One of the best things about Corvallis, what I am most thankful for this season, is the level of community engagement in all sorts of issues. In the last few weeks, we have worked with three different organizations who are all working towards making Corvallis a more sustainable place to live. It has given us some new things to chew on over the long Thanksgiving weekend.
Two weeks ago, we went to a presentation on residential solar power, sponsored by Abundant Solar and Seeds for the Sol. The first half of the talk was technical. We learned about all of the rebates available right now for solar panels; we could get over half of our money back between rebates and tax credits. The presenter all discussed how solar panels have become more efficient, so a smaller array could power the house. That interested me, because we do not have a huge, open, south-facing roof. Our house is aligned east/west, and part of the roof is shaded by a huge fig tree. When I came home and looked at our electric bill, and saw that we average 6 KWH per day, I began to reconsider the panels. Maybe we could do this….It is a low priority, but I may ask Abundant Solar to swing by this Winter Break and let me know if it could happen.
Seeds for the Sol (www.seedsforthesol.org) directed the second half of the presentation on funding other family’s panels. If you are not in a perfect location, but still want to increase solar power in town, you can donate to the organization by directly purchasing panels, or by purchasing the federal tax credits. Mark was very interested in this idea, because it was easy. He could do it this year, and it would help decrease our reliance on fossil fuels as a community. We came home excited to consider, once again, how we could make our house more sustainable.
Last week, we attended the League of Women Voters presentation on carbon taxes. They had organized a panel discussion with two economists for Portland State, a woman from Sightline Institute, and a University of Oregon law school professor. Each presented for about ten minutes, and questions followed. This being Corvallis, a town full of engineers and math geeks, the economists, who had been studying carbon taxes and designing models to judge the financial impact of different prices, received the most questions. Everyone wanted to see the data. (They promised a new study next week! http://www.pdx.edu/nerc/sites/www.pdx.edu.nerc/files/carbontax2013_0.pdf) If we established a tax of 100 dollars per ton of carbon, we would just meet our targeted emissions. But was the politically feasible? What would the impact on the economy be? All of the presenters considered British Columbia, which has had such a tax for several years, and California, which is working on a similar idea. There will be a bill in the Oregon Legislature for the next session.
Finally, inspired by all of the discussions in our house about carbon footprint and recycling what we do not need, I called Corvallis Furniture to pick up several pieces of furniture we had rescued from the streets. There was a wooden desk, a chair, and a small table lurking in our basement. Corvallis Furniture was started by a group of students who were appalled by the amount of good furniture that is cast into the streets to rot at the end of every school year. They collect decent stuff, take it back to a workshop, and refurb it. Sometimes it gets a coat of paint; sometimes it is transformed into a totally new design. Either way, it is off the streets. They have a store front in town, so, in a few weeks, I could visit my rescued and repaired desk! (corvallisfurniture.com – or check out their FaceBook page)
All in all, I am, as always, thankful to live where I do, in a small city where people not only talk—a great deal—but also take positive action every day.
Peanutbutter Cookies: Whenever we have a meeting, we have cookies.
1/2 cup butter
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg 1 t vanilla
Beat well. then add
2 cups of white flour
1/4 t salt
1 t BS
maybe some chocolate chips. Or raisins. Or nuts....
The dough is a bit crumbly, but holds together if you use a firm hand in shaping.
Bake in 350 degree oven.