Meet GINI: The Green Interfaith Network


Photo by Hailey Massie


The Green Interfaith Network, Inc. (GINI) is a local organization in the Tri-Cities focusing on promoting sustainable practices in faith communities and non-profit organizations in the area.

According to the group’s website, the organization is made up of volunteers who encourage faith-based sustainable practices and living.

The group is also known for conducting energy assessments for churches and non-profit businesses in the area. These energy assessments are completed in order to help non-profits reduce their power usage and save money.

Carol Landis, the current president of GINI is doing everything in her power to make sure the organization has a lasting impact on the region.

“By doing these energy assessments, we help [churches and non-profit businesses] make changes that can help them save money on energy bills,” said Landis. “They then can allocate that money to important missions or ministries in their local congregation.”

Anyone of any faith is welcomed to join the group’s efforts to making the Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee regions environmentally sustainable.

Besides conducting energy assessments the group also holds various community events like screening environmental documentaries and hosting workshops on how to begin a “Green Team” at your place of worship.

If you are interested in opportunities to network with people from other regional faith groups and want to help spread a message of sustainability you should check out the group, as it is volunteers who keep the organization running!



Tips on Living Sustainably

It can be a difficult task to live sustainably in today’s world, but you don’t have to change up your entire routine to make a difference.

When people think about living sustainably many of them immediately picture a dirty hippy, but living in a sustainable matter is all about using only what you need and not wasting resources.

One way you can start practicing sustainable methods is by buying a reusable water bottle.

Instead of buying multiple plastic water bottles use a reusable water bottle to save money and also decrease your amount of waste.

Another tip on living sustainably is to turn off the sink when brushing your teeth.

I’ve seen many people leave the sink running while brushing their teeth. It’s not hard to turn it off before you start brushing and only turn it on when you need it.

Not only does this tip help save water, but it will also probably lower your water bill!

Next tip is to use reusable grocery bags. Using these bags means not throwing away all of those plastic bags you leave the supermarket with!

If you find yourself spring cleaning your closet this month don’t throw away all of the clothes you don’t want. Donate your unwanted clothes. Not only does this save on your amount of waste it also helps people in need.

See, living sustainably isn’t so hard! It’s the little things that make a big difference!

South Holston Dam

South Holston lake can be found in Sullivan County Tennessee and Washington County Virginia reaching cities such as Bristol, Tennessee/Virginia and Abingdon Virginia.

According to, construction of South Holston’s dam began in 1942 and was completed in 1950. Construction was halted due to World War II but resumed in 1947.

South Holston Dam was built in order to produce power, reduce flood damage and to increase the flow of water during dry periods.

The earth-and-rockfill dam stretches 1,600 feet across the South Fork Holston River and stands at 285 feet high.

A weir, which is a low-lying dam built in order to regulate a river’s flow, was constructed in 1991 below South Holston Dam.

The weir helps add oxygen to the lake’s water when the dam isn’t generating, promoting a healthy habitat for aquatic life and vegetation.

According to, fish such as catfish, trout, smallmouth and largemouth bass can be found in the lake.

Bristol Caverns

Growing up in Bristol, Tennessee, one of my favorite memories is visiting the Bristol Caverns with my father.

The Bristol Caverns are a magnificent sight to see as they take you back to ancient times where the Earth was still forming to the landscape it is today.

The caverns are not just a pretty sight to see, as they were used by many Native American tribes hundreds of years ago.

According to, Indians used the caverns as an escape route when they would attack settlers.

The warriors would use this route to secretly creep up on unsuspecting frontiersmen and then disappear back into the caverns.

Nature’s art can truly be seen at these caverns. As pathways lead you across various arches and humungous columns all carved by an underground river millions of years ago.

Tours of the caverns are offered year round. Paved pathways and lighting make it easy for anyone to explore the vicinity.

A gift shop is also on site so you can bring your friends and family a memento from your trip.

If you live in the Tri-Cities I definitely recommend you take a trip to see these wonderful caverns. Anyone from kids, teenagers and the elderly can enjoy the tour around these ancient routes.

The Bristol Caverns give you a completely different perspective of the Earth and the natural formations it has to offer. Breathtaking pathways will make you wonder what else lurks beneath the Earth’s surface.


The ETSU Eco Nuts

Here at East Tennessee State University, we have a group of student workers who call themselves the “Eco Nuts”.

According to Kathleen Moore, director of ETSU’s sustainability department, the Eco Nuts are students hired by the ETSU Sustainability Department through their Academic Performance Scholarship (APS).

Eco Nuts are peer-to-peer advocates on ETSU’s campus that strive to educate, inspire and advocate for sustainable behavior, such as waste reduction and reducing the amount of energy being used.

Some Eco Nuts are also placed into resident halls on campus to promote other students to practice environmentally friendly habits, such as reminding residents to turn off their lights when they leave their rooms.

Eco Nuts also help plan and run events for the sustainability department on campus, such as hosting screenings of environmental documentaries or teaching other students how to reuse certain household objects for other purposes.

If you are interested in becoming an Eco Nut contact Kathleen Moore for more information on how you can become involved!

Gray Fossil Site

The Gray Fossil Site located in Washington County, Tennessee was not a planned project.

According to, the fossil site was found during construction of State Route 75. Larry Bolt, a transportation geologist working on the construction of this route, first noticed unusual geology in the excavations.

Bolt took samples from the site to the Tennessee Geological Survey’s Knoxville office, resulting in a halt on the construction.

According to www., scientist predict the site was created by an underground limestone cave that collapsed resulting in a sinkhole.

Due to the collapse of the limestone cave, this left an ample fossil deposit that dates back to four and a half to seven million years ago.

So far the types of animals that have been discovered so far include short-faced bear, tapir, saber tooth cat, rhinoceros and hundreds of other plant and animal species.

Forest Fires and how to Prevent Them

Forests are filled with hundreds to thousands of different plant and animal species. As caretakers of this planet, we must keep these areas safe for the creatures on this earth.

After the Gatlinburg Forest Fires, I realized how much these disasters can impact not only human life but plant and animal life.

We have all heard Smokey the Bear say the words, “only you can prevent forest fires,” and he is right.

It’s not hard to prevent disasters like forest fires from occurring. With a little bit of knowledge, anyone can stop these tragedies from happening.

A great deal of forest fires begin by accident. Campers who have recently built a fire may think they have extinguished the fire all the way, but in reality, the fire is still going.

According to, to ensure your campfire is all the way out pour water on the fire until all of the embers are gone and the hissing noise from the fire stops.

If you do not have water, throw dirt on the fire and stir the campfire around until all embers have disappeared. A good rule of thumb is if the area is still warm the fire is not all the way out yet.

It’s that simple to prevent a forest fire from happening. By being extra cautious you are saving the lives of hundreds to thousands of plants and animals!