A2ZERO Week Returns in June

Fighting climate change is not just an ideological or academic conversation in Ann Arbor, the city government goes out of its way to make it a community affair. This year’s A2ZERO Week follows the pattern of others by creating as many programs as possible to provide something to do for people of all ages and backgrounds, providing a social and economic stake in building community cohesion with fun and practical steps. This year’s focus is on the sustainability of food systems.

“This year’s events are structured for personal empowerment,” Sustainability Engagement Senior Analyst Jennifer Wolf said. “One of the things that I think overwhelms with climate change is” that its overwhelming scale makes it hard to think you can change anything. But, Wolf said “there’s a lot that you can do.” Rather than taking on dramatic steps, the point of A2ZERO Week is to show the average person “how their individual actions actually do contribute significantly to climate action.”

Food waste contributes about 10 percent of America’s greenhouse emissions and about a third of the food that this country grows is wasted every year. That is why the city is partnering with Zero Waste to provide tips to systemically reduce food waste with simple habits to both help fight climate change and help your family’s overall budget. You can get started at zerowaste.org/a2foodwaste.

This year’s A2ZERO Week will be from June 9 to 15. Weeklong activities include the Passport to Fun, which are stamps that can be collected by participating in the week’s events. If you can get enough stamps turned in, you can win prizes.

Things to do

There will be a pair of open houses on Sunday. The Log Yard Open House at 12-2 p.m., at the Wheeler Service Center at 4150 Platt Road, will teach the public about forestry and how Ann Arbor’s foliage is key to solving climate change. If you register in advance, you can take a Green Energy neighbors Net Zero Home Tour from 1-4 p.m.

The Ann Arbor Distilling Company will be hosting a local cocktail class, at their Felch Street location between the railroad tracks and the interaction with Ashley Street, from 5:30-8 p.m. on Monday. This will include an informative talk on local food production from Ryan Poe, the owner of the Hungry Locavore. Poe’s business sources fresh produce from family owned farms all located within driving distance of Ann Arbor, creating a different box with every delivery depending on what is growing right now, making Poe a great person to explain how to practically at locally and in season.

“I’ve been asked to source some ingredients from local farms for a savory cocktail, and a sweet cocktail and we’ll also have some finger foods,” Poe said. “That’s going to be one of my first bigger events, where I publicly speak at an event, and source the food and drinks that people will be consuming.”

Wednesday will also provide two chances to get you know your neighbors. The Tiny Lions Café at 5245 Jackson Road will host representatives from the Humane Society of Huron Valley Wildlife Rescue and Education; who will be lecturing “to live in harmony with the wild animals in proximity to you while gaining an appreciation for the many roles they play in our complex ecosystems” according to the city. Across town, Bløm Meadworks is going to be hosting a game night from 5-10 p.m.

If you like the practical, DIY approach to sustainable living, then the All Hands Active REPAIRsday will be the event for you. This class on fixing household items will go from 5:30-9 p.m., at 225 East Liberty Street.

Thursday will also have the Climate Trivia Night at Venue, a dining and co-working space located southeast of the Big House, at 1919 South Industrial Highway, from 7-9 p.m.

Saturday is the big day though. There will be a YMCA block party in the 400 West block of Washington Street from 12-4 p.m. Kids can get a sustainably made screen print onto a plain white t-shirt during the Sustainable Fun & Your Bright Future at the A2SF KidZone on Ingalls Mall from 5-8 p.m.

Ingalls Mall will also celebrate the two hundredth anniversary of Ann Arbor’s cityhood during the envisioning Our Sustainable Future event. There, members of the public will be able to ask questions of the Planning, Transportation, and the Sustainability and Innovations offices from the city, so you can get in person answers to your climate concerns and updates on progress or disappointments in achieving the goal of carbon neutrality by the end of this decade.

Multi-day events

A2ZERO Bikeway Tours with Human Electric Hybrids will take place on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday at 320 Miller Avenue. Participants of this hour-long, family friendly, free event are being asked to show up at least 15 minutes ahead of the 10 a.m. start time with helmets and your bikes.

You can also participate in Love a Park Day at Northside Park from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. Tuesday, or at the Bryant Community Center, Friday, from 5-7 p.m.

Common Cycle will be hosting its Bike Team Work Session Tuesday from 11 a.m.-3 p.m., and Thursday from 9-11 a.m., at 416 West Huron Street.

If you would rather meet your actual neighbors, rather than zig zag across town, there are also the ward parties. These community events will happen on the following days, in the following parks. Some will include your city councilors.

  • Ward 3 – Bicentennial Park at 2901 East Ellsworth Road – Sunday, 4-5 p.m.
  • Ward 2 – Sugarbrush Park at 3349 Yellowstone Drive – Monday, 4-5 p.m.
  • Ward 1 – Leslie Science and Nature Center at 1831 Traver Road – Tuesday, 5:30-6:30 p.m.
  • Ward 4 – Allmendinger Park – Wednesday, 5-6 p.m.
  • Ward 5 – Veterans Memorial Park – Wednesday, 6-7 p.m.

“A2ZERO week is a very important opportunity for the community to come together in a week of fun and hands on learning to explore how we can change our own habits and our cityscape to meet the challenges of climate change,” Lisa Disch (Democrat – Ward #) said in an emailed statement. “If people haven’t visited the Leslie Science and Nature Center, they will love this party just for the creatures who live there—but they can meet their Council representatives, play a waste sorting game, sample some vegetarian treats, and more! Pick up a passport to fun at any of the AADL branches and participate in activities throughout the week–tour Ann Arbor’s bike lanes, learn about the life cycle of city trees at the log yard, tour a netzero home. There’s too much to list so I hope everyone will check out the website.”

Community building

A2ZERO week has always had a the more the merrier attitude to attendance, generally allowing people to join in activities even at the very last minute. You also don’t have to have a Lisa Simpson-level deference to environmentalism, nor a degree in ecology to participate. Anyone can participate no matter your age or how big your carbon footprint is.

“These challenges are fun educational, not shaming or blaming. They’re very inviting into the movement,” Ann Arbor’s Sustainability and Innovations Missy Stults said.

Businesses can also participate in a variety of ways. Businesses that are working to be as sustainable as possible, or want to can do so by contacting the Department of Sustainability and Innovations at sustainability@a2gov.org.

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Drew Saunders is a freelance business and environmental journalist who grew up just outside of Ann Arbor. He covers local business developments, embraces his foodie side with reviews restaurants, obsesses over Michigan's environmental state, loves movies, and feels spoiled by the music he gets to review for Ann Arbor!

Drew Saunders
Drew Saundershttps://drewsaunders.com/
Drew Saunders is a freelance business and environmental journalist who grew up just outside of Ann Arbor. He covers local business developments, embraces his foodie side with reviews restaurants, obsesses over Michigan's environmental state, loves movies, and feels spoiled by the music he gets to review for Ann Arbor!

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