30 November 2009

the time has come

Faithful followers of supereco,

It's official. I've moved! Please hop on over to raganella to continue reading about health, sustainability, and general good stuff happening in NYC.

Subscribers, please use the subscriber tool in the sidebar to get the latest from the new blog.

See you at the new place!

23 November 2009

change is inevitable

Dear loyal followers,

I just wanted to clue you in to what I'm up to. Things may be a little quiet over here on supereco... so quiet they just might be silenced altogether. But don't panic! I'm moving to a new location - raganella.com. Just working out the details, but once it's up and running I'll be sure to let you know!

Stay tuned...

14 November 2009

restoring the ecuadorian amazon with mycoremediation

Macrolepiota procera [image: Wikipedia]

Between 1964 and 1992, Texaco (now Chevron) dumped over 18.5 billion gallons of oil in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Birth defects, cancer rates and general malaise are exceedingly common in the city of Lago Agrio and other communities living near the 627 open, unlined waste pits that remain full of crude petroleum. The toxins have seeped into the groundwater, poisoning crops and livestock while leaving many residents with no choice but to drink contaminated water. Mycorestoration uses a host of mycological technologies to rehabilitate ecologically degraded habitats. Mycoremediation applies the natural capacity of mycelium to break down or remove toxic substances such as petroleum hydrocarbons, PCBs and heavy metals.

Cloud Forest Institute & Amazon Mycorenewal Project
Ecuadorian Political Ecology, Oil Pollution, and Mycoremediation
Service Learning Course with Spanish Language and Science Labs
Dec 15, 2009 – Jan 15, 2010 (or select dates)

The Cloud Forest Institute in collaboration with the Amazon
Mycorenewal Project and The Clean Up Oil Waste Project invite
undergraduate, graduate and lifelong students to attend our 2009
Winter Service Learning Course on Ecuadorian Political Ecology, Oil
Pollution, and Mycoremediation.

Mycoremediation is a developing scientific field experimenting with
mushrooms to sequester toxins. Mycelium is now being tested in Ecuador
in an effort to clean up billions of gallons of toxic oil wastes left
behind by Chevron Texaco during its 20 years of operation there (for
which the company is currently on trial in perhaps the largest
environmental lawsuit in history).

This course will take students to Quito, Lago Agrio, Mindo and
Cuyabeno to experience the striking biological and cultural diversity
of Ecuador’s many regions including the Andes Mountains and Amazon
Rainforest. Students will participate in the development of ground
breaking mycoremediation technology and study Latin American political
ecology. Service learning with local community members will help heal
lands polluted by the oil industry. Students can receive independent
study credit through their existing college or universities.

Students may enroll in four week-long sections individually or for the
entire month long course in which we will examine Ecuadorian cultural
traditions, political ecology, oil economics, toxicity and
bioremediation. You may also pick and choose which courses you would
like to attend in sections of one-week, individually.


A Country Study: Introduction to Ecuadorian Culture, History and Ecology

Monday, December 14th: Arrive in Quito, evening introductions, welcome
and orientation. Tuesday, December 15th: Morning tour through colonial
Quito, we spend the first day learning about Ecuador’s history and
culture, including do’s and taboo’s and the importance of respectful
behavior while in a foreign country. Afternoon travel to Lago Agrio
for the first Mycorenewal Workshop.

Section 1 – Field Study: Mycorenewal of Toxic Sites
Wednesday, December 16th – Monday, December 22nd

Students journey to Lago Agrio with the Amazon Mycorenewal Project.
This Service Learning mycoremediation course will run in conjunction
with community workshops training locals to utilize mycorenewal
techniques to clean toxic petroleum pollution. A seed germination
toxicity experiment will be installed to test the effectiveness of
previous AMP experiments of soil mycoremediation by observing seed
ability to germinate and grow. This will take place during two week-
long workshops.

Section 2 – Cloud Forest Conservation Holiday Retreat
Tuesday, December 23rd – Sunday, December 28th

While the seeds germinate, students journey to Mindo where they enjoy
the cloud forest while learning about Ecuador’s incredibly diverse
ecology. Students will be able to participate in a wide range of
activities while in Mindo including bird watching, hiking, mushroom
hunting, river rafting, visiting waterfalls, orchid and butterfly
attractions, and just relaxing by the riverside amongst the
butterflies and hummingbirds. Topics to be covered include Biology of
the Cloud Forest, Threats to the Cloud Forest, and Conservation of the
Cloud Forest. Spanish language instruction is available during this
session. Sunday 28th: Leave Mindo and go back to Quito for the night.

Section 3 – Journey Into the New Year
Monday, December 29th – Monday, January 5th

In this session, students foray into the Amazon wilderness in Cuyabeno
to observe an intact Amazonian environment. Activities include hiking,
mushroom hunting, swimming, fishing, and canoeing. Students will meet
with indigenous community members and spend time in ritual with
shamans of the community.

Section 4 – Myco Workshop II
Tuesday, January 6th – Thursday, January 14th

Peak Oil Issues – Production: Destruction of Ecology, Community and
Traditional Ways of Life

The course then returns to Lago Agrio for the final session and
completion of the seed germination experiment. Stops along the way
introduce students to communities and show toxic sites abandoned by
the oil industry, including pipeline ruptures, abandoned wells, and
communities located near active wells. Thursday 14th: Farewell dinner.
Program ends.
Itinerary dates subject to adjustment.

$1,000 per section or $3,600 when enrolled in all four sections. Cost
covers food, lodging and in country transportation, special gear, as
well as all activities listed in the itinerary. Spanish language
instruction is optional and costs $10 per hour for individual
instruction; this cost may be split between up to 5 students of the
same ability level. Additional costs not covered may include, but are
not limited to: airfare, required travel insurance, optional travel
immunizations, suggested reading, beverages, souvenirs, tips and
donations. $100 articulation and curriculum fee for students seeking
college credit through independent study. Spanish instruction is
included in the $1000 individual section cost for the Cloud Forest
Holiday Retreat.
Limited scholarships are sometimes available. Students may inquire
with Cloud Forest Institute to find out more.


Freeda Alida Burnstad, Director Cloud Forest Institute
Course organizer and promoter. Acts in a supportive capacity to the
course and course leaders while in Ecuador. Guest speaker during Cloud
Forest portion. AMP team member.

Lindsay Ofrias, The Clean Up Oil Waste Project LLC Founder
New York City liaison. Person of contact for students interested in
attending the workshops. Collaborates with universities, NGO’s, and
Ecuadorian leaders. Spanish translator and project coordinator.
Assistant teacher, Globalization.

Cristian Vaca, Environmental Activists and Eco-tourism Organizer
Cloud Forest Institute coordinator in Mindo. Provides in country
logistical support. Guest speaker during Cloud Forest portion.

Mia Maltz MS, RITES Project Founder
Permaculturist and Mycoremediation Specialist. Workshop presenter for
this course, Solar Living Institute, and many other venues. AMP team

Auriah Milanes, Environmental Engineer
Cloud Forest Institute Alumni. Course leader.

Donaldo Moncayo, Amazon Defense Coalition
President (Mayor) of the community Santa Cruz. Local host and
experiment lead. AMP team member.

Nicola Peel, Eyes of Gaia
Amazon Mycorenewal Project Founder. Documentary Artist. Guest speaker.

Dr. Robert Rawson, International Wastewater Solutions
Bioremediation and Waste Water Specialist. Course workshop presenter.
Part-time faculty for Santa Rosa JC. AMP team member.

Silvia Sornoza, Executive Assistant Cloud Forest Institute
Provides in country logistical support. AMP team member.

Ricardo Viteri, Ecuadorian Mycological Society Kallambas
Commercial mushroom grower in Quito. AMP team member.

Language instruction is provided by the licensed instructors of
Amazonas Spanish School. Other guest lecturers and local experts will
be featured in the course.

Amazon Defense Coalition, Amazon Mycorenewal Project, Cloud Forest
Institute, Ecuadorian Mycological Society Kallambas, The Clean Up Oil
Waste Project LLC.

***Contact Luz at the Clean Up Oil Waste Project for questions or inquiries regarding this program: cleanupoilwaste@gmail.com, (631) 645-0021.

10 November 2009

permaculture design certification in nyc

Learn with the permaculturist who taught me...

Permaculture Design Certification in NYC
with Andrew Faust

March to June 2010
11 weekend sessions 9am to 5pm

Permaculture provides positive solutions for the social and ecological issues of today. Come be inspired by one of the leading visionaries in Permaculture Design and prepare to transform your world!

Enroll Early! Before March 1st $1000. After March 1st $1200.

Information/Registration, email Andrew@HomeBiome.com

Check out the website for more classes www.HomeBiome.com

permaculture hedonists presents (hands-on workshops)

Mmmm... kimchi [image: Wikipedia]

Permaculture Hedonists Presents

Hands-on workshops by Permaculture designers, educators and hedonists Andrew Faust and Adriana Magaña.

Who says you need a homestead to practice Permaculture? We'll show you how to live the good life by putting your hands and kitchen to work! We think our bodies deserve the best and as permaculture hedonists believe that what we create with our hands is far superior to anything you can buy on the shelves of any store.

Last year we ran this series of lactoferment classes along with a Handcrafted Beauty series to great success. Many sold out fast with our cap at 10 students for each class. We checked our busy teaching and parenting schedules and set aside some dates to present these learning opportunities once again. Join us for these three fermented foods classes that will increase your vitality as well as your self-sufficiency. Come learn why they are so incredibly nutritious and how they can fit into your life.

The Handmade Beauty series will take the mystery out of formulating your own safe and cheap beauty necessities. We will explore a host of different ingredients from ones found in your kitchen cupboard to exotic floral waxes found via the internet. This series will now include household cleaners as well. All of these will be great for gift giving!

Start crafting today and share your creations with friends and family!

Wednesday, November 18
6:30- 8:30-pm $40

This workshop will walk you through making a variety of lactoferments including: kim chee, sauerkraut, ginger-carrots and other root crop lactoferments. Bring 2 wide mouth 1 pint glass mason jars with lids if you would like to take home jars of our finished products. Also bring a good cutting knife a cutting board and the Organic vegatables will be supplied. Handouts of recipes will be provided. IMPORTANT!!! Please register at least one day in advance so we can insure the correct amount of ingredients. This is sure to fill up fast!

Sourdough Bread
Wednesday, December 9th

In this, our second fermented food workshop, we will harvest Brooklyn’s wild yeasts to make bread rise into a fluffy loaf that is truly delicious! We will show you the ins and outs of making and baking sourdough bread so that you can get started with confidence! We will also cover sourdough pancakes. Delicious! Participants should bring a small jar to take home some sourdough starter.

Handcrafting Home Brews
Thursday, December 17th
6:30- 8:30 pm $40

This third workshop will cover: malting whole grains for superlative home brew beers and will include sources for organic whole grains; preparing herbal tonics and sacred beers with wild dandelion, yarrow, rosemary and others; culturing wild yeasts. Kombucha preparation will also be covered and kombucha “mothers” will be given away to make at home. Handouts of recipes will be provided.

Handmade Beauty Part 1 and 2
Saturday, December 19th
Part 1 - 12am-2pm $40
Sunday, December 20th
Part 2 - 4pm -6pm $40

In this class we will craft a variety of body care products made from ingredients easily found in your kitchen cabinet or local heath food store. You will expand your knowledge of herbs, save money and feel your beautiful best by making and using your own handmade beauty products. Are you spending wads of cash on eco-household cleaners? Well you can stop! We will be providing recipes and samples for some of the most often used cleaners. Bring small containers (washed take out condiment containers work great) if you'd like to take some samples home.

Part 1

For your Face...
*Face Cleanser *Face Scrub
*Herbal Face Toner *Moisturizer *Tinted Lip Balm

Plus Household Cleaners!

Part 2

*Herbal Shampoo *Herbal Hair Rinse
*Body Scrubs *Tooth Powder/Paste
*Mouthwash *Shaving Cream

Plus Household Cleaners!


Handcrafting Herbal Tinctures, Salves and Extracts will be offered after the new year. So get ready!

All of these classes will take place in our small apartment so enrollment in limited to 10 people for each class. Allergic to pets? We have two cats and a dog FYI.

Please pre-register so we know how many people to expect dreikycaprice@gmail.com

We can and will offer these classes again so please inquire if the dates don't work out for you.

Be well,

Adriana and Andrew

P.S. We are accepting registration for our Permaculture Design Certification from March 27th through June 5th. Sign up early to get a discount and save your spot!
To register email Andrew@HomeBiome.com

The Center for Bioregional Living
Ellenville / Brooklyn, NY

green books campaign: the raw milk revolution

This review is part of the Green Books campaign. Today 100 bloggers are reviewing 100 great books printed in an environmentally friendly way. Our goal is to encourage publishers to get greener and readers to take the environment into consideration when purchasing books. This campaign is organized by Eco-Libris, a a green company working to green up the book industry by promoting the adoption of green practices, balancing out books by planting trees, and supporting green books. A full list of participating blogs and links to their reviews is available on Eco-Libris website.

The Raw Milk Revolution: Behind America's Emerging Battle Over Food Rights
by David E. Gumpert
(with foreword by Joel Salatin)
Chelsea Green Publishing
Printed on recycled paper

What do government regulators have against raw milk?

The Raw Milk Revolution is an exploration of this and other relevant questions in a time when the entire industrialized food system is coming into question.

Based on his blog, The Complete Patient, David Gumpert provides a reasonable, balanced, and straightforward account of the pros and cons of raw milk consumption and the legal constraints placed on its production.

The book provides historic context of the dairy industry, from about the time of the Industrial Revolution to more recent regulatory history regarding food safety. It balances past events with the current trend toward consuming raw dairy, explaining both the purported risks and benefits of the product that comes unadulterated from the cow (or goat or sheep).

A taste of the past
Pasteurization was a response to the increasingly deplorable conditions and industrialization of dairy farming. As dairy operations crowded into cities and were coupled with distilleries for "efficient" use of grain (as cow feed, something cows do not naturally eat), cows became sicker, farms became a breeding ground for pathogens.

An emotionally charged debate
But is the method of pasteurization - slow on the uptake at the turn of the century, yet widely used today - still valid? Is it making us safer? The answer is somewhat unclear. The rates of raw-milk–related illness are debatable, depending on who you ask. According to some groups, like [grass-fed] raw-milk advocates the Weston A. Price Foundation, the rates are inflated, while state and federal agencies argue that raw milk carries an inherent risk to health. As do parents of children who may have become seriously ill from it.

Raw milk is outlawed in 28 out of 50 states. But the incidence of other food-borne illnesses is just as high, if not higher, than that of raw milk. Even pasteurized milk carries some risk. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the highest rates of listeria illness are due to deli meat. If deli meat is 10 times more likely to expose you to listeria illness than raw milk, why isn't it restricted or outlawed?

Another question I kept asking is: Why can't we just put a label on raw milk and let consumers decide whether they want to take the supposed risk? Or more to the point, why don't consumers have the right to choose their foods, raw or treated?

A question of rights
Joel Salatin, now famous farmer of Polyface Farms in Virginia, posits in the foreword,

The only reason the right to food choice was not guaranteed in the Bill of Rights is because the Founders of America could not have envisioned a day when selling a glass of raw milk or homemade pickles to a neighbor would be outlawed. At the time, such a thought was as strange as levitation.

Indeed, what good is the freedom to own guns, worship, or assemble if we don't have the freedom to eat the proper fuel to energize us to shoot, pray, and preach? Is not freedom to choose our food at least as fundamental a right as the freedom to worship?
Due to the current laws regarding the sale of raw milk, people who choose to produce it are putting themselves at risk of government crackdown in order to fulfill a growing demand. Something is compelling consumers to, in many cases, cross state lines to obtain raw milk. Often, these consumers are pregnant women and mothers. Why are people putting themselves and their families at risk of breaking the law in order to potentially put themselves at risk of illness?

Having tasted raw milk and, unknowingly, carrying it over state lines illegally, The Raw Milk Revolution left me wanting to take the risk again, maybe in order to prove that the benefits are worth the risks.

I think I now have more questions than answers regarding the raw milk debate, but perhaps this is the point - to keep the questions coming with regard to food and our right to choose what we consider healthful to eat.

For more on the raw milk debate, visit The Complete Patient.

Founded in 2007, Eco-Libris is a green company working to green up the book industry by promoting the adoption of green practices, balancing out books by planting trees, and supporting green books. To achieve this goal Eco-Libris is working with book readers, publishers, authors, bookstores and others in the book industry worldwide. Until now Eco-Libris balanced out over 110,000 books, which results in more than 120,000 new trees planted with its planting partners in developing countries.

05 November 2009

save coal river mountain

As I've mentioned many times before, the destructive practices of mountaintop removal coal mining are not just devastating the ecology of the Appalachian mountains, they're destroying the health and livelihood of the Appalachian community. Please take action to end this filthy, immoral practice:

Today, organizations across the nation are joining forces with iLoveMountains.org to send a powerful message to the Obama Administration that blasting on America's Most Endangered Mountain-Coal River Mountain- needs to stop now. This could be the largest day of action on mountaintop removal ever, and we need your help to make history.

Use the form to send your message now.

Coal River Mountain is the last remaining mountain untouched by mountaintop removal in the Coal River Valley of southern West Virginia- but Massey Energy wants to turn it into a 6,600-acre mountaintop removal wasteland. Local residents have a different vision for Coal River Mountain - a wind farm that could provide 70,000 households with clean energy, sustainable jobs and a symbol of hope for new industry in the Appalachian coalfields.

The fate of Coal River Mountain is still uncertain, but its implications for our energy future are clear. Will we continue down the path of destroying our nation's oldest mountains for a few years worth of coal, or seize the opportunity to produce clean wind power and generate green jobs and a new energy economy?

Please send your message now.

02 November 2009

introducing - the library of trash

This past Saturday, Halloween, I received my permaculture design certificate (hurray!). Today, I feel like I've been reborn with new eyes. I've put on my permie goggles and I'm not going to take them off.

As part of the class, each student had to design something using permaculture principles. This is the story of my project...

Something was born out of the design process which I wasn’t expecting. As realities were uncovered and patterns discovered, a broader picture came into view — maybe even something that was there all along. Sometimes all it takes is new eyes to see what lies before us.

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.
~ Marcel Proust

My original intention for this project was to design my business of helping people with environmentally exacerbated health conditions — like asthma and allergies — to find relief. And in thinking of this business, I thought of myself as the key component of it. I am what people will interact with.

So what do I interact with?

Imagining my surroundings as an extension of myself, I thought about the largest thing surrounding me immediately and on a daily basis — the building that I live and work in.
“The Belnord” — a 6-story, 41-unit apartment building built in 1921. It’s in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn — just downhill from the second highest point in Brooklyn — Mount Prospect Park — once the site of a reservoir, until the Catskill Mountain and Delaware River Valley reservoirs took over in the 1940s.

The Belnord is located in USDA Growing Zone 6B, fed by the Catskill/Delaware watershed west of the Hudson and Croton watershed east of the Hudson. The average rainfall is 46” with a peak dispersal of 4.53” in July. The wastewater treatment facility is Owl’s Head.

Owl's Head Wastewater Treatment Facility

We live on the third floor in a north-facing apartment with no direct sunlight. The desire to grow food prompted us to start a little garden under grow lights in our second bedroom or office.

Jalapeños growing under lights in our apartment

The apartment is used in the traditional domestic sense, for sleeping, cooking, and eating — with the exception of an ever-growing collection of items some may deem trash. I call this my library of arts and crafts to be. It’s also located in the room I call “the office.”

There is a similar catalog of materials in the basement of our building called the recycling center. This recyclable trash gets picked up by truck and brought to a facility where lots of water and energy go into recycling it. All the rest of the trash goes to a landfill.

The basement, which is only accessible to residents by elevator, is also the site of a book exchange and the residents’ bicycle storage.

So I started noticing this pattern of trash, and this resistance in me to both not throw anything away and not take the elevator to the basement, where the recycling center is, and where I kept my bike until I decided to boycott the elevator.

And I imagined a place where I could take my trash and put it to good use.

But before I get to that, a little more context, or goals articulation.

The goals of this project are:
  • To grow and eat nutrient dense, delicious food
  • To maintain healthy air to breathe — in my own home, in the homes of those in my community, and in the air outside as well
  • To create a community of sustainably minded people
  • To reduce the amount of trash going into the wastestream
  • To make trash beautiful, and to change people’s minds about trash and its uses
  • To provide a center for learning the arts of gardening, crafting, food preparation, and all sorts of creating
  • To enhance the local economy through partnerships with budding like-minded businesses
  • To provide community members with right livelihood
  • To demonstrate what’s possible in the urban center — growing food, upcycling “waste” materials, providing positive work, education, inspiration


The plan of which is made entirely from repurposed and found materials.

The Library of Trash is a 7,000 square foot warehouse space with adjoining outdoor property.

It is a multifunctional space run by a multidisciplinary member cooperative. I am the generalist. My partners are gardeners, artists, crafters, builders, and cooks. We collaborate, we barter, we share knowledge with each other and the broader community.

In this space there is an experimental vegetable garden, a mini fruit orchard, four-season growing potential, a place to host events and classes, a place to create and experiment, and a place to keep materials for creating.

There is a strong foundation and purpose, yet the space adapts to meet the day’s given needs.

Passing by the Library of Trash you might be attracted by the living fence, yet detritus and pests will be repelled by it.

A street cart sells produce from our garden or prepared food from our kitchen in front of a window that displays our latest upcycling projects.

A covered bike rack stores our means of transport and distribution.

When you enter you are greeted by a member working at the mobile reception desk.

The member is crocheting a yoga mat bag out of plarn.

He directs you to the garden on the south side of the property to learn about biodynamic treatment of fruit trees. On your way out, you notice the living curtains which both keep the hot sun out in summer and filter the air indoors, while providing fresh oxygen to the building.

While waiting for class to begin at the picnic table on the deck, you can’t help but notice the greenhouse filled with citrus and other tropical produce. In winter, the greenhouse is heated by compost, and the greenhouse helps heat the building.

On the back of the greenhouse is a rainfed shower heated by the sun. The grey water from the shower trickle irrigates the vegetable garden.

Wastes from the garden and the fruit trees go to the compost. The compost in turn provides nutrients to the soil, and also heats the sink water in the restroom and kitchen.

The sink water, fed by the 2,000 gallon water storage units, goes to flush the toilets.

The toilets and the garbage disposal from the kitchen sink feed the biogas digester which provides cooking heat and heats the building in winter.

The kitchen serves as a demonstration facility for food preparation and preservation, as well as a lab for making and experimenting with beauty and cleaning products made from ingredients grown in our greenhouse and garden. These products are packaged in upcycled jars and bottles that our customers can return to refill.

When you finish your lesson in biodynamics, you go to the darkest corner of the property to learn about mushroom cultivation.

You love learning these new skills so much that you decide to stay all day and learn about upcycling glass bottles into vases and glassware. The materials for this class are sent down from the second floor via dumbwaiter.

You are so intrigued to see where these materials appeared from that you take the stairs to the second floor.

On this floor, you’re greeted by another member of the co-op. She gives you a tour of the trash library — materials amassed by members on dumpster diving missions or donated by community members.

Materials like old pipes, telephone wire, tin cans, and old silverware. Maybe you’re looking for a reclaimed window to make a cold frame or scrap wood from a gutted building to fashion a loom. And here are some scrap fabrics to weave a belt or plastic bags to weave some placemats. How about a decoupage or papier-mache project from junk mail and old catalogs?

You hear sounds of sewing and sawing so you ask to see where it’s coming from.

In the studio space, there’s a co-op member building a compost bin from wooden palettes collected from the curb for a nearby community garden. Another member is making cloth napkins from old dress shirts to sell at Sunday’s market being held on the roof.

The roof? You ask. Yes — do you want to see it?

And up you go to the top of the Library of Trash.

You take the stairs, but if you weren’t able-bodied, the elevator reaches the roof.

In front of you is an expanse of green — greenroofing that attracts native pollinators while keeping the building cool in summer. It also provides a sense of refuge in the urban landscape.

Solar panels add a redundant source of energy to the biogas digester — to power the elevator and any electric appliances.

You smell something baking and walk to the west side of the roof. Bread is baking in the solar oven. The flour was provided by a local grower of heirloom grains, exchanged for a wind turbine that our co-op made from old bicycle parts in order to power their mill.

You notice the dumbwaiter also reaches the roof. This makes it easier to bring materials to the roof for big events and market days.

The roof itself is a giant, 3,500 square foot surface for catching rainwater – enough, not subtracting greenroof absorption, to collect 2,100 gallons of water per one-inch rain event.
There is also a small shelter housing a bar for events that serves as rainwater catchment for rooftop use.

And there are skylights lighting the workspace below.

Wow, what a long day, you say.

And I turn to you and ask, want to stick around for a sunset rooftop yoga class?

22 October 2009

international day of climate action

This Saturday, over 4000 events are being planned in over 170 countries to make a loud statement about the importance of action to abate climate change. It may just be the most widespread day of environmental action in the history of the planet.

To participate, you can volunteer to host an event, like arranging a screening of an important environmental film, such as A Sea Change. (Find out how here. Then join the facebook event here.)

Or you can join in one of the many existing actions - Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, go to a climate awareness festival in Palo Alto or a picnic in Abu Dhabi. Go here to find out how you can take part (or just consult the map below).

View Actions at 350.org

According to 350.org, all events are designed to do one thing: show the support for the most important number in the world: 350.

What’s the big deal with 350? 350 is the number that leading scientists say is the safe upper limit for parts per million carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. 350 is the number humanity needs to get below as soon as possible to avoid runaway climate change. Most immediately, 350 is the number world leaders need to lead with as they prepare to meet in Copenhagen this December to draft a new global climate treaty.

How will you get involved?

15 October 2009

care to make a difference: blog action day 09

This post is part of Blog Action Day '09

Floods, droughts, super storms - these are not the things of fantasy, of Hollywood blockbuster disaster films. They are real. And real people who live off the land are the most affected by these climate-change–induced or -exacerbated events.

Yet the wealthiest nations, especially those with large standing militaries, are burning fossil fuels like there's no tomorrow. And there very well might not be if they keep it up.

While climate change and its effects are being seen today, most of us are still thinking like it's some futuristic event. It is here, and people are suffering because of it. The time to act is not when things start to really get ugly for all of us, the time to act is now.

Luckily, there are organizations doing the work now to prevent catastrophe for those who could not recover from it. Organizations like CARE are examining the impact of climate change on coastal and rural communities in economically poor places, and mitigating the negative.

See how people are impacted, then do something about it.

This is what CARE has to say about the current state of climate change action...

Poor people are especially vulnerable to climate change due to the sensitivity of their livelihoods and the extensive constraints - such as low levels of formal schooling and political marginalisation - that frame their adaptive capacity. Therefore, the world's response to climate change has to challenge entrenched inequities and discriminatory power structures if we are to ensure that everyone can access the information, resources and support necessary for adaptation. But this hasn't happened. Instead, the international community has focused on building capacity within poor countries to integrate climate change in national policy frameworks.

Though helpful, this is wholly insufficient because vulnerability to climate change varies within countries, communities and even households. National-level efforts must be complemented by action at the grassroots that understands, targets and reduces the poorest people's vulnerability to climate change. In recognition of this principle, community-based adaptation is finally emerging as a critical part of the global response to climate change.

And this is how CARE responds to the situation...

CARE's approach to community-based adaptation is people-centred. It fosters more resilient livelihoods, strengthens local capacity through training and the promotion of appropriate traditional knowledge, supports social change and engages in advocacy to address the underlying causes of poverty and differential vulnerability.

CARE's community-based approach to adaptation is composed of the following four inter-related action areas:

  • Reducing the Risk of Disasters
  • Making Livelihoods More Resilient
  • Strengthening Local Capacity
  • Supporting Social Mobilisation and Policy Engagement
Read more about CARE's actions in the face of climate change

Get involved with CARE

06 October 2009

focusing on permaculture

[design by Andrew Jeeves]

Some of you already know that I'm in the midst of pursuing a permaculture design certificate (or PDC, more about it here). In order to focus on my studies and design project, I will be posting a little bit less for the next few weeks.

For now, I'll leave you with a little taste of what I've been learning.

rainwater harvesting

Small-scale rainwater catchment (60 gallons) at Miracle Garden

1,000 gallon rainwater catchment system at Dias y Flores Community Garden

You can learn step-by-step how to build a rainwater harvesting system from the Water Resources Group.


Compost pile at Dias y Flores

learn-as-you-go solutions

After a big rainfall event that overfilled the 1,000 gallon system, Lars Chellberg and Lenny Labrizzi of Water Resources Group created this overflow diversion

toxic remediation and community building

Paula Hewitt Amram of Open Road NY describes how this pond filters rainwater to prevent combined sewer overload (CSO) events as well as keep trash out of the river. Aside from completely remediating this toxic site (once a bus depot with underground oil tanks that polluted the school next door), Paula actively fosters the skate park next door (as well as other parks) where young skaters and other community members help with cleanup of the community garden

Not your ordinary sewer grate. Under it are cisterns that hold the water on site to prevent sewer overflow

01 October 2009

give synthetics the boot (bag)

Icebreaker, maker of some of the finest Merino wool activewear around, will be "bagging synthetics" next week.

Starting Monday, October 5, the New Zealand based company will be taking your stinky old synthetic, petroleum-based t-shirts (think polyester) and turning them into reusable marathon shoe bags in the Paragon Sports store window, on the spot, and for absolutely free.

Bonus for marathoners and aspiring marathoners: get 26.2% off your Icebreaker GT purchase and get a free pair of Icebreaker socks (from Oct 5 to 12).

So why should you ditch your old synthetic tee for a Merino wool one?

Synthetic tees:

  • stink after a run
  • feel unnatural
  • are made from oil

Icebreaker merino apparel:
  • made from all-natural wool from free-range Merino sheep
  • feels soft to the touch
  • has natural wicking abilities
  • doesn't stink when you sweat in it
  • non-polluting
  • biodegradable
  • suitable for all seasons
Plus you can run in Icebreaker apparel for weeks without washing it, so energy costs are reduced and less detergents are put into the environment. Read more about Icebreaker's ethos.

And here are the details for the event:

Monday, October 5 to Monday, October 12
11 am – 7 pm
Paragon Sports
867 Broadway at 18th Street, NYC

30 September 2009

milkweed and stinky piglets

Rainy days have their benefits. The first, most obvious benefit is the replenishment of available water for plant, animal, and human use. The second is that rain keeps people from enjoying outdoor activities. Why is that a benefit? Well, if you're visiting Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture and want to go on a vegetable tour, you may just be the only one on the tour on account of rain. And being the only ones (bf & I) on the tour last Sunday, we got special attention. Or at least that's how it seemed to me.

We went on a whim, despite the rain and forecast for more of it throughout the day. Looking at the clock, we realized we'd have just enough time to grab a bite from the cafe and go on the two o'clock tour. So up we went, to Pocantico Hills, just north of Tarrytown. It's lovely up there, just an hour's drive from Brooklyn, the leaves along the Saw Mill Parkway just starting to change into their autumnal habits. Here are some of the magical things we encountered on our tour of the educational, experimental, sustainable agricultural center:

A tasty lunch at the cafe

What's on today?

Selling the bounty at the farm market

Asclepias gomphocarpus, a type of milkweed, attracts butterflies

Happy bees on past-peak artichokes in the dooryard garden. These delicious thistles are apparently difficult to grow in the Northeast, but Stone Barns is figuring out how.

Go ahead, try one! Stone Barns encourages sampling

Super-juicy Asian pears growing in the main field are an experiment. A very tasty experiment.

Self-seeding sunflowers take over where the arugula leaves off

Purple brussel sprouts in the field...

...and yummy purple mustard greens in the greenhouse

The expansive greenhouse allows 4-season farming

Seedlings in custom compost are kept warm through water-filled, compost-heated tubes

Hoop houses on tracks also extend the seasons

Four kinds of compost are cultivated at Stone Barns

Berkshire pigs, right home in the forest mud

Hey little piggy

Sorry, we're too busy to look at your camera

Oh, hello there. These pigs sure are cute, but they were also a little stinky.

Stone Barns is a magical place where everything is grown for a reason, everything is harvested, nothing is sprayed with pesticides or grown in artificial fertilizers. And everything is repurposed, from food scraps to plastic tarps. You can visit Stone Barns for a tour, to volunteer, or to enjoy an 8-course meal at the amazing Blue Hill restaurant.

This Saturday, October 3, is their 6th Annual Harvest Festival. Get your tickets here.

Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture
630 Bedford Road
Pocantico Hills, NY