Zachary Jones is a saddle-hardened fifth-generation rancher even though, on the surface, he may not look like one. As he threads his pickup truck through the back pasture of a quintessential Western expanse – one carpeted in flaxen-colored grass in the shadow of Montana’s Crazy Mountains – he bears little resemblance to the stereotype of the Stetson-wearing cowboy. No pointed boots or spurs. No denim. No bandanna. Not even a rifle mounted in the vehicle’s back window.
Instead, Mr. Jones is wearing cargo pants, a stylish shirt with a Patagonia logo on the front, and, most tellingly, Birkenstock sandals. You’d almost think he were heading to the monthly meeting of the men’s book club in Bozeman.
What he’s actually doing is checking on newborn Angus calves on his Twodot ranch following rumors that wolves might be prowling the area. In other words, real callous-forming wrangler work, which suggests another point: Out here, appearance sometimes has little to do with authenticity…(more)…
Filed under: Ecology, Environment, Food & Diet on July 30th, 2012 | No Comments »
AMSTERDAM — An unemployed man, a retired pharmacist and an upholsterer took their stations, behind tables covered in red gingham. Screwdrivers and sewing machines stood at the ready. Coffee, tea and cookies circulated. Hilij Held, a neighbor, wheeled in a zebra-striped suitcase and extracted a well-used iron. “It doesn’t work anymore,” she said. “No steam”…
…Conceived of as a way to help people reduce waste, the Repair Cafe concept has taken off since its debut two and a half years ago…
…Inspired by a design exhibit about the creative, cultural and economic benefits of repairing and recycling, she decided that helping people fix things was a practical way to prevent unnecessary waste….(more)…http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/09/world/europe/amsterdam-tries-to-change-culture-with-repair-cafes.html?_r=1
Filed under: Ecology, Environment, Money, Technology on May 9th, 2012 | No Comments »
Organic agriculture produces smaller harvests than conventional methods, but the difference can be minimized by employing the right techniques, a study finds.
Organic agriculture generally comes at a cost of smaller harvests compared with conventional agriculture, but that gap can be narrowed with careful selection of crop type, growing conditions and management techniques, according a new study.
Organic farming has been touted by supporters as a more environmentally sustainable method of farming that’s better for consumers because crops contain fewer man-made chemicals. But without the high-nitrogen fertilizers and pesticides often employed in conventional agriculture, it’s also less efficient.
“The organic-versus-conventional debate is very emotional, very heated, and it’s not really informed sufficiently by scientific evidence,” said Verena Seufert, a geographer at McGill University in Montreal and lead author of the study…(more)…http://www.latimes.com/news/science/la-sci-organic-farming-20120426,0,896912.story
Filed under: Ecology, Environment, Food & Diet, Gardening, Health, Technology on April 26th, 2012 | No Comments »
It is Saturday morning at 10:07 am and I find myself following a young man I have only just met down a narrow sidewalk between buildings, past a tall spruce tree to a humble but exceedingly well-kept little carriage house hidden in the middle of a block in North-East Portland. The slab of cement next to the garage has been swept clean, and on it, along with some hand painted pots of hellebores, sits a kind woman in her fifties next to a sturdy wooden table.
She is dressed in a navy blue and white linen suit that looks handmade. (Perhaps she has hand-stitched the trim herself?) The sun shines through the tree branches in this secret place and she smiles at me kindly and asks if I have been to the freestore before.
I tell her no, but my friend has been here and he told me about it. I tell her I have brought something with me and hold out a bag containing two books I’d read, a pair of pants my daughter won’t wear, and the slippers my mother gave me for my birthday. (They were by far the best slippers I’d ever had, still brand new, but a half-size too small and the store wouldn’t take returns.)
Filed under: Ecology, Money, Technology on April 23rd, 2012 | No Comments »
A man in his mid-50s helped grow a huge forest on a sand bar in the middle of the mighty Brahmaputra in Assam’s Jorhat district, which has caught attention of the government, tourists and film-makers.
The 30-year-long effort of Jadav Payeng, known among local people as ‘Mulai’, to grow the woods, stretching over an area of 550 hectares, has been hailed by the Assam Forest Department as ‘examplary’.
Mulai began work on the forest in 1980 when the social forestry division of Golaghat district launched a scheme of tree plantation on 200 hectares at Aruna Chapori situated at a distance of five KMs from Kokilamukh in Jorhat district…(more)…http://www.asianage.com/india/man-creates-forest-single-handedly-brahmaputra-sand-bar-972
Filed under: Ecology, Environment, Gardening on April 8th, 2012 | No Comments »
First, Google’s Street View mapped our neighborhoods. Then, the camera-adorned bike made its way to Antarctica. Now, the Street View team has mapped a section of the Amazon.
The project stitches together more than 50,000 photos to give viewers a virtual tour of the Rio Negro region. It allows people to float up the Amazon, visit villages, and walk trails through the rainforest all from the comfort of their desk….
For video and street views of the Amazon see: http://www.treehugger.com/clean-technology/google-street-view-maps-amazon.html
Filed under: Ecology, Environment, Technology on March 27th, 2012 | No Comments »
China recycles, big time (Image: View China Photo/Rex Features)
Don’t throw out that broken toaster: it’s key to our prosperity. Redesigning the economy so that all waste is reused or recycled would be good for business, according to two new reports.
For centuries the global economy has been linear. Companies extract resources from the environment, turn them into products and sell them to consumers – who eventually throw them out. As a result we are burning through Earth’s natural resources and wasting useful materials.
But it doesn’t have to be that way, says Felix Preston of think tank Chatham House in London. Instead, we could have a circular economy in which waste from one product is used in another…(more)…http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn21532-nowaste-circular-economy-is-good-business–ask-china.html
Filed under: Ecology, Environment, Technology on March 1st, 2012 | No Comments »
Seven sloping acres at the southwest edge of Jefferson Park is being transformed into an edible landscape and community park that will be known at the Beacon Food Forest, the largest of its kind in the nation. For the better part of a century, the land has languished in the hands of Seattle Public Utilities. That will all change this spring.
One full acre will be devoted to large chestnuts and walnuts in the overstory. There’ll be full-sized fruit trees in the understory, and berry shrubs, climbing vines, herbaceous plants, and vegetables closer to the ground…
…The entire project will be built around the concept of permaculture — an ecological design system, philosophy, and set of ethics and principles used to create perennial, self-sustaining landscapes…(more)…http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/dailyweekly/2012/02/beacon_hill_will_soon_boast_th.php
Filed under: Ecology, Environment, Food & Diet, Gardening on February 29th, 2012 | No Comments »
…With these “tiny houses,” Kittel says, you can cut your footprint down to 120 square feet, you cut your utility bill down to maybe $150 a year, you cut your taxes down, you cut your insurance down, your maintanence is nearly nothing.
Kittel is also planning to build houses in “village” groupings. ”I believe in the compound concept which everyone else has done for centuries — where we have a common central house, we have a big kitchen, we don’t have redundant facilities all over. We take on acre of land and put 10 tiny houses on it.” There would be areas designed as commons, but with the small individual homes, ”I can go back to my space and play Beethoven and you can go to yours and play rock and roll.”
He has “37 acres on the side of the highway [where] we’re going to set up several different villages. Like a musicians’ village, an elderly village, a village for our people that are coming down to do seminars to show not only that we can build houses but that we can build villages — sustainable sub-zero carbon footprint villages that are not only off the grid electrically, but that are also off the grid financially.”
Kittel sees his “pure salvage living” as part of the larger movement for more sustainable living, and he also advocates establishing community resource banks and turning to a barter system…( more)…http://www.truth-out.org/brad-kittel-builds-tiny-texas-houses/1330310543
Filed under: Ecology, Environment, Money, Technology on February 27th, 2012 | No Comments »
The R.E.I. storefront in Mountain View, California. Yes, R.E.I. is a coop.
Think you know what big business looks like? Think again. According to Charles Gould, Director-General of the International Cooperative Alliance, cooperatives are poised to be the fastest growing business model by 2020.
Values-based, community-supported and member-controlled, modern cooperatives have grown steadily since their inception in the late 1800s. Today, the top 300 cooperatives, or Global 300, generate as much revenue as the world’s ninth largest economy, or the economy of Spain. Meanwhile, new research shows that cooperatives worldwide have three times as many members as traditional businesses have shareholders — and provide 20% more jobs…(more… http://www.shareable.net/blog/co-ops-are-big-business-charles-gould-interview )
Filed under: Ecology, Money on February 24th, 2012 | No Comments »