IJAMS adds additional solar panels

KNOXVILLE, TN – A $22,000 grant from the Arconic Foundation is making Ijams Nature Center a cleaner, greener place. The nonprofit, 300+-acre center used the funds to install additional solar panels on the roof of the Visitor Center.

The new panels are projected to save more than $2,700 annually in traditional electrical use. Green Earth Solar, LLC (GES) completed the installation in March 2017.

“Adding the new array saved about $540 on Ijams’ utility bill in March and April,” Ijams Facilities Manager Brenda Rayfield said. “It was such a significant savings that KUB sent out two electricians to replace our meter because they thought it was broken.”

The effort is part of Ijams’ Sustainability Initiative, which was created to educate the public about climate change and the effects of traditional energy production and use on the Earth, as well as provide information about alternative energy sources. The solar panels serve as an educational demonstration model and interpretive signage helps visitors learn about solar energy options.

“At Ijams, our mission is to educate people about nature and encourage them to become stewards of the natural world,” Ijams Executive Director Amber Parker said. “But it’s not enough to teach others to care for the Earth. Ijams needs to ‘practice what we preach’ in daily operations. Using renewable, clean energy sources to reduce Ijams’ environmental footprint is an important way to do both.

“We truly appreciate the Arconic Foundation’s support of this project,” Parker said. “Arconic’s generosity will have a significant impact on Ijams—and the environment—for years to come.”

The new 7.8-kilowatt (kW) array brings the total size of Ijams’ rooftop system to 19.04kW. Power generated each month will vary depending on the amount of sun the panels receive.

GES installed the original 11.34kW system in 2015. It produced almost two megawatt hours of power before the additional 7.8kW system was added. A megawatt hour (MWh) is equal to 1,000kW of electricity used continuously for one hour, which is approximately the same amount of electricity used by about 330 homes during one hour.

Grants from the Alcoa Foundation funded both installations. When Alcoa and Arconic split into two companies, the Arconic Foundation completed the grant process.

Ijams Nature Center is a nonprofit, 300+-acre educational center for all ages, abilities and walks of life. Ijams’ mission is to encourage stewardship of the natural world by providing an urban greenspace for people to learn about and enjoy the outdoors through engaging experiences.

Located just three miles from downtown Knoxville, Ijams features 12 miles of hiking and mixed-use trails, a public access river dock, swimming, boating, biking and more. The center offers hundreds of educational programs annually, from school field trips and off-site programs to on-site outdoor and classroom education programs. Classes focus on topics from birding and wildflowers to yoga hikes, cooking and art. The Ijams grounds and trails are open daily from 8 a.m. until dusk. The Visitor Center is open during the summer from Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more information, visit Ijams.org or call 865-577-4717.


Scientist to swim Tennessee River

Dr. Andreas Fath, a world-record-holding endurance swimmer and scientist, will kick-off a swim of the entire Tennessee River from the river dock at Ijams Nature Center’s River Landing Thursday, July 27, 2017, at 10 a.m.

This isn’t the first time the professor of Medical and Life Sciences at Furtwangen University in Germany has taken on a river. In 2014 he broke the world record for speed swimming the Rhine River from the Swiss Alps to the North Sea.

Dubbed TenneSwim, Fath’s second “swim for science” will see him swim the entire waterway from late July through August 2017. He will conduct daily analyses along his route to determine how water quality in the Tennessee River compares to the Rhine. Other testing will be done after the swim. Specifically, Fath will be looking at chemicals, pharmaceuticals and microplastics.

Data collected will increase knowledge about the quality and health of the Tennessee River, as well as raise public awareness of water quality in the Tennessee River basin. This project will be the most extensive interdisciplinary water quality survey ever conducted of North America’s most biologically diverse river.

At 652 miles, the Tennessee River is 112 miles shorter than the Rhine, but its significantly slower current will pose an even greater challenge for Fath. If completed as planned, his swim will break another world record.

U.S. partner organizations include the University of the South, the Tennessee Aquarium, The Nature Conservancy, the University of Georgia River Basin Center, Ijams Nature Center, the River Discovery Center of Paducah, Tennessee State Parks, and the Tennessee Valley Authority.


Volunteers needed for river clean-up

If getting a little dirty to make Knoxville a cleaner place excites you, you’ll want to volunteer for Ijams River Rescue Saturday, April 1, 2017 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Presented by Keurig Green Mountain and TVA, the 28th annual Ijams cleanup event focuses on 30-40 locations along the Tennessee River and its associated creek tributaries from the river’s headwaters in Knoxville to the shores of Loudon County.

“Between 800-1,000 people pick up 10-14 tons of trash and debris as well as numerous old tires during this event each year,” Ijams Executive Director Amber Parker said. “We welcome individuals as well as groups of all sizes from local businesses, nonprofit organizations and scout troops. It’s a fun way to get involved and help ensure healthier, cleaner water for the residents and wildlife of East Tennessee.”

Volunteers can register online at Ijams.org through March 31. All supplies will be provided, including gloves and bags that have been donated by TVA and American Rivers’ National River Cleanup program.

Participants will receive a commemorative t-shirt designed by Ijams senior naturalist, artist and author Stephen Lyn Bales. This year’s shirt features a frog, one of the earth’s most environmentally sensitive creatures.

“Frogs live in two environments: land and water,” Bales said. “They have very thin skin, which easily absorbs toxic chemicals and other pollutants, so frogs are a good indicator of environmental stress. We can tell how healthy an environment is by how many amphibians live there.”

The 28th annual Ijams River Rescue presented by Keurig Green Mountain and TVA is sponsored by the City of Knoxville, First Tennessee Foundation, Grayson Subaru, Dow Chemical Company, Mesa Associates Inc., Knoxville TVA Employees Credit Union, River Sports Outfitters, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Wood Realtors, Knox Area Climbers, AmeriCorps, and the Water Quality Forum.

Ijams Nature Center is a nonprofit, 300-acre educational and outdoor adventure park for all ages, abilities and walks of life. Ijams’ mission is to encourage stewardship of the natural world by providing an urban greenspace for people to learn about and enjoy the outdoors through engaging experiences. Located just three miles from downtown Knoxville, Ijams features 12 miles of hiking and mixed-use trails, a public access river dock, swimming, boating, biking and more. The center offers hundreds of educational programs annually, from school field trips and off-site programs to on-site outdoor and classroom education programs that focus on topics from birding and wildflowers to yoga hikes, cooking classes and art programs. The Ijams grounds and trails are open daily from 8 a.m. until dusk. The Visitor Center is open Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit Ijams.org or call 865-577-4717.


Chimney Tops fires under review

A team of fire experts is assembling at Great Smoky Mountains National Park to conduct a review of the 2016 Chimney Tops 2 fire that started in the park on November 23, according to Tina Boehle of the National Park Service Division of Fire and Aviation Management.

The purpose of the review team is to identify the facts leading up to and during the Chimney Tops 2 fire within the boundaries of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, as well as make recommendations on any planning, operational, or managerial issues which can be addressed locally, regionally, and/or nationally to reduce the chances of a similar incident in the future.

The team is assigned to the fire review through the division chief for the National Park Service (NPS) Division of Fire and Aviation in Boise, ID. Division Chief Bill Kaage stated, “The team will conduct a thorough review of the actions and response to this fire, which will include compliance with policy and application of professional wildland firefighting practices. Ultimately the purpose of the review is to identify lessons learned from this incident for use by any wildland firefighting agency.”

The Chimney Tops 2 fire review team is made up of interagency representatives: a team leader, a fire behavior specialist, two fire operations/risk management specialists, an NPS fire management officer from outside of the region, a municipal fire department representative from within the region, and an NPS management liaison.

Joe Stutler, a senior advisor for Deschutes County, Oregon, will lead the team. Stutler has extensive experience in wildland fire at the federal level as well as in local government and the private sector. He has nearly 50 years of knowledge of the complexities of fire management, including fire behavior and policy.

Other team members include:
Fire Behavior Specialist: William Grauel, Bureau of Indian Affairs – National Fire Ecologist, Boise, ID
Municipal Fire Department Representative: Jimmy Isaacs, Boone Fire Department – Chief, Boone, NC
Fire Operations/Risk Management Specialist: Shane Greer, U.S. Forest Service – Assistant Fire Director-Risk Management, Region 2, Golden, CO
NPS Fire Management Officer: Mike Lewelling, Rocky Mountain National Park – Fire Management Officer, Estes Park, CO
Fire Operations/Risk Management Specialist/Writer/Editor: Miranda Stuart, NPS Branch of Wildland Fire – Fire Management Specialist, Crawfordville, FL
NPS Management Liaison: Tim Reid, National Park Service – Superintendent, Devils Tower National Monument, WY

The work of the review team is expected to take up to two weeks. After that, the team has 45 days to complete their report and submit it to Chief Kaage for review prior to it being made public.


Stargazing event at Marble Springs

Marble Springs will host a Winter Stargazing Session on Saturday, January 28, 2017. This session will be led by Gary Noland, adjunct instructor of Astronomy at the University of Tennessee. Guests will meet at the cottage where they will begin with a discussion about navigating from constellations.

The stargazing will begin at about 7 pm and go until 9 pm where guests will search for night sky landmarks such as winter constellations as well as identifying planets that are visible during the winter months. Participation in our nighttime viewing sessions is a $1 donation per person. Details are subject to change.

All nighttime viewing sessions will take place at Marble Springs State Historic Site at 1220 W. Gov. John Sevier Highway, Knoxville, TN 37920. For more information email info@marblesprings.net or call (865)573-5508.

Programming assistance for this event is provided by Knox County. Marble Springs is funded under an agreement with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Tennessee Historical Commission, and supplemented by additional funds raised by the Governor John Sevier Memorial Association.

Marble Springs State Historic Site is the last remaining home of John Sevier. Born in Virginia in 1745, John Sevier made a name for himself as a Revolutionary War Hero during the Battle of Kings Mountain (1780), a key player & Governor of the short-lived State of Franklin (1784-1788), and ultimately was elected to serve as the first Governor of the State of Tennessee (1796).

Marble Springs was the approximate 350-acre farm that Sevier lived on from 1801-1815, the last years of his life. Sevier named his farm Marble Springs because of the Tennessee Rose Marble that was quarried on site and the natural springs that flowed on the property.

While visiting Marble Springs, visitors will have the opportunity to tour several historic structures that are designed to represent various aspects of John Sevier’s life and times. These structures include: the Tavern, Loom House, Smoke House, Spring House, and the John Sevier Cabin and detached kitchen.


Zoo Knoxville breaks attendance record

Zoo Knoxville had a record attendance in 2016, surpassing the 2015 record of 440,115 by more than 30,000 visitors. The 2015 record was officially broken on Nov. 11, 2016 during the zoo’s popular Dollar Days event.

“It’s been a very successful year, so we thought it only fitting to finish in the spirit of the fun and sometimes unexpected experiences we’ve offered our guests in 2016 to celebrate,” said Lisa New, President and CEO of Zoo Knoxville. The Zoo offered the last visitors of 2016 the chance to win a behind-the- scenes tour of an animal area or an annual pass.

Zoo Knoxville is a nonprofit entity situated on 53 wooded acres just east of downtown Knoxville. Zoo Knoxville features exhibits of wild animals in natural habitats and is world renowned for its efforts in conservation and species survival. Zoo Knoxville is nationally accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and is committed to the highest standards in animal care and well-being, ethics, conservation, and education.

Knoxville’s largest attraction, the zoo is open every day except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Currently, the zoo is open from 10:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. daily. Admission and ticket sales stop one-hour before the zoo closes. For more information visit zooknoxville.org.


KKB hosts beautification project

Keep Knoxville Beautiful (KKB) will hold two beautification mobs to plant approximately 18,000 daffodil and tulip bulbs on November 19-20, 2016. Volunteers are needed for both days.

KKB will kick off the weekend on Saturday, November 19 by planting 2,000 daffodil bulbs next to the sidewalks of Sevierville Pike and E. Moody Avenue, near the end of the James White Parkway. Planting will take place from 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM and volunteers will receive a light breakfast and lunch. All tools and supplies will be provided, but volunteers are asked to bring a water bottle and wear clothes and shoes that can get dirty. Parking will be available at the intersection of Sevierville Pike and Compton Street, as well as on surrounding streets.

On Sunday, November 20 from Noon to 5:00 PM, KKB is partnering with the Town of Farragut to plant 16,000 tulip and daffodil bulbs at the Campbell Station Road I-40 Exit. KKB is seeking volunteers over the age of 12 to assist with the beautification mob. All volunteers will receive a lunch and a snack, and are also asked to bring a water bottle and wear clothes and shoes that can get dirty. Parking is available on the public road behind the Marathon Gas Station located at 800 N. Campbell Station Road.

“We’re at it again!” said Bob Graves, KKB board member and owner of sponsoring landscape design firm, Carex Design Group. “Last November, we planted over 60,000 daffodil bulbs on three I-275 exits with the help of over 220 volunteers. In the spring, the blooms carpeted the area with yellow and white, and we’re excited about seeing similar results on Sevierville Pike and the Campbell Station Road exit.”

Volunteers are encouraged to sign up for one or both of the Beautification Mobs at keepknoxvillebeautiful.org.

 


Time for planting dogwood trees

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Once again, Dogwood Arts encourages Knoxville to take part in the community-wide dogwood tree-planting day on Saturday, December 3, 2016 . As part of the Bazillion Blooms program, Dogwood Arts asks Knoxville communities to keep their neighborhoods and communities beautiful for years to come by planting not only dogwood trees, but flowering trees and shrubs, bulbs, and perennials during the Fall gardening season. Fall planting allows plants to develop a strong root system over the winter months, so they are strong for upcoming summer heat.

Since the inception of the Bazillion Blooms program in 2009, Dogwood Arts has been working towards a goal of planting 10,000 new trees in the Knoxville community in 10 years. Dogwood Arts is selling disease-resistant dogwood trees at dogwoodarts.com or by phone at (865) 637-4561 through November 18. These 3’ – 4’ bare-root trees are available for $25 each or five for $100.

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Trees ordered from Dogwood Arts must be picked up on Saturday, December 3, from 9 am to 12 pm at the UT Gardens off Neyland Drive. Trees will not be distributed at a later time or date. Photo submitted.

Since the initiation of Bazillion Blooms in 2009, Dogwood Arts, along with community and corporate partners, have planted more than 8,000 April-blooming, disease-resistant dogwood trees.

Bazillion Blooms, a program of Dogwood Arts, is sponsored by the ORNL Federal Credit Union. For more information, visit dogwoodarts.com or call Dogwood Arts at (865) 637-4561.

Dogwood Arts, presented by ORNL Federal Credit Union, is a 501(c)3 organization with a mission to promote and celebrate our region’s art, culture, and natural beauty.


UT Gardens Plant Sale is Oct 8

UT Gardens in Knoxville will hold their fall plant sale on Saturday, October 8, 2016, from 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. A Preview Sale (for UT Garden members, UT Faculty & Staff and Volunteers only) will be offered on Friday, October 7, from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. Membership rates range from $15 per year for students to $100 for professional photographers.

A Bouquet Zinneas at the UT Farmers Market

This plant sale provides trees and shrubs that are known for being hardy for the Tennessee region. UT Gardens is located at 2518 Jacob Drive. From I-40 take Exit 386B onto Hwy 129 (Alcoa Hwy toward the Airport). From Hwy 129 take exit for Hwy 158 (Neyland Drive). Turn left at end of exit ramp. Turn left onto Joe Johnson Drive, and right at next light onto Chapman Drive. Visitor parking is directly across from the entrance to the UT Gardens, and is marked with signs for “2-Hr Visitor Parking.”

Featured plants for the sale include:

The Dogwood Appalachian series was developed by UT to provide the region with powdery mildew and anthracnose resistant dogwoods. Featured cultivars that will be available are ‘Appalachian Joy’, ‘Appalachian Spring’, ‘Appalachian Blush’, and ‘Appalachian Snow’.

Oakleaf Hydrangeas, cultivars ‘Ruby Slippers’ and ‘Munchkin’ feature robust bloom sets that stay upright with heavy rains. Both cultivars provide fall interest with the leaves changing from green to burgundy. ‘Sweet Tea’ Mountain Gordlinia is a new and hard-to-find hybrid of the Franklin Tree and Lolly Bay which has improved disease resistance and cold hardiness. Blooms July – September and is semi evergreen.

For a list of featured plants for the sale, visit:

https://utgardens.wildapricot.org/resources/Pictures/2016FallPlantSaleInventory.pdf


New giraffe at Knoxville Zoo

A new giraffe arrived in Knoxville this month to join the city’s zoo herd in the Grasslands Africa habitat. Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, at the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory, one-year-old “Frances” comes to Knoxville on the recommendation of the Giraffe Species Survival Plan (SSP), which manages the breeding and social placement of all giraffes in zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). She will be a companion to the zoo’s two female giraffes, Patches and Lucille, and a potential mate for male Jumbe in a few years when she is fully grown.

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Frances, a new giraffe welcomed into the herd at Knoxville Zoo, is approximately 10 feet tall and weighs 740 pounds, and her smaller stature will make it easy for zoo-goers to identify her. Photo submitted.

Also this month, Zoo Knoxville welcomed a new Western lowland gorilla, a female who has been christened “Andi”.

The baby is named in honor of Andie Ray, a community visionary who loved gorillas and supported Zoo Knoxville’s work to save Western lowland gorillas from extinction. Andie passed away unexpectedly in December, 2015. She was instrumental in connecting the Ray family to gorillas at Zoo Knoxville. The Ray family named the first gorilla ever born at the zoo, Obi, whose name means “heart”, in June of 2015. The name “Andi” means “brave, strong, valiant and courageous”.

Zoo Knoxville is a nonprofit entity situated on 53 wooded acres just east of downtown Knoxville. Zoo Knoxville features exhibits of wild animals in natural habitats and is world renowned for its efforts in conservation and species survival. Zoo Knoxville is nationally accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and is committed to the highest standards in animal care and well-being, ethics, conservation, and education.
Knoxville’s largest attraction, the zoo is open every day except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Currently, the zoo is open daily from 9:30 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. Admission and ticket sales stop one-hour before the zoo closes.

For more information visit zooknoxville.org.


GSM National Park plays mountain music

GSMNP – Great Smoky Mountains National Park will host the twelfth annual “Music of the Mountains” celebration September 9-10, 2016. The event tells the story of music in the Southern Appalachians through its diverse history by letting visitors experience a variety of music that was played in the region or represents old-time music’s roots. Performances throughout the event tell the story of how mountain music grew out of traditional Celtic and religious roots to become something that would be played on front porches all over the Smokies.

“The music in these mountains tells such a wonderful story,” said Park Ranger Brad Free. “This event provides the opportunity to find the type of traditional music that you love and learn how the stories that the music tells connect it to this place and its people.”

The two-day event begins with a concert of Celtic music by Four Leaf Peat on Friday, September 9, 2016 at 7:00 p.m. at the Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center in Townsend, TN. General admission is $5.00. The event continues on Saturday, September 10 with a series of free performances supported by Public Radio Station WDVX (89.9 FM) in celebration of the National Park Service Centennial. Musicians will play on Park Headquarters lawn from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. with music from Pappy Fisher, the John Myer’s Band, Red Shoes and Rosin, and more. WDVX will broadcast portions of the program live from Park Headquarters starting at 11:00 a.m.

dale-jett-and-hello-stranger

The late afternoon performances by John Lilly, The Brother Boys, Dale Jett and Hello Stranger (pictured above), and Amythyst Kiah from 3:00 p.m to 5:00 p.m. will feature music from the recently released album, “On Top of Old Smoky: New Old-Time Smoky Mountain Music,” which was one of several National Park Service Centennial recognition projects produced by Great Smoky Mountains Association in honor of the 100 year anniversary. The traditional American music on the CD features artists of today recreating songs performed by Smoky Mountain residents at the time of the development of the national park.

The event will be held rain or shine, but performances may be moved to the adjacent Sugarlands Visitor Center theatre in case of inclement weather. Participants are encouraged to bring blankets or chairs for sitting on the lawn. Event parking and restrooms are provided at Sugarlands Visitor Center. Handicap parking is available at both Park Headquarters and Sugarlands Visitor Center.

Schedule of Events:

September 9 – Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center in Townsend, TN
Admission: $ 5.00
7:00 p.m. – Celtic Music by Four Leaf Peat

September 10 – Park Headquarters Lawn adjacent to Sugarlands Visitor Center near Gatlinburg, TN
Admission is Free

10:00 a.m. Pappy Fisher
11:00 a.m. Red Shoes and Rosin
12:00 p.m. The Bearded
1:00 p.m. John Myer
3:00 p.m. John Lilly
3:30 p.m. The Brother Boys (Ed Snodderly and Eugene Wolf)
4:00 p.m. Dale Jett and Hello Stranger
4:30 p.m. Amythyst Kiah

Visit NPS.gov.


Kid’s night out at the museum

KNOXVILLE—The McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, will host its first “Night at the McClung Museum” family sleepover from 7 p.m. Friday, June 17, 2016 to 8 a.m. Saturday, June 18.

The sleepover will provide children ages 5 to 11 and their parents the opportunity to spend an unforgettable night with dinosaurs and explore the museum’s new special exhibition, “Dinosaur Discoveries: Ancient Fossils, New Ideas,” on loan from the American Museum of Natural History, which reveals a vivid picture of what living, breathing dinosaurs were really like. The event also will feature family-friendly activities including dino-related crafts, a flashlight tour, games, a movie screening and bedtime stories.

nightatthemuseum

Tickets are $40 a person for museum members and $50 a person for nonmembers and include all activities and craft supplies, a survival pack with an exclusive event-themed bag, flashlight, evening snacks and supplies, and breakfast Saturday morning. Tickets may be purchased online or over the phone at 865-974-2144. Online ticket purchases will incur an additional processing fee. All children must be age 5 to 11 at the time of the sleepover and must be accompanied by an adult chaperone.

Participants can be dropped off and picked up in front of the museum, or parking passes will be available for $10 for those wishing to park their car overnight.

The McClung Museum is at 1327 Circle Park Drive. Museum admission is free, and the museum’s hours are 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 1–5 p.m. Sundays. Groups may schedule tours by calling 865-974-2144 or emailing museum@utk.edu.

Free two-hour museum parking passes are available from the parking information building at the entrance to Circle Park Drive on weekdays by request. Free parking is available on Circle Park Drive on a first-come, first-served basis on weekends. Free public transportation to the museum is also available via the Knoxville Trolley Vol Line.


Book explores nature of the universe

CELEBRATE KNOXVILLE – It’s National Star Wars Day, and Celebrate Knoxville spent a little time on the phone today with UCLA researcher and astrophysicist Dr. Jeff Zweerink to discuss his recent book, “Whose Afraid of the MultiVerse?” Written in easy-to-read style, with illustrations from popular culture including Star Wars movies, the book explores ideas about space, time, matter, and energy.

Zweerink

CK: Thanks for talking with us on National Star Wars Day, Dr. Zweerink!

JZ: Glad to do it. I didn’t realize that was today.

CK: Is most of your work analyzing data or do you actually get to do experiments with gamma rays?

JZ: About 40 percent of my time is spent on experiments. We’re currently building a balloon that (once we get the funding) we will send out to collect data.

CK: When you talk about The Big Bang in ‘Whose Afraid of the MultiVerse?’, why do you use the word ‘inflation’ and not ‘explosion’ to describe what happened?

JZ: It’s a scientific term to describe the expansion of the fabric of space.

CK: As a layperson, it makes me think that the universe took a breath, like lungs filling up. Doesn’t using the word ‘inflation’ imply that something was sucked in from somewhere else, and what would that substance be?

JZ: I can see what you mean by that. Scientists use this word to describe one possible (scenario) that is like a balloon with dots on it. When the fabric expands, the dots move apart.

CK: On page 14 of your book, you said ‘the only real controversial aspect of the level one model (of the universe) is its spacial extent, or size.’ Are there really scientists out there in California that think the universe has a finite size, like a box, or like the earth is sitting on the back of a tortoise (to use Native American mythology)?

JZ: You can think of the universe as flat, in three dimensions like a piece of paper, but there are other ways to think about it. In a closed model, like the one on page 11 of the book, the universe would be ball-shaped with closed geometry.

CK: In your introduction, you inform the reader that you are a scientist with a Christian world view. Do you think that God placed the planets in such a way that it models sub atomic particles and helps us understand the nature of the unseen?

JZ: I think that there are signs both in the way the universe has been presented and in what we know about quantum physics that reveals the designer, creator, God. Whether they are exact mirrors of each other, I can’t say.

CK: I love how you use illustrations from popular movies like Star Wars, The Matrix, and Back to the Future, to help people understand some of these interesting but complex scientific ideas. Have you ever seen the television series, Lost?

JZ: I have.

CK: Do you think (as an astrophysicist who is also a Christian) that the story is a good example of a shared consciousness, and that we, as believers, are co-creating Heaven, a shared consciousness, with God?

JZ: There are some serious (mainstream Christianity) theological issues with that point of view, especially about the soverignty of God. He doesn’t need our help.

CK: But we do co-create with Him when we pray, right? We make things happen that otherwise might not have happened unless we were involved?

JZ: Yes, we do. That’s an interesting point. Not certain that applies to Heaven, though. Would make some interesting further discussion. When I first became a scientist, I thought that science and faith were enemies. Now I have come to understand that revelations from both science and faith (Scriptural revelation) will inform the other and both will agree.

CK: In your book you said that “Scientists are aware that their equipment selects what data they measure.” How does that relate to changes made by the Observer in quantum physics?

JZ: That’s one of the philosophical questions discussed in the book–in having the point of view as the universe being designed by a Creator to support life, we ourselves are Observer and are working within the realm we’re working to describe. We can’t argue for a universe that does not support life, since we are here and we are alive.

CK: That’s the topic of a new book?

JZ: Yes, my new book is about Exoplanets, planets outside our solar system, exploring questions about the possibility of life out there.

CK: And if there is life out there, Jesus died for them too, and would not have to be born on their planet to (provide spiritual revelation) enlightenment?

JZ: If they are human. Jesus being born as human, the incarnation, is crucial.

CK: But what is human? Scripture says God created man from dirt. And any other planet out there would have dirt of some kind, right? Or are you saying in the case of life not being carbon-based…

JZ: Well now we’re talking about the same kinds of issues with the multiverse, where we have infinite possibilities in infinite time…

CK: And I love how in your book, you say that Marty McFly’s time line where he does not go back into the future still exists!

JZ: If the multiverse exists.

CK: And would you say that if the multiverse does exists, the life, death, resurrection of Christ is the only event that does happen without change, and is central to all other events, which could and would be free to happen any number of ways and still be meaningful?

JK: If the multiverse exists, that would have to be true. You know there is a group that meets in Knoxville that discusses these kinds of questions, and is open to all people interested in science, regardless of world view.

CK: I saw that. We actually have several science-related Meet Up groups in Knoxville. And of course Knoxville is a college town with the University of Tennessee, so there are plenty of opportunities to get involved with scientific studies there too. So fun! For my last question, how can people get a copy of “Whose Afraid of the MultiVerse?” or find out more about your work?

JZ: Send them to the web site, Reasons.org.


UT Gardens hosts conifer sale

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Ready to create a low maintenance garden? Join University of Tennessee Gardens experts to learn about some of the most beautiful evergreen trees and shrubs available and how best to use them in your landscape.

The event is indoors, Sunday, November 15, 2015, at the University of Tennessee Brehm Animal Science Arena at 2506 River Drive on the UT agricultural campus. This is near the UT Gardens, Knoxville.

Visitors are invited to attend a free lecture by UT plant science faculty members Sue Hamilton and Andy Pulte from 1:30 – 3 p.m., to be followed by a conifer sale from 3 – 5 p.m.

Adaptable to a wide range of soil and site conditions, conifers are the perfect anchor and companion plant in any landscape and ideal for providing four-season interest. After the lecture, shop the UT Gardens conifer sale for exclusive and hard-to-find selections and add to your low-maintenance landscape.

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More than 140 different conifer selections are being offered at the plant sale including pine (Pinus), Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria), arborvitae (Thuja), hemlock (Tsuga), yew (Taxus), Japanese plum yew (Cephalotaxus), juniper (Juniperus), cypress (Cupressus), cedar (Cedrus), false cypress (Chamaecyparis), and Dawn redwood (Metasequoia), bald cypress (Taxodium), spruce (Picea), Japanese elkhorn cypress (Thujopsis). Photo submitted.

The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture’s mission: research, teaching and extension.


UT Gardens adds art to landscapes

What do bicycles, bedsprings, bottles and bald cypress have in common? According to Jason Reeves, curator of the UT Gardens Jackson, they all make exciting additions to your landscape!

On Monday, October 26, 2015 Reeves will share stories of his artful garden concoctions and favorite landscape additions. Whether he’s including used appliances or under-used plants…Jason’s designs never look like anyone else’s. He’ll give two talks in Room 125 of the Ellington Plant Sciences Building on the UT Ag Campus (for directions http://www.utk.edu/maps/) beginning at 6:30 p.m. Detailed descriptions of Jason’s talks are as follows:

One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Treasure
Jason is known for his use of what many would consider “trash” at the UT Gardens Jackson. Working with limited funds, he has found inventive ways to bring whimsy into the Gardens which draw thousands of visitors annually. When used in the right context, old satellite dishes, bicycles, cook stoves and bedsprings can make an unusual but surprisingly tasteful addition to any garden. In 2014 and 2015 Jason included more than 6000 recycled glass bottles in the landscape. Come see how Jason uses “trash” to create gardens filled with imaginative art that sets off the show stopping plant collections in the UT Gardens.

Great Garden Plants – Jason will focus on dependable new and older underutilized great plant performers. Covering annuals, perennial, tropicals, trees and shrubs that will perform in your garden for years to come. Plants like Clematis ‘Roogucchi’, ‘Iron Butterfly’ iron weed, Jasmine ‘Fiona Sunrise’, Phlox ‘Minnie Pearl’, ‘Summer Chocolate’ mimosa tree, ‘Sun King’ Aralia, ‘Don Egolf’ Chinese redbud, Hydrangea paniculata ‘Baby Lace’ and ‘Peve Minaret’ bald cypress.

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After growing up on a farm in West Tennessee, Jason Reeves received his master’s degree in ornamental horticulture and landscape design from the University of Tennessee.  In 2002, Jason became the research horticulturist and curator of the UT Gardens Jackson. Photo submitted.


Rambler train rides feature banjo music

KNOXVILLE – The Three Rivers Rambler is in full fall 2015 mode for train rides featuring live music by banjo player Matt A. Foster.

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Matt Foster brings audiences Appalachian-tinged renditions of various songs and ballads in between country blues-fused originals. He is an entertainer for both the young and old. Foster plays a fretless mountain banjo, harmonica, and the sole of his boot. Photo submitted.

Tickets for fall excursion, the Hoot N’ Holler Autumn Express are now available online.

Enjoy the crisp, fall air and apple cider at our new depot on the outskirts of downtown Knoxville and ride along the Tennessee River. Keep an eye out for wildlife along the river and fields as we pass historic sites such as McNutt Farm and Lebanon-in-the-Forks Presbyterian Church.

2015 Hoot N’ Holler Schedule

Saturday October 24 at 10am, 1pm and 4pm
Sunday October 25 at 1pm and 4pm
Saturday October 31 at 10am, 1pm and 4pm
Sunday November 1 at at 1pm and 4pm

Visit www.threeriversrambler.com.


Melnik joins Keep Knoxville Beautiful

Knoxville, TN – The Board of Directors of Keep Knoxville Beautiful is pleased to announce that Patience Melnik has joined the organization as executive director. Patience brings a background in nonprofit project development and management to the position.

“The wealth of experience Patience has in grant writing and relationship building made her an ideal candidate for this position,” said Bob Graves, president of the board of directors.  “We are energized by her presence and look forward to her leadership as we continue the important work of keeping Knoxville beautiful.”

Patience fills the vacancy created by former Executive Director Allison Teeter’s departure in May to join the Knox County Health Department.

Before joining Keep Knoxville Beautiful, Patience served as Director of Environmental Health Programs at the Tennessee Clean Water Network (TCWN), a nonprofit statewide environmental organization located in Knoxville, Tennessee. At TCWN, she was instrumental in creating, funding, and implementing the Bringing Tap Back project, which increased access to drinking water in Tennessee’s public places by providing water bottle refill stations to schools, universities, municipalities, and other organizations.

“I am thrilled to join Keep Knoxville Beautiful,” Melnik said. “At nearly 40 years old, the organization has such a long history of partnerships with other organizations and with countless volunteers to make Knoxville a cleaner, greener, and more beautiful place to live. It is an honor to have the opportunity to build upon the foundation laid by so many people over so many years.”

To welcome Patience, please join Keep Knoxville Beautiful for a Meet and Greet at the Fieldhouse Social located at 2525 UT Commons Way on Thursday, August 27, 2015 from 5:30 until 7pm.


Feast with the Beasts at Knoxville Zoo

Knoxville – Feast with the Beasts, presented by ORNL Federal Credit Union, takes place on Saturday, August 15, 2015, from 7 to 11 p.m. at Knoxville Zoo.

Feast with the Beasts is an evening event that features everything from appetizers to desserts and a variety of wine, beer and spirits to sample. More than 50 restaurants, wineries, breweries and beverage distributors will be serving their specialties throughout the zoo. A complete list of participating vendors can be found on Knoxville Zoo’s web site at knoxvillezoo.org.

Music on three stages will keep the evening lively. The Vibraslaps will entertain on the main Plaza stage with alternative favorites, while Shiffty and the Headmasters will perform ‘80’s and ‘90’s hits on the Kids Cove stage and Jim Asbell and The Tropiholics will be performing songs for those who are on “island time” on the zoo’s west end.

All food, beverages and entertainment are included with event tickets. Tickets for Feast with the Beasts are $65 per person in advance and $70 the day of the event. Zoo members and ORNL Federal Credit Union members receive a $5 discount. Purchase nine tickets and get the tenth ticket free. Tickets are on sale at Knoxville Zoo’s ticket window during zoo hours. Tickets can also be purchased online at knoxvillezoo.org or by calling (865) 637-5331 and at all Knoxville area ORNL Federal Credit Union locations.

Feast with the Beasts is for guests 21 years of age and over and guests must show a valid photo I.D. to enter the event. All proceeds directly benefit Knoxville Zoo.

For more information, please call 865.637.5331 ext. 300 or visit www.knoxvillezoo.org.


Dinosaurs return to Knoxville

The Knoxville Convention Center once again is inviting families, young people and adults to travel back in time 65 million years at “Discover the Dinosaurs” on Saturday and Sunday, July 18-19, 2015.

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Now in its fourth year at the Convention Center, the interactive exhibition, “Discover the Dinosaurs,” is an educational family outing featuring 40 museum-quality and animatronic dinosaur replicas. In the exhibit’s first three years, more than 43,000 children and adults have attended the attraction. Photo submitted.

“Discover the Dinosaurs,” produced by Blue Star Media, is designed to provide children and adults with a unique and educational way to explore prehistoric life. The exhibit allows visitors to get close and even touch the replicas. The backdrops are custom-designed to reflect the landscapes of the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods.

Several of the dinosaurs are controlled with interactive animatronic buttons that allow children to control the dinosaur’s movements and sounds. The non-moving dinosaurs are able to be touched. The dinosaur replicas are proportionally sized to scale.

The event also features activities, such as Dino Dig, where children pretend to be archeologists hunting for fossils in sand; Dino Den, where young guests climb and interact with dinosaurs their size; Dino Theater, where educational and entertaining videos are shown; coloring station; and scavenger hunt with clues hidden throughout the exhibit.

Tyrannosaurus rex and Triceratops rides, mini-golf and inflatables are available for an additional charge.

The exhibit is open Saturday, July 18, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday, July 19, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

For tickets, visit http://www.discoverthedinosaurs.com.


IJAMS hosts osprey observation

KNOXVILLE – On Saturday, June 13, 2015, from 10am-12pm, join Ijams naturalist Stephen Lyn Bales for a road trip to Sequoyah Hills to observe osprey nesting. Last year, attendees of this event were fortunate to watch parent birds begin the intricate training of their young fledglings.

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With a wingspan of over 5 feet, the osprey is one of the largest birds of prey in North America. It eats live fish almost exclusively and is therefore usually found near large bodies of water.

According to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, over 150 osprey nests were counted during waterbird surveys across Tennessee in 2012, however only maybe 10 percent of the river miles in the state were surveyed. This expansion was also facilitated by the erection of numerous nesting platforms across the state, which continues to the present.

The osprey is one of the most widespread birds in the world, found on all continents except Antarctica. During the winter, North American breeding osprey mainly winter south of the United States, in Central and South America.

The fee for this program is $12 for Ijams Nature Center members and $15 for non-members. Brunch will be served during the event and will consist of a hearty continental breakfast provided by IJAMS newest gourmand, Kodie Underwood.

IJAMS is a 300-acre urban greenspace and environmental learning center located at 2915 Island Home Avenue in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Please call (865) 577-4717, ext. 110 to register.


See Park fireflies this weekend

GSMNP – Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s firefly viewing event in Elkmont takes place through Tuesday, June 9, 2015.

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Every year in late May or early June, thousands of visitors gather near the popular Elkmont Campground to observe the naturally occurring phenomenon of Photinus carolinus, a firefly species that flashes synchronously.

Access to the viewing area during the 8-days of predicted peak activity is provided through a shuttle service beginning at Sugarlands Visitor Center. All visitors wishing to view the synchronous fireflies at Elkmont must have a parking pass ($1.50 for regular sized vehicles) and an additional $1 (cash) for the shuttle round-trip. Parking passes are non-refundable, non-transferable, and good only for the date issued. Visitors are not allowed to walk the Elkmont entrance road due to safety concerns.

Passes can be purchased at http://www.recreation.gov. Parking passes may also be obtained by calling 1-877-444-6777, but park officials strongly encourage the use of the online process because it provides more information to visitors about what to expect when they arrive at the park.

For more information about the synchronous fireflies, please visit the park website at http://www.nps.gov/grsm/learn/nature/fireflies.htm.


First gorilla born in Knoxville

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.— Knoxville Zoo is excited to announce the birth of an endangered Western lowland gorilla, the first gorilla ever born in Knoxville.

The baby was born at approximately 2:30 a.m. on Thursday, May 28, 2015, to 31-year-old mother Hope, who came to Knoxville in 2012 from Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Florida, on the recommendation of the Western Lowland Gorilla Species Survival Plan.

Both mother and baby appear to be doing very well, and Knoxville Zoo staff are continuously monitoring them and the zoo’s gorilla group, which includes females Kowali and Machi and first-time father Bantu.

As long as the baby and Hope continue to do well and there are no concerns about their interaction with the other members of the family group, zoo staff will not intervene and let Hope do what comes naturally to a gorilla mother.

Hope's baby


Turn up the heat with Thai Fire-tini

by Mary June Thompson, Contributing Food Writer. —One of my favorite things about the summer gardening season is growing (and eating) hot peppers. I generally grow 4-6 varieties in my garden, and occasionally pick up some additional varieties from the farmers’ market. Hot peppers are a good choice for a sustainable kitchen garden, as many types, including Thai chilies, cayenne, and chiles de arbol, can easily be air-dried, either on the plant before harvesting in late fall, or by hanging indoors, thus providing hot peppers for cooking throughout the winter season as well.

Most pepper plants don’t need more than full sun, hot temperatures, and adequate water to survive and thrive, so planting some by early June will insure that you have a bounty of hot peppers ready to eat by late summer. A new additional to my garden this year is the Carolina Reaper. I had never heard of it before this spring, and I am very anxious to try its peppers because it beat the infamous ghost pepper for title of “World’s Hottest Pepper”.

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From more tame jalapeños to the classic habanero, there are all sorts of varieties to suit different tastes and heat tolerances. Hot peppers are great to liven up numerous dishes, and not just the typical Asian or Mexican cuisine that one might associate with having a higher heat level. Some other great uses for them include adding a kick to less assertive foods that benefit from some extra flavoring, such as sautéed zucchini, squash, or Brewer’s mushrooms; adding to scrambled eggs for a little extra morning zing; using a different dried variety to sprinkle over a pizza instead of the typical crushed red pepper flakes; or infused into a liquid, which is a great way to impart both the heat and flavor of the peppers in a novel way.

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Infusing is not a new concept, but it is currently a very popular one with mixologists around the country, with house-flavored vinegars, mixers, and spirits spotlighted in their craft cocktail menus. Infusing a liquor is a virtually effortless thing to do at home, and it works equally well with vodka, tequila, or rum. Best of all, you can use whatever kind of hot pepper is most pleasing to your palate, and adjust the infusing time to create a milder outcome for those who don’t like it hot, as a lesser amount of peppers and shorter soaking time will yield the mildest result, or a more fiery outcome by using more peppers, stronger peppers, and/or a longer infusing time to create a significantly hotter finished product.

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Because I love ridiculously hot peppers and experimenting with them, I created a refreshing, albeit fiery hot, cocktail to enjoy throughout the summer. The sweetness of the just-ripe Georgia peaches helps to balance the burst of heat that every sip contains, and the tartness of lime and anise and herbal notes from the Thai basil complement the peach and the pepper flavors as well. (Disclaimer: I infused the vodka for 5 days before making this cocktail, and it was deliciously flavored but HOT. Please consider a lesser infusing time and/or using fewer peppers when making this cocktail if you do not enjoy the burn.) Photos by Mary June Thompson.

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MJ’s Thai Fire-tini

Make Ahead:

Vodka Infusion: In an airtight glass container, add 1 cup vodka and 6 fresh or dried Thai chilies, crushed. Seal and store in a cool, dark place for at least 2 days (for less heat) and up to 7 days for maximum heat. Once desired heat level has been achieved, strain chilies and save for a cocktail garnish or refrigerate to use later in Asian dishes. Use infused vodka in cocktail or return to airtight glass container and store for up to 6 months.

Simple Syrup: In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir together 1 cup filtered water and 1 cup organic sugar. Heat just until sugar dissolves, stirring often. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Chill in the refrigerator and store for up to 1 month in an airtight glass container. (Note: Recipe makes extra simple syrup, which can be used to sweeten fresh lemonade or other cold beverages without the grainy residue that plain sugar would leave.)

To Make the Cocktails:

In a mini (or regular) food processor, purée together the flesh or 2 large (or 4 small) very ripe southern peaches, peeled; the juice and zest from 1 lime; and ¼ cup simple syrup. Transfer to a large cocktail shaker and add the Thai chili infused vodka, 4 sprigs of Thai basil, crushed lightly to release their oils, and ice. Shake until mixture is well chilled. Pour into serving glasses and garnish with thin slices of lime, Thai basil sprigs, and/or Thai chilies, if desired. Makes 4 cocktails.

Mary June Thompson has been cooking and entertaining for nearly two decades. During this time, her cooking style has expanded and evolved from typical American fare to encompass many different types of cuisines, including Italian, French, Greek, Asian, Mediterranean/North African, and Latin American. Focusing on obtaining the best available ingredients and preparing fresh, healthy dishes with bold flavor defines her cooking style, regardless of cuisine.

Mary June Thompson, Celebrate Knoxville, June 1, 2015.


Knoxville Zoo hosts sports event

Knoxville Zoo’s Wild World of Sports event will take place Saturday, May 16, 2015 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at Knoxville Zoo.

Bamboo Playing Soccer

Athletic-themed activities include the chance for kids to interact with local collegiate athletes playing games that challenge them to move like animals.

Professional players and mascots from the Tennessee Smokies baseball team will be posing for photos and signing autographs, and guests can interact with other organizations representing the sports scene in Knoxville, including the Knoxville Force soccer team, the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame and Knoxville Bubbleball, a member of the National Association of Bubble Soccer.

All Wild World of Sports event activities are included as part of general admission to Knoxville Zoo. Knoxville Zoo is Knoxville’s most-visited destination. Knoxville Zoo is nationally accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and is committed to the highest standards in animal care and well-being, ethics, conservation, and education.

Currently, the zoo is open Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 9:30 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.

Admission and ticket sales stop one-hour before the zoo closes. Next-day admission is free after 3 p.m. For more information, please call 865.637.5331.


Great views from hiking House Mtn

By Laura Long/CelebrateKnoxville.com. If you’re looking for a great place to enjoy Springtime in East Tennessee, you’ll want to hike House Mountain, a 500-acre natural area located in Knox County approximately eight miles from Knoxville.

The hiking trails are short, but steep, challenging, and rewarding. The 2,100-foot crest of House Mountain provides great views of the Unakas and Cumberlands some 30 miles away, or northeast to the adjacent Clinch Mountain.

According to Knox County’s Department of Parks and Recreation, before erosion by Big Flat Creek, “the gently dipping bedrock layers underlying House Mountain once extended to Clinch Mountain, whose base lies approximately two and half miles to the northeast. The bedrock structure represents a large synclinal fold that formed during the Appalachian mountain building event called the Alleghenian Orogeny.”

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The western trail of House Mountain to the crest is .8 miles and the eastern trail is 1.5 miles. The western trail is narrow, steep, and has a few turns that require careful negotiating. Both trails are connected at the top by the wider Crest Trail that is 1.5 miles long. Photo by Laura Long/Celebrate Knoxville.

Many hikers bring their dogs with them on the trail. From time to time, a courteous wait is needed to allow hikers coming down and hikers going up enough room to pass one another.

In a few places, the great sandstone boulders serve as resting places or picnic spots for hikers or artists sketching the chestnut oaks and mountain pines. Photographers are often seen kneeling in the moist dirt by streambeds to catch a close-up. The north-facing slopes support a forest of sugar maple, tulip poplar, ash, and buckeye.

Don’t forget the binoculars: House Mountain is also a favorite place for birdwatchers. Migrating hawks and warblers can be observed from the mountain. Ruffed grouse, pileated woodpeckers, scarlet tanagers, wild turkeys, and more than one hundred additional species of birds have been observed on the mountain.

Gurgling from the cool streams provide a musical backdrop for hikers making their way up the slopes. House Mountain is drained by several unnamed tributaries of Roseberry Creek and by Hogskin and Brice Branches, which divide it from the 1,500 feet high McAnnally Ridge, which lies to the east and south.

To get to House Mountain from Knoxville, Tennessee, take I-40 East. Exit on U.S. Highway 11W (Rutledge Pike) and go north and east on Rutledge Pike. After about 10 miles, look for the “House Mountain State Park” sign on the right side of the highway and then turn left on Idumea Road. Turn left on Hogskin Road. The parking area is less than a mile on the right. Restrooms are available next to the parking lot. There is no admission fee to hike the trails.

Benches and signage along the trails are provided in memory of John Evans, a Scout leader and founding member/active volunteer for Friends of House Mountain. Enjoy the trails and remember to Leave No Trace.

–Laura Long/CelebrateKnoxville.com


Fourth and Gill tour scheduled

The Historic Fourth and Gill neighborhood in Knoxville will celebrate its 25th Anniversary Tour of Homes on Sunday, April 26, 2015 from 1-6pm. Participants will tour Knoxville’s premier historical districts and step inside several neighborhood homes and two condominiums inside the recently renovated Brownlow School Lofts. The Tour begins at the stately Central United Methodist Church, one of the city’s most beautiful examples of Gothic Revival architecture.

Tour guests can take a leisurely walk through the neighborhood to visit homes, or guests can ride a red trolley bus – with a resident tour guide host – from point to point. Tickets purchased on the Tour day cost $12 (free for children 12 and under) at the Central United Methodist Church (201 Third Avenue) from 1:00-5:00pm.

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The Fourth and Gill tour coincides with the Dogwood Arts Open Gardens and Walking Trails that showcase four neighborhood gardens and notable trees. Maps (which include addresses for the gardens) for the self-guided tour are located inside the special event mailbox on the west side of Luttrell Street, adjacent to the Brownlow School Lofts. Photo of downtown Knoxville dogwood trees by CelebrateKnoxville.com.

Located less than two miles from downtown Knoxville, the Historic Fourth and Gill neighborhood features over 280 residential structures, including single-family homes, duplexes, and apartment and condominium buildings. The Fourth and Gill Neighborhood Organization is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose purpose is to build and to sustain a vital urban community by protecting and preserving the historic architecture of the area and by promoting a strong sense of community. Organization contact is PO Box 3845, Knoxville, Tennessee, 37927-3845.


Hampton Inn West celebrates Earth Hour

Knoxville – Hampton Inn West at Cedar Bluff has announced it will unite with Hilton Worldwide Team Members and franchisee employees around the world to protect the planet by participating in the celebration of Earth Hour 2015.

Earth Hour will take place from 8:30p.m. to 9:30p.m. local time on Saturday, March 28, 2015.

“Celebrating Earth Hour is one of the many ways we demonstrate how we conserve waste, water and energy every day, and we are encouraging our guests and neighbors to join us in support of this global effort, said Lisa Benker, General Manager. We will switch off the non-essential lighting as well as dim the lights in public areas. Also, we will engage our department teams to participate in Earth Hour by taking actions, such as:

switching off non-critical music in lounges and restaurants
encouraging guests to reuse towels and linens
housekeeping not turning on lights prior to check-in on March 28

The original idea for Earth Hour was conceived by WWF in 2007 during a meeting held at Hilton Sydney, and Hilton Worldwide has a long history of supporting the event. When this worldwide effort began in Sydney, Australia, more than two million people turned off their lights for an hour and reduced the city’s energy consumption by more than 10 percent. It is now a global movement with more than 7,000 cities and towns in 162 countries and territories and hundreds of millions of people participating across seven continents.


Spring arrives at IJAMS

Spring arrives officially today and Knoxville’s urban wilderness, IJAMS, invites residents to enjoy the warmer weather by exploring the nature center on Saturday, March 21, 2015. Just some of the weekend scheduled events are:

9 am – 10 am
PUBLIC PROGRAM: Wagging Walk
(All Ages) Grab your favorite four-legged friend and join Ijams’ own veterinarian, Dr. Louise Conrad, as she walks her own canine companions. She’ll review good doggy etiquette at the park and help owners understand the special safety concerns for dogs in nature. The fee for this program is $5 for non-members and FREE for members. Please call (865) 577-4717, ext. 110 to register.

9 am – 12 pm
IJAMS BIRDING SERIES: Backyard Birding Basics
(Recommended for Adults) Studying birds can open up a new world of outdoor exploration. This hands-on workshop will take you into the field to learn more about the practice of birding as well as how to identify common bird species. Instructor: Stephen Lyn Bales. Fee: $29. This is an UT Non-credit course.

9:30 am – 11 am
PEG’S KITCHEN: Breakfast is Served
If you are heading to Ijams this Saturday morning for a program, hike or simple walkabout, bring your appetite. Each week, Peg’s Kitchen features one of Ijams’ very own chefs, including the original… Peg! The menu varies from biscuits and gravy with sausage to pancakes and maple syrup, plus fresh fruit, coffee or tea. Come hungry! The fee for breakfast is $7 for adults and $5 for children (12 and under). For $10, you can get all you can eat! No pre-registration is required.

10 am, 2 pm, 3 pm
ANIMAL PROGRAM: Ijams Creature Feature
(All Ages) Have you met all the animals that call the Ijams Visitor Center home? If not, be sure to stop by every Saturday for a chance to get nose-to-beak with some of our resident furred and feathered ambassadors. This program is FREE, but donations to support animal care are welcome. Pre-registration is not required for this event.

1 pm – 4 pm
TN NATURALIST PROGRAM: Introduction
(Ages 16 and up) The Tennessee Naturalist Program (TNP) is an education training course designed to introduce the natural history of Tennessee to interested adults. This immersive nature study allows participants the chance to wade in creeks, stargaze in an open field, and even catch bugs and tadpoles. How often do you get the chance to act like a kid again? This week is the introductory session for the 2015 class. Open to registered participants only. For more information, call Peg at (865) 577-4717, ext. 114.

6 pm
IJAMS BIRDING SERIES: Woodcock Supper Walk
(All Ages) Join senior naturalist Stephen Lyn Bales as he reveals his secret location for observing the whimsical mating display of male woodcocks. Filled with struts, peents, flutters, and tweets, it is one of the most unique performances in the birding world. Peg’s kitchen will also be serving a traditional soupy supper to warm our bellies before we go adventuring. The fee for this program is $10 for Ijams members and $15 for non-members. Please call (865) 577-4717, ext. 110 to register.


TN announces sustainability awards

Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner Bob Martineau recently announced the launch of the TDEC Sustainable Transportation Awards initiative to recognize outstanding and voluntary achievements by governments, businesses, industries, public and private institutions of higher learning, and utilities that demonstrate leadership in advancing sustainable transportation in the State.

The awards cover eight broad categories: on-site transportation; off-site transportation; incorporation of sustainable transportation in the supply chain; employee incentive or engagement programs; public transportation; technological or operational innovations; and infrastructure development.

Entities eligible to apply for the TDEC Sustainable Transportation Awards include: federal, state and local governments; commercial and industrial organizations; public and private institutions of higher education; and utilities. Self-nominations are encouraged. A panel of judges representing diverse interests will select award recipients based on criteria including on-the-ground achievement, innovation, transferability, and public education and outreach.

In connection with Clean Air Month, TDEC will host a recognition ceremony and sustainable transportation forum on May 7, 2015 in Memphis, Tennessee.

Applications are due to TDEC no later than March 20, 2015. Interested applicants are encouraged to contact Luke Gebhard in TDEC’s Office of Energy Programs at 615-741-2994.


Local mushrooms souffle recipe

Sustainable Cooking by Celebrate Knoxville Food Writer Mary June Thompson. —
I recently had the privilege of touring a local mushroom growing facility, Brewer’s Mushrooms. Housed on a hilltop with a gorgeous view of the Smoky Mountain foothills, their greenhouse (photo featured below) is a fascinating place for a food lover, with a surprising variety of mushroom types in various stages of growth. The mushrooms grow out of bundles of specially heated wood chips or straw that have been inoculated with fungi spores. They thrive in a temperature and humidity controlled environment, and they are grown without the use of any chemicals or pesticides. The proprietors sent me home with a bounty of pristine mushrooms, including lion’s mane, old world blue oyster, golden oyster, king, and shiitake mushrooms. The flavor of the Brewers’ mushrooms is outstanding; their earthiness is perfectly complemented when sautéed with onions or shallots, garlic, and/or thyme. (See our Twitter photos of Brewers Mushrooms @CelebrateKnox.)

Mushrooms growing in greehouse

Once back in the kitchen with the mushrooms, a quick look through the refrigerator yielded immediate inspiration for a sustainable, local dish featuring these beautiful fungi: some leftover egg whites from making pudding out of the egg yolks, a chunk of smoked gouda cheese, and two pieces of leftover shallot—the perfect makings for a soufflé.

Although a seemingly daunting task to many, I find a soufflé to be a very versatile dish, as it is a perfect centerpiece for brunch or an elegant dinner, and its presentation far outweighs the actual difficulty of preparation. Plus, if you start with whites from whole eggs when making a soufflé, you have the perfect excuse to make a decadent pudding or custard later using the leftover yolks.

Perfectly Browned Mushroom and Smoked Gouda Souffle

Local Mushrooms and Smoked Gouda Soufflé

Ingredients:

1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup finely chopped shallots
2 cups assorted chopped fresh mushrooms, such as those from Brewer’s Mushrooms
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
¾ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
Cooking spray
2-3 Tablespoons unseasoned dry breadcrumbs
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 ¼ cups milk
1/3 cup unoaked dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc
1 large egg yolk
½ cup freshly grated smoked gouda cheese
6 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

Method:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a small skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil and heat until shimmering. Add the shallots and cook for 2-3 minutes, just until shallots are softened. Stir in mushrooms, season with ¼ teaspoon each of the salt and pepper, and cook for another 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms have released their liquid. Add the thyme and cook for another minute. Set aside.

While the mushrooms cook, spray a 1-quart soufflé dish with cooking spray. Evenly sprinkle breadcrumbs over the bottom and sides of the dish, discarding any extra crumbs that didn’t stick. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine the 1/3 cup flour and remaining ½ teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Gradually add milk, stirring with a whisk to prevent lumps. Stir in the wine. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Once it boils, cook mixture for 1 minute or until thickened. Set aside so it doesn’t burn while tempering the egg yolk.

In a medium heat-proof bowl, add the egg yolk and lightly beat it. Starting with a few drops at a time, slowly whisk about a quarter of the milk mixture into the egg yolk. Return saucepan to medium heat and add egg mixture to milk mixture, stirring constantly. Cook for 1 minute.

Remove pan from heat. Stir in gouda until melted and smooth. Fold in mushroom mixture. Set aside to cool slightly while whipping the egg whites.

In a large bowl (or alternatively, in the bowl of a stand mixer), add egg whites and cream of tartar. Beat at high speed with hand mixer or stand mixer until egg whites form stiff peaks.

Gently fold about ¼ of the egg whites into the milk mixture to lighten it a bit. Then fold the mixture back into the egg whites, taking care not to deflate the egg whites, until incorporated. Gently spoon into prepared soufflé dish, smoothing and leveling the top.

Place soufflé dish on a sheet pan or piece of foil to catch any drips. Bake for 55 minutes or until the soufflé is golden brown and set. Serve immediately, as the soufflé will begin to deflate as it starts to cool.

Serves 2-3 as a main dish.

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Mary June Thompson has been cooking and entertaining for nearly two decades. During this time, her cooking style has expanded and evolved from typical American fare to encompass many different types of cuisines, including Italian, French, Greek, Asian, Mediterranean/North African, and Latin American. Focusing on obtaining the best available ingredients and preparing fresh, healthy dishes with bold flavor defines her cooking style, regardless of cuisine.


Black Eyed Peas soup recipe

By Mary June Thompson, CelebrateKnoxville.com food writer. In previous Sustainable Cooking columns, I have mentioned that making stock is a great way to get extra mileage out of food scraps. For the past couple of weeks, I have been saving my vegetable odds and ends in a zip-top bag in the refrigerator. I collected quite an assortment: pieces of onions, leeks, carrots, bell peppers, scallions, mushroom stems, celery tops, jalapeno pieces, garlic ends, stems from parsley and thyme, and even some broccoli stalks. I planned to make a vegetable stock with them and use this a soup base. There are lots of recipes available for vegetable stock, but you don’t really need a set recipe to make vegetable stock successfully.

Veggie Scraps

The key to soup deliciousness is having a variety of vegetables to flavor the cooking water, along with the basics of onions, garlic, celery, and carrots. And if, like me, you find yourself coming up a little short on one thing or another (mine was carrot), you can always add some extra into the mix. I like to add a teaspoon of whole peppercorns and a couple of extra herb sprigs (parsley, thyme, oregano) for depth of flavor.

To make the stock, place the vegetable pieces in a large saucepan or Dutch oven on the stovetop. Add enough filtered water to cover the veggies, usually 6-8 cups, and bring to a boil on medium heat. Continue to boil for a couple of hours until the liquid is reduced to about half of its original volume. Cool to room temperature, strain liquid into an airtight container, and refrigerate for up to a week or freeze for up to three months. It really is that easy.

Another “discard” item that I always save for later use is the rind off of a block of Parmesan cheese. The rinds freeze beautifully and add a luxurious umami note to simple soups. (Of course, you must buy the real Italian Parmigiano-Reggiano to get the rind, but I don’t recommend using that other stuff anyway, as it doesn’t impart the same flavor.)

During the cold of winter, I find myself craving warm, comforting, distinctly Southern dishes. I recently came across a recipe in a traditional southern cookbook for Black-Eyed Pea Soup. I loved the thought of that, but that recipe was way too bland for my taste, as it involved little more than the peas, water, and some salt, so I decided to come up with my own version of Black-Eyed Pea Soup. Most of the time, authentic southern food isn’t suitable for vegetarians or vegans, so the recipe I developed using my homemade “vegetable scrap” stock can be easily adjusted to suit any food preference. And if you make the stock in advance, the soup comes together very easily.

Soup's On!

Black-Eyed Pea Soup

Ingredients:
½ cup dried black-eyed peas (or substitute 1 can of black-eyed peas in a pinch, but the flavor won’t be as good)
1 bacon slice (omit for vegan/vegetarian soup; substitute 1 Tablespoon olive or vegetable oil)
½ of a small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
3 cups “vegetable scrap” stock
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
1 Parmigiano-Reggiano rind (omit for vegan soup)
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper

Method:
The night before, place the dried peas in an airtight container. Cover with water and soak overnight in the refrigerator. Rinse and drain them just before using. To make the soup, heat a medium Dutch oven or heavy-duty saucepan on the stove top over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until crispy, or alternatively, add oil to pan. Set bacon aside to cool. Add the onion to the fat in the pan. Sauté for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onion is tender and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Add the peas, Cajun seasoning, rind (if using), and stock to the pan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until the peas are tender, about 45 minutes.
When peas are tender, sprinkle flour over the soup, 1 teaspoon at a time, stirring well to incorporate, until soup is slightly thickened. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve topped with your choice of thinly sliced green onions; the reserved bacon, crumbled; freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese; and/or hot sauce. It’s best served with a slice of freshly baked cornbread on the side for a true Southern comfort food meal.

Serves 2 as a main course or 4 as a first course.

MaryJunephotoDirectory

Mary June Thompson has been cooking and entertaining for nearly two decades. During this time, her cooking style has expanded and evolved from typical American fare to encompass many different types of cuisines, including Italian, French, Greek, Asian, Mediterranean/North African, and Latin American. Focusing on obtaining the best available ingredients and preparing fresh, healthy dishes with bold flavor defines her cooking style, regardless of cuisine.


Sustainable Chai Tea Pudding

Sustainable Cooking by Mary June Thompson, Contributing Writer. (Part III in an online series exclusively for CelebrateKnoxville.com.) One of my favorite things about practicing a sustainable cooking philosophy is how it forces the chef to get creative in the kitchen by finding new and different uses for the odds and ends that are left over from routine cooking. There are many basic ways to get a second life out a lot of food scraps, such as using leftover vegetable pieces to make stock or broth or turning stale bread into croutons for a salad. While both of those things are great uses for leftover bits, this column is meant to inspire both home cooks and professionals alike to think outside the box and have fun in the kitchen while being less wasteful with food.

SustainableCookingchaiteaingredients

When it’s cold outside, one of my favorite things is to brew a cup of hot and spicy chai tea. I am a huge fan of what I call “real” chai – the loose tea blended from dried whole tea leaves and chunks of spices including cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, and black pepper. This type of chai is not inexpensive, but the superior flavor it imparts is worth it. It seems like such a shame that you can only use those expensive tea leaves one time and have to throw them out. Or do you?

My cold weather obsession with brewing chai tea was the inspiration for a new recipe that gets a little extra mileage out of those post-brew leftovers. I let the tea mix cool completely in the tea ball after brewing and then stored the leftovers in an air-tight container in the refrigerator until I collected enough to test my idea. The result of this grand experiment in sustainable cooking was a wonderfully flavorful chai tea pudding, a new twist on a classic comfort food that even the pickiest eater is sure to love. (photos by Mary June Thompson)

SustainableCookingChaiTeaservingCelebrateKnoxville

Chai Tea Pudding
Ingredients:
½ cup (once-brewed) loose-leaf chai tea blend
2 cups milk
½ cup sugar
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 large egg
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Method:
Lightly beat egg with a fork in a medium heat-proof bowl and set aside.
Combine sugar and cornstarch in a medium saucepan. Gradually whisk milk into sugar mixture until well blended. Add tea leaves and simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove pan from heat and pour mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a heat-proof bowl. Discard tea leaves.

Return pudding base to saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Continue to cook for another 7-8 minutes, whisking constantly, until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat.

Transfer some of the pudding base, a few drops at a time, into beaten egg, whisking constantly. Continue adding a few drops of pudding base at a time to the egg mixture and whisking until the egg bowl feels warm to the touch. (This is called tempering, and it keeps the egg from scrambling—and ruining the pudding—by gently heating it.) Return saucepan to heat and add egg mixture to pudding base, whisking constantly. Boil for 2-3 more minutes, continuing to whisk constantly, until the pudding is thick and bubbly. Remove pan from heat and stir in the butter, salt, and vanilla extract, whisking until butter is melted and well incorporated. Immediately transfer pudding to serving dish. Press plastic wrap over the entire surface of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming. Allow pudding to cool to room temperature and then refrigerate at least 3 hours until well chilled. Garnish with cinnamon, whipped cream, or both, and serve. (Makes 4 servings.)

MaryJunephotoDirectory

Mary June Thompson has been cooking and entertaining for nearly two decades. During this time, her cooking style has expanded and evolved from typical American fare to encompass many different types of cuisines, including Italian, French, Greek, Asian, Mediterranean/North African, and Latin American. Focusing on obtaining the best available ingredients and preparing fresh, healthy dishes with bold flavor defines her cooking style, regardless of cuisine. 


Sustainable Cooking by Mary June Thompson

Sustainable Cooking with Mary June Thompson, Celebrate Knoxville. (November 21, 2014) A hot trend in the food world is known as “nose to tail” eating, which makes for less food waste and contributes to sustainable agriculture by utilizing the entire animal in some way. While this is not necessarily practical (or appetizing) for home cooks, there are ways to be inspired by this movement in your own kitchen.

Americans in particular are prone to throwing out perfectly usable food items, like the pumpkins we use to decorate for autumn, bread that’s a little past its prime, and the other half of the onion that we didn’t need for a particular recipe.

One of my favorite ways to utilize some of the miscellaneous leftover items in the refrigerator is to make a hash. Hash is incredibly versatile in what ingredients it can be composed of, and this earthy dish works equally well for breakfast or dinner.

My latest version was based on the odds and ends I had left centered on a distinctively autumn theme: Sausage and Sweet Potato Hash. As this is more of a working model than a set recipe, I will outline the general steps and offer alternate ingredient suggestions so the hash can be tailored to ingredients that are on hand, as well as to suit different tastes.

Prepping the Ingredients

I had one small sweet potato in the pantry, so this was the basis for my hash. Cut the potato into approximately ½-inch cubes. Peel if desired. (I left the peeling on for the extra nutritional value it offers.) In a large skillet with a lid, heat a tablespoon or so of water over medium heat until it is very hot and bubbling. Add the potato cubes and cover with lid. Cook until the water has evaporated and the potato is tender, tossing once or twice during cooking to prevent sticking. Photos by Mary June Thompson.

In the refrigerator, I had some leftover (raw) breakfast sausage, some shallot pieces, and part of an Anaheim pepper. I chopped the shallot and pepper and added these to the pan, along with a splash of olive oil (to prevent sticking) and the crumbled sausage. I also added a pinch of cumin, smoked paprika, and ancho chili powder to the pan–to complement the southwestern component of the spicy pepper– along with salt and pepper to taste. At this point, cook until the sausage is browned and the vegetables are tender and beginning to brown. I served mine with fried eggs and toast on the side, and a generous splash of Cholula hot sauce. It was absolutely delicious.

There other food items that might commonly be odds and ends in the refrigerator that would work well in this hash. Part of a leftover onion would work just as well as a shallot, and any pepper—from sweet bell to hot jalapeño—can be used to suit individual tastes from mild to spicy. Have half of both a sweet and a hot pepper? Use both! Throw in a handful of leftover baby spinach for a heartier (and healthier) hash. Don’t know what to do with that one random slice of bacon left in the package? Add it to the hash, or chop it up and substitute it for the sausage. Baking a ham for the holidays? Diced ham would also be a tasty component of a hash.

The point is to be creative and use what you already have. I had a wonderful, healthy breakfast composed of items that might have otherwise gone to waste or been discarded had I not found a secondary use for them. And that’s a meal that you can really feel good about!

Hash for Breakfast

Mary June Thompson has been cooking and entertaining for nearly two decades. During this time, her cooking style has expanded and evolved from typical American fare to encompass many different types of cuisines, including Italian, French, Greek, Asian, Mediterranean/North African, and Latin American. Focusing on obtaining the best available ingredients and preparing fresh, healthy dishes with bold flavor defines her cooking style, regardless of cuisine.


Shop early for holidays at IJAMS

KNOXVILLE – Ijams Nature Center is hosting a rummage sale this Saturday, November 8, 2014, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Items include housewares, dishes, furniture, children’s clothing and toys, and shoppers are encouraged to visit early to get the best selection, or visit late to get the best bargains.

All proceeds support education programs at Ijams Nature Center.

Ijams is a wild place filled with rocks, rivers, trees, trails, owls and salamanders. Visitors of all ages and ability can hike, bike, paddle, stroll, learn or simply enjoy the day. Ijams is a sanctuary for all visitors to learn and connect with the natural world and be made better by that connection – a place where living with the earth and caring for the earth become one and the same. Ijams is a member and visitor-supported nonprofit organization.

Ijams Nature Center is located at 2915 Island Home Avenue.


IJAMS hosts Haunted Lantern Tour

Join IJAMS for a Haunted Lantern Tour on October 28 and 29, 2014, at 7 p.m.

Did you know that some ghost hunters believe that both water and limestone can increase paranormal activity? If that’s true, then the quarries at IJAMS Nature Center in downtown Knoxville are the perfect place for a haunting.

The fee for this program is $7 for Ijams members and $10 for non-members. Tours meet at Ijams Nature Center, in the Mead’s Quarry parking lot.

Please call (865) 577-4717, ext. 110 to register.

IJAMS is a 300-acre urban greenspace and environmental learning center. Visit http://www.ijams.org for more information and a full calendar of events and programs.


Dogwood trees on sale in November

Dogwood Arts is rallying East Tennessee to take part in the annual community-wide dogwood tree-planting day on Saturday, December 6, 2014. As part of the Bazillion Blooms program, Dogwood Arts aims to restore the former vitality and beauty of the dogwood tree population in East Tennessee communities.

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Over the years, local dogwood tree populations have dwindled due to age, disease, construction, and neglect. The Bazillion Blooms program will begin selling disease-resistant Appalachian Snow and Cherokee Brave dogwood trees for $25 each beginning November 14. Photo submitted.

Since the initiation of Bazillion Blooms in 2009, Knoxville area residents and supporting volunteers have planted more than 6,550 trees.

Dogwood Arts is a 501(c)3 organization whose mission is to promote and celebrate our region’s arts, culture, and natural beauty.


Zombie movie marathon at IJAMS

Ijams Nature Center and Knoxville Horror Film Fest are pairing up once more to raise the dead at the 3rd annual Zombie Movie Marathon. This year the main feature will be the horror comedy Life After Beth, (2014, R) starring Aubrey Plaza, Dane DeHaan, John C. Reilly and Molly Shannon.

ZombieMovieMarathonKnoxville

Also for the evening’s entertainment, the classic Béla Lugosi film White Zombie (1932) will be screened, with a RiffTrax style accompaniment by Einstein Simplified Comedy Improv Troupe.

This is more than just a movie night, this event features vendors, food trucks, beer and of course…BRAINS! Dressing up is encouraged…the more zombies the merrier.

The cost is $10 for a night of fun and fright. Doors open at 6 p.m. Movies start at sundown.

IJAMS Nature Center is a 300-acre urban greenspace and environmental learning center located at 2915 Island Home Avenue in Knoxville, Tennessee.


Ijams offers Creature Feature

This Labor Day weekend, enjoy the Creature Feature at Ijams Nature Center. On Saturday, August 30, 2014, visitors of all ages will have a chance to get nose-to-beak with some of Ijams’ resident furred and feathered (or otherwise) creatures. Animal programs will be held at 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. This program is FREE, but donations to support animal care are welcome. Pre-registration is not required for this event.

BlackRatsnake

An Ijams volunteer shows off a black rat snake. Ijams offers a variety of programs that help visitors learn about Tennessee’s wide variety of creatures. Photo by CelebrateKnoxville.com.

Later on in the evening, visitors may enjoy a Bat Night adventure at 8 p.m. First you’ll learn about these flying mammals (and how to hear like one) and then the adventure continues with a search for bats in the park. The fee for this program is $5 for Ijams members and $8 for non-members. Children 5 and under are free. Pre-registration is required; please call (865) 577-4717, ext. 110 to register.


IJAMS offers kayak adventure

With its towering 180-foot limestone cliff on the west side, Mead’s Quarry Lake is one of the most dramatic bodies of water in East Tennessee. IJAMS Nature Center is offering visitors an opportunity to explore the lake this weekend in a kayak.

Join Stephen Lyn at 8 a.m. on Saturday, August 16, 2014, for an early morning paddle about Mead’s Quarry Lake. Cost for this adventure in nature is $15 for Ijams members, $20 for non-members.

QuarryIjamssm

IJAMS is a 300-acre urban greenspace and environmental learning center with a mission of encouraging stewardship of the natural world. Photo by Laura Long Martin, Celebrate Knoxville.

Please call (865) 577-4717, ext. 119 for registration and information.