Archive for April, 2015

Dr. JacksonDr. Richard Jackson was a speaker at the Creating Healthy Communities Summit back in May 2014 which brought together professionals from the health, planning, development, transportation, education, business, and governmental sectors to discuss the issue of how to design and create urban, suburban, and rural infrastructure that facilitates healthy lifestyles. The Creating Healthy Communities Summit is happening again in Boise April 20-21 and we wanted to share Dr. Jackson’s insights with our listeners as the summit is taking place again.

Dr. Jackson is Professor and Chair of Environmental Health Sciences at the School of Public Health at the University of California, Los Angeles. A pediatrician, he has served in many leadership positions in both environmental health and infectious disease with the California Health Department, including the highest, State Health Officer. For nine years he was Director of the CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health in Atlanta and received the Presidential Distinguished Service award. In October, 2011 he was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. He is host of a 2012 public television special series titled Designing Healthy Communities.

Tune in for the discussion with Dr. Jackson regarding his silo-busting, happiness, and imagining more healthy communities.

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Ave BSt. Luke’s representatives join Charlie on the show Tuesday, April 14th at 3pm to discuss the proposed master plan for the expansion of the downtown Boise campus from their perspective. Guests include Jeff Hull, the Director of Architecture and Construction for St. Luke’s, and Theresa McLeod, the Director of Community Relations for St. Luke’s. The third guest is Betsy Roberts who is a Senior Engineer with CH2M Hill who did the Traffic Impact Study (section 5 in the appendix of the plan) to inform the master plan with regards to vehicle, bike, and pedestrian traffic, planning, and community connectivity.

Do the proposed mitigation plans for bicycle, pedestrian, and vehicle traffic adequately offset the loss of connectivity with the closure of one block of Jefferson? What has been the process for developing the preferred “north expansion” option and what are the health care delivery, design, and construction guidelines and constraints that make other options unfeasible? These are just a couple of the questions the St. Luke’s representatives will address.

Last week Charlie interviewed two representatives from the East End neighborhood about their feelings on the proposed master plan. Much of the controversy centers around the proposed closure of one block of Jefferson St. where East End residents can walk, bike or drive downtown instead of passing around the campus through the Warm Springs/Ave B/Idaho/Main intersection.

The Boise City Council will hold a workshop on the latest iteration of the master plan on Tuesday, April 14th at 6pm during the regular evening city council meeting. Public testimony won’t be taken during that workshop but opportunity for public comment will be announced some time after the council workshop on the issue.

Tune into Building a Greener Idaho Tuesday, April 14th at 3pm via 89.9 FM or 93.5 FM Boise, or stream it live on www.radioboise.us. The podcast will be available immediately following the broadcast.


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As many Boise residents are aware, St. Luke’s Boise has proposed a master plan for the expansion of their campus and are asking for approval of the plan from the Boise City Council. The Boise Planning and Zoning Commission already recommended denying St. Luke’s proposed plan. For some time the residents of the East End Neighborhood directly east of the St. Luke’s campus have voiced their concerns on how the proposed plan impacts both car and pedestrian access. On this episode of Building a Greener Idaho I speak with two East Enders about their perspective on the proposed master plan and how it will affect access to and from the neighborhood. Among other issues we discuss, one central topic is the proposed permanent closure of Jefferson St. which is one of two car and bike routes to downtown from the East End. I speak with longtime East End residents Charlie Honsinger and Deanna Smith about their perspectives on the proposed expansion and their engagement with St. Luke’s and the City of Boise around this issue. Charlie is involved in the Keep Boise Connected group that is promoting Let's Keep Boise Connectedconnectivity and saving public access to Jefferson Street and Deanna is a board member of the East End Neighborhood Association. Part two of the series will be a conversation on April 14th with representatives from St. Luke’s and the City of Boise. The St. Luke’s Master Plan will be considered in a City Council Work Session in City Hall on Tuesday April 14th. No public comment will be taken at that time however the public will have a chance to weigh in at a later date. Tune in to the next show Tuesday, April 14th at 3pm via 89.9 FM or 93.5 FM Boise, or stream the show live on www.radioboise.us. Click the podcast player below to listen to the show.

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This interview is episode two of a two part series featuring sustainability practitioners in Utah. My guest is Emily Niehaus, Founding Director of Community Rebuilds. Community Rebuilds is a Moab based nonprofit that aids income qualifying families in building affordable and energy efficient straw bale homes. The program has been carefully crafted to address several issues and create positive systemic change.

Lower income Moab residents have been hit by a one two punch in regards to housing. Because of Moab’s popularity as a destination town, second home ownership and high property values are common to the area. In addition, there is a plethora of pre-1976 mobile homes which are often the only affordable housing option for those seeking home ownership. But there’s a catch. Pre-1976 mobile homes do not qualify for conventional loans. If a would be home owner manages to purchase a mobile home, the leaky structure is likely to create high utility bills and the dubious construction techniques can lead to health concerns from poor indoor environmental quality. In response to this situation, Community Rebuilds focuses their efforts on replacing pre-1976 mobile homes with high quality, energy efficient straw bale homes.

But alleviating energy efficiency, long term wealth building capacity and health concerns for low income residents wasn’t enough for Emily and Community Rebuilds. If her radical idea was to take root, Emily knew she had to break the mold in a big way. First, build as sustainably as possible. Straw bale construction creates a valuable use for agricultural by-products, the baled stalks of grain products, by using the bales as building blocks to create a highly insulated wall assembly. The finish work includes natural plasters made from local earthen materials. Rounding out the straw bale construction techniques with as much recycled content as possible, Community Rebuilds creates very sustainable, affordable, healthy and energy efficient homes. Second, Community Rebuilds has created an internship program where pre-professionals provide construction labor in exchange for education, housing and food during the fourth month build process. The internship program keeps the cost of construction low while developing a skilled workforce of natural builders. What’s the point of building a few straw bale homes without developing a workforce capable of creating a growing industry? Many former interns pursue careers in natural building. Others have gone on to do a variety of beneficial work in the field of sustainability. Most are outspoken advocates for straw bale construction and sustainability – expanding the impact of the Community Rebuilds program far beyond the canyon walls that surround Moab. I should know, I am one of them.



Emily Niehaus, Founding Director, Community Rebuilds


Our interview aired on Radio Boise 3-31-2015. You can listen to live shows by tuning in to Radio Boise Tuesdays @ 3 PM on 89.9 FM or 93.5 FM in the Treasure Valley. Or stream online @ http://www.radioboise.org. To listen to a podcast of this show use the player embedded below.

Got an idea for a show? We’d love to hear about it! Contact us at buildingagreeneridaho@gmail.com

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