Monday, December 7, 2009

upcoming events

Greetings All,

Below you will find info on upcoming permaculture and sustainability events in the near future in the central Virginia bioregion (including a permaculture movie tomorrow night in Harrisonburg – we hope to see all of you there!) and our upcoming spring 2010 Permaculture Design Course.

For more information about permaculture events, see our website: If you know anyone else that would like to sign up for this newsletter, or if you have an announcement, email Christine at for the next update, which are sent monthly.

Christine and the Blue Ridge Permaculture Network team

Spring 2010 Permaculture Design Course

Spring 2010 Permaculture Design Course: Sustainability Strategies for the Blue Ridge, over four weekends in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia.

This 72-hour ecological design certificate course, presented by the Blue Ridge Permaculture Network, will be offered over four weekends with leading permaculture teachers including Dave Jacke, Christine Gyovai and Dave O’Neill. The course will be held in Harrisonburg, Virginia, on the following dates:

Jan. 15-18, Feb. 12-15, March 13-14, and April 10-11.

The cost for this course will be a sliding scale, including a discount for early registration. If you register by November 15 the sliding scale is $895-$1200. After November 15 the sliding scale is $995-$1200. A few work trade positions are available for partial tuition; inquire soon about work trade guidelines and availability. The work-trade application deadline ends on December 1st, 2010, and limited scholarships may be available, inquire for details. To register please contact Terry Lilley at or 434-296-3963.

Blue Ridge Permaculture Network Presents
Introduction to Permaculture
Movie and Discussion (Free!)

Tuesday December 8th at 7pm
Clementine Cafe, Harrisonburg

Based on the 72-hour Permaculture Design Certificate Course as devised by Bill Mollison, join Geoff Lawton as he takes you into the world of Permaculture Design and introduces you to a new way of looking at the world. Learn how to apply your design skills by observing, analyzing and harmonizing with the patterns of Nature. Discover the theory and then see the examples in action in this unique DVD. Essential information for anyone interested in learning more about Permaculture and how they can apply it in their daily lives to create sustainable abundance.

The students in "Technology, Nature, and Sustainable Agriculture: Bringing Engineers into the Foodshed,” a course at UVA taught in Spring 2009 and Fall 2009 semesters, has produced a new website: The site is intended as a start to a repository and dynamic forum for sustainable foodshed design in the region. It hosts a series of video podcasts on local food issues, a bibliography, links to on-line sources, and references to activity at UVA on the topic. Students in the class this semester will be adding to, updating, and continuing to refine the formatting of the current website. The current class members and instructor encourage any feedback from community members about things to include and suggestions to rebuild the site for the sake of local relevance. Please contact Benjamin Cohen ( with any thoughts.

. Please note a new book published on the cultural origins of scientific agriculture in America, /Notes from the Ground: Science, Soil and Society in the American Countryside/, from Yale University Press. Readers can find notice of it here:

The book’s story begins with Jefferson and ends in the mid-nineteenth century. Though temporally distant from current permaculture activity, much of the book takes Virginia (and central Virginia and the Albemarle County area) as its focus. Readers might find it interesting to learn about the means by which local farmers developed their own systematic soil management practices to pave the way for what later became scientific and industrial agriculture. The book also discusses moral and cultural elements of land use that are relevant for today's thinking on alternative agricultural opportunities such as permaculture.

The Wise Energy for Virginia Coalition is proud to present the Charlottesville premiere of the new award-winning documentary:
Coal Country
A dramatic look at the controversial practice of mountaintop removal in Appalachia.
December 9th and 10th, 7pm, at the Vinegar Hill Theatre (map)
A special benefit reception will be held at Siips Wine Bar on Dec 10th at 5 pm
In addition to the film, please join us for a special benefit reception for the Wise Energy for Virginia Coalition on Dec. 10 at 5 pm, at Siips Wine Bar downtown.
Reception tickets include admittance to the movie, wine & hors d’oeuvres, live music, and special guest Coal Country executive producer Mari-Lynn Evans.
Two coalfield residents featured in the film -Kathy Selvage of Wise County, Va, and Larry Gibson of West Virginia - will speak before each showing and at the reception. Click here to view a map that shows the locations of Siips and the Vinegar Hill Theatre relative to suggested parking.
All benefit proceeds will go to the Wise Energy for Virginia Coalition whose members are the Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards, Appalachian Voices, the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, the Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club and the Southern Environmental Law Center. The Coalition and its many partners are working to stop mountaintop removal coal mining and to secure a clean energy future for Virginia.

Dear Permaculture Friends,

I have two friends, Skip and Joe, who are very interested in taking the Blue Ridge Permaculture Design Course starting in January. They both came to me after I had facilitated a Permaculture 101 class at Our Community Place, a community center in Harrisonburg that helps a lot of people in many different ways. There eyes had that glow that I think we all get after we have learned something new and relevant and mind shifting! Skip and Joe spend a lot of time at Our Community Place. They are both in tough spots right now and have very little money. I had the opportunity to get to know both of them very well over the summer, working together as a part of Muddy Bike Urban Garden Project, a garden program that uses money made at the farmers market to pay workers who are in need of money, gardening and community. 75% of what they make goes into a housing fund, that helps them save to find a place to live. Skip and Joe are both amazing gardeners who are also interested in permaculture. They are also important community members and have helped OCP with a lot of donated time. I am writing to all of you to ask if we could come together as the BRPN community to raise funds to support them through the course. I think that they will learn so much, and that permaculture design could be a way for them to continue to earn money and make a decent living.

Thank you all so much for your support,
Beth Schermerhorn
Garden Coordinator, New Community Project
BRPI Graduate 2007

December 15, 2009
Building Design and Construction: The LEED Implementation Process. This workshop is intended for professionals who are familiar with the LEED for New Construction or LEED for Core & Shell Rating System, but new to implementing it on projects or looking to brush up on implementation best practices. For more information:

JRGBC Luncheon: Wind! A Critical Component of Virginia's Clean Energy Future
Tuesday, December 8, 12 pm at the Charlottesville Community Design Center
Curious about wind energy in Virginia? Overwhelmed by conflicting reports about the Commonwealth’s wind resources? Remy Luerssen, Mapping and Education Specialist for the Virginia Coastal Energy Research Consortium and JMU’s Virginia Wind Energy Collaborative, will provide an introduction to wind energy, highlighting recent developments from backyard turbines to offshore wind. Get the facts and learn what resources are available to individuals, corporations, and municipalities who are involved in wind-related projects. Lunch will be provided. Register in advance or pay at the door. This event is $3 for JRGBC members and $5 for non-members.

City Announces 2010 Neighborhood Leadership Institute
On Febuary 10, the City of Charlottesville kicks off its 3rd annual Pilot Your City Neighborhood Leadership Institute, an opportunity for citizens to equip themselves to actively shape the future of the community. NLI topics include City boards and commissions, the local economy, affordable housing and public safety. The program takes places on Wednesday evenings from 6-9 pm and is free and open to all. To participate, apply (follow link "I want to apply for") by February 1, 2010. For more more information contact Tierra Howard or call (434)970-3383.

Virginia Center for Architecture Spring Semester Internship: Feb. 2- Apr. 30, 2010
The Virginia Center for Architecture is currently seeking applicants for a special 12-week internship during the spring semester. Responsibilities will include curatorial work, educational programming, and special events. VCA internships provide a unique opportunity to learn about architecture and design, as well as to actively contribute to the creation of exhibitions and educational and public programs. Applicants must have excellent oral and written communication skills, general research and office skills, be detail-oriented, and possess a desire to learn about architecture and/or museums. Academic credit may be available. The unpaid internships are six hours per week. To apply, please send a letter of interest, resume, and letter of recommendation by Friday, January 15, 2010 to Margaret Y. Hancock, Director of Programs, Virginia Center for Architecture, 2501 Monument Avenue, Richmond, VA 23220 at

There are several upcoming workshops at Tricycle Gardens in Richmond in 2010 including a Seed Swap & Potluck and Seed Starting & Soil Preparation workshop.
Check them out at the website:

Join us today -- from wherever you are -- to save Coal River Mountain!
Rally in Charleston or take action from your home!
The AP reports on today's event -- learn about and join the growing movement!
Charleston Gazette features Jeff Biggers Op-Ed.
Coal River residents speak to the camera about why this matters.

Rally in Charleston, WV at the Department of Environmental Protection
We need you to stand with us to save Coal River Mountain.
When: Today, Monday Dec. 7 at 2:00 p.m.
Where: West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection headquarters
601 57th Street SE, Charleston, WV. *Directions below.
What: Speakers (including Bobby Kennedy, Jr.), a historic rally, music
Why: We need your help to save Coal River Mountain and protect the people of Coal River Valley, a critical step in ending mountaintop removal coal mining and putting the country on a path to a clean energy future.

The WV DEP has signed off on the blasting of Coal River Mountain, and the blasting has started, 200 feet from Massey Energy's Brushy Fork dam and impoundment. This massive lake of toxic coal slurry sits above abandoned underground mines. Blasting could destabilize natural fractures in the rock between the bottom of the impoundment, the roof of the old mines, and weak pillars that support the roof. Each blast increases the potential for a disaster like the one in 2000 at a Massey-operated impoundment in Martin County, KY. The same engineers who worked on the failed Kentucky impoundment worked on the Brushy Fork impoundment.

Each blast also destroys a little more of the wind potential of Coal River Mountain -- but there is still plenty of the mountain left to save. If we fight hard now, we can create a model for meeting energy needs sustainably and creating good local jobs and long-term tax revenue.

In a historic protest to defend a mountain and all it represents, Coal River Valley residents and friends from across America will converge on the DEP to demand that the agency suspend and revoke Massey's permits to blast and destroy Coal River Mountain. We are also calling on the EPA to recognize the DEP as a failed agency and assume responsibility for its water monitoring program.

Please do what you can to make it to Charleston on Dec. 7 -- take a day off work, cash in one of your sick days. Bobby Kennedy, Jr. is scheduled to be one of our speakers on the 7th. We hope to see you there!
*Directions: From I-77 North or South / I-64 East or West: Exit MacCorkle Ave. West, (Exit 95); Left on 57th. St (Approximately 1/3rd mile from exit); Building is on right on 57th St., across from the Elder Beerman store at the Kanawha City Mall.

Anywhere, Today: Solidarity Action
If you can't make it to the action today, please call the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection to help support those rallying in Charleston. The DEP is responsible for inspecting the coal sludge dam nearest to the mine site, and has the power to stop the blasting. Call Randy Huffman, Secretary at DEP, and ask him to intervene at Coal River Mountain. Call him at 304-926-0440.

Sample Script

"Hi, I'm calling to ask the West Virginia DEP to intervene at Coal River Mountain. Coalfield residents are reporting that blasting and mountaintop removal operations have begun there. We need the DEP to act now due to the imminent danger to the local community and to our clean energy future."

Talking Points

- Massey Energy has started mountaintop removal operations there. The blasting is happening near the Brushy Fork sludge impoundment which now holds 8.2 billion gallons of toxic coal waste near the town of Pettus, WV. If it were to fail, it would threaten the lives of 1000 people and be an environmental disaster. The dam is permitted to hold more than 9 billion gallons of sludge.

- Studies have shown that Coal River Mountain's ridges have the highest and most productive wind potential. A wind farm on Coal River Mountain could generate 1.2 % of West Virginia's total energy needs, create hundreds of jobs in the local area and generate a long term tax revenue stream for the state. Everyday that blasting happens, the possibility for the wind farm diminishes.


This action alert is going out to you early Monday morning. Later today, please check the "Take Action" pages at Save Coal River Mountain for more information and to let us know you called.

Fruits of Your Actions

Last month, you along with 65,000 others sent emails to the Obama Administration asking that they intervene to stop the blasting on Coal River Mountain, which is endangering the lives of the people in Coal River Valley and destroying critical clean energy resources. Thanks to you, the EPA has responded. In late November, the EPA sent a letter to Marfork Coal Company, the Massey Energy subsidiary that is blasting on Coal River Mountain. The EPA is taking a tough look at the mining site, using its legal and regulatory authority to intervene in the operation.

But the fight continues. We need your help again, and we need it today. It is critical that the DEP play its part in saving Coal River Mountain. Please call the DEP today to help stop Massey Energy from destroying Coal River Mountain.

It is not too late to save Coal River Mountain. Please help!