Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Orange Branch

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending the opening of a brand new library. The library (appropriately called the Orange Branch) is located in Orange Township, a fast growing community nestled on the southern edge of the equally fast growing Delaware County.

The opening of the Orange Branch represents not just the culmination of a 12 month construction cycle, but also years of planning and preparation, including and perhaps most importantly the Delaware County District Library's successful 2009 levy campaign. While the economy has been slow to recover (and Ohio has been particularly hard hit), it's heartening to see that the vast majority of Ohio communities are willing to support libraries even as State funding for libraries is reduced.

The Orange Branch itself is one that all stakeholders can be proud of. It represents the best of what libraries offer, both as place to learn and as a place to gather. Its robust collection of books, AV materials, and computer workstations are complemented by a community meeting room, numerous study rooms, and inviting spaces to relax or work (The fireplace area is particularly nice). The high, timbered ceiling gives the space a sense of importance, while the warm palette and natural textures keep it all very cozy and inviting.

The Orange Branch will be a great resource for the southern Delaware County community. Not only that, it represents a chance for all central Ohioans to see how green building techniques play out in a new library. Features like rain chains and outdoor gardens (to reduce run-off), chilled beam HVAC systems, and regional building materials make the Orange Branch not just attractive, but also practical.

Congratulations to everyone who helped make the Orange Branch a reality. For more information (and for much better pictures than the ones I took), visit the Delaware County District Library's website and their Faceboook Page.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Sacred Cycle of Life, and Some Other Stuff

I work on the northwest side of town in a mostly residential area. While it's a fairly suburban community, nature still manages to find a way in and stake out its claim. This is perhaps most obvious near the neighborhood's retention pond. I usually try and get out for a walk during my lunch break and I'll often do a lap around this arguably modest body of water. Depending on the time of year, I might encounter herons, ducks, Canadian Geese, swallows, turtles or groundhogs. I've seen people angling in the pond as well, which leads me to believe there must be fish of some sort in there too.

While I'm certainly no Henry David Thoreau, I'm surprised at how attuned I've become to rhythms of this little pond's life; from the arrival of the ducks to buds on the forsythia, I'm starting to internalize its seasonal patterns.

In the pond's annual cycle, nothing is quite as exciting as the arrival of the goslings and ducklings. They usually appear about the same time, and seemingly out of nowhere. I've never found a nesting site, though I've never looked particularly hard either. This year's crop appeared within the last two weeks, and I took a few pics while I was out. It's amazing how quickly these bird mature too. You can see changes in them almost daily.

Of course things also die around the pond; presumably for a variety of reasons though I suspect traffic is most often the culprit. I'm not sure what did this duck in, but it's sad to think its demise came so close to the time the ducklings hatch. If nature is indeed a cruel mistress, so too is Bilingsley Road.

All this nature doesn't mean there's not also room for some high-end man made technology. The same walk that takes me around my 20 minutes of Walden also takes me past Franklin County's most notable (and perhaps only) wind turbine.

It stands amid a sea of car dealerships just off 270 and turns (by my estimation) 70 percent of the time. I'm not sure what it powers (or for whom), but I'm always happy to see it.

To me it looks somehow like the future, and I find it not altogether incongruous with Candadian Geese, Blue Herons, and newborn goslings.