30 March 2008

Downtown Salt Lake Mall Officially Green

Image from Wikipedia

City Creek Center
Six buildings from the new two block mixed-use development in Salt Lake City have been registered with the US Green Building Council. The project is being developed by City Creek Reserve, Inc., an affiliate of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Buildings 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, and 7 have all been individually registered under the ‘New Construction’ rating system. Each building will eventually receive its own LEED rating.

City Creek Center Registered Buildings:
#1 (330,000 sf)
#2 (149,000 sf)
#4 (45,000 sf)
#5 (230,000 sf)
#6 & #7 (200,000 sf)
(All Registered in Jan 2008)

Additionally, the 20-acre City Creek Center has been registered under the new ‘Neighborhood Development’ pilot program. Being a part of the Pilot program for neighborhoods will allow the project to be a case study in developing urban neighborhoods around the country. Administered by a joint venture of the Congress for New Urbanism, the US Green Building Council, and the Natural Resources Defense Council, LEED-ND is a powerful environmental strategy, encouraging sustainability at the scale of neighborhoods and communities.

"The most powerful strategy for achieving environmental sustainability is incorporating high-performance buildings in compact, mixed-use neighborhoods that reduce driving by making walking and transit attractive options for commuting and other trips." (source)

Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO & Founding Chair, U.S. Green Building Council said the expanded focus on green communities is important. "The future of green building is to think beyond just buildings, by addressing important issues like density development, community infrastructure, resource availability, and encouraging a healthy lifestyle. LEED for Neighborhood Development is an important and exciting step towards transforming the marketplace to create a healthy and sustainable future." (source)

One of the Residential towers, at 126 meters tall, will be two meters shy of the tallest building in the State of Utah. Completion is expected in mid-2011.

29 Feb 2008 Image from Downtown Rising

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LDS Church Registers for LEED Certification

Church History Library
The 250,000 square foot Church History Library, now under construction, is registered with the US Green Building Council. (source) To the best of my knowledge, this is the first building owned by the LDS Church to be registered for a Green Building certification.

This doesn’t guarantee any specific rating, but simply means that the paperwork and money have been submitted. Once construction is completed, the point total will determine the overall rating achieved, with a basic Certification being the lowest and Platinum being the highest. Originally to be finished in late 2007, the new library will be completed in summer 2009.

Photo by JerTheAnderson

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27 March 2008

Edible Estates: Attack on the Front Lawn

Replacing the front lawn with a productive edible landscape is an idea based on the newly released book of the same title by Fritz Haeg, an architect and artist who is creating edible estates in select locations throughout suburban America with the goal of inspiring others to follow suit.

"Edible Estates: Attack on the Front Lawn documents the first four gardens with firsthand accounts written by the owners, garden plans, and photographs illustrating the creation of the gardens, from ripping up the grass to harvesting a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Essays…set the Edible Estates project in the context of larger issues concerning the environment, global food production, and generating a sense of community in our urban and suburban neighborhoods." (Source)

The first edible estate was created in Salina, Kansas. Deliberately put in the geographic center of the country, this location happens to be not far from Mormonism’s own ‘center’ of Independence, Missouri; location of the original Garden. Others have been created in suburban New York, Los Angeles, and London.

Why attack the front lawn?
-Of 30 commonly used lawn pesticides, 13 are probable carcinogens, 14 are linked with birth defects, 18 with reproductive effects, 20 with liver or kidney damage, 18 with neurotoxicity and 28 are irritants (National Coalition for Pesticide-Free Lawns)

-Homeowners use up to 10 times more chemical pesticides per acre on their lawns than farmers use on crops. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

-North Americans now devote 40,000 square miles to lawns, more than we use for wheat, corn, or even tobacco. ("The Lawn: North America's magnificent obsession' by Robert Fulford, Azure, July-August, 1998)

-Americans spend $750 million a year on grass seed alone and more than $25 billion on do-it-yourself lawn and garden care. (from the exhibit at CCA, "The American Lawn: Surface of Everyday Life")

Why food production in your yard?
-1% - 2% of America’s food is locally grown (estimate by Brian Halweil of the Worldwatch Institute, an environmental research organization / reported by Jim Robbins, Los Angeles Times Magazine, July 31, 2005 pg. 8-11, 34)

-The produce in the average American dinner is trucked 1,500 miles to get to the plate, up 22% in the past two decades (according to a 2001 study by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University / reported by Jim Robbins, Los Angeles Times Magazine, July 31, 2005 pg. 8-11, 34)

-6% - 12% of every dollar spent on food consumed in the home comes from transportation costs (Rhodes, V. James. 1993. "The Agricultural Marketing System", 4th Edition. Scottsdale, Arizona: Gorsuch,Scarisbrick, Publishers.)

How do Mormons feel about food production?
President Spencer W. Kimball said:
“We encourage you to grow all the food that you feasibly can on your own property. Berry bushes, grapevines, fruit trees—plant them if your climate is right for their growth. Grow vegetables and eat them from your own yard. Even those residing in apartments or condominiums can generally grow a little food in pots and planters. Study the best methods of providing your own foods. Make your garden … neat and attractive as well as productive. If there are children in your home, involve them in the process with assigned responsibilities” (
Family Preparedness May 1976 Ensign)

Mormon Health Code:
“And again, verily I say unto you, all wholesome herbs God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man—Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving…All grain is good for the food of man; as also the fruit of the vine; that which yieldeth fruit, whether in the ground or above the ground” (
D&C 89:10-11, 16)

Basic instructions to make your own edible landscape
-do a test on your soil to see what sort of amendments it might need, or if it has traces of lawn chemicals.
-use sod-cutter to remove existing grass, roll it up, give it away, or find a new use for it
-use roto-tiller to loosen compacted soil (or just turn over the existing turf and let it decompose)
-spread around 2-6 inches of compost
-till the soil again to mix in the new compost
-mark out a plan for your edible estate with stakes and tape
-plant your seedlings, starts, trees and seeds according to the planting calendar and mulch well
-water them in thoroughly and install soaker hoses or drip lines as necessary for irrigation

Some questions to think about when planning your edible estate
- where is south? where are the shady and sunny areas?
- where should tall trees or lower groundcover go? are there views to frame or obscure?
- what do you want to eat from your estate? what can't you get from the grocery store?
- alot of fruits and vegetables grow on vines, do you have something for them to grow on?
- how do you want to move through the edible estate? where should paths go?
- what kind of mulch to use? straw, bark, compost, leaves will retain moisture, block weeds and decompose into the soil
- is there an area in your estate for people? a place to relax and enjoy the plants and food growing?

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17 March 2008

Top 10 reasons to be a Green Mormon

#10 Mormons are cheap and being sustainable saves money

# 9 The prophet said to plant a garden

# 8 Being translated is the smallest carbon footprint of all – just ask the Three Nephites

# 7 You can now be even more peculiar than all the other peculiar people in your ward

# 6 The stuff in Revelations doesn’t sound so bad if you believe in global warming

# 5 Feeding 5000 people with a few loaves and fish is really the way to go

# 4 We don’t have enough commandments yet

# 3 The earth already represents the lowest kingdom – making it worse leaves only outer darkness

# 2 We’re already used to saying, ‘It’s against my religion…’

# 1 Free your guilty conscience
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13 March 2008

New online group: LDS Earth Stewardship

Earlier in the week, I excitedly heard about this new online community and promptly joined! Anyone interested in the environmental role we play is encouraged to sign up. The website is a growing resource of scholarly works on the environment, while the group will act as a forum for discussion topics.

Their front page states:

"As members of the Church, we savor the beauty of the Earth. We believe that we have a moral responsibility to appreciate the richness of the Earth and act as stewards of it (see D&C 59:18-20). We believe that the "earth is the Lord’s" (Psalm 24) and that it is wrong to be wasteful, disrespectful, or ungrateful for that with which we have been provided (see D&C 49:18-21).

We recognize that because of the complex processes by which natural resources are extracted and merchandised, individual and consumer choices are often made in ignorance of environmental consequences. Our stewardship, however, can be improved by insightful and reliable information about the implications of our actions, and through collaboration with others who share our ideals."

-Join the Group
-Check out the Website
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10 March 2008

Salt Lake saves eight tons of CO2 with the warmth of sewage

Photo by Graham Murdoch

Case Study: Heating Homes from Waste

"When Salt Lake City attorneys Jon and Phillip Lear decided to set up offices in the Major George Downey mansion downtown in 2005, gas prices had spiked after Hurricane Katrina, and they started brainstorming alternative heating and cooling systems.

'Alternative' is the word for what the brothers came up with. The system they designed, with help from engineers at Utah’s Sound Geothermal Corporation, pulls heat from warm sewage water. A secondary network of pipes surrounding a sewage pipe carries a water-based glycol that enables a heat exchange—since it is cool relative to the sewage water, it rapidly absorbs heat. The pipes carry the warmed glycol back into the house, where the accumulated heat energy radiates from vents. On hot summer days, the glycol absorbs heat from inside the house and releases it underground. The entire setup uses about 40 percent less energy than a conventional heating and cooling system would, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by eight tons a year. The Lears moved their offices there permanently in January.

Public-utilities director Jeff Niermeyer hopes to install similar systems in other public buildings within the next few years. 'With any wastewater system, there’s a lot of heat that you’ve already put in for other purposes,' he says." (Popular Science Case Study)

For more information, see also the Deseret News article on this home which speaks of the potential to use this technology on the City Creek Center in Salt Lake.
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Utah leads California in LEED Buildings per capita

While California may lead the country with the most number of Green Cities (13 of the Top 50), many other Western states are outperforming them in number of Green Buildings per capita. New Mexico, Utah, Arizona, Hawaii, and Colorado, all have higher percentages of LEED buildings than California. Additionally, the Pacific Northwest leads the way and is by far the strongest Green sector in the West.

The following are a list of Western States with the corresponding numbers of LEED buildings that are Certified. There may be others in process, or simply Registered, but this only includes those projects that have completed the process. Below this are State populations, followed by state per capita rankings.

LEED Certified buildings by State (as of Mar 10, 2008):
California - 161
Washington - 81
Oregon - 69
Colorado - 45
Arizona - 34
Utah - 14
New Mexico - 10
Hawaii - 9
Nevada - 8
Idaho - 6
Montana – 4
Alaska - 2
Wyoming - 1

State populations:
California - 36,553,215
Washington - 6,395,798
Arizona - 6,338,755
Colorado - 4,861,515
Oregon - 3,747,455
Utah - 2,645,330
Nevada - 2,565,382
New Mexico - 1,969,915
Idaho - 1,499,402
Hawaii - 1,283,388
Montana - 957,861
Alaska - 683,478
Wyoming - 522,830

Dividing the population by number of LEED buildings yields some interesting discoveries in which seven Western States are outperforming California percentage-wise:

1-Oregon – 1841
2-Washington – 1266
3-Colorado – 926
4-Hawaii - 701
5-Arizona – 536
6-Utah – 529
7-New Mexico - 508
8-California - 440
9-Montana - 418
10-Idaho - 400
11-Nevada – 312
12-Alaska - 293
13-Wyoming - 191

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America’s 50 Greenest Cities (and Salt Lake made the list!)

Last month Popular Science ranked all US cities over 100,000 people. The intent was to highlight those cities who are 'anxiously engaged' rather than waiting to be compelled by the Federal Government. Coming in at #36 is Salt Lake City, Utah; just ahead of Pasadena, California and just behind Kansas City, Missouri.

#36 Salt Lake City, Utah - 13.5
Electricity – 3.6
Transportation – 4.1
Green Living – 2.3
Recycling/Perspective – 3.5

"In everything from emissions control to environmental stewardship, cities across the country are far ahead of the federal government, and they’re achieving their successes with ready-made technology." (source) Three of the top seven cities are in the Bay Area of California. Additionally, three of the top eight cities are in the Pacific Northwest. About half of the Top 50 cities are in the Western US.

Looking at Salt Lake’s scores as a percentage tells us Salt Lake is scoring weakest in the area of Renewable Energy sources and strongest in recycling and environmental awareness.
Electricity – 3.6/10.0 = .36
Transportation – 4.1/10.0 = .41
Green Living – 2.3/5.0 = .46
Recycling/Perspective – 3.5/5.0 = .70

Scoring was lumped into four broad categories:
Electricity (E; 10 points): Cities score points for drawing their energy from renewable sources such as wind, solar, biomass and hydroelectric power, as well as for offering incentives for residents to invest in their own power sources, like roof-mounted solar panels.
Transportation (T; 10 points): High scores go to cities whose commuters take public transportation or carpool. Air quality also plays a role.
Green living (G; 5 points): Cities earn points for the number of buildings certified by the U.S. Green Building Council, as well as for devoting area to green space, such as public parks and nature preserves.
Recycling and green perspective (R; 5 points): This measures how comprehensive a city’s recycling program is (if the city collects old electronics, for example) and how important its citizens consider environmental issues.

Other cities of interest scoring a perfect score in the main categories:
Electricity – Eugene, OR 10.0
Transportation – New York, NY 10.0
Green Living – Chicago, IL 5.0
Recycling/Perspective – Lexington, KY 5.0

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Religious Environmentalism

Thanks to bex over at Bexhuff.com who cites the following religions that are officially coming to the environmental discussion table. Several of these groups are even beginning to refer to environmental issues now as a ‘moral’ issue. As Mormons, are we generally uninvolved in environmental issues because the current leaders of the Church are largely silent on these issues? If this is the case, are we favoring the “commanded in all things” approach over the “anxiously engaged” approach?

“Thou shall not pollute the Earth…so the Vatican has told the faithful that they should be aware of ‘new’ sins such as causing environmental blight.

In recent months, Pope Benedict has made several strong appeals for the protection of the environment, saying issues such as climate change had become gravely important for the entire human race.

Under Benedict and his predecessor John Paul, the Vatican has become progressively ‘green.’
It has installed photovoltaic cells on buildings to produce electricity and hosted a scientific conference to discuss the ramifications of global warming and climate change, widely blamed on human use of fossil fuels.”

Southern Baptists
“Several prominent leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention said Monday that Baptists have a moral responsibility to combat climate change -- a major shift within a denomination that just last year cast doubt on human responsibility for global warming.

Forty-six influential members of the Southern Baptist Convention, including three of its past four presidents, criticized their denomination in a statement Monday for being "too timid" in confronting global warming.

‘Our cautious response to these issues in the face of mounting evidence may be seen by the world as uncaring, reckless and ill-informed,’ the statement says. ‘We can do better.’”

Several prominent evangelical leaders and pastors are emerging through written bestsellers, “calling for ‘creation care’ on global warming and galvanizing church members to address Third World poverty and disease…‘Today there is a strong evangelical center emerging that agrees that a biblically balanced agenda has to include pro-life, pro-family, pro-poor, pro-racial justice, pro-creation care and pro-peacemaking,’ said Ronald Sider, president of Evangelicals for Social Action.”
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06 March 2008

Ecological Restoration as a Metaphor for Gospel Restoration

Ecological restoration is a helpful application for thinking about the Restoration of the Gospel. “The goal of restoration is not to immediately recreate replacement ecosystems, rather to 'jump-start' natural recuperative processes.” This jump-start, or initial intervention sets the process in motion, after which a self-organizing system carries on with the capability of evolving through time. Ecologically speaking, humans provide the jump-start; religiously speaking, God Himself provided the jump-start beginning through the Prophet Joseph Smith.

The beginning is where the majority of energy is input into the system. In ecological terms, this would be setting the parameters and putting the process in motion; reintroducing native species, setting up erosion control, removing non-native species, and reforestation. For the Gospel, the beginning involves revelations, return of priesthood authority, translation of new and old scripture, and large outpourings of the Spirit. Once set in motion, the system naturally evolves with much less input required. The restoration is never ‘done’ or ‘complete’, but moves forward and upward.

Purposefully altering ecosystems is a controversial issue since it is such a shock to the system. Some plant and animal species will probably die; others, who previously struggled, may thrive. Likewise, the Restoration of the Gospel was a shock to this world. The religions of the day resisted fiercely. There were casualties. Not everyone accepted the role or necessity of the intervention. It was controversial.

When an ecological system is restored through intervention, it is never the same as before. The original condition is always impossible to reach. The allegory of the olive trees speaks of the grafting of branches back into the vineyard. As such, the vineyard never returns to its original form, but the end goal is met, fruit "like unto the natural fruit." The Gospel today is not exactly like the Gospel in Adam or Christ’s time, but it is everything that is necessary to bring about God’s purpose, the salvation of His creations.

The eventual goal of restoration in both ecology and the Gospel is regeneration; a stabilized system with life giving processes; completely sustainable and life producing. If you can do it forever, it’s sustainable. In the gospel this equates to the resurrection, where a new, eternal life is created and there is no death and no loss of knowledge.

Life is a living system. Reductionist thinking (looking at the details and fragments) is common, but is not enough. Zooming back in scale from the details, we can see the big picture where nothing is isolated and all things are connected in a network. The Restoration of the Gospel is not a series of dates, events, or details. Nor is it a complete compilation, or gathering of words, ideas, or scriptures. The Restoration of the Gospel is nothing less than the complete renewal of all creation including a renewal of the earth (10th Article of Faith) and a "restitution of ALL things." As such, the Restoration is unfinished, and will remain that way until the final Resurrection of all life, including the earth itself, when the wilderness will become "like Eden, and her desert like the garden."(Isa. 51: 3) There will be a "new heaven and a new earth" (Isa. 65: 17 ) When we are involved in this process of Restoration, we add value to the whole system. We are literally involved in the development of new and sustaining life.

Disclaimer: I will be the first to admit I am not an expert on ecology. I find it a fascinating subject, though. What little I know was gained from a lecture attended last week by Bill Reed, whose Regenesis Group is exploring these ideas as an ecological developer in the US.

Olivo by Dani3D

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05 March 2008

Achieving Zion: The Improvement Era and The Perpetual Education Fund

As the official Church magazine from 1898 until 1970, The Improvement Era was largely a focus on improving your life, and not always in the religious, or spiritual sense. It gave practical, hands-on, and how-to suggestions for improved living. The magazine acted as a community builder, empowering the members of the church in both spiritual and secular living.

While some of the stories are obviously outdated, many are surprisingly relevant today. One of the great series that ran for at least two decades was titled ‘Exploring the Universe’ by Franklin S Harris, Jr. Here are some examples:

Jun 1936 Modern Energy Supplies
"'THERE ARE energy sources for man's every need for thousands of years, despite the fact that his demands have increased over forty told in the last hundred years.' This is the conclusion of Dr. Gustav Egloff in an article in the Science Monthly, April, 1936. We don't know how much energy we will need in the future, but it will be a huge amount. So far man has never failed in inventiveness to make the machines to use our great resources to lessen man's labor, and he will probably be able to lighten his work in the future. Dr. Egloff considers coal, oil, natural gas, water power, wood, wind, alcohol, even direct sun energy, and internal heat of the earth in reaching his conclusion."

Aug 1936
"FRESH ripe fruits, fresh garden vegetables, salads, cereals, milk of good sanitary quality, and milk products satisfy the hunger while adding but little to heat production. They are therefore good for hot weather...MILK could be divided and each part made into a different cheese, Emmental, Roquefort, Limburger, and Cheddar, which differ radically in taste and appearance. Cheesemakers could make these different cheeses from the same milk by varying the methods of curing and ripening the cheese. Temperature, salting, humidity, and kind of micro-organisms can be varied."

Dec 1936
"THE soybean, imported from the Far East where it is used as an article of food, is bidding fair to become a very important factor in American agricultural and industrial life. It makes good hay, and the beans are a green vegetable for the home table. The oil from pressing is used in industries from paint and printing ink to lubrication. The meal left after pressing may be used as feed for animals or with flour, or to make glue. It is also used in the plastic industry."

Apr 1938
"GROUND sawdust and mill waste can be squeezed into hard dense products that are stronger than the wood made by nature."

May 1938
"PLANTS have their "drinking hours" when their roots absorb more water than their leaves evaporate, and times when more is evaporated than absorbed. From noon to 4 p. m. the most water is absorbed and evaporated, with slightly more being evaporated. At night enough extra water is taken in to make up for the loss."

Oct 1938
"THAT gasoline mileage can be greatly increased by observing a few simple driving rules is shown graphically by a test over a 10 mile course in Detroit using the same car and same route through traffic. One trip with speed as the watchword, through keeping within the 30 mile speed limit, using all gears, took 39 minutes, giving 8.5 miles per gallon. Then using the best driving practices such as coasting up to stoplights in neutral, starting in second and accelerating slowly took 44 minutes with 17 miles per gallon."

Nov 1938
"BATTERY-CHARGING, windmills which convert wind power directly into electric current and work on comparatively slow winds have been developed. One feature is airplane-type propellers: another is the enclosing of the generator and vane in one streamlined piece.
WHOLE WHEAT bread is greatly to be preferred to white bread, both from the point of view of national economy and for better health, scientists at the recent International Physiological Congress were told. That complete substitution of fat for carbohydrate in the diet, or carbohydrate for fat, is impossible was also reported."

Nov 1954
"EW. GOLDING writing in Unesco's "Impact of Science on Society" estimates that if the solar radiation on an area the size of Egypt could be utilized directly it would provide the world's present need for power."

Sep 1954
"BASED on the latest work in Greenland and the Antarctic, the melting of the glacier ice would raise the sea level about 200 feet…IN 1952 the output in the United States of soft drinks was more than twentyeight billion bottles, or an average of a bottle every day for every person."

Jul 1954
"CAREFUL studies of watershed management and flood control in Davis County, Utah, have been made by the Forest Service of the United States Department of Agriculture. Tests of ninety-seven sites in Utah found that with normal plant cover the runoff is about five percent of the rainfall applied, but as the protective cover is decreased, it was found that nearly bare areas yield from twenty to eighty percent runoff."

Many other articles were by LDS professionals in their field:

The Soil As a Living System June 1934
"Consideration of the soil as a thing alive is not as common as it should be. The fact that soil responds as though it were a living thing must be apparent to all who observe closely, and it is that response which makes man react to it the way he does, particularly in the spring of the year."

The Mormon Village Retrospect and Prospect Mar 1936

A Highway over Water Jul 1936
"AT THE request of President W. Aird Macdonald of the Oakland Stake, J. G. Bastow, structural and civil engineer of Oakland, California, has written this statement on some engineering features of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge for the readers of "The Improvement Era." The author was born in Utah, graduated from Brigham Young College in 1912, filled a mission for the Church in the Samoan Islands from 1912 to 1916, is a graduate of the Utah State Agricultural College and of the University of California, was a pilot in the United States Army Air Force during the world war, and is now Assistant Chief Engineer and Assistant Port Manager of the Port of Oakland."

Agriculture and the Church Security Program Jan 1938
"THE Security Program of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has three objectives: First to supply food, clothing and shelter to faithful Latter-day Saints, who are unable through their own efforts to secure these necessities of life; second, to find employment for those now unemployed, who are capable of laboring; third, to improve the conditions of those who may be employed, but whose income is so meager as to furnish the bare necessities, not the comforts of life. These objectives may be summarized as charity, self-support, and progressive improvement of existing conditions."

We Now Enjoy Shade and Beauty Because Someone Planted Well May 1938
By J. C. HOGENSON Extension Agronomist. Utah State Agricultural College
"THE FIRST consideration of a family is to provide the necessities of life, foremost of which is an adequate balanced food supply. In many cases this can be done best and most efficiently with a growing garden… In this worthy enterprise, too, all members of the family are given the opportunity to contribute something of importance for the maintenance of the family as a whole. In addition, caring for the home garden is an excellent tonic for tired, shattered nerves and jaded muscles."

Vines May be the Answer Mar 1955
"FEW plants grow more quickly or more profusely than vines. What of the yard with new trees? Why not make vines provide the shade and ornamentation until trees have time to grow? If there are clothes posts or other posts in the yard, fasten a trellis to them and train vines up the trellis. They will grow rapidly and will provide enough shade for a lawn chair or if there is a high fence, train vines over it to furnish shade at least part of the day."

Apr 1955
STUDIES at the Utah State Agricultural Experiment Station have shown that for potatoes furrow irrigation requires 30 to 50 percent more water than sprinkling when soil is maintained in moist condition and that more frequent light irrigations alone should increase potato yield by 100 bushels an acre."

A Scheme for Safer and Better Highways May 1955
"Sufficient time has elapsed since World War II to demonstrate that the gap between construction and maintenance, and actual traffic, is ever-widening. Highway deaths are increasing."

These and many other examples allowed the members to learn from other members presenting information in their fields of expertise. Reinstating this concept today would allow members of the church all over the world to share their expertise on various useful subjects with the rest of the Church. This becomes especially important as we seek for a global Zion community scattered throughout the world.

Hands-on topics about advances in food and shelter technologies are increasingly needed in a worldwide Church, many of whom live in poverty. Experts in the Church providing tutorials to fellow members would provide a great equalizer in education and knowledge. In the context of a geographically global Church, this would become a powerful tool aiding in the establishment of Zion. Knowledge and education gained from these would help lessen the poor, hungry, uneducated, or uninformed among us. Top-down direction is desirable for spiritual matters, but in temporal or secular matters, the forum of a bottom-up approach created by members, for all members could be powerful.

The Church has always placed importance on self-reliance, and has a fabulous website dedicated to this today. But a periodical resource created by the members of the church to help other members of the Church, provides a personal touch that reaches the heart more than a generalized summary on food storage. Included could also be individuals helped by the Perpetual Education Fund. We occasionally hear about the numbers of people helped, but rarely their personal stories and experiences. Four individuals are currently highlighted on the website.

One of the great features about organizations like Kiva is that when you loan money, you can read the biography of the actual person you are helping. You see their picture, read periodic journals from them, and track the progress of their project. You see when payments on the loan are made. You develop a love for and connection to that person. A similar application to the Perpetual Education Fund, I feel, would increasingly draw the Church together in unity and love. This intimacy with other members around the world is one way to help build Zion.

While the Church has amazing outreach with Humanitarian Aid, the Welfare Program, and the Perpetual Education Fund, the personal connection is missing. Through a bottom-up forum such as a new Improvement Era or personalizing the Perpetual Education Fund, we can come together in a global Zion-like community having our "hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another." (Mosiah 18:21) Zion today is achievable.

The Earth is God's Canvas by Catch the Dream

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