Plan

Heidi Pruess, Mecklenburg Community Plan and Sustainability officer, lead a very informative review and discussion at our September monthly meeting. Below is a description about the plan as well as copies of the draft Strategy Matrix and the draft Actions and Successes. If you would like to provide feedback on the plan or schedule a listening session for your neighborhood organization, house of worship, or other group, please contact Heidi.


Mecklenburg Livable Communities Plan

The Mecklenburg Livable Communities Plan is a joint initiative between Mecklenburg County, the City of Charlotte, surrounding towns, the Foundation For The Carolinas and our community partners to develop a unified vision that incorporates community-wide goals centered on how we live, work and play today and in the future. This collaborative effort provides an opportunity to review existing plans and identify commonalities that encourage and support a vibrant and healthy quality of life in our community.

The Mecklenburg Livable Communities Plan is offering to come to your organization for a “listening session” this month to ask such questions as, “Are we on the right track? Will the priority strategies and actions we developed help us reach our vision?”

For more information on the Mecklenburg Liveable Communities Plan, click here.

If your neighborhood organization, house of worship, or other group is interested in scheduling a listening session, please contact Heidi Pruess, Community Plan and Sustainability officer, at

Click below to download and review the draft Strategy Matrix and the draft Actions and Successes.

Meck Livabality Plan Draft StrategiesMecklenburg Livable Communities Draft Strategies


Meck Livabality Plan Draft Actions and SuccessMecklenburg Livable Communities Draft Actions and Successes


5 Crucial Lessons From Naomi Klein’s New Book

“I think we need to be very clear about this – the only way you can win against forces with a huge amount to lose is to build a movement of people, many more people, with a huge amount to gain.”

~ Naomi Klein

Can’t wait to read this. Folks are raving about it. Below are take outs but the full article is well worth the read (see link below). Here’s a taste…

Naomi Klein

5 Crucial Lessons for the Left From Naomi Klein’s New Book

You can’t fight climate change without fighting capitalism, argues Klein in This Changes Everything.
August 21, 2014
Jessica Corbett and Ethan Corey

Klein argues that carbon trading programs create perverse incentives, allowing manufacturers to produce more harmful greenhouse gases, just to be paid to reduce them.

In her previous books The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (2007) and NO LOGO: No Space, No Choice, No Jobs (2000), Canadian author and activist Naomi Klein took on topics like neoliberal “shock therapy,” consumerism, globalization and “disaster capitalism,” extensively documenting the forces behind the dramatic rise in economic inequality and environmental degradation over the past 50 years. But in her new book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate (due in stores September 16), Klein casts her gaze toward the future, arguing that the dangers of climate change demand radical action now to ward off catastrophe. She certainly isn’t alone in pointing out the urgency of the threat, but what sets Klein apart is her argument that it is capitalism—not carbon—that is at the root of climate change, inexorably driving us toward an environmental Armageddon in the pursuit of profit. This Changes Everything is well worth a read (or two) in full, but we’ve distilled some of its key points here.

1. Band-Aid solutions don’t work.
“Only mass social movements can save us now. Because we know where the current system, left unchecked, is headed.”

2. We need to fix ourselves, not fix the world.
“The earth is not our prisoner, our patient, our machine, or, indeed, our monster. It is our entire world. And the solution to global warming is not to fix the world, it is to fix ourselves.”

3. We can’t rely on “well-intentioned” corporate funding.
“A great many progressives have opted out of the climate change debate in part because they thought that the Big Green groups, flush with philanthropic dollars, had this issue covered. That, it turns out, was a grave mistake.”

4. We need divestment, and reinvestment.
“The main power of divestment is not that it financially harms Shell and Chevron in the short term but that it erodes the social license of fossil fuel companies and builds pressure on politicians to introduce across-the-board emission reductions.”

5. Confronting climate change is an opportunity to address other social, economic and political issues.
“When climate change deniers claim that global warming is a plot to redistribute wealth, it’s not (only) because they are paranoid. It’s also because they are paying attention.”

Read the full article at

Why Lisa Cried When Eric Dumped ALEC

Great piece by Michael Brune about why we need to stand up to ALEC!

Coming Clean: The blog of Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune

Michael Brune

October 7, 2014

Exactly 54 days after Lisa B. Nelson, the new CEO of the American Legislative Council (ALEC), started her job, Eric Schmidt, the chairman of Google, dropped the bomb: Google wanted out of its relationship with ALEC. “That was some sort of mistake,” Schmidt said on The Diane Rehm Show when a caller asked why Google was supporting the organization. “We’re trying to not do that in the future.”

It’s like breaking up via text with your girlfriend when you’re 16,” said Nelson, presumably before throwing out the mixtapes and Google hoodie Eric gave her and unfriending him on Facebook. Wait a minute, she couldn’t do that, because Facebook is also leaving ALEC. Well, then maybe she could post a picture of her trashed hoodie and mixtapes to Yahoo’s Flickr site? Nope, Yahoo’s ditching ALEC, too.

How about leaving mean reviews of Google, Flickr, and Yahoo on Yelp? Sorry, Yelp already gave ALEC the thumbs down. And before she opens Outlook to send some “actually-I’m the-one-who-broke-up-with-YOU” emails, she might recall that even Microsoft has Ctrl-Z’d its relationship with ALEC.

Any way you look at it, Lisa B. Nelson’s first 60 days on the job were, as they say, character building. But, really, she shouldn’t take it personally. It’s not her — it’s ALEC.

What is it about ALEC that has given so many Big Tech firms cold feet? For that matter, what is ALEC, exactly? It calls itself a nonpartisan organization that focuses on the principles of limited government, free markets, and federalism. Not quite. The New York Times, reporting on Google’s defection, described ALEC as “a conservative-leaning group that has urged repeal of state renewable power standards and other pro-renewable policies.” And the Times was being kind.

ALEC is actually one of the most brazen attempts to steal our democracy that corporate interests have yet conceived. The “council” is composed of representatives from corporations, along with state legislators. Corporations like Exxon Mobil and Koch Industries pay fees along with other generous financial contributions. The legislators pay nominal dues but are forced to bring their families on all-expenses-paid vacations, where they mingle with their corporate benefactors and receive “model” bills (written by the corporations for the corporations). The rested-and-relaxed lawmakers can then take these Stepford bills home and introduce them in their state houses. The only way to make this easier would be to cut out the middleman and just let the corporations pass the laws themselves.

Because this all happens at the state level, it tends to fly under the national radar. It’s also aimed dead at the heart of our absolutely critical local campaigns to develop clean energy and combat climate change.

ALEC exists solely to do the will of the corporations that bankroll it, which is how technology firms got seduced into supporting it in the first place. They hoped ALEC could help them with issues aligned with their own values, such as an open Internet.

What changed? The Climate Movement, which reared its head and roared on September 21 around the world, has made it a lot harder for some companies to keep turning a blind eye to the harm that ALEC does by undermining clean energy and funding climate denial.

Eric Schmidt was blunt: ALEC is “literally lying” about the reality of climate change, he said. “[They] are really hurting our children and our grandchildren and making the world a much worse place. And so we should not be aligned with such people.” I can see how that would be a problem for a company whose official corporate motto is still “Don’t be evil.”

“Our citizens keep marching,” said President Obama at the UN Climate Summit last month, one day after hundreds of thousands around the world mobilized to demand climate action. “We cannot pretend we do not hear them.”

That is the strength of a movement like this one. It blazes a light that makes it impossible to miss the difference between what is good and what is evil. And here’s how strong we have grown: Last week, Occidental Petroleum — an oil company! — announced it was leaving ALEC rather than be associated with its positions on climate change and EPA regulations. Other tech (and non-tech) companies that have severed ties with ALEC include Amazon, General Electric, Apple, Coca-Cola, General Motors, Bank of America, and Proctor & Gamble. Many of these companies left a few years ago after Color of Change and other grassroots organizations called out ALEC for its support of voter-suppression and “stand your ground” laws around the country.

Unfortunately, ALEC still has plenty of corporate funders who are willing to ignore the difference between what’s good and what’s evil. Perhaps Lisa Nelson shouldn’t have been so quick to toss that Google hoodie — she could have sold it on eBay!

That’s right: eBay is still supporting an organization that Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Yelp, Yahoo, and Facebook have all unfriended.

Send a message to CEO John Donahoe today and tell him that it’s about time eBay, too, opened its eyes and saw the light.

Symphony of Science – Our Biggest Challenge

Check out this great short video!

We can do this!

We can change the world, this one global ecosystem!

Symphony of Science – Our Biggest Challenge is a musical investigation into the causes and effects of global climate change and our opportunities to use science to offset it. Featuring Bill Nye (the Science Guy), David Attenborough, Richard Alley and Isaac Asimov. It’s packed with information about climate change and inspiring calls to action. “Our Biggest Challenge” is the 16th episode of the Symphony of Science series by melodysheep.

So what can I do about this?

1. Send in comments to the EPA to end the era of unlimited carbon pollution. We’ve known for decades that carbon wrecks our health and our climate, and power plants are one of our nation’s top sources. Their pollution fuels climate disruption — it makes wildfires burn hotter and droughts last longer. Unlimited carbon pollution means more smog, more asthma attacks, and more climate disruption. And there’s literally no limit to how much carbon polluters are allowed to dump into our air. Join the 3.2 million voices that have already asked the EPA to protect our communities from carbon pollution.

2. Share the link to this post with your friends and neighbors. Post the link to your Facebook page. Get five people to join you in this action.

3. Attend a local event about the Climate Crisis and become active in the Movement.



Save North Carolina’s Hofmann Forest – The Largest University Forest in the World

Please join me in signing a petition to save Hofman Forest!

For more information or to help with this campaign, contact Ron Sutherland at

To learn more about the Hofman Forest, check out the great interactive active map below and the two recent updates about the sale.

Hofman Forest Map

Here are two recent updates about the sale of this North Carolina treasure.

NCSU ponders making Hofmann Forest error

Problem is, word leaked a while back that NCSU’s powers-that-be want to trade the forest to the Walker Agriculture Group of Illinois for a truckload of cash. The news got the school’s forestry professors and student body up in arms, not to mention conservationists and ecologists.

The real fly in the punch bowl is a development plan that includes roads, houses, shopping centers, a golf course and thousands of logged, crushed, burned, ripped and plowed acres to be planted in corn. Once “the plan” became public, the Wuffies denied they’d designed it, and the Walker group denied they’d made it. Walker also now denies any sort of “development” will occur at Hofmann Forest, but the terms of the sale don’t preclude the company doing whatever it wishes.

Because the White Oak and New rivers flow through Hofmann, development on a landscape scale almost certainly will cause trouble downstream: erosion, polluted water, high bacteria counts, beach closures. The Castle Hayne Aquifer that provides fresh water to several communities could also be affected. The forest acts as a filtering agent to prevent bad stuff from getting into the aquifer, the rivers, fish and, ultimately, the Atlantic Ocean.


Opponents to forest sale await rulings on assessment

The university has contended that the land is not “public” and not subject to the environmental assessment requirement under the State Environmental Policy Act, but Sutherland and the others have noted that the land has not been subject to taxation and that the state attorney general, Roy Cooper, has said he was obligated to handle the case for the university.

The university also faces a pending investigation by the federal Environmental Protection Agency, which is examining findings by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that indicate illegal wetlands ditching and draining has taken place in the forest.

While the university and Hofmann Forest LLC have contended the forest would be protected under the original sale, opponents have said there was nothing firm about that in the sale agreement, nor in the new one, and have pointed to leaked buyers’ prospectus circulated by Hofmann LLC to attract investors.

The prospectus mentioned the possibility of up to 2 million square feet of commercial development, possible construction of up to 10,500 residential units and the high-quality soils that would be conducive to farming if the trees were removed. The school and the LLC disavowed that prospectus.

“Also, consider this thought experiment,” Sutherland (Ron Sutherland, a conservation scientist for the Wildlands Network) said. “If another large tract of existing public forest, such as Croatan or Pisgah National Forest, were suddenly placed up for sale – of course we would fight such a plan tooth and nail – (and) if the relevant government leaders then announced a new plan where only one-fourth of the forest would be destroyed for sure, and the rest only ‘possibly,’ would anyone call that a victory for conservation? No, absolutely not. That would be a huge net loss of public forestland that citizens would find unacceptable. That is the alternative being proffered by NCSU now, with their revised Hofmann sale agreement, and we continue to reject their flawed premise that some loss of public forest is a necessary outcome of this situation.”

Please join me in signing a petition to save Hofman Forest!

Thanks, and spread the word to your friends on Facebook, etc!



Last week to register to vote!

Protect Enviro Democracy

This is the last week to register to vote or to update your registration (the deadline is Friday Oct. 10th!). We want to make sure you have everything you need for the election this fall. Here are some helpful links for you:

  • Check your registration status. Visit the NC State Board of Elections website to ensure that your registration is up to date and accurate, especially if you’ve moved or changed your name since last voting.
  • Need to register or update your registration? Be sure to complete this by Oct. 10th. Visit NC Election Connection for directions on how you can do this. You can no longer register to vote during Early Voting.

We hope you’re as excited to vote as we are this fall. Please mark your calendars for Election Day), or hit the polls sooner during Early Voting (starting October 23rd and ending November 1st).

Enjoy Fall Foliage in the Mountains

Enjoy Fall Foliage in the Mountains

ASHEVILLE, N.C., Sept. 2, 2014 – The U.S. Forest Service National Forests in North Carolina today unveiled its Fall Foliage 2014 webpage, which features scenic drives and other activities for enjoying autumn’s colorful splendor in the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests.

The feature is posted at, click on “Fall Foliage in Western North Carolina – 2014.”

The webpage describes scenic drives and popular locations for viewing mountain plants at high, middle and low elevations this fall. For example, driving along NC 28 and 143 in Graham County from Fontana Village to Stecoah Gap will allow visitors to see vibrant fall colors at the mid-elevation level. The webpage also includes links to webcams, maps and other useful online sources.

Looking for ideas of where to go?

Check out our Outings webpages!

NC Parks and Forests

Birkhead Wilderness – Uwharrie National Forest – Morrow Mountain State Park

30 Years of NC Wilderness