Groovefest Green Team – Call for Volunteers!

We are looking for volunteers to help with recycling and sustainable education at Groovefest # 50, on September 30th in Andrew’s Park!  Please fill out the form below if you are interested in  joining the Green Team…  This is not a final confirmation, so if you are unsure of your availability you can fill out the form and indicate “Undecided”

Any questions?  Send us an email!  [email protected]

Retrofitting Suburbia

Ellen Dunham-Jones

Retrofitting Suburbia (2008)

As I’m sure, many of my fellow NSN‘ers are aware, Norman has been holding a series of community-wide discussions about the formulation of a ‘High-Density’ ordinance that defines what it is, where it can go, and what limitations there should be for ‘High Density’. I’ve been fascinated by this process and have looked for additional information. I’ve sought and I have found a fascinating TEDx lecture given by Ellen Dunham-Jones entitled ‘Retrofitting Suburbia’, based her book of the same name, that is full of great ideas about how to deal with the future changes that appear to be inevitable. I’ll be sure to mention the High-Density discussions at the coming Green Drinks party, but I would also like to coordinate a watch-party before the next ‘High Density’ discussion, (scheduled for Aug. 30th, @ 6:30pm at the Norman High Conference Center). Hopefully we can work out some of the details at our next meeting. Contact me anytime!

All the bests until then,



[email protected]

Evan’s Front-Yard Fall Garden

As anyone who has ever put a shovel in the soil knows, gardening is hard work. I recently attended a Fall Gardening class at the Cleveland County Extension on 601 E. Robinson and the info that they provided motivated me to take advantage of the window of opportunity to get some more gardening in. Everyone knows that the spring time is an ideal time to start a garden, but I had no prior knowledge that it was possible to continue growing beans, kale, spinach, beets, lettuce, and dozens of other varieties after the waning of the summer heat. Many vegetables can endure cold weather and often thrive in it. In my experience, some, like snow peas and sugar snaps, have always done well up until the about the early-mid summer, but then, like a car running out of gas, they stop flowering. This doesn’t mean that we can’t enjoy them; we just have to wait out the heat and replant.

How did I begin?  I started out by trying to examine the space that was available and then ruminated about how the garden could fit into the context of the existing landscape. The garden is based on a 10′ x 10′ box with the corners shaved off. I knew I wanted to add two pathways that criss-crossed the garden to make 4 equally sized quadrants. This would allow for my nieces to play and also make it easier to tend the garden from all sides. It required a fair amount of calculations to determine the correct positioning, however having discussed it with my dad, and having concluded that it was in the appropriate place, I began the process of digging it out.


Why do a fall garden?  There are many reasons: the most obvious is to grow more food, however energy conservation and the act of making a statement about the un-sustainability of the suburban lifestyle, which is heavily dependent upon fossil fuels, is also part of the my reasoning. Oil is an amazing resource. It’s versatile, energy-dense, easily transportable, and like gold, holds its value. However, we are all aware that its combustion results in the emission of carbon dioxide and other particulates. The idea behind front yard gardens is to increase the capacity that we have to produce more food and use less fuel. Some research has suggested that, in the industrial system of food production, as much as 10 calories of fossil fuels are devoted to the production of a single calorie of food. That figure is calculated based on the fossil fuels used to run the tractors, the fertilizers (most of which come from the refinement of natural gas), the harvesting, the refrigeration, the transportation, and finally the food preparation. This is an incredibly energy intensive operation and it makes one question:  how sustainable it is? In my opinion, it

The author: Evan Dunn

isn’t sustainable. Although I don’t think we can all feed ourselves with two small gardens in our front and back yards, we can all work towards maximizing the amount of food we can produce with what little space we do have, and still have a beautiful outdoor space that we enjoy. I’ll try and continue updating everyone about the progress of the project throughout the fall. If you have any questions, comments, or points of discord, please feel free to express yourself. You can also email me directly at .

Thanks for reading,




Green Drinks and Blog Posts!

The Norman Sustainability Network has been working hard this summer on our Commercial Recycling Petition - so we’ve decided to treat ourselves with another Green Drinks get-together!  On Sunday, August 19th, from 6pm to 8pm we will be hosting a gathering at The Earth Cafe (746 Asp. Ave) that will be open to anyone interested in creating a more sustainable city.  There will be free beer and wine (21+ only) and we will be discussing our current projects, as well as the leadership opportunities available within the Norman Sustainability Network.  Afterwards, we would like to open up the floor for a conversation on the issues that you think are most important to our community and what NSN should be working on.

We are also excited to announce that we will now be updating our website every week!  On Fridays, we will be posting a new blog on exciting developments in conservation and sustainability.  Also, every Wednesday following Norman city council meetings and study sessions on sustainable issues, Stephen Tyler Holman will post on the issues currently impacting our community.

And we’d love to know what you’d like to read about!  Send any suggestions for blog topics to [email protected]



Be My Sustainable Valentine…

Looking for a Valentine’s Day gift while trying to stay eco-friendly?   Here’s some tips to help you find the perfect (last minute) gifts for all the people you love in your life…

  • Paper is so 20th century… How about sending your loved ones e-cards that will appear in their inbox on Valentine’s day?  JibJab has a great selection of everything from sweet to hilarious, and features video cards that you can insert your own face in!  Use Facebook to become a member so you can easily share and pick photos directly from your albums.
  • Forget the bouquet!  Get your honey a potted plant instead – not only does it feel like spring in the middle of winter, it also lasts way longer than cut flowers (as long as one of you remembers to water it…)  Plan on gardening when it warms up?  Find a tote and fill it up with gardening gloves, tools and lots of seeds for a springtime date in the dirt!
  • Did we say forget the bouquet?  If your sweetheart loves flowers, make them and the planet happy by purchasing Fair Trade and Organic arrangements – check out One World Flowers and Organic Bouquet for many beautiful, eco-friendly styles.  If you’re feeling creative try to  make a paper bouquet!  Get some plain or colored paper, markers, glue and a pair of scissors to create your own paper flowers that will last a lifetime.

    Photo by flickr user &ersand - used under a Creative Commons license.

  • For the chocolate lover… Did you know that Fair Trade Certification is not only good for people but the planet, too?  Fair Trade chocolate must meet both ethical and ecological standards of sustainability before receiving certification.  Check out The Earth Natural Foods (309 S. Flood) and Native Roots Market (132 W. Main) for a great selection of Fair Trade and Organic chocolates…
  • Looking for ethically sourced goods, or Oklahoma-made gifts?  Downtown Norman is full of locally owned businesses selling just that, including STASH (412 E. Main), MerryBelle’s Gifts (230 E. Main) and local  jewelry by Lindsey Martin at Elusive (209 W. Main).  Don’t forget Campus Corner, where you can find an array of sustainable gifts and flowers at Birdie (566 Buchanan St.)