Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Tour's Day Seven Included Stops at Ames and Grinnell

Jim Cooper has been on every single Green Bike Tour. He and his wife, Jeri Neal, organized the Ames stop, which included visits to the Iowa State University campus and the Ames Resource Recovery Plant. We gathered at Jim and Jeri’s, picked up Teresa Galluzzo of the Iowa Policy Project at Brookside Park and arrived ahead of schedule at the Free Speech Spot on campus. Jim Popkin, a city councilman, and Irv Klaas, who is running for city council, both rode with us. Ed Fallon, recent Democratic candidate for Iowa governor, and Kristin Fallon, who teaches harp, made up the rest of the biking group.

Jerry DeWitt, who leads the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, spoke first with a focus on the Center’s work, including research on the energy required to bring Iowans the food we eat. “Food miles,” which is on the Center’s website, calculates how far food, especially that which could be grown in Iowa, travels and how much energy is required. Professor Raj Raman talked about work ISU is doing on bio-fuels. Teresa Shiflett, a member of Engineers for a Sustainable World, talked about her project in Uganda to use biogass from animal waste for home cooking. Another student, Andy Heggenstaller, talked about how producing green energy reduces the impact on local ecosystems. Council candidate Irv Klaas used the opportunity to describe how he would incorporate advocacy for renewable energy and energy efficiency into his work on the council. David explained the purpose of the Green Bike Tour and Tom talked about the solar-powered electric assist bicycle as a means of commuting in an energy appropriate way.

The bikers, now a dozen or more, rode through downtown Ames to the Resource Recovery Plant. Plant manager John Pohlman described the process, which separates waste and sends part of the stream to be co-fired with coal in the municipal utilities power plant. Councilman Jim Popkin pointed out the renewable energy sources the city of Ames is considering to reduce the amount of coal used in electricity production by their municipally-owned utility. With information on alternatives to coal, the bikers returned through downtown.

The next stop was Grinnell. Bill Menner, does economic development for the county, and Rich Dana, who heads an Alliant Energy sponsored effort to reduce energy use in Grinnell, met us at the head of a city bike path. The local newspaper took pictures as the riders took off for downtown. The first stop was the Saint’s Rest Coffee shop, where Jeff the proprietor served up free lattes. We were joined by our oldest rider, John Marwan, who rode with us to the Grinnell campus.

We met students including Emily Stiever, who is organizing students to pressure the Grinnell trustees to install a wind turbine near campus. Tom interviewed her on the tape we are preparing to present to our workshop at the Engineers for a Sustainable World conference on Thursday. David will be returning to Grinnell next Monday to appear at a meeting Emily is arranging to get students ready for the board meeting on Thursday.

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The Green Bike Tour is sponsored by The University of Iowa's Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, The Iowa Policy Project, and The Fred & Charlotte Hubbell Foundation, and Kelly Webworks.