Stardate: 2021-April-08

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Let’s go on a Tennessee Williams hunt!

Tennessee Williams considered himself to be a poet first,

but here’s why he’s America’s greatest playwright:

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Spring in Saint Louis is the perfect time to go on a Tennessee Williams hunt.

Here are your clues…

starting with Tennessee’s birthday in March,

you can go looking for the violets that have broken the rocks…

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Tennessee’s grave-marker at Calvary Cemetery can be hard to find.

Take a picnic on a lovely Sunday and

look for the red-bud tree that blooms in early April…

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The marker is located in a corner of section 15A –

pick up a map that looks like this

at the front gates of Calvary Cemetery.

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CALVARY CEMETERY

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In 1918 Thomas “Tennessee” Williams moved to Saint Louis as a child when his father, a traveling shoe salesman, was promoted to a job at the International Shoe Company.

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Remember this would have been in the wake of WWI and during the 1918 pandemic.

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The International Shoe Company is now the City Museum, and the first home of Tennessee Williams has been occupied by Our Little Haven, a home for traumatized children.

Thomas’s father was an abusive alcoholic…

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Our Little Haven is located across the street from the Saint Louis Basilica,

where services were held for Tennessee Williams upon his death in 1983.

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You can buy timed tickets to the City Museum,

where Thomas got a job as a teen and escaped via the “Stairs to the Roof”,

so a Tennessee Williams hunt works well as a pandemic adventure.

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CITY MUSEUM

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Perhaps a better starting point might be Writer’s Corner

and Left Bank Books.

LEFT BANK BOOKS

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Start at the Tennessee Williams sculpture

and have a warm weather walk around the CWE neighborhood looking for clues….

Here’s your adventure map!

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Much was written by Tennessee Williams and much has been written about him.

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We’ll leave the words to professional writers like the Wash U Professor

for which this story-map was created.

Professor Schvey discovered a “new” poem by Tennessee Williams

and wrote a whole book about it!

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BLUE SONG

by Henry Schvey

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It’s fun to watch Saint Louis fall in love with Tennessee Williams,

and perhaps Tennessee Williams is also falling in love with Saint Louis.

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Be sure to post clues about your Tennessee Williams adventures below,

and finish your hunt at the annual Tennessee Williams Festival in May!

TWSTL

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Stardate: 20-Mar-2021

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If kids could vote, Rocketship Park would win the prize as favorite playground.

It’s a launchpad for fun!

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Rocketship Playground is located in Deer Creek Park, and a warm day near the vernal equinox is a particularly nice time to visit. Most people who visit America’s national parks never stray far from the parking lot and the same is true of Deer Creek Park. If you are one of the few who likes to get off the beaten track, this map’s for you!

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Rendezvous with friends at Rocketship Playground, search for the “secret steps” down to the creek, and start exploring. Then follow the bouncing star over the bridge, along the creek, and hunt for the secret spring, the “ghost trolley” and climbing boulders. You get the idea; the map is a starting point for your explorations but here’s a journey guide to tell you exactly where to go and what to look for:

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If you begin from the top of the park (near the ghost trolley and MayPop), look for three waterproof adventure maps that were hidden in the daffodils on the Spring Equinox, and if you find one, let us know below!

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Here’s the secret spring you’re looking for; it tends to dry out as the summer wears on, so spring is a good time to go. Keep an eye out for water sprites and woodland faeries! Building strong imaginations in early life is the secret to creating strong innovators later in life.

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Feel free to download the above map or buy our book of ten adventure maps on Amazon,

HERE

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If you want to make your very own adventure map, here’s a black & white download:

ETSY

Print out the map, draw your unique adventures in stick-figures and send them for us to see!

If you send your own adventure map, family essay or some children’s artwork,

we’ll print the very best of them.

Enter submissions via email to Green Spiral Tours @ gmail.com

10-March-2021

Three Flags Day has come and gone again, without much fanfare. March 10th is the birthday of Saint Louis, which is possibly the most fascinating city on the planet. Three Flags Day is the day three flags flew over Saint Louis, in succession, as the Louisiana Purchase passed to America from France. Saint Louis was under Spanish jurisdiction at the time. On March 10, 1804, first the Spanish, then the French, then the American flag were hoisted in succession over Saint Louis.

Remember Aaron Burr, who shot Alexander Hamilton? Shortly after that dastardly deed, Aaron Burr hatched a conspiracy with the Saint Louis governor to take Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mexico, AND the Louisiana Purchase, to create a new empire, installing the brilliant Theodosia as empress. As often happens, the seditionists lost their nerve, the conspiracy fell apart and Aaron Burr ran off into Indian territory, never to be heard from again.

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Speaking of little known stories, check out this movie about Toussaint Louverture. Known as the “Black Napolean” from Haiti, Louverture single-handedly stopped the french Napolean from sailing ships straight up the Mississippi River to set up camp in Saint Louis. We owe our very democracy to this brave fellow, and more people need to know about him and Three Flags Day in Saint Louis.

These two stories are little gems, and can be found in this 1960s book of Saint Louis history written by Ernest Kirschten, an editorial writer for the Saint Louis Post Dispatch. See why it’s important to read books? There’s treasure hidden inside the books!

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Here’s the opening quote in the above book:

“We may be through with the past, but the past is not through with us.” – Bergen Evans.

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Saint Louis has long been a battleground,

and somehow the battle ultimately tilts towards the light.

If history is written by the victors,

then let’s go looking for Three Flag Day adventures,

and keep historic victories alive.

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If you know of a “Three Flags Day” adventure,

please post below!

22-Feb-2020

In the wake of “frozen Texas hellscape week”,

here’s a map of the Saint Louis energy grid:

Energy Matters

This map was created in 2019 and fact-checked by the League of Women Voters.

It went out to 55,000 voters in early 2020.

They say Texan Voters shouldn’t have to know about their energy grid, but let’s politely disagree!

It’s important to know how your house is heated and where your electricity comes from.

Here’s a decoder guide for those curious to learn more…

Please feel free to download and share the map and decoder page as you wish.

Also! Be sure to update your notes now that America will be rejoining the Paris Climate Accord.

Energy Matters!

Viola! The first French story-map of Saint Louis in over 100 years, according to the Saint Louis History Museum.

After many field trips and much research, this map was created with the help of an 8th grade French teacher who likes to take students on local field trips. You can still visit many of these sites during the pandemic!

The journey begins at ​Laclede’s Landing where the streets are still cobblestone and the signs are still in French. This marks the spot of the first French trading village built by french fur trader Pierre Laclede​. It is here that the future city of Saint Louis was named in honor of ​King Louis IX of France.

French culture is firmly embedded in the architecture of Saint Louis, as evidenced by ​City Hall​, a replica of the Hotel de Ville (city hall) in Paris, noted for its beauty and lighting. Here’s the very beautiful Hotel de Ville in Paris:

Powell Symphony Hall is modeled after the palace at Versailles; a beautiful stained glass window can be found at ​St. Francis Xavier Church and Union Station is modeled after a french fortress. A renowned mosaic panel of King Louis IX can be somewhat safely explored during covid times in the vestibule at the ​Saint Louis Basilica​. (Buy the small booklet in the bookshop to enhance your appreciation and enjoyment).

The ​Fleur de Lis​, symbol of french monarchy, was added to the ​Saint Louis flag in 1964 and it’s fun to hunt for fleur de lis motifs springing up with increasing frequency throughout Saint Louis. Potagers​ (“kitchen gardens”) and ​mansard​ ​roofs​ can be found throughout the city.

Soulard hosts the second largest ​Mardi Gras​ in America, and ​Let Them Eat Art​ springboards from “Let them eat Cake”. ​Left Bank Books​ is named after that famous arrondissement in Paris that is filled with bookshops, thinkers and writers.

A vibrant number of language classes and cultural events can be found at ​Alliance Francaise​, while a French film festival is traditionally hosted in February by Webster University’s ​Centre Francophone​. The historic ​Chatillon-DeMenil House​ hosts a Bastille Day Celebration each year on July 14th. French colonial homes are preserved by the​ Les Amis​ organization, which also publishes a map on the​ Creole Corridor​.

Croissants, macaroons, crepes and traditional french cuisine can be found throughout Saint Louis, as well as chocolates by ​Bissingers​, a favorite chocolatrie of empress Josephine.

All french wines owe a debt to Missouri vineyards, due to the ​phylloxera​ bug which destroyed the entire French vineyard crop in 1863, after which vines from Missouri were grafted onto French vine stock. On a nice day, it’s fun to take a champagne picnic out to Calvary Cemetery where the famous french fur trappers are buried. (By the way, Trader Joes has fantastic croissants in the freezer section.)

If you need a hug during these challenging pandemic days, Green Spiral has these “French Lover” pillows available for about $35. You can order them on Zazzle or pick one up at the Green Spiral offices near the Lion Gates in UCity. Just send a note to GreenSpiralTours@gmail.com

Or buy them on Zazzle to have one shipped to your home:

https://www.zazzle.com/french_lover_pillow_saint_louis-256152131763424292

Here’s the zazzle link if you want to buy 5×7 note-cards:

https://www.zazzle.com/z/juosq8xd

Love your City & Vive Saint Louis!

The City of Sparkling Lights

Log Date: 2019-May-28

Fly Away 2019-05-15 COLOR

Saint Louis is a magical world for children and a wonderful place to grow up. This map invokes formative childhood memories of Saint Louis and celebrates teenage touchstones and interests.

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Turns out, Saint Louis has invented a lot of teen-friendly foods.  First you make the map, and then the map tells you what you see.  You never know what that might be!

Here’s the story guide that goes along with the “Fly Away Home” map:

Fly Away Home Story JPG

Loyal fans and followers are welcome to download and printout the story and map for personal use.  If you’d like a small poster, there is a limited number available at The Nook, a gift and gathering space in Ladue that benefits St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

Nook Advert 2019-05-28 WEW JPG

You can also be the first to buy these adorable pillows from Zazzle and send your student off with hugs from home.

The pillows are 16″ x 12″ and have the “Fly Away Home” image on the front plus a quote from our great poet T.S. Eliot on the back: “The end is where we start from.”

 

Pillow from Zazzle -1

Pillow from Zazzle -2

Here’s the link for the pillows, they are priced at around $30.

Fly Away Home Graduation Pillows

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It’s fun to watch Saint Louis fall in love with itself, and if you’re like me, or Ferris Bueller, you know that life moves pretty fast, and you have to stop and look around once in a while. If you don’t you just might miss it.  #FlyAwayHome

 

2016-06-11 Trip Date
Scouting Trip # 283

2017-sbyt-logo.jpeg

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

 

Trip Date: 2018-Jan-06 * Scouting Mission: 2017-Jan-07 & 2016-Jan-08

 

Old Courthouse WEB 2018-01-02*

The Old Courthouse, located in downtown Saint Louis, is a magnificent building, and an important touchstone in the ongoing struggle for justice and equality.  You can tell what a society values by looking at their buildings — once inside, the Old Courthouse feels like a temple to the Rule of Law.  The arc of justice is long.

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A wonderful time for locals to visit is on January 6th, which is Epiphany, the Twelfth Day of Christmas.  On this day, the Old Courthouse comes alive with music and dancing from 1768, as period actors in military dress throw a party for the public, complete with music, dancing and a ceremony involving the “King’s Cake”.

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The event is called the “Twelfth Afternoon Ball“,  and it comes with ladies in long dresses serving pralines, little cookies and hot cider to visitors.  The public is invited to join in the dancing, which is fun and easy to learn. The whole thing is free.

2017-01-06-longshot

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Street parking is easy in winter, and you get two hours at the meter.  The Metro stops at 8th & Pine, a brisk four block walk to the Old Courthouse.  As you approach, look for the International Fur Exchange building on your right, (now a Drury Hotel), which stands as a tangible reminder of the enormous wealth generated by beaver pelts, and the french fur traders who procured them.  Take a moment to admire the dome, which was modeled after the Capitol Dome in Washington D.C., as well as the Vatican.

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Long Shot 2 2018*

Once inside, stand next to the warm radiators to shake off the cold, and look left at the underground railroad map, then take a moment to explore the Dred Scott exhibit. Watch the short history channel movie as you wish. Use the restrooms as necessary.

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The music and dancing will beckon to you from the center hall, and fancy ladies in long gowns will serve you cider and cookies.  Enjoy the music from your seats while the more courageous members of your party join in the fun and easy dancing.

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Because of the Dred Scott decision, the Old Courthouse is a National Park, and like Yellowstone Park or Yosemite — where most people don’t go more than one mile from the road — most people don’t think to climb up into the rotunda of the Old Courthouse.  This is your adventure.

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National Park

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When you’re ready to climb, explore the side halls until you find the cast iron stairs, which are beautifully crafted and highly unusual.  As you climb each flight, hunt around for the next flight of stairs, until you’ve climbed as high as you can go.

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On your way up, peek inside the historic courthouse rooms, preserved in all their classical revival splendor, and if no other visitors are around, say something, like “hello”,  to experience the amazing acoustics. Maybe you could shout something like “Let Freedom Ring!”, “Once free, always free!” or, “From the Darkness Cometh the Light!”. Imagine the enormous expense, and admire the incredible craftsmanship, and know such a building would not likely be built today.

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Make note of the Greek columns which ascend in architectural order from Doric to Ionic to Corinthian, as you ascend each level.  Some of the columns are load bearing, (made of cast iron), and some are decorative, (made from wood). Knock on the columns to see if you can tell which are made from iron, and which are made of wood.

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2017-01-06 Longshot

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The rotunda was designed to carry voices to as many people as possible without amplification, so your climbing adventure will be accompanied by the merry sounds of music and dancing below.  It’s fun to peer down on the tiny dancers, while ascending the upper balconies above. You’re standing inside an old fashioned amplifier!

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When you get to the top, you will be standing beneath the skylight, known as the “eye”, which brings sunlight down from on high.  The very top structure is called a “cupola”, which means “upside-down cup” in Italian.  There are two ways up to the third balcony, which is as high as you are allowed to go;  visitors are not allowed on the fourth balcony.

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See if you can identify the four allegorical paintings by Wimar, representing the British-Indian attack, the discovery of the Mississippi Rive by deSoto, the founding of Saint Louis, and the transcontinental railroad through the Rocky Mountains.  Also see if you can identify the allegorical figures on four walls representing law, liberty, justice and commerce.

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Flag & Dome 2018

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Make your way back downstairs and out onto the East Steps, overlooking the Arch and facing the Mississippi River.  It is here that slaves were auctioned off, as well as the Eads Bridge (to your left) and the St. Louis Post Dispatch (to Hungarian immigrant Joseph Pulitzer).  This is a great spot for a family photo.

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The Dred and Harriet Scott sculpture is to your right. Dred Scott finally achieved his freedom a year before he died. Visit the gift shop on the way out, and check out the children’s books on Lewis and Clark, as well as the excellent selection of children’s books on African American History.  Buy or bring your National Parks Passport, so it can be stamped.

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2015-dred-harriet-scott-sculpture

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Use the Restrooms before leaving, and look for the turtle motif on the wrought iron fence facing west, an homage to a quirky custodian who once kept a real turtle in the Courthouse fountain, and complained that the turtle was the only thing in the courthouse that didn’t cause the tax papers money.

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Turtle Fence 2

 

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Epiphany at the Old Courthouse in Saint Louis is an excellent adventure for families of all ages; toddlers will get lots of exercise on the stairs, kids will love scampering about the balconies, and teens will enjoy the magnificent building and authentic military weaponry.  It’s a refreshing, short and sweet adventure for the whole family, with a little bit of exercise.

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Finding the event on your computer can be a challenge.  Start with Gateway Arch events; and if all else fails, search Facebook for the  Twelfth Afternoon Ball. The event is hosted on the Saturday nearest Epiphany.  If you miss Epiphany, similar events are held throughout the year, including the President’s Ball on President’s Day.  If you can’t make one of the re-enactment dates, go on MLK Day in January, which hosts the second largest annual civil rights gathering in the nation.

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Here’s your GPS location: 11 N. 4th Street; Saint Louis; 63102. Watch for this information to be uploaded into a collection of adventure maps for sale on Amazon, soon.

 

Dome 3

Faucet Water Org

Trip Date: 2016 March & 2016 December
Field Trips #35 & 48

In the wake of the #Flint Water Crisis,  Green Spiral Tours hosted two “Drinking Water Tours” to the water intake & treatment facility at Hog Hollow.

Most drinking water in America, including the city of Saint Louis, is managed by city municipalities, but the facility at Hog Hollow is operated by Missouri American Water, a private company.

Hog Hollow

This facility provides water to the County, and thus about 80% of the region’s population.  Here’s the good news and the bad news:  we have an abundant supply of fresh clean water coming down the Missouri River, with no urgent threat, except for the serious situation at the the West Lake Landfill.

Great Rivers Greenway

Saint Louis is defined by its rivers: the Missouri, Illinois and Mississippi Rivers meet just upstream from the city, and the Meramec River meets the Mississippi just south of the city. (Map courtesy of Great Rivers Greenway.)

There are four water treatment facilities on the Missouri River and two on the Meramec; these six facilities supply all the drinking water to the Saint Louis region. In this day and age, everyone should know where their water comes from.

About  80% of the region’s water comes from the Hog Hollow location, which is located near Chesterfield on the Missouri River:  this facility feeds the County system which includes Saint Charles, Chesterfield, Webster Groves, Clayton, University City,  and some parts of South Saint Louis. North Saint Louis, including Bridgeton, receives water mixed from both the Hog Hollow intake, and the water intake downstream at Charbonnier.

The Missouri River is a fast, deep and fairly clean water source.  In just eleven minutes, we can pull enough water out of the river to supply Saint Louis with a year’s worth of drinking water. Upstream are CAFO farms, industrial facilities,  coal ash ponds, and a handful of nuke plants. The greatest water threat seems to be coming from “nonpoint” sources, including springtime nitrates, nutrient pollution from farm inputs,  and industrial pollution like oil in the parking lot not coming from a pipe.  Interestingly, large pipeline and chemical spills are a valid threat to clean water. All things considered, and relative to the rest of the country, Saint Louis has an abundant supply of fresh clean water,  because we sit on the banks of a fast, clean flowing river. Here’s a nifty new tool that allows you to trace the Missouri river upstream:  Slate.com

2016 Flint Water Crisis

If you’ve been following the Flint Water Crisis, you’ve been watching a catastrophic failure of government at every level, and a lot of finger pointing, as residents muddle through the days (and now years) on bottled water.  Clearly, there is no easy fix in sight, and the story has turned a spotlight on aging infrastructure, corruption in government and weakening water regulations across the country. Here’s what Erin Brokovich had to say about Flint in March 2016, and the situation is getting worse:   We Are All Flint

Indeed, the Flint situation prompted the testing of local Saint Louis schools, and many of them popped up with lead troubles before school started in 2016.  We all know that lead is damaging to young brains;  it enters the water supply at the end point, where the house pipes meet the water main, for example, or where the drinking fountain meets the child. Lead is easily handled and not an issue for our water supply, per se. stl today Aug 2016

west lake landfill overlay

For those just tuning in, we have a landfill loaded with a huge amount of nuclear waste in Saint Louis, and an unstoppable fire now within “hundreds of feet”, so there’s quite a lot of concern about radioactivity slipping into the drinking water supply.  We know from the EPA that radioactivity is currently leaching into the groundwater, and that the groundwater under the landfill is now it’s own Superfund site. The groundwater is expected to seep into the Missouri River by ? 2030? If it’s not escaping into the river already.

Missouri American Water Tower

In March 2016, and again in December 2016, Green Spiral Tours took twenty reasonable and skeptical citizens on tours of the county facility at Hog Hollow, operated by Missouri American Water.  This facility is located upstream from the landfill and the tours were informative and interesting.  Our hosts were clearly professionals who take great pride in their work, and their transparency and candor were comforting. After both tours, Green Spiral participants had not big concerns, and pretty much agreed that the water supply from the County facility is mostly “safe”.

Treating water for drinking is both a mechanical and chemical process. The water is drawn from the river, and then delivered by pipe to settling ponds.  Chemically sticky positive ions, (like lime softening agents and carbon) are added, which cause large particles to clump together as colloidals, and sink to the bottom. This is how most of the heavy metals and radionuclides are removed from the water: they clump together and  “settle” as sediment.

2016-12-02-drinking-water-map

2016 Best Photo

After leaving the settling ponds, the water is treated with chlorine and ammonia to kill microbes and pathogens, and then disturbed with aerating paddles, again to cause particles to knock together, clump, and fall to the bottom as sediment. Fluoride is added thanks to standards that has not been updated since 1950, and the young mothers were keen to know we have relatively more fluoride in Saint Louis (at .6mg/L) than other cities.  (By the way, fluoride is a tiny molecule, which can be removed by reverse osmosis; the Lancet Journal has come out with this not so great news about the damaging effects of fluoride).

2016-12-09-anthraciteIn the final stage, water passes through a final filter (of anthracite, sand and pebbles) to remove the smallest particles before moving by pipe directly to the consumer.  A dense network of pipes runs beneath the streets of Saint Louis, and the county has the ability to swap water with the city in order to handle the “Super Bowl Flush Rush” or the filling of too many swimming pools in early summer. The county water pipes interface with city water pipes somewhere around Skinker Blvd. As a final note: Missouri American Water adds extra carbon for taste, odor and color, and probably due to a high mineral county,  Saint Louis wins awards for having great tasting water!

West Lake MapWhile Missouri American Water operates the county water intake facility upstream from the landfill, the city of Saint Louis operates two intake facilities downstream from the landfill (and also one intake facility upstream from the landfill). Refer to the hand-drawn map. It’s all a little confusing, but the point is that the city and county can switch pipes and swap water at any time, and thus, we all drink the same water.  The city has denied Green Spiral Tours a visit for security and safety reasons.

Water is Life

This brings us down to test results, as well as the question of what is being tested, and what is not being tested for.  For example, drinking water is not being tested for a variety of pharmaceuticals, which are known to be there. Safe Water Standards are set by the EPA and enforced by the State.  Lots can be written about the EPA and the MDNR (Missouri Department of Natural Resources), and you could spend your life lobbying for clean water; thankfully, many people do.  Bear in mind, for context, that the biggest threat to safe drinking water (by far) is e.coli, also known as “poop”.

2014-01-19 Water towersHere are some of the specific questions from our December group, along with answers:  What about testing for specific radioactive isotopes associated with the West Lake Landfill, like radium 226 or thorium 230? Answer: The water tested in 2015 at the downstream Charbonnier facility revealed no detectable gross alpha or gross beta results. Water was also retrieved from the point where Cold Water Creek enters the Missouri River and no gross alpha or gross beta were detected. What about gylphosate? Answer: according to testing results, no glyphosate was detected in the raw water. What about radioactive particles leaking into the pipes? Answer: low emitter radioactive particles cannot penetrate pipes, and the water supply is a closed system. Which water system serves InBev and thus Budweiser Beer? Answer: County water, the Missouri American water treatment facility we visited at Hog Hollow. Question: How much of a problem are pipeline spills, as highlighted by Standing Rock situation, for example? Answer: Actually, kind of a problem.  What about chloramines? Answer: Chlorine and chloramines seem to be a necessary evil.  What about Chromium 6? Answer: Health standards are no feasibly attainable, but clean drinking water standards are met. Like I said, a person could spend a lifetime looking at test results and lobbying for clean water, and thankfully, many people do.  Take a moment to look through the test results of your drinking water by entering your zipcode here: Water Quality Reports

Testing for radionuclides is required every nine years by the EPA, but due to the unique situation at the West Lake Landfill, all four water facilities on the Missouri River were tested in 2015, and here are the results: http://www.amwater.com/ccr/STLSTC_rads.pdf

It is my understanding that the Missouri River is now being tested every year for radionuclides.

Water Gives Me Potatoes

Here are a few articles you may or may not want to read:

Erin Brokovich in Time Magazine: Feb 2016

Half of all US Rivers too polluted: The Wire 2013

MegaBanks: Buying up the World’s Water

 

DOE dumps radioactivity in Missouri River 1993: First Secret City

Water beyond America; Thank you Water.org:  Water.org

Shut Down the Dakota Pipeline on the Missouri River: Before it Spills

Surprisingly, after long insisting that fracking does not contaminate groundwater, the EPA has now come out and said, “actually, it does”: Eco-Watch

i-am-the-riverIn the end,  we all live downstream, and I encourage citizens to learn by doing, by organizing your own “Drinking Water” field trips.


This is a good field trip for middle school students,  high school students, and scout troops. Take about 12-20 people with you when you go, and make sure they are over age 10; names must be submitted for security reasons. Call the main number at Missouri American Water and ask for a tour: 314-469-6050. The tour takes about 2 hours and there is some driving out to the river.  Go in March, when the leaves are just starting to turn green, or go in November, saving your best weather for planting in your garden or exploring the green world with kids. Tell them Green Spiral Tours sent you, and bring Saint Louis chocolates, or other suitable gifts when you go. Now here’s your homework:

Visit your Drinking Water Treatment Facility: Create your own tour or follow Green Spiral Tours.  Visiting a place in real life is entirely different than reading about it on the internet.  You’ll be surprised at what you learn, and what sticks with you. Bring friends who will ask questions you would never think to ask.  Take a moment to blog out or reflect on your experience to integrate the learning into your understanding of the way things work.

Use less fertilizer:  Everything you put on your lawn, garden or driveway eventually ends up in the river, and over-fertilizing lawns is a major offender. Use native plants, which require far fewer fertilizers and almost no pesticides.

Salt is a problem –  lobby your school or government to use salt wisely, and investigate new spray applications, which use a fraction of the amount of salt.

Clean up pet waste – Interestingly, dog poop creates an e.coli problem, so if you want to drink clean water, clean up after your dog.

Eat Local and Organic. Yep, it always seems to keep coming back to that. Farm policy matters a lot, because nitrogen and phosphorous inputs run off the land, into the wetlands and rivers, and ultimately into the Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico, (which is already quite large and  getting larger). It’s sad, because the degraded habitat kills so many fish and animals.

Sign PetitionsHere’s a bunch of petitions you can sign from Food & Water Watch.  Yes, petitions and phone calls do matter!

Comment below – put your questions below and I will write to Missouri American Water to see if they can be answered.  Here’s a picture of me, Jessie, with an American bald eagle at the water intake facility next to the river.

2014-06-01-jzika-water-eagle

As with many things in life,

the trick to picking strawberries

is to begin with the end in mind:

2014 Index Begin with End

 

The end begins in the kitchen, for a short trip to the strawberry fields can leave you with long hours in the kitchen, when you might rather be napping.  Start with a simple recipe and work backwards from there.

insert recipe here

 

Located near Creve Couer Lake off Page Road and the Maryland Expressway, Thies Farm is a long favored Green Spiral strawberry picking destination, and it’s nice to watch their eco-tourism business grow.   It’s important to “Know Your Farmer”, and strawberry picking is a good first step in building eco-literacy in children.  The best age to pick strawberries seems to be from “The Magic Years” (pre-school) until second grade.

 

Miles of Smiles

Miles of Smiles

 

Thies Farm now has three locations; here is the GPS location for the strawberry fields in Maryland Heights as well as the phone number: 314-469-7559.  Call before you head out to make sure the strawberry fields are open. Farmers live outdoors, and they’re getting better at using technology, but the phone beats Facebook on most days.  Green Spiral almost never cancels a trip due to weather, and neither should your adventure group, but do know that strawberry picking is one of the few things you can’t do in the rain. The fields open at 9 am and you will want to get there early to beat the heat.

2014-05-31 Jack Shuff

You will get hot, and you will get dirty.  Children’s clothing will get strawberry stained, and so will your knees.  Take a sunhat or hoodie, and a bottle of water per person.  Short rubber boots are nice for kids.  The strawberry window lasts for about two or three weeks, and it’s easy to miss during the busy month of May.  Strawberries need sunshine to ripen, but when starts to get hot, know that your strawberry window is beginning to close fast.

2014-05-31 Evelyn Ryan

People want to know if it’s okay for kids to eat strawberries in the fields, and Farmer Dave once told me, (Jessie), that it was okay.  That said, there’s a big difference between a toddler nibbling on one precious strawberry, and a teenager mowing through dozens of strawberries that belong to someone else (the farmer).  Obviously, the important thing is to teach children about reverence and respect, for food, the farmer and for each other.

100_3676

Real Food Comes from Sunshine, and Dirt.

Strawberries are on the dirty dozen list, and many people ask if Thies strawberries are organic.  They are not, as it is difficult to grow organic strawberries at scale.  The best way to get local organic strawberries is to be first in line at your local farmer’s market, or to grow them yourself.

Thies Farm is often spotted hanging out with EarthDance Farms, which is a stamp of organic approval.  Here’s what Farmer Dave has to say their IPM (Integrated Pest Management) practices. https://www.facebook.com/notes/thies-farm-greenhouses/integrated-pest-management/281999848483956

Thies Farm

Now in three locations!

Strangely, when researching the topic of eating strawberries fresh from the fields, it turns out that the greatest danger from strawberries comes from people “fingering” the strawberries in the grocery store, which is why strawberries now come in those clam-shell containers.  Gross!  As they say “dirt is not dirty, people are dirty;” so fear not the  strawberry in the field, and be polite by not switching strawberries from container to container with your fingers at the grocery store.

That's me, Jessie, and Virginia

That’s me, Jessie, and Virginia

 

As a nature teacher and mom, I encourage you to study the many complex issues surrounding the simple act of picking strawberries. In my estimation, the experience of picking strawberries as children is so indelible, and so important, that it might well be considered part of a “true core curriculum”.

 

2014-05-31 Kevin, Miles, Amanda, Evelyn Ryan Family

 

Put strawberry picking on your bucket list, and make sure kids don’t grow up without picking strawberries.  Begin with the end in mind,

 

Strawberry Zentangle

Strawberry Zentangle