Bill Scanlon mug

Bill Scanlon

As you were growing up, did any of your “best friends” tell you to “Go eat a bug”?

Mine did, and I have — eaten bugs I mean — on two occasions: survival training with the Air Force, and surviving “Bugfest Day” at the library with two granddaughters.

Sad to say, you missed an opportunity this year; “Bugfest Day” was March 17, and you could have chowed down on a green bug or two. My friend Joan Barker helped out at the event — she told me wouldn’t miss it for all the bugs in Oklahoma (She didn’t really say that; I saw her a couple of days before the event, and she was wondering about calorie counts).

It’s “Green Norman Eco Earth Month,” an observance that runs from March 19 until May 7. There are events virtually every weekend. As you read this, you’ve already missed a styrofoam collection on March 19 — but feel free to pick up those pesky cups any time you spot one.

There are watershed cleanup events throughout the observance: March 26 at Saxon Park; April 16 at Prairie Creek Park; May 3 at Lake Thunderbird State Park. Lions Park will host two events: a park cleanup on April 9, and “Artful Inlets” on April 22 and 23 (watch artists at work, and learn about native plants and solar energy).

If you yearn to compost, there’s a workshop at The Well on April 13 (6:30 to 8 p.m.). Need to dispose of old batteries? Come to an E-Waste Collection event from 9 a.m. to noon April 30 at the Cleveland County Fairgrounds.

The crowning event is Norman’s Earth Day Festival, from noon to 5 p.m. on April 24 at Andrews Park.

I know all of this stuff courtesy of my friend Michele Loudenback, aka “Wonder Woman.” Michele is the driving force in Norman Utilities Environmental Services Division. That division exists “to help protect human life, the environment ... (and) to assist citizens, businesses and city government in preventing pollution.”

I’ve written about Michele in previous columns, describing her role in opening Norman’s new Household Hazardous Waste Facility. She attacks life with enthusiasm, and her attitude in infectious.

When we met a few weeks ago, she proudly told about obtaining a $300 grant from OG&E for the purchase of supplies supporting the aforementioned events. She then told me God and the angels were on her side: she’d just gotten a call from Saint Joseph Church volunteering to clean up a portion of Highway 9 as part of this Great American Cleanup.

One of Michele’s responsibilities is to work with the city’s Environmental Control Advisory Board (ECAB). This group “investigates, prepares plans for and recommends programs regarding the preservation and enhancement of the environmental quality of the City.”

Translation: this group advises on air and water pollution, solid and liquid waste disposal and noise pollution.

Michele showed me the draft of a Council resolution citing the award of the inaugural James O. Harp Environmental Recognition Award. Fittingly, the award is named for its first recipient, James O. Harp, who “led the charge for recycling program use and improvements thereto,” who served his community as a volunteer and who was a member of ECAB for 10 years. Mr. Harp will be recognized posthumously at a Council meeting in April.

It’s been my intent to write about “good things” in Norman, and I think caring for the environment is one of those good things. “Eco Earth Month” includes a series of scheduled events, but many Norman citizens manifest this care on a daily or weekly basis: conserving water, using phosphorus-free fertilizers on their lawns or picking up trash as they walk through their neighborhoods.

Looking for something more organized? My friend Tom Fightmaster recently joined ECAB; there may be other opportunities for you to volunteer. Many organizations participate in Norman’s “Adopt-a-Street” program (picking up litter), which operates year-round (Every “litter” bit helps).

I could close with a comment about how, as citizens of this planet, we all have an obligation to protect the environment, but that should be obvious. Instead, I’ll offer a comment about survival training, where you learn you can eat most anything if you’re hungry enough.

In my experience, bugs taste like peanuts, and snakes taste like chicken. Enjoy!

Bill Scanlon is a former Ward 6 city councilor who volunteers in support of the Norman Police Department and Norman Fire Department, and serves multiple city committees. Prior to his work in Norman, Scanlon served 26 years in the U.S. Air Force — where he last worked as chief of mission analyses under the assistant chief of staff for the Air Force, Studies and Analyses at the Pentagon — and worked for Northrop Grumman in Washington, D.C.

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