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Jul 27, 2011 04:14PM

Rooting around

Davenport to be featured in Dream Green radio program Aug. 18

Dream Green, a20-part radio series exploring sustainability in Iowa, will feature Davenport in an upcoming broadcast. The series looks at energy conservation as practiced in homes and communities across the state.Dream Green is a project of Fairfield's 100.1 KRUU-FM, the Midwest's first solar-powered radio station. The series is created and produced by hosts Stuart Tanner and James Moore with partial funding from the Iowa Office of Energy Independence.In Davenport, Tanner and Moore spoke with Mayor Bill Gluba and took walking tours of the municipal compost facility, waterworks facility, Nahant Marsh and the police department's LEED building. The program highlighting their experiences in Davenport will air at 7 p.m. on Aug. 18 and be rebroadcast at 7 a.m. on Aug. 22. Other cities visited by the Dream Green team include Dubuque and Iowa City.

Knit one, pray too: A contemplative and crafty retreat

From 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Aug. 4, Our Lady of the Prairie Retreat will host a day of knitting and prayer designed to make the most of the contemplative rhythm of the craft. The event, which costs $15 and includes lunch, will be appropriate for knitters of all skill levels and genders. Participants may bring a project of their own or a pair of knitting needles (size 11 or 13) and three six-ounce skeins of yarn to join in making a prayer shawl, scarf or special gift for someone in need of comfort. Episcopal lay ministers Ann Green and Karen Brooke and fiber artist Anne Johnson will facilitate the event. The retreat center is located at 2664 145th Ave., Wheatland, Iowa. For more information or to reserve a spot, contact Our Lady of the Prairie Retreat at (563) 336-8414 or olpretreat@gmail.com.

Unsure which eatery to try in Iowa City? Sample them all!

The third annual Taste of Iowa City is scheduled to bring a street-fair atmosphere and tasty eats to downtown Iowa City and the Northside Marketplace from 4 to 8 p.m. Aug. 24. The event features nearly 40 downtown restaurants and welcomes students, residents and visitors to sample a variety of menu items -- from sandwiches and pasta to Tex-Mex and Italian dishes. Hosted by the Downtown Association of Iowa City and the University of Iowa Welcome Week, Taste of Iowa City is a popular event that draws thousands of culinary enthusiasts each year. For more information, visit downtowniowacity.com.

Have your farm and prairie too

"Incorporating Prairies Into Multifunctional Landscapes," a popular handbook written to help farmers plant and manage sections of prairie on their farm has recently been reprinted by the Iowa State University Extension. The updated version details the benefits and various uses for prairies: livestock grazing, hay production, biomass feedstocks and carbon sequestering.Meghann Jarchow and Matt Liebman, supported by the Leopold Center's Ecological Initiative, developed the publication. The handbook is available for free fromthe Extension's online store, extension.iastate.edu/store.

Fishteval festival celebrates life on the Mississippi

Featuring live music, dance performances, fish-themed family projects and activities for kids, the Fishteval festival held in Bellevue, Iowa, will celebrate the arts and eats inspired by life on the Mississippi River. Events will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 6 and 7, with a fish boil scheduled for Saturday evening from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Water Street Market at 116 N. Riverview Drive, Bellevue. Featured activities of the Fishteval will include river excursions hosted by the Department of Natural Resources. Admission is free. For more information, visit bellevueia.com.

Gain some insight into how the mighty Mississippi was tamed at lock and dam tour

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will offer tours of Locks and Dam 15 at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays throughout the month of August, weather permitting. The tours will begin at the Mississippi River Visitor Center on the west end of Arsenal Island. Participants should wear shoes with enclosed toes and heels (tennis shoes are best, as walking is part of the tour). To gain access to Arsenal Island, participants ages 17 and older must have a valid photo ID and are encouraged to allow an extra 15 minutes should their vehicles be subject to a random search. The tour is free, though reservations are recommended. For more information or to reserve a spot, call(309) 794-5338.

Enhance you ecosystem by attracting beneficial insects -- workshop will show how

Not all bugs are bad.Beneficial insects provide services to farmers and gardeners like pollination and the suppression of pests.By creating a refuge that supplies a source of pollen and nectar, growers can attract good bugs and help them thrive. On Aug. 4, farmers, researchers, and native plant aficionados will have the chance to participate in a one-day workshop in which they will learn how to identify helpful insects, create resilient landscapes that provide multiple services, and find federal and state programs that help support this form of conservation. The workshop will be hosted byIowa State University's Departments of Entomology and Natural Resource Ecology & Management, with support from the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. More information is available atwww.aep.iastate.edu/ent or by calling (515) 294-6429.

Heigh ho, silver: Micronized metal particles make for germ-free toothbrushes

Countless millions of microorganisms exist within the human mouth that can lead to illness, cavities and gum disease. Each time you brush your teeth, some of those germs are left on the toothbrush, where they can double every 20 minutes. The result can be as many as 100 million microorganisms waiting for you on the bristles of your brush. Recently, a new toothbrush has been created with a unique design aimed at combating germ buildup. The bristles of the Mouthwatchers toothbrush are infused with colloidal silver compound particles. Silver, a naturally antibacterial metal, destroys the cell walls of microorganisms, rendering the toothbrush bristles immune to bacterial growth. Retailing for $4.99 each, Mouthwatchers Colloidal Silver Anti-Bacterial toothbrushes can be purchased online at mouthwatchers.net or at dental offices throughout North America.

A bike helmet that protects the planet as well as your head.

Kranium, a new bicycle helmet to hit the market, offers something other helmets don't: a sustainable design. Made from corrugated cardboard instead of polystyrene, the helmets can be recycled rather than thrown away and have the ability to decompose in a landfill. They are also safer. As compared to standard helmets, Kranium has been shown in tests to absorb four times as much impact energy. Designed by Anirudha Rao, the helmets are designed to help cyclists be that much greener.

Small trash can, big results: College cuts waste by downsizing bins

If you don't look closely, you might just miss the trash bins issued to faculty, students and staff at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire: the quart-size containers are roughly as big as a large tub of yogurt. Into these containers goes everything that can't be recycled -- pop tops and packing materials, chiefly -- with the remainder funneled into large, no-sort recycling containers also issued to classrooms, offices and dorms. The small change has yielded big results, decreasing the amount of trash the college sends to the landfill by 200 tons and increasing recycling by a third.Though some would argue a 6-inch-tall container for trash might be a pain in the tuchus, for Dartmouth faculty and staff it has become a point of pride, with some collegiate colleagues competing to see how many weeks they can go before filling their diminutive bins.

NBA star the newest face for vegetarian diet

The vegetarian movement's spokespersons used to be actors and singers; now professional athletes are touting plant based diets as a way to eat healthy. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has teamed up with former NBA star John Salley in a series of public service announcements about fighting diabetes with vegetarian or vegan diets. In a series of 30-second public service announcements for radio and TV, Salley says "I'll bet you know someone with type 2 diabetes. This can lead to heart problems, strokes, and even blindness. You can up your defenses by eating more fruits and vegetables and having more vegetarian and vegan meals."The Physician Committee for Responsible Medicine has a free "vegetarian starter kit" available for download at pcrm.org.

Rubber ducks may soon be sourced from dandelions

You may want to think twice about spraying that weed killer on your lawn. Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center are developing a domestic source of rubber and ethanol using dandelions. The common weeds produce a high-quality natural rubber in their taproot, comparable to the kind made from the Brazilian rubber tree, which is currently the only commercially available source of natural rubber. The rest of the dandelions aren't going to waste; 45 percent or more of the dry matter is comprised of inulin, a carbohydrate used as a food additive that can also be turned into ethanol.Project partners hope to have the first module of a TKS commercial facility in place by 2013 which will produce 20 metric tons of rubber a year for industrial testing. The plant will expand to 60 million pounds of rubber annually by 2015.

On a scale of one to 10, how green can you get?

Ever wonder just how green you really are? You can find out by taking the free quiz at Practically Green (practicallygreen.com). Answer questions on your recycling habits and your usage of water, energy and "stuff" to get your score. Results are on a level from one to 10, with one being Barely Green and 10 being Superbly Green. Daily suggestions will help you move closer to being Superbly Green. Some suggestions are simple, like removing shoes at the door and taking items to Goodwill, while others require an investment of time and money, like installing geothermal heating. Scores can be posted on Facebook, so you can challenge friends to a friendly competition to see who's greener.

Trouble sleeping in? Scientists find a gender difference in circadian rhythms

Ladies, there may be a good reason why you wake up at the crack of dawn while that man of yours is still snoozing: hormones. Harvard Medical School researcher Jeanne Duffy and a team of researchers studied the sleep cycles for 52 women and 105 men over the course of two to six weeks in their lab. They discovered that, on average, women's circadian rhythm (or 24 hour sleep/wake cycle) is about six minutes shorter than that of men, which translates into waking up about 30 minutes earlier. Researchers believe estrogen levels may have something to do with the rhythm differences, which means changing hormone levels may affect sleep.

Don't just do something, sit there

Doing nothing is harder than it seems. Ask anyone who regularly meditates. Now, though, there is a free online tool to help: a Web site called "Do Nothing for Two Minutes"(donothingfor2minutes.com). All that's required of visitors is to look at a picture of an ocean sunset, listen to the waves coming to shore, and let a little time on the screen set for two minutes run out. If someone wiggles the mouse or touches the smartphone screen, a red "fail" box pops up and the timer starts again. Make it the entire 2 minutes and a note saying "well done" comes up, along with links to share the page. If doing nothing strikes you as having dubious benefits, consider this: Recent findings by researchers at Harvard medical school found brain scans of practicing meditators showed a reduction of gray matter in an area of the brain associated with stress and anxiety and an increase in density of the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for learning and memory. Those two minutes of doing nothing might just make it easier to do something when you are done.


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