Archive for March, 2009

green pays

March 30, 2009

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.

really, really free market

March 27, 2009

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, 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

permaculture applies

March 26, 2009

[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.

Hello world!

March 25, 2009

Welcome to This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!

oh no they didn’t

March 25, 2009

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

March 25, 2009

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: 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

March 25, 2009

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

March 25, 2009

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 ( and will be held April 2– 3, 2009.

Admission: Free

read ’em and swap

March 25, 2009

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]

love water

March 24, 2009

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…