Nominated for Benton County Environmental Award

The Benton County Board of Commissioners and Environmental Issues Advisory Committee nominated Seeds for the Sol, local non-profit, for the Third-Annual Benton County Environmental Award.

Many Benton County individuals and organizations in the community accomplish a great deal for the health of our environment through their hard work, dedication and vision. The Benton County Board of Commissioners and EIAC created this award to recognize the year’s most outstanding environmental contributions in the community.

Winners demonstrate a commitment to environmental stewardship that goes beyond compliance with regulatory requirements. Seeds for the Sol has helped 30 Corvallis homeowners put solar panels on their homes, with zero-interest loans provided by community members in a unique wealth-sharing program.

Corvallis competes for $5M prize

The Georgetown University Energy Prize challenges towns, cities, and counties to rethink their energy use, and implement creative strategies to increase efficiency.

Currently, a select group of communities are leading the way by bringing together their local governments, residents, utilities, and to demonstrate success in reducing energy consumption over a two-year period.


About the Prize

Competition Overview

What if communities across the country came together, in the spirit of friendly competition, to significantly raise the bar on energy efficiency?
That’s where the Georgetown University Energy Prize comes in. This multi -year, $5 million prize was born of a mission to tap the imagination, creativity, and spirit of competition between communities across the country to develop sustainable energy-saving innovations.

Through this competition, communities will be challenged to work together with their local governments and utilities in order to develop and begin implementing plans for innovative, replicable, scalable and continual reductions in the per capita energy consumed from local natural gas and electric utilities.

The 50 Semifinalists have developed a long-term energy efficiency plan, and are now demonstrating its initial effectiveness and sustainability over a two-year period. Communities will be judged in part on their ability to:

  • Spur innovative approaches for communities to decrease their per-capita energy usage;
  • Highlight best practices for communities working with utilities, businesses, and their local governments to create and implement inventive plans for sustained energy efficiency;
  • Educate the public and engage students in energy efficiency issues including methods, benefits, and the environmental costs of the full fuel cycle;

A city, town or county need not finish first in the Georgetown University Energy Prize in order to win. Every competing community that demonstrates energy savings over previous years will be winners—providing benefits to members of the community not only today, but for future generations as well.

The Rules of Rivers

Local celebrated writer, Kathleen Dean Moore, and one of the original Sun Buddies, shares her experience taking individual grassroots action against climate change.  Her participation in Seeds for the Sol is yet another rock in the river, hoping to change the course of a racing torrent.  Please enjoy the short story…

The Rules of  Rivers

by Kathleen Dean Moore, 2013

At midnight on the Toklat River in the Alaska Range, the thermometer recorded 93 degrees. The sun, dragging anchor in the northwest sky, fired rounds of heat against the cabin. I was lying naked on the bunk, slapping mosquitos. Next to the wall, my husband lay completely covered by a white sheet, as still and dismayed as a corpse. He would rather be hot than bitten, and I would rather be bitten than hot.

I had come to the Toklat River to think about global warming, and it wasn’t going well. The week’s heat was breaking all-time records, drawing a new spike on the graph of jaggedly rising temperatures in Alaska. The average day is now four degrees warmer than just a few decades ago, and seven degrees warmer in winter. The Arctic is heating twice as fast as the rest of the world.

Furious and despairing, I had no chance of falling asleep that night. So I pulled on clothes and walked to the bank of the river.

The Toklat is a shallow river that braids across a good half mile of gravel beds, dried stream courses and deep-dug channels. Sloshing with meltwater, it clatters along among islands and willow thickets. Banging rocks on cobblestones, surging into confused swells, the grey currents looked unpredictable and chaotic. But there were patterns.

A hydrologist once explained the rules of rivers to me as we walked a river-path. The processes of a river are manifestations of energy, he said. A fast, high-energy river will carry particles – the faster the river, the bigger the particle. But when it loses energy and slows, the river drops what it carries. So anything that slows a river can make a new landscape. It could be a stick lodged against a stone or the ribcage of a calf moose drowned at high water. Where the water piles against the obstacle, it drops its load, and an island begins to form. The island – in fact, any deposition — reshapes the current. As water curls around the obstacle, the current’s own force turns it upstream. Around one small change, the energy reorganizes itself entirely.

And here’s the point: No one pattern continues indefinitely; it always gives way to another. When there are so many obstacles and islands that a channel can no longer carry all its water and sediment, it crosses a stability threshold and the current carves a different direction.  The change is usually sudden, often dramatic, the hydrologist said, a process called an ‘avulsion.’

On the Toklat that night, the physics of the river played out right in front of me. A chunk of dirt and roots toppled from the bank upstream, tumbled past me, and jammed against a mid-river stone. The current, dividing itself around the rootball, wrinkled sideways and turned upstream. It curled into pocket-eddies behind the roots. Even as I watched, the pockets filled with gravel and sand. A willow could grow there, and its roots could divide and slow the river further, gathering more gravel, creating a place where new life could take root.

I shoved a rock into the river. The sudden curl of current made me grin.

Yes, we are caught up in a river rushing toward a hot, stormy, and dangerous planet. The river is powered by huge amounts of money invested in mistakes that are dug into the very structure of the land, a tangled braid of fearful politicians, preoccupied consumers, reckless corporations, and bewildered children – everyone, in some odd way, feeling helpless. Of course, we despair. How will we ever dam this flood?

But we don’t have to stop the river. Our work and the work of every person who loves this world – this one – is to make one small deflection in complacency, a small obstruction to profits, a blockage to business-as-usual, then another, and another, to change the energy of the flood. As it swirls around these snags and subversions, the current will slow, lose power, eddy in new directions, and create new systems and structures that change its course forever. On these small islands, new ideas will grow, creating thickets of living things and life-ways we haven’t yet imagined. Those disruptions can turn destructive energy into a new dynamic that finally reverses the forces that would wreck the world.

This is the work of disruption. This is the work of radical imagination. This is the work of witness. This is the steadfast, conscientious refusal to let a hell-bent economy force us to row its boat. This is much better than stewing in the night.


Mr. and Ms. Spartan give $30,000 to SFtS

Local high school students participating in annual pageants raised nearly $195,000 for charity this school year. In the grand finale of the Mr. and Ms. Spartan pageant, more than 30 students involved in the pageant all appear on stage for a dance number that starts with the song “We’re all in this together,” from the movie “High School Musical.”

The song, like all the others playing during the group dance performances, was selected by a vote of the pageant’s contestants.

The Corvallis High School fundraising program’s head coordinators Maggie Cornelius, Grace Spann and Justine Feist — all 18-year-old seniors — said that the reason the contestants selected the song was because it is an upbeat way to end the show.

“That last dance is like our final celebration,” Spann said.

Feist said the students will be emotional during the dance because it will come just after they have revealed how much the fundraising pageant has raised for its charities, the Mario Pastega House, the Samaritan Regional Cancer Center, Seeds for the Sol and the Grace Center For Adult Day Services.

“We all watched (“High School Musical”) in middle school, so we all know it and are nostalgic about it,” Cornelius said.

The pageant is scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday in the CHS auditorium at 1400 N.W. Buchanan Ave. Tickets are $15, and are available at the door.

The program also will feature 11 talent performances by contestants, dance routines by the contestants and the announcement of this year’s pageant winners as well as the total raised toward the fundraising goal. Last year the Mr. and Ms. Spartan contestants raised $137,850.

Spann said the seniors choose to join the pageant and work to raise money throughout the school year in part because they expect it to be a fun project with their friends.

Cornelius said that once students get into the pageant, though, they start to hear about how much their fundraising impacts the community, and then they become even more involved in the pageant goals.

“It’s like ‘wow, I’m only 18, but look at what I can do’,” she said. “It’s a confidence booster.”

(April 24, 2015 6:00 am • ANTHONY RIMEL, Corvallis Gazette-Times)