In 2017, Downwinders at Risk debuted its school for organizers, boldly named "The College of Constructive Hell-Raising." Above, the Class of 2017. Photo courtesy of Downwinders at Risk.
Jan. 2, 2018
2017 was a challenging year for environmentalists. It started with the inauguration of a fossil-fuel loving President who immediately began rolling back environmentalists' gains. However, the set-backs only inspired North Texas greenies to push their eco-friendly agendas in creative ways. Here are some of the local heroics to save the planet.
Green Source DFW columnist Amy Martin launched her new series Green Neighborhoods, highlighting North Texas' little patches of greenness. The series was a partnership with Natural Awakenings Dallas Metro magazine. Here are the neighborhoods she covered:
Eastlake: Laid-back and eco-friendly
Bishop Arts: The hip heart of Oak Cliff
Lakewood: Overflowing green amenties
South Oak Cliff: Green and growing
North Oak Cliff: Urban greenie haven
Fort Worth: Look for the last installment still to come in 2018!
Small Planet E-Bikes is located in the Bishop Arts District.
Downwinders at Risk came out of the gate running in 2017. Its focus – unleashing a new generation of rabble rousers to tackle local social justice and environmental issues. For the second year, the 23-year-old clean air advocacy group hosted its Root & Branch conference geared to green activists. This time the headliners were grassroots activists from Flint, Michigan. Even more ambitious was the launch of its DFW-based school for communty organizers, the College of Constructive Hell-Raising. The five-month program featured a roster of veteran activists as instructors - a great bargain at $200 for 10 sessions. Still slots open for the 2018 semester.
Chief hell-raiser Jim Schermbeck, director of Downwinders at Risk, with an honorary pitchfork from his students.
On Jan. 1, the city of Dallas launched its new Urban Forestry Division joining Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio and Houston, all cities with professionally staffed forestry programs or departments.
Inauguration Weekend began with a massive nationwide Women's March, kicking off what became a year filled with protest marches. The event drew hundreds of North Texas green gals who cited Trump's anti-environment policies as part of their outrage. An estimated 20,000 North Texans participated in the local Women’s Marches held in Dallas, Fort Worth, Denton and Sherman in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington. Some traveled to Austin and D.C. as well.
Amy King, cofounder of GoodWork Coworking, at the DC Women's March in January 2017.
TCU's Brite Divinity School’s annual Ministers Week focused entirely on environmental themes for the first time since the event’s founding in 1888.
Turning up the heat on the heat island
Texas Trees put Dallas' urban heat island problem in the spotlight at a symposium that revealed roads, rooftops and parking lots are heating Dallas up almost 20 degrees hotter than land outside of the city. Experts discussed solutions for making the city greener.
UNT means green
The University of North Texas, known for its on-campus wind turbines, sustainable research and green degree programs, once again showed its green leadership by switching to 100 percent renewable energy.
Putting on the bioblitz
Inspired by the successful mega bioblitz held at Tandy Hills Natural Area in Fort Worth last year, the Lake Lewisville Environmental Learning Area hosted its first large-scale bioblitz on April 1.
Later in the month, 500 North Texas volunteers participated in the area-wide iNaturalist Challenge as part of a nationwide competition. To the surprise of the odds-on favorite San Francisco, DFW came in first place among 14 metropolitan areas in the U.S. Participants tracked more than 24,000 observations during the five-day bioblitz.
Vegan boot store in Dallas
Dallasite Kat Mendenhall has already gained a national following with her online vegan boot store. She specializes in faux leather, western-style boots, seen on vegan celebrities like Miley Cyrus. In April, Mendenhall blazed new socially-responsible retail trails when she opened MendRT, a cruelty-free storefront in the heart of cattle country.
Science marches on
Protest marches continued through the months with the Science March held on Earth Day. The North Texas events, held in conjunction with nationwide protests, were aimed at the current administration’s attack on Climate Change research and EPA policies. All sectors of the North Texas green community, from the beekeepers to the solar advocates, attended events in Dallas, Fort Worth and Denton.
A protesting pooch offers a clever twist on an old adage at the March for Science in Fort Worth. Photo by Grace Darling.
Nuclear waste dump scraped
North Texas dodged a highly radioactive bullet when Dallas-based Waste Control Specialists backed off its application to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to store high level radioactive waste in Andrews County. If WCS had been permitted to store tons of spent nuclear fuel at its West Texas dump, the highly deadly waste from across the U.S. would have likely traveled through the Metroplex via interstate or rail.
Disposal well dodged
When Bluestone Resources announced in January plans to install a fracking disposal well next to Lake Arlington, local environmentalists rose to the occasion. A grassroots coalition led by Liveable Arlington rallied residents to try to stop Bluestone from endangering a local drinking water source for half a million residents. Following the pushback, in June, the company withdrew its application to install a fracking disposal well. Liveable Arlington's leader Ranjana Bhandari was hailed as a local hero and the grassroots group was awarded the Green Source DFW award for Small Nonprofit of 2017 for its efforts.
Ramping up local air monitoring
More good news for local air quality - the new DFW Air Research Consortium, a network of academic institutions, non-profit organizations, communities and local governments, unveiled an ambitious area-wide initiative in the fight against air pollution in DFW.
TreeHouse opens in Dallas
Greenies rejoiced when the green home improvement store came to Dallas. The enterprise, started in Austin by Jason Ballard, was boosted with help from Dallas investor and Container Store cofounder Garret Boone. The solar-powered store features everything from lamps to native plants to green-up your home. A Plano store is planned to open in 2018.
Arlington Conservation Council float wins grand prize
After years of creating unique eco-themed float designs, the 40-plus-year-old conservation group took home the top prize at the Arlington July 4th parade for their float depicting a Texas wildscape made entirely of recyclables.
Indian paintbrushes, bluebonnets and primrose were made from aluminum cans gathered by ACC members. Photo by Paul Knudsen.
Julia Burgen Park opens
The Julia Burgen Linear Park, named for the former city council member and early environmentalist, was dedicated in Arlington in May.
Plant-based options growing
Spiral Diner, the pioneering all-vegan diner, which started in Fort Worth in 2002 and later expanded to Dallas, created a plant-based trifecta when it opened a third restaurant in Denton.
The Moon put North Texas in the spotlight when the region experienced a partial solar eclipse in August. The cosmic event inspired eclipse-watchers across North Texas who posted their experiences on social media. Meanwhile, some astro-enthusiasts, including GSDFW columnist Amy "Moonlady" Martin, even traveled to the area of Totality for the full effect.
Video by Jen Schultes of Fort Worth.
Texas HB 7 threatened tree ordinances around the state but citizens and environmental groups pushed back, averting the most damaging provisions.
UTA bike share
The University of Texas at Arlington showed its ongoing commitment to sustainable transportation with the offical launch of a new bike sharing program. The program is an initiative of UTA's Institute for Sustainability and Global Impact, led by Meghna Tare.
The city of Fort Worth adopted the city's most progressive waste plan, thanks to urging from local citizens and environmentists.
Filmmaker and UNT grad Garret Graham premiered his movie, Don't Frack with Denton. The documentary follows the successful grassroots campaign to ban fracking in Denton and the aftermath following the overturning of the ban.
'Don’t Frack with Denton,' a film by Garrett Graham, debuted at the Dallas Video Fest in October.
Coal plants closing
Luminant announced it's shutting down three of its coal plants, including the Big Brown plant in Freestone County.
The annual celebration of green achievements in North Texas hosted by the Memnosyne Institute brought greenies together for food and fellowship. See the winners of the 2017 Green Source DFW Sustainability Leadership Awards.
Goodwork goes solar
GoodWork, a new green coworking space in Dallas, announced Downwinders at Risk had made them an offer they couldn’t refuse: $300,000 worth of rooftop solar panels. After a year and a half of green renovations, 1808 Good Latimer was finally ready for occupancy at the end of December. Coworking memberships are now available for 2018.
New GSDFW store
Green Source DFW launched an online store offering GSDFW followers another way to support North Texas’ only dedicated green news site. Buy the T-shirt or bandana!
Solar IKEA opens
Many North Texans rejoiced at the opening of new solarized IKEA, more central to DFW, than the Frisco location.
One of the feel-good stories of the year came near the end with announcement that the 100-acre Mathews Prairie outside of Greenville was secured for posterity. The Native Prairies Association of Texas, with a big push from DFW chapters, raised $60,000 to purchase and maintain the biological gem.
Prairie bouquet. Courtesy of Amy Martin.
That's not all! Read about more green strides in North Texas in 2017 on GreenSourceDFW.org.