Things You Can Do

Updated: 2022-Apr-06

STL Fed 2019-02-26 WEB

The economist Milton Friedman once said “There’s no such thing as a free lunch” — and yet the Economy Museum is free!

Of course it’s paid for by your tax dollars and run by the Federal Reserve Bank of Saint Louis. The St. Louis Fed is famous for its excellent presentation of data, so it comes as no surprise that the Economy Museum would be award-winning as well, but why this tour remains a hidden gem is still a bit of a mystery…


Located on Broadway within walking distance of the Arch, this is a good field trip for students who have jobs and are beginning to learn about money, debt and the economy.  You might want to open a checking account and credit card as part of the financial literacy experience…

It’s best to create a small group learning experience, so bring a few friends, or perhaps another family pod. Bring your vax cards. Find street parking near the museum at Broadway & Locust, and make your way through the security check-point, after which you will be ushered into a lobby with short video. Plan on spending about 30 minutes inside the museum, depending on the interest and engagement level of the young people. The visit is short, sweet and self-guided trip.

Inside the Economy

Be sure to play the BUY-SELL game located in the middle of the room, which mimics action on the stock trading floor. It’s super fun and why you need to bring a few friends with you.

Get your picture taken with the giant Lincoln penny in the middle of the room. The photographer regrets the lack of teenager to show you the scale. The penny is quite large.


Towards the end of the exhibit, hunt for the short video on the wall that illustrates how everything gets better, when viewed through the lens of data; a comforting message in today’s world.  (Except for WWI, of course, when so many young men died.)

Data 2019-03-18 COLOR

After exiting the exhibit, you will enter a small gift store where you can pick up a bag of free shredded money!  As a special treat for hungry teenagers, Sugar-Fire BBQ is a three minute walk around the corner.  The Blues Museum is located adjacent to Sugar-Fire and is also an excellent destination — making for a perfect teenage trifecta stay-cation.

2017-01-21 Blues Museum

Check the schedule before you go, as the Economy Museum is open only during office hours and not on weekends.  The “dog days of summer”, when it’s too hot to do anything else, is the perfect time to go.

Here are your links to the Economy Museum, to Sugar-Fire and to the Blues Museum.

Here’s the link to FRED, possibly the most trusted economic data in the world.

And here’s the GPS to the Economy Museum at the Federal Reserve Bank of Saint Louis:

One Federal Reserve Plaza; 63102 – (Locust & Broadway)

2016-06-11 Trip Date
Scouting Trip # 283


The Sustainable Backyard Tour began in 2010 in Saint Louis.  It’s a grassroots event, one of the first of it’s kind, and it just celebrated it’s 7th anniversary in 2017.  Known affectionately as the SBYT, this is a free event by locals, who throw their garden gates open to the public each year, to showcase best practices in organic vegetable growing, beekeeping, chicken farming, native habitats, water retention and clean energy.  Typically, over 40 hosts showcase their backyards and gardens every year.  Green Spiral Tours took advantage of the SBYT to visit the celebrated Urban Harvest Food Roof in downtown Saint Louis.  The Food Roof is fantastic!

2017 Food Roof Logo

Located downtown near the City Museum, and above Wave Storage, you can easily park on the street next to Wave Taco, which offers a volleyball tournament arena, several tons of white Florida sand, and a tiki bar serving tacos, beer and margaritas.  To get to the Food Roof, enter through the doors at W-ave Storage, and make your way up the stairs to roof.  When you pop up, expect to be impressed by an exceptionally well designed space and vibrant scene.

2017 Wave Taco

5 staff, 15 interns, 300 volunteers, and several master gardeners help make the Urban Harvest Food Roof what it is today.  It’s a beautiful rooftop farm, showcasing best practices while collaborating with a cluster of food partners.   The Food Roof is the brainchild of Mary Ostafi, an EarthDance Farm graduate; Mary is a trained architect, who brings high design and great intentionality to everything she touches.  The Food Roof is the first rooftop farm in Saint Louis, and is growing into a localized network of farms, gardens, educators and food distributors in north Saint Louis.

2017 Urban Food Roof

There’s a chicken coop and greenhouse on the roof, plus hydroponics, a community garden, test garden, and gathering space for events, educational functions and weddings. It’s incredible, and, it’s beautiful.

2017 Food Roof Chickens

70% of the food generated is donated to partner organizations, including the STL Metro Market (the Food Bus), the Fit & Food Connection, St. Patricks and the kids at Flance. Green Spiral has hosted field trips to both St. Patrick’s and Flance in the past.  St. Patrick’s serves under-priviledged populations, and has one of the first “kitchen incubators” in the country. Flance is a Platinum-level preschool – only the 4th such school in the world – and what happens inside the building is as impressive as the green building structure itself.  It’s exciting to watch these world class, cutting-edge sustainability programs grow, right here in Saint Louis.

2017 Food Roof GreenHouse

Now here’s the best part: if you want to visit the Food Roof, and missed the chance during the SBYT, you can drop-in any Saturday morning from 9 – 12, when the Food Roof is open to the public. OR, you can attend any number of special events, such as workshops, Happy Hours, Harvest Dinners, or yoga.  The events serve as fundraisers to help fund the many programs.  Find the time to visit this incredible and beautiful farm –  on a roof! –  in downtown Saint Louis; you’ll be glad you did.

2017 Test Kitchen

Here’s the link to go on your own: Urban Harvest Food Roof

Here’s the SBYT link:  Sustainable Backyard Tour

Here’s Wave Taco on Yelp:  Wave Taco – Yelp

Here’s GPS to Wave Storage: 1335 Convention Plaza; 63103


updated October 11, 2018

west lake landfill overlay
To keep it short, there is a “fire” burning beneath the surface of a landfill, and the fire is headed towards a huge amount of radioactive waste that was illegally dumped as part of the Manhattan Project about forty years ago.  There’s a lot of uncertainty about both the location of the fire and the location of the nuclear waste, and at this point they seem to be in a holding pattern about 600 feet apart.
The fire is a “sub-surface smoldering event” – a chemical reaction below the surface that has been burning for more than five years; it’s the size of several football fields and nothing can be done to put the fire out.
The fire is being monitored by the State of Missouri, the landfill is owned by waste hauler Republic Services, and the EPA has jurisdiction over the landfill.  Not only is the site radioactive, it’s also one of the worst Superfund Sites in America.  All of the players have all been talking about this Super Fund Site for a very long time, and no forward movement has ever been made. But now this fire has broken out, which creates some urgency.

While the EPA and Republic Services have long insisted there is “no imminent danger” to the public, Rolling Stone called the unfolding scenario a “dirty bomb” and one blogger calls it “the mother of all dirty bombs”. Both Lois Gibbs and Erin Brokovich have called it the “worst” environmental disaster in America. Lois Gibbs is the mom involved in the Love Canal disaster, and the “mother” of the Super Fund Program.

In 2014, Erin Brokovich came to Saint Louis to raise awareness about the Westlake Landfill. She happened to arrive the same weekend that Michael Brown got shot and the moms fighting the nuclear fire were told that “there’s only room for one story coming out of Saint Louis right now”.

The previous Attorney General called the situation a “potential Chernobyl event”; he sued Republic Services on behalf of the State of Missouri for over 800+ violations.  The local government of Bridgeton has been operating behind closed doors, the local media has not being forthright, and legislators have close ties to nuke money.  All of this was in play BEFORE Donald Trump took office.

No one knows what might happen should the fire meet the radioactive waste.  The best guess is an invisible smoke plume.  The Pattonville Fire Department is standing valiantly by, and will do what needs to be done, but you can tell by looking at their faces that they didn’t sign up for this.

The site does not seem to be well monitored, data is difficult to come by, and local news is sometimes misleading.  In February 2014, a mother was driving home from church on a Sunday morning, saw this smoke emerging from the landfill, and took a picture of it with her cell phone.  The incident was not reported, no readings were taken and nothing was reported in the news media.


Then again, in October 2015, a utility pole sparked a grass fire within a few feet of radioactive waste, which was noticed by a passing motorist, who drove down the street and alerted the fire department.  Emergency sirens have long been missing from the area, and one has only recently been installed.  For those living in Saint Louis: how would you possibly know if a toxic smoke cloud were suddenly drifting over your head?

Below is a link to the emergency plan and contact information.  The current plan is to shelter in place until instructed otherwise. If you study Chernobyl, Three Mile Island or Fukushima, in no circumstance has any government ever alerted their citizens in any timely manner in the event of any nuclear disaster.

State of Missouri Emergency Plan: WordPress Site 

Mark Diedrich, (314) 615-9500. Email: mdiedrich@stlouisco. com


The landfill is holding 20x spent uranium as Fukushima, and 163x Chernobyl  — more spent waste than three of the biggest nuclear dumps in America, combined.  It’s almost 50,000 tons of nuclear waste (barium sulfate) mixed with dirt:  think of it as the size of a Nuclear Arch.  Actually, it’s the size of three Nuclear Arches. If you’ve ever visited the Arch in Saint Louis, well, the Arch is really, really enormously big.

Nobody knows exactly what’s in the landfill, but what is known is not good. A truck driver has been recorded on TV describing how he drove two semi-trucks down a ramp into the landfill, abandoned them at dusk, and watched as they were buried in dirt. Also in the dump: uranium from a German submarine, captured by the Americans on it’s way to Japan during WWII.  Besides being radioactive, this is a SuperFund Site, incinerating every sort of chemical nasty into the neighborhood through a flare system.



Every time you dig a little deeper, the story gets worse: the landfill is located in the floodplain of the Missouri River, just upstream from two intake facilities that provide drinking water for the City of Saint Louis, as well as 18 million Americans living downstream.

The Westlake Landfill is is an old, unlined, unregulated landfill, (basically just a hole in the ground), and toxic waste flows freely into the groundwater.  In 2016, the EPA named the groundwater under the landfill as it’s own new Superfund site (OU3).  As beloved local Rabbi Susan Talve so eloquently stated: “If toxic waters contaminate the Missouri & Mississippi Rivers, there is not enough bottled water in all the world to save any of us”.

October 2018 Update – In a surprise twist, the EPA will now be handing the WestLake Landfill off to the Army Corps of Engineers, which will clean up 70% of the radioactive material, load it on trains, and ship it off to a secure storage facility.   For more information, go to the WestLake Landfill Facebook Page, where the “Just Moms” talk.

Disclaimer: I am “just a mom” and a nature guide, not a scientist, doctor or investigative journalist. Most of my knowledge comes from going to meetings, reading source documents and calling people up on the phone.   I live 10 miles (downwind) from the landfill and discovered the nuclear fire several years ago, while picking strawberries with families on a field trip. I’ve been studying the “Nuclear Fire” for about three years, and synthesized it into this map to honor the moms who are valiantly making a stand.

Just Moms COLOR 2018-04-05

Do your own homework: Thus ends the shortest summary I can possibly muster for a super complicated topic.  Below is where I keep a hodge-podge of links, maps and detailed information for my own use. Every major media outlet in the world has gotten a hold of this story, and yet (through no fault of their own) most people in Saint Louis remain strangely unaware of this very serious situation, and the drama unfolding just a few miles from their homes.

My very favorite links:

Calculate your distance from the landfill:  As the Crow Flies
(GPS address of the landfill site: 13570 St. Charles Rock Road, Bridgeton, MO 63044)

Real time wind map:  Real Time Wind Map

12105760_1044106342300861_9104968689752184120_nThis one is particularly important:
– the emergency response network –
If you live in Saint Louis, this is how you might be alerted should something happen at the landfill; text your zipcode to 888777, and get emergency text updates, in addition to frost warnings and siren tests.

Ten Mile Radius Map – includes Clayton, Ladue, Chesterfield, Wash U, St. Peters, Florissant and Ferguson. Helen Caldicott, Nobel Prize Nominee and physician, says that nobody should live within 75 miles of a nuclear dump — even when it’s not on fire.

10 mile west lake landfill radius

The smoldering fire:  Nobody really knows where the fire is burning, nor exactly where the nuclear waste is buried, and there’s always a lot of chatter about both those topics.

Around Easter 2016, the EPA came out with an announcement that new locations of radiation have been detected, and the fire was now “hundreds of feet” from the radioactive waste. The moms think it’s about 500 feet, some people think the fire is 300 feet, while others think the fire is already burning through the nuclear waste.

You can read the most recent and tedious EPA report here: EPA Region 7

Or watch this funny 2 minute video here: Cool Google Map

Here’s a 20 minute video that ties things together nicely: Ticking Time Bomb

Sample Map: Here’s a sample cancer cluster map from the “Just the Facts” Facebook Page. Turns out, this same Manhattan Project waste was secretly thrown around in hundreds of locations all over Saint Louis, mostly in a northern arc from Illinois to the airport to Weldon Springs, including Cold Water Creek.

Cold Water Creek: Cold Water Creek runs past the airport; nuclear waste was stored in open air barrels at Latty Avenue near the airport for over 40 years, and radioactivity dribbled into the creek.  Residents  who live along the creek got a weird feeling when they went to a High School reunion, and noticed everyone was sick. Here’s the Facebook Page for that group of moms:

Moms on Facebook: As a result, some moms started putting pieces of the puzzle together on Facebook. One mom (Karen Nickel) started the “Just the Facts” Page about Cold Water Creek, and another mom (Dawn Chapman) started the Page about the West Lake Landfill. It’s all the same nuclear waste from the same uranium for the first atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in WWII.  The many cases of weird cancers popping up in Saint Louis cannot be denied, and health studies and legislation will lag the health danger by decades. There is little if any hard science on chronic low-level exposure to ionizing radiation, and the statute of limitations to seek reparations is five years.  Watch for weird or rare pancreatic, brain, or appendix cancers. Also watch for anemia, cysts on the ovaries, and lupus. As an intimidation tactic, the “moms” have been subpoenaed by Republic Services for starting a Facebook Page, requesting hard-copy documentation of every Facebook post, equaling thousands of dollars. These are moms who live in three bedroom houses that share one small bathroom. The intimidation, the corruption and the media collusion are scarier than the actual nuclear fire. What’s been happening at the Westlake Landfill for decades is now happening openly in the US federal government.
Here are some general links related to health:
West Lake Landfill Facebook Page: West Lake Landfill
Just the Facts: Cold Water Creek
Have your hair tested: Includes radioisotopes
Were you exposed? Join the Health Study
Report on Odor in the Log: Missouri Department of Natural Resources
Physician Faisal Khan: Director STL County Public Health
Just the Facts: About Cold Water Creek
2018 Letter to Editor from Pediatric Professor: Repugnant Practices
* Down the Rabbit Hole *
Here’s where we fall down the rabbit hole, and it starts with trying to locate radiation detection monitors & a variety of data.
Radiation detection monitors – Looks like the EPA radiation detection monitor went silent in July 2015.  And then again March 2016. This is a monitor that is about 20 miles away from the landfill and located in South Saint Louis at 44 & Grand. Citizen scientists report that the detector was turned back on two days after the October EPA meeting. Lately it got turned off again. There seems to be a huge amount of confusion and controversy about the data, and where data comes from. The “War of Data” is now being turned into a “War On Data” and on Science.  Looks like radiation detection monitors are being turned off all over the country, which might have something to do with the on-going Fukushima disaster.  Good luck with your data hunt.
The Missouri DNR (Department of Natural Resources) is in charge of monitoring the air around the landfill and you can find their data here:   As I understand it, “the moms” basically pitched a fit, and forced the DNR to do a proper job of monitoring the fire and the air around the landfill. Lately, the DNR has popped up and said “oops, our monitors are not sensitive enough, and we’ve had the wrong ones for the past two years”.  Again, data is hard to come by, and sometimes highly suspect.  The EPA doesn’t do their own testing, for example.  They get their data from Republic Services, who contracts testing with their vendor of choice. Remember, if there is no data, then there is “no evidence” of any kind of problem. If you watch for these two phrases, you’ll see them used a lot by the EPA and various politicians: no evidence and no imminent threat. Maybe it’s not a bad thing if the EPA gets dismantled.
Donald Trump likes to rally in Saint Charles, near Saint Louis, and the moms were able to get their home-made book to Scott Pruitt in late 2017.  Scott Pruitt became alarmed, put the West Lake Landfill at the very top of the Superfund list, and is soon to make a record of decision (ROD) about the West Lake Landfill in late January 2018. Isn’t life weird?
If you live in Saint Louis, send a note to Scott Pruitt and tell him you want the nuke waste removed:
2018 Decision Looming video clip: KTRS 550
Here’s the Saint Louis EPA monitor:  EPA radnet
Nuclear Hotseat, about EPA monitors: Why do they turn them off?
The moms have one donated geiger counter: (
(The username is justmomsstl and the password is fusrap)
Another geiger here:
Another citizen science group: Radiation Network
SafeCast is a citizen monitoring group from Fukushima:
Here’s where you can test your own air filters: RadTest4u filters
Cute YouTube explaining Geiger Counters: What’s a Geiger Counter?
EPA report Oct 2015: EPA Site
Air Monitoring – Thorium & uranium particles have “somehow” escaped the landfill and made their way into nearby villages, behind refrigerators in local kitchens and into fire station monitors.  It’s not that Saint Louis is going to get nuked, it’s rather citizens nearest the landfill have already been getting nuked for years. Unable to spur the EPA to proper action, the moms managed to procure independent testing, and thus undeniable evidence that radionuclides have been escaping the landfill for decades.  Even the local papers had to report on it:
Radiation found in kitchens 2016: KDSK Video
Thorium 230 is the signature fingerprint of the unique Belgian Congo uranium used in the Manhattan Project; it equals plutonium in toxicity and is 60,000x more times radioactive than uranium. This particular uranium is freakishly high in radioactivity, which is why it was picked to make the first nuclear bomb in the first place. Because it has a unique fingerprint, it’s easy to track.  Also worth noting, this stuff gets more radioactive over time, not less.


About the Water – In a 2015 October meeting, EPA representatives confirmed radioactivity in the groundwater, traveling in a northwest direction, adding that it posed no threat to the drinking water supply. (They also said not to swim or fish in the river). Later, the groundwater under the landfill was named it’s own SuperFund site – OU3.  Contaminated groundwater is expected to meet the river in 57 years, and the starting point was 40 years ago, so the radioactivity will reach the river before today’s children graduate from high school.

Kay Drey, well known authority on Saint Louis nuclear waste, and the godmother of the environmentalist movement in Saint Louis, says not to drink the city water, which includes North Saint Louis.   And remember that leachate?  Unconfirmed Facebook posts trace a pipeline from the landfill across North Saint Louis to where it dumps into a creek near Charlack in North Saint Louis, where Ferguson is located. Other Facebook posts claim that leachate trucks are dumping landfill juice into the river at Earth City. You could write a whole book on the environmental injustice aspect alone.

Water Safety – There’s sort of a scramble among citizens to understand the drinking water, leachate and sewage situation right now, and the city water is most suspect. On March 4th, 2015 Green Spiral Tours took a learning group to the water treatment facility operated by Missouri American Water, and then again in March of 2016.  A tour of the drinking water facility with the “Moms” is scheduled for sometime in 2018.

2016 Best Photo

The facility we visited is the water intake and treatment facility at Hog Hollow, located upstream from the landfill. It is operated by Missouri American Water, the largest private water treatment company in America; this treatment serves the County and delivers about 80% of the area’s drinking water.

After the tour, twelve reasonably skeptical and reasonably informed citizens unanimously agreed that the Saint Louis County water supply seemed to be reasonably “safe”. See the “Drinking Water Tour” blog under separate Green Spiral post. Mostly Safe?

Assorted Links about water:

Radioactivity Report

Pump Station Failure

Dec 2016 – Pump Station Failure Results: Where’s the data?

1993 Saint Louis citizens as experiment? DOE Watershed Experiment 1993

Missouri American Water Test Results

2016 Nuclear HotSeat podcast on West Lake Water Situation: 6-Jan-2016

Soil Study – Here’s a peer-reviewed science paper that came out in January 2016, and it looks like the soil is contaminated in a 4 square mile radius surrounding the landfill.  This is honest to goodness real science, and particularly damning information. Even the Wall Street Journal reported on it:
Wall Street Journal: Wall Street Journal 3-Jan-2016
This explains it in plain English:  The Examiner Dec 28, 2015
Journal of Environmental Radioactivity: Science Direct
Erin Brokovich & Lois Gibbs – People often say that Erin Brokovich should get involved. Well, Erin came to Saint Louis and was about to give a speech about the West Lake Landfill to raise awareness when the Mike Brown got shot in 2014.  Journalists told the moms that they only had room for “one story coming out of Saint Louis at a time”.  Erin Brokovich knows all about the nuclear fire in Saint Louis, and won’t come within 10 miles of it due to her asthma.  She often tweets about the West Lake Landfill to get the President’s attention.
More importantly, Lois Gibbs, the “Mother of the SuperFund”, is heavily involved in the fight to clean up the nuclear waste. A UN Human Rights Violation Tribunal was held in January 2016, and Lois is helping the moms navigate their way around Washington DC. Both Erin and Lois have said that this is “the worst environmental disaster” they have ever seen, by far. It’s heart-breaking to attend community meetings and witness people who are sick, dying, and spiraling downward with sick children.
Here’s the Human Rights Violation Tribunal link: Human Rights Violation Tribunal
Here’s what Erin Brokovich says about Flint: We Are All Flint
Here’s CHEJ, the organization by Lois Gibbs:  Let’s Put the Super back in SuperFund!
Do Your Homework
What started out as a short list of purposeful links:
Best Starting Place – STL Rad Waste Legacy:
Current Info: West Lake Landfill Facebook Page: West Lake Landfill
HBO Atomic Homefront film:  Atomic Homefront
Big Picture Nuclear Hotseat* Podcast #227: Nuclear HotSeat – 30 mins
Just the Facts: About Cold Water Creek
20 minute video summary: Ticking Time Bomb
The ‘mother’ of all dirty bombs: West Lake and the Money
Nuclear Hotseat Debrief on Nuclear Symposium in Feb:  #244 Atoms Next Door
Missouri Coaliton for the Environment (MCE) Ed Smith*:  MCE Facebook
Rolling Stone article 2013*. Which outlines underlying problems
Something’s Burning: Earth Island Feb 2016
Attorney General Koster calls it a Chernobyl event: cbs news Sept 2015
Mother of SuperFund talks about poisoning children: Lois Gibbs 2016 jumival=16414#.V08xTCqrYPF.facebook
Bill Gates, Hiroshima & Ferguson: Seattle Newspaper April 2016
The Alvarez Paper*: Radioactive Legacy 2013
State of Missouri Emergency Plan: The plan to Shelter in Place
Names of Coalition to Keep Us Safe: Names of people
Escalation of the misinformation campaign: 15-Dec-2015 St. Louis Post Dispatch
Senator Roy Blunt Facebook Page: Senator Blunt
Senator Claire McCaskill Facebook Page: Senator McCaskill
Local print article by Veronique DiCapra: Saint Louis 20-Oct-2015
National NPR Radio by Veronique a week later*: National NPR Radio 3-Nov-2015 4 minutes

The LA Times Article in October: Officials Squabble

And here’s CBS but you really can’t figure out what’s going on: CBS 28-Oct-2015
Japan is watching us: 08-Oct-2015 Japan Times
So are the Koreans:  Dec 2015
Aljazeera’s got it: Weldon Springs and Kay Drey
The black folks get it: Saint Louis American 31-Oct-2015
The nuns on Channel 5: Franciscan Nuns of St. Mary
Russian Times: 31-Dec-2015 RT
Post Dispatch Editorial:Politics of Keeping Us Safe
The man behind the misinformation campaign: But You Don’t See Him
Media Literacy Lesson by Don Corrigan: Environmental Echo
Right to Answers when babies die: RFT 2001
Student YouTube Video: Forbidden Knowledge
Timeline of all Saint Louis Public Radio Posts: stlpublicradio
Funny but alarmist video about Nuclear Waste (4 Minute): Truth is Stranger than Fiction
Cold Water Creek Facts: Cold Water Creek Facts
No safe exposure to radiation: Union of Concerned Scientists
Toxic Legacy Map by the WSJ: Wall Street Journal Map Nov 2015
Toxic Waste will bring down kids’ grades: Bloomberg May 2016
Radiation doesn’t care if you are rich or poor: Missouri Pollution map 2016
Background information by citizen journalist: 1995 First Secret City
Infomercial for nukes by Post Dispatch: May 2016 STL Post Dispatch
Democracy Now and the Plutonium Files: Thank you Amy Goodman
Why nuclear waste should never be stored underground: Counter Punch
Caves, Sinkholes, Karst & Groundwater: The ecology of caves
Belgian Congo Uranium: UK Telegraph 4-Nov-2015
Manhattan Fallout: And Cold Water Creek
Alarmist, but hard to find anything untrue: A Green Road – Blog
Independent Technical Analysis: Beyond Landfilling
Fairewinds on censoring:  Arne and Maggie Gunderson
US secretly sprays own population at Pruitt-Igoe: 1950/1960 Secret Spraying
Two Moms Wage War on the Federal Gov’t: Vice June 2016
Citizen Journalism on corruption in STL: 2016 stlreporter
The hopeful legal Recall Clause* 4-Nov-2015 Examiner by Byron DeLear
Rabbi Susan Talve lights the Hanukkah candles: at the White House
Rabbi Talve Writes in Huffington Post: 2016-02 From Washington DC
Watch First Secret City on Amazon Prime: First Secret City on Amazon Prime
The buried semi trucks: KSDK Jan 20137
Safe Side of the Fence Documentary: showing around the country
Missouri Coalition for the Environment**: Radioactive Landfill Fire Risks
WashU Students are involved: Student Life WashU
Garbage, Gangsters & Greed Video by New York Kids: 60 minute video by High Schoolers
EPA/ASTDR Air & Water Data: 16-October-2015
Easter Egg Hunt along Cold Water Creek: 2 minute YouTube
Nuclear Energy primer: A really stupid way to boil water
Who’s Who of anti-nuke activists: Beyond Nuclear
Casualties of War: Earth Island Feb 2016
Rolling Stone insight to Missouri Politics: No limits on campaign donations?
What Monsanto burned at West Lake in 1969: More Bad Stuff
Searchable database money in Missouri politics: StlToday 12-July-2016
Landfills and smoldering fires: Can’t put it out May 2016
PopVox is a civic engagement tool for tracking bills: PopVox
The Hill: Policy Blog
Assorted EPA Links:
About the new Facilitator: April 2016 The
EPA Region 7: Region 7 EPA
EPA Facebook: EPA Region 7 F
Whatever you do, don’t google: What’s Wrong with the EPA?
Aljazeera report on the EPA barrier: Too Little Too Late
Recent Washington Post: “Don’t Worry” says EPA
Buyout from SB22 in StLouisPost Dispatch: April 2017 St. Louis Post Dispatch

Take Action
Do Your Homework: Study the situation, and go to the meetings by the Community Action Group in Bridgeton. This thing is super complicated!  It’s almost impossible for the average person can understand what’s going on. You really need someone to explain it to you.
Watch Twitter and the Facebook Pages: Journalists are on Twitter and Facebook and you can watch them gathering information. The Facebook Page started by the moms is basically a giant learning community where citizens try to problem-solve their way out of danger.  Oh, and by the way, somebody on Facebook is censoring and removing posts from anti-nuclear activists, but I guess now that we’re overrun by Russian trolls and bots, I suppose people are no longer surprised by that fact, or even think it’s conspiracy level thinking.
Go see “First Secret City”, “Atomic HomeFront” and “Safe Side of the Fence”  These are excellent documentaries, and it’s the fastest way to get up to speed quickly. If you can believe it, nuclear waste was rolled out onto the Saint Louis International Airport tarmac at night, thus letting the airplane wheels roll it up and away into the atmosphere the next day.  Nice, huh?
First Secret City:  September 14th at UMSL at 7 pm
Safe Side of the Fence: Facebook Page
Atomic Homefront HBO film premiers Feb 2018: Atomic Homefront
Go to an education event: Maria Chappell-Nadal has held hundreds of educational events in North Saint Louis:  Maria Chappelle-Nadal Fb

(CAG) Community Action Group:  A commUnity is organized around “the moms” and holds educational events about once every two weeks.

Tell your family and friends about the nuclear dump and fire at the #westlakelandfill.  Interestingly, I have found that people will take you more seriously…   …if you whisper.

Call legislators – Get on the JustMoms email list and follow the “call to action” where citizens call either the President, Governor, Senators, EPA or legislators in a coordinated fashion. If a legislator gets even five phone calls a day on any particular issue, that’s a big deal, so know that every call matters. JustMoms Email Sign Up

In January 2018, the call to action is to email Scott Pruitt, and tell him to remove the nuclear waste, for the sake of our drinking water, as well as the drinking water of 200 million Americans:

Senator Blunt:  (202) 224-5721
Blunt sits on important military and environmental committees. By the way, Roy’s son is a lobbyist for Exelon, a nuclear giant and one of the “responsible parties” that will bear a big portion of the clean up cost, should jurisdiction switch from the EPA to FUSRAP.  If you start poking around into which politicians get special interest nuke money, and who their sons and wives work for, you probably won’t be surprised, or comforted.  Currently, there is a squabble about having enough money to remove the waste, and Blunt has a lot of say in those matters. Both Missouri Senators voted to decrease FUSRAP spending this year, and the FUSRAP budget is already laughably small. Again, not comforting. Blunt’s Chief of Staff for 6 years (Greg Hartley) left to join “Cloakroom Advisors”, a lobbying firm hired by Republic Services, which gave them $80k, probably to fight the FUSRAP legislation.

Thank Congressman Lacy Clay: 202-225-2406.

Congresswoman Ann Wagner:  I just can’t even begin…

Senator Claire McCaskill: 202-224-6154

Thank Senator McCaskill for pushing SB2306 through the Senate.  Claire has breast cancer.  Send her your wishes for wellness.

Tell Your Story:  The West Lake Landfill story is complicated and everyone interprets it   differently; in the end, tell your story and do what’s best for you. This blog is my attempt to make sense of something that makes no sense. Whatever you do, don’t do nothing, for we now live in a world where “Polite People get Poisoned.”

In short: If you read and digest all the above links, it’s impossible to escape the conclusion that Saint Louis is sitting on “a domestic dirty bomb”  —  and furthermore, the fuse is lit and the clock is ticking.  The stakes are high, the future is uncertain, and it’s basically a small band of moms with sick kids and no money, versus multiple well-funded and well organized special interest groups, plus a sociopathic federal government that loves  money and power over all beings.
Voodoo Tale:  At long last,  let me to leave you with this African voodoo tale about Madame Kipisee, who lives in the uranium hole in the Belgian Congo, and was cheated of her dark treasure by white men from the north, in a bad deal.  She now rouses from her slumber and seeks revenge by destroying the earth and all earth’s children in a blind rage that spares no living thing. We must put Madame Kipisee back to sleep in the ground, and never let her be cheated again. What goes around comes around, and the “Fat Man” we dropped on Hiroshima is coming back to haunt us, as a reminder that everything you do, always comes back to you. Shut down all nukes; Albert Einstein called nuclear energy “a really stupid way to boil water”.
The message and the messenger – So after a roller coaster of events, it’s now basically a race between public pressure, and the fire.  In the end, the nuke waste must be removed, nearby citizens must be evacuated, and the moms must claim victory for Saint Louis. (Not that escaping nuclear catastrophe is a “victory”).  The fate of Saint Louis is in the hands of the American Congress, and we’ll now see just how high, or how low, special interest money will go.  I am your messenger; take what resonates, and do with it what you will.  Below are “the moms”, who, along with many others, are making a valiant stand in the face of a nuclear fire, and to whom Saint Louis will owe a great future debt of gratitude.
The Moms

Dawn Chapman and Karen Nickel

“This is serious, it’s always been serious, and
we still have time to get FUSRAP to remove the radioactive waste.”
Dawn Chapman and Karen Nickel
Dawn Chapman is the administrator of the
West Lake Landfill Facebook Page
Karen Nickel is the administrator of
Just the Facts, about Cold Water Creek

You can donate to the JustMoms,

by clicking here

Logo Green Spiral

About Me:

While I am primarily a mother,

I also ride horses, motorcycles & mountain bikes,

ski out of bounds,

walk through questionable parts of town at night,

scuba dive with sharks, walk on train bridges,

and run a family adventure school

with kids climbing trees and poking each other with sticks.

I feel I am good at calculating risk.

The situation is serious

and people need to sit up and pay attention.


Seed Bombs are clay balls embedded with seeds,

in this case, milkweed for monarchs!

Milkweed = Baby Food for Monarch Butterflies

Milkweed = Baby Food for Monarch Butterflies

Artists, Activists and Kids love seed bombs,

and here’s how to make your own:

Step One:

Step One

Step One

Step Two:

Naughty or Nice?

Naughty or Nice?

Step Three:

Harvest milkweed seeds from a real

milkweed plant, OR, buy locally,

from,  Seed Geeks, who you can find

at the Tower Grove Market.

Go Local

Seed Geeks

Mix the clay with water, and a few seeds,

until you get the consistency of cookie dough.

Play with mud

Play with mud

Step Four:

Mix into mud, adding more clay, water or seeds

as needed.  You can also add some compost from your garden.

Mix Well

Mix Well

Step Five:

Roll into balls, allow to dry, and harden (which may take a few days).

Bombs Away!

Bombs Away!

Then go bomb a vacant lot.

Next spring,

Milkweed and Monarchs show up!

And that’s how to make a Seed Bomb.


Weds Nov 13, 2013

Let's have a party!

Let’s have a party!

(#6) Red Solo Cups are not really recyclable, which is so sad, because the Red Solo Cup song is really fun.  Here’s the “bad boy” version of the song, in case you’ve not seen it:

Now, what we need to do is create a good green cup, and make up a great new song to go with it!

At 22 million views, “red cup living” is culturally drubbing those of us drinking from the “good green cup” — it’s just so much more fun to be naughty than nice! At some point, however, we’ll going to have to learn to be nice to ourselves and to our mother earth.

Yet, I digress from the central topic of green and sustainable field trips in the Saint Louis area.

Here’s a terrific field trip for teens, scouts, and greenies of all ages (except for little kids) — a trip to the recycling facility at Resource Management Company in Earth City.  Ask for Gary Gilliam. 314-770-9898, or send him an email at  Gary’s happy to offer field trips at any time, as field trips are good for growing the recycle business.  And here’s the really good news, not only is this field trip quite interesting, it’s absolutely free!

Many people are surprised to learn that Saint Louis has one of the most progressive recycling ecosystems in the country, and Gary is one of the “solutionaries” who helped figure out how to do it.

"All Together Now"

“All Together Now”

The short answer to recycling success is the rise of the “single stream” process, which means “throw it all in and let the recycling facility sort it out later”.

Gone are the days of sorting bottles from cans into little blue bins. Volume makes the economics work, and switching from little blue sorting bins to big green carts on wheels brings enough volume into the recycling game to make recycling sustainably profitable.

Less than 30% of Saint Louis households currently recycle their trash, so every field trip to a recycling center builds “customers,” thus bringing all of us, earth’s creatures included, into ever greater stability, success, and sustainability.

The original cave man

The original cave man

Our waste stream is valuable; and Gary is emphatic about it:  “There’s Treasure in Your Trash”!  While it’s important to understand the economics of sustainability from a macro-view, most people on this field trip will want to know exactly what can be recycled, and what cannot.

Here’s a link to the Saint Louis County Health Dept ‘Recycling Becomes Me’ website.  Download it, bookmark it, Facebook it, or pin it so you can find it when you want it, as these reference guides can be surprisingly hard to find.

2013-11-13 Recycling Becomes Me graphic.pdf

When it doubt, throw it in.  That’s the beauty of single stream!2013-11-13 Whats in your Trash Infographic

Back to the economics for a minute:  aluminum cans are “infinitely recyclable”, and represent lots of ‘embodied energy’, thus they are the most valuable of recyclables. Metals like aluminum foil and tin cans are the “treasure in the trash”.  Because aluminum cans are made from bauxite, a finite mineral  strip-mined from the earth’s crust, it’s especially important to recycle them always.

After metals, plastic is the second most valuable material for recyclers, especially #1 (PET) and #2 (HDPE), which are recycled into furniture, playgrounds, puff clothing, and carpeting.

Now here’s where things get complicated, because I can’t help throwing children’s health into the economics mix. I think it’s so interesting that the most valuable recyclables, plastic #1 and #2, are also the safest for food. We don’t know much about plastic in our food supply, but what we do know isn’t good.  Of course true blue greenies reading this post will have been drinking from glass or metal containers for years.

Avoid plastic #3 PVC (sometimes called the ‘poison plastic’) as well as #6 and #7.

Back to that naughty red solo cup, which is polystyrene #6, a kind of styrofoam. Styrofoam has been listed by the EPA as a possible human carcinogen, and when it melts into your soup or coffee, you can taste the plastic.

Eco-Mama says: “Don’t drink plastic, kids”!  Try to avoid Styrofoam as graciously as possible so you don’t turn into one of those weird people with all sorts of annoying food rules that are impossible to follow.  Beyond health considerations, styrofoam is not recyclable.

The red solo cups, and other styrofoam pieces, are optically sorted out of the single stream process, and disposed of as true waste. Technically, red solo cups ARE recyclable, but you’ll have to organize your own field trip to find out for sure.

Do NOT throw grocery bags into the single stream receptacle (although the recycle facility will indeed sort them out later.)  Return your grocery bags to your friendly grocery store, or bring your own shopping bags to market, to market, to buy a fat pig.

Here’s a photo of a superior collapsible shopping “bag” you can buy at Schnucks for about $5.  As a bonus, the baggers in the check out line find the boxes much easier to load than bags, and if you keep to your grocery list and within the limits of the box, you will significantly reduce impulse purchases.

A box for your bagger

A box for your bagger

And to help you remember that plastic grocery bags have nowhere to go, here’s an amusing “mockumentary” about what happens to the “majestic plastic bag” as it searches for a home during it’s long lonely life:

If you sneak a peak inside your own recycling bin, it comes as no surprise that paper and cardboard comprise the bulk of recycling waste stream by volume;  paper gets bundled and shipped to Iowa or deadheaded to China.  Bring on that dream of a truly paperless society!  Don’t make me upload pictures of clear-cut old growth forests turned into direct mail envelopes.

Enough about what to recycle, here are your tips for hosting a recycle field trip: A group of about 20 – 30 people seems to be the right number for this field trip; a smaller group works just as well.   It might be nice to team up with another organization to maximize numbers and enjoy the synergistic effects.

The first half of the field trip is a lecture by Gary in a nice conference room with video cameras, and the second half is a tour of the plant. Plan on spending about two hours, plus travel time to Earth City. The location is well marked on GPS maps: Resource Management Company; 4375 Ryder Trail North, Earth City, MO; 63045

Again, here’s the contact information for Gary Gilliam: 314-770-9898,

It’s fun to watch the bulldozers and dumpers come in; count the dumpers and turn it into a math exercise on volume.  Count the number of workmen pulling pieces from the line and make some calculations; labor is a big expense for recycling companies.  On the other hand, it also represents job creation in the new “green economy.”

Study each machine to fully understand its job, and challenge yourself to make a map of the assembly line after you come out.  Notice that the plastic grocery bags that have no place to go.  Look for red solo cups. Ponder the magnitude of our waste stream and wonder where it all comes from and where it all goes. Ask about the odd things that find their way into the recycle center. (hint: lots of eyeglasses and TV remote controls, which get recycled along with the newspapers!)

And for those of you who can’t make it out for a real field trip, here’s a nice arm-chair “film” trip:

Again, there is something life-changing about real life experiences as opposed to watching video, so go in person if you can. If you go, be aware there is broken glass everywhere, and that a fine plastic dust fills the air; if you have asthma or are sensitive to respiratory issues, this may not be a good trip for you.  Bring sturdy shoes and maybe a N95 face mask.  The footing is fine, you will be walking on stairs with grates, sometimes covered with broken glass; but this is definitely not a place for high heels or fancy shoes.

I personally would not bring little kids on this field trip, due to the broken glass and air quality conditions.  This is a good tour to do when it’s too hot, or too cold, for comfortable outdoor adventures.  The work area is exposed; it was a cold day when we visited, and we were cold.  If you visit in summer, you will be hot.

I urge you to take a moment after the field trip to reflect on what you’ve learned, integrate it into your learning, and share that with those around you through blogging, Facebook, Instagram, graphic visuals, funny videos, etc.   Let me know if you go, by posting what I forgot to mention in the comment section below, thus helping future adventurers.

I leave you with this green coffee cup video by those smart and funny med students at Washington University:


Postnote 2014:  Want to supercharge your recycling efforts?  Look what IDEO is doing:

Life Must be Lived as Play

The blooming of the green world is intimately tied to the economy, and as the economy recovers new playgrounds are springing up like dandylions!

Here’s a Green Spiral Map that shows the many great playgrounds around Saint Louis; send an email to if you’d like an email copy of the map which will let you to zoom in for a better look.

Especially if you are involved with a school, it’s extremely important to see  “best practices” before designing your new playground; I recommend taking a large group of PTO families and lots of “stunt kids” out on a bonding bus ride together to test out different playgrounds in real life, long before you begin the playground planning process.

Fortunately we have lots of creative and unique playgrounds in Saint Louis worth visiting, and here I touch on two we have visited through Green Spiral field trips.  On the short list of playgrounds, I would include  “The Awakening” in Chesterfield, the Walter Ambrose Family Center in Webster, Keysor Elementary in Kirkwood, New City School in the CWE, Maplewood-Richmond Heights Public Schools and Citygarden.

Not only do children build their muscles on the playground, they also build their imaginations, and we definitely need lots of kids with powerful imaginations to help solve some of the world’s most vexing problems.  We are moving in the right direction when we build thoughtful playscapes for children which include water, nature, sound, community and lots of positive challenge. The criteria for the Green Spiral Great Playground Map includes “first of kind” playgrounds, play for all abilities including wheelchairs, sense of place and uniqueness.

Pink Ducky Race at Citygarden

2012-09-08 pink ducky raceOur greatest children’s playground is unquestionably the Citygarden, which was not necessarily created to be a children’s playground per se.

Water is life, and an irresistible magnet for children.  To Citygarden’s credit, when all those children spontaneously showed up and jumped into the pools, instead of forbidding the children to touch the water, they hired lifeguards, and let the children play.

In addition, children are allowed to climb on the art sculptures, which is not only unusual, but positively enlightened.   We must offer our best art to our children, as children have big souls to feed, and they feed their souls with their hands, by touching things.

There are numerous areas in the Citygarden specifically designed for younger children, such as the Pinocchio sculpture, the white rabbits, and the hidden musical jump board.  Watch while older kids completely ignore the outdoor video screen, preferring instead to hop in the pop-up spray fountains, race about the garden, climb over the sculptures or dip in the pools, proving without question that water is more powerful than screen-time.

Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, writes of the many ways we are systematically separating children from nature, and you may be noticing this disturbing trend that increasingly forbids children to touch, crawl, climb, get dirty or certainly destroy things.  Last Child in the Woods started the recent child/nature movement, and is required reading for anyone serious about creating playground habitats for children.

Fortunately for us, through good design and good policy, Citygarden is a “do touch” children’s garden that can withstand the trample of thousands of tiny feet and hands, pointing the way forward in creating playgrounds that include wheels, native plants, creatures, children, dogs, water and a vibrant community life full of all kinds of people.

2009-09 City Garden Bunnies

The Pink Ducky Race during the Pink Flamingo Party every year is a particularly nice time to visit the Citygarden, as it’s thrilling for children to watch their special pink ducky float down the length of the pool, and hopefully win the race.  The Pink Ducky Race is currently scheduled for September 7th, 2013.

There is plenty of available street parking on 10th street near the white rabbits, also conveniently located near the porta-potties.  Bring hand sanitizer, and your dog.

2013-04-12 awakening instagram foot 609kThe Awakening

In Spring 2013 Green Spiral hosted a field trip to explore  “The Awakening” sculpture by J. Seward Johnson in Chesterfield.

Sadly, it was a miserably long cold wet spring and our beautiful April outdoor lunch turned out to be dank, dark, cold and threatening. No one came out to play, and I don’t blame them.

“The Awakening” is a gigantic sculpture of a man erupting from the ground; it is truly remarkable when you happen upon it, and photos can’t quite capture the surprise and magnificence that rise up inside you upon approaching it.  I recommend you experience it for yourself.

What is most remarkable and inspiring about “The Awakening” is Chesterfield’s vision of putting “Art at the Heart of the Parks” and the parks in the center of community.  This is a “do touch” climbable sculpture that figuratively and physically puts children, community and art at the heart of the town center.

There is pent-up demand for destinations that offer nature play, and Citygarden provides economic proof that groups like Green Spiral and others will venture forth to find these destinations, spreading eco-tourism dollars along the way.  The Chesterfield Mall is conveniently located just east of the playground and sculpture.

“The Awakening” sculpture can be hard to find, as it doesn’t yet show up on Google Earth, so I’ve marked it on this Google Green Spiral Playground Map.

Let me know if you can see it:

Here’s a link to the Chesterfield Arts page to learn more about the sculpture:

2013-04-12 awakening from afar

These two playgrounds, The Citygarden and The Awakening, are unconventional children’s playgrounds by traditional standards, but they serve as anchor points of best practice, as readily evidenced upon your first visit to either one of these remarkable destinations.

The Green Spiral Map at the top of the page shows a number of other great Saint Louis playgrounds, in existence or under construction, and include Turtle Park, Tilles Park, the Forest Park Inclusion Playground, Zachary’s Playground at Lake Saint Louis, The City Museum, the Tree Top Adventure Playground and Sensory Garden in Shaw Park, New City School, the cutting edge playground at Maplewood Richmond Heights School, the all-abilities, all inclusive school playground at Keysor Elementary School, and the new Walter Ambrose Family Center preschool playground in Webster Groves that spills beautifully down a steep hill.  Many more are being added to the map all the time.

I encourage you to gather a playgroup and check these playgrounds off your list, use it as a curriculum map for the study of outdoor play; and if you are building a new playground, I’d love to see it on the Green Spiral Map one day!

Invite me to talk to your school PTO for free, by sending a note to, and I’ll come in exchange for selling the maps at $2 each to subsidize the trip.