When I heard Aulick’s TLC was closing, my first thought was “what about the winter farmers market?” (I’m a big fan of the winter market, and have written about it many times.)
Market manager Jana Richard had the same thought, and she did something about it. She found a new market location – the Village Garden Center building at 1400 E. 20th Street in Scottsbluff (back behind Rack’s liquor store and Backaracks). Yay!!!
The first market was October 15, and the market will continue on the first and third Saturdays of the month through March – meaning the next market is tomorrow, November 5!
As always, there will be a special fundraiser at the market. This time, the fundraiser will be for market vendor Rob Rutherford, who’s had a really rough spell after a bad case of West Nile Virus.
There will also be community info this week: if you missed the Activate Scottsbluff-Gering Open House last night at the Guadalupe Center, there will be a stripped-down version of all the information at the market. You can give feedback about how to make walking and biking better in our community, spin the “cycling safety wheel” for a chance to win prizes, and learn more about the Activate Scottsbluff-Gering Summit that will take place November 17. (Here’s a link where you can register for the Summit.)
But the star of the farmers market show is the vendors. Here are a few photos I captured of the vendors who were at the market on opening day. So many delectables! Eggs, cheese, meat, honey, cake pops, pumpkins, onions, cabbages, garlic, radishes, salsa, rutabega, peppers, squashes, carrots, honey, jam, celery root, kale, chard, shallots, fennel bulbs, beets, leeks, rosemary. And handmade goods, too! Soap, doilies, dish towels, aprons, blankets, dolls, candles, lotion. And flint corn decorations. And essential oils. And, as ever, musical entertainment.
See you there?
Copyright 2016 by Katie Bradshaw
Activate Scottsbluff-Gering: an opportunity to encourage walking and biking and improve community health
Where you live today can be an all-too-accurate indicator of how healthy you’ll be.
This statement from the U.S. Surgeon General sums up something that has long been bothering me about American society – something that bothered me enough in my younger days to go to graduate school to learn about land use planning.
Post-World-War-II, Americans have embraced with open arms the conveniences of the personal car. And why wouldn’t we? Cars makes life easier in a lot of ways!
However, our love affair with the automobile has influenced our policies and shaped the way our cities have been built, to the exclusion of other forms of transportation. It’s very easy to drive places, but often very difficult to walk or ride a bike to run daily errands. (Watch this video for a summary of factors affecting US transportation and development patterns as compared to Europe. See here for a column I wrote in 2011 for the Star-Herald on my walk/bike experience in Sweden.)
If you take a walk around, you’ll notice that modern-built businesses are well-connected to roads and have more-then-ample parking lots, but that sidewalk infrastructure is often unpleasant, disjointed, or missing entirely. Parking lots are car-centric zones where people walking to the front door have to watch out or risk being run over. (An exception is businesses located in older buildings, like our historic downtowns, which were designed for pedestrians before the dominance of the automobile.)
One practice I find particularly galling in terms of the public heath message conveyed: the number of businesses that put smoking receptacles in a prominent place near the front door, yet bicycle parking, if it exists, is often relegated to the back 40.
And it’s not just the way businesses are built that affect our activity level. Residential neighborhoods discourage day-to-day physical activity when they are located too far away from shops or schools to make walking practical, when they are built without sidewalks, or when they are designed with winding streets with few cross-connections feeding into busy “collector streets” that make for a roundabout journey with difficult crossings on foot. If you’re curious about the walkability of your neighborhood, enter your address at the real estate website Walkscore. (My house, built in 1932 on a grid street near downtown Scottsbluff, got a score of 63.)
The sum-total of all of these infrastructure planning decisions, coupled with various other practices of American life, has fueled an epidemic of inactivity that has contributed to crisis-level incidences of chronic health conditions like cancer, diabetes and heart disease that threaten to erase longevity gains Americans have built from decades of public health improvements. To cite one measure: a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found a reduced incidence of overweight, obesity and diabetes in more walkable neighborhoods as compared to less walkable neighborhoods.
I could go on and on about this topic, but I need to get to the point:
I’m thrilled that there is a movement stirring locally to begin to address some of these issues!
Specifically, CDC grant funds are enabling the Panhandle Public Health District to jump-start community conversations about walking and biking as transportation options – AKA “active transportation.” If you have any thoughts about improving the walkability of your neighborhood, of encouraging businesses to make their entrances friendlier to people on bikes and on foot, if you’re curious about the status of planned pathways and trails, if you’re concerned about ordinances and development, if you worry about kids walking or biking to school, if you want to save money on transportation costs, if you want to lose a few pounds, THIS CONVERSATION IS FOR YOU!
The city of Sidney already hosted a conversation event (I wrote about it here). Now it’s Scottsing’s turn. With support from PPHD, the Activate Scottsbluff-Gering committee – which consists of planning, health and marketing professionals as well as community organizers and volunteers (including yours truly) – has planned two conversation events:
Activate Scottsbluff-Gering Open House
Thursday, November 3, 4 to 7 p.m.
Stop by the Guadalupe Center (1102 12th Ave, Scottsbluff) anytime during the event to learn about walking and biking opportunities and to give your input about what changes you’d like to see in your neighborhood or in the tri-cities area at large. Light snacks will be provided, as well as a Spanish-language translator. Planned booths include, to date:
- Panhandle Public Health District (info on the Activate Scottsbluff-Gering process, the link between active transit and health)
- Scotts Bluff County transit (info and feedback request on proposed regular Gering-to-Scottsbluff bus route)
- North Platte NRD (demonstration of recreation mapping app)
- Regional West Medical Center (info on health benefits of exercise)
- City of Scottsbluff planning department (Scottsbluff city ordinances and development plans)
- City of Scottsbluff parks & rec (current & planned pathways in Scottsbluff, including the Highway 26 pedestrian bridge and mountain bike trail in Riverside Park)
- City of Scottsbluff Police Department (maps of areas around schools, to discuss traffic flow)
- Western Nebraska Bicycling Club / Nebraska Bicycling Alliance (examples of “commuter bicycles,” info on club activities and membership)
- There will be a “sidewalk game” to make learning about city ordinances fun, a “feedback booth” for gathering information, and a game about bicycle traffic law.
- And more! Many invitations have been sent to institutions and community groups to participate – if you know of or are part of a group or entity that should be represented, contact Jessica Davies at the Panhandle Public Health District: 308-487-3600 Ext. 101
Update: while the City of Gering was unable to have a booth at the event, Gering is definitely involved in this initiative. There are some cool things happening in Gering, too, like potential bike paths into downtown as part of downtown revitalization, and the pathway through Legacy of the Plains Museum to Scotts Bluff National Monument, the planning for which is underway again.
Activate Scottsbluff-Gering Summit
Thursday, November 17, 1 to 7 p.m.
Register for this half-day event, also at the Guadalupe Center (registration info coming soon), and participate in facilitated conversations that will build upon the ideas gathered at the Open House. There will be a panel discussion, small-group discussions and large-group idea-sorting activities. The overall goal is to develop an action plan to improve community health through increased walking and biking. Summit participants will prioritize ideas and identify ways to move forward with these ideas. A meal will be provided.
SCB Citizen’s Thoughts
As long as I have this bloggy pulpit, I might as well use it to gather my ideas in a format where potentially interested parties could have a gander at them. Please comment here and/or attend the open house if there are ideas that resonate with you.
First, my personal philosophy:
I want to burn as many calories as I can in my daily activities so I don’t have to “exercise.”
- It’s why I often walk or ride my bike instead of driving.
- It’s why I have an old-fashioned push-reel lawnmower instead of a self-propelled gas mower.
- It’s why I knead bread and mix cookie dough by hand instead of using electric appliances.
- It’s why I rake leaves instead of using a leaf blower.
- It’s why I hand-shovel the driveway instead of using a snowblower.
Yes, I also sometimes walk, run, hike or bike recreationally, but my foundation of “calorie-burning everyday activities” remains the bedrock of where I consistently get exercise, without which I’m convinced I would be less healthy than I currently am.
Here are some things I would like to see happen locally, in no particular order other than that’s the order in which I thought of them as I was writing. Perhaps a few things on this list can become reality.
- If city building code requires business development to have minimum car parking spaces, it should also have minimum bike parking spaces and a clear pedestrian path to the front door. Bike parking should be font-and-center “rock star parking.” (Want to know where there are existing bike racks? See this map. This is a work in progress. New submissions encouraged!)
- A volunteer community of citizens who walk/wheel regularly (maybe some “walking clubs?”) and who help educate residents and business owners and notify the city about code violations that hinder neighborhood walkability (e.g., snow clearance, broken sidewalks, overhanging trees, cars blocking the sidewalk).
- A color-coded map of recommended bicycle routes through Gering, Terrytown and Scottsbluff, with the colors indicating how easy or difficult those routes are.
- A Bike to Work Day event each year.
- Better path and sidewalk connectivity throughout the tri-state area. More sidewalks, wider sidewalks, and a complete network of curb cuts. Especially better and more numerous ped/bike crossings of the river, railroad tracks and highway! Get that once-proposed pathway bridge between Riverside Park and Scotts Bluff National Monument to happen!!
- A bike playground (see link for explanation).
- A bicycle scavenger hunt event involving businesses/entities to which people might ride ordinarily. Participating businesses/entities would sponsor an activity riders would complete to collect points. The event would invite new riders to get used to riding as transportation and familiarize them with bike routes. (Something similar is already taking place with the Western Nebraska Bicycling Club’s Candy Corn Grab.)
- A community ed class on safe bicycling.
- A community ed class for “bicycle-safe driver” certification.
- A bikeshare / bike rental business.
- City inspectors focusing enforcement attention first on broken sidewalks with trip-hazard potholes or elevation gaps rather than a simple crack. With the inspection letter, include recommended contractors and, where appropriate, information about protecting the health of shade trees whose roots have cracked the sidewalk.
- Encourage more shade tree planting along walking routes and in parking lots.
- Adopt a “complete streets” policy so that whenever road repair or construction happens, the needs of pedestrians and bicyclists are considered in addition to the needs of automobile drivers. This would include adding curb cuts or moving sign posts and fire hydrants that block the sidewalk, for example.
- Encourage “walking school busses.”
- Return the “yield to pedestrian in crosswalk” signs to downtown Scottsbluff and use temporary signage like this in school zones when students are out and about.
- Encourage walk/bike commuters to use Strava’s “commute” feature to collect data for city planners. Do bicycle traffic counts. How can we make good plans without good data?
- Develop an education and incentive campaign for people to walk or bike downtown. This will help address some parking concerns if fewer people are parking downtown.
- Create an online map of the Monument Valley Pathway. My early-in-the-learning-curve 7-year-old blog post on the pathway remains one of my most popular posts, and people tell me they are glad to have found it because there is no other information out there.
- “Infill development” that revitalizes previously developed land with existing utility and transportation connections should be incentivized – NOT new development on undeveloped land that requires all-new construction. Not only does this help walkability, but this lowers long-term infrastructure maintenance burden (read: lower tax burden) because there is a more compact, efficient utility and transportation system.
- A dream: make the city responsible for sidewalk infrastructure like it is for streets. Can you imagine what a mess the roads would be if every homeowner and business was responsible for maintaining the street in front of their property? That’s the situation we have for sidewalks. Why should pedestrian transportation infrastructure be treated so differently from automobile transportation infrastructure?
- Law enforcement focus on cyclist and driver education about the rules of the road (key points: right of bike to be in road, 3-foot passing law, bikes must travel in the same direction as cars.)
Whew! And probably my brain isn’t emptied on this topic yet. I may add more. 🙂
Disclaimer: while I’m on the committee planning the Activate Scottsbuff-Gering events, this blog post is my own opinion and may not represent the views of the committee as a whole.
Copyright 2016 by Katie Bradshaw
We got our first killing freeze of the season last night in western Nebraska. In some parts of town, there was fog, too. I dropped Bugman off at work at the Panhandle Extension and Research Center this morning, and I’m grateful I did. The sharp end-of-season transition combined with the fog created a frozen wonderland in the D.A. Murphy Panhandle Arboretum.
I could have stayed there all morning, appreciating the frosted, sparkling blossoms, but the progress of the autumn sun into the sky brought a melting warmth.
The way the sun shone through the flowers on their last morning in their present form filled me with an emotion that does not have a name in English. The closest I could get is the Japanese
pronounced like “moh-noh noh ah-wah-ray,” which translates something like “awareness of impermanence, or transience of things, and both a transient gentle sadness (or wistfulness) at their passing as well as a longer, deeper gentle sadness about this state being the reality of life.”
This is one of the reasons autumn is my favorite season. Without death, how can we truly appreciate life?
Copyright 2016 by Katie Bradshaw
There’s a lot of chatter around here lately about the effect Cabela’s ownership change will have on employment at the company’s world headquarters in Sidney, since that one company directly supports a quarter of the jobs there, and indirectly supports many more. I have friends who are potentially affected by this tremor in Sidney’s economy, and I’ve heard a fear expressed that a decline in the local economy could reduce home values and impact people who are relying on the value of their homes as a financial security net in their older years.
I’m not likely to be personally affected by Cabela’s business operations, so I’m not worried about it from a personal finance point of view.
But there’s something else going on in the world that does have the potential to affect the security of my investment as a homeowner in Scotts Bluff County.
That something will be addressed at the Midwest Theater this Friday night, October 7, at 7:30 p.m., with a documentary film and panel discussion. The event is free. I’m planning to attend, and if you’re interested in the long-term health of our community, I think you should, too.
The topic of the film and discussion is water and agriculture.
The gist of my worry is this:
- The communities in Scotts Bluff County are highly dependent on agriculture to support the base of our economy.
- A large portion of our agriculture is dependent upon irrigation from surface water sources, and there is a moratorium on drilling for new high-capacity groundwater sources because of limited supply. (See UNL’s Agriculture in the Nebraska Panhandle for a summary.)
- According to UNL analysis of climate projections, within our lifetime, we are potentially looking at the following conditions in the Nebraska Panhandle (See Understanding and Assessing Climate Change: Implications for Nebraska for more information):
Increase in the frequency and intensity of certain extreme weather and climate events …, particularly droughts and heat waves. … a small increase in heavy precipitation events (p. 33). (Less rain, and when rain does come, there will be increased potential for flooding.)
Large projected reduction in snowpack in the central and northern Rocky Mountains (p. 32). (Less water available for surface irrigation.)
Typical summer temperatures by mid-century (2041-2070) equivalent to those experienced during the 2012 drought and heat wave (p. 31). (Who remembers the summer of 2012? Multiple record high temperatures set. Multiple damaging hailstorms. Numerous wildfires. Brownouts due to the high electricity demand. Church groups praying for rain. Dust storms. Shortage of feed for livestock.)
Was it dumb of me to purchase a home in Scottsbluff, given the stressors predicted to hit our ag-based economy in the future? Will we continue on a business-as-usual course as our weather patterns change, or will we take action to set ourselves up to be more resilient to change?
Friday’s film at the Midwest Theater is Thirsty Land.
Here’s a quote from the film trailer that illustrates how this film is linked to my concerns:
This entire valley, not just the farms, but the entire valley – the McDonald’s, the Safeway, the downtown shops, they’ll all close up when this place dries up. My employees go down the road because there’s nothing to do here.
Thirsty Land was produced by Conrad Weaver, who also produced The Great American Wheat Harvest, which was a very well-received film when it screened here.
Thirsty Land was produced with support from the Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute and UNL’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources as well as several irrigation companies and agriculture-based associations. This screening event is supported by the Panhandle Research and Extension Center, the North Platte Natural Resources District, and the Nebraska Conversation Education Fund. Yes, the film focuses on the water crisis in California, but the substantial support for this project from Nebraska sources tells me that this is an important topic for our state. This is not political propaganda. This is a real challenge we will be facing.
The panelists for the post-film discussion include, in addition to the filmmaker, well-respected members of the community whose lives and work are entwined in agriculture: John Berge, NPNRD General Manager; Pete Lapaseotes, NPNRD board member and irrigator, cattle feeder, and agribusiness owner; Owen Palm, President and CEO of 21st Century Holdings; and Dennis Strauch, General Manager of Pathfinder Irrigation District. Palm and Strauch are also members of the Nebraska Natural Resources Commission, representing agribusiness interests and irrigation districts, respectively.
My one disappointment is that this film discussion is being marketed in the Star-Herald primarily to agricultural interests rather than to the community at large (though people on the Midwest Theater and Nebraska Conservation Education Fund mailing lists should also get information about the screening). The two mentions of the film have both been in the Farm & Ranch section, in a general press release, and in a column by PREC director Jack Whittier.
My hope is that a broad cross-section of our community will attend this event and start conversations that put Scotts Bluff County on a path to greater resilience in the face of changing weather patterns.
I’ll be there, because I want to be part of the solution. I want to make sure that my adopted home not only survives but thrives in the future.
Where will you be this Friday night?
UPDATE: I wanted to share some excellent information sent to me by Dave Ostdiek, the communications contact over at PREC (who is also on the board of the North Platte NRD).
- This article examines the value that irrigation water adds to agricultural land in Nebraska.
- Here’s another article on how irrigation contributes to agricultural land value. It’s the only paper of those listed here in which I found a mention of climate change.
- This UNL publication gives a summary of irrigation in Nebraska. Of interest is the fact that, in much of Scotts Bluff County, the water resources were listed as “over-appropriated.” (Side note: the publication, as well as this one, show that the majority of western Nebraska is underlain by the Ogallala aquifer, yet I’ve heard some folks arguing that Scotts Bluff County is not, in fact hydrologically connected to that famed underground body of water. I’m confused.)
- Here’s a thought-provoking study commissioned by the Nebraska Farm Bureau in the wake of the 2012 drought. A quote from that study highlighting the relevance of a film about California’s drought to Nebraska (2008 data):
Nebraska has the highest level of acreage under irrigation for all states [8.4 million acres]. The next closest state is California, where 7.3 million acres are under irrigation.
According to this study, because of farmers’ ability to irrigate, the Nebraska economy has an additional 30,000 jobs and $11 billion in economic output (a total of direct, indirect, and induced impacts).
Copyright 2016 by Katie Bradshaw
I love walking in downtown Scottsbluff and looking in the business windows. Some of the business are very creative about their window displays, and it’s fun to see what’s new each time I walk by.
December is a favorite time for an evening stroll past all the plate glass, as the Christmas decorations the businesses put up give me a lot of cheer (sometimes because I’m laughing at the lackadaisical effort, but, hey – it’s cheer, right?).
This past December, I dragged Bugman around before and after a walking trip to Sam & Louie’s for dinner so I could take pictures of the window displays on Broadway. (Disclaimer: I did not photograph every single business in the downtown that had a window display – only the ones that were on my walking path that night.) I meant to do a Christmas post of appreciation for all the effort the business owners make to brighten up the downtown, but time got away from me, and I never got around to it.
Rather than give up the idea altogether, I decided to delay the post by six months and do a “Christmas in July” post. (Remember back when it was cold outside? Ah, those were the days!!)
Another layer was added to this post by the fact that I didn’t note the names of all the businesses I took photos of. I started to try to seek out every single business name, but it was taking way too much time, because there is still no downtown Scottsbluff business website (something I suggested was needed back in 2010, three months after I moved to Scottsbluff), and a lot of downtown businesses are apparently Google-impaired and have not performed digital grooming.
So, I’m adding an econopolitical Grinch angle to this post: downtown Scottbluff businesses need to get real and get online.
How are visiting shoppers going to find out what there is to draw them to the downtown without a website or current, map-based information? Sure, they could wander around on foot, but that won’t draw them there in the first place, and they might miss something by not walking to that next block.
So, for lack of a downtown Scottsbluff business website, if I could not find a business name by virtually walking down the street in Google maps (with outdated Street View photos), I just sort of stabbed a guess at the business category from what I remember from my meanderings.
Enough of the grousing – enjoy the show! (And think fond thoughts of winter.)
I hope you enjoyed this little tromp down six-months-ago memory lane. I’m looking forward to the next seasonal displays (and to the cooler weather!!!).
Copyright 2016 by Katie Bradshaw
The sip n’ paint trend is going strong in Wyobraska. Coffee shops, art galleries and a winery are among the local hosts for this type of artistic endeavor. They are pretty fun. I’ve done a couple of them myself.
In Scottbluff this summer, there is another extremely unique option for exercising your creativity:
An animation class!
Taught by folks affiliated with the renowned California Institute for the Arts!
Held in western Nebraska!
Thus, the name: Calibraska Arts Initiative. (Get it? California – Nebraska . . . Calibraska!)
Just like the sip n’ paint classes, NO ARTISTIC TALENT NECESSARY. As Calibraska co-founder and instructor Erica Larsen-Dockray said:
Can you move an object and take a picture? You can do animation.
Here’s a photo of the three instructors during a Q&A session at the Midwest Theater last week:
There are some Calibraska animation workshops targeted at kids, but the one I’m interested in promoting (the one I’m signed up for, the one I want to make sure has enough students to go) is the one targeted at adults – the Loopers Club, held on three consecutive Wednesday evenings from 6-8 p.m., the first class being THIS WEDNESDAY, JULY 13 at the Harms Center.
I THINK YOU SHOULD CALL THE HARMS CENTER RIGHT NOW AND SIGN UP FOR THE CLASS: 308-635-6700! It’s only 30 bucks for three sessions. (Incredible value!) Keep your fingers crossed that there’s still an opening at this super-last-minute date, ’cause this’ll be a good time!
Session 1 July 13
Optical toys: zoetropes, thaumatropes, flipbooks, and praxinoscopes
That’s a lotta tropes and scopes there, but what that basically means is drawing things and then moving the paper somehow to create the illusion of movement. Here are a couple of screen captures from the Calibraska Vimeo channel, which obviously aren’t as cool as the actual moving picture, so make sure to click on the link:
Session 2 July 20
Scratch/Draw/Bleach on 35mm clear/black/pre-shot film
Use film as your media instead of paper this week. Another screen shot from the Calibraska Vimeo channel:
I’m not going to include an image of pixilation – because it just means taking a series of photos and stringing them together to create an animation, a kind of live action stop-motion. A still shot of a pixilation would be silly.
But light animation? Here’s a photo, once again, screen-grabbed from the Calibraska Vimeo channel:
So what’s that number again to get registered? WNCC Harms Center 308-635-6700! Call now! Operators may not be standing by, but you can leave a message, I reckon.
Copyright 2016 by Katie Bradshaw, except photos credited to other sources
Could you identify a flowering beet? A parsnip? How about an onion?
Today, Sunday, July 10, at 4 p.m., Meadowlark Hearth farm, just east of Scottsbluff, is offering a tour of these blooming vegetables and more. (Apologies for the tardiness of the post – the date snuck up on me!)
The reason Meadowlark Hearth has these unusual vegetable blooms is because they raise these plants for seed. Most of us eat the plant before it has a chance to flower.
I don’t think these flowers are on the tour, but I’m including them as an example of the flowers of commonly eaten veggies that most Americans have likely never seen:
Meadowlark Hearth is also a regular vendor at the summer 18th Street Farmers Market in downtown Scottsbluff (June-September, Saturdays 8-11) as well as the Scottsbluff Winter Farmers Market (October-March, 1st and 3rd Saturdays, 11-2), and also has a Community-Supported Agriculture subscription.
Copyright 2016 by Katie Bradshaw