|Michelle's Earth Foundation Newsletter
|Michelle's Earth Foundation, P.O. Box 5140 Preston King Station, Arlington, Virginia 22205
Donations are possible through Facebook or by mail.
Dear Friend of MEF,
It's time to "put in" your garden. If ever there was a year
for home gardens, it is this year. From the President's family to ordinary
citizens, there is renewed interest in locally grown produce -- especially grown
in your own yard. It's a "win-win" to grow your own fruits and vegetables. For people without the time or energy there is
always a nearby farmers' market.
First Lady Michelle Obama working in her organic garden
It is no surprise that Vermont is the country's healthiest state.
Vegetable consumption there is among the highest in the nation. Vermont has also seen
exponential growth in cooperatives that connect individuals and institutions to
locally grown produce.
Here in Arlington
many food banks now accept produce from local growers. Anyway you look at it,
this is the Year of the Garden.
Ian Willson helping children plant sunflowers, MEF Earth Day exhibit
MEF Welcomes its New President, Gail Fendley!
Michelle's Earth Foundation is proud to introduce our new President, Gail Fendley. Gail has worked tirelessly as an MEF Board member, and she is
already bringing the same energy and enthusiasm to her new position as
We would like to congratulate Gail for being inducted into television's Silver Circle. The Silver
Circle honors those who have made significant
contributions to the broadcast or cable industry over the span of 25 years or
more in the Natl. Capital & Chesapeake Bay Region. Since Hurricane Katrina,
Gail has returned to the New
New MEF President Gail Fendley (R) with MEF's Yasmin Rassam (L)
area at least 40 times, both professionally and personally. Professionally,
she's produced numerous segments of the impact of volunteers and faith based
workers post-Katrina. These segments are aired on the WETA program Religion and
Ethics. Personally, she works with MEF's MESUNOLA (Michelle's Sunflowers in New Orleans, LA) project. MEF has
established a presence in New Orleans
with the planting of sunflowers which pull lead from toxic soil. With the
cooperation of LSU, MEF tests lots where homes will be rebuilt. Gail's son, Ian
Wilson, is a co-partner in the MESUNOLA project.
Over the years we have seen the MESUNOLA project blossom into an ever-expanding effort with
beautiful and healthful results for some of New Orleans' poorer communities.
Gail is also helping to expand MEF's presence in Arlington and Burlington. We
enthusiastically support Gail in her new position and look forward to working
with her to promote MEF's mission and goals.
Thank You, Jim!
Michelle's Earth Foundation would like to thank Jim
Egenrieder for serving as our acting president over the past few years. Since the inception of MEF, Jim has been a
constant source of strong leadership and has displayed an unwavering dedication
to keeping Michelle's memory alive.
When Michelle's friends and family decided to start a
foundation in her name, we were armed only with determination and a desire to
do something in her memory that would make her proud. Jim was the source of so many of the
qualities that we needed to translate this desire into action.
Jim took on the enormous duty of acting as president in our
fledgling organization when we needed his help.
Our resident technical expert, he created our website, engineered our
early newsletters, organized our meetings and board votes online, connected us
with numerous other environmental initiatives and organizations, and did so
much of the hard work that allowed us to both communicate with each other and
to share our message with the world.
He did all of this with calm, compassion, and a seemingly
endless supply of patience. Most
importantly, however, he did all of this for Michelle.
So Jim, for everything you have done, we thank you.
Georgeanne Usova, Rachele Huennekens, and the
Michelle on Jim's AP biology field trip to Dyke marsh
MEF SPONSORS 3,000 FUTURE TREES
In March Michelle's Earth Foundation partnered with the
American University of Beirut's agricultural campus to run a seed planting
festival. When Catherine Salzinger, Michelle's friend and soccer team mate now
living in Lebanon, heard about the Power of Planting/ Seeds of Hope project,
she decided to partner with AUB. "I wanted to do something special in
Michelle's memory and this seemed like the perfect project."
The Power of Planting campaign aims to engage local
communities to plant trees in their own locality, ensuring that native species
have a future across the country. According to Catherine, "This project's
commitment to engaging ordinary citizens made it especially appropriate. It
really involves the community - something Michelle would have absolutely
Michelle's friend and project leader
Native species are very important, because they do not need
irrigation. Forty native tree species are being cultivated at AUB's Nature Conservation
Center for Sustainable
Future (IBSAR). After the trees become 2
to 3 years old, the communities that agree to care for them gain public green
space, while also helping preserve and protect the environment.
In order to kick off the project 35 MEF and AUB students
participated in the festival and planted 3,000 almond and pine seeds in peat
They also built an irrigation enclosure to water the plants. Finally,
the volunteers transplanted 200 baby Lebanese Cedars. The weekend long festival
included campfires, singing, good food and camaraderie.
Check out this video
from the event.
Preparing to plant almond and pine seeds
Michelle's Curitiba, Brazil, a Very Green City
By Alison Bell
fall semester in Brazil led her to discover a marvelously green and
livable city, Curitiba. Some call it the greenest city in the world.
Living with the Stubert Barbosa family, she was able to explore this
fascinating urban jewel, rich in social programs and environmental
progress. How did this little known city become the most
environmentally advanced urban area on Earth?
is the capital city of Parana, one of Brazil's southernmost states 260
miles south of Sao Paulo with a population of
1.8 million. It is known
internationally for its progressive transportation system, social
services and environmental practices which have rightfully lead it to
be become a model for development in many areas of the world. It
took roughly three decades of thoughtful planning since Curitiba first
outlined its Master Plan in 1965, with the main goals of limiting
central area growth while encouraging commercial and service sector
growth along the two structural north-south transport arteries which
radiate outward from the city center. This Master Plan was designed by
Jaime Lerner, the former mayor of Curitiba and a renowned architect and
urban planner. He aimed to make available economic support for urban development by establishing industrial zones and encouraging local self-sufficiency by
Marcelo Stuba with his mother
Curitiba Tube Station and Bus
providing all city districts with adequate education, health care, recreation, and park areas.
With the population steadily expanding since the implementation of the
city's Master Plan, the decade of the 1980s, a population of roughly
900,000, Curitiba successfully initiated a number of eco-friendly and
are some examples of how Curitiba has designed and sustained an ideal
type of eco-friendly living through thoughtful policy making:
2/3s of Curitiba's citizens travel by bus every day
- The designation of green areas and tree saving.
Areas protected from future development were established in Curitiba
during the last few decades in order to curb some of the environmental
disasters that can follow with an explosive growth in population. As
Curtis Moore explains in his article Greenest City in the World,
"the city launched a series of programs aimed not only at preserving
the city's existing trees and green space, but at adding to them."
These notions are enforced by law; once a tree is planted it cannot be
cut down or even trimmed without a proper permit. Anyone who is caught
violating this ordinance will be hit with a fine which is determined by the age, species and diameter of the
tree. Moreover, Curitiba's Master Plan offers roughly half a square
meter of green space for every person in addition to the number of
parks that were dedicated to the city's different ethnic and immigrant
- The bus system
of Curitiba is at the center of its environmental success. These buses
are cheaper, faster and more comfortable than cars. They carry two
thirds of the city's residents every day. Curitiba's transit system was
expanded and a color-coded system for the various bus lines was created
in order to provide a safe, reliable, and affordable transit system.
Street systems were designed to accommodate the bus routes. Riders
purchase their tokens in the ultra modern boarding tubes before
boarding. According to recent studies Curitiba's buses carry 50 times
more passengers than they did 20 years ago, but people spend only about
10 percent of their yearly income on transport costs. As a result and
despite the second highest per capita car ownership rate in Brazil (one
car for every three people), Curitiba's gasoline use per capita is 30
percent below that of eight comparable Brazilian cities. Other benefits
include negligible emissions levels and little congestion which remain
consistent with the environmentally friendly living conditions.
impressive goals and accomplishments have made it a leader, not only
environmentally, but socially as well, providing free health care and
other basic services to the poor. A clear strategy and vision of the
future in Curitiba has meant that decisions large and small made over
the course of 38 years have added up to a city that is public-spirited
and eco-efficient. Despite its ever expanding population, strong
leadership has resulted in successful, long-term implementation of its
goals. Curitiba is one of the best planned cities in Brazil and an
international model for sustainable development.
- A citywide recycling program
was initiated in which Curitibanos separate organic waste and trash,
plastic, glass, and metal. A "trading garbage for food" program was
started when the city needed to come up with an idea to help the more
impoverished parts of the city, which are often located in areas whose
streets are too narrow for normal garbage pick-up trucks. The idea was
to take away some of the city's money allocated to the garbage
collection and set up neighborhood associations that provide a "food for trash"
exchange. This exchange provides the citizens with incentive: for every
six bags of trash that are collected and dropped off at one of these 54
neighborhood associations, one bag of food is given which includes
staple dietary needs such as rice, beans, eggs, onions, etc. This
practice alone, as noted by Moore, feeds about 102,000 citizens and
collects 400 tons of garbage per month. As far as recycling, Curitiba
is proud to boast some of the most spectacular recycling rates in the
world. This came into effect through Lerner's vision to focus on educating the city's children
on how to sort and recycle and why it is important. He did this by
creating the 'leaf campaign', whereby actors dressed as leaves teach
children at local schools all over the city and its outskirts how to
separate the trash. They learn to separate dry trash, such as plastic
and metal, from wet trash, such as eggs shells, potato peels and things
that can be used as compost. The city also has garbage street sweepers and cart people,
whose job it is to wheel carts door to door collecting trash to bring
to the recycling centers. These three factors are what make Curitiba's
"recycling army" one of the world's most outstanding, with about 70% of
paper and 60% of glass metal and plastic recycled.
Green Power Comes to Virginia
Dominion VA Power is now offering green electricity
from solar, wind, biomass, geothermal and other renewable sources to its customers for
an additional cost. Customers may buy 100% green energy for their share of grid
electricity at $15 extra per month or they may buy $2 blocks of green energy
with each block equaling 133 kilowatts-hours of green energy.
Find out more on the Dominion website.
(Image borrowed from www.lbl.gov)
1. The Washington
area Council of Governments reported that 70% of the region's greenhouse gas
emissions come from what two sources?
2. What energy source provides more than half the electricity
on the national grid?
for the answers!
Michelle's Grandmother Babe with Leland cypress
If every household in the U.S. replaced 1 roll of 1,000 sheet
bathroom tissues with a 100% recycled roll, we could save 373,000 trees, 1.48
million cubic feet of landfill space, and 155 million gallons of water.
Buy Local, Eat Seasonal
Spring is a wonderful time of the year for fresh -- many locally produced -- vegetables. According to Real Simple magazine, we should be buying the following in the spring:
- Baby Lettuces
- New Potatoes
So, head to your local farmer's market, pick up some fresh strawberries, and enjoy a cool strawberry shake
. And remember, our "going local" chef Nathan Lyon says never to wash your strawberries until you are ready to eat them!
Special thanks to Catherine Saltzinger for conceiving and leading the Power of Planting project in the Beqaa Valley. Over 35 volunteers planted 3,000 native pine and almond seeds at the American University of Beirut's nursery facility. Also thanks to Stephanie Lewis who lead the fund raising effort.
Heather Spence continues to work for MEF on conservation projects relating to the MesoAmerican reef in Quintana Roo, Mexico. Heather is focusing on programs for school children. Keep up the good work Heather!
MESUNOLA, Michelle's Sunflowers in New Orleans, LA, has started a spring round of planting sunflowers to phytoremediate the soil. A new phase of scientifically testing various plants as phytoremediators is about to begin in conjunction with LSU. Thanks to Gail Fendley and Ian Willson.
Earth Day was celebrated by MEF with an exhibit in Brenman Park in Alexandria. Sunflower starts were given away. Thanks to Gail Fendley, Yasmine Rassam and Ian Willson.
A BIG THANK YOU TO GLOECKNERS - Once again Gloeckner Co has provided
sunflower seeds for the 'Michelle's Sunflowers in New Orleans' project.
Last year over 35 lots were planted. This year planting began in late