NOT JUST PRETTY PICTURES: Birmingham photographer Beth Maynor Young will offer a free presentation next week based on Headwaters: A Journey on Alabama Rivers, a book of photographs and text she created in 2009 with John C. Hall. Young will appear Thursday, October 21, at 7 p.m., at the Lester Memorial United Methodist Church, located at 105 Fourth Ave. East in Oneonta, according to an email from the Friends of the Locust Fork River. Young will focus on the beauty and environmental importance of Alabama’s waters, including the Locust Fork River and Black Warrior watershed. For details, visit www.flfr.org. For information about the book, visit the University of Alabama Press web site at uapress.ua.edu.
EVEN MORE LOCUST FORK: The Friends of the Locust Fork River will lead their annual hike in Blount County from the historic Swann Covered Bridge to Powell Falls and back on Saturday, October 23. According to Wikipedia, the Swann Bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1981 and is the longest covered bridge in Alabama and one of the longest in the United States. The round-trip hike is of moderate difficulty and takes about three hours. Participants are asked to prepare for the weather and bring a snack as well as plenty of fluids. Meet at 9 a.m. at the Tonka Shell station at the intersection of Highways 79 and 160 in Cleveland. For details, call (205) 429- 4120 or visit www.flfr.org.
PLANT THEM TREES: The Alabama Urban Forestry Association (AUFA) will hold its annual conference in Birmingham from October 27-29. Housed in the Alabama Green Industry Training Center at the North Shelby Library, AUFA promotes proper tree selection and planting, as well as tree protection. An International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) certification class will be held on Wednesday, October 27. The conference’s main educational program will be held on October 28. A hands-on forestry workshop will be held on Friday, October 29, at Heardmont Park, located in Hoover at 5452 Cahaba Valley Road. The instructors at the various educational sessions at the conference will include foresters, landscapers, ISA-certified arborists, Alabama Cooperative Extension Agents and other industry professionals. Attendees may register for individual sessions or the entire conference. For information, including cost and locations, call (877) 548-0440 or visit www.aufa.com.
BECAUSE IT’S THERE: Climber and filmmaker Conrad Anker will appear in Birmingham next week and use video and photographs to describe his cold, storm-battered, 18-day climb of 22,000-foot Mount Meru in the Indian Himalayas. Anker will appear on Wednesday, October 20, from 7-9 p.m., at WorkPlay, as part of the North Face Speakers Series. General admission tickets are free on a first-come, firstserve basis. Reserved tickets are $8. VIP tickets are $20 and include refreshments, preferred seating and admission to a reception for Anker at 6 p.m. The reception will benefit the Alabama Environmental Council. To order tickets, go to www.thenorthface.com/speakerseries. The event is sponsored by The North Face, makers of outdoor apparel, and Mountain High Outfitters.
“BINGO! THAT’S A GOODIE!” A Canadian city is using the lure of an appearance by a former hockey star to get people to recycle a butt-load of batteries. The City of Hamilton, Ontario, and the Call2Recycle organization last week launched a drive to collect 3,000 kilograms of batteries by November 7, according to a Call2Recycle news release. If the city achieves the goal, hockey legend Guy Lafleur will be back in March, along with other former NHL stars, to play the Hamilton Bulldogs in an exhibition. I wonder what it would take to get people in Birmingham to recycle a bunch of batteries. It might require the promise of a miraculous visit by the reanimated corpse of Paul Bryant, who would take a shot of Scotch, light up a smooth, refreshing Chesterfield, and tape one last spectral episode of The Bear Bryant Show, occasionally punctuating his low, throaty mumble with the upbeat catch phrase he used to celebrate vicious hits by Lee Roy Jordan or Woodrow Lowe. Call2Recycle is a free battery and cell phone collection program. Since 1994, according to the release, the group has diverted more than 27 million kilograms of batteries from landfills and established a network of 30,000 recycling drop-offs in the U.S. and Canada. Learn more at www.call2recycle.org.
IF THE OCEANS DIE, WE DIE: We’ve eaten more than 90 percent of our big fish. Fifty percent of our coral reefs are gone. We’re using 30 percent of the ocean’s life just to eat seafood. And while more than 10 percent of the world’s land has at least some legal protection, less than one percent of the oceans are protected. These grim factoids are found in a recent news release from the Arlington, Va.-based non-profit environmental group Rare. The group has begun a $7 million marine conservation program to reduce overfishing at 22 sites in what it calls the Coral Triangle, a large area in Southeast Asia that is considered to be a global center for marine biodiversity. As part of this initiative, 12 community leaders from the Philippines have been trained to raise awareness of over-fishing in their country and build support for Marine Protected Area (MPA) management. According to the release, experts agree that MPAs and “no take zones” (where fishing is not permitted and local people patrol the waters) can help preserve the world’s fisheries. However, MPAs near human populations will only work if those humans see tangible benefits. According to Rare CEO Brett Jenks, “We believe our formula will create jobs, ensure food supplies and make coastal communities more resilient to climate change, because it protects reefs and reproduction areas.” Read more at www.rareconservation.org and www.rareplanet.org.
HEARING GOD IN A COYOTE CRY: Peter Illyn, founder of Christian environmental organization Restoring Eden, describes his recent camping trip in the Oregon high desert. “It had been raining for a solid two weeks on my side (the wet side) of the Cascades, so it was glorious here—hot summer days with clear and cold nights,” Illyn says in an essay called “Your Soul Needs the Wild” posted on the group’s web site. “As the full moon rose over the butte, the yelps of coyotes began to mingle with the sage-infused breeze. It was perfect.” As always, Illyn is deeply inspired by the beauty of Creation. “Nature has, does, and will speak to our souls,” he says. “As I stare off into the stars or listen to the coyotes, I am reminded that this is God’s creation—I do not own it, I cannot control it—I can only tend and keep it. My soul needs the wild because it reminds me that I am not the center of God’s universe.” I guess my point in presenting this little slice of Illyn’s brain is that, even if you don’t believe in God (or the Gods, or the Goddess, or a “life force”), it’s good to know that not all “Bible thumpers” are spending their time trying to cut off abortion rights or demonize gays. Restoring Eden, according to their site, is a network of Christians working to build a church-based grassroots environmental movement. For more information, call (360) 574-8230 or visit www.restoringeden.org.