Thursday, April 29, 2010

More Oil in the Gulf!

This dangerous spill is even in the evening news in France!

Hope somebody figures something out, and soon!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Oil Spill Disaster!

The Gulf needs to use some shampoo because its waters are greasy with the oil of BP's oil rig that fell apart and is leaking oil from deep under the surface. If the winds change, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida could have sludge on their beaches. A much more difficult mess to clean up.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

River Cleanups!

My experience this semester has been unique, as I have spent the entire semester co-oping in Cincinnati. Every day as I drive home from work and enter the city of Dayton I look at the beautiful Great Miami River. During a period of time after a huge snow melt, I noticed a very high water level, and then the water subsided and left large amounts of litter along the river banks.

I decided it would be a good idea to get the River Stewards involved. I organized two river cleanups and at each one a handful of stews showed up. For the first cleanup we partnered with Ken Carmen who explained his long term vision to combat the problem. The Sig Ep Fraternity helped out with the second cleanup. It was great to get different groups involved with the cleanups.

Thank you to all who came out to support. The river looks 20x better! People who are not involved with the river have noticed and commented how nice the river looks recently. It goes to show that our few small efforts can make noticeable differences in the community. And there is no doubt the river is better off too!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Water Room

For the Stander Symposium, Katie Norris and I (Leah Winnike) created a water room that was inspired by the Miami Valley Watershed and the city of Dayton. This instillation was created as a new lens through which viewers could see this region. We hoped that it would inspire an appreciation for the resources that this area has.

River to Riviere, Part III

Please visit the newest addition to the River to Riviere documentary series. I will have at least two or three more before I leave this country. Look forward to the next part of the series: bicycling for five days along the banks of the Loire River.

Yours truly,


Saturday, April 24, 2010

2010 Cohort Senior Project

The Senior Paddle video is now on Youtube, after its successful showing at the River Summit. Imagine the reactions of those who aren't already familiar with the Dayton area, its rivers, and the Rivers Institute. Needless to say, the seniors/2010 cohort received a standing ovation. Without further ado- the River Stewards 2010 Senior Trip documentary, "This is Our Story".

Edit: The video player is too big to fit on the blog! The video can be found here.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Dayton Daily News Editorial on the 2010 River Summit

Ellen Belcher: River’s power hasn’t been tapped

By Ellen Belcher Sunday, April 18, 2010, 12:00 AM

Do all good things have to end, especially if they’re getting better?

On Thursday, April 15, the University of Dayton held another River Summit, a confab about leveraging the Great Miami River. Having gone to the previous two, I can attest that the growing number of attendees — upward of 200 this year — aren’t burnt out.

Quite the opposite. They’re still pumped, but they’re wrestling with what’s next.
If the event is ever going to rise above just being a morning briefing where people learn about the impressive, independent things that are popping up on the Great Miami from Troy to Dayton to Hamilton, the crowd needs to get organized.

Besides the participants’ reluctance to commit to another meeting, or to creating yet another regional something or other, there’s this complication:

Projects from amphitheaters and parks, to restaurants and liveries, to kayak races and canoe floats are happening without a strategic plan. Why mess with success?

Last year, the organizers, without asking anyone’s permission or calling a vote, decided to dub the 98-mile swath of the Great Miami River from Sidney to Fairfield as Ohio’s “Great Corridor.”
They argued that the soon-to-be-finished 100 miles of bike paths on the riverbanks, the downtowns along the way, and the existing community events and festivals add up to something bigger than the individual parts.

But the only people who know about that self-proclaimed designation and the things to do in the dozen river towns on this stretch are those who went to last year’s meeting.

No one is connecting the dots — not in the public’s mind, not even in the minds of the public officials and government employees whose job it is to know these things. And if no one’s telling the story, it’s hard to pick up momentum.

The University of Dayton deserves immense credit for bringing so many people and groups together. Its Rivers Institute has used a leadership vacuum as an opportunity to challenge its students to organize the grown-ups.

Its so-called “river stewards” — undergraduate students who spend three years learning about the river and its potential as an economic development asset, a recreational resource and more — have seen firsthand just how much energy it takes and how fun it can be to herd a community’s cats.

At this year’s summit, eight graduating seniors in the river steward program stole the show. They spoke about the science they learned. They talked about the transformative experience of getting out on the river. They preached about the Dayton region’s amenities. And they said we’re foolish not to point people to the water.

The students’ experiential learning — with the river as their focal point — had given them something they couldn’t get from textbooks.

Gene Krebs, co-director of Greater Ohio, was the perfect follow to the students.
A former Republican state legislator who is associated with the “smart growth” movement, he said that when workers only have a high school diploma, they go where the jobs are.
“When you have letters after your name,” he said speaking to the students, “companies will go where you (young people) want to live.”

Krebs jabbed at a recent Dayton Daily News headline, “Interstate 75 becomes area’s new Main Street.” He argued that the community better hope that’s not the case.
If it is, Dayton will be “Generica,” he said — precisely when the next generation of workers and entrepreneurs wants cafes, walkable communities, public transit and authentic urban experiences.

The future can’t be highways, he said, because their existence is predicated on lots of cheap gas being sold and taxed at low rates. Gasoline isn’t going to be inexpensive forever.
Krebs also said Ohio has to come up with incentives to reduce the levels and costs of local government if it expects to compete globally. Balkanized, redundant, expensive local governments are holding back regions like Dayton.

As evidence: Ohio’s state tax burden ranks 34th highest in the country, he said. But it’s 9th highest for local governments.

A “river corridor” that succeeds only if everyone along it succeeds — where development isn’t a zero-sum game — looks like a good meeting place.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Rivers at Stander Symposium!

My river-filled Stander experience began at 9 a.m. at the Civil Engineers senior project presentation. This group of students presented a comprehensive plan for the use of the Mad River Property recently acquired by UD. Their plan included designs for a walking/biking bridge, a land bridge connecting the property to Eastwood MetroPark, a Leadership Lodge, a multipurpose building, and various paths and supporting structures. The Leadership Lodge was designed so that large groups would have a place for overnight or educational stays. Under the structure there would be a garage for kayak storage. The second structure, the multi-purpose building, would house two science laboratories, one computer lab, and several classrooms. The design team was made up of primarily civil engineers but it also included mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, and visual arts students (the visual arts students helped create a fantastic 3D rendering of the design). The presentation was very interesting and their project vision seemed to capture the essence of the property. You could tell that the Civil Engineers kept the final users of the property in mind when they were designing. They even mentioned the River Stewards and the Fitz Center by name several times! The presentation itself was very technical and consisted of sections devoted to the environmental, structural, transportation, and logistical integrity of their design. It was also interesting to see the tremendous progress the designers had made since they presented the unfinished project to us a few months ago.

My next stop at Stander was a presentation by a marketing class that had designed a marketing strategy for Five Rivers MetroParks. While I didn’t agree with all of the group’s suggestions for marketing opportunities for Five Rivers, I did think it was very interesting to hear another segment of UD's thoughts about Five Rivers. Most of the presentation involved using marketing techniques and statistical formulas to analyze Five Rivers and its target markets. What struck me was that the presenting group didn’t suggest that Five Rivers target any of its marketing efforts towards university students. At first I was a little frustrated by this but then I realized that to a non-user of the parks, university students like us would not seem like a very cost effective investment in terms of marketing dollars. I think a lot of times we as River Stewards forget that a lot of people, especially people our age, do not appreciate or know about the MetroParks. The River’s Institute has done a lot to bring UD to the river but it was obvious from this presentation that we still have a lot of work to do! But, I am certain that the River Stewards are up for the challenge!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

River Leadership Curriculum Update!

Last week each module of the RLC met for the first time. On Wednesday and Thursday people representing River Science, River Cities, Water Civilization and the Common Good, and Sustainability met together to discuss the modules. We had some new faces at some of the modules which was exciting! These meetings gave everyone a chance to meet other people who are involved with their module as well as meet those that will be working on the module this summer.

The groups will continue to meet before the semester ends in order to establish what they hope to have accomplished with curriculum development this summer.

The RLC leadership team is now working on an Isidore site which will allow team members of curriculum development to share ideas and documents. Once the course begins in the Fall all documents will be easily transferable to the Isidore course website. This will allow for easy collaboration for all those participating in the River Leadership Curriculum development.

Thanks to all who were able to attend the meetings last week! If you know any other faculty, staff, or community partner members who would also be interested in curriculum development let us know!

Also, REMEMBER registration is now open. Any student from any major can register for ASI 345 River Leadership for Fall 2010. It will be a great course with interdisciplinary and experiential learning. Let any and all students know about the great opportunity!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

River Stander Day Events

Hello All!

I hate to put this on the blog, but it seemed easiest.

So, as many of you know, UD's Stander Symposium is this Wednesday April 14th. I have several things to present that day and I welcome all of you to come to any or all that you would like. Most of you know that I'm a pretty modest person, but seeing as I'm a graduating senior this year, and I've worked really hard on these projects, I'd like to share them. Please do not feel obligated to come, I just wanted to invite everyone who's helped, inspired, and supported me at UD.
Thanks so much and see below for the schedule. (Many of these include other River Stewards including the Seniors and Leah)

Stander Day, Wednesday April 14th

10:30am-12pm Poster session KU Ballroom - Here I will have a poster presenting all of the scientific data and analysis I did for my honors thesis on the upper Great Miami River

1pm-2pm Senior River Steward Presentation KU 207 - The first ever graduating cohort of River Stewards will be presenting about our experience in the program and our senior project.

3pm-4pm Katie's Thesis Presentation KU 312 - This will be my presentation of the journey of my interdisciplinary honors thesis. Less technical and more about the process, history, photography, and experience of paddling over 100 miles of the Great Miami River.

8:30am-5pm Dayton Alive, Art Exhibit, ArtStreet Studio E - Leah Winnike and I are doing an installation piece focused on Dayton, water, sense of place, etc. This is my first big, real, art exhibit! (I will only be here in the morning from 8:30ish -10am and from about 4pm-5pm) However, this installation will most likely be up until Friday so contact me if you want to see it but can't make it on Stander day!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Visit to Englewood MetroPark

During this Friday's mini-course the sophomore and junior cohorts went to Englewood MetroPark to learn about the lowhead dam removal program there. Two members of the project team met us by the site of the removal and explained to us the process. Federal grant money, administered by the Ohio EPA, was distributed to Five Rivers MetroParks for the purpose of removing the dam. Lowhead dam removal is important for both safety and ecological reasons. The removal was to be in three steps. The first step was to shave down part of the dam so that more water could flow through. The entire dam wasn't removed immediatly though because too much flow would displace great amounts of silt that would damage the ecosystem. The second step was to remove the dam entirely. The lowhead dam removal at Stillwater has been a great success ecologically. Fish species have returned to the area that had not been seen for years and other wildlife has returned as well. The third step in the process is to continue monitoring the success of the removal through water quality and macroinvertebrate testing. In addition, there will be continuing efforts to improve water quality and flow in the river.

A project like this takes years of planning and a lot of effort. We would like to see more low dam removal in the Dayton area in the future because we see the ecological and recreational benefits of doing so. We also now know that the lowhead dam removal process is expensive and lengthy and therefore more fully appreciate what Five Rivers has done to protect our rivers.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

A Spring River Clean-Up

This Monday the River Stewards are organizing a clean-up on the Great Miami River with Ken Carmen . We are hoping this is a start to a prosperous collaboration, as we try to create a rapid-response river-clean up system in response to water levels and the amount of trash left behind.

If you are interested, meet at 4:30pm on Monday, April 5th at Carrilon Park.

This is also a last effort for the 2010 cohort to offer Stewardship to our rivers!

Another successful day kayaking with the students of Trotwood Madison High School

Thanks to all the River Stewards who participated in this rewarding outreach opportunity. We look forward to our next visit in October!

Save the date for the Dayton Water Conference; May 10-12th