GREEN WAYS: Discussion group seeks sustainable solutions

Waste not, want not: This is becoming the mantra for a growing number of businesses in the Gorge food service industry, as became even more apparent in “Sustainable Systems at Work,” a recent discussion series designed by the Northwest Earth Institute and spearheaded by the Gorge Owned Business Network.

“It was a great opportunity for a group of like-minded business owners with similar business models to get together and talk about some of the challenges we face and solutions we have found in trying to be as sustainable as possible in our business practices,” said Stacie Creasy, co-owner of Sixth Street Bistro in Hood River.

“Sustainable Systems at Work” uses a peer-to-peer approach to help business owners discover new and innovative ways to reduce waste (energy, water, food), reduce their carbon footprint, and in the case of restaurant owners, expand menus to include local farmers and ranchers. The winter discussion course brought together a diverse group of stakeholders in the food service industry, including representatives from Celilo Restaurant, Sixth Street Bistro and Doppio Coffee + Lounge in Hood River, Mid-Columbia Medical Center in The Dalles, Mt Hood Meadows, Hood River School District and Tri-County Hazardous Waste.

The five-week discussion course culminated with a round table discussion featuring representatives of the food supply chain — from food producers to waste haulers to manufacturers of compostable take-out containers to Dirt Hugger, a commercial composting company based in The Dalles.

While the course still left questions for many in the group — such as how to how to balance environmental and fiscal responsibilities — all left with a better understanding of the options and realities of today’s market.

“There was great value in having a direct conversation with the people involved in the supply chain, top to bottom,” said Ben Stenn, chef at Celilo Restaurant.

“We are proud to be part of this community, which is so supportive of local producers and to have two great organizations, Gorge Grown Food Network and Gorge Owned Business Network, that work toward promoting and supporting local farmers and ranchers and promoting sustainability within our community,” Stacie Creasy says.


Becky Brun is Gorge-Owned director and Jennifer Sutton is a member of its board.

To join the next “Sustainable Systems at Work Discussion Group” hosted by the Gorge Owned Business Network, sign up at

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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