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Archives for August 18, 2016

Back to school at FGCU: Five things to know for 2016 – The News

The 2016-17 school year starts Wednesday at Florida Gulf Coast University, and it is sure to bring a lot of excitement and changes to the Southwest Florida school.

If all goes well, the biggest news coming out of FGCU this school year will be the naming of a new president.

The school term won’t quite be four months old when the FGCU board selects President Wilson Bradshaw’s successor.

Bradshaw plans to step down June 30, the day his contract ends and two months after the school year closes.

All of this will be going on in the midst of a year-long celebration marking the day that FGCU opened its doors in 1997.

So there’s one thing that won’t be lacking at FGCU this year and that’s news.

Here are five things to know about FGCU as the school year kicks off:

1. Still Growing

FGCU is projecting that enrollment for the 2016-2017 school year will reach at least 15,156 students.

If it does, the number will represent a slightly more than 2 percent increase in the school’s student population when compared to the 2015-16 school year. FGCU’s final enrollment figure for 2015-16 was 14,824 students.

As of Aug. 11, enrollment for this school year stood at 14,696 students. At the same point a year ago, 14,610 students had enrolled.

2. Ready for take off

FGCU will start a new 12-week program Sept. 12 that will result in students getting seed money to help launch their business ideas.

The university’s initiative is called the Runway Program and is being coordinated by FGCU’s Institute for Entrepreneurship.

FGCU received $250,000 to start the program. The money was taken from the $2 million that Economic Incubators, a Collier County economic development program, was awarded during the legislative session.

The Runway Program is open to all FGCU students, and there is no cost to participate. The deadline to apply for admission is Sept. 5.

Mentors and FGCU faculty will help students go through the process of coming up with a business idea to starting the business.

A committee will decide which individuals or teams will receive seed money for their projects and one-year of free office space at the Naples Accelerator at the end of the 12 weeks.

Initially, $25,000 was set aside to be given out as seed money. An anonymous donor contributed an additional $70,000 ,said Sandra Kauanui, director of the Institute for Entrepreneurship.

The Runaway Program also plans to offer up to 10 FGCU students semester-long internships.

For more information about the Runway Program, send an email to Kauanui at

3. Hyun’s in charge

Eunsook Hyun is the new dean at FGCU’s College of Education.

Hyun, 53, last worked at California State University in Los Angeles. She was employed there three years, including two years as dean of the Charter College of Education.

She was a faculty member in FGCU’s College of Education from 1997 to 2001.

The College of Education has not had a permanent dean since 2014 when Marci Greene stepped down. Two interim deans — Jane McHaney and Ivan Banks — led the school after Greene left the position.

Hyun’s annual salary as dean is $178,000.

4. So fresh, so clean

The front entrance has undergone the second phase of a makeover.

The first phase was completed last year when a 75-foot-tall concrete tower and a 100-foot-long monument were placed at the school’s main entrance at Bill Hill Griffin Parkway and FGCU Boulevard. The project cost $1.6 million.

The second phase of the makeover started over the summer. FGCU Boulevard was repaved and landscaping was added along the street from Bill Hill Griffin Parkway to where FGCU Boulevard splits on campus.

The improvements cost $990,000.

The Lee County Metropolitan Planning Organization also has made some improvements to the front of the campus.

A 5-foot wide sidewalk on the north side of FGCU Boulevard has been replaced with a 10-foot wide sidewalk. The sidewalk, which can be used by pedestrians and bicyclists, stretches from Bill Hill Griffin Parkway to where FGCU Boulevard splits on campus.

A 5-foot wide sidewalk has been installed on the south side of FGCU Boulevard. It leads to the campus Welcome Center on FGCU South Court.

 5. New on campus

Students will have some new dining options as a result of FGCU cutting ties with its former food service management company — Aramark.

The university decided to contract with Chartwells after doing a two-year review of its dining and catering needs.

The new food options include a Boar’s Head Deli, Outtakes and Brahma Express.

A standalone Dunkin’ Donuts is under construction. It is expected to be completed sometime in the fall.

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Group seeks common ground on water

As water scarcity in southern Idaho grows more acute, a group of influential people has quietly been meeting to bridge competing interests and seek cooperative solutions.

Patti Lousen, project coordinator for the Wood River Land Trust, said the Wood River Water Collaborative began to take shape about a year and a half ago when staff members of the Land Trust, The Nature Conservancy and Trout Unlimited decided that cooperation would be needed following enactment of conjunctive management of water—that is, managing surface water rights and groundwater rights together—in south-central Idaho.

According to the Idaho Department of Water Resources, water volume in the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer has been declining since about the mid-1950s.

“These trends are disturbing,” IDWR Director Gary Spackman wrote in a July 7 letter to farmers and other entities involved in water use. “Unless the trend that has existed since 1952 is at least arrested, the current declines in aquifer storage and spring discharge will continue.”

The immediate symptom of the problem in the Wood River Valley was a water call potentially affecting more than 500 Wood River Valley groundwater rights holders filed in February 2015 by the Big Wood Little Wood Water Users Association, which represents senior surface-rights holders in the lower reaches of the rivers. The Department of Water Resources dismissed the call in June following a 5th District Court ruling that the Water Users Association had not followed proper procedure in filing it. Still, everyone involved realizes that the issue hasn’t gone away, particularly as climate change exacerbates drought.

“We know that just addressing the calls is not going to resolve the issue,” Lousen said. “We believe it will be in all our best interests if we can come to a resolution.”

Rod Hubsmith, who owns a farm and ranch near Richfield and irrigates with water from the Little Wood River, said he was motivated to join the collaborative by the water call, though he’s been watching water levels in the river drop for decades. He’s one of the senior rights holders who claim they aren’t getting their full amount of water, but he says that’s not all he’s concerned about.

“That’s not how a river should live,” he said during a panel discussion on water issues held at the Community Library in Ketchum on Aug. 3. “I’m a rancher but I’m an environmentalist also.”

Carl Pendleton, president of the Big Wood Canal Co., which delivers water to irrigators in the southern part of the basin, said in an interview that he joined the collaborative with the hope that solutions can be found without incurring a lot of legal expenses going to court.

Despite those two men’s willingness to tackle the subject, Lousen said it was difficult at first to convince some people to get involved in a cooperative effort.

“Historically, there’s been a fair amount of mistrust between the upper watershed and the lower watershed,” she said.

But the group gradually took shape, and is now composed of about 60 people, including representatives from the three conservation groups, lower- and upper-basin farmers, the Department of Water Resources, the Idaho Water Resource Board, the Blaine County commissioners and valley cities, as well as all three District 26 state legislators.

Lousen said it’s particularly important to have input from both the Water Resource Board, which makes state water policy, and the Legislature, which allocates funding to enact that policy.

“The excitement is that we’re working with some of the biggest players in the room,” she said. “That’s how solutions could come. We’re creating the patterns for legal and financial and political will.”

Pendleton said that whatever solutions are found are going to cost money, and funding may be available from federal, state, private and nonprofit sources.

Lousen said the full group has had about half a dozen meetings in Hailey and Shoshone, as well as several meetings of three subcommittees—an agriculture committee, a conservation-recreation committee and a homeowners association committee.

The conservation groups have brought speakers to the meetings to discuss solutions that have been devised in other areas facing similar scarcity of water.

“There are a lot of ideas out there,” Hubsmith said. “It will be a long process.”

Hubsmith said solutions will need to focus primarily on groundwater use in the Bellevue Triangle, a farming area south of Bellevue where wells have been drilled to supplement declining availability of surface water and the resulting earlier shutoff of relatively recent water rights.

“That makes all those guys kick on their pumps, and that dries up the river,” he said. “That’s what spurred the water call.”

Hubsmith said domestic wells farther north in the Wood River Valley pull out a relatively small amount of water for landscape irrigation.

“They’re a part of the problem, but they’re not a big part of the problem,” he said. “It’s the irrigation in the Bellevue Triangle.”

Still, Pendleton contends that reducing demand for landscaping irrigation should be part of an overall solution. He said that between 1995 and 2010, 670 new wells were drilled in the Wood River Valley, many for domestic use.

“Down in the Bellevue Triangle, I can talk in common with agricultural people. I’m hoping that in the [north valley] Galena Groundwater area, the NGOs can move this along,” he said. “They’re already working with the landscapers about unlimited pumping.”

Both Hubsmith and Pendleton say agricultural water use has increased with the replacement of ditch irrigation with single-pivot sprinklers, which can deliver water to hillsides, allowing farmers to expand their crop area. And though the sprinklers water crops more efficiently, they leave nothing in the ground to flow out down-valley.

“Single pivots and extending the footprint are what caused us to run low on water,” Hubsmith contends.

He also blames unnecessary late-season watering.

“There’s no need to irrigate a stubble field after the grain’s out,” he said.

Pendleton said lower-basin farmers might be able to contribute to a solution by replacing crops such as corn that require late-season irrigation with other grains that need their water in the spring and early summer.

Despite the challenges, collaborative members say progress is being made.

“Just getting everybody to the table and talking about their own interests is progress in itself,” said Pat McMahon, chairman of the Sun Valley Water and Sewer District and of the Galena Groundwater District.

“I think there’s common understanding,” Pendleton said. “We need to get to know each other and understand the other guy’s problem.”

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Tiny homes: An option for Chicago’s homeless

With all of Chicago’s architectural prowess and innovation, one of its most beneficial developments might be less than 400 square feet.

Some in Chicago are using a relatively new trend — tiny, or micro, homes — to address the city’s issue of homelessness for young adults and others. The tiny homes can take up a small part of a yard, and they can have innovative ways to create space, like foldable furniture and loft areas.

“Affordable housing buildings aren’t actually affordable in terms of building costs,” said Eithne McMenamin, a member of a Chicago tiny home working group and associate director of policy for the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, or CCH. “Tiny homes can be more sustainable for the residents and city.”

About the tiny homes

This rendering is a sample tiny home, based on images from a Chicago-based tiny homes working group.


Photovoltaic panels would generate some amount of electricity for the building. They are installable during or after construction.


Structural insulated panels come pre-made and can have different thicknesses. They save a lot of labor and time.


Drought-resistant native planting is a flexible way to have some greenery around the home. It doesn’t require a lot of water or energy for maintenance.


Landon Bone Baker Architects is considering using multipurpose materials from The Rebuilding Exchange for the siding and walls. This organization deconstructs buildings and keeps the materials that can be repurposed.


The porch is made of paving that allows water to percolate through it. These pavers can have joints in them so that water can soak into the ground, and some burden is taken off city sewers.

The tiny homes, the way they are being planned by the working group, would cost $55,000 to $65,000, excluding the cost of the land or any site work like landscaping. Tenants would have yearlong leases, and the group is hoping that a local nonprofit would play the role of the landlord. Tenants would pay the utilities.

Next to funding, the biggest obstacle tiny homes advocates face is zoning. Chicago zoning attorney and Chicago Tiny Home Summit panelist Danielle Cassel said she ran out of sticky notes when logging inconsistencies between tiny home models and zoning code requirements.

“In any project, it’s really a dialogue between the city and the developers, and that’s where things are right now,” Cassel said. “It can be really difficult to create something new and innovative. We’re in a regulated world.”

Zoning law requirements can involve a limit to households per lot, a minimum number of inches between the structure and the end of a lot, or a limit to the number of units per lot — all of which would affect the progress of tiny homes being erected. Cassel said that developers would have to come up with creative solutions to fall within zoning requirements.

Inside a tiny home

This rendering is a sample tiny home, based on images from a Chicago-based tiny homes working group.


Some tiny homes will contain a loft as a sleeping area, as a way to create space within the home.


The alternating tread stair allows for a more compact stair structure, taking up less space.


The tiny homes allow for spaces, such as the porch, the patio and the greenery area, that can be semi-private and multipurpose.

“Homeless youth are often invisible. There are youth who have already been through transitional housing,” said Kim Hunt, executive director of the Chicago-based Pride Action Tank. “These are young people who are already on the way to thriving. They just need a home.”

Some of the groups that presented at the Chicago Tiny Home Summit are now in talks with the city to find available locations for the homes and ways to fund them.

McMenamin’s plans, produced with Jeff Bone of Chicago-based Landon Bone Baker Architects, include accepting residents who earn $5,000 to $25,000 a year. “Social service plans take a long time to get done,” McMenamin said. “We have a sense of urgency. This is for people in your neighborhood who need this now.”

McMenamin and her three colleagues presented their ideas and blueprints at the Chicago Tiny Home Summit in April at the University of Illinois at Chicago. This followed a 2014 summit on LGBTQ youth homelessness organized by the founders of Pride Action Tank. A tiny home design, originally displayed at the summit, is currently on display in the Back of the Yards neighborhood and is open to the public on certain days.

“We have a sense of urgency. This is for people in your neighborhood who need this now.”

— Eithne McMenamin, of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless

Bone said that the city has been receptive to the tiny homes idea for low-income populations. The working group is in talks with a lawyer to make sure the structures are complying with zoning requirements.

“We want the areas to include public, semi-private and private spaces for the residents,” Bone said. “We envision these tiny home areas as a pocket neighborhood; the community could start to define spaces that are common spaces.”

McMenamin said she wants to keep working until she hears a “No.”

“No one has ever said, ‘That can’t be done.’ Until someone says that, I’m going to keep going.”

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Proctorville woman cultivates multiple home gardens





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Step by step: Find a touch of beauty when landscaping your yard





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The New American Garden documents sea changes in landscaping

The challenge of any exhibition about the built environment — landscape, engineering, architecture, interiors — is that you are always showing representations of a thing that exists with greater richness and dimension elsewhere. 

The New American Garden, a show of work by landscape architects Oehme, van Sweden at the 937 Gallery, rises to this challenge with a series of richly envisioned and elegantly framed photographic prints of projects including gardens for governmental entities, often in Washington, D.C. (though the Native Plant and Azalea Garden at the New York Botanical Garden is a pivotal work), as well as lavish residences further afield.

In an era when American landscape architecture typically included precisely manicured plantings, Oehme, van Sweden designed freer swaths of species grouped in broader swaths, with more indigenous plants and perennials. Their work spurred the New American Garden movement, with reduced maintenance and reliance on herbicides as added advantages. 

The work was more meaningful, not just more relaxed. Oehme, van Sweden’s redesign of gardens for the Federal Reserve Building in Washington D.C., puts wavy prairie grasses and a few lush indigenous species where European ornamentals had once been. It becomes “a reflection of the United States and its egalitarian heritage,” said former Governor of the Federal Reserve Board David Lilly in published comments.

A similar sense of identity and place marked large residential landscape projects, making them seem suitable rather than grand. An unnamed Nantucket residence, in low but sprawling shingled architecture, is cosseted by local grasses in suitably shallow waves, weaving the house and grounds to the beach and sea along a picturesque horizon.

For Pittsburgh, the connection is Parks Conservancy curator Susan Rademacher, who worked with the Cultural Landscape Foundation and the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust to bring the show here, and participated in an opening presentation with Oehme, van Sweden principal Eric Groft. (Both Wolfgang Oehme and James van Sweden passed away in recent years.) The former editor of Landscape Architecture magazine, Rademacher co-wrote Bold American Gardens in collaboration with the firm’s founding partners. This show has precious little text, but getting the book lets you benefit from Rademacher’s encyclopedic knowledge and truly superlative design writing.

The photos and projects are beautiful on their own, but also as an exhortation to examine the work in its various real and documentary manifestations.

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Container Gardening Tips

You can cultivate a thriving garden even if your space is limited.  The number of vegetables and herbs you can grow in pots and containers is almost boundless, and they’ll produce an excellent harvest for you with proper care.

Those starting container gardens often turn to herbs first.  Even if you have a full vegetable garden, sometimes you’ll appreciate growing your culinary herbs in pots that can be kept close to the kitchen and moved indoors during the winter months.  Plants like Rosemary and Lavender won’t overwinter in harsh climates, but growing them in a planter means you can move them inside where it is warm as soon as frost starts to threaten

A number of classic culinary and medicinal herbs are hardy and spread quickly in an open garden, so keeping them contained will prevent them from taking over an area of your garden.  Some of the easiest to grow herbs include mint, chives, parsley, thyme, and basil. Plants like these are perfect for growing near your kitchen, once they are healthy and established you can clip a pinch off for a recipe whenever you need to.  

Depending on the herb, occasional fertilization is needed for container plants along with regular watering. The first challenge with any container garden is making sure you keep your plants happy with enough water.  All plants need water, but plants growing outdoors in the earth will reach their long taproots down to get all the moisture they can from out of the deep soil.  Plants grown in pots cannot reach deeper for more water, so make sure you keep them watered on a regular schedule.

A surprising abundance of vegetables can be grow in containers.  Some unexpected successes include carrots and squash, which just need a deep enough container to spread their roots.  Classic, easy to grow potted vegetables include tomatoes, eggplants, beans, and lettuce.

As with herbs, make sure you are watering and fertilizing your vegetable plants consistently according to their requirements.  Check that your pots have proper drainage (many pots come with small holes in the bottom, or holes can be created with a small drill bit) so that the plants will not become waterlogged.  

Use potting mix for your soil, not soil directly from the earth.  Potting mixes are combined to retain moisture and also will often contain some fertilizers in them, which help potted plants thrive.  Use the largest pots you have available to allow your vegetable’s roots to spread, which will reflect in larger plants and higher fruit yields.   Also, make sure to place your containers where they will get plenty of sunlight – most vegetables prefer at least six hours of sunlight per day.

Tomatoes are a classic container garden favorite and will often produce high yields when grown in pots.  Zucchinis and cucumbers are also quick to flourish.  It is important to leave your plants enough space to grow once they have started to leaf out.  Sometimes when planting seedlings in a container or raised bed, it can feel like they’ll be tiny forever.  Remember they’ll often grow many times their size as seedlings, and especially plants like zucchinis need plenty of room for their vines to spread.

A gardener with limited space can often yield as full of a harvest as those with a planted bed, as long as they properly care for their plants and pay attention to each individual plant’s needs.  With enough room for roots, almost any vegetable or herb can be grown in a planter.  And the advantages to planting in containers isn’t limited to the space you’ll save, you can also move your plants easily and keep them in convenient spots for easy harvesting.  

Kirsten Lie-Nielsen is rebuilding a 200 year old homestead in rural Maine, using geese for weeding and guarding purposes, raising chickens for eggs, bees for honey, and maintaining vegetable gardens for personal use. Find Kirsten online at Hostile Valley Living’s site, Facebook page, and Instagram, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS blog posts here. 

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