Provo/Orem Energy Source

Documenting my struggle to educate myself on energy issues and providing a resources for others trying to do the same. There is no something for nothing, in energy or anything else. If you make comments please be respectful of the opinions of others.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Chickens Welcome in Provo!

Hooray for Provo!

Tonight the Provo City Council voted for the zoning ordinance that it had been considering to allow hens into the residential zones in Provo. The vote was a close 4 to 3 but it passed with some amendments striking some of the restrictions that the proposed ordinance originally had. I will provide a link to the approved ordinance as soon as it becomes available.

I was proud of those who came and voiced their opinions from the public and especially for my new neighborhood chair, Sherrie Spencer, for working hard to get the Maeser Neighborhood's input. (21 respondents for, 8 against) I'm ecstatic that the ordinance passed and that we have an opportunity now to raise chickens. The council will review in one year how this has gone and I hope to see those who voted against the ordinance swayed by the good that has come of it.

There will be a permit required and the fee has not been set yet, but there seemed to be some strong voices for a nominal fee, (and the motion to strike the permit altogether only failed by one vote).

I spoke in behalf of the ordinance as I think all the public at large who spoke. There was a mix of for and against among the Neighborhood chairs that spoke. I was very pleased that both Raquel and Oliver Smith-Callis spoke and helped balance some of the "chickens shouldn't be allowed on small downtown lots" comments with their experience of keeping hens and the strengthening of community ties that have resulted - including with the residence of the apartment complex the abuts their lot. (Raquel's blog is great!

I was also pleased that Kanoni Horito, another Maeser resident, spoke in favor of the ordinance.

For those that represent me:
Dave Acheson and Steve Turley were strongly for the ordinance, Midge Johnson came out against, though it didn't seem strongly so and said that she was going to go out and get a coop now that the ordinance did pass.

I expect that IFA and CAL Ranch stores are going to do a good business this spring with Provo residents. :)

The following is the letter I sent to my representatives on the council a few weeks ago:

I'm writing to voice my support for allowing chickens in the residential neighborhoods in Provo. I'm a eight year resident of the Maeser neighborhood, purchasing our home here after the first few years of living in the neighborhood because we liked it here so much. I'm an avid gardener and would love to expand my work into raising hens, both for the fresh, healthy eggs and also for the manure. This will allow my family to be more self-reliant and for us to provide more benefit for the bit of Provo that we occupy.

After seeing others who are currently keeping hens (and ducks) on small city lots, I know that this can be done in way that promotes health instead of being a detriment to it. When odors or health become a real concern for neighbors, that can be dealt with through existing mechanisms as it is with garbage, etc. By nature, cats and dogs, both carnivorous animals, pose much greater health and odor issues than chickens which are vegetarian, (overlooking the insects and worms) - the issue is taking good care of the animals we have.

In addition, the local production and application of chicken manure as fertilizer is much better for our ground water than the application of chemical fertilizers that more easily leach into the water system and can cause major health threats when concentrated. We should all be more concerned about how our actions affect the water that we have available to us.

I would also like to see chickens allowed to roam in a fenced yard as opposed to be restricted to a chicken coop/run proper. This is a property rights issue that I just don't see the city having any say in. We let dogs run around the yard, why not chickens. They are still going to be roosting in the coop and if there are problems they can be dealt with among the neighbors involved or elevated to the health dept if that is the concern.

Thank you for your service to our city and for taking the time to look into this issue that I feel strongly about. I'm encouraged by this step that the city is looking at and hope that we can look for other ways to improve our city and make it a more sustainable, healthy place to live.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

General Conference: Thou shalt not covet...

Elder Robert D Hales began the Saturday Morning session of General Conference Apr 2009 with a rousing talk in the same vein as Elder L Tom Perry's talk that opened the Oct 2008 Saturday morning session. Elder Perry's talk, which he entitled "Let Him Do It With Simplicity", used Emerson's Walden Pond experience to talk about "the spiritual benefits of a simplified lifestyle." (For more information on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints see the church's website at

Link to: Becoming Provident Providers Temporally and Spiritually

Elder Hales gave what I feel is the gospel answer to the problems of dwindling natural resources and financial troubles - turning to the Lord and following his commandments. One of the most basic of the Lord's commandments is "Thou shalt not covet". The appetite for worldly things can not be satisfied by obtaining worldly things, and can only be overcome through coming unto Christ. We have hope through Christ that we can break the cycle of debt and uncontrolled excesses. Learn to recognize the temptations of the devil and with unflinching resolve to say "Get thee behind me Satan". Paying tithing and fast offerings teaches us to put the things of the Lord first.

By our unwise choices we can bind ourselves down so that we do not have the time, energy or resources to serve others or the Lord. He spoke candidly of a couple situations early in his marriage that made a large impression on him. In summary, he said that the four most caring words may be "we can't afford it". We often buy, consume, and engage in worldly behaviors for things we don't need and often don't even want. Learn to communicate better as husbands and wives and as families.

Our deepest hunger is for our Heavenly Father's love, His security, and eternal joy. Quoting 2 Nephi 9:51 "Wherefore, do not spend money for that which is of no worth, nor your labor for that which cannot satisfy." I would add that we also crave the love and acceptance of those closest to us, our families and close friends. As a husband and father, I liked the term Elder Hales used to describe my role as a "provident provider".

Throughout the sessions of conference yesterday I was gratified at the optimism. As we face the challenges of our day, we can do so with hope. "The best is yet to come" as Elder Perry said last conference. As Elder Packer said in Priesthood session, we are entering a time of hard work, the time of expensive toys is ending - thank goodness! Maybe these economic hardships and resource problems will be the shaking up of the devil's kingdom that will soften our collective hearts and turn them back to each other and away from the closeted lives so many of us lead.

I deeply believe that the gospel holds the answers to all of the world's problems - all of them. Resource depletion will not be solved by technological innovation; it will only be solved as we willing curb our worldly appetites, when we gain our sense of worth from our identity as children of God and our relationship with Him as our Father and each other as brothers in sisters. It is not a technical problem but a behavioral one.

Matt Whiting

I find it interesting that both Elder Perry and Hales come from a business background, and that Elder Hales was the Presiding Bishop for nine years.