Winter 2017
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Inside this Issue
Greenhills School Partner Spotlight ~ 2016 Homegrown Festival a Zero Waste Success! ~ Bay County Rain Barrel Program ~ E2P2 2017 New Members ~ Community Events ~ Training/Courses ~ Volunteer Opportunities ~ SAVE THE DATE! for 2017 Award Ceremony
Greenhills School
A long time Waste Knot partner, Greenhills School recently joined Community Partners for Clean Streams. Greenhills School opened in 1968 as an independent, co-education, non-denomination college preparatory school serving the Ann Arbor area. Although Greenhills was originally comprised of grades 7- 9, the private school now educates children in grades 7-12, with unique course options, extra-curricular opportunities and cross-curriculum learning experiences. Greenhills is a school of ideals and values, and in their mission statement describes their student body as “curious, creative, and responsible citizens who respect all individuals and their differences, and whose meaningful and balanced lives will better the world.” But bettering the world is not simply a lofty ideal for Greenhills faculty – it is an intention that their students put into action every day.
Greenhills’ environmental science curriculum reflects their departure from some traditional elementary education for more creative and hands-on approaches. 7th grade science teacher Ann Novak is a prime example of such innovative educational practices. Her students have been collecting water quality data from a stream on the school property for almost a dozen years, with the goal of answering the question: “How healthy is the stream behind our school, and do our actions on land impact the quality of the water?” Students are taught to measure and assess water quality, pH level, thermal pollution, as well as other earth science principles, and also to connect with the local community by formally presenting their findings each year. Novak elaborated on the goal of this assignment, stating that she wants students to “realize they are all members of a global community.”  Novak also stressed the Greenhills goal of “trying to make connections across curriculum” by “working with colleagues…to develop long-term learning across grades.” The fruits of their labor can be seen in the science course offerings of upper grades. In 8th grade, students develop a “Sustainability Action Project,” allowing the students “to understand and investigate a community issue of their choosing that recognizes global importance” of the link between sustainability and energy. In grades 10-12, courses such as “Global Citizenship for a Sustainable Future” and “Ecology and Global Sustainability” are offered, ensuring that many students have a well-rounded knowledge of environmental issues.
In addition to their environmentally-friendly curriculum, Greenhills’ commitment to sustainability extends outside of the classroom. Service programs help engage students in hands-on environmental learning, including maintaining Greenhills trails, removing invasive plants at local parks, and the opportunity to volunteer in Costa Rica. Greenhills’ Green Roof, described as “an environmentally responsible feature above The Bill and Lisa Ford Wing for a Sustainable Future,” also functions as an outdoor laboratory for science classes, a reflection of Greenhills’ unique approach to education. The school also demonstrates its commitment to sustainability by the upkeep of their storm water detention basin and riparian buffer strip, minimizing the impact of their building on the surrounding land. The foundation of Greenhills – both physically and intellectually – is certainly based on the principles of stewardship, sustainability, and engaged citizenship, making them a fantastic addition to Community Partner for Clean Streams in 2016 and a valued Waste Knot partner since 2009!
Greenhills School Green Roof
HomeGrown Festival - A Community Zero Waste Model
ANN ARBOR, MI - The 9th annual HomeGrown Festival held at the Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market on the evening of September 10th bustled with smiling faces and full bellies as members of the community were surrounded by local food, brew, and live music. HomeGrown Festival is a grassroots collaboration aimed at celebrating and spreading the word about our region’s locally produced food, drinks, music, and more. This free event also hosted a silent auction and several hands-on activities for children.  Around 50 vendors, including NGO’s, chef vendors, beer and wine vendors, EduTainment, and local businesses, were able to attend and share their hard work with the estimated 3,000 people in attendance.
 Amidst all the fun, the event was able to achieve a waste diversion rate of 92%. This means only 8% of materials disposed of were sent to the landfill; the rest were recycled or composted. To truly be considered Zero Waste, the diversion rate must be at least 90%. Over the past 5 years, HomeGrown has achieved a waste diversion rate over 90%, serving as an excellent example of how Zero Waste can be successful at large events. HomeGrown Festival committee member, Jason Frenzel, who is both an Ann Arbor City Council member and Environmental Commission member, points out that “ensuring that local events like HomeGrown Festival are Zero Waste, while a small step, is a necessary step in the right direction” in helping prevent environmental issues resultant from landfills and plastic waste that far too often ends up in our environment and oceans. Frenzel also stated that “by showing local restaurants and citizens, as well as the city, that events of this size can be Zero Waste, we hope those individuals and organizations will learn to move more (and hopefully completely) towards Zero Waste.”
Typically at special events that elect to be Zero Waste, Recycle Ann Arbor (RAA) or Zero Waste Washtenaw (ZWW) works with the event committee a few months prior to the event to ensure vendors and other attendees are on board with the requirements and goals of hosting a Zero Waste Event. Then, the program coordinators at RAA or ZWW[CC1]  facilitate the collection of recyclable, compostable and landfill materials during and after the event. The HomeGrown Festival’s commitment to Zero Waste over the years has equipped their planning committee with the education necessary to begin implementing Zero Waste on their own! RAA now only gives minimal pre-event guidance, assists with volunteer recruitment, and is mostly only needed at the end of the event to collect, weigh, and dispose of the waste. The ability to achieve Zero Waste with minimal assistance is due to the efficient planning and commitment of the HomeGrown Festival committee and the cooperation of vendors in attendance. Ultimately, this model is what RAA and ZWW would like to see more events amount to for the long-term success of Zero Waste events.
Vendors used BPI-certified compostable service-ware and paper products to ensure that food and drink soiled products would be readily compostable. The main product sent to the landfill was empty ice bags, which unfortunately is just a flaw in our packaging system and bears no fault to the vendors or event-planners. As Zero Waste and Product Stewardship progress in our community and others, these types of problems can and will be solved with proactive planning and innovative alternatives[CC2] .
A huge thank you to the HomeGrown Festival planning committee, HomeGrown Festival on-the-ground volunteers, Recycle Ann Arbor, and the attendees of the event who all helped in diverting as much material as possible from the landfill. This event is run completely by volunteers and there is always room for more help! For more information on HomeGrown Festival, including how to become a volunteer at future events, please visit
Rain Barrel Program
BAY COUNTY, MI- In August 2016, over 150 youth and 30 educators in Bay County participated in a rain barrel art project organized by Michigan State University Extension, Michigan Sea Grant and 4-H, which was funded by a Community Action Grant from the Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network, The Andersons, Inc. and Bay County Farm Bureau. The project created an avenue for community members to come together to learn about water quality issues associated with run-off and how residents can play a role in reducing water pollution by having a rain barrel. Participants learned that stormwater flows over our impervious surfaces, such as parking lots, roads, and roofs, and picks up pollutants along the way to the nearest natural water source. Stormwater drains accommodate flow by directing water into nearby streams causing already contaminated sediment to be pushed downstream and delivering newly polluted run-off. Depending on the severity of the storm, the rush of water can cause severe physical erosion and harm aquatic habitats.
Fortunately, participants were also taught how rain barrels can help reduce polluted run-off. Capturing water in barrels prevents rainfall from collecting pollutants on paved surfaces and transporting them to waterways. Plus, reusing rainwater eliminates the need to use treated city water on gardens and lawns, with the added bonus that it lowers water bills! At the Bay County event, youth painted rain barrels to be put to use in their community at schools and public buildings. The artistic rain barrels were showcased at several locations in Bay City with educational signs prepared by the youth that explain what rain barrels are and their role in water conservation.
Now that you are inspired to have a rain barrel of your own, you can get FREE recycled plastic 55 gallon drums from the Saline Water Treatment Plant! The Saline Environmental Commission has a useful video explaining how to construct your own rain barrel using locally available products here. You can purchase completed rain barrels for $45. Contact information to obtain recycled barrels and/or completed rain barrels is available here. Also, check out information provided by the Huron River Watershed Council on ways you can protect our watershed and become an “h2o hero”!
Photographs from E2P2 Nature Walk event,
September 13, 2016. Photo Credit: Linda Prieskorn
Welcome New 2017 Members to E2P2
Trillium Real Estate- Although Trillium Real Estate is housed in a small house that contributes little stormwater to the system, their ability to reach homeowners throughout the area is large. Employees at Trillium know about ways to prevent pollution, dispose of hazardous waste and manage stormwater with green infrastructure and they have the tools to teach new homeowners these practices.  

Saline Environmental Commission- The Saline Environmental Commission has already been a valued Waste Knot partner, working with our office annually to organize a Clean Up Day where homeowners can dispose of large household items like tires, etc. As a new CPCS member, the commission labels stormdrains throughout their community and promotes a rain barrel program.
Wild Ones- Wild Ones is an organization that promotes native plants for their intrinsic benefits to wildlife, soil erosion control and also stormwater management. With many materials on how tree canopies and native plant roots help infiltrate and evapotranspirate stormwater, their organization continues to spread the word and encourage homeowners to plant native plants. 

Greenhills School- Greenhills School has created and now maintains a variety of green practices on their campus. These include a composting system, stormwater detention ponds, river riparian zones, a geothermal heating/cooling system, a large cistern to capture stormwater, a green roof and more! The school also works to integrate student curriculum into their natural environment and green infrastructure through scientific monitoring and project based learning.

ABC Corner Brewery- With a rain garden, a geothermal heating/cooling system and solar panels, ABC Corner Brewery has demonstrated their commitment to sustainability. Through the CPCS program, they will also label their storm drains.

Ann Arbor City Club Despite having a large building and parking lot on the City Club’s property, little rainfall ever makes it off of their site. There is not a single storm-drain on the whole property so all stormwater runs into native plantings and/or a rain garden. The City Club also works to reduce waste and recycle as much as possible. 
Huron High School Green Team Comprised of students & staff, the Huron Green Team leads the way for waste reduction and recycling at the High School. Recently designated as a "Certified Green School" by the MI Green Schools Program, the team has led the way by developing a small-scale vermiculture program for food scraps, along with recycling as many materials as possible with the goal of reducing or eliminating all waste sent to landfill!

HighScope Educational Research Foundation At HighScope, staff goes above and beyond to practice the "3-Rs - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" for as many materials as possible, from the office areas all the way to the kitchen. The organization also values waste reduction and sustainability by purchasing recycled-content materials, including compostable party-ware for meetings and special events  creating a truly waste-conscious culture. 
Participation in E2P2 is voluntary & free! All members of Waste Knot &  Community Partners for Clean Streams are automatically part of  E2P2 which collaborates with the County’s Pollution Prevention Program to recognize & reward Washtenaw County’s environmental business leaders!
Nature Walk ReCap
Thank you to all who joined us on the Green Infrastructure Nature Walk at Mary Beth Doyle Park in September. We toured the mitigated wetlands, detention basin and sediment forebay along Malletts Creek and took a walk over to the rain gardens within the parking lot of the Malletts Creek library.
Home, Garden & Lifestyle Show 
March 18 & 19, 2017 • Saturday 9am – 6pm, • Sunday 10am – 5pm  |  Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds
Find the best local professionals and products for your home, garden & lifestyle. Come to the biggest Home Show in Washtenaw County for the 26th annual event!  Visit Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner’s Office & the Huron River Watershed Council where we’ll be sharing information on rain gardens, native plants and best practices to protect our waterways while taking care of your home.

Chelsea Spring Expo
April 22, 2017 Saturday 10am – 3pm  |  
Washington Street Educational Center in Chelsea
Join us at the 
Chelsea Spring Expo where the Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner's Office will be on hand sharing information on rain gardens, native plants and ideas we can all use around our homes to help protect our waterways. Over 140 vendors, crafters, non-profits & free entertainment.  Don’t miss this family friendly event! Free samples, door prizes, a huge bake sale bring in people of all ages.
Madison Street Rain Garden Nature Walk
May 24, 2017 • Wednesday 6pm – 7:30pm  |  Madison St & 4th
Meet at the Wurster Park entrance at Madison and 4th in Ann Arbor. We will tour the newly planted public rain gardens and will highlight a few nearby residential rain gardens. Come learn how these rain gardens work, what plants you can find inside them and more! We will mostly stay on the sidewalk so dress comfortably and bring water. The walk will be led by Catie Wytychak and Susan Bryan from the Water Resources Commissioner's Office. If you plan to attend, please RSVP by emailing Catie at or calling (734) 222-6813.
Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Green Infrastructure Conference 
May 31 - June 2, 2017  |  
Cobo Hall in Detroit, Michigan.
This is the first conference to focus on using green infrastructure across the landscape with a primary goal to protect the surface waters in the Great Lakes region. The conference location is in the middle of the Great Lakes chain, and at the forefront of many innovative green infrastructure projects. Much of Detroit is being recreated from the ground up. They are finding ways to reduce the burden on combined sewers for less than the cost of storing and treating combined effluent. They are making neighborhoods feel safer and more inviting and increasing green acreage over the top of thriving industry. These efforts are clearly linked to the Great Lakes, by reducing nutrient inputs to Lake Erie, and all Great Lakes’ and St Lawrence waters downstream.  The conference will include over 80 speakers.,4561,7-135-3308_3333-384756--,00.html
Mayor’s Green Fair – Ann Arbor
June 9, 2017 • Friday 6pm – 9pm  |  Main Street in downtown Ann Arbor
The City of Ann Arbor mayor's office hosts the annual Mayor's Green Fair on Main Street to celebrate our community's environmental leadership as exhibited by citizens, nonprofits, government and businesses. The Environmental Leaders Area showcases environmental nonprofit organizations, government agencies and participating businesses that have earned the “Environmental Excellence Partnership Program (E2P2)”, "WasteKnot" and/or “Community Partners for Clean Streams” designation from Washtenaw County. A limited number of sponsored (free) tables will be offered to our E2P2 partners (must be in E2P2 by March 16, 2017 to qualify) on a first come, first served basis.  Watch for details closer to the event.


Master Rain Gardener Training Class  
February 28 – March 28, 2017 • Tuesdays 9:30am – 12:30pm  |  705 N. Zeeb Rd, Ann Arbor in the MSU Extension Classroom
Participants must attend all five classes, dig and plant a rain garden to receive their Master Rain Gardener certificate.  Cost: $89 (Scholarships available).
REGISTRATION - click HERE. Or, register in person/phone/mail starting by calling Jolly Seema 734-994-2300 x53203 or mailing your check and this form c/o/ her to: Rec & Ed, 1515 S. Seventh Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48103.

ONLINE - Master Rain Gardener Training Class - Summer 2017
July 19 - August 16, 2017 • Thursdays 12pm – 1:30pm  |  
Live! Online! from your computer, tablet or phone.

Master Rain Gardener certification class, but in a live webinar format.  Can't take the in-person class during business hours?  This class is for you.  Participants must attend all 5 classes, and build a rain garden to earn their Master Rain Gardener certification.  Cost:  FREE (funded by an MDEQ grant and Washtenaw County Water Resources and the City of Ann Arbor).

Register: If you would like to be sent a registration link for the class when it becomes available, e-mail to be put on the list, or call 734-730-9025

Winter Stonefly Search for the Huron River - Register by January 17th
January 21, 2017 • Saturday 2 starting times: 9:00 am or 10:30am. | NEW Center, 1100 N. Main Street, Ann Arbor, start there and then go out to 2 stream sites somewhere in Livingston, Oakland, and/or Washtenaw Counties. 
Help the Huron River Watershed Council find some special winter stoneflies!  Join a small group of volunteers to search a selected stretch of stream or river for stoneflies which live only in good quality streams. You will be working with experienced researchers to guide you through how we determine the health of the stream or river you are visiting.  Children are welcome to attend but each one must be attended by an adult.  Takes about 4 hours, approximately half of that outdoors.

Miller Ave Rain Garden Workday
April 29, 2017 • Sunday 9:30am – 12:30pm | 1916 Miller, Ann Arbor, MI 48103 (across from Bruce) 
Rain Gardens grace the sides of the road along Miller Avenue from Newport to Maple. Check them out! Join us for a neighborhood stewardship work day. We will be pulling some weeds – grabbing any little weeds before they get big. Local Master Rain Gardeners will be on hand to answer questions and lend a hand. Afterwards, please join us at 1916 Miller for cookies.
Stone School Rain Garden up for Adoption!
Spring through Fall

We are looking for a group to adopt one of the newly planted rain gardens along Stone School, near Ellsworth. If you are interested in helping care for a rain garden by co-organizing three workdays per year, please let us know! Contact Catie at or calling (734) 222-6813.


Thank you for everything you do to keep our rivers clean!

Copyright © 2017 Washtenaw County, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
P.O. Box 8645, 705 N. Zeeb Rd, Ann Arbor Michigan 48107

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Washtenaw County Environmental Excellence Program · 705 N. Zeeb Rd. · Ann Arbor, Mi 48103 · USA

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