The Government and The Environment… The Breakup

Hello OnAir readers!

After a long hiatus, I am so excited to be back! Hopefully you’ve all had a good start to the school year and you’re settling into your environmentally-conscious routines.

For this week I’d like to focus on something that I’m sure you’ve all read and heard about this week: the government shutdown. Now, you may be wondering how this coincides with the environment. The answer is simple: the government has basically everything to do with the environment, and this is the second major hit to the environment by the Federal Government this year alone (March 1st- EPA Budget was cut significantly). The EPA, which is of course a government agency, has also been shutdown; only 7% of EPA employees will continue to work as normal, at least until their contingency money runs out.

Due to this massive reduction, there will be no monitoring of water or air quality. This lack of monitoring will more than likely give many corporations a free pass when it comes to pollution production; after all, who’s to stop them now?

The other most obvious and instantaneous effect of this shutdown was the closure of every single national park and zoo. States’ local economies will lose $76 million per day in tourism revenue that would normally come from lodging and the sale/rental of recreational gear and services according to the National Park Service. This is doubly a shame since it was the anniversary of Yosemite this week.

The final major effect of this shutdown is that all those who have been working diligently on creating and passing laws and clean up efforts for the benefit of all necessary green sectors have been stopped short. Thus, the shutdown may not initially affect you, but the impact of reduced environmental protection and regulation definitely will in the not so distant future. We will reap the effects of our nation’s leaders choices.

 

OnAir says: What gets you fired up about the environment? What do you think the adults in your life–school, town, state–could do better? Let us know in the comments!

Atlanta’s Best Kept Secret

It’s summertime again, or maybe finals time, if you are like me. Honestly, I am to the point where my brain is feeling simply fried and I absolutely need to unwind, but I also need to study and kind of want to have some summer fun, too. There is only one true solution to all of these problems…. Its about time I shared with you what may be Atlanta’s best park.

Grant Park is absolutely a fairytale. Its ancient trees make it shady and cool when it starts to warm up around here, but you can also always find a sunny spot on its rolling hills, where you can lay out a blanket of a towel and hit the books or catch a nap.

I should also mention that it is generally very empty. It is not eerie, or creepy, like you might find in some smaller parks, but it is peaceful. On some days it is so quiet you can even hear the lions roaring in the nearby zoo. That’s right, I wasn’t kidding when I said fairytale.

The park isn’t trying to “make a buck” on you either. If you want to splash in the park’s pool as the city slowly starts turning into “Hotlanta,” you can do it for free from 1:30 PM until 4:00 PM; prime swimming time.

Not only that, but as many of you many know the famous (or infamous, depending on how you look at it) Peachtree Road Race is rapidly approaching, and if you or a friend/ family member is looking for somewhere to train, don’t hit the gym, hit the park! Grant is very well known among runners for being great for light hill conditioning and varied terrain. Plus, it’s downtown, so you can get used to running in the city, and outdoors.

Of course you are probably busy, but there is no way, especially in the up and coming summer months, that you will be too busy to visit Atlanta’s most underrated park. It is about time for some “you” time, and time you checked out Atlanta’s best kept secret, Grant Park.

 

[Image source]

Go Green–and Go Outside

Summer vacation is ALMOST HERE! Time to run around, roll in the sand at the beach, eat loads of ice cream, go to the park, and picnics…we love picnics.

Or you could be the one barricaded at home with the air-conditioner on, playing video games. And not showing off your tan because you don’t have one.

Air-conditioner = waste of energy. Especially if you can be outside and actually enjoying your summer vacation. So don’t stay cooped up this summer–go green by going out! Here are some suggestions:

  1. Have a picnic. All you need is a cooler (replaces the fridge), sunlight (replaces the light in your kitchen) and sandwiches (replaces the oven/stove). You’re set.
  2. Go tanning at the beach. Why do you need to go to a energy-hogging tanning salon if you can just step outside and get a bronze-y glow? What’s that? You don’t have a beach near you? Just step outside; an hour or two in the sun will get you all the glow you need. But make sure to wear sunscreen with a decent SPF–that’s no joke.
  3. Play sports. You know, instead of going to the gym or working out at home. First off, it’s beautiful outside, so why wouldn’t you want to? Second, being in a gym or at home wastes electricity because of the lights and the equipment. Third, for goodness’ sake, you’re outside. And you’re getting tan. And you’re playing volleyball with your friends. Just go.
  4. Start a garden. This is the perfect weather to do so, and plants help out the environment and produce clean oxygen. And you’ll be outside getting tan. (How many times have I mentioned this now?)

 

Got any more eco-friendly suggestions for summer? Let us know in a comment below.

Photo credit: National Geographic

Chastain Park

You may have recently visited a park or two, but I know from personal experience that when I choose a smaller park, I often have to pick between two good things.

For example, I may have to choose between location and atmosphere. Don’t get me wrong, parks are still my favorite places, but sometimes the compromise of a “perfect park” seems just out of reach.

Chastain Park is the epitome of this “perfect compromise.” Nestled in a quiet neighborhood, you can easily avoid having to be around busy exhaust ridden streets, but it is also walking distance from cool restaurants and places to hang out; restaurants like Fellini’s Pizzeria. (Which is pretty good, and also inexpensive, I must say).

Chastain is also huge! The sheer number of amenities that are available to members and non-members alike is insane. You can go for a swim, play tennis walk on the trails or, if you are willing to shell out a couple extra bucks, you can take horse-riding lessons!

Another thing I love about Chastain is the space it covers. The park is incredibly spacious. You will never feel crowded on a field at Chastain, unless it is the green of Chastain’s popular amphitheater.

If you want to listen to live music but can’t afford a ticket, Chastain Park is even listening distance from the amphitheater! So you can grab a picnic blanket and enjoy. You can even bring some friends and have your own sort of mini concert party.

It does not matter what you are looking for, if it involves parks you can find it at Chastain. The park is so big that you can go for a peaceful walk at one end, and listen to a rock show in another part. It is ideal for running swimming and tennis. It is truly the best of both worlds.

OnAir says: What are your favorite green spaces in your community? Leave us a comment about your favorite parks and what you like to do there.

Photo credit: PATH Foundation

5 Eco-Friendly Holi-dates

Now that the semester is winding down, you’ve finally got some time to ask out that classmate that you’ve been eyeballing over the past three months. I know, I know, you’ve got a crippling fear of rejection and/or you’re worried that he/she won’t like you. So instead of asking your crush out, you’ve put it off, and put it off by telling yourself that you’re too busy, or that you really need to focus on school right now.

But guess what? The time is now. And once you’ve gotten the courage to ask this person out, you don’t want to botch the whole thing by planning a terrible date. We don’t want that either.

And now, thanks to your favorite earth-friendly blog, it doesn’t have to happen. Why? Because we’ve put together 5 awesome date ideas that you (our favorite eco-warrior) and your date are sure to enjoy. Regardless of whether he/she is into saving the planet too.

1. Take a trip to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens

If walking around at night through some of the most beautiful gardens in Georgia, in awe if thousands of brilliantly shining LEDs, doesn’t spell romance, then what does? It’s packed with those air-purifying trees, of course, AND it’s MARTA-accessible, which makes for a great air-friendly trek to romance. Not to mention it will probably be a bit cold, giving you a convenient excuse to snuggle up against your date. Tickets range from $17-20, so it’s not super cheap, but definitely worth the cash.

2. Ice skating in Centennial Olympic Park

There aren’t a whole lot of dates more fun (or potentially humiliating) than going ice skating. For the low price of $10 each, you can get an hour and a half of rink time and skate rental. Remember to dress warm and be prepared to fall. Added bonus: if you go at night, you can take in the Christmas lights around Centennial Olympic Park. Keep in mind that it’s an outdoor rink, so the ice doesn’t get zambonied every couple of hours (read: it can get rough).


3. Stone 
Mountain Park

There is a ton of stuff to do at Stone Mountain Park. You and your date can hike the mountain, visit Snow Mountain, walk the trails, or experience any number of the other attractions. We suggest a romantic mountain-top picnic sometime near sunset. You’ll just have to bust it down the mountain before dark.

4. Bike to your favorite park.

Bring your date to your favorite park. Fill up a backpack or two with a nice picnic, hop on your bikes, and go on a nice bike ride. (We don’t have to remind you why biking is eco-friendly, do we?) It’s a great way to get some exercise and experience nature together. If you both don’t have a bike, you could always walk. That’s a great opportunity to get to know each other even better. Once you get to the park, scope out a good picnic spot and have a nice meal together. Your date wants to know what you’re interested in, so why not bring them to one of your favorite places?

5. Take a trip to your local farmer’s market.

The Farmer’s Market is an incredibly cool place. They’ve got all kinds of locally grown produce, and a huge variety of responsibly produced goods. And remember: locally grown food is good for the air–because it doesn’t have to burn a bunch of gas traveling in from the farm. Take a trip (clean commuting, of course) to your local farmer’s market with your date, and bring back some supplies to make a delicious, home cooked meal. This is a great way to work together to create something that you both will enjoy and be proud of creating. Not to mention it’s a great chance to impress your date with your killer cooking (or recipe following) skills. I highly suggest the Dekalb Farmer’s Market because it’s MARTA accessible. But I hear great things about the Buford Highway Market, and there are tons of smaller, local markets to be found with a quick Google search.

So there you have it: 5 ways to totally impress that guy/girl that you’ve been daydreaming about all semester long. Now all you’ve got to do is go and ask them out!

 

Running to Brook Run

What do dogs and skateboards have in common? I’ll give you a hint. It’s not the latest viral Youtube video. Still haven’t got it? It’s Brook Run Park! Brook Run Park in Dunwoody, GA is actually two separate parks. The first is a 4-acre dog park. The second is really cool skate park.

The Dog park is completely free. You can bring your buddy, and meet other loving pet owners such as yourself. There are trails and benches and you can bring toys. It is a great way to spend a Saturday and your furry friend will be forever grateful.

The skatepark is also a great way to spend time, and meet lots of cool people. It accommodates not only for skateboards, but also BMX bikers, and in-line skaters. It costs $3 for minors, and $4 if you are over 18. The crowd In the park is mostly teenagers, and everyone is very friendly.

I highly recommend visiting both websites to read all of the fun things the parks offers, as well as get your release forms for the skate park and read the reasonable regulations. Especially now that the weather is getting cooler, I’m sure you want to be inside with the heater cranked up but remember that you can stay warm, stay fit, and help keep our world cleaner if you get outside and get active!

Historic Fourth Ward Park

Hi guys! So, a while back I posted about Historic Fourth Ward Skate Park.  But did you know that the skate park is just a tiny piece of one of Atlanta’s largest and greatest public parks?

Located on the Atlanta BeltLine, Historic Fourth Ward Park is one of the first sections open of the BeltLine project. This project plans to build multiple parks and trails on over 22 miles of old train track. It will encourage more people to get out and get active without polluting the air!

Historic Fourth Ward Park is a beautiful example of the great things to come from the BeltLine project. The park is wonderfully scenic with a wildflower meadow, an urban forest, a lake, a stream and even waterfalls. It’s like going on a road trip without leaving the city!

Among the lawns and scenery there is also a “splash pad,” which is basically a set of fountains for you to cool off in on hot days. Plus, you are not far from a thriving part of town.

Old Fourth Ward is an historic area, which has recently undergone lots of changes, making it a much cooler, safer place to hang out. The park is definitely one of them.  Along with new, recently opened condos, the Masquerade (a concert venue), and some interesting new restaurants, it is succeeding in bringing a whole new caliber of fun, young people (such as yourself) to the area.

Another great thing about the park is its location. From the park it is just a short walk or bike ride to downtown, midtown, Virginia Highlands or the Little Five Points/ Inman park area.

There are no excuses not to stop by!

Centennial Olympic Park

The Olympic games are an international tradition that have their roots in Roman times. These games are the world’s linchpin. They are something that connects us all to one another.

Some of you might not know this, or even have been born at the time, but in 1996 Atlanta had the honor or hosting these games. The 1996 Olympic games were highly eventful, and left an impact on Atlanta that can still be experienced today. Probably the most visible impact that was left is Centennial Olympic Park.

This park is probably one of Atlanta’s most active parks. It is constantly putting on concerts, such as “Party in the Park.” It also has fountains to enjoy and cool off in, fields, festivals, an ice skating rink (only in the winter), and it is conveniently located downtown, so you are never in need of a place to go eat.

Centennial is a point of pride for Atlanta. The airport has a mural of it, it is in a lot of our tourism adverts, and it is just generally well-known. This place is totally unique to this city, and is beloved by the population here. The park’s construction was even partially funded by residents who paid to have their names carved onto bricks in the park. It is definitely a great place to go.

Whether you are visiting the city, or have lived here your whole life, Centennial Olympic park is the place to be, especially now. It is a great way to view and experience some of our city’s history, as well as have a good time. In 1996 the whole world saw the park on their televisions. Now it is time to go and visit it in real life.

* * * *

OnAir says: You know what else was great about the 1996 Olympic games in Atlanta? They prompted a city-wide clean air effort that would become The Clean Air Campaign! And yeah, we kinda like those guys. Click here to learn a little more about how that went down.

A Park Themed Vacation

Photo credit: National Geographic

The first half of summer is already over for most people, and the camps and time spent at the pool are starting to become mundane. Now it is about time to take the great family vacation, which can be the best or the worst part of the entire break.

On one hand, you may get to go somewhere new or cool, but on the other hand, you will have to share a room with your whole family for possibly a number of weeks, and you might not really enjoy the activities that your parents pick.

A good idea is to give a little friendly input about the trip. I’m not saying you will get to pick the location, but I bet your parents want you to have a good time on the trip, too. If they didn’t, then they wouldn’t pay the money to bring you along.

Probably one of the best suggestions you can make would be to spend part of your time outdoors. You won’t get cramped into small spaces with your baby brother, and you can pick from thousands of things to do. Each state has its own, very unique features, activities and scenery, but most importantly each state has its own national parks!

National parks are some of this country’s most underestimated sources of not just fun, but of beauty and wonder. The western national parks and forests in the United States will literally take your breath away. Pictures can’t even depict the magnificence of the natural world. Water is so blue it looks unreal. Trees are bigger than thirty houses, and pebbles shine like millions of diamonds.

No matter what state you are in, and no matter where you are in that state, a national park is never more than a car ride away, and is always more fun than anything your parents will think of. This summer, think whitewater kayaking in a river, not White Water rides.

This summer, think park themed, and not theme parks.

OnAir says: Wanna visit a national park, but not sure which one’s closest? Check out the National Park Service’s Find a Park page. Enter your location or just click on the map to find the park closest to you. Now go outside!

Get outside.

Passing time is one of summer’s only great challenges. Its fun to watch TV and sit at home for a few days, but after the first few weeks of vacation, those activities become increasingly dull. A great way to spice up the summer is tennis. Tennis is a great game, because to play a legitimate game of tennis, you can play with two or four people. Plus you can invent your own tennis type games for different numbers, and if all of your friends are out of town, you really just need a wall, a racket, and a ball.

Blackburn Park has an incredibly well equipped tennis center. The park allows for reservations of courts, and even has a store where you can buy tennis accessories. Another great thing about the Blackburn tennis center is that it hires some local teen tennis players. If you don’t feel like you are a talented player yet, the center offers junior classes and private instruction, plus you can always learn by doing.

Never really cared for tennis? What about softball? The park also has softball and baseball fields. Never one for those sports? The park has a trail, and the trail is marked, so you get to see exactly how far you have traveled. If you just want to grill or picnic, you won’t find a better place to do that either. Plus if you get stuck in the rain, the picnic area is covered, so you won’t have to get wet.

This might seem strange, but I think Blackburn is probably my favorite park to throw around a Frisbee. Maybe it’s the wide, open spaces, or the lovely picnic area, but something about this park just encourages lighthearted fun. The park ends in a small field, and then a family friendly grille. Also within short walking distance of the park are a sushi restaurant, a pub that allows families, a wing restaurant, a Mexican restaurant, and a Thai restaurant. I mention this because in my experience, having a midday picnic in the park with some friends, and then hanging out for a few hours and attending one of the restaurants for dinner has always been a good way to fill a day for me. The grille and pub also allow for you to sit outside with your dog while you eat, so you can bring your furry buddy along, too.

Between the sports, the walking, and the picnicking, I assure you that you will not be bored. Blackburn is a relaxing, yet youthful and fun place to spend a lazy summer day. A day in this park may leave you tired, but it will leave you content as well, not with one of those headaches you get from staring at the television for an extended period of time. Lying in the grass and watching the clouds move, you absorb vitamin D from the sun. Lying on the couch and watching a screen (especially at night) can release a hormone in your brain tricking your mind into thinking it is day, and keeping you from a healthy night’s sleep.

The more entertaining activity is obvious, and so is the healthier one. Save yourself the headache and the insomnia. Get outside.