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February 2, 2014

Sustaining an environmental movement in Southern Indiana

Inaugural FAN Fair inspires environmental awareness

NEW ALBANY — Some learned about raising chickens in urban settings, while others were taught how to make their homes more energy efficient. Those were

only some of the many topics discussed at an environmental-awareness event hosted by the Floyd Action Network [FAN] in downtown New Albany Saturday.

Since its establishment nearly 10 years ago, FAN’s mission is to preserve Floyd County’s natural settings and encourage environment-conscious growth in its

urban landscape.

“We are trying to keep the cities where the cities are and the country where the country is, so that the natural resources are all protected,” said Judy Martin, who is a member of

FAN’s board of directors. “We want to educate and influence decisions in the county about how the land is used.”

Although the organization has a broad mission, it made sustainable living the focus of its inaugural FAN Fair held at the Robert E. Lee Center.

At the free event, community members had the opportunity to select from eight different lectures, including “How to Achieve Energy Independence in Your Own

Home,” “Waste Disposal vs. Waste Logistics: Its’ Not Just Garbage” and “The Greenest Home is the House Already Built.”

Nearly 25 vendors were also set up at the event handing out information and responding to questions from environmentally minded patrons.

The vendors included private companies specializing in sustainable residential rehabilitation, organic foods, home gardening and even cloth-diaper consultation.

Non-commercial organizations also provided information, such as Purdue Extension — Floyd County, which had master gardeners fielding questions from area residents.

Martin said FAN organizers hope those who attended the event will leave with a better  “knowledge of recycling, repurposing, reusing, conserving — anything that anybody

could retrofit into their own house that would make a difference, that would reduce the pressure on natural resources.”

By showing people specific examples of how they can take action to live more environmentally friendly at home, Martin and others work to get one step closer to FAN’s overall

mission of environmental preservation.

“If we keep putting concrete over the land, we will have no animal life, no wildlife, no fish life. The ground will become toxic, and people are going to die,” she said. “We don’t

want natural resource crises to happen in Floyd County.”

That message hits home for Brian Himmelheber, New Albany, who attended the event.

“I am interested in sustainable and renewable resources. I am interesting in doing a lot more for the world at large and my own economic situation,” Himmelheber said. “I think

that sustainability and doing more along this line is beneficial on all fronts.”

Martin said she hopes the efforts of FAN will motivate surrounding counties to become more environmentally aware.

“If other counties would do the same thing we are doing and get the word out and get the components of the same kind of things we are doing, we could make a big dent in

over-development and poor use of land,” she said.

Martin said it is the community that will benefit from the information and techniques shared at FAN Fair and the organization’s other education forums held throughout the year. She said she hopes more people of all ages will become involved with FAN’s mission.

“We want more people to know about Fan Action Network and by sponsoring a visible program like this, we think we can get more support,” she said.

Himmelheber said an environmental-conscious approach to life allows people to preserve natural resources and money.  

“I believe that recycling, sustainability, repurposing is a cheaper way to live, and, for me, that has become a necessity because of significantly reduced resources,” Himmelheber

said.

He said Saturday’s event had a lot to offer on farming techniques, local-resource information and home rehabilitation, but he would have liked to have seen more information related

to technological options of becoming more sustainable at home.

Himmelheber said he was appreciative that FAN brought together area businesses and organizations to give community members resources on sustainable living.

“I think it is high time that movements like this are started.” he said. “I think it is a wonderful effort that they have put on.”

Also at the FAN Fair was Allan Staples who said he is taking steps to go “off the grid” and make his Lanesville home completely self-sustaining.

“I am trying to move toward sustainability in my life and become more of a producer than a consumer,” he said, adding that he intends on his efforts to benefit not only

himself, but his daughter and future generations.

Staples attended the event to learn more about being environmentally consciousness in virtually all aspects of life.

“We have smart phones. We need smart grids. We need smart economies. We need to become less reliant on national food chains and more on regional applications,

locovores, all that stuff,” Staples said. “It is a smarter way of living.”

On the web

To learn more about Floyd Action Network’s efforts, membership and upcoming events, logon to floydactionnetwork.org.

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Students of the Renaissance Academy's inaugural freshman class placed the final piece of the puzzle on a presentation board at the opening ceremony in Clarksville Tuesday morning. The students, or learners as termed by the RA, will play an integral role in their own education, using hands-on and project based curriculum to learn new information.

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