My 5: Dwayne Parks, Musician and Choreographer

April 23, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog, Front Page, Illinois, Musicians, My 5, Slideshow

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Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL) asked choreographer Dwayne Parks two questions we like to ask all our interviewees. Following are his responses.

BPGL: What are the five most important things we can do to save the planet?

* Education is the vital factor, and beginning at the youngest age possible.

* Eliminate all products and companies that are not environmentally friendly….

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Pop Opera ECOLOGIC Competes for Funds in Pepsi Project

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When I was a kindergartner in an inner city neighborhood of the Chicago Public Schools, my class was bussed downtown to see Rapunzel at one of the grand old theatres. From my nearly front-row seat, the magic of the theatre left a lasting impression on this kid from an economically challenged family.

That kind of magical experience is one Jay Nagle and Dwayne Parks would like to give to thousands of other kids in the Chicago Public Schools. Their goal is to produce free performances of Ecologic, their original musical with an environmental message, in Chicago’s Millennium Park. But their vision needs funding.

Parks and Nagle have entered the Pepsi Refresh Project contest to compete for a grant that would bring their project to life. Jay Nagle is a playwright, dance teacher, and director. His partner, Dwayne Parks, is a musician and composer. Together, they own Totally New Theatre and TKATS — Talented Kids, Adults, and TeenS — a nonprofit theatre arts organization that produces original musical performances. Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL) spoke with the team to find out more about their musical and why they think their project merits your votes in Pepsi’s Planet category this month….

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Francis Thicke on Small Farms and Local Foods

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Francis Thicke and his wife, Susan, are organic dairy farmers who recently received the 2009 Spencer Award for Sustainable Agriculture. Francis is also a scientist and a highly respected thought leader on agricultural policy. In this, the third post in a four-part discussion with Thicke, he discusses ways to encourage the growth of small farms and local food production….

BPGL: How can we increase biodiversity in agriculture?

THICKE: On the federal level, we have the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), which is being implemented now. The CSP, which was authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill, provides farmers with incentives to adopt resource-conserving crop rotations. Those incentives will help farmers go beyond growing just corn and soybeans. The incentive payments will help defray the cost of adding perennial and cover crops to crop rotations….

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Chowpatti Serves Up Tasty Vegetarian Fare in Chicagoland

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For almost 30 years, one of the best completely vegetarian restaurants in the Greater Chicagoland area has been hiding in a suburban strip mall. Chowpatti, 1035 S. Arlington Heights Road in Arlington Heights, Illinois, is named after a beach filled with food vendors in Bombay, India, where founder Anil Kapadia, now deceased, and his wife, Niru, spent a lot of time while dating.

According to Niyanta Kapadia, Anil and Niru’s daughter, who is co-owner along with her sister, Sneha, the restaurant is known for its Indian food. However, Chowpatti boasts a 26-page menu that also features American, Mexican, and Italian food. …

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Chicago Hosts First Annual Carbon Day Festival

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Chicago-area environmentalists gathered in Lincoln Park on September 15 to celebrate Carbon Day, which the Illinois state legislature designated as an official state holiday earlier this year, as reported on Blue Planet Green Living. The festival was ideally sited amid a beautiful stand of shade trees and conifers adjacent to Lincoln Park’s Farm in the Zoo. The event featured demonstrations, educational booths, speeches, and activist organizations. In addition, visitors learned about sponsoring companies and area businesses committed to the goal of reducing the national carbon footprint and making a positive impact on the environment…

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Car-Sharing – Good for the Environment and the Budget

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Car-sharing is an emerging transportation trend that can reduce both your carbon and cash emissions in a single card swipe.

Interested?

We thought so.

The concept originated in Switzerland in the late 1980s and migrated to North America by way of Quebec City in 1994, according to Kevin McLaughlin, publisher of Toronto-based CarSharing.net, an industry resource website. “Car sharing offers city dwellers who don’t require a vehicle to get to work an alternative to owning a private car,” he explains. “About 80 percent of the expense of owning a car is fixed cost that you’ll pay whether you drive or not. If there’s a car sitting out front, you’ll find yourself using it more to justify the expense — even if it’s just to go a few blocks. Car sharing makes it possible to kick the car habit. If you drive less than 5,000 miles a year, this is going to save you money. Also, if you no longer own a car, you’re going to walk or ride your bike those few blocks. So you end up living a healthier lifestyle.” …

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Caryn Green, Contributing Writer

August 26, 2009 by  
Filed under BPGL Crew, Contributing Writers, Illinois

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Caryn Green lives in Chicago, where she has spent her career in media on both the business and editorial side of the aisle. An ardent environmentalist and animal rights supporter, she is an outdoor enthusiast and adventure traveler who loves to go places you can’t find on a map…

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Carbon Day Chicago Promises “Music And More For A Better World”

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This past May, the Illinois State Legislature was among the most recent legislative bodies to designate September 15 as Carbon Day, an official State holiday. State Representative Karen May and State Senator Susan Garrett sponsored the resolution.

Illinois’ Carbon Day festivities will coincide with other activities around the globe. The kickoff event will take place in Chicago at Lincoln Park, and will feature live music, a tree tour with arborist Jose Eduardo Medina, and possibly a speech by a politician involved in environmental issues, according to Brae Hattaway, the coordinator of the event. “We put a lot of effort into getting Carbon Day moving, and we got done really quickly,” said Hattaway, referring to the upcoming Chicago event. “The time to do this is now…”

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Green Festival in Chicago May 16, 17

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If you’ll be in Illinois this weekend, head on over to Navy Pier to attend Chicago’s third annual Green Festival, May 16 and 17. Billed as the “original green consumer living event,” the weekend will provide “a vision of a cleaner, more efficient future for American businesses, homes, and lifestyles.”…

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Take This House (and Float It Away) Flooding Play on Midwest Tour

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In the heart of levee-protected suburbs along California’s American River, a middle-aged couple think they’re immune to anything nature blows their way — catastrophic flood included — only to find themselves terribly deluded. This original theatre piece, Take This House (and Float It Away), spirals into the tragicomic world of Stu and Marlene’s floodplain living room, where the couple is unable to comprehend nature’s effect on their safe, suburban sphere. As Stu hides behind “groundbreaking” research into bird gestures, Marlene extrapolates caffeinated solutions to newspaper headlines, conflating staying informed with staying afloat…

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Fairchild Challenge Prepares Youth to Protect the Planet

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Today’s adults will not solve every environmental challenge we face in the world. We will make progress, certainly, but the solutions to most of the major problems that plague us will not come in our lifetimes. The future of our species — and with it, the future of all life on Earth — hinges on the actions of our children and their children.

We cannot sit back idly and expect generations yet to come to take up the banner of environmentalism and sustainability. We must begin by educating — and inspiring — our youth to enlightenment and action. One program that has been successfully motivating youth to learn about the environment is the Fairchild Challenge.

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Our 5: Jon Levey and Steve Sherman, GreenChoice Bank

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Blue Planet Green Living asked GreenChoice Bank co-founders, Jon Levey and Steve Sherman, “What are the five most important things we can do to save the planet?”

JON LEVEY and STEVE SHERMAN:
Ask questions and start a dialogue. The first step is simply getting the dialogue going on what people and businesses are doing to “green” themselves. Learning from others and deciding to take the first small step will lead you to further responsible choices. As a green community bank, we are not here to pass judgment on whether a person or business is “green enough.” But we will ask questions to see what they are doing and to start the dialogue. And, we will reward those who embrace sustainability by offering advantaged loan and deposit products at GreenChoice Bank….

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GreenChoice Bank: Green Services You Can Bank On

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Going green as a business makes economic and environmental sense, even in tough economic times. It also provides opportunities to make a positive difference in a community. Like any business venture, a green business requires investment capital and banking services. GreenChoice Bank, led by co-founders, Steve Sherman and Jon Levey, is targeted specifically to address the unique financial needs of green businesses in the Chicago area.

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Saving Money by Going Green

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There’s one light in every building that’s on 24 hours a day: the exit sign. It’s the least paid-attention-to light in every building, and probably the most expensive.

There are two 30-Watt light bulbs in an exit sign. Replace those with two 1.2 Watt light-emitting diode [LED] bulbs. Now, you replace the LED bulbs every 10 years instead of every year, which has a financial impact on its own. Incandescent light bulbs cost about $2 each, and LEDS are down to $7.50 each now. The energy savings per exit sign is around $60 year. So, the ROI is three months, if you look at simple payback of the energy savings.

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Going Green Requires a Cultural Change

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Rob Rafson, P.E., is V.P. Engineering of Full Circle, a Chicago-based sustainability management solutions firm. What follows is Part 3 of a four-part interview.

BPGL: You mentioned that making changes in the way companies do business isn’t just a matter of changing the equipment, it also requires a cultural change. Tell us more about how that looks to you.

RAFSON: The biggest thing to my mind is that the cultural change has to happen on all levels. Consumers need to look for green businesses, and there need to be watchdog organizations on the alert for “green washing” — companies proclaiming they’re environmentally responsible just for show.

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Tax Incentives Boost Green ROI

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Rob Rafson, P.E., is V.P. Engineering of Full Circle, a Chicago-based sustainability management solutions firm. He is also co-author, with Harold J. Rafson, of Brownfields: Redeveloping Environmentally Distressed Properties (1999). What follows is Part 2 of a four-part interview.

BPGL: You’re known in Chicago for the largest rooftop solar installation in the city, on top of a brownfield redevelopment project. But people say solar technology has a long payback. Is solar economically viable?

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The Positive Economics of Going Green

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“The only way the Green Revolution will be achieved is through economic opportunity, not through regulation,” says Rob Rafson. A world-renowned environmental engineer and author of the highly regarded book, Brownfields: Redeveloping Environmentally Distressed Properties (1999), Rafson has cleaned up and redeveloped 17 brownfields — including four Superfund projects. He’s on a mission to teach sustainability management to businesses. “Once they see the economic benefits of going green, the transition is easy to sell to shareholders and management,” he tells us.

“In our opinion,” Rafson says, referring to Full Circle, his Chicago-based Sustainability Management Solutions firm, “any business interested in going green should do a cost benefit analysis of tactical opportunities that support their overall strategy and simply look at the return on investment (ROI). Whether it’s through renovating to make a building LEED certified, going to solar power, reducing waste stream, etc. — if you filter all the tactics by ROI, the steps become obvious. If you execute on the projects that have immediate and real economic impact, you can stair-step toward more complex projects with longer term ROI.”

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Tailgating for A Common Green Purpose

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Did you watch the Bears play the Packers yesterday from the warmth of your home? Or maybe you were among the frozen fans braving 7-degree weather to root for your favorite team on the shores of Lake Michigan. Blue Planet Green Living was there, too, tailgating in the parking lot of the Adler Planetarium near Soldier Field.

So, go ahead, ask. What does the Bears/Packers game — and tailgating, for that matter — have to do with green living? It’s a fair question.

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Pursuing the Dream of a Sustainable Life

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At 9:00 on a brisk autumn morning in rural Illinois, Jill Schutts and her son, Ely, bundle up and trek from their old farmhouse to the out buildings. While Schutts takes Joe on a tour of the hen house and feeds their small flock of free-range hens, Ely grabs a piece of firewood and works at cracking the thick ice on top of the goats’ watering trough. For this family, living sustainably is far more than a platitude; it’s a habit of daily life.

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All Things Organic Conference and Trade Show

November 4, 2008 by  
Filed under 2009, Blog, Food & Drink, Illinois

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The 2009 All Things Organic™ conference and trade show will take place in Chicago IL June 16–18, 2009. All Things Organic will co-locate at the trade show with Expo Comida Latina and All Asia Food, the premier food shows for the fast-growing Hispanic and Asian markets.

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