100 Grannies environmental group celebrates one-year anniversary


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Celebrating one year of activity, the members of 100 Grannies hope for an even more productive second year as they focus on stopping the Keystone Pipeline and outlawing single-use plastic bags in Iowa City and surrounding areas.

“We want to have them banned in surrounding areas, so that other towns nearby don’t gain an advantage by still having them,” said Barbara Schlachter, who founded 100 Grannies in April 2012.

Single-use plastic bags are only used for an average of 12 minutes before they are discarded, which the group sees as a shameful waste.

“We’re going to start campaigning more actively again for the plastic bags,” said Becky Hall, an advocate and a member of the 100 Grannies Steering Committee.

The Iowa City City Council has considered the 100 Grannies’ requested ban of single-use bags, but such action has been denied by the staff’s recommendation.

The 100 Grannies members hope that in the coming year, they can successfully ban plastic bags, create a citywide standard for eco-friendly construction, and work toward a fee and dividend tax on carbon.

“We can’t imagine why we’re getting so much opposition on environmental issues,” Ann Christenson said. “It’s all just greed.”

The group has not quite reached 100 members. However, it stands strong at 65. Fortunately, not all members have to be grannies — many of the members of the collective group do not have biological grandchildren.

The group met on Tuesday in honor of its first anniversary. The meeting took place in North Liberty at the “green house” of Carol and Jim Christensen.

The house was built in 2010 following a fire. Once construction was complete, the Christensens decided they needed to stop talking about making a difference and start doing it.

The Christensen home in North Liberty is equipped with enough solar panels to sustain 75 percent of the power they use. This green house is a major stride in terms of sustainability.

“We also have a propane-powered generator, but we don’t use a lot of propane,” Jim Christensen said. “When there isn’t enough sunlight to power our house, we have an automatic system that turns the generator on.”

Don’t mistake the members’ age for weakness — the 100 Grannies, which holds monthly meetings, has been through a lot.

Schlachter, who was an advocate before founding the group, was arrested for her outspokenness at the President’s Day Rally in Washington, D.C., in August 2011. The official police report listed loitering as her crime.

But Schlachter isn’t afraid, and neither are the other grannies.

“We’re really trying to get older women more active in issues of the future, starting with climate change,” she said. “If we don’t address climate change, all of the other things that we know are wrong within our society will cease to matter.”

Schlachter said there’s strength in numbers.

“Our feeling was that if you have 100 grannies working together, then you have a real force,” she said.

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