The day begins to wane as you watch the vibrant sunset from the comfort of your trusty canoe, allowing the sun’s fleeting rays to warm your soul. As you paddle along you take note of the tiny turtle family sunbathing amidst a floating log on the nearby bank, and the rhythmic lull of the flowing river as the bow of the canoe bisects the current. You begin to comment on the perfection of the pristine panorama you are beholding, but what is that in the distance obstructing your view…a pile of tires? Unfortunately this has happened to me and many others across the world as we face an epidemic of illegally dumped tires in our lovely waterways, parks, roadsides, and just about anywhere imaginable. As un-anesthetically pleasing as this may be, abandoned tires cause far worse problems to our environment and health. With a little education and effort we can eradicate-or take steps to prevent- the tire pile-up by recycling, re-purposing, or reusing these tires in new and innovative ways.
No one is born with allergies. Whether people develop them, like most medical problems, depends on the combination of genetics and environment, nature and nurture. Certain people are born with a tendency – the genetic component – to develop allergies. At some point they become exposed to allergens like tree pollen, cat dander or peanuts – the environmental component. If a person’s genetic tendency is strong and the exposure has the right amount, timing and route of administration, then a clinical allergy may develop.
The genetic side of this formula is set in stone. You can’t pick your parents. The exposure side, however, is variable. Tennessee has more tree pollen than Phoenix. Humid areas (Mississippi) have more dust mites than arid climates (Colorado). Urban areas (Baltimore) have more cockroaches and cat dander than rural areas (Beaver Dam, KY). So you would think that the prevalence of allergies would be higher in areas with greater environmental allergy loads. But, you’d be wrong.
A recent study looked at the prevalence of positive allergy tests in all areas of the U.S. and found that the numbers were pretty much the same wherever you live. A whopping 44.6%(!) of U.S. adults are sensitive to at least one allergen. In kids ages 1-5, that number is 36%. Interestingly, the rates didn’t vary from region to region, though they were a little higher in urban areas, 50%, vs. rural areas, 40%. Rates of sensitization to individual allergens did differ. For example, the South had more dust mite allergy and the West had more pollen allergy, but the overall rates remained constant.
So what does this all mean? It suggests that the genetic component of allergies is much more important than the environment. If your body has an allergic tendency, it’s going to find an allergen to react to no matter where you live or what you try to avoid. You can avoid specific allergens, but you can’t avoid all of them, and you can’t run from your genetics.
Pollen allergies are largely responsible for the classic hay fever symptoms of sneezing, itchy, watery eyes, and runny nose. Allergists generally divide pollens into three types: tree pollen, grass pollen, and weed pollen. Each type has a discrete season during which it is the primary pollen. The rule of thumb for temperate climates, like we have here in Nashville, is tree pollen in the spring, grass pollen in the summer and weed pollen in the fall. So, if you’re mowing your lawn in April and you have a bad flare, it’s not the grass, but the tree pollen that’s responsible.
So what can you do about pollen allergies? Like most inhalant allergies, the three options are avoidance, medications, and immunotherapy. Avoidance can be tough for outdoor allergies, since it can take very little time to get a massive exposure and no one wants to be locked indoors for months on end. Pollen counts tend to be the highest in the early morning, so avoiding prolonged exposure during those hours may help. Also, rinsing off after being outdoors will help remove pollen grains that may be lingering in the hair or on the skin. If you must mow during your peak pollen season, a mask can be helpful.
Medication-wise, the starting point for most people is a simple antihistamine. Over-the-counter options have improved significantly with the addition of loratadine and cetirizine to the market. Antihistamines work best for symptoms of sneezing, itchy, watery eyes and runny nose. They are not very helpful for nasal congestion or drainage.
If these simple options don’t work, then it’s time to see a board-certified allergist. We actually have the tools to make you less allergic to your specific allergens. We call it Immunotherapy. We can teach your immune system to ignore your triggers, which will shut off your allergies at the source and give you systemic relief, fewer symptoms and fewer complications while using fewer or no medications. It’s the most natural way to change the trajectory of your immune system.
Dr. John Overholt is a board-certified allergist and asthma specialist at the Allergy, Asthma and Sinus Center. Call 1-866-231-0701 to make an appointment at any of their 11 Middle Tennessee locations.
It’s official: summer in Nashville is finally here! The weather is hot, the sun is shining, and the weekends are full of activity around the city. We’ve already discussed why Nashville is a great city to take your workout outdoors, but you can also take your summertime music listening outdoors! This week’s Adventure Blog introduces you to five great outdoor music experiences:
1. Live on the Green
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard all the excitement for this year’s Live on the Green Music Festival. With an extra stage added this year and over 30 bands performing, there’s never been a better year to get outside and catch some music in Public Square Park. Headlining acts this year include alternative mainstays like Passion Pit, Cold War Kids, and Lord Huron, along with beloved local artists like Ben Folds. The supporting cast is full of great local and national acts including Shakey Graves, Houndmouth, Elle King, and many, many more. Stay tuned in to Lightning 100 as we continue to announce the rest of the lineup over the next several weeks!
Live On The Green Music Festival dates for 2015 are August 20th and 27th, September 3rd, and September 10th-12th.
2. Musician’s Corner
If four weeks of Live on the Green doesn’t give you your fill of free outdoor music, you can always supplement it with another long-standing concert series here in Nashville: Musician’s Corner! Taking place in Centennial Park on select Saturdays during the summer and fall, Musician’s Corner is another great outdoor concert series that won’t break the bank. The main stage lineup is always great, and the Lightning 100 Acoustic Stage gives you access to some of Nashville’s best local singer-songwriters. Enjoy delicious eats from Nashville’s best food trucks, and quench your thirst at the beer garden. Bring a blanket or lawn chair, picnic, your four-legged best friend and turn your Musician’s Corner experience into something fun for the whole family. With the ongoing renovations to Centennial Park, this series is sure to be even better in the coming years!
Did you already miss the early summer series? No worries, Musician’s Corner will be back this fall starting Saturday, September 5th.
One of Nashville’s most beloved venues, the Carl Black Chevy Woods Amphitheater at Fontanel is unbeatable when it comes to catching a show outside. Situated north of downtown in the natural amphitheater of White’s Creek Valley and featuring a state-of-the-art sound system, Fontanel provides a cozy wooded setting for you to see a show in the great outdoors without skimping on quality. The venue, located on the former estate of country music legend Barbara Mandrell, also plays host to two miles of trails, meaning you can get in a quick pre-show hike if you’re feeling so inclined. Plan ahead, because show dates are limited and only during the summer, and they often sell out!
4. The Ascend Amphitheater
Nashville’s newest outdoor venue (it doesn’t even open for another month), the Ascend Amphitheater is sure to become one of the city’s best concert experiences. Featuring a stacked lineup of shows that runs well into the fall, with acts ranging from My Morning Jacket to Eric Church, there are great concert options for people of all musical tastes. The venue also plays host to a dog park, greenway, and plenty of open space, making it a great place to relax even on non-show days. With a capacity of 6,500 and both seated and lawn tickets available, Ascend will provide a fairly intimate and relaxed environment to catch an outdoor show. We seriously can’t wait for the amphitheater to open up on July 30th!
5. Friday Afternoon Live
Hate getting stuck in traffic trying to get home from work on a Friday afternoon? Love outdoor music, pizza, and happy hour? We’ve got just what you need! Lightning 100 hosts Friday Afternoon Live from 5-8pm every week at Soulshine Pizza in Midtown. Come hang out with us, and you’ll get to take in some of the best local musicians in Nashville… for free! Bonus: Soulshine’s upstairs patio is covered, meaning you can enjoy our Local Artist of the Week outside while staying out of the rain and sun.
Seriously, the options for catching a show outdoors in Nashville are almost endless, so take advantage of some of these great opportunities this summer! Most of these great events are free, so you, and your wallet, won’t regret it.
– Matt (Team Green’s Events Coordinator)
As we make our way around the seven-mile bend along the Narrows of the Harpeth, a candid herd of cattle wade in a pool to our starboard unbeknownst to their masses dilapidating the river bank; the discord between Man and Nature is but a faint echo in the wind. It’s a Sunday, and today, we are in God’s country.
However, as a local resident of this slice of heaven we call the greater Nashville area, a strange and bizarre phenomenon has become the reality of what we call home. Somehow, as insiders, we have become the new outsiders.
That’s right. Next time you venture out into the local night-life, ask around. No one actually seems to be from Nashville anymore, all of the “hot spots” are turning more and more into tourists destinations. There’s even a name for us. People are starting to refer to us as “Unicorns,” or “Gems,” far distant connotations from the more blasé local cognomens, such as “Townie” or “Native.”
But what’s important about this anomaly is that while the onslaught of bachelorette parties and the immigration of Chicagoan hordes continue, we Unicorns find ourselves wading in the cool streams of Tennessee’s waterways, just like the cattle we encountered along our journey.
Venturing further downstream, however, the cracking of a dried root system breaks off the elevated embankment to our port bow, reverberating a sound along the channel like thunder before a storm; a sure sign of erosion, as well as a foreboding reminder of how precious our surroundings truly are.
Insomuch as the local community has been infiltrated by people who think they know Nashville, so too have our local waterways been impeded upon. The unnatural erosion occurring along many of Tennessee’s waterways is, nevertheless, a seemingly unavoidable by-product of an ever increasing demand for real estate and agriculture.
The serenity of our rivers and streams can be maintained, however. And with the help of local initiatives, such as the Harpeth River Watershed Association, its magnificence will continue to prosper. But as more and more people continue to enjoy the niceties of Nashville’s backyard, the importance of environmental education must come into play in a way that is as beneficial to the community as it is the environment.
Let’s work together to maintain our magnificent natural resource by protecting our gem and teaching greater Nashville, the new Nashvillian community, and future generations what the Harpeth River means to us.
Until next time.
Guest Post by: Rhett M. Wallace and Charles H. Watkins IV
(Harpeth River Watershed Assoc & TENN4 Productions)
The Harpeth River Watershed Association (HRWA) in middle Tennessee is dedicated to preserving and restoring the ecological health of the Harpeth River and its Watershed. Their work leverages the scientific and technical training and experience of their staff and advisors with the efforts of a diverse corps of volunteers who are crucial to every aspect of their programs. Learn more about the HRWA and their work here.
Missed Team Green’s Harpeth River Cleanup two weeks ago? We removed 38 tires and a truckload of trash from an 8 mile section of the river! Check out photos here, and get involved in our next river cleanup on Saturday, July 18th along the Buffalo River here!
The weather has finally heated up, school is out, music festival season is in full swing, and we’re spending almost every weekend doing something on the water. Taken together, all of these individually awesome factors can only mean one thing: summer is finally here! In honor of the most fun season of the year, we’ve decided to build on last year’s inaugural Summer Adventure Playlist with another collection of hand-picked tracks to accompany your adventures near and far.
In honor of Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival coming up next weekend, here’s a list of artists you can both check out at the festival and listen to on our favorite local independent radio station, Lightning 100!
Wilder Mind, Mumford & Sons: The quick back beat on this song makes it a great option to throw on in the car on the way to your next adventure. Mumford’s illustrative lyrics and new-found electric guitar riffs will keep you rockin’ all summer. Let’s hope this title track to their newest album will help you explore your “wilder” side.
Delilah, Florence + the Machine: You can never go wrong with the booming vocals of Florence Welch, especially when she’s singing summer-appropriate lyrics like “I’m gonna be free and I’m gonna be fine.” The slow buildup gets you pumped, making this a great song to start a morning run with.
Hang Loose, Alabama Shakes: An oldie-but-goodie off the Shakes’ first full-length album, the classic riffs and funky guitar work are perfect for an afternoon on the beach or a float down the river. If this song doesn’t help you “put your worries on a shelf,” then I don’t know what will.
She’s Only Happy in the Sun, Ben Harper: The title really says it all with this one. The acoustic guitar and laid-back vocals make for a great campfire or beach song, or maybe something to chill out to during a long hike or canoe float.
The Party Line, Belle & Sebastian: Upbeat, funky and catchy, “The Party Line” is poised to be this year’s version of last summer’s “Safe and Sound.” You can hear this one right now on Lightning 100, and it’s sure to add some energy to just about anything you do to get active over the next few months.
Red Eyes, The War on Drugs: The driving but subdued upbeat nature of this song makes it great for cruising around in the car on the way to your next adventure. The song’s slow buildup will leave your foot tapping, and it makes for a great running tune, especially during those early-morning long runs when you need a little extra push to get you going.
Wherever is Your Heart, Brandi Carlile: If you haven’t discovered Brandi Carlile’s most recent album, The Firewatcher’s Daughter, then you’re definitely missing out. Upbeat and full of wanderlust-y phrases, this song, the first single off the album, will make you want to get up and dance, sing, and do some traveling too!
Rye Whiskey, Punch Brothers: A good ol’ fashioned summer drinking song, this is a great track to throw on while you’re sipping an adult beverage on the porch. Featuring powerful, fast-paced banjo throughout, this song is also great to pump you up while you’re out and about this summer trail running or training for that next race.
River Water, Moon Taxi: Another track featuring a clearly summer-centric title, this song will make you want to kick off your shoes and hop in the nearest body of water. With lyrics like “all we heard was the sound of the wind through the trees, and all we felt was the chill off the water in a breeze,” you really can’t go wrong with this one on your summer outdoors playlist.
Uncatena, Sylvan Esso: A little slower and down-beat, this deeper cut from Sylvan Esso’s self-titled debut album is a great song to put on a little later in the evening, and would make a great soundtrack to a stargazing session on a warm, clear summer night.
The Minutes, Smooth Hound Smith: There’s something about this song that makes you want to drop everything you’re doing and travel. The fast (and incredibly gifted) guitar work on this one makes it great for running, cycling, or just about any other workout! The rest of this up-and-coming band’s first full-length album features a great mix of fast and slow tunes, offering plenty of diversity for those who want to explore.
All the Time, Bahamas: These long summer days kind of make you feel like you have all the time in the world, even if you don’t. The slow beat on this track will help draw out the days, making this a great song for those relaxed canoe trips or stand up paddleboard sessions.
Need an adventure to test out this playlist (or your own) on? Check out our event calendar and join us outdoors this summer!
-Matt (Team Green’s Events Coordinator)
Team Green Adventures has been hosting free workshops, open to the community, since 2009. It all started with our Engage Green workshop series, which features sustainability topics like composting, gardening, recycling, and more. One of my all-time favorite workshops was our Indoor Air Quality workshop with the American Lung Association. Five years later we brought the workshop topic back as part of our Wellness Workshop Series, which occurs the 4th Thursday of every month at the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge (2008 Charlotte Ave, 37203).
Missed our workshop, but still want to learn? This week’s blog gives a quick overview of the 12 best tips we learned to improve your home’s indoor air quality:
Earlier this week, we co-hosted another installment of our Engage Green workshop series with Urban Green Lab. Given the recent arrival of the polar vortex, we thought this would be a great time to talk a little about home energy efficiency and to teach you some ways to help save some money and keep you a little warmer this winter (and more comfortable year-round)! Below are a handful of tips and tricks we learned from our friends at Go Green Home Services on Monday:
1. Air Leakages
Winter is the time of year when air leakages in your home become the most obvious because you can actually feel the cold air coming in. Depending on the outside temperature, it could be as much as 70 degrees colder outdoors than it is in your home, making it essential that you stop air leakages in their tracks! Some of the most common places for these unwanted exchanges of air to occur is around doors and windows, where spending a few dollars on some caulk or weatherstripping might be enough to fix the problem. For windows, you can also consider buying simple window film, which you can easily apply yourself, adding an extra layer of insulation to your windows and helping to prevent cold drafts.
Your attic or basement are also key places to look for air leakages. While these may be a little more difficult to find and fix, they are just as important as drafts in the interior of your home. As Samantha from Go Green put it, “You can insulate your attic all you want, but if you have air leakages, it’s like trying to keep yourself warm wrapped in a blanket with holes in it.” You may need to consult a professional if you’re not comfortable handling these yourself.
2. Check that Thermostat
The ideal place to keep your thermostat in the winter is at 68 degrees Fahrenheit. For every degree warmer you keep your house in the winter, you can add as much as 8-10% to your energy usage, depending on the temperature outside. The same logic applies to keeping your house cool in the summer, when the ideal thermostat setting is at 78 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re out of your home a lot, consider buying a programmable thermostat. You can let your house stay cooler during the day (in the winter) when nobody is home, and then set it to start warming up a little bit before you usually get home. This will let you save money and energy during the day but still be comfortable all evening when you’re home to enjoy it!
3. Change those Air Filters
Arguably one of the easiest things to forget when it comes to energy efficiency, changing your air filter regularly can make a sizable difference in your energy bill. Running your heat or A/C unit with a dirty air filter adds air flow resistance and causes it to work a lot harder, which can use a lot more energy if your unit is running often (like when it’s really warm or really cold outside). Air filters cost about $10 and should be changed roughly every 2-3 months. If you have pets, you may need to change it a little more often. You can also consider investing in pet-grade air filters or washable air filters, which are a little more expensive but will last a lot longer.
4. Turn Down Your Water Heater
Most water heaters have adjustable temperature gauges, meaning you can easily change how hot your water heater is making your water. You’ll want to set the temperature at 120 degrees Fahrenheit because if your water heater is set any hotter than this, you’re probably having to add cold water to your hot water before you use it (anything above 120 degrees is considered scalding and would be too hot to comfortably use). This means all the energy used to get your water above 120 degrees is wasted! You may have to remove a panel on your heater to find the temperature gauge, but this is definitely worth taking 5 minutes to check.
5. Vampire Power Usage
Also known as “standby power,” vampire power usage refers to any appliance that is plugged in and using electricity, but that you’re not actively using. This type of power usage can account for between 5 and 10% of the average home’s energy use (according to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory), making the potential for savings here pretty high. When you’re not using it, you’ll want to unplug anything that has a transformer in the cord (laptop and cell phone chargers are the most common culprits). It also helps to put large banks of electronics on power strips so that you can easily power everything down completely. This is probably most common in your living room or kitchen, where you have several things plugged in consistently.
6. Mind Your Appliances
Similar to vampire power usage, old or under-utilized appliances can use a lot of energy in your home without you ever realizing it. Take care to make sure your appliances are in good working order, and when you’re replacing old appliances, make sure to look into options that are Energy Star Certified. These will be more efficient and save you a lot of money in the long run. It’s also great to occasionally take inventory of appliances you may not be using fully. As Samantha with Go Green noted, maybe the most common example of this is that old fridge you have in your garage or basement with just a few beers in it. If you’re not really using it, maybe it’s time to unplug it!
7. Insulate, Insulate, Insulate!
As we all learned in our elementary school science classes, heat rises. This means that winter can be an especially hard time on your energy bills if your attic isn’t properly insulated. Any heat that is rising through your house will continue to rise straight through your roof unless you stop it! Take a minute to look in your attic to check how thick the insulation is. The US Department of Energy recommends having at least 11 inches of insulation along the bottom of your attic. If you’ve got significantly less than that, you may want to consider adding more. Once again, feel free to consult a professional if this isn’t something you’re comfortable tackling yourself!
8. Change Your Lightbulbs
Did you know that roughly 90% of the energy used by a standard incandescent light bulb is spent generating heat instead of light? Chances are you wouldn’t tolerate that kind of waste in a lot of other parts of your life, so you shouldn’t do it with your lightbulbs either! Both compact fluorescent (CFL) and LED bulbs use significantly less energy than their incandescent counterparts, saving you a lot of money in the long run when lightning your house. For a more complete rundown of your lightning options and the pros and cons of each type, check out this useful Green America article.
Though a lot of these home energy efficiency fixes aren’t winter-specific, they’ll help save you money and energy year-round, keeping your energy bills a little lower during peak demand seasons (summer and winter). This is great for your local energy provider and for your pocketbook!
If you haven’t checked out our Engage Green series yet, take a look at our calendar and see what we’ve got coming up! Our next workshop will be on Wednesday, December 3rd at 6pm. We’ll be taking a tour of one of Nashville’s newest landmarks, the Music City Center, learning about the green building features that make this LEED-certified structure one of the most sustainable convention centers in the world!
– Matt (Team Green’s Events Coordinator)