People's Choice Award

It's official! We have now been given word that Nashvillians are not the only ones who love the Mobile Lab!

We were recently recognized at the BRIC (Building Recognition in Chattanooga) awards as the Sustainable PROJECT OF THE YEAR - PEOPLE'S CHOICE AWARD!

We were nominated for this award by Tennessee Solar Solutions (TSS), who generously volunteered their time and energy to install the six 300 watt solar panels on top of our Mobile Lab. Our solar power is enough to power the entire contents of our Mobile Lab for a majority of our school visits.

Thank you BRIC and TSS for the exciting award! We are so happy to be recognized as a sustainable favorite! 


Bigs, Littles and their "People Power"!

This week we had the pleasure of hanging out in the Mobile Lab with our friends over at Big Brothers Big Sisters!

This was special for many reasons (aside from having to find a parking spot for our GIANT, oversized Mobile Lab in a SMALL urban parking lot) :

One - Instead of the usual single age - group of students, we had students ranging from 4th through 9th grade in one group.

Two - We also had these students mentors, otherwise known as their "bigs"

And Three - Instead of being on a strict time schedule - everyone had time to roam and explore and discuss the activities with their mentors.

It was a beautiful thing to see. The discussions and questions and curiosity exhibited by the pairs was really reassuring for what our Mobile Lab brings to the communities we serve.

We ended the night by making "people powered" salsa with the blender bike and eating and chatting about sustainability.  Thanks for a great night BBBS!

Engage Green: Saving April Showers

Last night it rained, and then it POURED. Negative as that sounds - it was the perfect backdrop for last night's monthly Engage Green event that we put on with Lightning 100's Team Green Adventures at Cumberland River Compact.

Cumberland River Compact does a lot of cool things, but one of the things they are most known for (and that we are super thankful they do!), is their rain barrel program. They offer 55 gallon rain barrels at a small cost, in addition to educating our community on the benefits they offer! 

At the workshop we not only learned how these rain barrels are constructed (the original plastic barrels are actually donated by Coca Cola!), but also all the benefits that utilizing rain barrels can have!   

Rain barrels reduce the amount of runoff into our streams, provide plants with water that has not had to be sent through the drinking-quality water processing, provides water during a drought AND saves you money on your water bill. A win-win-win-win.

Thank you for those that came out and talked rain with us! 

Bill Nye the Science Guy!

Have you ever seen kids (and adults alike) get so giddy after seeing a scientist that they are literally shaking with excitement and disbelief? Urban Green Lab can now answer that with a confident, YES. 

Today, Urban Green Lab's Executive Director, Jennifer Westerholm, had the honor of introducing the infamous Bill Nye the Science Guy for his book signing at Vanderbilt's Barnes and Noble. The event had an expected 400 science enthusiasts in attendance, many of them teachers from around the country in town for the National Science Teacher's Conference. 

A Caffeinated Adventure: Bongo

The first Wednesday night of every month is an exciting one. It is the monthly time for Urban Green Lab to come together with Lightning 100's,  Team Green Adventures, for the monthly sustainability workshop called "Engage Green".

This month's workshop was centered around everyone's favorite morning addiction: coffee.

Tom, the Head Roaster at Bongo Java's roasting and packaging facility was nice enough to let us explore the space and ask him about 18 too many questions. The talk was fascinating, and really got people's thoughts brewing over all things coffee. Did you know that coffee can be labeled from a particular region if a single bean from that region was placed in the bag? That co-ops are much more fair than "fair trade" and that "fair trade" can be hardly fair? So many aspects to the world of coffee that most of us had no idea about! 

 The Bongo labels ready to be processed onto coffee bags.

The Bongo labels ready to be processed onto coffee bags.

Thank you to all who came out to this fascinating look at coffee and of course to Tom, for being an amazing host and coffee expert!

Oh, and tip for the easily over-caffeinated: eat a banana and drink a glass of water. The potassium and water will flush the caffeine out of your system. If only that were common knowledge ...

 Tom standing next to the OFFICIAL Bongo Java coffee roaster.

Tom standing next to the OFFICIAL Bongo Java coffee roaster.



Bigs, Littles, and lots of Reusable Bags!

When you combine Turnip Green Creative Reuse's space and materials with lots of eager, crafty girls - you've got quite the equation for awesome creations!

Last Tuesday we had a blast teaching Big Brothers Big Sisters (in this case only sisters) of Middle Tennessee about how plastic bags and old clothes can be hard on the environment. The girls learned how reusable bags can be best for the elimination of plastic ones, and how easy it is to "upcycle" old t-shirts. With that knowledge, the girls set to work to make crazy-designed, practical reusable bags out of old t-shirts. Everyone had an awesome time, and will definitely think twice before taking that next plastic bag at the grocery store!