Beautiful Support from the Community

“We feel lucky to have business so that we can employ some people and provide food to the community.”

– Michael Marzano, who co-owns Hot Mama’s Wings in Eugene with his wife Angie.
Michael Marzano / Hot Mama’s Wings

Like so many restaurants across the state, Hot Mama’s has shifted its entire business to offer only take-out meals. Michael and Angie say they feel fortunate that they’ve been able to continuously adapt and pivot. “It’s tough, a continuing work in progress, but we’re figuring it out,” Angie adds. They cut the menu in half based on what they could do with proper social distancing in the kitchen and what would work best for takeout. They initially struggled to get enough to-go containers and all-natural chicken wings. As they worked through to find solutions, “it was nice to find out the new menu matched well to what customers really wanted,” Michael reflects. He has also been delightfully surprised to find that Hot Mama’s new menu is generating virtually no food waste.

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Everyone is Pitching In

“The great thing to see has been the teamwork. Everyone is supporting each other to find new ways to make this challenging situation work for our customers, our staff, and the community.”

– Rianna Koppel, Sustainability Coordinator at Ashland Food Co-op

As it continues to serve the needs of its members during the COVID-19 crisis, the Co-op has taken many steps to safeguard employees and customers. “It’s completely changed the way we work.”  The Co-op has added masks and hand sanitizer, one-way aisles, floor stickers for social distancing at checkout, plexiglass shields at checkout, and senior shopping hours in the morning.  

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DEQ extends vehicle inspection station closures to at least May 31, other inspection options available

Vehicle inspection station, Portland

UPDATED: May 15, 2020

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, which closed its vehicle inspection stations on March 17, has extended those closures through at least May 31, in an effort to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19 among staff and customers.

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Celebrate Air Quality Awareness Week

Blue sky over a remote Oregon ranch

It’s Air Quality Awareness Week and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is celebrating. This year’s theme is Better Air, Better Health! The goal is to promote an increased understanding of Oregon’s air and DEQ’s projects and programs dedicated to improving its quality. We also want to encourage people to check the Air Quality Index daily.

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DEQ Repair and Reuse grants spur growth for small businesses and nonprofits

Willa Bauman, operations manager at the ToolBox Project in Eugene, explains how a Repair and Reuse grant from DEQ helped the tool library grow.

A Repair and Reuse grant from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality can be transformative for a small business or nonprofit.

“The DEQ was great to work with, I can say that,” said Willa Bauman, operations manager at the ToolBox Project in Eugene. The nonprofit runs a tool library, where members borrow tools instead of books. “If you are in a similar boat and you’re a grassroots, all-volunteer nonprofit and you need that step up to start to grow your organization and look to the future definitely apply for a DEQ grant.”

DEQ started taking applications from small businesses and nonprofits focused on repair and reuse earlier this spring. Applications for 2020 are due by June 5.

This year DEQ has $120,000 to award in grants up to $10,000 each. DEQ recently broadened eligible costs covered through the Repair and Reuse grant program to address the challenges faced by small businesses and nonprofits trying to retain employees during the COVID-19 outbreak.

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The ToolBox Project earned a Repair and Reuse grant in 2017. The funding helped the nonprofit be open for another day each week, hire Bauman and add more tools to its collection.

“That made us more accessible to members,” Bauman said. “That meant that we could serve more people.”

Membership in the ToolBox Project went up by 42% during the grant window.More members means more revenue for the ToolBox Project. Members are asked to give an annual donation, with the suggested donation varying by household income. For example, members whose annual household income is more than $100,000 are asked to donate $100 per year and members whose household income is between $30,000 and $50,000 are asked to donate $30 per year.

The ToolBox Project now has a collection of about more than 1,500 tools, Bauman said.

To be eligible for a Repair and Reuse grant from DEQ, an Oregon business or nonprofit must repair, salvage, refurbish or resell common consumer goods such as clothing, electronics and furniture, or have a reuse focus. DEQ defines “reuse” as the return of a commodity into the economic stream for use in the same kind of application as originally intended.

Along with the ToolBox Project past grantees are JD’s Shoe Repair and Salvage Works in Portland, The Renewal Workshop in Cascade Locks and Garten Services in Salem.

“We encourage all repair and reuse businesses and nonprofits in Oregon to check out this grant opportunity and see if it’s a good fit for their business,” said Marie Diodati, DEQ Materials Management program analyst. “With so much uncertainly and turmoil affecting Oregon businesses right now, we hope this grant offers some relief and hope to those trying to stay afloat.”

For more information about the grants and for application material go to ordeq.org/RepairandReuseGrants .

– Dylan Darling, public affairs specialist

 

DEQ Director’s Message for Earth Day 2020

Fifty years ago, when we began celebrating the planet by dedicating a day to it, I lived in a place called Musketaquid by the first people of the area – the Algonquin.  Musketaquid means “the place where the waters flow through the grasses.” The waters are two rivers – the Assabet and the Sudbury – that join together to form the Concord River in eastern Massachusetts, 20 miles west of Boston.

Back then I would cross the Assabet on my way to and from school – and some days I would make my mother very nervous by disappearing for hours along its banks.

Fifty years ago, in eighth grade, I knew about the mills that dumped dye into the Assabet. But there were many things I didn’t know.

I didn’t know that on the other river – the Sudbury (where I worked weekends at a local boathouse), the river was heavily polluted by mercury. From 1917 to 1978 the Nyanza Color & Chemical Company operated a textile dye factory that dumped wastewater into a tributary of the Sudbury named Chemical Brook. EPA estimates that 45 to 57 metric tons of mercury were released to the Sudbury River over this period, and a no-fishing advisory remains in place today.

Fifty years ago I also didn’t know that the farmworker kids I went to school with sometimes helped out in the fields, and that it was still common in those days to spray with DDT and other pesticides that posed great risks for human health and the environment. And, as I continue to learn, there are many more things I don’t know.

The first Earth Day, on April 22, 1970 was the beginning of a broader awakening for me and many others about the effects of our ways of life on the health of our communities and the environment. My eighth-grade class spent the day picking up trash near Walden Pond and getting inspired to take direct action to care for our own community. Thankfully, that learning continues today.

Fifty years ago, after a period of 25 years of reckless headlong growth following World War II, we began to recognize the consequences of our actions. In the United States, our leaders from all political stripes enacted comprehensive protections for the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the lands we inhabit. We treated many of the symptoms of our post-war society. And this work made the planet a better place for many.

We succeeded back then by getting kids and moms and dads and grandparents and neighbors and friends involved in their communities, by everyone working together to make things better in their own back yards.

Today, with a major public health pandemic pushing us apart physically, and pulling large parts of our economy down, it can be hard to see how we come back together as communities in the same way to help our planet over the next 50 years. But we must. Just as we began to realize in the 1960s and 70s what we had done to our air, our land, and our waters, we now know what our society is doing to the long-term health and survival of the planet.

To stop the catastrophic climate emergency that is about to engulf us, we are going to have to change how we produce, consume and dispose of things, from plastic cups and straws, to the energy we have come to enjoy, to where and how we live and work. Making these changes in ways that are fair and equitable to all parts of society will be even more challenging.

The events of the last month show that we are still capable of working together to confront a common threat. Yes, there are places to point fingers and complain. Yes, there will always be the push and pull of politics. But the world is capable of change, even if that change is messy. And as we work our way out of the pandemic, please stop for a day – this day in particular – to think about the next 50 years and what steps you will take in your community so that you can tell your kids and grandkids that you acted to make this planet a healthier, better place.

–Richard Whitman, Director

50 years later, Earth Day message still resonates

I was in junior high school when the first Earth Day captivated the world’s imagination and energized the environmental movement. In my hometown, Boulder, Colo., the city closed downtown streets to traffic to simulate what would later become one of the first urban center pedestrian malls in the United States. Musicians set up shop, and people literally danced in the streets that day, April 22, 1970.

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Staying connected while working apart

While Oregonians are practicing physical distancing and taking other precautions as we weather the COVID-19 pandemic together, staff can still connect whether it’s 6 feet or 6 miles apart. Here are some friendly faces of staff from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality who continue to adjust to working at home.

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State agencies ask Oregonians to voluntarily refrain from outdoor burning while communities respond to COVID-19

Canva - Photography of Wood Burning on Fire Pit

In response to the “Stay Home, Save Lives” Executive Order to reduce the effects of the COVID-19 virus, a coalition of Oregon state agencies are asking Oregonians to voluntarily refrain from conducting outdoor burning.

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DEQ Launches Office of Greenhouse Gas Programs

The Office of Greenhouse Gas Programs is leading the Department of Environmental Quality’s effort to reduce Oregon’s contribution to global greenhouse gas pollution. The Office will execute the directions to DEQ in Governor Brown’s executive order to fight climate change, and will begin work immediately to develop and implement programs that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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