Showing posts with label green. Show all posts
Showing posts with label green. Show all posts

April 4, 2022

Twenty-Post Challenge: My City, Gainesville (Alachua)

This is the fifth post in a twenty-post series blogging challenge. The challenge is to write about the town we live in and to share why we like or dislike it, with a few photos.


Gainesville is a great city to live, work, and retire in. I love many aspects of Gainesville, including the:

1. Nature, biodiversity

Even on my first visit to Gainesville, the two lane roads winding through green ravines immediately reminded me of the Appalachians. Since living here for a few years now and exploring through hiking, I have learned that there is immense biodiversity of plants and animals (and people!) in this region. Gainesville sits on the edge of the Georgia plateau as it crumbles towards the Atlantic, exposing rich, ancient sediments that support the area’s vast biodiversity.

Hoggetown waterway in Ring Park, on a hike. Photo by Amber Lee.

2. Diversity of people

I love that Gainesville celebrates people of all kinds, with county supported events for people of different gender identities, races, and heritages, and also many family events. The mix of people here in this University town for decades has strengthened the region’s collective identity and gender/race relations. Last year when Black Lives matters and All peoples lives matter became a chanting call across the nation, Gainesville had already addressed these issues years ago and stood united to stop violence in all forms, instead of pointing fingers at any one race.

Data and chart from City Data at:


Street art found on a hike. Photo by Amber Lee.

3. Weather

The climate here is nice and you get at least three Florida seasons of a warm Spring, a really hot, muggy Summer, and a tepid Fall; with a few freezes coming through in the Winter. The climate isn’t too harsh and tends to stay very temperate, except for a few hot, stale windless months during late summer. If you’re a gardener, you'll enjoy Gainesville's climate where you can easily grow year round with a greenhouse or diy plastic sheeting hoop houses.

Sunset over Gainesville school. Photo by Amber Lee.

4. People I’ve Met

The people of Gainesville are really great. I’ve met wonderful neighbors and professional contacts here. One such group of great people is the Writer's Alliance of Gainesville ( Gainesville has several great meet up groups for almost anything you'd be interested in and also has many extra supports and events for families and children.

Gainesville by drone. Footage by

5. University Influence

The university influence is seen everywhere in city business offering variety and quality; overall city cleanliness and safety, and green spaces planning.

The University of Florida football Swamp arena. Photo by Amber Lee.

6. Cool vibe here overall, like Asheville


I’m not going to detail much on why I don’t like my city because I think every city has aspects that are unliked or unsightly. I also don’t like to focus on the negatives in life. If you're looking to move to Gainesville, make sure you check the crime maps because unfortunately there are some not so nice parts.

What I don’t like:

  1. Lots of petty crimes, robberies, burglaries overall in the city. Someone attempted robbery on my brother Jason years ago at a bus stop by the university - the university is improving security in the entire downtown area including facial recognition cameras and other tracking/ identification methods.
  2. Homeless drunks begging in the street medians - its dangerous that they're in the street medians and they're everywhere in Gainesville.

I hope this gives you a little glimpse into the wonderful city that I call home. Gainesville is a great place and I hope you'll come visit sometime!

The original challenge is from Writer’s Write.

#amberclee #Gainesville #20postchallenge

October 4, 2021

What Happened to the Geese at Gainesville Duckpond?

One of our favorite stops on our daily Gainesville bike ride is to visit the Duckpond neighborhood to view the ducks and swans, and sit for a few minutes at the peaceful water. Duckpond is a historical neighborhood of Gainesville with the majority of homes built in the late 1800s to the early 1900s.

Many Duckpond homes have been preserved and carry plaques certifying their age: the neighborhood stands as a living history of the early settlers to the area. There are cottage, colonial, Victorian, Mediterranean, and farmhouse-styled homes lining the whimsical winding street. And if you’re into rock music - this is the childhood neighborhood of famed rocker Tom Petty.

A small river meanders through the middle of the street that splits the neighborhood. Towards the south end of the river there is a large pond with an island in the middle that for years has housed a pair of geese: a white older one and a younger black goose. The white goose always reminded me of the one from the children’s fairy tale stories of old mother Goose.

In 2019 the Gainesville neighborhood also added a pair of swimming black swans with beautiful ruffled black feathers on their back. These four large birds have been beautiful to watch on every bike ride we take. They are often very friendly and will squawk back to you as if they are saying hello. I can imagine that the people who live in Duckpond neighborhood are also very fond of their birds - they are such majestic animals!

Twin cypress trees grow over 100 feet tall from the island, which also provides a great habitat for critters. A number of fish and amphibians and reptiles live around the island. You can see the frogs where they have laid their eggs around the rim of the concrete island. Gainesville as a whole has quite a bit of biodiversity in flora and fauna, and this neighborhood has worked to protect this serene slice of land.

The river flows above ground for about half a mile through this beautiful neighborhood section of Gainesville. It’s a great place to sit and study, or to have a few minutes of quiet meditation. While enjoying the natural space, there is not a lot of sound from traffic or city noises. There’s also a couple of benches by the pond.


As you can see from the photos, Gainesville Duckpond is such a peaceful oasis right in the heart of the city. It’s easy to see why the homes hold such high real estate and social value in this area.

Unfortunately on our most recent bike ride, we noticed that all of the birds were missing from the pond.

A cleaning was conducted on the pond six months or more ago where they completely drained the water, cleaned out most of the brush and trash that had accumulated in the pond, and placed the birds in a temporary home. Since these birds had been at Duckpond for years I never imagined that they would not bring them back yet.

Where have the geese and swans from Duckpond neighborhood gone to? No one seems to have an answer online. Do you know where the geese and swans are now living? Leave us a comment to help us figure out this Gainesville mystery.


September 29, 2021

First Carbon Net Zero Soccer Game: Tottenham Hotspurs vs Chelsea 9.19.2021

Sports bring us together. They give us entertainment and they allow us to settle our political differences in ways other than wars. In almost every American household there is at least one sport regularly playing on the television. In our house that sport is football -- or "soccer" as us Americans know this sport by.

Popular all around the world and huge in every country other than the United States, soccer has been a catalyst for youth in some of the poorest places of the world. It’s popular in these poor places because of tradition but also because it only takes a simple ball and a small target to use as a goal, whereas other sports usually take much more gear or need more people on the team to be a good game.

One of the largest and most well-funded soccer leagues, with some of the best players in the world, is the English Premier League in the United Kingdom. The Premier League and Tottenham Hotspurs Football Club recently made an exciting sustainable leadership choice: to hold the first ever carbon net zero soccer game between teams Tottenham and Chelsea on September 19, 2021. Tottenham Hotspurs partnered with Sky news and the UK government to tackle this monumental reduction in carbon footprint and to bring attention to the climate emergency we're all currently fighting.

Tottenham Hotspurs Football Club Stadium

Carbon net zero status for events and buildings means that the emissions of carbon produced by that venue has been calculated and that sustainability strategies have been put in place to reduce the carbon being generated to zero, with nothing harmful being emitted into our planet's environment.

Calculations for carbon emissions for the soccer game would have captured everything from how the stadium is powered, how far the food travels to get to the stadium and how it is grown; emissions created by how players and attendees travel to the game; and impacts of the water used throughout the stadium. Greenhouse gas emissions calculations are a very complex data gathering and analysis process with many different indicators weighing in on the carbon emissions calculation.

Sustainability efforts are also incomplete without social justice as a key component. The Premier League, its players, and staff are already well known for their progressive support of human equality.

Carbon zero status was achieved through many different methods for the Tottenham-Chelsea soccer game, including the purchasing and planting of carbon offsets. Offsets will unfortunately always need to be used for large scale events and structures to reach carbon net zero status no matter the reduction techniques used, so this isn’t something we’re going to change soon.

Some of the techniques that Tottenham Football Club used to make this a sustainable soccer game were reducing the overall energy usage to power the game and using sustainable sources for energy; encouraging proper waste management and recycling; and making dietary choices at the stadium that reduced travel distance of food and encouraged meatless or meat-alternative options. The club also encouraged their fans to make sustainable choices, such as taking transportation to the games in a way other than driving and to consider water conservation at home and at the stadium.

What’s really exciting is that the Premier League even chose to promote sustainability in this way. With millions of viewers across the world watching their games they can really make a statement about issues essential to human kind.

Remember that even really big things begin with really small steps: How can you positively affect our resources and our planet? Can you be a little more conscious about water or energy use throughout your day? As Gandhi once said, change begins with me. Changing our own behavior is the only effective route to saving our planet.

If you want to change the world, start with yourself.
Mohandas Gandhi

Tottenham Hotspurs soccer players and staff are passionate about their climate goals for the planet, calling themselves the Premier league‘s greenest club. Great job, Tottenham Hotspurs, for setting the new standard for soccer games around the world!

#amberclee #gamezero

July 28, 2013

Growing Basil...

My basil has really taken off in the garden and now I'm looking for creative ways to use this delicious herb. I'm growing two types: dark opal basil and the well-known sweet basil type. Their aroma is so strong every time you brush against them or water.

The best use I've found for both basils being grown is to make a pesto. Pesto is made from fresh basil, garlic, parsley, salt, pine nuts (or walnuts), olive oil, and romano (or parmesan) cheese. You can even leave out the cheese and freeze the pesto for a delicious addition or spread anytime. Look at this pesto over mozzarella picture I found:

So simple and so delicious!

July 17, 2013

Plant City Has New Electric Car Charging Station

Last year, you may recall as one of the first hundred in all of Tampa Bay, a Chargepoint electric car charging station was installed at the Dale Mabry campus of Hillsborough Community College in Tampa Florida by the Science cluster:

Now Plant City has its own electric car charging station from Chargepoint! You'll find the charging station and accompanying green curb parking between the new Plant City Courthouse location and the Department of Children and Families (big white building). Check out this environmentally friendly new charging station that is currently FREE to use:

Go to Chargepoint's website to find other stations or to reserve a charging spot:

June 3, 2013

Sun Power with Solar Panels at HCC Brandon Campus

Originally published by Amber C. Lee in Sodexo at HCC's monthly report May 2013:

This month's sustainability focus is all about sun and sun power! Florida, as you probably already know by it's nickname the Sunshine State, has a great resource that is renewable and abundant: solar power. We've discussed how important reducing, reusing, and recycling is to bettering our collective sustainable future and providing better service to our client. Exploring alternative energy sources is important too. HCC has recognized the opportunity of solar power and is already leading Tampa Bay by their example.

Most recently, Plant City campus students installed two solar charging stations as a legacy project so that students, faculty and staff could better enjoy the outdoor spaces on campus and charge their laptops, phones or other electronics using only solar energy.

Last month in May, Sodexo participated in an international event promoting clean energy awareness called “Hands Across the Sand.” As we are all Tampa Bay residents, our bay and ocean are an important resource that continues to be mistreated, misused and polluted. Thousands of concerned citizens joined hands across the beaches of Tampa and the world to represent the need for cleaner energy and visualize our local environment's future, a legacy we all share.

Last year, HCC worked together with TRANE to have a solar panel installed at BR campus that provides less than 1% of the energy used on campus. The solar panel serves as learning tool and visual reminder to all campus visitors of our commitment to cleaner energy. Just last week at the HCC Sustainability Council meeting, TRANE also introduced a online digital energy use monitor to help HCC monitor energy use by campus and by building, making the data more visible and trackable.

HCC also worked previously with Chargepoint to have one of the first 100 electric car charging stations of Tampa Bay installed at Dale Mabry campus (by the Science cluster) and currently does not charge for the energy “fill-up” to electric vehicles. While the energy comes from the regular power grid and not solar, electric cars typically use significantly less energy and give off less pollution from use.

Solar power is an abundant resource that we can be proud HCC has taken a lead in implementing in the Tampa Bay community. What ways can you support alternative energy and how can you reduce your personal consumption? Sometimes it's as easy as turning off the light and opening the blinds.

May 3, 2013

No Action Too Small When It Comes To Sustainability

Originally published by Amber C. Lee in Sodexo at HCC's monthly report April 2013:

Looking back after the conclusion of Earth Month (April), what kind of impact did you have on your campus? Did you make an extra effort to affect your campus and community, even in a small way? Small actions can add up in a big way over time. Sometimes we are waiting for someone else to step up and take lead when we need to be leaders, especially when it comes to sustainability, our work, and the well-being of our community.

For your reference, sustainability at its simplest means making choices with regards to people, the planet, and our economy. Sodexo is already a leader of our industry in sustainable practices and was recognized again last month by DiversityInc with a #1 ranking on the 2013 Top 50 Companies for Diversity List. Diversity and social justice are important principles of sustainable decision making.

Locally Sodexo made a difference last month by volunteering with Feeding America Tampa Bay (formerly Second Harves) for our StopHunger campaign. Sodexo supervisors volunteered a combined 12 hours and helped to bag a huge amount of cooking potatoes for Tampa Bay families in need. Sodexo is committed to ending hunger and famine world-wide through our StopHunger campaign.

Supervisor John Pacheco of the District Offices Campus saw an opportunity to help the environment and improve our image with the client: when he noticed that the mangroves lining the seawall at the walking path were ridden with plastic shopping bags, fishing line and other garbage, John took the initiative to clear a large amount of the waste out. He ended the clean up with a large bin full of waste and a more appealing waterline for the campus.

Keep up the great work, team! Remember that no action is too small to keep us moving in the right direction. To find out more information or comment, please email Amber C. Lee.

March 28, 2013

The "Better Tomorrow Plan"

Originally published by Amber C. Lee in Sodexo at HCC's monthly report March 2013:

Sodexo is a recognized leader in global sustainability. The Better Tomorrow Plan is Sodexo's strategic, progressive journey to address the sustainability issues identified as being important to our business and our stakeholders. The Better Tomorrow Plan outlines 14 key commitments for action and stresses the key importance of dialogue and joint actions with our stakeholders.

So why should the Better Tomorrow Plan be important to you? The nature of our business, which is greater than just janitorial work or dining services, makes us an integral and embedded part of the community in which we serve. Our clients that our business is centered around are also our neighbors, colleagues and friends. The Better Tomorrow Plan impacts our individual job, our clients at HCC, and the Greater Tampa Bay Community.

Who is involved in the Better Tomorrow Plan? Everyone is the short answer. The Better Tomorrow Plan is being implemented in the executive levels of Sodexo, at educational sites like ours, and at all of our over 33,900 locations around the world. Sodexo gives us the unique ability to make an impact globally and locally just by doing our jobs well.

When is this happening? It already has. Implementation of the Better Tomorrow Plan has already began company-wide. Major progress is being made at HCC, with the hiring last semester of Sodexo's Resource Coordinator and the development of several projects, such as the Waste Elimination Station (WES) campus digital inventory & mapping of sustainability features.

Where do I start? As a Sodexo employee, you have a lot to be proud of already, but we need your help. Just this month Sodexo was recognized at the World Economic Forum for its corporate sustainability practices with three awards: Sector Leader, Gold Class, and Sector Mover. Go team.

To find out how you can be an ambassador for Sodexo, contact Amber C. Lee or ask your campus supervisor today.

January 15, 2013

Every Piece Of Waste Has A Story

Originally published by Amber C. Lee in Sodexo at HCC's monthly report January 2013:

"Every Piece Of Waste Has A Story"

As you prepare for your holiday break and to come back to campus in January, think about the waste you generate in your everyday activities or when selecting your college supplies. Every piece of paper, pencil, tool, food product, or otherwise that enters your personal waste stream has a story. It is our personal responsibility to reduce our personal waste stream as much as possible, lessening the impact on our blue planet and the green in our wallet.

When choosing a new product or tool, are you thinking about how much packaging is used or if it was made with recycled materials? Can you reduce your shipping cost and the amount of packaging by combining orders? Reducing and making conscious choices with sustainability in mind is the first step in reducing your personal waste stream.

Take a look at the bottles of water the next time you’re at the store: many companies are now offering up to 50% recycled plastics or reduced bottle sizes that can then be re-used and recycled after it enters your waste stream. When you make conscious purchases, every dollar you spend is a vote to which companies continue to produce or serve our market. You have a direct impact with every purchase to encourage positive for the planet products.

How are you going to use that product or item once it’s in your personal waste stream? Will you use it once and throw it away, or can you re-use that can to plant flowers in, or fix and item when it brakes instead of purchasing the latest model. When you refuse to fix or re-use an item, you are effectively choosing to significantly shorten that item’s life span. Choose to re-use as much as possible and simply fix your broken things instead of replacing them. Just because it isn’t the newest edition or release, doesn’t mean what you have isn’t usable or donatable to someone that will use the item.

Once you have thoroughly used a product past its life span, how is that product leaving your personal waste stream? Think about the things you use and how to get the most use not only for the planet, but for your own wallet too. You create the story for every piece of waste or product that enters your life.

Let’s look at buying a cup of coffee. Did you bring your own thermos? Did you purchase from our dining areas that offer certified fair-trade coffee? Did you recycle your paper cup or use it for a second cup? Do you know if the grounds and filters are being recycled for compost? Did you get a discount on campus for using your own cup?

These are great questions to ask, however it starts with a personal commitment to sustainability. A commitment to sustainability means making conscious decisions that are good for people, the planet and the economy. When you choose sustainability, everyone wins. Discover more about the waste in your life and learn how you can make an impact by contacting Amber C. Lee.

January 12, 2012

Represent: Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee for Tampa Bay Regional Metropolitan Planning Organization

Downtown yesterday, I was asked if I would represent Eastern Hillsborough County's interests on the Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) for the Tampa Bay Regional Metropolitan Planning Organization. Katharine and I were there to represent the college and our need for adequate bike lanes to our campuses as a way to reduce our carbon footprint.

 The committee's website is here.

January 9, 2012

Mmmm.. So Good.. An Alternative to Soy Milk

Making the switch to vegetarianism? I recently watched the free Youtube documentary entitle "Home". I highly recommend seeing this film.

Watch it here when you have the time.

What struck me the most in the film is that it takes 10x more energy to produce an animal meat product that a vegetable or fruit product- meaning more water, feed, space, etc - and creating 10x the carbon footprint. Yes, animal protein was extremely important initially in our species' brain development, and I know I'll probably want a thick, juicy steak grilled to perfection at some point down the road (my mouth is watering at the thought). Thanks to greater availability of non-meat imitations, soy products and increased grocery availability in general for most Americans, its not hard to shift your eating choices away from that of meat products.

If you are adapting to a vegetarian lifestyle (no matter what type), try this product as a non-soy milk replacement: Silk Pure Almond. I've tried the vanilla flavor so far, and it tastes DELICIOUS! Its low in calories and high in calcium, vitamins D & E, and protein. I feel like I'm having a milkshake when I'm drinking a glass... Yum!!

Check out all the great reasons to switch to Silk Pure Almond here.

January 7, 2012

Invitation to Love (poem)

I wrote this short poem after my KINS Founders weekend: an enlightening and connecting weekend with some very special people I now call my KINS. We shared an afternoon walk of silence and meditated on our individual vision of a green, vibrant Tampa Bay. Sitting at my computer desk at home, I recall that inspiring afternoon:

Invitation to Love
the earth seemed inviting
as the grass crunched under my feet
the sun fell warmly on our bodies
as we stood in communion
with the earth, as one organism
the metal and glass are a contrast
to our natural place of belonging
the love extends from the earth
in a way that man-made never could

Helen, Georgia    taken by: Amber C. Lee

January 6, 2012

U.S. Postal Service Takes A Green Step

Introducing "Go Green" stamps at your nearest U.S. Post Office, encouraging and informing postal customers in different ways of reducing their personal environmental impact in easy ways. Going green is reality. Great idea, Postal Service!

Check it out here on their site for purchasing and green tips.

They give three great tips on the flyer I'd picked up at the Post Office in town:

     --> Adjust the thermostat. Every degree can lower your energy bill by 3%.

     --> Use public transportation.

     --> Plant trees. They remove carbon dioxide and contaminants for the air and provide a habitat for wildlife.

They also have the CUTEST tote bags for a trip or the grocery or to the beach...

Thanks, U.S. Postal Service. Great tips, and a great example in the right direction!

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