Archive for the ‘action’ Category

my plastic obsession confession

July 6, 2011

UPDATE: All of the plastic bits were claimed by a budding fashion designer, Sarah, who will make plastic couture with them. I’m so excited to have found someone who’s going to put all of my trashy treasures to use!

I’ve admitted this before, but I think I’ve lapsed into denial for a spell. Here’s my confession: I can’t throw plastic away. Mainly because I’m fully aware there is no “away.” Away is a hole in the ground in the best case scenario, and in the worst, away is in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (there’s also a North Atlantic version, though it seems to get less press) and perhaps eventually our bodies (by way of the fish who are eating the plastic thinking it’s smaller fish or plankton). I think of the harmless creatures who end up living with and consuming this eternal flotsam. How can I discard all of these plastic bits that inevitably end up in my home in seemingly benign ways? Surely I won’t stop buying glass bottles of olive oil (with a plastic cap) or milk (with plastic cap), or stop buying plants (that come in plastic starter pots). And so I collect.

{bucket o’ plastic}

obsession #6

My collection started back when I had a regular day job and still drank coffee. I started thinking about my daily cup and the plastic (#6 polystyrene, or PS) lid that kept hot java from spilling on me or my computer. I thought about how just little old me was using up at least 250 of these plastic lids a year (now think of all of the people in the office, in the building, on the block, in the city, &c). For some time, instead of bringing my own travel mug, I continued to utilize this “free” paper cup and plastic lid as my vessel. And I began collecting. But then I quit my job and coffee along with it. To freelance gigs, I’d bring my own mug and tea. Though I still had that collection sitting in a box at home…

{PS. i hate you. yes, i’m talking to you, smiley plastic bear!}

 

what doesn’t get trashed, gets stashed

The #6 obsession was just the beginning. Plastic tabs from bread bags, bottle caps, grocery store vegetable conveyances – it all became fair game. Whatever bits of plastic I can’t recycle now get stashed in what has been deemed the crap closet, aka The Library of Trash (we are blessed with abundant closet space). The intention with the collection was to create something, a sculpture perhaps, that would heighten public awareness to the plastic pollution problem. My inspiration was an image that is deeply embedded in my psyche, encouraging my obsession to thrive: a dead albatross, stomach cut open to reveal about a half a pound of plastic bits.

{tragedy as a source of inspiration}

 

obsessions are obstructive

The collection sits and grows. And although my library of trash has proved useful for other projects, this sculpture I dreamed up has not come to be. I’ve decided it’s time to move on and find a new home for all the petroleum-derived bits & pieces. I know it will never really have a rightful home because it will outlast us by many millennia (no known organism has been found to degrade #6 plastic – move over Iron Age, the Plastic Age will live on in infamy!). But I imagine it will make a good material for kids’ art projects or might make a fellow trash artist happy for a while. I’m posting it on Craigslist, Freecycle, Krrb, Facebook, Twitter & right here. Any takers?

{polystyrene comes in many forms}

{#3 plastic, aka, PVC, polyvinyl chloride. another plastic i love to hate}

{this sticker is likely made of vinyl}

{i bring this form of polystyrene to the local postal shop for reuse}

{i’ll reuse some of these as packing material}

{it’s hard for me not to picture some kind of sea creature caught up in these nets}

For more about how to avoid the dangers of plastic & other toxins, check out Plastic Albatross.

related posts:

when will demand for virgin resources be exhausted?

revisiting the 3 Rs

 

it’s save the frogs day!

April 29, 2011

I couldn’t let this day go by without a nod to my amphibian friends (after all, raganella means tree frog in Italian). You might have heard that amphibian species are in trouble worldwide. Their numbers are declining, with numerous factors bringing about their demise. It’s a sad state of affairs. But that’s what this day is for. There are events taking place all over the globe to bring awareness to the frogs’ plight.

Find an event near you, or make one up (it doesn’t have to be just today, either).

Here’s one simple thing you can do to support frogs. Push for the banning of atrazine, a potent and widely used herbicide that’s no longer legal in Europe due to its harmful effects on amphibian reproduction and development (you can also take action via NRDC). Atrazine is the most commonly found pesticide in rainwater, groundwater, and tapwater in the US.

Frogs are an indicator species, showing us when an ecosystem is polluted or out of balance. Let’s listen to these sensitive creatures and stop using atrazine to kill plants (and unintentionally, amphibians).

 

new workshop: how to reduce petroleum use

June 26, 2010

Petroleum has made our lives incredibly convenient and comfortable, but at what cost? At no time has the evidence been more immediate to Americans that our hunger for oil has catastrophic consequences.

Join me and Julia Frodahl of Deer Stop Yoga in a discussion about how we can move beyond fossil fuels to discover a fulfilling and regenerative way of life. Ninety minutes of workshop time will be followed by 30 minutes of asana.

ECOLOGICAL LIVING WORKSHOP #2: How to Reduce Your Use of Petroleum
Thursday, July 15, 2010
7:00pm – 9:00pm
@ Deer Stop
455 Grand Street
Brooklyn, NY

REGISTRATION

This workshop is $25 and requires registration. Please email julia@thisiswherethedeerstop.org to register. Also, please consider re-posting this event for your friends. (Visit our facebook page)

DEER STOP: http://www.thisiswherethedeerstop.org/

“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world” ~John Muir

hairy solutions to an oily problem

June 16, 2010

Post-cut sweep up

I decided a couple of weeks ago it was time to cut my hair. I usually just throw it up into a ponytail anyway, so what’s the point of keeping it long? I thought about just shaving it off, but I reconsidered. Then, as I was nearing a decision on making an appointment, a message was delivered to my inbox. It came from Manhattan User’s Guide: an amazing list of ways to help out with the gulf oil disaster. I had been wondering what I could do (aside from try to throw money at it, but that doesn’t directly clean up the sludge) and this great newsletter informed me about a group called Matter of Trust that uses hair to clean up oil spills. Sweet serendipity!

So I made an appointment and let my hairdresser know what I was up to. I asked if she could tell the managers of the salon about it. Well, she did. Turns out, they love the idea and are going to save all of the hair from the salon for the cause.

I can’t imagine anyone not jumping at the chance to help out in this way, especially with a readily available resource like hair. We’ve all got it. Even our pets (and yes, that hair/fur can be sent, too). So I’m going to go around to some other salons in the city telling them about this great solution that they can be a part of.

To see learn more and see how hair cleans up oil, check out this video:

I heard today that Hooters waitresses are going to donate their torn nylons to the cause as well. Hey, every bit counts!

committed to a non-toxic lifestyle

June 10, 2010

I urge you to watch this series of important videos by Dr. Sanjay Gupta about how toxins are pervasive, persistent, and impacting us all, everyday.

An initial reaction to this might be easy to become paralyzed and perhaps feel helpless. But I see this as an opportunity to highlight the importance of our choices, especially what we choose to surround ourselves and our loved ones with. We all have the power to make these choices:

  • Choose organic and sustainably grown food and fibers
  • Opt for non-toxic cleaning supplies, beauty products, and furnishings
  • Advocate for improved energy efficiency, for alternative non-polluting fuels, and against the burning of fossil fuels
  • Support local businesses who source their goods responsibly
  • Buy used goods and think before purchasing new ones (whether they are really ‘needed’)
  • Help others find non-toxic solutions for their home and self care

Collectively, our actions have the power to shape our world. As the oft-quoted Gandhi said,

Almost anything you do seems insignificant. It is very important that you do it.
You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

I’m taking this opportunity to reaffirm my commitment to act as responsibly as I can to protect myself and others from toxic pollutants by making these choices. Are you with me?

worms are going to eat my garbage!

April 23, 2010

I’m very excited. Today, I got worms. Red wigglers. The kind that eat trash – food scraps to be exact. Now I won’t have to cart my compostables to the Union Square Farmers Market (a train ride away).

I’m a little concerned about the timing, since we’re heading to Milwaukee tomorrow to attend a Growing Power workshop. But I think I set it up so they’d be cozy enough until our return.

The worm condo

The future bedding

Worms need water, too

This isn't milk

It's full of worms who've been in there for 3 days!

All ready for the wormies!

My new pets

Worm food, aka frozen coffee grounds

I put in a few other little scraps of food for them. I hope they like their new home enough to not crawl out while we’re away!

recreating wilderness with reclaimed materials

March 22, 2010

This past weekend, I participated in Urban Wilderness Action Day, part of Eyebeam’s ElectroSmog Festival. My friend Kris & her hubby Pascal put together this little video recapping my role in the day.

Check out some photos of the murals & other forest elements I put together with reclaimed materials and heaps o’ help from some good friends. Birds & abstract fragment

Big hugs and thank yous to everyone who helped (Eric, DeeDee, Marga, Kris, Ian, Lauren) and made it possible (Stephanie & the Eyebeam crew, Materials for the Arts).

urban wilderness action day – this saturday!

March 15, 2010

It’s been quiet on this little blog for the last couple of weeks. I’ve been hard at work on a project. An urban wilderness intervention project to be exact. It all goes down this Saturday, March 20, at 1pm at Eyebeam (540 W 21st St). And I won’t be the only one staging a public intervention. Curious? Come check it out! Details below:

You are invited to join the Urban Wilderness Action Center for a day of action where people from NYC, Berlin, Amsterdam and London will design and disseminate projects around the theme of “urban wilderness.”
UWAC DAY is Saturday, March 20. Each of four lead cities will host a day of free artist-led interventions that respond to urban wilderness. We will document the day through a live Twitter, Flickr, and video feed streamed through the UWAC website.

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
Live video chat with all four sites: 3PM EST
Ongoing live Twitter feed from each project site at #UWAClive

1–6PM EST, NYC:
Join us at Eyebeam for a series of FREE and open to the public events:

  • Eyebeam Student Residents Caroline Spivack, Jade Highleyman, Luther Cherry, Spencer Brown, and Zoe Penina Baker are working with artists Doris Cacoilo and Sonali Sridhar and gardener / window farmer Maya Nayak to workshop a guerrilla gardening andventure. Participants on UWAC Day will craft and distribute their own plant-based urban intervention.
  • Tattfoo Tan (artist) will be onsite at Eyebeam collecting pledges for environmental stewardship, and teaching people the basics of urban friendly, worm-based composting. Free worms!
  • Matthew Slaats (artist) will be at Eyebeam signing up participants to join Freespace, an initiative which will be made up of are forgotten spaces, private spaces, lost spaces. People are invited to go out and find and reclaim a space, or donate a space they control in some way for a period of time.
  • Boswyck Farms will be demonstrating hydroponic systems, and introducing their new Mobile Guerrilla Kitchen.
  • Liz Neves (that’s me!) will invite participants to re-establish wilderness in NYC by recreating a lost world where beavers dammed and turtles swam in flowing streams, and foxes frollicked under towering trees.
  • Safari 7 will invite participants to embark on a self-guided tour of urban wildlife along the No. 7 Subway line.  Listen in, grab a map, and go!
  • Jay Weichun (filmmaker/artist) will be onsite from 2-6PM making flower bombs. Using a simple mixture of regional wildflower seeds, soil and clay, flower bombs are a fun way to spread color and life to places of neglect. Participants are invited to make their own flower bombs and form their own flower bombing collectives!

Come out and play on Urban Wilderness Action Day!

The Urban Wilderness Action Center (UWAC) is a project initiated by artist Jon Cohrs, in collaboration with the Eyebeam Student Residents, Eyebeam education coordinator Stephanie Pereira, and UK-based artist Kai-Oi Jay Yung. Please visit Eyebeam’s website for a complete schedule of events in London, Berlin, and Amsterdam:http://eyebeam.org/events/electrosmog-festival-urban-wilderness-action-center

UWAC has been conceived of as part of ElectroSmog, a new, three-day, international festival that will introduce and explore of concept of “Sustainable Immobility”: a critique of current systems of hyper mobility of people and products in travel and transport, and their ecological unsustainability.

a new f’ing wilderness

February 28, 2010

How do you envision urban wilderness? For me, this question brings to mind so many ideas and visions, of what’s wild and alive in the city today, of what was once wild and living in the city hundreds of years ago before the intensive “settling” by Europeans.

I answered this question on the Urban Wilderness Action Center (UWAC) website and will now be taking part in a UWAC Day put on by Eyebeam (et al) on March 20. Want to help out? Email me at: liz [at] raganella [dot] com

Learn more about the event here.

Below is my submission and a hint at how my action will go down:

The preservation, restoration, or natural succession of wild places in the city

24 Feb 2010 by Liz N, No Comments »

Brooklyn NY

What is Urban Wilderness and how do you envision it? : Wilderness is all around us though we’ve paved over much of it. It fights the asphalt, struggling to succeed. Finds its way through crack and crevice, planting itself in abandoned buildings, untended sidewalks and parking lots. Nature thrives in the edge. In the gravel live tiny microbes, under sidewalks in compacted street tree beds, mycorrhizae are at work on the roots of isolated trees.

Most immediately, there are fragmented patches of remnants of wilderness in the parks in which we find refuge from the urban hardscape. On a rare occasion, alone in Prospect Park on a trail in ‘the woods,’ I am no longer in the city, or not the city of 2010.

Wilderness is where we feel an unnameable pull, a call to our heritage, to the billion-year evolution of our inner flora. Where we feel more human and more part of the planet from which we’ve sprung. It can happen while crossing the street, maybe catching the flight of a bird or its song. Or we can try to make it happen, seeking a piece of earth to claim for an afternoon of reflection.

What type of interventions would love to see to help shape Urban Wilderness? We’re interested in both the practical and the fantastically impractical.: Reclaim riparian buffer zones. Take over the paved over. Dig up the pavement and concrete and build urbanite moss gardens in shady alleys and backyards. Plant trees, shrubs, wetland grasses where the pavement was.

Reconnect the urban forest. Have a ’stream’ of trees continuing from Wave Hill down to Central Park, down Park Avenue. A line of trees connecting all of the city’s parks, relinking the mycelial network that allows them to thrive. Migrating birds will find more sanctuary. Maybe we’ll begin to get a sense of the thickness of birds described by early settlers. The air will be a bit cleaner. A newfound sense of calm will fall upon even the most trafficked city neighborhoods.

How would you practically teach and perform such an intervention? (and Would you be interested in leading it?): To start: Hold public demonstrations of what was once present, before it was paved over, using data from the Mannahatta Project. Create giant posters covering the fronts of buildings with recreations of forest stands. Hang flocks of birds from wires between buildings.

Secondarily, convince city planning and officials that street trees should have continuous tree beds extending the length of city blocks. Dig away the sidewalk between trees and plant low-maintenance grasses and plants.

Optimistically, obtain parcels of land and get to replanting forests and riparian buffer zones. I know there would be many willing participants to dig in. There’s just the small matter of procuring the land. Maybe we could start with the 12,000 acres of vacant land in the city first.

I would love to lead this kind of intervention.

This post was submitted by Liz N.

Tags: , , , , ,

Image source: Hoggs Blog

When will demand for virgin resources be exhausted?

February 19, 2010

This post can also be seen on Greenopolis.

Aluminum seems like a fairly innocuous and ubiquitous material. It has many applications: foil for wrapping food, take-out containers, soda cans, electronics components, appliances, cooking wares, car parts. It’s all around us. But how many of us stop to think about where metals like this are coming from?

The great thing about aluminum is that it is considerably easy to recycle, it uses less energy and is extremely less polluting than creating virgin aluminum. Plus recycling it is cheaper than extracting bauxite ore (the base for aluminum). So why are we still creating virgin aluminum? And at what cost?

Virgin materials for making metals like aluminum are often found right in the middle of someone’s homeland, their source of health, wealth, and livelihood. The extraction of these materials requires the removal of people from their land.

The Dongria Kondh people of Niyamgiri mountain in India know what will come of them if a British mining company gets their way. Vedanta Resources wants to mine bauxite ore for making aluminum from their sacred land. But the Dongria Kondh will not have any of this. They’ve seen the destruction that has ensued on neighboring villages from Vedanta’s refinery. The naturally abundant water that comes from mountain streams is used not so much for drinking, but to keep the refinery processes running. Giant toxic slurry pits are a blunt forboding of what could come of Niyamgiri mountain.

The type of mining that would occur on the mountain would involve open pit mines that would eventually completely destroy the mountain. Here’s an example of an exhausted open pit bauxite mine in Kosovo:

This short film gives us a small hint of what would be lost if the mine operation goes forward. After watching the film visit Survival International’s website. They’re the only international organization supporting tribal peoples worldwide.

Watch:

There are a few small actions you can take to prevent the destruction of people, cultures, and land.

Buy less: Simply keeping the things you have longer rather than buying new will help keep virgin resources from being extracted.

Buy used: Used cars, used appliances, used cooking ware – you get the idea.

Buy recycled: Support brands like If You Care, who make 100% recycled aluminum foil.

Close the loop, recycle: One of the reasons why the US is not a global leader in aluminum recycling is because its citizens are not recycling. Be sure to sort out your aluminum goods from your other trash, regardless of whether you’re at home, at work, at a picnic, on vacation, or on the road.

Post inspired by this one at Elephant Journal.

Photo sources:

  1. Wikipedia
  2. Survival International
  3. Independent Commission for Mines and Minerals

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