Mothers’ Day is quickly coming up and a lot of us out here are wondering what we should get for the most important women in our lives. There are tons of great gifts out there, but if you want to try something special, original, and eco-friendly there are other options than the traditional earrings/chocolate/card combo that we all know so well. There are all kinds of creative and eco-friendly gifts that are on today’s market, ranging from jewelry crafted from recycled glass to the organic versions of the food Mom likes best.
This is the perfect season for flowers and spas, as we approach summer and mothers everywhere are preparing themselves for the craziness of summer. If either of you are worried about your carbon footprint, there’s no need to fret any longer. Buy a bouquet of flowers grown without pesticides or chemicals and accompany that with an organic spa basket. This basket can be filled with organic lotions, bath products, and soy wax candles. This way Mom can get the relaxation she craves, you get the satisfaction of giving your mother something she’ll love and use, and you both can feel good about doing good for the Earth.
If flowers and baths aren’t your Mom’s thing, maybe clothes are. The well known (and eco-friendly, as well as charitable) shoe company, TOMS, is making an “I heart Mom” patterned shoe in celebration of mothers day. Not only does she get an Earth-friendly pair of adorable shoes, but this also lets the company donate a pair to an underprivileged person in need of shoes. However, the clothing trend doesn’t end with shoes-there are tons of options for clothing made out of recycled or organic fabric. If Mom loves bright colors, for example, you can get a beautiful and colorful bag that is made out of recycled sari fabrics from India. If she loves dresses, you can get a soft, pretty dress that’s made out of bamboo. It’s fabulous for both your mom’s look and for the Earth.
Some of you may be wondering, “What about jewels? My mom loves those.” No worries! If you’re in the market for jewelry, there are plenty of options open for you. Necklaces, bracelets, and charms that are made out of recycled metals and glass are easy to find, stunning to wear, and help have a positive impact on the environment. From sake bottle necklaces to recycled metal charms, your mom is sure to love her gift.
Let’s not forget the inevitable-and delicious-Mothers’ Day gift: sweets. From organic bonbons to organic cookies, eco-friendly stores have your mom’s favorite options. Crisp sugar cookies that are not only cooked organically but are packed in a reusable and recycled tin can-sounds like a beautiful, sweet, and green gift to me.
If none of these are sounding like a good option, there’s one thing that will always tug your mom’s heartstrings and leave very little negative waste in the Earth. Plan a day for you and your mom: take a hike in the mountains, go swimming at the beach, help her plant her new garden. Your mom will love that you’re spending time with her, and you’ll cherish the memories you two create together. There’s nothing to worry about throwing out, or chemicals that will harm the environment, just a time that you both will remember lovingly.
So, remember: no matter what your mom’s favorite food, or clothes, or flowers are, you can find it in an organic, recycled, or eco-friendly option. Happy Mothers’ Day!
Adults are not alone in their concern for the health of the environment. Children, who will inherit what their forebears leave behind, are also showing an increasing awareness of the world and what sustains it. There are many easy ways for kids to get involved with environmentalism.
For parents looking to facilitate environmental awareness, it might be helpful to seek out a school or religious group that teaches about the environment and has activities. Going to nature-based camps is an excellent opportunity to connect with like-minded children and teens, in addition to learning about the environment, animals, and how to be active as an environmentalist.
My parents sent me to camps at a nature preserve (Fontanelle Forest in Nebraska) and later to a Jewish camp in Colorado that had a strong emphasis on nature-based activities (Shwayder Camp). While I always struggled getting adjusted at first, these places helped me grow and understand how I wanted to relate to the world around me.
Go to your local farmers’ market together and learn about vegetables and fruits. Talk with the farmers to get a better understanding of where the food comes from. Depending on the farmers’ market and time of year, there might be samples, cheese, eggs, frozen sea food, and even meat.
While many parents put it off, I encourage them to explain the connection between meat and animals rather early, especially those living in a meat-eating household. I know parents may try to shield sensitive children from the fact that they are eating their furry and feathered friends, but that just did not work out for my parents. When I learned to read, I unfortunately came upon a PETA site while searching my interests in environmentalism and animal rights, and POOF!!! – I became a vegetarian for six years and developed nutritional deficiencies because my household could not support my dietary choices, and I didn’t know how to manage it.
For younger children, learning the three R’s of “Reduce, reuse, and recycle” can be particularly fun with going to a thrift store and making costumes for a holiday or even making crafts out of what normally would be trash. There are some very clever ideas out there like making caterpillars out of empty egg cartons (see http://www.dltk-kids.com/crafts/insects/mcaterpillar.htm). Keep in mind that the plastic googly-eyes can easily be replaced with spare odds and ends around the house like a leftover button or a button from a holey shirt! The importance of recycling cans and excess papers is one that children can easily pick up on.
Especially for kids who live in the city, or really any kid, it is essential to foster an appreciation of nature through experiencing it. Children can easily grasp and attach to this appreciation for nature’s intrinsic beauty, connecting to a long line of conservationists, like John Muir. It doesn’t have to be a three night canoe trip or hitting up a famous national park half-way across the country. Getting a plot in a city garden and working on it with your child or children a few times a week can create a huge appreciation for nature and plants.
Alternatively, going to a zoo that has enclosures replicating animals’ natural habitats with enough space may be particularly enjoyable for children. Going for a walk in a nature reserve for a few hours or on a canoe ride is often amazing. Such endeavors need not become routine, and a trip into the wilderness or nature once and a while can create a great impact.
When going on excursions, explain the basics of conservation. While I recall my dad having a particularly interesting perspective given that he was actually a developer and had worked to preserve certain creeks and wooded areas, and once even turned down a large lumber deal due to an endangered owl, there are basic elements that help a child learn how humans and the environment interact. Bringing a bag on walks and hikes together to pick up litter and properly dispose of it teaches a sense of stewardship. Be sure to clearly express to children that they should not touch or pick up syringes or sharp objects, especially when in parks where they are more likely to accumulate.
If you are involved with activism or philanthropy around environmentalism, get your child involved. It is an ideal way to teach your child how organizations and governments work, in addition to giving a sense of contributing to society.
Many Audubon Societies host student bird drawing competitions that encourage kids to connect to birds and learn about their habitats and diets. I participated in these for nine years, and my sister won several awards.
By Emily F.
Menlo Park-based QBotix Inc is in the process of revolutionizing solar panel energy efficiency through the implementation of robots used for their innovative tracking technologies.
SolBots, developed by the company, do not require individualized motors in each solar panel as currently deployed in most solar panel tracker fields. These SolBot units traverse a monorail-type track encompassing the solar panel fields and move from panel unit-to-unit, automatically rotating each panel to maximize energy efficiency with the movements of the sun throughout the day.
QBotix CEO Wasiq Bokhari explains, “While a number of solar PV (photovoltaic SolBot module trackers) trends are driving in the direction of decentralization such as distributed generation and power electronics, QBotix tracking insights have led to the centralization of utility scale tracker array motors into mobile solar robots.” (Gunther)
The “tracked area” of a solar panel field conventionally includes each solar panel having a motor installed in its base to control changes in angle adjustment in accordance with the movements of the sun. However, QBotix envisions a motorless tracker that removes a key expense driver and failure point in maintaining energy output of the tracked area.
QBotix technology enables several SolBots (one primary, one backup) so that each robot carries a pair of motors from one mechanically (motorless) tracking pole (solar panel) to the next. As the sun moves about ten degrees across the sky every forty minutes, it is possible for QBotix to adjust each tracker once over this interval to track the sun and maximize yields. (Gunther)
In its first commercial product offering, the QBotix Tracking System (QTS) uses a SolBot riding a steel monorail between trackers to control two hundred mechanical PV trackers each. QBotix claims, “QTS reduces the cost of dual-axis tracking by a factor of two, decreases the number of motors by a factor of one-hundred, and can withstand high wind loads. Energy yield is increased by 8-15% over single-axis trackers and 30-40% over fixed tilt PV systems, lowering the cost of energy by up to 20%.” (Gunther)
Each SolBot is embedded with processors, sensors, GPS, and independent communications to monitor PV plant performance, predict failures, and schedule maintenance. Each solar robot is independently battery-powered and costs QBotix about $.30 to charge per-day.
The QTS system has an advantage in that the system can be installed on uneven or sloping land and requires no extensive underground cabling currently employed to power tracking solar panel stations. The first installations of QTS systems will occur in San Francisco with potential customer Siemens Technology-To-Business Center. A second installation is planned for the City of Alameda at the Santa Rita Jail with construction planned for September 2012.
QBotix was founded two-years ago, in August 2010, and has raised over $7.5 million in funding in March 2012 from New Enterprise Associates, Firelake Capital, Siemens Venture Capital, and DFJ JAIC. (Gunther) The company currently has twenty-five full-time employees and is proud to boast that the company sources and builds the solar robots on site using commonly found, store-bought components and machinery.
This exciting technological leap has a huge upside to increase energy efficiency by eliminating multiple motors at individual tracking stations and lower the operating costs for solar panel energy conversion. As QBotix implements two trials in 2012, the company offers a new, positive and economically friendly way to manage solar power.
By Chase A.
Gunther, Edgar A. QBotix: Rise of the Solbots. 11 September 2012. 12 September 2012. <http://guntherportfolio.com/2012/09/qbotix-rise-of-the-solbots/>.
Upon hearing of the tragic passing of Sage Stallone after having five teeth pulled, I was reminded of the trauma that dental work can be. I am grateful we have talented, dedicated dentists who work really hard doing such precise, demanding, and challenging work; however, with the gifts of modern medicine comes the caveat of being overly pathologized. We tend to implicitly trust our health care providers, and take the necessity of certain procedures for granted. Prophylactic wisdom tooth removal is one such procedure.
People do not realize how serious dental surgery is, and the agony it can cause. Because dangerous pain killers like vicodin are often prescribed after the surgery, this is also a concern for young people, especially those prone to addiction. With addiction to pain pills sky rocketing, keeping kids away from them when possible is a good idea.
Dentists agree that impacted wisdom teeth should be removed if there are pathological changes in them, including pain, infection, decay, lesion, or cyst. But when there is absolutely nothing wrong with them, their removal becomes more of an antiquated habit, rather than a health-promoting procedure.
Most of us will experience having this procedure done without questioning the reasons for doing so. But perhaps we should not let our teeth be pulled out of our heads without first asking a few more questions.
This is a video of a very good-natured young man named Chaddy after his wisdom tooth surgery:
He is being a great sport, and everyone seems to think this is hilarious. I think it is horrific: an unnecessary, traumatic cranial injury – not at all funny. Young people trust their parents and doctors to do the right thing. Prophylactic removal of wisdom teeth is a racket. Our teeth are an important part of our skulls, and whenever possible we should keep them. No reliable research evidence exists to support claims of health benefits to patients from the prophylactic removal of pathology-free impacted wisdom teeth.
Dr. Eric Curtis, DDS, spokesman for the Academy of General Dentistry, says, “In the public’s mind, dentistry is really routine. You turn 18, and you think it is time for wisdom teeth to come out. It is almost ubiquitous, a rite of passage.” At least 5 million people undergo the surgery every year at a cost of 3 billion dollars. It is so common that patients have stopped thinking of it as a serious medical procedure.
This widespread surgery “subjects individuals and society to unnecessary costs, avoidable morbidity and the risks of permanent injury.” According to a 2007 report published in the American Journal of Public Health, more than 11,000 people each year sustain permanent nerve damage following wisdom tooth extraction. Tragically 17-year-old Jenny Olenick of Maryland and 14-year-old Ben Ellis of Georgia both died from unnecessary wisdom tooth extraction in 2011.
It is not the dentists’ (and oral surgeons’) fault that they are inclined to do these procedures. This is what their training and schooling prepares them for; and so in order to change national policy and dental education, a decision to institute policy change needs to be made by those in charge of dental colleges and organizations.
“Everybody is at risk for appendicitis, but do you take out everyone’s appendix?” asks Dr. Greg Huang, chairman of orthodontics at the University of Washington in Seattle. “I’m not against removing wisdom teeth, but you should do an assessment and have a good clinical reason.” Studies suggest that no more than 12 percent of impactions lead to infections or damage to adjacent teeth – about the same incidence as appendicitis. Yet, no medical associations recommend prophylactic appendectomy.
In 2006, the Cochrane Collaboration published a review of the practice and suggested that the number of surgeries could be drastically reduced using “prudent decision-making, with adherence to specified indicators for removal.” Prophylactic extraction is “likely to be ineffective or harmful.” The report advised against extracting asymptomatic, disease-free wisdom teeth because of the risks, which include permanent nerve damage, hemorrhage, dry socket, and infection, and extreme pain and swelling caused by the operation.
Sometimes it is said the surgery will prevent crowding, but this concern is overblown. “Removal of third molars to prevent late incisor crowding cannot be justified.” An on-going study in Denmark indicates that “watchful monitoring” is an appropriate strategy. This means going to a dentist periodically throughout one’s life for teeth cleaning and checking to make sure the wisdom teeth are still doing well, just as the rest of the teeth are checked. (On a side note, if a filling is ever needed for a tooth, make sure to get the white composite filling, rather than the silver filling which contains the poison mercury!)
The American Public Health Association recommends against prophylactic wisdom tooth removal because “the removal of these teeth, like the removal of any teeth, should be based on evidence of diagnosed pathology or demonstrable need, rather than anticipated future pathology.” The APHA’s position is drawn from scientific research that documents the risks of injury to the nerves of the jaw, which can cause permanent numbness of the tongue, lips, and cheeks, as well as damage to the temporomandibular (jaw) joint and adjacent teeth.
During the surgery, the patient receives anesthesia, and afterwards strong pain killers like Vicodin may be prescribed, which can set a young person up for addiction. Best not to endure this type of invasive injury in the first place – having your teeth carved out of your skull sounds like something that should only be done as an absolute last resort any way.
Every operation carries risk, especially those that are done near the brain, so why put ourselves through this torture voluntarily? Please educate those you know in the age range of 17-24 (when the operation is usually performed) that they should make sure they actually absolutely have to go through with this. If it is not medically necessary, then brushing your teeth and healthy eating might be better for your dental and overall wellbeing than major surgery.
1. Moisse, Katie. “Parents Sue After Teen Dies During Wisdom Tooth Surgery.” ABC News. 15 December 2011. Web. 23 August 2012.
2. Rabin, Roni Caryn. “Wisdom of Having That Tooth Removed” The New York Times. 05 September 2011. Web. 23 August 2012.
3. “No Wisdom In Routinely Pulling Wisdom Teeth, Study Says.” Science Daily. 29 April 2005. Web. 23 August 2012.
4. “Wisdom teeth – removal (TA1).” National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. 10 January 2011. Web. 23 August 2012.
1 cup sunflower seeds (soaked overnight, drained and rinsed)
1 cup almonds (soaked overnight, drained and rinsed)
1 cup Brazil nuts (soaked overnight, drained and rinsed)
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes (soaked overnight)
1/4 cup ground flax
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. onion powder
2 – 4 tsp. nutritional yeast (to taste)
I initially set out to make a raw version of “Cheez-Its” this weekend.
I used to love Cheez-Its. LOVE them. Especially the “white cheddar” variety.
Though, these days, eating all that processed flour, oil, and sugar does not sit so well with my body.
I soaked everything overnight, and immediately after returning from the farmer’s market Sunday morning, I got to work. The end result was extremely delicious, but actually tasted more like pizza.
So, voila! Raw Pizza Crackers!
Soak sunflower seeds, almonds, Brazil nuts, and sun-dried tomatoes overnight.
In the morning, drain everything, and rinse the seeds and nuts thoroughly under filtered water.
First, grind the flax into a fine powder. Then, add in the seeds and nuts. Process thoroughly, until you have a ball of “dough.” Add all the remaining spices, and the nutritional yeast, to taste. Start with 2 teaspoons, and add more if desired. This is what will give the crackers a “cheesy” taste, so add more until the mixture is as cheesy as you want.
Spread and flatten dough very thin onto a non-stick sheet.
Dehydrate until the top is dry and slightly crispy, then flip the dough, and use a pizza cutter or knife to score it, make individual crackers. Continue to dehydrate until nice and crispy.
As usual, if you don’t have a dehydrator, just use your oven on the lowest possible setting, with the door cracked open.
There you are—Raw Pizza Crackers! Dip them, top them, or enjoy them as is.
Raw? Vegan? Vegetarian? Lacto-Ovo? Pescatarian? Mediterranean? There have been so many diets promoted in natural health circles in America over the last decades. It seems they all have various benefits. And the one thing most have in common is the avoidance of consuming of cows and pigs.
Red meat and pork have no known health benefits. The animals are treated brutally and killed in a gruesome bloodbath that is easy to ignore because so few have witnessed our fellow mammals’ slaughter. Those who are employed to do the dirty work get very low wages and often incur injuries because of the size and weight of the animals and the speed of the work. It is very difficult to watch. Even when Cargill, one of the largest meat processing companies in the nation, allowed Oprah Winfrey into a couple of sanitized areas of a processing plant, they did not allow her cameras to film a cow being killed. Out of sight means out of mind.
We are very fortunate that there are so many other things to eat! This meat can feel energizing because of all the adrenaline in the animal when it is killed, and there is iron in blood and flesh, but there is also iron in spinach, dried fruit, and lentils. There is a tradition of the hunt and the roast, and this holds a special allure and place in our hearts. However, when you realize that is far from how the animals get to our plates nowadays, the romanticized vision vanishes.
One hamburger can contain up to 100 different cows. The US kills 35 million cows a year, and 13,200 pigs an hour. That is a lot of bloodshed, death, and killing. What would our country be like if that stopped? Our cardiovascular health would improve, as would our regularity. Less suffering for the animals coincides with less suffering for humanity.
If you would like to see what really goes on behind the closed doors of the slaughterhouse, it is a great motivator for change, although very sad to watch:
These videos have a louder volume, so you may wish to mute (this also makes them more bearable to watch):
This was filmed at Agriprocessors which was the largest (Glatt) Kosher meat producer in the United States, and the only one authorized by Israel’s Orthodox Rabbinate to export beef to Israel, before it was shut down in 2008 by inspectors (best to mute):
Thank you for being willing to read this, and watching some of the videos. I know it is very difficult to consider this topic because for so long we have been removed from the reality of it and since we were children we were taught to eat a certain way. Make sure to be gentle with yourself and go slowly when making changes in eating habits. Perhaps begin with a “meatless Monday.”
This film describes the positive environmental impacts that forgoing meat just one day a week can make:
For a well done documentary about one man’s journey with this issue, watch this clip:
Another inspiring story with regards to getting back to a plant-based diet is that of Dave the trucker. He was dying when he decided he had to tackle this problem head on:
Even the Mayo Clinic recommends “meatless meals”:
Recent articles in the LA Times and the Huffington Post lend weight to this conclusion:
Because of all the droughts we have been having in the US, the cattle are starving, and the herds are shrinking:
Cows are very gentle creatures. There is no skill or chase in hunting them. They are docile pacifists who give their milk and eat grass. They hurt no one, and do not deserve this torture. Pigs frolic and forage, are as sociable and intelligent as dogs, and genetically are surprisingly similar to humans (more so than any other domesticated animal):
The slaughter house is like hell on earth. It is time for the madness to end. It does not have to be this way. Humans have freedom of choice, and when we know better, we do better. And when we learn, we care.
These items can function in place of meats in traditional American recipes when needed, they’re pretty tasty, and the most popular ones are available at supermarkets:
I had a great experience when I asked my supermarket to carry a natural product they did not already have, and they now stock it in the store – thank you Vons!
If you are taking medications or have had surgery, please consult your doctor before making any changes in your diet and only undertake such changes under her/his supervision and monitoring. This is because dietary changes can lessen the need for certain medications. Also, listen to your body – if you need red meat, eat it. If you can avoid it when possible, and still feel good, please do. This article is for informational purposes only, and is not to be construed as medical advice.
America has the finest high-tech medical care in the world. If a person is in an accident, the emergency care is exemplary. We also have dedicated, energetic scientists working hard to develop new treatments every day.
I think one area we have not fully accessed is nature and indigenous knowledge. There is still a place for science within this realm, working in harmony with the natural world and people who live in close communion with it to learn from them how we too can do so more gracefully. Preventative health care begins with focusing on sustainable agriculture. This will also help stabilize the climate and prevent war, as hungry people are more belligerent. If you think I am joking, try fasting and working at the same time, and see how long you last.
Traditional crossbreeding of plants is safer and wiser than genetic engineering. Researching and testing the most reliable healing plants and fruits in each region of the earth provides a fertile field for academic and commercial institutions. If we try to leave nature behind, we will not get far, as evidenced by our current state of crisis.
For example, blackberries are incredibly healthy. They grow wild all over the Pacific Northwest of the United States. There is a wonderful blackberry breeding program at Oregon State University that has developed a number of delicious (thornless even!) blackberry varieties. If everyone in this region had a blackberry bush or free blackberries available, many health concerns could be assuaged. Daily berries (in season) really do make a difference in health. Blueberries could be cultivated freely throughout the Northeast. Mangos, avocados, and peaches can be grown in the warmer regions of the country. People’s health is in part determined by the quality of their food and drink. Organic farming will restore the land.
Before you protest and say this will never happen—asserting that we have public space set aside for nature and parks, but only planted with ornamentals—get a load of what the city of Seattle is doing!
In the neighborhood of Beacon Hill a seven acre plot is being planted with grapes, apples, raspberries, blueberries, pears, plums, pineapple, guava, persimmons, and other fruit trees, as well as herbs, chestnuts, and walnuts! It is called the Beacon Food Forest, and was designed in 2009 by students in a permaculture class. beaconfoodforest.weebly.com
The trial plot of two acres is being planted this summer, with the remaining five acres to be completed at a later date. This will be a true, sustainable food bank! Here is a video showing the first plantings:
The founding members of the project hope to educate the community of the benefits of permaculture through the site. Margarett Harrison, lead landscape architect, states, “This is totally innovative, and has never been done before in a public park!”
Jenny Pell, permaculturist, explains, “People worried, ‘What if someone comes and takes all the blueberries?’ That could very well happen, but maybe someone needed those blueberries. We look at it this way—if we have none at the end of blueberry season then it means we’re successful.”
Local residents have been enthusiastically pitching in and signing up with comments like, “Put me to work – I can’t wait to get my hands dirty,” and, “Let me know when I can show up with my wheelbarrow.” Help with propagating, mulching, and pruning is welcomed. “People will come in and for example help cut the raspberries back and then be able to take home five or ten raspberry plants to put in their own backyard!” proclaims Pell.
“When we met with all the different people from the community, what they wanted actually was fruits and berries and big nut trees- that was their biggest request. So, we’re looking at paths with berry bushes on both sides, and we’re going to have mixed fruit orchards, and big nut orchards. It will be the largest food forest on public lands in the United States.”
A couple of other folks worldwide have been at the forefront of this movement to get free produce to everyone while reforesting the earth. Kenya’s Queen of the Trees Professor Wangari Maathai inspired the planting of 47 million trees in Kenya and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her contribution to “sustainable development, democracy and peace.” Her vision of environmental stewardship rather than plunder of natural resources (which has been the accepted norm) has inspired many people. She especially encouraged women to plant trees, beginning the www.Greenbeltmovement.org in 1977.
When she started her work, Professor Maathai saw that “behind the everyday hardships of the poor—environmental degradation, deforestation, and food insecurity—were deeper issues of disempowerment, disenfranchisement, and a loss of the traditional values that had previously enabled communities to protect their environment, work together for mutual benefit, and to do both selflessly and honestly.”
Simply put, Professor Maathai said, “If you destroy the forest then the river will stop flowing, the rains will become irregular, the crops will fail and you will die of hunger and starvation… We cannot tire or give up. We owe it to the present and future generations of all species to rise up and walk.”
Anthony Anderson of www.growparadise.com states, “When we realize that we can quite easily and quickly begin to grow paradise right where we live, our power returns to us! Growing paradise requires nothing but the spirit of love and growth within us. We invite you to become a part of this, whether directly or by spreading the ideas and growing paradise in your own backyard and local community. Grow paradise. It is ours if we really want it.” He has seeded food forests in Minnesota, California, Arizona, and Cape Town, South Africa.
David Wolfe started the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation www.ftpf.org, which is a nonprofit charity dedicated to planting 18 billion organic fruit trees to “benefit the environment and all its inhabitants!”
“We envision a place where one can have a summer picnic under the shade of a fruit tree, breathe the clean air it generates, and not have to bring anything other than an appetite for the healthy fruits growing overhead. A world where one can take a walk in the park during a lunch break, pick and eat a variety of delicious fruits, plant the seeds so others can eventually do the same and provide an alternative to buying environmentally-destructive, illness-causing, chemically-laden products.”
A pioneer in community agriculture, Farmer John of www.angelicorganics.com states, “Agriculture is an underpinning of our culture. The irrepressibility of life on a farm continually manifests in myriad splendid expressions of life. This glorious unfolding provides us with the sustenance of food, while endlessly nourishing the creative spirit.”
I am very grateful for the amazing hospitals and health care workers we have in this country. They are overburdened, however, because of a lack of preventative and conservational care. With a focus on collective, populist, sustainable agriculture to grow healthy food and medicine for all, chronic disease will diminish, as much chronic degenerative disease is caused by diet and stress related to survival. Food is our first primary need. A plant-based diet is advocated as a foundation for health by leading physicians like Dr. Oz, Dr. Weil, Dr. Chopra, and Dr. Mcdougall.
Combining the skills of doctors, nurses, herbalists, midwives, doulas, shamans, gardeners, farmers, artists and other healers in the community, medicine can evolve beyond a solely symptoms-oriented approach to exploring the source, the roots of imbalance and disease. To do this we must look for help toward our origin and our sustenance – the earth.
For those interested in getting closer to the earth in the LA area and visiting the local farms, go to www.pickyourown.org/CAla.htm.
By Ashley H.
1. Blazing a Trail for a Better Bounty of Oregon Berries. (2011, July 26). Retrieved from www.oregonlive.com.
2. Seattle Food Forest. (2012, March 9). Retrieved from www.loe.org.
3. Husted, K. (2012, March 1). Seattle’s First Urban Food Forest will be Open to Foragers. Retrieved from www.npr.org.
4. Leschin-Hoar, B. C. (1, February 2012). It’s Not a Fairytale: Seattle to Build Nation’s First Food Forest . Retrieved from www.takepart.com.
As far as modern construction goes, a building of just about any shape imaginable can now be erected. From squares, to rectangles to spheres to hexagons, there are no limits to modern design- and architects are putting this limitless approach into practice every day. But this has not been a modern development; ancient builders utilized many different shapes, and many different practices to construct some of the grandest, and now longest standing, structures. The Pyramid of Giza, the tallest man-made structure in the world up until the completion of the Eiffel tower, was assembled using thousands of rectangular stones. The Pantheon in Rome was built using concentric circles fixed into a half sphere-shape set atop a rectangular building, and the Hagia Sophia, Taj Mahal and St. Peter’s Basilica all feature a similar spherical dome in their design.
A dome is essentially just an arch rotated around a central axis and continued all the way to the floor, creating an inner area free of support columns or pillars. The oldest domed structures ever found date back over 20,000 years. Found in the Ukraine in 1965, these simple dwellings were constructed using mammoth bones and tusks, though most early domes are thought to have been made out of bent over branches and layers of mud. Being so easy to erect, these structures allowed very early peoples to move with the seasons and follow their food supply. Because they have been found all over the world, it is thought that domes did not have a specific point of origin. Throughout human history the dome has been a staple of architecture for many cultures including those found in Mesopotamia, China and Syria- even the ancient Egyptians made regular use of domes in their building practices.
While domes seemed to be far more common in previous time periods, they are still being built today. Most modern domes are now designed with a bit more precision, but essentially the idea has not changed for millennia. Glass, concrete and steel has replaced many of the older building materials, and now engineered domes can be used for nearly every conceivable application. Pre-engineered and designed for any use, they can be built free standing or as an addition to almost every shape used in modern construction. There are several ways in which most domes today are built: either using a steel framed half-sphere and large glass panes, a similar metal skeletal frame around which is fixed an airfoil held up by constant air pressure supplied from within by massive fans or with a series of steel rebar set into blown-in concrete followed by layers of insulation and a finished “drywall” material. The location and intended use usually determines the dome’s method of construction
Domes have been used in the construction of many modern-era homes. So-called dome homes, geodesic or otherwise, were exceedingly popular in the 1960’s and though less popular are still being built today. Along with rather simple design and low cost building materials, domes are a very efficient and cost effective use of square footage, and can help retain heat in cooler times while dissipating it during warmer periods.
Being free standing structures, domes are also used as stadiums and gymnasiums where open space is a necessity. Since they do not need any support structures or pillars to hold up their roofs, domes have been constructed to house many indoor sports fields in less than hospitable climates all over the world. From the Astrodome in Houston and the Superdome in New Orleans, to the dome over the O2 Arena in London, many sports teams now call domes home. The Global Pagoda, now under construction in Bombay, India, is being built using modern as well as ancient Indian methods and was designed to last for thousands of years- a testament to the domes enduring characteristics.
By Will Inglis
Building Big. Domes. WGBH. PBS Online. n.d.
Welcome to monolithic.com. Monolithic Dome Homes. n.d.
ZWQ43. “Domes of the Past Present and Future.” Architecture: Domes Throughout History. YAHOOVoices. YAHOO. July7, 2008
Ever since humanity first gathered in family and tribal bands, our choice of shelter has played a major role in our survival. For a millennia we were confined to caves and forests, reliant on nature to provide us with protection from the elements. Creating more permanent dwellings allowed us to store away more food and also to survive longer periods without having to follow herds or the seasons to survive. From hobbit holes to mall sized mansions to floating apartment buildings, we have expanded our idea of housing to encompass any and every type of dwelling imaginable. Over the years we have a come a long way, from simple animal skin tents to penthouses perched high atop massive sky scrapers: The idea of a simple roof over our heads has grown to much more than the literal interpretation of the phrase.
More recently the idea of sustainable building has developers and consumers alike realizing that building green has its benefits. By implementing economically sound practices such as double pane windows, using more efficient insulation, installing solar tubes and Energy Star rated appliances, just to name a few, the money saved on utilities alone can be staggering over the life of the building. Not only that, but many consumers are now looking to purchase more energy-efficient homes. In fact, according to McGraw-Hill Construction, market share for green homes has more than doubled since 2008, from 8% to 17%. That’s not all, according to the same report, in the next few years that number could grow to somewhere between 29%-38%, or to put in plainly, as high as $114 billion annually. Sustainable construction may not be for just the hippies and tree huggers anymore, it could carve a serious chunk out of the housing market, and builders might be wise to take notice.
In 2000 the U.S. Green Building Council introduced LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) in order to provide developers with guidelines to help reduce their impact on the environment. Since then several other programs have sprouted up, and nearly all offer incentives for green building practices. For example Energy Star offers a $2,000 dollar “refund” for using appliances, and a labeling system for builders to feature in their listings.
Along with a growing market share comes higher asking prices, which builders say home buyers are willing to pay for more sustainable homes. Consumers not only see green building as more efficient, but more reliable and long lasting. In fact in the study put out by McGraw-Hill, 61% of home buyers and 66% of re-modelers are willing to pay a higher premium for green homes. Harvey Bernstein, Vice President of Industry Insights and Alliances at McGraw-Hill notes, “When builders are able to offer homes that not only are green, but also offer the combination of higher quality and better value, they have a major competitive edge over those building traditional homes.”
Being a developer myself, I’ve tried to implement as many green practices as possible. Although it initially affected my bottom line, over time I noticed that the more efficient homes were much easier to sell, and like anything else the more practice you have the more you can perfect the process. Certain things will possibly never be changed, our reliance on petroleum based plastics and copper wiring may be here to stay, but who knows if someone comes out with an alternative it may be able to further reduce the carbon footprint modern construction leaves behind. The green movement seems to be permeating all areas of our daily lives. From transportation to heavy industry to sustainable food growth we are now considering our place in the ecosystem and trying to work with nature instead of against it. Perhaps our newfound love of green living doesn’t place us as far away from animal hide tents and thatched roof homes as we think.
By Will Inglis
“Quality and Value Driving Growth in the Green Building Market—According to New McGraw-Hill Construction SmartMarket Report on Green Homes and Remodeling.” Press Release . McGraw Hill Construction. May 1, 2012
Marcacci, Silvio. “Green Home Building Booming, Could Be $114 Billion Market By 2016.” Clean Technica. June 1, 2012
US Green Building Council. What LEED is. US Green Building Council. n.d.
New evidence has shown that a “hot spot” could cause sea levels on the eastern seaboard of the US to advance faster than the projected global average. This increase is attributed to a change in the North Atlantic current, which scientist say is warming and as a result slowing down.
The affected are stretches over 600 miles, from North Carolina all the way to northern Massachusetts. In a study conducted by the USGS, global sea levels have risen between 0.6 and one millimeter per year since 1990, but levels along this portion of the eastern seaboard have gone up 3.7 millimeters in some areas- four times the global average. You may be thinking that this is such a small rise, how could it possibly affect things? Over a few years, yes, the difference may be fairly negligible, but over several decades the change adds up. This rise happens not just at a quicker rate, but at a more rapid pace, like a car on a highway “jamming on the accelerator,” says the study’s lead author, Asbury Sallenger Jr., an oceanographer at USGS. He has observed sea levels since the 1950′s, and noticed a change beginning in 1990.
By the year 2100 global sea levels are anticipated to rise more than a meter, the added increase caused by this “hot spot” could add almost an extra foot of water on top of that. “Extreme water levels that happen during winter or tropical storms, perhaps once or twice a year, may happen more frequently as sea level rise is added to storm surge,” says Karen Doran, co-author of the USGS study. This will undoubtedly cause many large population centers below this new waterline more than a little trouble in the coming decades. The number of people living in New York City, Boston, and Philadelphia, just to name a few of the cities that will likely be affected—and their likely exit from the area before, during or after the floods—poses a real problem. Where are all of these people going to go? New York City alone has over 8 million people. That’s more than a serious traffic jam; it’s an exodus, a migration of mass proportions.
Regardless if you are for or against the argument that man has caused global warming, the simple fact is that the world as we know it is getting hotter. We cannot ignore the reality that sea levels and climate as a whole are going through a major transition-nor the fact that this is a part of normal Earth function. Our planet constantly ebbs and flows between warm and cool periods- and as a result wet and dry periods. More water is locked up in ice during the cooler periods, resulting in lower sea levels, while during warmer periods more water is in liquid form, causing sea levels to rise.
Whether we are speeding up the process, all of this is part of the Earth’s natural cycles. As a species we have even experienced it before- though this was thousands of years ago and little of our ancestor’s accounts of such phenomenon and how they dealt with them remain for us to study. But many cultures share in common a flood story of some type, where in the earth is inundated by massive floods that wipe much of the earth clean of life— or at the least dramatically change the landscape.
Are we in for another flood? Scientists think so, but not on the order of world-ending myths so common to many ancient cultures. No need to rush out to your local hardware store and start construction on an ark. That being said, many cities and countries might want to take some preventative measures.
Immediate or not, we need to start to think outside of the box as to how we will deal with climate change, and building over water is one alternative to trying to divert it. This may be one of many answers to increased sea levels that seemingly every scientist agrees are in our future, the time to argue over the existence of global warming has come and gone. The time to take action is now and the sooner we prepare, the less the effects will be felt by future generations.
By Will Inglis