LADY BIRD JOHNSON WILDFLOWER CENTER: How a
eco-friendly craft projects you can wear
Seed Bank Can Save the Central Texas Landscape JERRY CAPPS Austin’s Tie Dye Artist
INSIDE: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle A Litterer’s Confession Preventing Invasive Plants
r e t t e L
This magazine was created to teach high school age Austinites about their environment and to promote eco-friendly living. Readers will learn about local places that protect the ecosystem and resourceful craft projects. We hope readers of Lark get something out of reading our creation. Lark is the word that we chose to advocate for our magazine. A lark is a bird, and â€˜to larkâ€™ is similar in meaning to the action of frolicking or skylarking. Birds are part of nature, so they represent the eco-friendly and environmentalist aspects of the magazine. Frolicking or larking can be seen as a means to express oneself, and making crafts is a way to do so. The crafts in our magazine alter a no longer useful item into something once again useful. In the process of creating this magazine, we as the writers learned a great deal. We gained experience in journalism, met interesting people, and researched topics that piqued our interest. We learned about native plants, invasive species, sustainable farming, and the joy of tie-dye. Overall, we are glad to have participated in this process. We gained a lot from it, and we hope you will, too. The single issue of Lark is complete. Enjoy.
The Editors 2
Photo By Mazie Hyams
Cecilia is the craftiest group member, and tries to wear at least one handmade item every day. She makes scarves, jewelry, and decorations for her room out of vintage books and fabric. She loves reading DIY, fashion, and design blogs, but also likes learning about native plants and animals.
In her backyard, she has compost piles, a clothesline, a bottle tree, and six chickens that live in a coop (you can see a picture of them on the last page). She enjoyed learning about Urban Roots Farm, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, and other sustainable and eco-friendly places around Austin.
Photo By Mazie Hyams
John is the most spontaneous group member, and tries to keep everyone on the team amused. He keeps a garden in his backyard, and uses it for all of his cooking experiments. He loved working on the Opinion Pieces, (trying) to design layouts alongside Cecilia, and arguing over color schemes. Heâ€™s also the go to IT member of the team, and tries to fix whatever is wrong with the software that is used. John had fun researching the tie-dye article (read it on page 32), and has now started tie-dying himself.
John Chan Photo By Mazie Hyams
A healthy environment has always been one of Frankieâ€™s primary concerns. Frankie is also a creative person. She enjoys drawing and other art and is always willing to learn new artistic activities. Writing for this magazine has given her an excellent opportunity to learn about native plants and flowers along with discovering some different ways to use unwanted clothing to create other functional items.
Frankie wanted to create Lark as a learning experience. Writing is one of her hobbies, and the chance to learn about protecting the planet and eco-friendly craft projects was a pleasing prospect for Frankie.
C o ntents e l f b o a T 6
Waste Not, Want Not by Cecilia Handy
This opinion piece covers the basics of the â€œreduce, reuse, recycleâ€? slogan, consumerism, sustainable living and waste reduction. Photo by flickr user Esos.de
Confessions of a Litterer by John Chan
John admits to littering in the past, and in this story, he explains to readers how littering is harmful and how it should be prevented. Photo by flickr user killbox
Sustainable Sites by Frankie Marchan
This guide to local sustainable places contains quick summaries and photos of five important locations in Austin. Photo by Cecilia Handy
Shaping Texas One Seed at a Time by Frankie Marchan
This profile on the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center covers seed banks and maintaining the natural central Texas atmosphere. Photo by Frankie Marchan
State of His Art by John Chan
Jerry the Tie-Dye Guy, an Austin tie-dye artist, creates many crafts including school t-shirts for elementary school students. Photo by flickr user Laurie Avocado
Saving the Central Texas Landscape by Frankie Marchan
This piece summarizes the negative effects of invasive non-native plant species and methods for eradicating invasive plants. Photo by Frankie Marchan
Let the Grass Grow Under Your Feet by Cecilia Handy
Urban Roots, a local sustainable farm, sells produce at local farmersâ€™ markets and donates to hunger relief organizations. Photo by Cecilia Handy
by Cecilia Handy
Illustrated Do-It-Yourself projects with simple instructions on making eco-friendly crafts, like a summer scarf. Photo by Cecilia Handy
by Cecilia Handy and Frankie Marchan
Here, various photos that were taken throughout the creation of Lark are compiled. Photo by Cecilia Handy
Photo By Alex Chaffee
Waste Not, Want Not Written by Cecilia Handy
MOST PEOPLE ACCEPT THAT, in order to preserve
the environment, they should reduce, reuse, and recycle. However, few people make a significant effort to follow these guidelines. And most choose recycling, which is in fact the least effective method of reducing waste, according to the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (a UK government department). Recycling is a good first step, but why are so many people reluctant to take these simple tasks further and live more sustainably? People may be uninformed about waste prevention, or unwilling to make changes to their lifestyle. Buying less and reusing the items I have is ultimately more satisfying to me. At my house, we use cloth napkins and washcloths as opposed to paper napkins, which cannot be recycled after they have been used. We don’t own a dryer - instead, we dry all of our clothes on a clothesline in the backyard. The yard is also where we keep our chickens, who provide us with fresh eggs and fertilizer. Most of our clothes are bought at the thrift store, and the shirts that I have outgrown become scarves or headbands. And, of course, we recycle everything we can. Because this is the way that I have always lived, it isn’t difficult for me, and I enjoy the feeling that I am doing my part to help the environment. Changing the way that you treat shopping and waste reduction may be inconvenient at first, but it’s easy if taken one step at a time. Some may argue that consumerism is the basis of our economy - people should be buying and consuming the cheap, convenient things that they want. Karen Pine, a professor at the University of Hertfordshire, administered a survey in 2009 that found that 79 percent of women go on shopping sprees to cheer themselves up. She also found that 25 percent of the women surveyed regretted a purchase they had made in the past week. According to a study published by the Journal of Consumer Research in 2008, someone who is depressed is also more likely to shop compulsively. The goal of the “three R’s” - reduce, reuse, and recycle is to minimize waste and consumption, also called “waste prevention” or “source reduction,” according to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). Source reduction is beneficial, according to the EPA, because it saves natural resources, reduces the toxicity of waste, and saves money for communities and businesses. Fol6
Garbage in a park in San Francisco, California (right). The cardboard boxes and plastic bottles could easily be recycled or reused. Plastic bags like the ones pictured can easily be avoided by using cloth reusable bags instead. Paper bags, if used, should be recycled, not thrown away.
lowing these guidelines and living sustainably can be a simple step-by-step process. Reduce: Reducing consumption is the most important aspect of reducing waste and conserving resources. In America’s consumerist society, it can also be the most difficult to achieve. The idea is simple: If you use less in the first place, you will also throw away less. Start by being more conscientious about what you buy. Ask yourself, “Do I really want this? Will I regret buying this? Will I still have it six months from now? A year? Five years?” Reuse: If you do own something that you don’t want anymore, don’t throw it in the trash can right away. Clothes
that don’t fit can be donated or re-purposed into other items like scarves, rags, and anything else you can think of. Old plastic or glass containers, and even paper or plastic bags, can be reused. There are plenty of resources online for the crafty-inclined on re-using materials in creative ways. Recycle: Recycling seems like a simple process, and it is, but you need to be aware of your local guidelines. Not everything is accepted by the Austin curbside recycling program (the recycling bin you leave at the curb). According to Austin Resource Recovery, pizza boxes, rubber bands, phone books, and Styrofoam, among other things, should not be set out in your recycling bin, but must be recycled separately. If non-recyclable materials are put into the
recycling bin, the sorting machines cannot do their job properly and the value of the whole batch goes down. Sometimes, if a batch is contaminated, then the whole thing is just put in a land fill - not exactly what I’d call “sustainable.” Researching the rules to prevent the loss of recyclable materials is simple. The single stream recycling program that Austin has put into place makes recycling even easier. You may not intend to re-purpose all your discarded items, stop shopping altogether, and live off the grid all at once - or ever. If everyone makes a few small changes to their lifestyle, however, it can make a big difference in the quality of the environment.
Confessions of a Litterer I HAVE A CONFESSION to make. I litter. I drop candy wrappers on the ground and leave plastic bags in the backyard. And I’m not alone. According to the Australian Government, “in every public place, one third of trash created is not thrown away”. As everyone knows, litter harms the environment. Litter pollutes the ecosystem by degrading into harmful chemicals. One example of this is when golf balls decompose into zinc and other harmful chemicals. These have poisoned the environment around golf courses, said CNN’s Christina MacFarlane in November 2010. Litter also harms animals directly, when they either swallow the litter, or when they are entangled by it and left helpless. Litter even can harm the environment by poisoning the water. Cigarette butts, one of the most common forms of litter, contains toxins inside the cigarette that leech into the water and harm the animals that drink the water, according to Keep America Beautiful. So obviously, litter harms the environment, but it causes even more problems. Litter taxes our pockets. California throws away 11.5 billion dollars a year on cleaning up litter, according to Keep America Beautiful. This money, which could be better spent on health care or education, instead is used to clean up our litter. In addition, property values are lowered when a place is considered dirty or unclean. This might not seem like much, but it can have a enormous impact. If littering is such a big deal, then why do litterers litter? No, it’s not because we’re horrible people. It’s because it’s convenient. Who really wants to walk around the block just to get to the trashcan? Not me. The obvious solution is to install more trashcans, but just doing that will not work. People will just get more lazy, and continue littering. An important group to remember when trying to stop litter is the smokers, whose cigarettes are the main source of litter in the world, according to Keep America Beautiful. They don’t really have a good place to throw their cigarette butts away. The cigarettes get dumped on the ground, and eventually make it to the ocean, poisoning fish and wildlife. Cigarettes can’t be thrown into any trashcan, because of the fire risk. Instead, they must be put out in special ashtrays. Since most trashcans do not have these ashtrays, many cigarette butts are dropped on the ground and stubbed out.
Photo by flikr user killbox
Written by John Chan
Litter along a New Mexico road. New Mexico classifies littering as a petty misdemeanor, and litter law enforcement rates are low. If adding just trashcans will not work, then what will? States all over the country have implemented fines and penalties that haven’t worked, due to weak enforcement. If the government wants to use this system, the enforcement must get better. If rules about litter are enforced, then people would start to use the trashcans that are put in place. Many states have a problem with prohibiting litter. Unless people call the hot-line or report litterers, states have a hard time keeping track of the litter that is dropped on the ground. And since no one wants to pick up the phone and report litterers, most litter goes unpunished by courts. If states can’t catch and punish litterers, then what can stop litter? The best way, I think, is to educate children on the effects of litter. If kids can see what the impact of litter is on the environment, and stop being complacent about it, then we can stop litter. A study done by the Texas Department of Transportation in 2009 found that 69 percent of kids, after being educated about litter, started actively preventing their parents from littering. Litter is a huge problem facing our world today, with far reaching effects. By educating kids and adults about litter, we can start fixing the damage that we have already done to our environment.
“If littering is such a big deal, then why do litterers litter?”
Sustainable Sites Photo By Cecilia Handy
Compiled by Frankie Marchan Sparky Park
Photo By Cecilia Handy
The art wall at Sparky Park was constructed by Austinites and is made of vario`us materials from shells, to mirror balls, to bits of glass, to bottles. Sparky Park is stationed at the former site of an electrical substation. recycledreads.org
Run primarily by volunteers and located at 5335 Burnet Road, Recycled Reads accepts donations of books from people and libraries and sells them to the public. Obsolete materials are turned into book art rather than put into a land fill. The photo to the left is an example of book art. Photo By Frankie Marchan
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Photo By flickr user alamosbasement
Intended to preserve native species, the Wildflower Center was founded in 1982, and displays the beauty of the natural diversity in Central Texas. Since 2006, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center has also been involved in a plant conservation project. Their own own seed bank cooperates with the Millenium Seed Bank, Seeds of Success, and the Center for Plant Conservation.
Cathedral of Junk
Continually being built by Vince Hannemann, the Cathedral of Junk is a multi-room building constructed of items such as kitchen utensils, bicycle wheels, cables, and bottles. Situated in a small suburban backyard, the cathedral was created simply becuase Hannemann enjoyed the process. Photo By Cecilia Handy
Using sustainable farming methods, Urban Roots, fueled by volunteers, grows fruits and vegetables such as turnips, tomatoes, and spinach, which they then sell at the local Farmerâ€™s Market. Every Tuesday and Thursday morning, Urban Roots also offers volunteering opportunities to help with planting, harvesting, and preparing produce for the market. www.larkezine.blogspot.com 9
Photo by Frankie Marchan
SHAPING TEXAS ONE SEED AT A TIME
Seed Bank at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Written By Frankie Marchan NORTH 30 DEGREES AND 35.076 MINUTES and
West 97 degrees and 59.416 minutes. On private property in Leander, Texas, plant conservationist Florence Oxley spots a Texabama Croton. Along with collecting seeds to be cleaned and stored upon returning to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Oxley clips two branches from the shrub. The plant with vibrantly green leaves and white blooms grows in the partial shade with dry limestone-based clay surrounding its roots. The sky dotted with fluffy clouds in late March, Oxley placed these two branches in a plant press between layers of corrugated cardboard that works as a ventilator and newsprint. 10
After drying and five days of freezing to decontaminate the sample, the plant-pressed specimen will become a voucher and be placed in an insect free cabinet equipped with pantry insect traps. The seeds must be dry before decontamination, because if the water within the embryo was to expand, the seed would die. The collected fruit has to be cleaned to remove debris from the seeds. Plant conservationist Minnette Marr said saving space is crucial when storing millions of seeds. “Once the fruit is collected, the seeds have to be cleaned,” Marr said. “There are two ways to do that. First, for the seeds collected on site in the gardens, that are to be used in
This image displays a few of the multitude of native species of flowers the the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Bluebonnets, golden-eyed phlox (pale violet) and Drummond Phloxes (five-petaled and red) are pictured here. one to two years, they are stored in a [paper] sack. The seeds collected off site for conservation purposes may be stored for years, so they need to be really dry.” To achieve this state of extreme dryness, the seeds spend time in a desiccator, where silicon dioxide is the descant. The cobalt chloride in the silicon dioxide changes from a deep blue to a pale pink as it collects moisture, indicating when the silicon dioxide sheet should be changed out. Volunteers do most of the cleaning by hand, using sieves to separate the bigger debris and smaller debris from the seeds and a blower column to separate the seeds from the debris that is of a similar size. This works because seeds, alive and storing water, are much heavier than non-organic debris. “There are many, many volunteers here, and the work that [the Wildflower Center Seed Bank] does could not happen without the help of volunteers,” Marr said. “We bought [the new, large] desiccator with a donation. Someone donated about twenty thousand dollars, and now we can dry a lot of seeds in one place.” The seed bank at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center conserves native species. According to Susan Rieff, thir-
ty percent of the world’s plants are at risk of extinction, and the Wildflower Center works to save these species as well as maintaining genetic diversity among common Texan species. When diseases affect large quantities of plants, seed banks like the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center help the community to maintain their plants and food. Samples must be preserved carefully because seeds are living entities. Such protection and conservation of seeds does not only occur in Austin. Many people such as plant conservationists, botanists, researchers, and people concerned about the environment contribute to seed banks around the globe. Seed banks and conservation agencies are intended to restore and conserve native flora in order to maintain a balanced ecosystem. The collected seeds can also be used for research. “A seed bank is very much like a financial bank,” Marr said. “There are people that are putting seeds into the seed bank, and they don’t know who will use those seeds. And there are people that are taking seeds out, and those people that are taking the seeds out, they might be doing research on the seeds; they might be using those seeds for restoration purposes, so a seed bank is very much like a financial bank or blood bank. You’ve got some people putting in and some people taking out, and, over time, some people do both.” Former director of the Plant Conservation Program Florence Oxley initiated the seed bank at the Wildflower Center. The purpose of any seed bank is to protect the germplasm, the living substance that allows new plants to grow, of the seed alive and protected. In a scenario where the plant is endangered, seeds from the seed bank can be used to repopulate the area with the proper flora. “Seed banks are a relatively new tool in the conservation tool box,” Oxley said. “They are a cost effective way to ensure that we have germplasm in reserve should anything happen to our native flora. They require little space, are relatively inexpensive to set up and maintain, and represent an opportunity for long term storage of vital germplasm for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years.” While in some ways a seed bank is similar to financial banking that people take part in everyday, a seed bank run by plant conservationists is significantly different from a farmer’s or gardener’s personal store of seeds. This is because people have opinions and favorites. A scientist, however, recognizes the importance of genetic diversity. Therefore, a botanist’s store of seeds contains a few seeds from many different plants rather than many seeds from one or a few plants as an individual gardener would store. “A seed bank is really different than what [a gardener would do], saving seeds,” Marr said. “With a seed bank, the botanists want to capture as much genetic diversity as possible. My grandmother, on the other hand, she would be more likely to have saved the seeds of her favorite rose bush, not all the roses, but the one that had the prettiest color, so gardeners, very often, will pick the plant that has certain characteristics and save the seeds just of that plant. A plant conservationist on the other hand, will try to
save seeds from all of the plants.” Native plants are well adapted to the central Texan environment; they conserve water, protect the soil, and provide habitat for native animals as well. Marr has a variety of native species in her yard in San Marcos, Texas that she said allows her to feel and know that she is in the Edward’s Plateau when she sees her own yard. “In our yard, [my husband and I] have many native plants that we encourage,” Marr said. “I wouldn’t call it a garden though. It’s more like a backyard habitat for native plants. I try to have things in my yard that are endemic to the Edward’s Plateau. So these plants only grow in the Edward’s Plateau. So when I wake up in the morning, and I look out my back door, for the most part, the plants I see are plants that only occur in the Edward’s Plateau. And we say they’re endemic.” The seed bank at the Wildflower Center harbors the common endemic plants that shape the visual image of the Central Texan landscape. These native plants often require less water and care than other non-native alternatives. Additionally, native plants can provide a crucial, non-toxic environment to native wildlife and fauna. “[Native Plants] are awesome and may hold the key to solving many of our environmental problems [with] fuel resourc-
es, world hunger, and cures for any number of diseases we are currently trying to deal with,” Oxley said. By supporting native plants, Marr is supporting the entire Texas ecosystem since organisms from the same habitat depend on one another. Native animals depend on the native plant life for both shelter and food. “I think the use of native plants in our landscapes would help us to conserve water and provide habitat for our pollinators and promote a sense of place,” Marr said.
Photo by Frankie Marchan
“Seed banks are a relatively new tool in the conservation tool box. They are a cost effective way to [preserve germplasm] should anything happen to our native flora.”
The Texas Betony grows in moist soils along steep slopes from West Texas to Southern Arizona. Its small pink flowers contain abundant nectar, attract hummingbirds, and are fragrant. Additionally, the Texas Betony is deer resistant, an advantage in Texas. 12
While many seed banks are primarily for conservation and restoration purposes, the Wildflower Center additionally works to maintain a sense of place. For example, when working with the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew Millenium Seed Bank (MSB), the Wildflower Center, partnered with MSB and Seeds of Success, a United States based seed conservation agency, aimed the collect 10,000 seeds from at least 10% of the native plants in the United States and met that goal. Seeds of Success (SOS) helps to stabilize and rehabilitate the American environment by collecting, conserving, and developing native plant materials of common plants. The Cen-
Photo by Frankie Marchan
Photo by Frankie Marchan
Vouchers pictured to the left are stored in insect-free cabinets inside the herbarium. “An herbarium is like a library of plants,” plant conservationist Minnette Marr said. Above is a Texas Ash tree near the back of the Wildflower Center. This deciduous tree provides generous shade and is very drought tolerant. Minnette Marr is working on a conservation project to save the Ash trees in Texas before the Emerald Ash Borer crosses the state border. ter for Plant Conservation (CPC) works to conserve and restore native plants species that are in danger of extinction. Overall, the purpose of a seed bank is to stabilize the environment by encouraging native plants which, in turn aid the growth of native fauna. “The plants that we collect for the Center for Plant Conservation are of seeds of rare plants. Very rare plants,” Marr said. “The other projects we do are about common plants, and we’re trying to collect thousands of seeds. The Center for Plant Conservation is very different because we’re trying to collect just small numbers of seeds, never more than 5% of the seeds that are available. So it’s very different. Usually that will involve several hundred seeds rather than tens of thousands of seeds.” Marr is working on a project to protect Ash trees in Texas. The Emerald Ash Borer is an invasive insect from Northeast Asia that has killed millions of Ash trees in the Northern United States and Southern Canada in the past twenty years. This summer, she will be giving presentations to the residents of East Texas to teach them how to recognize both Green and White Ash trees, the two species being targeted. The goal is to label 50 trees and to collect their seeds in the autumn. “[Landowners] will look for Ash trees on their property, [and people who] live in a city might look for the Ash trees in [parks] or natural forests,” Marr said. “We will try to find 50
trees of each of those two species, and we will collect seeds this Fall when they ripen. We’re [collecting seeds] in advance of [the Emerald Ash Borer], the non-native insect that is killing millions of Ash trees in North America.” The Emerald Ash Borer was recognized in the Detroit area in the 1990s after many Ash trees started dying, and, since then, that one type of insect has killed millions of Ash trees in the Northern United States and Southern Canada. It has its own website, emeraldashborer.info, where anyone can find out about its invasive activities. The Emerald Ash Borer is creating a massive impact on the American Ash population because of ignorant campers that bring infested firewood from one site to another. If all of the firewood is burned, the insect cannot infect the surrounding trees, but when people do not burn all the firewood they bring with them and leave it for the next person, the Emerald Ash Borer infects the surrounding Ash trees. “People, unknowingly, transport this non-native insect from the towns they live in to campsites,” Marr said. “Sometimes people travel hundreds of miles just to go camping. Well that’s much further than that insect can fly. On its own, we think it would only travel about ten miles a year. But because people take firewood from one place, and sometimes travel hundreds of miles with it, the Emerald Ash Borer can go from one place to a place that’s hundreds of miles away in one weekend. Already, it is in
for anyone to visit, to experience nature, and to learn about their own habitat. Oxley said humans have a responsibility to protect that habitat. Since all organisms are dependent upon one another, Oxley said, protecting the environment is also in the best interest of the people. “Humans are the dominant species on Earth,” Oxley said. “As such, we have a responsibility and an obligation to protect and preserve all other species that share the planet with us. If we fail in this, we are poorer as a species and we, as a species, have no hope of surviving ourselves.”
Photo by Frankie Marchan
Missouri. So all it would take would be someone travelling from Missouri with infested firewood to Texas and then we would possibly have that problem here.” At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, color dots every visitor’s vision. With visitors of all ages wandering among the different gardens of the Wildflower Center, founded in 1982 to protect the native landscape. Pink Evening Primroses, Agaritas, cacti, Giant Spiderworts, and Mexican Buckeyes fill one’s field of vision with purple, pink and green. Even eight-foot-tall metal flowers such as Indian Blankets or bluebonnets add color to this iridescent landscape. All native species are interdependent between the plants and animals. With the duty to protect native species, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is conscious of the environment. According to Marr, the Center would never make a collection of a rare plant in a year that the species did not produce an abundance of seeds. The Wildflower Center is a beautiful place
Native to the Central Texas canyons, the Texabama Croton has vibrant green leave that are a radiant orange during autumn. During the late winter and early spring, this shrub produces eye-catching yellow flowers. The Texabama Croton is is an uncommon plant that thrives in the limestone-based soil of the Edward’s Plateau. 14
Photo by Giles Williams
STATE OF HIS ART Austin tie-dye artist Jerry Capps discusses his work
Written by John Chan
15 an Tie Dye driying outside www.larkezine.blogspot.com artistâ€˜s backyard.
TWENTY TWO YEARS AGO, Jerry Capps was sur-
rounded by senators and lobbyists in Washington DC. He had a comfortable job with a decent income as a congressional aide. Now, instead of dashing back and forth between offices, he rushes in his van to take his daughters to their activities, while trying to remodel his home. “Sorry about the mess, we’re taking up the floor and installing laminate flooring, knocking out a wall, and changing a couple of other things,” he says as he enters his new house, fresh with sawdust. Capps has been tie dying in Austin for eight years. He has dyed everything, from hats, to sheets, to pillowcases, to beach banners (you know, those banners in front of stores). When people have something to tie dye, they turn to him. However, he says that he was reluctant to start. “I wasn’t big on art in school... because I wasn’t a great drawer” Nevertheless, while taking care of his daughters and joining a moms’ group, Capps decided to try tie-dye. “One day we thought we would want to play around with some tie dye, just see how that happened; because the moms wanted to make some t-shirts for their husbands for Fathers’ Day.”
life. He stepped out of his comfort zone for college, attending prestigious Rice University, by moving to Washington to get a job, and now, by doing extensive renovations to his house by himself. However, most people have never heard of him. “In this new neighborhood, not many people know that I tie dye”, he said. One way Austinites might know Capps is through his work. Kids at Doss in Kindergarten, 1st Grade, and 2nd Grade get tie dyed shirts,with a different pattern for each class. The shirts help teachers find their classes on field trips and give Doss Elementary a quirky feel. “I get a kick out of seeing a little kid wearing a tie dye shirt and recognizing,’Hey, I did that!’” Ever since starting, Capps has found new ways to use his talent. He has used tie dye for everything from his daughter’s birthdays to helping cancer patients. “This one kid, his mom had cancer, and he really wanted a shirt with an alien on the front, and a spaceship on the back for her. So I did that once, and that was fun.”
“I get a kick out of seeing a little kid wearing a tie dye shirt and thinking, “Hey, I did that!’”
Capps said that he didn’t see tie dye as “a huge art form or anything,” but it was obvious that it meant a lot to him. “I think I’ll stick with tie dye for the rest of my life. Nothing’s certain, of course, but I think I will stick with it.” Jerry Capps is definitely a special person in the Austin art scene. He encourages others to try their hand at tie dying, “There’s not much to it. You make a lot of ugly shirts, and turn them into rags, and you go from there.”
Photo by Laurie Avacado
Capps says that after the experiment in the moms’ group, he decided to try tie dye again “to learn how to make [the shirts] right”. “The shirts turned out okay, but they weren’t great,” he said. “When I was at a street festival with my daughters, I saw some tie-dyed shirts and looked on the tag to see where they were getting their stuff. So I went to the website, and started ordering stuff and experimenting.” Exploration has been the key to success in Capps’
As he says, “You can make tie dye work in any way.”
Tie dyed hats and shirts at an Austin event. Capps says he was inspired by dyed hats at a street fair. 16
Photo by Erik Peterson
Compiled by John Chan
Photo by Wendy Copley
Get materials. You will need dye, soda ash, and a cotton t-shirt. Websites like dharmatrading.com sell Procion dye, which is made for tie dying, and soda ash.
Start by washing the t-shirt. Remove the shirt and tie it up. Different tying techniques will result in different patterns. Experiment! www.larkezine.blogspot.com 17
Dissolve the soda ash in water and soak the t-shirt in the solution. This will help the dye stick to the shirt. Then, apply the dye with squirt bottles. Where you put the dye makes a huge difference. Keep in mind that the dye will soak through the shirt. Get creative!
Tip! The longer you leave
Photo by Wendy Copley
Photo by Wendy Copley
the shirt in the bag, the better the shirt will turn out.
Stick the shirt in a plastic bag to keep it moist. Leave it there for the dyes to work.
Photo by Wendy Copley
Photo by Wendy Copley
Rinse the shirt in cold water, then warm water. When you are done, stick it in the washing machine.
Take the shirt out of the washing machine, and dry it. When it comes out, youâ€™ll have a tie dyed shirt!
Photo by Frankie Marchan
Saving the Central Texas Landscape Written by Frankie Marchan
MANY PLANTS WERE BROUGHT away from their
natural habitat for use as ornamentals, and several serve no other use. Ligustrum, for example, cannot be used as food, for lumber, to make paper, or for furniture, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). In the late 1700s, Ligustrum japonicum, commonly known as Japanese Privet, was introduced to Central Texas as an ornamental plant. In the spring, the privet produces small, white, fragrant flowers. These blooms become green clusters and then plum-colored berries through the summer and fall. However, the Japanese privet has become more than just an aesthetically appealing tree in the Texan ecosystem. In the early 1800s, the Japanese privet escaped from nurseries and became an invasive species. This tree is able to destroy habitats of birds and other animals because it produces thousands of seeds every year and grows quickly. In addition, Ligustrum, a shadetolerant plant, out-competes native plants for nutrients, water, and sunlight. This competition has resulted in a lack of biodiversity, as is evident at the Barton Creek Greenbelt. While it is true that not all non-native plants are invasive and, therefore, detrimental to the environment, it is impossible to tell until it is too late. Invasive plants out-compete native plants because they have no natural enemies, and native animals often cannot survive off of non-native plants, so the entire ecosystem is affected. It is our job to try to avoid invasive species and to support only native species. This may mean ridding your yard of some elegant plants, or not feeding songbirds (European starling), or not buying your favorite seafood (zebra mussel, armored catfish, bighead carp, black carp, Asian clam). Some may argue that if a plant is thriving somewhere, it deserves the right to continue to live there as an example of survival of the fittest. The fact remains, however, that if a few strongly competitive species were to take over, there would be a severe lack of biodiversity. In addition, these invasive plants do not affect other plants alone, but they have a negative impact on the native fauna as well. Animals often depend on plants for their survival, and sometimes non-native plants are poisonous, or at least not as nutritious, to them. This, in turn, affects the whole ecosystem. It is imperative that we take action against these invasive species. 20
Nandina, or Heavenly Bamboo, pictured to the right, is an invasive plant to the Edwardâ€™s Plateau region that encompasses Austin and Central Texas. Its leaves are red-tinted and in a distinct three-spear pattern. In the springtime, Nandinas are also adorned by red berries.
Eradicating non-native plants is definitely a task that you can tackle. Once you learn to identify invasive species, you can start in your own yard. Invasive plants must be removed from the roots, because many are capable of root sprouting, a regrowth technique in which the plant can continue to live even without leaves exposed to sunlight. Japanese Privet is among these root-sprouting plants. Elephant Ears are elegant plants with large heartshaped leaves and thick, bright green stalks, but they are bad for the environment. They grow near riverbanks and require wet soil and an abundance of nutrients. Native to tropical Asia, Elephant Ears develop thick stalks and large root systems, quickly eradicating all native riparian plants. Heavenly Bamboo, also known as Nandina, produces red berries in the spring. Because Nandina, native to East Asia, faces no insect or disease problems in America, it is able to spread quickly and compete against native plants for water and sunlight. Johnson grass, introduced to the U.S. from Africa and Asia, is a tall grass, up to two meters tall, and, according to the Texas Invasives Database, is considered to be one of the top ten most noxious weeds in the world. Chinaberry trees are fast growing trees with dark green leaves, lavender flowers in the spring, and yellow berries during winter and autumn. These berries are poisonous to humans and
most animals. According to the Texas Invasives Database, Chinaberry trees spread through root-sprouts and bird-dispersed seeds. Due to their speedy growth and relative immunity to insects and pathogens, Chinaberries are capable of out-competing native trees. Japanese honeysuckle, Lonicera japonica, is a semi-evergreen vine that was introduced as an ornamental plant and has some use as a browse plant for deer. Japanese honeysuckle has the ability to strangle small trees and shrubs by wrapping around the plant and constricting its flow of water. As Japanese honeysuckle spreads via its extensive root system, it can block other plants from getting sufficient sunlight. When a non-native plant is identified, the first attempt at removal should be digging it out. I suggest digging and not just chopping because many non-native plants are capable of root sprouting [Removed]. Japanese privet is a prime example of this ability. If the plant continues to grow back, consider chemical removal, which is often the most efficient method of plant removal. According to Forest Botanist and New Hampshire resident Christopher Mattrick, there are two types of chemical plant removal: glyphosate and triclopyr. Glyphosate is non-selective while triclopyr kills only dicots, which have netted veins on their leaves. For small scale invasions or dense plant populations, including Japanese Honeysuckles, foliar spray applications with mixtures of five per-
cent active ingredient can be used. Another option is to treat individual hollow stems with a thirty percent solution. In order to treat them, you must cut the stems, and I recommend dye to provide a visual cue to which plants you have already treated. After you remove invasive plants you should promptly replace them with native alternatives. Evergreen Sumac, Red Buckeye, and Wild Crapemyrtle can replace Heavenly Bamboo (Nandina). Johnson Grass can be replaced by a variety of native grasses including little bluestem, Indian grass, switchgrass, and Sugarcane plumegrass. Healthy native alternatives for Chinaberry trees include Texas Ash, Texas Red Oak, and trumpet creeper. Possible native replacement plants for the Japanese Honeysuckle are Texas Honeysuckle, Mustang Grape, and Peppervine. I have a simple mission for you. Learn to recognize non-native species. And if you see them in your yard, please make an effort to abolish them.
Photo by Frankie Marchan
LET THE GRASS GROW UNDER YOUR FEET
Urban Roots Farm: Local and Sustainable
Written By Cecilia Handy PRACTICALLY EVERYTHING IN SIGHT is verdant
and green. The rows of vegetables lead the eye to the trees in the distance, and even the dirt road is speckled with Baby Blue Eyes, a small blue wildflower. The Urban Roots farm smells like earth and rain and feels mysteriously secluded despite its proximity to Highway 183 and Austin-Bergstrom Airport. On its way to becoming an independent non-profit organization, Urban Roots farm employs 30 high school students as paid interns - 24 Farm Interns, three Assistant Crew Leaders (ACLs), and three Agriculture Interns. These teenagers come each week in the Fall and Spring semesters to work on the farm. In 22
addition to having youth interns, Urban Roots also has volunteer days each week and sells produce at Farmers’ Markets. The farm has a Community Supported Agriculture program (CSA) a system that connects community members straight to produce from the farm - and donates produce to food pantries and soup kitchens. Sadie Rothgeb, a student at Garza High School, describes herself as a “city girl,” and yet here she is on a Tuesday afternoon pulling weeds and and pushing a wheelbarrow. Rothgeb is one of the Austin youths who come to the sustainable and community-supported farm each week in all weather. This is her
Photo by Frankie Marchan
Teenagers at Urban Roots on a Saturday morning competing in a weeding race to see who can pick the most weeds
Urban Roots grows vegetables that will be donated, sold at farmers’ markets, or given to members of their CSA program first season interning at Urban Roots and her first opportunity to work on a farm and learn about farming methods. “I think the break that it offers from the rest of my life [is what I enjoy the most] because I’m a very urban person and I go out and party,” Rothgeb said, “and I come out here and it’s just gorgeous and I get covered in mud and my bones ache and I come home and I’m exhausted and it’s a totally new experience for me.” In addition to spending time getting their hands dirty, the youth interns are educated about sustainable farming practices, like composting. “I’ve learned a lot, because before I just thought that sustainable meant the same thing as organic, but I found out that it’s more than that - it’s finding out how to have the lowest impact on the land. It changed my viewpoints on a lot of things,” Rothgeb said. Working on the farm has also affected how Rothgeb acts in her everyday life by helping her become more aware of what she consumes and how it relates to the environment around her. “I’m kind of a germaphobe, usually, and I don’t like
bugs, and this whole thing was very alien to me. I killed a spider at my friend’s house the other day, and 6 months ago I probably would have screamed and jumped onto a chair,” she said. In addition to teaching students about farming and the environment, Urban Roots fosters relationships between individuals and within the community. Jonathon Varela, a junior at Eastside Memorial High School, was a farm intern in 2008-09 and returned as an Agriculture Intern for the 2011-12 season. “I decided to come back because I love helping others. I want to make sure that they get something from the farm - me giving back - that’s the main thing. Second, I love farming,” Varela said. Varela also participates with Breakthrough, a program that helps send low-income students to college. “[Breakthrough] came, asking if [the interns] were going to get paid, but that’s not the reason why we’re here,” Varela said, “we’re here to keep the farm growing.” Former elementary school teacher and dancer Leigh Gaymon-Jones is the Director of Operations at Urban Roots. She became interested in sustainable practices while pursuing a career as a dancer. When she returned to Austin, she became involved with a work share, where she worked for a few hours a week on the farm and then got a discounted price on the produce. She also participated with a CSA program. From there, she went through a series of interviews and got her job at Urban Roots. “It was really a way for me to combine my interests in human development and sustainable agriculture,” Gaymon-Jones said. Urban Roots started in 2007 as a program of
YouthLaunch, a non-profit organization that connects young people to their community. Urban Roots is based off of the Food Project of Boston, a farm of over 30 acres that works with over 100 teenagers and thousands of volunteers each year. Mike Evans, one of the co-founders of Urban Roots, worked there for several years before he met with Max Elliott, the other co-founder and current director of Urban Roots. “Mike was a really fantastic mentor and really connected with the youth in a special way, and at the end of the summer we have a celebration for everybody, and to see how all the youth were, who worked with him, they were all so torn up about him leaving, and I knew that it was emotional for me, but I didn’t think that it was going to land on me with such weight,” Gaymon-Jones said, “That moment was just really powerful, and really felt like I was a part of a special and important community in that moment, feeling so connected to Mike and so impacted by his departure.” Marisol Valle, the Urban Roots Farm Coordinator, used to live where Urban Roots is currently located, and leased half of her land to the farm. “[The land] was, in large part, chosen because we found someone who was willing to help us get off our feet, and it’s just a really great location; it’s really close to so many of the schools that we work with,” Gaymon-Jones said, “but at the same time, it feels
like it’s away - it doesn’t feel like you’re in the middle of the city.” The Urban Roots community brings teenagers from all over the Austin area to learn and work together and help create final products - the produce - that they then donate or sell. “I love working with young people outside of the context of the classroom setting and watching them have really new experiences and working with people who are different from them and forming these bonds,” Gaymon-Jones said. Urban Roots plans to continue supporting the community with CSAs, volunteering, and youth interns during its
“That moment was really powerful, and I really felt like I was a part of a special and important community”
Photo by Frankie Marchan
journey to an independent non-profit organization. Along the way, it will no doubt bring even more youth together through sustainable and community-supported agriculture. “My experience in high school was that it was rare that we ventured outside of our little bubbles, and so it’s really exciting for me to see connections being made in ways that I think otherwise might not be made, and I think that’s definitely more impacting,” Gaymon-Jones said.
Rows of fennel and carrots at the Urban Roots farm are surrounded by cedar elms (pictured above). Students hoe near rows of tomato plants (opposite page). On Saturday mornings, Urban Roots hosts community volunteer days when people can come and meet the interns and farm alongside them. 24
Photo by Frankie Marchan
Fringed Summer Scarf
You will need: a large 100% cotton T-shirt a pair of good fabric scissors or a rotary cutter optional: a ruler optional: cardboard or a cutting board optional: a marker or fabric chalk
Lay out the T-shirt on the cutting surface if you are using a rotary cutter. Using the ruler and the writing utensil, mark your shirt on the dashed line (right) and then cut along the line through both layers of the shirt. You can skip the drawing part and go straight to cutting if you feel confident. The pieces of fringe should be approximately 3 inches long and 1/2 inch wide.
Where you have cut the fringe on the bottom, pull each piece down so it curls. This is why the shirt must be 100% cotton - if it has even a little bit of spandex or other material, it will not curl correctly and the fringe will look strange.
Now roll up the scarf, twisting inwards and towards the fringe, and wrap it around your neck one or two times! Experiment with adding beads, braiding the fringe, and using different materials.
You will need: a shirt or scrap fabric (cotton or silk is best) a pair of good fabric scissors a needle and matching thread optional: a round, traceable object such as a cup with a diameter between 1 and 3 inches optional: a marker or fabric chalk
You can use the marker or fabric chalk to trace your circular object onto the t-shirt or fabric and then cut along the line, or you can just cut freehand circles. Lopsided circles are no big deal in this project. You should cut 6-10 circles, depending on how full you want your flower to be.
Take each of the circles that you cut and fold it in half into a semicircle, and then in half again (see left). At this point, you can cut the folded circle into more of a petal shape, zig-zags, or leave the edge smooth. Make sure to only cut the open edge, not the folded edges!
Once you have all your cut and folded “petals,” use the needle and thread to sew them together at their folded points. Then, you can glue or sew your flower onto a hairclip, a pin, an old shirt, or a ring. You can also add fabric leaves as shown. The nice thing about this project is that it’s very flexible - experiment with different colors, sizes, textures, and materials!
Compilation and Pictures by Cecilia Handy www.larkezine.blogspot.com 29
C D A: Wrightâ€™s Penstemon flowers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, photo by Frankie Marchan // B: The Sparky Park art wall, photo by Cecilia Handy // C: Bluebonnet field, photo by Frankie Marchan // D: Metal Indian Paintbrush at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, photo by Frankie Marchan 30
I E: Sparky Park mosaic, photo by Cecilia Handy // F: Damiantia flowers at the Wildflower Center, photo by Frankie Marchan // G: Four of Ceciliaâ€™s five chicks at 10 days old (Chicken Jane, Papagena, Fingers, Violetta), photo by Cecilia Handy // H: Book art at Recycled Reads, photo by Cecilia Handy // I: Indian Paintbrush in Ceciliaâ€™s front yard, photo by Cecilia Handy
Front and back cover photos by Frankie Marchan