Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Rural Action News

Thank-You To All Who Supported the Adventure Auction
By Cat Fincun, VISTA for Events and Volunteer Coordination

The Adventure Auction, held Saturday, April 19 at the Inn at Hocking College, was a success! Not even the gloomy weather could damper the excitement of the night. First and foremost, we must thank the generous sponsors and donors, whose contributions made the event possible. We also must thank the many community and Rural Action members who filled the ballroom to capacity.

Don Flournoy, our honorable host, kicked off the night by delving into repose about his recent adventure in Louisiana with his wife, Mary Anne Flournoy. He shared stories, jokes, and custom dancing found in the bayou. Guests laughed and cheered on cue and gave a great round of applause to his dancing demonstrations, after which Don set the stage for Frank McDermott’s classical guitar melodies as people mingled about the room for dinner. Frank’s guitar greatly added to the ambiance of the elegant candle-lit room illuminating yellow roses on every table, which was made possible by four generous Wal-Mart florists.

Dinner was a masterful exploration into the culinary arts prepared by Chef Chuck Steadman and his talented team comprised of Hocking College students. The menu was developed around available local produce, allowing a wide range of choices from prawn cakes to ratatouille, carved pork loin to spanakopita, and bananas flambé fit for a king. Local producers included: Snowville Creamery, Green Edge Gardens, Chesterhill Produce Auction, Farmer Jones, Ohio Beef Producers, Ohio Raised Prawns, The Veggie Institute, Willow Run Farms, and Integration Acers.

The silent auction was full of adventure opportunities such as kayaking, Ukulele making, sporting event tickets, local dining and music, camping and cabin stays. Saturday was National Auctioneer Day and Pat Sheridan was on top of his game, singing competitive bidding like the Pied Piper. Shamrock Auction Services donated their services for the event, for which we are incredibly grateful. Popular items auctioned by Pat were the Potato Creek Cottage Getaway, Lion King Tickets, Green Home Adventure, Plant Lovers Adventure, and White Water Adventure.

Kelsey McCoy, Chris Zdinak and I were cheerleaders for Don and Pat, encouraging the guests and providing details about auction items. The Athens Messenger highlighted Kelsey and Pat last Monday with a picture of the two presenting the Golf Lovers Package; the winning bidder received a new Nike golf club set as well as one 18- hole round at The Pines Golf Course in Wooster, Ohio.

Woody Pines and the Lonesome Two closed the evening with ragtime tunes, as guests enjoyed a dance party. A special thanks to the band--your music was a highlight of the night.

The event was organized by hard-working AmeriCorps*VISTAs. Development VISTA Jordan Vincent joined me (Cat Fincun) to co-chair the event with a rock star committee including Katie Durham, Bob Fedyski, Kelsey McCoy, Tori Patterson, Heather Sheets, and Sarah Warda. Included in the committee were Rural Action Board Members Mary Anne Flournoy (Chair) and Lyda Gunter and Communities Director Mary Steinmaus. With a lot of hard work, I am thrilled to report that the Adventure Auction Planning Committee raised over $10,000 for Rural Action, exceeding our goals and expectations. All of the proceeds will support our work in the communities of southeast Ohio.

A special thanks must also be extended to the following volunteers: Emily Boyer, Jeff Hardin, Brandon Stephens, Matt Reese, Piper Avalokita, Andy James, and Mike Steinmaus, who dressed in costume, greeted guests, and provided invaluable assistance.

On behalf of Rural Action and the Adventure Auction Planning Committee, THANK YOU all who were involved. The night was a success due to the many hands that came together.

Pictured are the AmeriCorps*VISTAs of the Adventure Auction Steering Committee, and a number of the volunteers who helped out at the event. A full picture slide show will be available on the next Rambler!


Rural Action is Now Recruiting for AmeriCorps*VISTAs
By Tori Patterson, Rural Action VISTA Leader

Recruitment for both summer and full-time AmeriCorps*VISTA positions is well underway! We have a lot of great opportunities to participate in national service and contribute to southeastern Ohio by becoming part of the Rural Action VISTA Team.

The summer program will last eight weeks (June 18 – August 15). Summer Associates receive an $833/month living stipend and a $1,000 education award. Deadline for summer applications is May 15th.
Positions available include:
Rural Action Sustainable Forestry
Rural Action Watersheds
Rural Action Youth Leadership
Rural Action Economies
Community Food Initiatives
Appalachian Nutrition Network

Full-time positions begin in mid-July. Full-time VISTAs receive the $833/month living stipend, choice of $4,725 education award or $1,200 end-of-service cash stipend, health benefits, sick and vacation time, and childcare assistance if applicable. Deadline for full-time applications is May 9th.
Positions available include:
Rural Action Sustainable Forestry
Monday Creek Restoration Project
Sunday Creek Watershed Group
Federal Valley Watershed Group
Rural Action Media and Communications Developer
Dairy Barn Cultural Arts Center
Stuart's Opera House
Community Food Initiatives
Friends of Lower Muskingum River

If you are interested in learning more about these positions, visit www.ruralaction.org. You will find full position descriptions, application information, and links to more info about AmeriCorps.

To apply: go to www.americorps.org -- under Advanced Opportunity Search, enter Program Name “Rural Action” to view complete listings.

For more information, please don't hesitate to contact Tori Patterson, tori@ruralaction.org, or 740-767-4938.


Your Septic Tank: Learn More with Huff Run
By Maureen Wise, Huff Run Watershed Restoration Partnership Coordinator

If your septic tank failed, or you know someone whose did, you are not alone. The U.S. Bureau of Census reported that at least 10%t of septic systems failed in the previous year. Some communities report failure rates as high as 70%. Septic systems serve approximately 25 %of U.S. households, and one in every three new homes built today uses these systems. Failing septic systems affect water quality by raising bacteria levels in ground water and surface water (streams, lakes etc). This is toxic to humans, aquatic life and any animal that might drink the water. Being knowledgeable about your septic system will help lower these statistics and risks.

The Huff Run Watershed Restoration Partnership, a citizen driven group working to clean up their local water body, is holding a Septic System Awareness Workshop on May 8. The workshop will be held at the Mineral City Volunteer Fire Department Hall at 7:30pm. Speakers will give presentations on septic system maintenance, operations, soil considerations, and funding. Interactive models will be on display. The Tuscarawas Health Department and the Tuscarawas Soil and Water Conservation Office are also helping produce the event.

Below are ten simple steps you can take to keep your septic system working properly according to the EPA:
1. Locate your septic tank and drainfield. Keep a drawing of these locations in your records.
2. Have your septic system inspected annually.
3. Pump your septic tank as needed (generally every three to five years).
4. Don’t dispose of household hazardous wastes in sinks or toilets.
5. Keep other household items, such as dental floss, feminine hygiene products, condoms, diapers, and cat litter out of your system.
6. Use water efficiently.
7. Plant only grass over and near your septic system. Roots from nearby trees or shrubs might clog and damage the system.
8. Keep vehicles off your septic system. The weight can damage the pipes and tank, and your system may not drain properly under compacted soil.
9. Keep gutters and basement sump pumps from draining into or near your septic system.
10. Check with your local health department before using additives. Commercial septic tank additives do not eliminate the need for periodic pumping and can be harmful to your system.
For more information, contact the Huff Run office at 330-859-1050 or visit www.huffrun.org.


Permaculture Fundamentals Course in the Athens Ohio Area

Friday, July 11, 2008 through Saturday, July 19, 2008

What is Permaculture? Consciously designed landscapes, which mimic the patterns and relationships found in nature, while yielding an abundance of food, fiber, and energy for provision of local needs. People, their buildings, and the ways in which they organize themselves are central to permaculture. Thus the permaculture vision of permanent or sustainable agriculture has evolved to one of permanent or sustainable culture.
Who Benefits? Gardeners, farmers, homeowners, and prospective buyers of land and homes will benefit from the energy-saving and productive insights of permaculture, while students and professionals in the fields of ecology, agronomy, resource management, architecture, and planning will find their work enlivened by the holistic and interdisciplinary perspective of the course. Community development and aid workers, real estate brokers, municipal officials, and religious leaders will find practical and creative applications for permaculture design in their respective fields of endeavor.

The Course: Permaculture Fundamentals An unparalleled opportunity to experience worldclass instruction, this course presents the elements of natural and cultivated systems in the permaculture curriculum, covering these subjects:
  • Ethics & Principles
  • Observation & Patterns
  • Climate & Biogeography
  • Ecosystems
  • Water in the Landscape
  • Forests & Trees
  • Building Healthy Soils
  • Zone & Sector Design
  • The Home System
  • Natural Building
  • Microclimates
  • Gardens & Plants
  • Animals & Aquaculture
  • Appropriate Technology
  • Human Settlements
  • Local Economics
  • Mapping
  • Fire & Energy
  • Waste Cycling
Permaculture Design Practicum This training in practical design for properties and human settlements covers site assessment, pattern languages, broadscale landscapes, community and social design, mapping, and presentation. Completing the Practicum is possible on any 72-hr. Design Course offered by ARC or its affiliates.

Location Located near New Marshfield, west of Athens, Ohio, Greenfire Farm embodies a vision of Appalachian renewal amidst the new ancient forests of the Hocking River valley. The 75 acres under stewardship encompass organic gardens, pastures for a small herd of goats, a large pond with ducks, examples of natural building, and a variety of traditional and modern structures for human use. A permaculture settlement is being designed here as home for a dozen households.

Logistics We start Friday at 6 p.m. and meet til Saturday noon the next week. Students not lodging on site should stay within 30 minutes. Some indoor space is available at an extra fee. Local, organic food lovingly prepared with vegetarian options.

Fees Tuition of $695 includes instruction, materials, on-site camping, and all meals. A Certificate of Apprenticeship in Permaculture Design is awarded to those who complete both Fundamentals and Practicum.

Contact Mary Hogan 740-664-4028 or athens8@ARCulture.org

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