Word to Your Mother E

helping family relations since 2008

Raise the roof October 22, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Katie @ 5:55 pm
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As people are becoming more aware of the urban heat effect on climate change, creating green roofs by adding plants to the top of your building is one solution that’s gaining popularity. 

According to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, a green roof is essentially a “vegetated roof cover with growing media and plants to take the place of traditional roofing materials such as shingles or tiles.” 

Benefits of such an undertaking include improving air quality, adding shade, providing insulation which can lower electric bills, and reducing water runoff that can flood our streets after a storm.  LBJWC research suggests that buildings with green roofs can actually be up to 80 degrees cooler than adjacent buildings with traditional roofs! 

Our own city has jumped on all the possible benefits, and Austin City Hall was actually recognized for a 2008 Award of Excellence by Green Roofs for Healthy Cities.  The roof of City Hall is covered with plants native to Texas, including mountain laurel, agaves, yuccas, and prickly pears.  Award wording says “As a project Austin City Hall combines depth of vision with practicality of execution and so sets a superlative example for government and institutional building owners.”

Austin City Hall received a 2008 Award of Excellence for its green roof.

Austin City Hall received a 2008 Award of Excellence for its green roof.

Before you jump on the bandwagon and start tearing shingles off your roof to create your own green garden, University of Texas recently completed a study showing that not every company that sets up green roofs create them equally.  The study hopes to help manufacturers know what they need to do to make all potential benefits a reality.

The study suggests that, if you hire a contractor to build a roof for you, make sure you specify exactly what benefits you’re interested in and the type of native plants you want.  Hopefully the impact of this study will grant validity and credibility to the idea of green roofs.  

Next time you walk by City Hall, be sure to look up!


Going native September 4, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Katie @ 9:42 pm
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When I was four, I joined the Shawnee tribe.  Thats right.  We’d go camping to various places around Texas once a month as part of a YMCA program for girls and their fathers.  For the weekend, my dad was only allowed to refer to me as Princess Flying Dove as we met up with other Indian Princess tribes. 

The bonfire happened on Saturdays.  Young girls would make up skits to act out around the fire and the old braves (our dads) would tell us stories about the Great Spirits that inhabited the earth.  One of the stories inevitably took a serious tone as a brave would speak about the crimes Mankind committed against the Great Spirit, and, maybe more importantly, the impact of these crimes against himself, causing the spirits to leave forever.  


Over the years, it was probably during these bonfire stories, as I sat captivated by the fire, mesmerized by the truth of these legends, that my respect and appreciation for our changing world began to take hold. The Mom had her own impact on my education, as global warming was the buzzword that immediately led up to her soapbox.  At first, I did what I could to avoid any mention of the word, but slowly I accumulated my own research and our dinner discussions about the health of our planet lasted for hours, much to the chagrin of my younger sisters.


Culture is based on habit, and as far as I’ve witnessed, it has been American culture to look out for No. 1, with little concern for consequences.  Most of the greenhouse gases in our atmosphere today are byproducts of emissions from decades ago.  The gases my Honda CRV releases today will probably be around long enough to clog up the air surrounding my children as walk the stage at their college graduation.  While America is slowly opening her eyes to the long-term effects of our own human activity, it’s the longevity of the problem that make it crucial to change our habits today in order to shape our culture for a more sustainable future. 


From this point forward, bear witness to the fact that this blog is dedicated to promoting sustainability, to finding everyday ways the average citizen can limit his impact on this planet, our home, and to eat past the scientific jargon to figure out what exactly that impact may be.  Here’s to you, Great Spirits.  I hope we can do you justice. 

                                                                          – Princess Flying Dove