How Green Spaces Are Saving Humanity

Great article from  Sierra Magazine!

Need to get your green on and recharge your humanity? Check out our Mecklenburg Park & Rec Nature Preserves. You’ll be glad you did!

How Green Spaces Are Saving Humanity

It’s like The Giving Tree, but in real life.
Park bench on a summer day

Thanks, Mother Nature.

Parks and green spaces are little oases nestled in a city’s fabric, offering respite from stressful bustle and ideal spots to picnic or walk. But urban green spaces—parks, gardens, or simply the trees that line sidewalks—also afford a host of less visible health benefits. Even living around leafy areas can provide perks you don’t even realize you’re getting, from lower blood pressure to lower crime rates.

1. Green spaces make you less stressed.

Anyone who’s ever sat in a park after a harrowing day of work knows that trees just have a way of making you feel better. Scientists have backed up this phenomenon, with studies that found lower blood pressure and heart rates, as well as lower levels of cortisol, a marker of stress found in saliva, among people who spend time in green spaces.

Trees are there for you during the harder times, too. Dutch researchers surveyed over 4,500 people going through stressful life events, including the death of a loved one, serious illness, or financial hardship. The ones who lived within 3 kilometers of green space reported higher levels of well-being and fewer health complaints in the face of their struggles than those who didn’t. And several studies have shown that people who live near green spaces are much less likely to suffer from depression or anxiety.

2. You’re less likely to die from stress or pollution-related problems.

These positive effects can go a long way. A study of 575,000 urban residents of Ontario, Canada showed that who lived near trees had lower rates of mortality, and were especially less likely to die of respiratory disease. This makes sense: Trees are air-filtering workhorses, taking in pollution and pumping out that sweet, sweet oxygen.

Another vivid study in 2013 used a natural experiment to confirm this trend. Scientists tracked the emerald ash borer, an invasive green beetle, as it demolished tens of millions of ash trees in Michigan and the northeast U.S. Over a period of five years, they found that in the areas the beetle hit hardest, about 21,000 more people had died from lower respiratory tract illness and heart disease than those who lived where ash trees survived.

3. Spending time in nature makes you a better employee.

Hanging out with trees during your lunch break can give your brain a rest by replenishing attention, say researchers at the University of Michigan. Unlike urban environments that require focused attention (say, dodging a speeding car), natural environments are filled with “intriguing stimuli” that modestly grab your attention—a funky-looking insect, the wind rustling through leaves—letting your higher concentration faculties rest. When you get back to work, you’ll be refreshed and more prepared to make savvy, career-advancing decisions.

4. Trees make inner-city neighborhoods safer.

Trees can even fight crime, according to a study by the Landscape and Human Health Laboratory at the University of Illinois. Researchers analyzed police crime reports from a Chicago public housing development to discover that buildings with greener surroundings had fewer reports of crime, both property and violent.

The idea that trees can act like leafy Batmen is cool enough, but how does it happen? In a later study, the same researchers found crimes in low-income areas often occurred because people were constantly mentally fatigued or stressed. Since the mere sight of trees is restorative, as we know, being surrounded by vegetation helped people recover from their stress, check their aggression, and keep the peace.

To top it all off, research has shown that these psychological benefits are even more pronounced when a park contains more biodiversity. Researchers from the University of Sheffield, England quizzed park-goers about their psychological well-being and how many bird, butterfly, and plant species they thought lived in the parks they frequented. The parks’ species richness, the scientists found, correlated with the people’s well-being. Moreover, the visitors themselves were able to tell on some subconscious level which parks were more diverse. That knowledge, it seems, did them good.

Will Charlotte Continue to Weaken Storm Water Controls?

For months now the Charlotte environmental and sustainability community, including Catawba RiverkeeperCharlotte Public Tree Fund, Sierra Club Central Piedmont Group, and Sustain Charlotte, have reached out to the Charlotte City Council and City Stormwater Staff and urged them NOT TO WEAKEN our stormwater protection. The Post-Construction Stormwater Ordinance (PCO) is a key regulation to stop stormwater runoff, protect our stream banks and trees, and help to reduce reduce pollution following into our streams, rivers, and lakes.

Take a moment and click below to read WHAT and WHY we asking City Council NOT TO WEAKEN our stormwater protection.

On Monday, September 22, Charlotte City Council has planned a Public Hearing that will, for the most part, determine the future water quality of our area lakes, streams and rivers. More information on the hearing to follow. Check back often.

See also: Charlotte Stormwater Pollution – Harming Our Lakes, Streams and Rivers

September 4 Joint Letter

PCO Letter Sept 4 2014 PCO Joint Comments Sept 4 2014

June 16 Joint Letter

PCCO Joint Letter June 16 2014PCO Joint Letter June 16 2014

New Charlotte Alliance and Website – Transportation Choices Alliance (TCA)

TCA Website

Today Sustain Charlotte launched www.MoveCharlotteSmarter.org to help educate, engage, and unite Charlotte area residents on local transportation issues. The site represents the official educational and engagement platform for the Transportation Choices Alliance (TCA), and we are proud to be a Founding Member of this alliance!
The mission of the TCA is to increase transportation choices, and their use, throughout the Charlotte region to improve traffic, air quality, public health, mobility, and the economy. More transportation choices means more safe and convenient opportunities to take a bus, catch a train, ride a bike, or walk.
We invite you to join us in showing support for more transportation choices by visiting the new website, subscribing to the alliance email list, become a member, and following the TCA on Facebook and Twitter!
Over 25 organizations have joined as Founding Members, including:

Alta Planning + Design, Greater Charlotte Apartment Association, AARP North Carolina, American Heart Association, American Stroke Association, Biddleville Smallwood Community Organization, BikeWalk NC, Carolina Thread Trail, Catawba Lands Conservancy, Catawba Riverkeeper, Charlotte Area Bicycle Alliance, Charlotte Public Tree Fund, Charlotte Spokes People, Clean Air Carolina, Crisis Assistance Ministry, CROWN Charlotte Chapter of the North Carolina Wildlife Federation, Historic Washington Heights Community Organization, NC Central Piedmont Group of the Sierra Club, Queen City Forward, SAFE – North Meck, Safe Routes to School Partnership, Surfrider Foundation Charlotte Chapter, Trips for Kids, UNC Charlotte IDEAS Center, and UNC Charlotte Parking and Transportation Services.

Partner for Parks – 6th Annual Awards Event

This is a great event for a great cause -supporting our Mecklenburg Parks! Make plans to attend or make a donation.

CLICK HERE TO RSVP

Partners for Parks is an independent non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. In Mecklenburg County, we partner with the Park & Recreation Department which preserves and maintains over 200+ parks and facilities covering almost 20,000 acres of parkland. Partners for Parks strives to sustain the legacy of recreation by providing a safe place to raise funds – offering grant assistance to area organizations. We also facilitate community outreach and education to bolster the trails, the parks, the playgrounds, the recreation centers and the natural areas saved and created. Our goal is Breathing Life Into Our Community and ultimately enhance the gifts of beauty and quality of life for the people in our region.

Partners for Parks 2014

CLICK HERE TO RSVP

2014 Mecklenburg County State of the Environment Report

At our August meeting we had a great presentation about the Sustain Charlotte 2014 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Sustainability Report Card – “What would your parents say if you brought home this report card?”

Our September meeting on Wednesday the 24th will feature Heidi Pruess, Environmental Policy Administrator for Mecklenburg County’s Land Use and Environmental Services Agency, as she provides an Update on the Mecklenburg County Livability Plan (Click link for meeting information).

If you haven’t had a chance to review the 2014 Mecklenburg County State of the Environment Report, I highly recommend that you do so before the meeting. You can also click the link – Listen – to hear a discussion of the report from a WFAE Charlotte Talks show.

See you on the 24th for our monthly meeting!

 

WFAE Charlotte Talks: “Mecklenburg County Environmental Report Card” (from March 25, 2014)

Every two years Mecklenburg County does an environmental assessment and delivers an environmental report card of sorts. The report card for the last two years has just been released and we’ll meet with two officials to see how our region fared in Air, Land, Water and Waste use and efficiency. In most aspects the county has fared well but the recession did have an impact in some areas. We’ll find out which ones, what aspects of our environment passed with flying colors and what has room for improvement. We check the county’s environmental grade.

Guests
Heidi Pruess
– Community Plan and Sustainability Officer for Mecklenburg County
Jeff Michael – Director, UNC Charlotte Urban Institute

2014 Mecklenburg County State of the Environment Report

The State of the Environment Report (SOER) has been used as an informative tool for understanding the current environmental state of our region while identifying strategies and recommendations to maintain and enhance our quality of life by ensuring clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, and healthy land on which to live and recreate.

This 2014 SOER expands on the traditional identification of priority environmental indicators in Mecklenburg County by providing a trend analysis for each environmental indicator during recent history. Each SOER chapter button below provides a list of recommended actions for addressing these priority environmental indicators as well as informative and fun videos.

Visit Air Quality's Chapter Page Visit Land's Chapter Page
Visit Water's Chapter Page Visit Waste's Chapter Page

Environmental Indicators
Environmental Indicators can be found through the chapter buttons above or via the table below. This website will be updated as either the indicator trend changes or as new information becomes available.

Environmental Indicators Key

 Air indicator
Overall Air Quality
indicator
Ozone
indicator
Particulate Matter
indicator
NOx, SO2, CO, Lead
 Land indicator
Climate Change and Wildlife
indicator
Nature Preserves
indicator
Greenways
indicator
Facility Planning
 Waste indicator
Commercial Waste
indicator
Yard Waste
indicator
Residential Waste
indicator
Household Hazardous Waste 
 Water indicator
Groundwater
indicator
Lakes
indicator
Public Involvement 
indicator

If you are interested in exploring trends back to 1987, you are encouraged to read the 2008 SOER. If you are interested in learning more about how Mecklenburg County’s State of the Environment reflects on our region, you are encouraged to read the 2010 SOER or the 2012 SOER.

Mecklenburg County is fortunate to have County staff with both the technical expertise and practical knowledge to produce the information contained in this 2014 edition of the State of the Environment Report. Please join me in thanking them for their determination and skill in producing this exceptional report!

Additional information at http://charmeck.org/mecklenburg/county/LUESA/SOER/Pages/default.aspx.

 

 

The Boss Calls Us To “Get Out On The Street” in NYC

New York City!

New York City!

New York City!

Click below, turn up the volume, get psyched, and then Sign Up Now to join a quarter million folks as we March for Climate Change!

LIVE-in-NYC-crop_13418-x8-46_1

When I’m out in the street, girl
Well, I never feel alone
When I’m out in the street, girl
In the crowd I feel at home
The black and whites they cruise by
And they watch us from the corner of their eye

But there ain’t no doubt, girl, down here
We ain’t gonna take what they’re handing out
When I’m out in the street
I walk the way I wanna walk
When I’m out in the street
I talk the way I wanna talk
Baby, out in the street I don’t feel sad or blue
Baby, out in the street I’ll be waiting for you

When your grandchildren ask you, “What did you do in the 2014 Climate Crisis?” You’ll be able to smile and say, “I was there. I was out in the street…..

Sign Up Now!

New York City!

CPG Sierra Club Urges County to Ban Smoking in Parks and Greenways

On behalf of our over 2,000 members, the Central Piedmont Group Executive Committee has voted to support the proposed ban on smoking on the property of all government buildings and to ban all tobacco use at county parks, greenways and golf courses. We urge our members and supporters to contact their elected County Commissioners (http://charlottesierraclub.org/political-2/mecklenburg-board-of-county-commissioners/) regarding the ban.

Below is the letter sent to our Mecklenburg County Commissioners.

Meck Smoking