Wednesday, December 26, 2012

DAY 122- Little Rock…Clinton Library & Heifer International

The night before I had arrived just as the sun was starting to set, I got checked into my cute little bed and breakfast which was located in North Little Rock.  It was just barely across the river from the heart of the downtown River District of Little Rock.  The manager of the bed and breakfast gave me a complimentary trolley ticket pass and suggested I just ride the trolley for the sightseeing factor alone.  He said that the trolley gave a running commentary along the route and that I would be able to ride it on that pass until 10PM that night.  I changed quickly and was on the next trolley which had a stop ½ block away.

Photo- The Little Rock Skyline as I crossed the bridge on a trolley car.

Off I went through part of the North Little Rock downtown area and then across the bridge to the River District of Little Rock.  It was a beautiful view with the city lights as we crossed the bridge.  There were a ton of restaurants and shops along the River area; among other things that the trolley operator announced as he went along.  I ended up having dinner at a place called Big Whiskeys which was a nice wooden sports bar that had a wonderful grilled salmon.  Next, I headed back across the river and ended up going to an Improv Show.  It was a wonderful fun hanging out and watching the show.  There was quite a bit of local humor that was intermixed throughout the show.  After the show a lot of the people went over to a wine bar called Crush across the way.  I enjoyed some wonderful wine and met some local people.  I ended up closing down the place with the owner, the bartender, and a new friend called Cheddy.
Photo- A night of FUN Improv in downtown North Little Rock, Arkansas.

The wind had picked up overnight and the temperature that had been in the mid-60’s the day before was going to be 20 degrees colder.  I drove across the river to the Clinton Presidential Library.   The Clinton Library building is a long skinny building that almost appears to be reaching out toward the Arkansas River; the inside of it almost feels like a bridge with large angled metal bracing along a large open long area.  I started my tour of the Library with a 12 minute orientation film that focused on Clinton’s life and political career.  Then, I went upstairs and into a cabinet room which is a full scale replica of the White House Cabinet Room.  It was an interesting place to start a tour but I took away from it that the Clinton Presidency’s success was only as successful as those that are involved in the decision process. 
Photo- A large timeline down the middle of the Clinton Presidential Library.
From there, I went into a long open area where there was a HUGE oversized timeline of the Clinton Presidency down the middle of a long open area.  Off to the sides were smaller partial room areas where it covered different aspects of his presidency.  It was a very interesting way of setting up a presidential library.   I went up the stairs where there was a wonderful view of the Arkansas River.  On the second floor there was a section about Clinton’s early years of life and also another area about life during his presidency.  There also was a replica of the White House Oval Office which a very nice security guard offered to take a photo of me in front of it.
Photo- In the replicated Oval Office in the Clinton Presidential Library. 

Next, it was outside in the windy and colder weather where I walked around the Clinton Library and down the road a bit to the Heifer International building.  I was very familiar with Heifer International which is a wonderful charity that I have donated some of my art project proceeds to in the past.  Heifer is based more on a philosophy of sustainable agriculture through training participants using livestock to fulfill their needs and becoming self-reliant.  Also key to this their success is the importance of passing on the gift.  The charity is also very concerned in about being green and protecting the earth for future generations. 
Photo- Heifer International Building a VERY green building.
The company headquarters based in Little Rock is a platinum level LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification which is the highest honor a green building can receive.  I HAD to see this building which they do a free tour of it.  The tour of the building started at the front door area where my tour guide explained the strict requirements of a LEED building.  I guess that the Clinton Library started out as a Gold LEED buidling and has recently been upgraded to be a platinum, which fascinated me that two platinum buildings were within a few hundred yards of each other in one city.  I think that said quite a bit about the City of Little Rock, Arkansas.  I thought it was rather impressive. 
Photo- Elevated floors to allow room for the heating and cooling.

My tour guide went through and explained that 90% of the building materials came from within 500 miles of the site of the building.  That sounds like a lot but not really when you start looking at the building materials used in most buildings.  Part of the reason they tried to use local materials was to cut down on the transportation costs and the fossil fuel use.  There’s Arkansas limestone, Mississippi Delta pine, old bricks from the previous building that were recycled, locally grown cotton, soybeans and even cornhusks are used in the building.  There’s recycled material used in the carpeting and the counter tops.  Also, recycled steel is used throughout the structure too.
Photo- Inside the Heifer building which is only 60ft. wide so sunlight can supply a good amount of the light needed.

On top of all of the recycled and local building materials, the actual design of the building was very well thought through.  The building is curved and situated in an east-west direction to optimize natural daylight.  The floor plans area open light and most of the building is no more than 60 feet across to also optimize daylight.  Generally, daylight will travel 30 feet into a building’s interior that way this building is fully taking the opportunity of the daylight.  There’s raised flooring on each level which improves the ventilation and makes the heating and cooling more efficient, saving both energy and money.  The roof of the building is designed to collect and save rain water which is used in the heating and cooling system; as well as, for the toilets to flush.  I was amazed at all the different little things that were done in the building that all added up to help make it SO energy efficient.  It was wonderful to see so much thought and reflection put into a building; and what was more amazing is that it was a charity that was doing this.  If you get the chance please check out this very worthy charity.

Next I was on down the road towards Fayetteville, Arkansas.  I was planning on stopping in nearby Betonville, Arkansas which is the home of Walmart.  There's a museum there and the original Walton 5 And Dime.  There's also an art museum called Crystal Bridges that is funded by Mrs. Walton (the wife of Sam Walton who is the founder of Walmart).  I have heard that this museum was something to see and that it rivaled some of the best museums in the country.  Unfortunately, it was getting late by the time I drove to the area and had already closed for the night.  I decided to stay in a nearby hotel.

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