30 March 2009

green pays

Here's a great example of how taking steps to reduce our impact on the planet also improves the bottom line. NBC, giant TV network, saved
$2 million last year by "going green."

Read the blurb here.

27 March 2009

really, really free market

This Sunday, March 29th. Need I say more?

[via Nonsense NYC]

Really, Really Free Market

A bazaar and a celebration, where we discard capitalist notions of interaction and have fun trying new models of exchange. Expect and share free food, skills, music, clothing, books, other things and fun.

This is an open participatory event some groups and individuals are planning to bring and share food, clothes, skills, music, and things, but there has always been space for you to do the same.

Expect to find: beginner salsa dance instruction, no partner needed 5-6p, radical reference, haircuts, dental consults from a dentist, hugs, tax planning assistance, tax resistance, face-painting, food by freegan.info, silk screening, tarot card reading, beginner guitar lessons, and more and more. Live music by Holy!Holy!Holy! from St. Charles, Missouri, Guitaro (5000), and Justin Remer of the Elastic No-No Band.

Judson Memorial Church
55 Washington Square South, Manhattan
2-7p; $free

26 March 2009

permaculture applies

[Image: Chelsea Green via Treehugger

If there's one thing I want to focus on from a permaculture class I attended last weekend it's this: start small and intensively.

The principles of permaculture can apply to gardening, but they don't have to. Starting out small and intensive is good for any endeavor and -- like planting a small, easy-to-maintain garden -- is about not taking on too much at once and nurturing what's right in front of you. For instance, I'm building my new website (where this here blog will be moving) and I'm juggling too many elements at a time. It can be really discouraging. I've put too much on my plate. But after the concept of small-scale intensive gardening entered my little brain I realized, oh, I should apply this to my website. I'm now going to introduce small bites at a time. I'm going to practice patience by not launching the whole project all at once. I'm planting the seeds and waiting to see what takes.

Some might see permaculture as some new age gardening thing. But really, it is the very embodiment of sustainability. It's defined by the Permaculture Institute as "an ecological design system for sustainability in all aspects of human endeavor. It teaches us how build natural homes, grow our own food, restore diminished landscapes and ecosystems, catch rainwater, build communities and much more." The much more part is applying it to all of our actions, including building websites.

On a related note...

A little birdy sent me this article in the New York Times about a guy in Jackson, Mississippi who practices "slow gardening." I think it's just another way to say "permaculture," though I guess it doesn't matter what you call it. It just makes sense. Lawns don't make sense. If you have land, grow food on it. And we don't have to return to a full-scale agrarian society to grow food on our little plots of land called yards. Start small, and intensively.

There's also this thing called SPIN (Small Plot INtensive) farming that I read about a year or so ago. I think it couldn't have come at a better time. It's a way of creating an income from food your grow in your own backyard. You don't have to have a 100-acre farm to grow and sell produce. Just remember, start small and build on your successes.

25 March 2009

oh no they didn't

My jaw dropped and I couldn't stop shaking my head when the commercial came on. It was touting clean coal, and it was featuring President Obama. I don't know what to say other than clean coal is not real. First of all, the technology to make coal "clean" doesn't exist. Secondly, the mining of coal is not only detrimental, it's polluting in and of itself.

To learn more about why coal can never be clean (save a miracle), go to This Is Reality.

brooklyn food conference

More than exercise, nutrition dictates a person's health and fitness level. Unfortunately, there is a frightening amount of inequality in access to healthful food. Here are some (NYC-centric) facts:

  • Residents in the poorest neighborhoods of NYC have higher rates of obesity and mortality compared to those in wealthier areas: >3 times the number of diabetes-related deaths and ~1.5 times the deaths from heart disease[1]
  • In 2001, the life expectancy in NYC’s poorest neighborhoods was 8 years shorter than in its wealthiest neighborhoods[1]
  • Over 70% of adults in Central Brooklyn (Bedford-Stuyvesant, Crown Heights, Prospect Heights & Brownsville) are overweight or obese, compared with 53% in Northwest Brooklyn (Park Slope, Carroll Gardens, Ft. Greene, Clinton Hill, Brooklyn Heights and Red Hook)[2]
  • About 91% of New Yorkers do not eat the recommended servings of at least 5 fruits and/or vegetables per day[2]
  • North and Central Brooklyn, the neighborhoods in Brooklyn with the highest proportions of residents who don’t eat at least 5 servings of fruits and/or vegetables per day, also have the highest rates of obesity; between 25% to 34%[3]
  • The Upper East Side/Gramercy neighborhoods, where a high proportion of people eat at least 5 fruits and/or vegetables a day also has the lowest prevalence of obesity; between 8% to 15%[3]
  • Lack of access to fruits and vegetables has been linked to obesity and related diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke[3]
The Brooklyn Food Conference, taking place May 2 at PS 321 and John Jay High School in Park Slope, will address this and other food issues. Activists, farmers, educators, citizens, restaurateurs, and other food experts will gather for a day of talks and activities, followed by a dinner prepared by local chefs.

Featured speakers include:
“Never before have there been such compelling reasons to rethink our energy policy, our environmental policy, and our health care system – and we cannot make headway on any of these without addressing food,” said Dan Barber, who will speak at the opening plenary session. (I wonder if he'll also have a hand in preparing the food... I sure hope so!)

The conference is free, the dinner is $20. Register here.

References: 1. Karpati A, Kerker B, Mostashari F, Singh T, Hajat A, Thorpe L, Bassett, M, Henning K, Frieden T. 2. Website of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Physical Activity and Nutrition Program. Available at: http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/cdp/cdp_pan.shtml. Accessed February 1, 2009. 3. Health Disparities in New York City. New York: New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, 2004. Roberts M, Kerker B, Mostashari F, Van Wye G, Thorpe L. Obesity and Health: Risks and Behaviors. NYC Vital Signs 2005; 4(2): 1-4.

signing petitions and letters pays off

Sometimes I receive an email or letter in response to a petition or letter I've signed stating that said petition helped make something happen. I just wanted to share with you one of these letters, to show that taking the smallest little action -- like typing your name in an online form with a letter to your representatives attached -- pays off.

Dear Liz,

Over the past several weeks more than 17,000 Sierra Club members emailed, called, and wrote letters to Congress. Hundreds of you submitted letters to the editor and encouraged your friends and family to call their representatives. Your calls and emails paid off! The biggest public lands bill in decades cleared its final hurdle today, when the U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass it. The Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 safeguards millions of acres of new wilderness, protects hundreds of miles of rivers, expands trails, and keeps critical habitat in Wyoming safe from oil and gas leasing.

Today, Congress has helped ensure that we will have a wild legacy to pass on to our children and grandchildren. This bill helps guarantee that future generations will be able to hike in pristine forests from California to West Virginia. The bill ensures that Americans will have a chance to fish untouched rivers and watch antelope migrate in the wild.

The bill protects more than two million acres of wilderness in nine states, including the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, Oregon's Mt. Hood, and Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. It also shelters over a million acres of key hunting and fishing grounds on the Wyoming Range from oil and gas drilling.

Thank you for taking action!


Greg Haegele
Director of Conservation

it takes a planet: the links between health and environment

When the earth is sick and polluted, human health is impossible.... To heal ourselves we must heal our planet, and to heal our planet we must heal ourselves.
— Bobby McLeod (Koori activist, aboriginal)

Next Thursday, April 2nd, at the American Museum of Natural History there's a free panel discussion on the link between health and the environment. Full details below:

What: It Takes a Planet: Connecting the Health of People and Nature
A conversation about the links between health and the environment, moderated by Julie Burstein of Public Radio International’s Studio 360

When: Thursday, April 2, 7–8:30 pm

Where: American Museum of Natural History, LeFrak Theater, first floor
(Please use the Museum’s West 77th Street entrance between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue.)

Who: The interconnectedness of human health and the environment, as well as the ability to respond to crises in both areas, will frame a conversation moderated by WNYC and Public Radio International’s Julie Burstein. Participants include:
  • Peter Daszak, President,Wildlife Trust, and Executive Director, Consortium for Conservation Medicine
  • Peggy M. Shepard, Executive Director and Co-founder of West Harlem Environmental Action, Inc. (WE ACT)
  • Walter Mugdan, Director, Region 2, Emergency and Remedial Response Division, U. S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Michael J. Novacek, the Museum Senior Vice President and Provost of Science, will introduce the program
The 2009 Mack Lipkin Man and Nature Series Panel Discussion honors the late physician Mack Lipkin, Sr., who dedicated his life and career to advancing the most humane and caring practice of medicine, and was an inspiration to a generation of medical students and physicians. The discussion is held in conjunction with an annual symposium coordinated by the Museum’s Center for Biodiversity and Conservation; this year’s symposium is titled Exploring the Dynamic Relationship Between Health and the Environment (http://symposia.cbc.amnh.org/health) and will be held April 2– 3, 2009.

Admission: Free

read 'em and swap

We've all got a pile of books that we've either read or abandoned just collecting dust on the shelf. So why not give them a second life at the Desk Set’s Writer/Reader Mingle and Book Swap at Pacific Standard this Monday at 7pm?
(Pacific Standard: 82 4th Ave, BKLYN)

[illustration by Sara Varon]

While you're at it, you can pick up some new wordy friends to curl up with... for free. That's what this swapping thing is all about.

All unswapped books will go to Books Through Bars, a program that donates books to prisons.

[via Brooklyn Based]

24 March 2009

love water

Thousands have lived without love,
not one without water.

~W.H. Auden

These are the words that opened the film Flow. See the trailer below.

The film is an eye-opening look at the commoditization and poisoning of our most precious and dwindling resource. And I recommend that everyone watch it. Hopefully, it will change the way you think about and consume water.

How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land? The idea is strange to us.

If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?

Every part of this earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every clearing and humming insect is holy in the memory and experience of my people. The sap which courses through the trees carries the memories of the red man.

The white man's dead forget the country of their birth when they go to walk among the stars. Our dead never forget this beautiful earth, for it is the mother of the red man. We are part of the earth and it is part of us. The perfumed flowers are our sisters; the deer, the horse, the great eagle, these are our brothers. The rocky crests, the juices in the meadows, the body heat of the pony, and man -- all belong to the same family.

So, when the Great Chief in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land, he asks much of us. The Great Chief sends word he will reserve us a place so that we can live comfortably to ourselves. He will be our father and we will be his children.

So, we will consider your offer to buy our land. But it will not be easy. For this land is sacred to us. This shining water that moves in the streams and rivers is not just water but the blood of our ancestors. If we sell you the land, you must remember that it is sacred, and you must teach your children that it is sacred and that each ghostly reflection in the clear water of the lakes tells of events and memories in the life of my people. The water's murmur is the voice of my father's father.

The rivers are our brothers, they quench our thirst. The rivers carry our canoes, and feed our children. If we sell you our land, you must remember, and teach your children, that the rivers are our brothers and yours, and you must henceforth give the rivers the kindness you would give any brother.
Continue reading this version of Chief Seattle's response to an offer to buy the land on which his people lived (1854).

Sign the petition to add article 31, the right to water, to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Related post
water, water everywhere...

21 March 2009

world water day

Monday is World Water Day. I'm honoring the day by watching Flow, participating in a World Water Day Webinar (organized by New American Dream), and sponsoring a friend in the Tap Project Water Walk (Sunday 3/22 in Battery Park).

What would life be like without fresh water?

I learned this weekend while in a workshop on permaculture (led by Jude Hobbs) that if 1 gallon of water represented all of the fresh (non-salt) water on the planet, only 1 teaspoon of that would be potable. I also learned that people don't own the water they use, municipalities and corporations do. Here are some more eye-opening facts:

  • 1.5 billion people worldwide don't have access to safe drinking water
  • 3.6 million people die each year from water-related disease
  • 43% of water-related deaths are due to diarrhea
  • 84% of water-related deaths are in children ages 0 - 14
[References: gemi.org, water.org]

Water is one of our most precious resources. Civilization sprang from water-wealthy lands. Water is the source of life and life on earth cannot be supported without it.

What can you do to conserve water?
  • Take short showers (or shower with a friend!)
  • Make sure you have a low-flow shower head
  • While you're waiting for shower water to warm, catch the water in a bucket and use it to water plants or hand wash clothes
  • Let the laundry pile up - only wash full loads
  • Don't let the water run while you brush your teeth or wash your hands
  • Use the dishwasher (no pre-rinsing necessary!) or find creative ways to conserve when hand washing dishes (like using a tub or bucket)
  • If you have a garden, water at night or early in the morning to optimize absorption and prevent evaporation
  • Implement grey water or rain catchment systems for gardening
  • It's likely that any new product (and the packaging) you purchase required water in its manufacturing - buying less or buying used conserves not just water but many other resources as well
Find more ways to conserve water

Selected water-related reading

The Water Atlas: A Unique Visual Analysis of the
World's Most Critical Resource
by Robin Clarke and Jannet King

Water Wars: Privatization, Pollution, and Profit by Vandana Shiva

Water Consciousness by Tara Lohan (Editor)

Blue Covenant: The Global Water Crisis and the
Coming Battle for the Right to Water
by Maude Barlow

Bottlemania: How Water Went on Sale and
Why We Bought It
by Elizabeth Royte

When the Rivers Run Dry: Water -- The Defining
Crisis of the Twenty-first Century
by Fred Pearce

19 March 2009

green your school

Are you a teacher, a parent, or someone who just cares about education and the environment? Check out Greening Your School: From Green Roofs to Recycling Projects (and How to Fund Them!) tonight at the Brooklyn Center for Urban Environment (BCUE). Full event details below:

Greening Your School: From Green Roofs to Recycling

Join this crash course on greening your school from the issues you’ll encounter installing a green roof, to creative ways of incorporating sustainability themes into the classroom. Join local experts to discuss easy to implement projects, ways of getting environmental projects funded, opportunities for nonprofit partnerships, and what has (and hasn’t) worked in local schools.

Panelists Include:
  • Alive Structures
  • Center for the Urban Environment
  • Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education
  • NYS Department of Environmental Conservation
  • United Federation of Teachers, Green Committee

Center for the Urban Environment
168 7th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11215 (btw 2nd and 3rd Aves)

Thursday March 19, 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

Train: Take F train to 4th Avenue or R train to 9th Street. Walk over 2 blocks north to 7th Street and 1st Avenue west to 3rd Avenue.

$10 Suggested Donation [tickets]

Limited Space. Pre-registration recommended

Every Third Thursday of the Month, New Yorkers from across the boroughs converge in the Center's state-of-the-art green building to learn, laugh, and live sustainably. Drop in and join these exciting screenings, workshops, and discussions and be inspired to take action! On-site recycling: CFL lightbulbs, cell phones, and alkaline batteries accepted. Find out more about what we do at http://www.thecue.org

18 March 2009

i love animal love

Okay, this is just ridiculous, right? How could it get any cuter?

Check out more incredible animal shots on Howard Penn's flickr page.

Related posts
baby farm animals
interspecies love, or at least friendship

17 March 2009

happy st. pat's: enjoy some green beer

I'm only a little bit Irish, or so my mom tells me. And while these days, I don't typically celebrate St. Patty's Day, I may have had a green (colored) beer once or twice to toast the occasion. There are some real green beers on the market though -- from organic to locally brewed. Below, a list of some ways to enjoy green beer any time of year.

go organic
These brewers make their lagers, ales, and porters organically so you won't be downing a pesticide chaser with your brew.

Wolaver's (Middlebury, VT)
More than organic, this brewery implements sustainable practices like using local ingredients and energy saving practices (read more)

Peak Organic (Portland, ME)
Much of Peak's ingredients are grown on nearby farms in Maine and Vermont

Eel River (Fortuna, CA)
Eel River claims to be the first organic brewery

get local
They might not all be organic, but they don't have to travel far to satisfy your beery thirst.

Kelso (Brooklyn)
They're not only local, they adhere to environmentally sound principles

Sixpoint Craft Ales (Brooklyn)
They just so happen to be having an event at The Gate in Park Slope tomorrow if you're in the 'hood

Blue Point (Long Island)
They make a really tasty Pale Ale

Bring home a growler from this Park Slope grocer and beer purveyor

Find a brewpub in your area

drink draft
By choosing beer from the tap, you'll save a whole lot of packaging waste.

brew your own
Make it at home for the most local brew of all.

The Complete Joy of Homebrewing [book]

How to Brew Your Own Beer [wiki]

Why drink truly green beer? Read more here [Co-op America].

how to turn a cigarette into a knife

I don't smoke, and I'm not really a fan of cigarettes. But there is one case where a cigarette would come in handy. If you need a knife but only have a cigarette, watch this video to learn the survivalist skill of turning your situation around. [Okay, I'm really only posting this video for the goat. I can't help myself.]

16 March 2009

loomstate & kaight celebrate spring this friday

I'll be heading over to eco-fashion hotspot Kaight -- 83 Orchard St -- this Friday to celebrate the first day of Spring with the guys behind Loomstate & Rogan.

I'm looking forward to seeing their new Spring line, and getting a free custom made organic tee with a Loomstate purchase. Not to mention the drinks and music to welcome the new season.

Get more details at Kaight's new blog.

vote for green edge nyc!

Okay, I know just a few days ago I was telling you to vote for the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative, and here I am telling you to vote for GreenEdge (the NYC-based sustainable-living social networking site). The great thing is, you can vote for both. What does voting for these great organizations mean?

Well, there are 4 grants up for grabs from Green Mountain Coffee at the tune of $200K each (more details). With these funds, I think groups like Brooklyn Greenway and GreenEdge NYC will do amazing things for our community, and inspire similar initiatives to sprout up across the nation.

And now that I think about it, both of these organizations are about connecting people. The Greenway physically connects Brooklynites to communities from Greenpoint to Red Hook and also to Manhattan. GreenEdge connects people looking to get involved in the sustainable living scene - from food-foraging groupies to neighborhood potluck dinners. This grant would provide both groups with a greater opportunity to reach more people and to help more people reach out to others.

So please, take a minute and help these great orgs get a much-deserved grant.

You can vote for both!

Vote for GreenEdge NYC
Vote for Brooklyn Greenway Initiative

You only have until Saturday, March 21 to vote, so hop to it!

more support for the brooklyn greenway - tonight!

Just thought I'd alert you all to the latest action regarding the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative. There's a community board meeting tonight if you want to get involved. More about the Greenway here and here.

CB6 Mtg re: Atlantic Basin & Pier 11 - March 16th
New York City Economic Development Corporation and the Port Authority of NY & NJ will come to Community Board 6 on Monday, March 16th to discuss plans for Atlantic Basin and the adjacent Pier 11, which is an important link in the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway, as well as for Pier 7 at the foot of Atlantic Avenue. You can follow the conversation and possible outcome by attending this meeting.

What: CB6 Economic Dvpt / Waterfront / Community Dvpt / Housing Committees

When: Monday, March 16th, 6:30PM

Where: Public School 15, 71 Sullivan Street (b/t Richards and Van Brunt Streets)

Agenda: Continued dialogue with representatives for the New York City Economic Development Corporation and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey on planning efforts for Pier 7 and the Atlantic Basin at the Red Hook waterfront.

13 March 2009

walk for the health of it, and for others

I like a good walk any time of year. But there's nothing more rejuvenating than a walk in Springtime. Daffodils blooming, sparrows chirping, sun shining. Everyone seems to be happier, awakening their bodies from the sleepy Winter's days spent indoors.

Spring is also the season for charitable walks. A great chance to do something for a cause while getting a little exercise in. Here are a few walks happening this Spring in NYC.

TAP Project (UNICEF)
Sunday, March 22, 2009 @ 10am
Battery Park
A one mile walk for young people (all ages) and their families, schools and communities to help raise awareness and support for children worldwide who suffer from a lack of readily available clean water.
Full details

Walk MS
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Historic Richmond Town, Staten Island
Saturday, April 19, 2009
South Street Seaport, Manhattan
Walk MS is a fun and festive event that raises critical funds to help people affected by multiple sclerosis - a disease of the central nervous system that has no known cause or cure.
Join the movement on April 18 in Staten Island or April 19 in Manhattan. By participating in Walk MS, you will join 7,000 other New Yorkers to make one powerful statement and keep us moving toward a world free of MS.

Full details

Run for the Wild (Wildlife Conservation Society)
Saturday, April 25, 2009 @ 9am
Bronx Zoo
Run to help save Gorillas in 2009. We need your help in protecting a species that is at great risk of extinction. Sign up now for Run for the Wild and start the race to save Gorillas. Or if you can’t participate in the event, you can still take action by making a pledge!
Full details

Parkinson's Unity Walk
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Central Park
The largest grassroots event raising Parkinson's awareness and funds to find a cure. 100% of all donations raised goes directly to Parkinson`s research.
Full details

May 17, 2009 @ 10am
Central Park
The world's biggest AIDS fundraiser. Take a walk through Central Park and the streets of Manhattan to benefit Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC) and other AIDs organizations (full list)
Full details

12 March 2009

vote for the brooklyn greenway initiative

[Image: Josh Haner/The New York Times. Residents have criticized the Kent Avenue bike lanes in Williamsburg, the first step in the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative to create a 14-mile bicycle and pedestrian path.]

In a city where air quality was rated D last year, we desperately need more alternative commuting options. More and more people are turning to their bikes. So we need a lot more safe, practical bike lanes. Enter the ambitious, and much needed, plan of the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative.

Brooklyn Greenway Initiative is pursuing a structural reduction in greenhouse gas generation in NYC's fastest growing corridor - the Brooklyn waterfront by reallocating the public right of way in favor of cyclists and pedestrians. We are working with developers of tens of thousands of new units and city agencies to gear the new built environment around walking and cycling to de-link auto use from population growth. How? A compelling, inviting and efficient non-motorized corridor connecting 14 miles of waterfront communities and Manhattan via 3 bridges and a built environment where most needs and commutes can be accomplished without a car. The excessive use of taxpayer funds for motorized transportation is an environmental justice issue for most city taxpayers who do not drive but suffer the consequences of climate change. Community Board 1 in Greenpoint/Williamsburg voted 39/2 to remove parking on 3 miles of waterfront streets to create the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway.

You can help them win a grant from Green Mountain Coffee through their page on Just Means, the social and environmental initiative organization. Vote here!

Related post
brooklyn greenway initiative needs support - tonight!

11 March 2009

spreading love in the form of flowers in bed stuy

I've been wanting to throw some seed bombs since I wrote about Green Guerrillas last summer (and maybe even before that). Well now I'm going to have the chance to live the dream, and you can too, if you're interested.

Here's the opportunity -- it's called Bed Stuy Meadow and it's a project being put on by 21st Century Plowshare, who describe themselves as:

... an inspiration-station and resource hub for anyone who wants to deploy environmental actions that matter--actions that prompt an ecstatic recognition of people's surroundings. Do your part! Join the discourse, participate in the actions here and make your own actions happen!
Oh man, if that doesn't make you want to get involved, I don't know what will.

Full details are below. If you want to get in on the action, email them at 21stcenturyplowshare@gmail.com

If you want to make your own seed bomb, get instructions here [via FunTimeHappyGardenExplosion].

Project Description

The goal is to sow wildflower seeds on every single patch of abandoned soil in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bed Stuy this April. By early summer, there should be so many wildflowers growing in the untended treepits, vacant lots, half-built developments and other tiny scraps of neglected soil in Bed Stuy that the whole neighborhood effectively turns into a meadow.

Wildflower seeds are very easy to plant, and they grow well in poor, shallow soils without human attention, so it's going to be relatively easy to make a huge visual impact over the entire neighborhood. The profusion of wildflowers that result from this minimal effort will probably be relentless and visually unifying, and this relentless unity of wildflowers will probably make anyone walking down the street feel good.

I want there to be so many wildflowers on the streets that the summer of 2009 is remembered very fondly every single resident of the neighborhood. I want the continuity of the Meadow to be so strong that Google Earth is compelled to re-photograph Bed Stuy. I want people who don't even live within the five boroughs to visit Bed Stuy for the first time so that they can see the Meadow with their own eyes, and I want people who will never even come to be so inspired by the Bed Stuy Meadow that they make their own amazing neighborhood project and share it on 21st Century Plowshare.

Bed Stuy is a neighborhood of contradictions. There is a lot of crime here, but it's also by far the friendliest neighborhood I have ever lived in. It's got a litter problem and the landscape is dotted with empty lots and condemned houses. But this is also a neighborhood of seriously tended front yards with a rich history of community gardening. Bed Stuy claims as its own Hattie Carthan and the Notorious B.I.G. I think the Meadow is going to work because it doesn't work against what Bed Stuy is. Bed Stuy's low-slung, long-blocked character and the expansiveness of its territory are not like an urban jungle or forest as much as an urban prairie. The effort of the meadow is another chapter in the community gardening history of the neighborhood. Wildflowers are beautiful in the way that the architecture here is beautiful, the way the people who go out of their way to say good morning on the streets here are beautiful. And wildflowers are tough enough to grow wherever the seeds are cast.

Get Involved

1. Plant Seed in April. If you live in NYC and want to spend an afternoon scattering seed in April, email 21stcenturyplowshare-at-gmail-dot-com to get on the list of volunteers.

2. The total budget for this project is about $2000. Donate a few dollars by clicking this button:

10 March 2009

another sign the obama administration means good for the earth

Good green things are happening at the White House. Van Jones, founder of Green for All -- the grassroots green jobs organization -- and author of The Green Collar Economy, was recently named Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation at the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

At his new post, Mr. Jones will help shape the administration's energy and climate policy, so that climate solutions produce jobs and justice for all Americans.

Good stuff. If you haven't read The Green Collar Economy, pick up a copy at the library, borrow one from a friend, or get one (used) from Amazon.com.

Hey Van, how about putting up those solar panels on the White House?

UPDATE: Video, via Daily Kos

earth hour is coming!

[Poster by Shepard Fairey]

What are you doing on the night of March 28th between 8:30 and 9:30pm? Whatever your plans, make sure you do it with the lights out.

Why on earth would you do such a thing? It's a global statement bringing awareness to climate change. We're telling the world's leaders that when we all work together, we have the power to make big changes.

According to earthhour.org:

Earth Hour began in Sydney in 2007, when 2.2 million homes and businesses switched off their lights for one hour. In 2008 the message had grown into a global sustainability movement, with 50 million people switching off their lights. Global landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Rome’s Colosseum, the Sydney Opera House and the Coca Cola billboard in Times Square all stood in darkness.

In 2009, Earth Hour is being taken to the next level, with the goal of 1 billion people switching off their lights as part of a global vote. Unlike any election in history, it is not about what country you’re from, but instead, what planet you’re from. VOTE EARTH is a global call to action for every individual, every business, and every community. A call to stand up and take control over the future of our planet. Over 74 countries and territories have pledged their support to VOTE EARTH during Earth Hour 2009, and this number is growing everyday.

We all have a vote, and every single vote counts. Together we can take control of the future of our planet, for future generations.
So far, 930 cities and towns in 80 countries have already committed to participate Earth Hour 2009. Will you take part?

What you do in the dark is up to you, but here are some suggestions:
  • Light some beeswax candles, pour some organic wine, and get cozy with your special someone
  • Invite some friends over for a potluck dinner, lit only by your smiles
  • Go to your favorite bar or restaurant and urge them to participate if they aren't already
  • If you're in the city, look up at the sky, you might actually be able to see stars
  • Take a stroll through your neighborhood and heckle all the people whose lights are on (okay, just kidding!)

Earth Hour 2009 -- March 28th at 8:30pm.

04 March 2009

great green events in bklyn

After the recent snowstorm that blanketed the city, I'm really feeling the itch of Spring. It'll soon be time to get outside and enjoy the budding trees, the blooming flowers, the [ah-choo] pollinating plants.

Here are some events to help you shake off the Winter chill and get ready to welcome the fruitful new season.

Tonight, Wednesday, March 4 @7pm
Alternative energy in your home
The Community Bookstore in Park Slope hosts a forum on incorporating alternative energy and energy (read: money) saving tips into your home.
Green Roofs! Rooftop Wind generators! Easy quick and effective measures like painting over your black roof – did you know this is the fastest and most effective thing you can do to reduce energy use? The State offers tax rebates and incentives for installing green roofs which can half the cost of installation! A local business found a company who contracts to put a little windmill on your roof – they provide the equipment and you get the reduced bills! There are lots of ideas being tried out there, and we can surely all benefit from pooling ideas – why reinvent the wheel, or the windmill?
More info

This Saturday, March 7, 10am to 4pm
Making Brooklyn Bloom
Brooklyn Botanic Garden hosts the 28th annual Making Brooklyn Bloom, a day full of workshops and info on growing this fine borough into an even greener place to live. Get the full schedule and workshop list.
Admission is free when you download the flyer from this page [think before you print... got an iPhone or other web phone? Save a tree and store it there!]

Ongoing through Spring
Exploring and Appreciating New York City
The Brooklyn Center for the Urban Environment (BCUE) has announced their Spring tour schedule. Highlights include: Along the High Line (Saturday, March 21), Crossing Newtown Creek (Sunday, March 22), Cemetery of the Evergreens (Sunday, April 26), Exploring Sunset Park's Waterfront (Sunday, May 31).
Learn more about BCUE