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The State of Sustainability

The State of Sustainability

By Caleb Powell
This is the State of Sustainability. A podcast that highlights sustainability initiatives throughout the state and develops an informal conversation about environmental stewardship that the average person can understand and replicate.

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Food Waste Awareness Week
Episode 33 - April is the month that we celebrate Earth Day, but this year we celebrate another sustainable holiday, Food Waste Awareness Week. So much food and organic material gets thrown away due to it going bad or people not knowing the proper ways to dispose of it. Food Waste Awareness Week brought together organizations, companies, and sustainable individuals to discuss how to properly dispose of food waste and the resources that we have here in Tennessee. Big shoutout to Ashley for planning a majority of the events! Check out the website for more information.
April 20, 2022
Small Business Environmental Assistance Program (SBEAP)
Episode 32: Do you or someone you know, own a small business? Have you ever had a environmental question but didn't want to bring attention to the regulators? If so, this episode is for you! This month we are highlighting one of the best resources that TDEC has to offer, the Small Business Environmental Assistance Program (SBEAP). Donovan Grimwood and Crystal Warren make up the team that is ready to help businesses understand and comply with the environmental rules that affect them. The ranger report this week is a recap of the Go Green with Us Program that all 56 State Parks are a part of.
March 15, 2022
Sustainable Cities Part 3: Knoxville
Episode 31: This is part 3 of our Sustainable City series! In this episode, we got to chat with Brian Blackmon, Director of the Office of Sustainability for the City of Knoxville. Brian gives us updates on current programs and initiatives that Knoxville is doing to continue to be good environmental stewards! We get to learn about exciting initiatives regarding sustainable transportation and efficient building envelopes. The Ranger Report this month features a Knoxville area state park, Seven Islands State Birding Park. We are joined by Park Manager Justine Cucchiara and learn about the state's newest and only birding park!
January 17, 2022
Sustainable Cities Part 2: Nashville
Episode 30: This is part 2 of our Sustainable City series! In this episode, we got to chat with Dr. Kendra Abkowitz, Chief Sustainability and Resilience Officer for the City of Nashville, Office of Mayor John Cooper. Kendra gives us updates on current programs and initiatives that Nashville is doing to continue to be good environmental stewards and things to come! The Ranger Report this month features a Nashville area state park, Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park. We are joined by Ranger Marlie Gibbs and learn about all the big things happening in Tennessee's smallest state park!
December 15, 2021
Sustainable Cities Part 1: Chattanooga
Episode 29: This is the first episode of our Sustainable City Series! Chattanooga is such an amazing city and we have the pleasure of talking with Erik Schmidt, the Director of Sustainability for the City of Chattanooga. He informs us on the dark past of the city and how far they have came regarding air quality and environmental stewardship. In this episode, we get to hear about some sustainability goals under the city's new administration. The Ranger Report this month features a Chattanooga State Park by the name of Booker T. Washington State Park. We are joined by  Ranger Jordan Brison and learn so much about the park from him. If you like fishing, this is a park for you!
October 19, 2021
Higher Education Part 2 - Sustainability Programs
Episode 28 - This month we are finishing up our two part Higher Education Series. We are joined by our colleague, Brook Powell (not related to Caleb lol) to discuss the great programs that she has authored and continues to grow. Universities and colleges have a big opportunity to decrease their environmental footprint while also being an example for their communities. We highlight the TN College/Underserved Community Partnership Program, the Tennessee Higher Education Sustainability Network, and the Campus Food Pantry Grants. There is no Ranger Report this month. 
September 17, 2021
Higher Education Part 1 - APSU
Episode 27 - This month we are starting a two part series on the topic of sustainability in higher education. Today we are talking to Olivia Herron, the Sustainability Coordinator for Austin Peay State University. She chatted with us about Project EcoGovs, the competition to become the most sustainable department on campus. We also took some time to talk about something every college student needs.......MONEY. The Great Green Idea Contest gives students the opportunity to win cash prizes for their eco-friendly ideas that they would like to see implemented on campus. There isn't a Ranger Report this month.
August 17, 2021
A Chat with TDEC's Commissioner
Episode 26: The time has arrived! We finally get to sit down with David Salyers, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC). His leadership qualities make our department a prominent leader in the fight for environmental sustainability, justice, and conservation. This month we get to learn more about who Commissioner Salyers is, where he came from, and what he has planned for the future.  Also, we are back to recording together! As you can probably tell from the audio, this is our first in-person episode since before the pandemic. It felt good to be back, especially with such a cool guest.  No Ranger Report this month.
July 15, 2021
Urban Farming
Episode 25: This month we are talking about hidden treasures found in urban areas. First, we are joined by the Farm Manager, Farmer Scout, of Crabtree Farms. Crabtree Farms is an urban farm in Chattanooga, TN that provides fresh, healthy food and networking and educational opportunities for their community. We are informed about the various workshops, U-Picks, and events that go on for the community from their farm. The Ranger Report this month highlights Radnor Lake State Park in Nashville, TN. Park Manager, Steve Ward, calls in to explain the significance of his little park that brings in a lot of visitors. Nestled right outside of downtown Nashville, Radnor Lake SP is an easy get away and great opportunity to learn about birds of prey. 
June 16, 2021
Managing Waste / Recycling
Episode 24: We are joined on this episode by Christopher Pianta, an experienced colleague that knows his stuff about reducing waste. Although we start the episode by talking about recycling, Chris goes into detail about all of the ways we can reduce the amount of waste we produce. We talk about tips that come straight from one of our newest programs, Zero Waste TN. Check out the website for a deeper dive into the information that we talked about. We decided to use the Ranger Report section of the POD to talk about the waste management achievements that our TN State Parks are attaining through the Go Green With Us program.
May 17, 2021
The Good Fill
Episode 23: This month we are joined by Megan Gill, owner of The Good Fill. The Good Fill exists to offer more sustainable alternatives to items we all use or dispose of on a regular basis. The store is like one of those candy stores where you fill up a bag and pay for the amount that you get, but for hygiene products. The Ranger Report covers Cordell Hull Birthplace State Park, found in Byrdstown, TN. Ranger Josh Welch joins us to talk about the park's rich history and cave adventures!  
April 16, 2021
Tire Recycling
Episode 22: This month we talk about tire recycling, the ins and out and logistics, and how big of a problem it can be to not dispose of tires properly. We talk about the Tire Environmental Act Program, which provides grants for projects that result in beneficial reuses of tires. We have two great guests on the episode. Lincoln Young, President of Tennessee Recycling Coalition and owner of Rockwood Recycling Solutions joins us to talk about the logistics of tire recycling. Michael Meister, Trails Administrator for Tennessee State Parks joins us to discuss the Tires to Trails program in Tennessee State Park. Fun fact: When completed, T.O. Fuller State Park's Tires to Trails project will be the longest continuous recycled tire porous pavement trail in the world!
March 25, 2021
Green Hospitality
Episode 21: In this episode we sit down with our co-worker Dr. Jenn Tribble to talk about what businesses in the hospitality industry can do to be more environmentally conscious. We also discussed how you as a guest and customer can help these businesses in their sustainability efforts. This report highlights David Crockett Birthplace State Park in Limestone, TN. Park Manager Keifer Helle tells us about the historical significance of the park and what the park has to offer.
March 03, 2021
Sustainable Resolutions
Episode 20: Happy New Year! This month we decided to make some calls and ask our colleagues what their sustainable resolutions were for the upcoming year. Listen in for some great ideas on how you can be more sustainable in 2021. No Ranger Report this month.
February 03, 2021
Sustainable Woodworking
Episode 19: Have you ever wondered what happens to trees that are required to be removed or fall down during storms? Most of the times they are cut up into firewood or chipped  into mulch. In this month's episode we get to learn about a company that gives those trees a second life. The husband and wife team, Kelsey and Kirby Davis, inform us of their sustainable woodworking processes that make up their company, Honest Roots Design + Trade. Our Ranger Report this month highlights Big Hill Pond State Park in Pocahontas, TN. Park Manager Justin King explains the significance of this amazing park while also updating us on the status of their trails and campground.
February 01, 2021
Episode 18: This month we are talking trash, more specifically where trash goes. Caleb called up one of his close family friends, Mac Nolan, who is also the Rutherford County Solid Waste Director. Mac talks to us about the different type of landfills, how they work, and what is to come. Also, Ashley is back from maternity leave! Our Ranger Report this month highlights Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park in Eva, TN. Ranger Josh Justice explains the significance of this amazing park while also updating us on the status of their trails.  
November 22, 2020
Recycling Facility - Greif
Episode 17: This month we get to tour a fiber recycling facility (Greif) and sit down with the general manager to discuss the processes and the recycling market. We are missing Ashley since she is out on maternity leave. This episode is very special because our guest is actually Caleb's father, Buford Powell. He has extensive knowledge in the solid waste industry and breaks down the current fiber recycling situation. He also took us on a tour that will be shared through our Instagram page. Our Ranger Report this month highlights Old Stone Fort State Archeological Park in Manchester, TN. Ranger Leigh Gardner explains the significance of this archaeological park, which is one of only two in the state.
October 02, 2020
The Zero Waste Podcast
Episode 16: This month we get to connect with the Zero Waste Trash Talk Podcast. Maris Masellis joins the conversation to discuss the sustainability podcast that covers global solutions and ideas. Our Ranger Report this month highlights Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park in Elizabethton, TN. Ranger Jason Davis explains the rich history of the park like how that section of Tennessee was crucial for American freedom.
September 02, 2020
National Park & Recreation Month
Episode 15: It's National Park & Recreation Month and you know how much we love parks! In this episode we get to hear from Dana Soehn, the Park Spokesperson at Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GRSM). She joins the Pod to inform us on ways to plan a sustainable trip to the national park. She is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to GRSM and teaches us about everything from wildlife to the many opportunities that the park has to offer. We also get to speak with Robin Peeler, a TN State Parks Area Manager. She oversees the management of 9 state parks in the upper East Tennessee. We get to chat about new programs and our great Tennessee State Parks!
July 23, 2020
Self Sufficiency
Episode 14: This month we guessed it, still coming to you from our home offices. We won't let the Coronavirus stop us though. This episode is packed full of great information on starting a path to self sufficiency. We learn so much from our friend "across the pond" Carl Mintern. He is the host of the Self Sufficient Hub Podcast. You can learn more about his journey here: Facebook - Youtube - Podcast. The Ranger Report this month highlights Frozen Head State Park in Wartburg, TN. Park Ranger David Brady joins us to talk about the park's busy season and opportunities that the park offers.
June 26, 2020
Backyard Gardening
Episode 13: This month we are still coming to you from our home offices. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant disruptions to all aspects of society and emphasized the importance of community and household resilience through self-reliance. During this Pod, we learn a lot about at-home gardening from the horticulture genius, Lucas Holman. He works for the UT Agriculture Extension Office in Wilson County and was also Caleb's high school Ag teacher. He gives us tips and tricks on how to start our own gardens and make it flourish. The Ranger Report this month highlights Burgess Falls State Park in Sparta, TN. Park Ranger Hannah Morgan joins us to talk about the park re-opening and opportunities that the park offers.
May 26, 2020
Food Donation
Episode 12: This month we are coming to you from our home offices due to the current Covid-19 situation. That isn't stopping us though! In this episode, we learn about organizations that help divert food waste and feed hungry people here in Tennessee. Right after the tornadoes ripped through Middle Tennessee, the coronavirus pandemic started to shut everything down. This has created a challenge for many people, especially organizations like The Nashville Food Project and Society of St. Andrew. We are joined by The Nashville Food Project's CEO Tallu Quinn and the TN Regional Director for the  Society of St. Andrew, Rev. Jeannie Hunter. The Ranger Report this month highlights Henry Horton State Park in Chapel Hill, TN. Park Ranger Jesse Jewell joins us to talk about the park closure and opportunities that the resort park offers.
April 16, 2020
Materials Marketplace
Episode 11: This month we check out the innovative platform, developed and maintained by the United States Business Council for Sustainable Development, called the Tennessee Materials Marketplace.  We are joined by Environmental Consultant, Vaughn Cassidy, who helps us better understand the "by-product dating site". One of the largest success stories from the TN Materials Marketplace comes from the tile manufacturer in Clarksville, TN - Florim, USA. Don Haynes, the facility's Environmental Health and Safety Manager, is another one of our guests. The Ranger Report this month is a little different than what we usually do. We welcome Kelsey Davis, Environmental Consultant, to discuss the sustainability program she helped create for all of our 56 state parks called Go Green With Us!
March 20, 2020
Sustainable Spirits
Episode 10: This episode covers our office's newest initiative, the Tennessee Sustainable Spirits (TNSS) program. And yes we are talking about alcohol, not ghosts! We sit down with the mastermind behind the program, Mark Valencia, to help us understand the reason for needing a program like this. He teaches us about the brewing and distilling process and how energy intensive it is. We also take a trip out to Short Mountain Distillery to interview owner Billy Kaufman. He talks about being one of the initial TNSS pilot members and his new, 100% organic Tennessee Whiskey that is coming out. The Ranger Report this month highlights Johnsonville State Historic Park in New Johnsonville, TN. Park Ranger Noah Sinz joins us to talk about the historic park and what it has to offer.
February 21, 2020
Radon Awareness
Episode 9: With Radon Awareness Month coming to an end, we thought it would be a good idea to sit down and talk with our colleague, Lexi Brown, about what Radon really is. She enlightens us on the importance of testing our homes and how to do so. Our office provides free Radon test kits to any Tennessee resident. You can use this link to our website to grab one. The Ranger Report this month highlights T.O. Fuller State Park in Memphis, TN. Park Ranger Decoda Muller updates us on their new sustainability projects and the rich history behind the park.
February 03, 2020
Music City Center
Episode 8: This episode covers sustainability initiatives of the Music City Center, the guitar shaped convention center in the middle of downtown Nashville. We were able to tour the building and sit down with the Sustainability Coordinator, Renee Barker, to discuss the green roof, toilets that use recaptured water, and even the honey bees that reside on the top of the building. We get to listen to Executive Chef, Max Knoepfel, talk about locally sourced food, composting, and food donation. The Ranger Report this month highlights Sgt. Alvin C. York State Historic Park in Pall Mall, TN. Park Manager Nathaniel Dodson joins us to talk about the historic park and what it has to offer.  
January 22, 2020
Sustainable Transportation
Episode 7: In this episode, we talk about sustainable transportation and clean fuels. You may be thinking, how do you make driving a car sustainable or what does it even mean for a fuel to be clean. Well, we have the answers for you in this pod! We sat down and spoke with two of our friends from TDEC's Office of Energy Programs, Alexa Voytek and Shauna Basques, to learn about the Sustainable Transportation Forum and Expo. We also got the chance to speak with Daniel Siksay from the East Tennessee Clean Fuels Coalition to get a better idea of what clean fuels are. The Ranger Report this month highlights Hiwassee/Ocoee Scenic River State Park in Delano, TN. Park Ranger, Travis England joins us to talk about the many outdoor activities that the park has to offer.  
December 27, 2019
Governor's Environmental Stewardship Awards (GESA)
Episode 6: This month we highlighted Tennessee's most prestigious environmental and conservation awards, the Governor's Environmental Stewardship Awards. We sat down and chatted with our colleague, Kathy Glapa, who has been in charge of the awards for the last 15 years. We also had the opportunity to interview three of this year's winners: Turnip Green Creative Reuse, Ruby Falls, and The Compost Fairy. The Ranger Report this month highlights Panther Creek State Park in Morristown, TN. Park Ranger, Jammie Mize, joins the pod to inform us on all of the great things that take place at Panther Creek State Park.
October 21, 2019
Energy Conservation
Episode 5: This month we talk about how to reduce your energy bill during the hot summer months. We are joined by Christian Shackelford from green|spaces in Chattanooga. He is the Program Director for Empower Chattanooga, which teaches residents low cost and no cost ways to reduce their utility bills. The Ranger Report this month highlights Fall Creek Falls State Park in Spencer, TN. Assistant Park Manager, Robert Becker, joins the pod to inform us on all of the great things that take place at Fall Creek Falls.  
September 23, 2019
Recycling 101
Episode 4: This episode takes a shallow dive into the vast topic of recycling. We talk about the do's and don'ts of recycling and some of the resources that you can use to be a better recycler. We are joined by Jennifer Westerholm from Metro Nashville's Department of General Services to talk about Socket, Nashville's Sustainability Outlet and to learn some tips to reduce your environmental footprint. The Ranger Report this month features Dunbar Cave State Park in Clarksville, TN. Ranger Adam Neblett joins the pod to enlighten us on the parks opportunities. OTHER LINKS: TN Convenience Center Map Create your own Green Cube Drawdown book website mentioned by Jennifer Westerholm 
July 10, 2019
Food Waste
Episode 3: This episode highlights the Get Food Smart TN statewide initiative that promotes reducing food waste and increasing food recovery and diversion. You will also learn tips on reducing food waste in your home. We are excited to announce the first Ranger Report segment of the podcast series. The Ranger Report portion of the podcast is intended to help promote our Tennessee State Parks system while updating the public on park activities, sustainability success stories, and day-to-day operations. This month we highlighted Pickwick Landing State Park in Counce, TN with ranger Brittney Magness.
June 06, 2019
Earth Month
   Episode 2: This episode has an Earth Month (April) focus. We look into the history of Earth Day and Ashley gives an Earth Day related quiz to Caleb. We are also joined by two local, environmental non-profits to highlight their volunteer opportunities and hear about some of the interesting things that they do. Gray Perry from The Cumberland River Compact and Todd Lawrence from Urban Green Lab join in on the pod and are full of pertinent information.
April 17, 2019
Episode 1: This is the first episode of the podcast series where we dive into the environmental backgrounds of the host, Caleb Powell, and co-host, Ashley Cabrera. We are also joined by our boss, Dr. Kendra Abkowitz, the Assistant Commissioner of Policy and Sustainable Practices (OPSP) at the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC).  LINKS: TDEC's OPSP
April 17, 2019