Thursday, April 19, 2012

From Tweet Ignorance to FB Bliss!

From Tweet Ignorance to FB Bliss!
Highlights from Telling Your Story:
the Last Lunch n’ Learn of the Better Business Challenge, April 19, 2012
Water Street Conference Center, Downtown Cville

I thoroughly enjoyed Marijean Jaggers talk on social media at the last Lunch n’ Learn of the Better Business Challenge today! She has a friendly, pragmatic yet compelling invitation for businesses to really make the most of this medium. Not to mention, she really knows her stuff. What a great way to end the Lunch n’ Learn series! Businesses have been engaged and involved in taking up their efficiency and stewardship levels up a notch or three. Now is the time to tell your clients, customers, and community at large what you’ve been up to.

Modern life is complicated these days (I’m juggling the Challenge with 50 volunteers and 106 businesses, trying to make my non-profit financially sustainable, and single mommin it with two elementary-age boys) and I’m sure yours is no different. But I’m seeing and hearing first-hand the difference social media is making.

Big Takeaways for me and maybe you:
*Some folks have said, “Betty needs to be on Pinterest.” This is phase three. I remember 1st came Facebook, then came twitter, I guess this is next. For me, it’s always a matter of time. Interesting that 97% of Pinterest folks are women and it’s the 3rd largest social media platform after 1- FB (800 million on there every day) and 2-Twitter

*Studies show that small biz who blog regularly receive 55% more website visitors. Tweetdeck and Hootsuite are great management tools

* can measure the impact of social media and give you an “influence” score. Check it out!

*Don’t link facebook and twitter posts – boring

*Don’t put a profile pic of your cat up – people want to see your face. I couldn’t agree more. Esp since I’m not a cat person AT ALL.
*MUST spiff up my LinkedIn in terms of my personal and professional next step post Challenge (‘tween grants y’all). Ask for recommendation when appropriate (like the end of a project – ah hemmm)
*Good heads up on the lingo on twitter, facebook and linked-in profiles – it’s not necessarily your title but searchable keywords in those short profiles and include something personal

*New Facebook Timeline: It’s time to update your cover image. (oops – haven’t done that!)

*CONNECTING: That’s what all this is about. Finding and cross-linking networks. People are looking for info, so businesses can join those conversations!

*LISTENING: Marijean recommends social monitoring – her favorite: socialmention with a side of google alert

* – can measure your online influence

*ENGAGE: The great thing about Charlottesville is that people 1- patronize according to their values and are willing to pay a bit more to align those values with the businesses they patronize (validation of what Betty has been saying to businesses). More and more folks are looking to business to play a role in social good. Recently I came across a stat that said people when given two relatively same product choice are much more likely to buy a cause-related product. People care and they want businesses to care.

*Also, people want to know the story behind the business, the people behind the business. Charlottesville enjoys community and relationships.

*PUBLISH: Don’t be boring. Word from MJ: do not put your favorite quote on twitter! Asking a question is good, posting photos, make it interesting, make it personal.

*Tagging is good because then it shows up on not only your FB page, but the FB page of the person/biz you tagged!

*Let’s “Tweetup!” Done deal… Betty needs to have a tweet up at Beer Run… Soon. TBA!

Thanks, Marijean! Can’t wait to implement on my own with Better World Betty and the Challenge AND see what the attendees come up with. Don’t forget, everyone. Post your “One Cool Thing” picture that you’ve done with the Challenge and the one with the most “Likes” will get a free Betty T-shirt! (Let’s have a personal powwow soon!)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Breaking News from Environment Virginia Conference...

Day Two of Environment Virginia Symposium

Hello all!
Betty here is a bit exhausted from a full day of talks and presentations, so this download will be brief...

I'm excited to say that this years' attendance (my first) broke a record of 800 attendees from industry, non-profit, higher ed, and government entities joining together to look at the most pressing environmental issues in Virginia!

The last talk given by George Washington University Professor Scott Sklar was most inspirational and encouraging to me (I have 3 pages crammed full of notes). He laid out a renewable energy future that is overwhelmingly "doable" and he has 24 peer-reviewed studies to back it up! Good to hear that with renewables and energy efficiency we don't need to pursue a nuclear future (Japan and Germany aren't). He had COPIOUS examples of success stories and passed around some cool PV products like a legal size PV panel - think a large bronze shiney sticker - that you can adhere to windows or awnings to generate solar power. He said soon there will be solar generating paint!

He talked a lot about the COST-EFFECTIVENESS of using efficiency technology and sustainability measures. YES! That's what Betty and LEAP have been telling businesses through the Better Business Challenge.

I'll go ahead and start with the end of today's conference then... I just returned from the Governer's Environmental Excellence Awards Ceremony and Banquet. Drum roll please... The GOLD Medal Winners are:

Defense Supply Center in Richmond
Hopewell Generation Facility
Radford University
Volvo Trucks North America, NRV Plant in Dublin

These businesses have been doing things like installing plant-based filtration systems, 40% increase in recycling, installation of a magnetic bearing chiller that saved Radford $20,000 in the first 2 and half months of operation and Volvo's low to no cost initiatives that saved them $33,000 per month (turning of the loading dock lights at night and resetting temps by five degrees!).

There were Silver and Bronze and Honorable Mentions to boot, which I will link and or announce sometime when I haven't been in talks for 12 hours!

Towards Top Highlights and Takeaways for you from Betty's Perspective:

1- City of Dallas' Laura Fiffick share their amazing Sustainabilty Success story... biggest lesson they shared was the importance of TALKING TO EVERYONE when implementing sustainability. From "Top to Shop"!

I really enjoyed Laura Greenleaf's presentation about the ill effects on both humans, animals, and night-sky lovers of light pollution. I'm ready to start a Lights Out Campaign in Charlottesville! Who's in?!

A map of night lighting in the United States looked like some sort of map of fireworks. Did you know that we spend 2 billion a year in America on lighting NOTHING which amounts to 15 million tons of Co2 emissions.

Now I know you are saying right now that there is a security and safety issue here. Well studies are inconclusive on this. Check into "Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design"

And Betty's never been about an all or nothing, divisive approach, but about SMART choices. Wasted lighting is simply bad lighting. Technology now allows for focused light and providing light exactly where you need it. Not to mention motion sensing light.

AND get this: the American Medical Association in 2009 found Light Pollution is a public health issue due to increased tumor production and suppressed melatonin production and depression, not to mention the numerous effects on animals and habitat. Did you know that trees that are exposed to too much light (under street lamps for example) can have delayed dormancy and therefore subject to cold injury when winter arrives and they aren't ready for it?

3- I finally heard Rose Brown's talk on how she went a whole year and produced virtually NO garbage and she's still doing it! So inspiring.

4-I heard from a variety of effective local programs that help keep pollutants out of our water and secure this most precious resource. I learned about some cool models/programs like the River Star program going on throughout Virginia that I hope to possibly duplicate Betty-style here in Charlottesville!

All in all a fabulous day of learning and dialogue and idea-generating.

Off to the GREEN land of nod,

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Live from the Environment Virginia conference at VMI

I said I was going to relax and enjoy the luxury of a quiet hotel room with the kids while I'm here at the Environment Virginia conference in Lexington, Virginia. But I cannot resist sharing my experience with you all. It's too important not to!

Better World Betty is here as a honored guest and grantee of the Virginia Environmental Endowment, who gave us our first kick-off grant in the fall of 2010, without whom Betty would not be where we are today! (SO FIRST, THANK YOU!)

And so far, so... interesting and multi-faceted. I want to share with you some highlights and takeaways from the conference which runs from today, April 10-Thursday, April 12.

To begin the conference, a panel discussion was held of former Secretaries of Natural Resources (W. Tayloe Murphy, L. Preston Bryant,Jr., Becky Norton Dunlop, John Paul Woodley, Jr.) hosted by the current Secretary of Natural Resources, Doug Domenech. All had very different things to say about their biggest accomplishments and obstacles while in public service leadership position and even more interesting the top environmental challenges facing Virginia.

I won't bore you with every detail, but want to share some highlights with you.

It was inspiring to hear from M Tayloe Murphy and Preston Bryant about their land conservation successes (under Gov. Kaine the number reached 423,000 acres! Added parks and civilwar battlefields and Nature reserves - yeah)and the pivotal legislation on pollution reduction/clean water strategies in the monumental effort in Saving the Bay (still continuing -we're over halfway to eradicating the dead zone, but still have a lot of work to do).

The top environmental Challenges voiced by these folks?

*WATER supply and pollution concerns
*The possibility of lifting the ban of Uranium Mining in Virginia

AND my favorite (Thank you, Mr. Murphy):

*Getting leaders to DROP their partisan-driven idealogies and join in bi-partisanship and AGREE that there are some things in life (clean air, clean water, trees and greenspace) that supercede any political agenda. We MUST join together and agree! When we are able to do that, we are all better off knowing that the world we are leaving to our children will be secure and the natural beauty of the environment will be remain for generations upon generations.

Speaking of those generations... the afternoon session I chose was about the future of Environmental Education. As a former middle school teacher and with future Betty programs to include young people in sustainability action at the local level here in Charlottesville, I had to attend this session! (other session were Uranium Mining in Virginia - VERY concerned about this as well; Developing Renewable Energy in Virginia - my carpooling colleague from Albemarle County had this one covered; Manure to Energy - despite my desire to hang out with grass-fed roaming cows, more this didn't seem altogether applicable; and Stormwater Toolbox for Municipalities - my city partners/colleagues were in attendance here).

I enjoyed the session lead by Department of Environmental Quality Outreach Education folks, Ann Regn and Angela Neilan (who had HEARD OF BETTY! How cool was that?). We got to hear from Don Baugh of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation whose helping head up the No Child Left Inside Coalition (AWESOME - more to come on this!), Eric Pyle of JMU Prof, Eric Rhoades from VA Dept of Education in Richmond. Don has been in environmental education for over 30 years!

The highlight here for me was this inside scoop:

FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER there will be a summit at the White House (On MONDAY!) about the need for an environmental literacy plan for our schoolchildren in America!

Listen to this: Maryland (the state where I was born, incidentally) was the FIRST state to pass legislation that REQUIRES that all students in that state graduate with some level of proficiency in environmental literacy.

I hadn't been thinking in terms of a plan to have kids be required to have a basic level of understanding about their environment, I guess partly because that's common sense, right? But THIS IS SO FUNDAMENTAL. We have a DAILY relationship with the Earth, the place we live, work and play, that is totally in need of some serious couples therapy! We are still so disconnected from each other. How is the t-shirt I'm wearing right now connected to the planet? The water I just used to brush my teeth... where does it end up after it drains through the pipes? The turkey they served at dinner tonight. What's the connection. It's like I'm on some sort of blind date with the Earth, when we should at least be talking on a regular basis.

I digress.

We are at a game changing moment in history, people, and we need to TAKE THIS STUFF TO SCALE, in Don Baugh's words, but HOW?


Today's takeaways:
We need a HANDS-ON, embodied, experiential approach to environmental education!
An active and informed citizenship is essential
We need COLLABORATION and PARTNERSHIP and BI-PARTISANSHIP to move policy and action forward
WE NEED A LOCAL and CONTEXTUAL approach which should include Environmental Justice, History, Poetry, Literacy, Movement

i.e. We need BETTY to get funding for more programs! (Among other things. :-)

More from Environment VA tomorrow!
Peace out,

Today's "What would Betty do?" Question...

Dear Betty,
The place out in Ivy no longer takes paint, according to its Web site. Where can I throw out a bunch of cans of paint around here?
The Helpless Homemaker trying to clean out her basement!

Dear Helpless Homemaker,

Thanks for caring! Fewer and fewer places take paint in Charlottesville. But good news! You do have some options:

This Saturday is Household Hazardous Waste Special Collections Day from 9-2pm at Ivy MUC.

Call Discovery Museum and see if they need any paint.

You can also call CHS and or Albemarle High School (or otherdrama depts (they use paint) or recycle that a t Vanderlinde Recycling at Zion Crossroads!

If you find more stuff in your basement, you can take it to Househould Hazardous Waste Special Collection Day. Some of the things they are taking are:

and more... Check out

Hope that helps!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

What to do with the Nasty Stuff?

Find this article in newsstands or online

During spring cleaning time, we’ve all come across stuff with the toxic CAUTION label looming. It’s tempting to just throw it away. Problem is, dangerous reactions can happen when hazardous chemicals are combined—not to mention the effects of pollution on our land and sea creatures and, in turn, us humans. Just one quart of oil can contaminate 250,000 gallons of water. And here in Charlottesville, 70 percent of our rivers, lakes, streams do not meet federal and state water quality standards! Everything we flush, put down the sink or drain, on our lawns, ends up being treated and put back into our waterways.

According to Robbi Savage, Executive Director of the Rivanna Conservation Society, one of the most important ways to help is to properly dispose of prescriptions and household hazardous waste.

The city and county will continue Household Hazardous Waste disposal service this spring: for residents, Saturday, April 14 (I've heard they are STRICT with their hours: 9am-2pm). Amnesty collection days for Bulky Waste will follow on the Saturdays of April 21 (furniture/mattresses), May 5 (appliances), and May 12 (tires), which contain flame retardant, freon, and other chemicals unfit for regular trash cans. See for the list of items accepted.

CFL bulbs? HHW Day, Lowe’s, and Vanderlinde Recycling accept them.
Partially empty or full paint cans? Vanderlinde Recycling or the Ivy MUC (materials utilization center) location.

Nail Polish: EPA considers this a household hazardous waste. Bring it out to HHW Day.

Never mix used motor oil, antifreeze, gasoline, paint, paint thinner, pesticides, solvents or other potentially hazardous liquids together. Of course, never pour them into the ground or storm sewer.

As for prescription drugs: Most grocery store pharmacies now sell an 8 x 11 envelope ($2.99) to place leftover or out-of-date prescriptions. Or you can wait until National Take Back Prescription Day on April 28. Call ahead to see if your favorite pharmacy is participating. (Details at Environmental Return System: To find Cville locations for 2012 take back day check the National Take Back Initiative on this WEBSITE

Hope that helps!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

I saw many familiar and friendly faces at the Paramount tonight listening to an acclaimed author talk about getting kids and everyone, really, more connected to Nature. A large group of folks (I’d say around 300) came out to hear Richard Louv talk about his book the Nature Principle, Last Child in theWoods, and the New Nature Movement. Many for whom I am so grateful for their work in this community: Kate Knott of Living Earth School, Piedmont Environmental folks like my friend Melissa Wiley, Linda Winecoff of the Buford Schoolyard Garden, Todd Barnett of the Field School, Wendy Fisher of Mountaintop Montessori and countless others!

The exclamation mark on his talk came on the ride home when I drove by a plastic grocery bag full of someone’s to-go trash in the middle of the road. I’ve always been perplexed at why people would litter?

To me it’s like peeing in the middle of your living room or spray painting graffiti on your bedroom wall. Who does that?

Louv and I have a similar conclusion: the person who dropped that out their car window was truly disconnected from Nature and the planet and truly doesn’t understand the effect of his/her actions. Our charge as people who are connected and do care is to compassionately reach out and help others see the connection and to choose something healthier for everyone.

Louv wrote Last Child in the Woods, Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder and the Nature Principle, Human Restoration and the end of Nature Deficit Disorder. He is the recipient of the 2008 Audobon Medal and chairman of the Children and Nature Network

Some take aways for me was that he urged us to think beyond environmentalism and conservation and join what he calls the New Nature movement. He challenged the audience, Do we really JUST want to be sustainable? Adequate. He quoted William McDonough: “Do you want just a sustainable marriage?” Why not shoot for something a lot better than “just good enough.” It’s not just about energy efficiency, he said, it’s about reconnecting on a deep level to Nature – as lawyers, police officers, teachers, entrepeneurs, artists, homeowners, and the list goes on. We all have a role. And (I like this part) let’s not just get kids into nature, let’s get adults in Nature, work in Nature (I’m thinking year two of the Better Business Challenge needs to include board meetings on rivers or in parks!).

And the way we can get more connected to Nature is to simply get out and play in it! He talked about a Family Nature Club in Roanoke that started with a few families and now has over 700 families on its listserv.

I wanted to ask him a question and unfortunately we ran out of time (with my heart pounding and the microphone in hand and everything). So I’ll share it here.

He made a couple of metaphorical references to Nature. Wanting doctors to “prescribe” nature more and needing to heal the bronchial tubes of our rivers. Which got me thinking about Karen Firehock, Director of the Green Infrastructure Center at UVA, who recently told me about her project where kids played in the streams as “doctors” and monitored the stream. And earlier this week I talked to Robbi Savage of the RCS about solutions around cleaning our waterways and she told me that Moore’s Creek is on a “pollution diet.” As a former middle school educator, I used metaphorical thinking a lot and believe that metaphors are a great way to “embody” a concept on a deep level.

So I wanted to ask Mr. Louv what he thought was the most useful and compelling metaphor when it comes to helping connect kids to Nature. I think it’s this idea of the Earth as a body and we are all doctors or healers or personal trainers. We have created “disease” on the planet and we have some serious “healing” to do on this Earth.

And the solution is not going in for a triple bypass surgery, still getting no exercise, eating supersized bad foods, taking more meds, and watching TV. It’s taking a long, hard look at our lifestyle and what we are putting into our Earth body.

Can we look at the whole organism and making healthier, happier, joyful, holistic choices for the betterment of this organism we live on called Earth? I think we can.

I’m looking forward to reading both books, but in the meantime let’s create a Better Backyard for all of us and play in it. The Backyard with Betty Club. Nature play time for kids, teens, dogs, adults, nanas, and pops. Who’s in?


Monday, March 5, 2012

Apps to help conserve our most precious resource: WATER!

Enjoy this article appearing in Abode magazine this month in newsstands or at www.c-ville/

Water is vital to everyone, every day. In honor of World Water Day on March 22, this month Betty has found top-rated iPhone applications to help you do your part to conserve our most precious resource.

Drip Detective: I love this clever app that calculates your water waste and cost from leaky faucets. Simply tap the screen each time a drip fall from your faucet and voila—see the reason why you should fix it ASAP!

How Blue Are You? This application launched by American Standards details their highest efficiency products, but also offers a water savings calculator, quiz, and efficiency tips.

How much water do you eat? The Virtual Water Project would like to tell you. This application shows the large amount of water it takes to produce everyday things such as food, paper, and cotton clothes. ($1.99)

My Water Diary: Track your weekly water consumption with this application. Just click on their cute shower, toilet flush or mop graphic to see your use. Only caveat: because it hails from the U.K., it calculates in liters.

Meter Readings will help you easily monitor all of your household utility meters—in addition to water, energy and gas. Once you start entering readings, your usage, costs and savings are calculated and displayed in easy-to-visualize graphs.

Finally Facebook, Friend2Friend, and Siemens have teamed up to offer a Personal Water Footprint Calculator to help you conserve. Take a test and you’ll learn where you use water and get savings tips. Plus, you can share with your friends.

I'll drink a glass of tap water to that!