Thursday, May 28, 2015

Is Low Power Community Radio In The Future?

I am not always in favor of a lot of the ideas floated by the established movers and shakers of Lexington.  Some of the latest could include the re-branding of Rupp Arena or the day-lighting of Town Branch.  These are fairly expensive undertakings and funded by the typical taxpayer.

Tonight, Mrs Sweeper and I attended a work session on training radio producers and developers of programing for WLXL and/or WLXU.  These are Lexington's new low-power community radio stations due to go on the air this fall.  Their whole non-profit concept is to be as different from "commercial" radio as my blog  is to actual news reporting and their programing aims to reflect that.

They are looking for ideas from folks that you just don't see on radio today.  Say that you knew how to explain something in such a way that one didn't need to visually see you do it to understand exactly how it is done.  That could be interesting, not to a commercial audience, but someone could be listening.  Maybe a call in show about a topic which you may be knowledgeable of.  It could be interesting.

Almost 8 years ago, when I began toying with the idea of collecting my thoughts on paper, or in digital bits, I was of the impression that few would ever see any merit in reading them.  My banter with others on some of the local online forums quickly became confrontational and antagonistic on some of the most trivial issues.  If I stuck to subjects to which I had good knowledge and experience, or if I presented just my observations, those problems went away.  Today, I continue to meet people who say that they read this blog on a regular basis and I still wonder why.

This blog began as a way to relate my observations about local happenings, sometimes with a little lesser known background that was not fully reported in the regular media.  Newspaper articles and columns do tend to gloss over (or omit) relevant details and connections to similar or past events.  Reporter turnover amid the ongoing downsizing of main stream media really hurts institutional memory.  I sought to correct that.

By not remembering or reporting what had happened and how it related to events popping up as breaking news, quite a number of our young professionals (who were taking much interest in our downtown) did not get the complete story.  I wanted to connect the dots.

I still wish to engage in some sort of dialogue about these observations, but the blog seems to discourage that.  Facebook enables and facilitates more of a running conversation that the comments section of a  blog, so lately I have spent a lot of time there.  Unfortunately, the corporate face of Facebook hates the use of nom de plumes on their accounts, therefore even those conversational adventures are less exciting than they were.

I have also diversified some of the subject matter and educated myself on topics other than development and history, the current status of rail transportation, food sovereignty and relocalized sustainability of living.  Most of today's observations have many more dots to connect.  So many dots, so little time.

This evening, I have begun to ponder- Can a blog such as this translate to a community radio segment?  Can it be more?   

Maybe time will tell.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Lexington To Fully Enbrace Community Supported Agriculture?

I am a big fan of CSAs, as in Community Supported Agriculture.  We have looked at joining a CSA for several years but most have required a substantial payment before the growing season begins and it just wasn't in the budget at the time.  This year things were different.

We have joined an alternative style of CSA called the New Roots Fresh Stop.  It is designed for those of more limited means and works more like a subscription farmers market.  Our farmer knows that a certain number of members will be arriving on the delivery days and buying the bi-weekly agreed upon quantity of what they need. Each family will be getting a different variety of produce. 

This CSA plus whatever we can harvest from our own garden and our work with Seedleaf will be worth whatever we have put into it.

On the other hand, I believe that there is another aspect of community supported agriculture and that pertains to the encouragement of neighborhood community gardens and the ability of a neighborhood to feed itself.  Every family in Lexington needs to realize food security through local food access.

Lexington has worked with Seedleaf, a local non-profit, which teaches about and operates small plots of neighborhood gardens, especially in our local food deserts.  It now appears that Lexington is creating an ordinance to promote and regulate not only community gardens but also what they are calling "market gardens".  The stated primary purpose of private, community and market gardens is to promote sustainable and affordable local food production for local consumption.

Market gardens would be defined as "an area of lane less than five (5) continuous acres in size for the cultivation of food and/or non-food crops by an individual or a group of individuals to be sold on-site or off-site for profit.  Think about that for just a minute.  A neighborhood could develop a parcel or group of parcels, not just as a garden to feed themselves but a way to raise funds to make the garden sustainable over the long haul. This will change the concept of local foods for many people.

While the market gardens are allowed on-site sale facilities the community gardens are not.  I see no reason that some sort of cooperative agreement could not be reached where the market garden sales site may sell produce from one or more community gardens.  

Provisions are also made for up to 15% of a community garden site to be covered with accessory structures  Accessory structures are identified as storage sheds, hoop houses, trellises for shade, picnic tables and benches.  Add the possibility of a fire pit or a grill and we could realize the truth of "farm to table" right in the community garden with your neighbors.

I also like the inclusion of permitting such gardens within a FEMA floodplain as long as one meets all the regulations on slope and existing vegetation retention.  There are several locations which are currently quite underutilized and their neighborhoods could benefit from a community garden or two.

The information I have referenced here is only in draft form but I think that it is far enough along to bring to you.  I am happy that we are actually moving toward a reasonable food policy which allows a sense of food access and food security.  If you feel as I do, please let your Council representative know that we need this to come to pass.