Blog Archive

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Trees . . . the Final Frontier

Yes fair readers, it is time for another tree talk and, in an attempt to make it interesting and new, let’s talk about the “prime directive” of the fictional crew of the Enterprise (hey, the new Star Trek Movie is out). You will recall that the fictional crew was sent out on a mission to locate and document new worlds and civilizations, but their “prime directive” (their core orders from central command) forbade them from influencing the development of life on those worlds by telling them about things like outer space, intergalactic travel, Viagra, or iPods. You can read more about that by clicking here. Like the crew of the Enterprise, the crew of the EPB also has a prime directive, and ours is neither fictional nor romantic. Our prime directive is to provide essential services, like electric power and broadband, to Glasgow and make them as reliable as possible and as inexpensive as possible. Our prime directive, and trees located near our lines, are on a collision course, and the trees are going to be transformed as a result.

Anyone who knows the EPB team knows that we really hate to do tree trimming. Many of us, like me, are actually nearly militant environmentalists (that’s me riding my bicycle around town to reduce my carbon footprint) and wish there were more trees to capture more CO2 out of the atmosphere and give off more O2. But, nature’s laws were enacted long before any of us were born, and those laws dictate that trees conduct electricity and if they touch a power line, that power line is going to stop delivering power to our customer’s homes and that violates our prime directive mentioned above. So, trim we must.

This year our trimming methods are changing. For decades we have paid a steadily increasing amount of money to contractors to accomplish our line clearing work. Over that time we noticed that our annual cost for line clearing was rapidly increasing, yet our numbers of power outages caused by trees were not declining at all. Something was wrong with this picture, and we think we have figured it out. You see, tree trimming contractors make money by trimming trees. While utilizing modern directional trimming practices (more about that by clicking here) can yield reduced tree trimming costs, over time, and increased electric system reliability, tree trimming contractors really resist trimming this way because it reduces the likelihood of that tree needing to be trimmed again. Rather, they like to make dozens of cuts that all result in many new branch shoots emerging so that next time the tree needs to be trimmed even more. On and on it goes with the need for line clearing steadily increasing along with the cost and happiness of the tree trimming contractor. We plan on breaking that cycle.

Trimming trees directionally is best for the tree and the EPB and the customers. Since we have had little success forcing our contractors to trim this way, we have a new idea . . . we are going to have our own team do this year’s trimming. One thing is certain, our folks do not profit from trimming trees (in fact they hate it!), so it would seem to follow that they will use aggressive directional trimming methods to clear our lines such that they will remain clear for many years. That will save us money and also meet the second part of our prime directive – keeping our services inexpensive.

As this year’s work unfolds we will be doing more than ever to keep you informed of where we are and when we will be in your yard. We will do this by posting information on the crawl at the bottom of The Weather Channel on our cable system. We will also post this information on our web page. Finally, we will be sending out regular updates on our activities on Twitter which is discussed in great detail elsewhere on this blog. There should be no one who is not informed about our plans and tree trimming activity so long as they are willing to read from one of these three media sources. We could mind-meld with our customers but we have no Vulcans on the team!

So, we are starting very soon in Norris Court and along South Green Street. If you live in that area, we will be there soon. Other neighborhoods in that part of town will follow throughout the summer and fall. The trees will not be prettier as a result of our visit, but your electric power and broadband services will be more reliable and the cost of delivering them will be reduced. The prime objective of the EPB will be met!
Monday, May 11, 2009

Bounty of the Barrens Market -- More than a Market

Please forgive me while we talk for a minute about something that is not directly related to the EPB – Sustainable Glasgow and the upcoming Bounty of the Barrens Market currently being planned by Sustainable Glasgow. One of our missions at the EPB has always been to act as a catalyst for economic development and the creation of a steadily improving lifestyle and standard of living in our community. We feel, with all our heart, that the mission of Sustainable Glasgow is well in line with our mission and we really hope you will prove our efforts worthwhile by supporting the market when it opens later this month on Saturday, May 30. This is an exciting time for all the volunteers and vendors involved. One thing is certain: we are not going to be short on area farmers who want to sell food to area eaters!

We are amazed that the market concept we introduced in January has already attracted more than twenty-five vendors who plan to spend their Saturday mornings in the parking lot behind BB&T Bank (which has ever so graciously provided a place for the community to come together) throughout the summer. They will bring the fresh produce that they have lovingly and laboriously planned, planted, tended, and harvested for us.

Now our focus turns toward convincing you, the local eater, to vote for the success of these local farmers by spending your food dollars with them rather than one of the big-box food retailers (you know who). Buckets of money leave our community through these corporate portals.

A visit to the Bounty of the Barrens Market will be nothing like a trip to any conventional grocery store. There will be music by local musicians and cooking demonstrations by local chefs. There will be cheese from Kenny’s Country Cheese and fruits from Jackson’s Orchard and locally grown and harvested meats, eggs, and vegetables from dozens of other residents of our region, the Barrens. But the market will be even more than a festive place to purchase fresh and healthy foods – it is a first step toward a diversified and truly sustainable local economy.

Sustainable Glasgow, Inc. has more ideas and plans. It is our intention to revitalize our local economy and reinvent our community, transforming a good community into a great place that does not have to convince folks to visit us or locate here - a place that creates its own gravity by providing a desirable lifestyle which a sustainable economy creates. The Bounty of the Barrens Market will connect grower and consumer and act as our opening gambit in the process of community reconciliation which, we hope, will ultimately lead us back to a connection with each other and our land.

We want the market to act as a community convener, a community builder and a preserver and restorer of relationships. So, please make plans to come and commune with your neighbors each Saturday throughout the summer; but please do not think of the market as simplistic, for it certainly is not. In my day job we deal with very complicated technology and often feel that we are providing Glasgow with products which are unparalleled in our republic, but deep down we know that our technology is stone-age compared to the products you will find at the market. Perhaps Paul Hawken put it all into perspective when he concluded: “We humans have yet to create anything that is as complex and well-designed as the interactions of the microorganisms in a cubic foot of rich soil.” Come see us at the Bounty of the Barrens Market and see what the natural technology of our region has wrought.