Sun Feb 7th, 2016 at 12:58:21 PM EST
Cooling towers into green communities
Aker - snap together kits for urban ag
One of the POC [Proof of Concept] ideas from COP 21
Agritecture: "Your source for vertical farming and urban agriculture news, business, and design."
Local Roots Farms - local produce anywhere
Bell Book and Candle - NYC farm to table restaurant, rated as one of the best in the country. "SOME ITEMS WE PRODUCE THROUGHOUT THE YEAR FROM OUR AEROPONIC ROOFTOP GARDEN LISTED BELOW: Sage, Chive, Chervil, Cilantro, Dill, Genovese Basil, Opal Basil, Italian and Flat Leaf Parsley, Spearmint, Rosemary, 4 varieties of Nasturtium, Cheddar Cauliflower, Purple Tomatillo, Tomatillo, Japanese and Kermit Eggplant, 2 varieties of Arugula, 4 varieties of Cherry Tomato, Great White Tomato, Bibb Lettuce, Red Oak Leaf, Red Romaine, Green Romaine, Lola Rosa, Frisee, Green Crisp, Poblano Pepper, and Fennel."
SPREAD, a Japanese company, will open the world's first robot-controlled farm in Fall 2017, producing 11 million heads of lettuce each year
Pilgrim's Market to grow its own produce in Coeur D'Alene, Idaho
Risk of lead poisoning from urban gardening is low, new study finds
Bright Agrotech - Zip Farms, Farm Walls, and more/brightagrotech.com
Urban Agriculture? Only 1 Percent Of Seattle Residents Could Eat Locally Even With All Viable Space In Use
Year round growing in Alaska
Southeast Asia's largest green development with extensive green roofs and terraces
Wed Jan 20th, 2016 at 03:46:09 PM EST
"Quite clearly, our task is predominantly metaphysical, for it is how to get all of humanity to educate itself swiftly enough to generate spontaneous behaviors that will avoid extinction." R Buckminster Fuller
MOOC [Massive Open Online Course]: Power Agriculture: Sustainable Energy for Food
Feb 1st - March 27, 2016
"Details: Around one third of the energy used worldwide goes into the production and processing of food from field to table. Given the current energy system mix, the agrifood industry sector is however heavily dependent on fossil fuel inputs for production, transport, processing and distribution, and contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions. With a continuously growing world population the need for food and for energy to produce it is increasing. At the same time millions of farmers and processors in developing countries and emerging economies lack access to clean energy technologies for irrigation, drying, cooling, storage and other processes. Powering Agriculture: An Energy Grand Challenge for Development (PAEGC) seeks to identify and support new and sustainable approaches to accelerate the development and deployment of clean energy solutions for increasing agriculture productivity and/or value in developing countries."
There is now technology to show this and other MOOCs' proceedings on, among other things, a dynamic spherical screen like the iGlobe (www.iglobeinc.com/...). Currently, MIT's Program in Atmospheres, Oceans and Climate and the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences is hosting a two foot diameter iGlobe.
"If you have data or interactive models you'd like to see visualized on the sphere... learn how it can be done and to figure out better ways and how to present information using the iGlobe. Or try to make a compelling environmental movie using the sphere, an auxiliary screen, and sound. Or come if you'd just like to experiment with the way things look projected on a spherical surface."
There are open sessions with the IGlobe display every Thursday in January 2016 from 11am to 12pm at MIT, Building 54-1827, 21 Ames Street, Cambridge, the Green Building, the tallest building on campus. Glenn Flierl, Professor of Oceanography, is the host.
NOAA [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] also has a program called Science on a Sphere http://sos.noaa.gov/ ...,
"a room sized, global display system that uses computers and video projectors to display planetary data onto a six foot diameter sphere, analogous to a giant animated globe. Researchers at NOAA developed Science On a Sphere® as an educational tool to help illustrate Earth System science to people of all ages."
These ongoing activities approach R Buckminster Fuller's idea of a World Game:
The goal of the World Game is to "make the world work for 100% of humanity in the shortest possible time through spontaneous cooperation without ecological damage or disadvantage to anyone." It's usually played on a large map of the Earth and was designed by R Buckminster Fuller.
Today, we have the technology to play the World Game online in real time with interactive maps and satellite images updated frequently. Imagine World of Peacecraft or the Final Fantasy of a sustainable, restorative economy and ecology for everybody, all 100% of the human population with a significant number of that 100% participating as co-designers, for the benefit of all who will allow the benefit of all.
Sat Jan 9th, 2016 at 10:35:03 PM EST
Greenbuild Unity Home - prefab, affordable net-zero home can be built in less than three days to LEED v4 Platinum and net zero-energy standards and with the largest collection of Cradle to Cradle (C2C) certified building products ever used in a residential project.
zHome: the first net zero energy townhome complex in the United States (built in 2011 in Issaquah, WA) with benchmarks of net zero energy use, a 70% reduction in water use, a 90% construction recycling rate and the use of only low- and non-toxic materials among other specifications
Net Zero Energy Buildings Technical Reports
DOE's A Common Definition for Zero Energy Buildings
Presentations from Building Carbon Zero California 2015
Net zero 1910 school to lofts conversion in Amsterdam
Architecture at Zero 2015 winners
Zero Net Energy Roadmap for local governments (California)
Zero net energy building controls report/docs.google.com/forms/d/1crmcXoJe0MI4J8E4KLp1lLURr2Ms9F4odN0KJn_-rzU/viewform?c=0&w=1
Market Data: Zero Net Energy Homes (paid access only it seems)
Zero net energy laboratories
Seattle region near net zero community (including one HERS -1 rated, net positive house)
From energy efficiency lighting expert Fred Davis:
http://www.netpositiveconference.org/ - February 18-19, 2016 in San Diego, CA
Sidmore Owings and Merrill build a net zero energy school in Staten Island, NYC's first
Thu Dec 24th, 2015 at 12:02:32 PM EST
Homefarm - a conceptual proposal for the next generation of urban retirement housing. It presents a living and farming typology for Singapore (or elsewhere) that combines apartments and facilities for seniors with vertical urban farming
Urban Algae Folly designed by ecoLogicStudio is an interactive pavilion integrating living micro-algal cultures, a built example of architecture's bio-digital future. Microalgae, in this instance Spirulina, are exceptional photosynthetic machines; they contain nutrients that are fundamental to the human body, such as minerals and vegetable proteins; microalgae also oxygenate the air and can absorb CO2 from the urban atmosphere ten times more effectively than large trees.
Tinyfield Roofhop Farm grows organic hops for craft breweries in Brooklyn, NY
Gangster gardeners in South LA
Washington DC building mobile urban farms
From Mumbai: Urban Farming & Gardening Goes Online With `Ugaoo.com'
Flat pack pop up urban garden
Detroit urban ag startup growing insects
Urban farming data collection toolkit, now in use in over 40 cities
Renting chickens and bees
UrbanFarmers' 14,000 square-foot urban rooftop farm in The Hague will be the largest in Europe
American Society of Landscape Architects on The Edible City
Mon Nov 30th, 2015 at 12:25:34 AM EST
Update: This event has been cancelled as of November 30, 2015.
350 Maine, 350 Vermont, 350 Massachusetts, 350 New Hampshire & 350 Connecticut are organizing a Boston Climate Defense Carnival on Saturday, December 12, 2015 at 3:30pm - 5:30pm at Fanieul Hall, 1 Faneuil Hall Square, Boston, MA.
I'd like the Boston Climate Defense Carnival to demonstrate that
Solar IS Civil Defense
that by using simple Solar Principles
you can discover that
A South-facing Window Is Already a Solar Collector
and see at least six basic solar devices in a single plastic bottle
Wed Oct 21st, 2015 at 11:27:58 PM EST
Zero net energy is a growing body of practice in which buildings produce all the energy they consume. It is the application of high efficiency construction in combination with renewable energy, usually solar or geothermal. Sometimes it is also called net zero energy building.
I began to collect links to various zero net energy building projects around the world back in 2013 soon after, in the story I heard, Cambridge City Councillor Minka Van Beuzekom proposed it as a building standard for a large development MIT is planning in East Cambridge. That idea didn't fly (the development is part of an ecodistrict instead, as I understand it) but did lead to a task force which has prepared a path to zero net energy standards in the city.
The EU has adopted the building energy target of nearly zero and all new public buildings must be nearly zero-energy by 2018 with all new buildings, public or private, constructed to nearly zero-energy standards by the end of 2020.
CA has a 2020 zero net energy goal "focused on new residential construction, including single-family and low-rise multifamily (3 stories or less) buildings, as well as low and moderate income housing within these categories."
The knowledge and materials to build buildings that are comfortable without outside energy inputs through advances in energy efficiency and energy production on site have made zero net energy buildings practical and affordable. They will only become more so as time goes on, examples accumulate, and experience grows.
Since we build about a million new residential units a year, nearly 1% of the units available, these changes in the way we shelter ourselves will have increasingly significant effects on our energy usage in the years and decades after 2020 in, at least, Cambridge, CA, and the EU.
Thu Oct 1st, 2015 at 03:32:17 PM EST
Meteor Blades recently (http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/09/28/1425368/-Open-thread-for-night-owls-Mobilizing-for-the-clim
ate-crisis) wrote about The Climate Mobilization (http://www.theclimatemobilization.org) which is asking people to sign a pledge to
Reduce our country's [USA's] net greenhouse gas emissions 100 percent by 2025 and implement far-reaching measures to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere...
Establish the following imperatives as our nation's top foreign policy priorities: A 100 percent reduction of global net greenhouse gas emissions at wartime speed, and the deployment of comprehensive measures that remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere until a safe climate is restored.
Zero emissions of greenhouse gases is a necessary mental step to take and it is good to see that people are beginning to organize around it. I've been writing about a zero emissions economy for at least 20 years and that means EVERYTHING not just greenhouse gases. Zero emissions as an approachable goal as zero defects on a production line in Total Quality Management is an approachable goal. Zero emissions for all materials and resources within an ecological design framework like Bill McDonough's simple ecological design principles:
waste equals food
use only available solar income
love all the children
We should be doing this as at least a thought experiment now and, I believe, that thought experiment would have enormous benefits as we transition to a new ecological economy where the throw away society begins to realize there is no such place as away.
Recently, I had the opportunity to raise these ideas with the Dr Lynn Orr, DOE Undersecretary for Science and Technology, at MIT as both a public question and in private conversation. Perhaps I planted a seed.
I'm also glad to see that The Climate Mobilization is taking on another part of the climate question which is not often addressed. Zero emissions of greenhouse gases is good but it addresses only the source side of the issue. There are sinks as well. As systems dynamics teaches, a working system contains both sources and sinks. John Wick is a CA rancher who has measured for the last 5 years a ton of carbon per hectare per year sequestered on his grazing land and computer models estimate that he can do this for 30-100 years. See http://www.marincarbonproject.org He says there are 35 soil carbon sequestration methods now recognized by USDA. Soil scientist Rattan Lal believes that increasing soil carbon on agricultural lands globally could reverse climate change within a decade or two.
I also mentioned this to Undersecretary Orr.
On October 16-18, 2015 there will be a conference at Tufts University on Restoring Water Cycles to Reverse Global Warming (http://bio4climate.org/conferences/conferences-2015/tufts-2015-restoring-water-cycles/). Last year, the same group held a conference on soil carbon cycles (http://bio4climate.org/conferences/conference-2014/). You can watch the proceedings on their webpages. You can also participate in Soil Saturday on October 10 (https:/www.facebook.com/events/559598744189515) to help raise awareness about these issues and practical solutions to reverse climate change now while improving the soil and rebuilding our agricultural systems.
Zero emissions of greenhouse gases is a radical idea in the present context. A zero emissions economy and reversing climate change through natural soil and water carbon cycles are even more radical and far-reaching. They are also very much within our grasp if we want to reach for them.
Wed Sep 23rd, 2015 at 11:40:47 PM EST
I've been doing an occasional email on City Agriculture links that I come across navigating the online infosphere for a couple of years now. Every few weeks there are enough links to warrant an email to the City Ag mailing list. This one is a little larger than usual.
If you're interested, contact me and I'll add you to the mailing list.
Atlanta homeless shelter rooftop farm
City trees and health mapping app from Portland State University, funded by the U.S. Forest Service
2nd Annual Food+City Challenge Prize (formerly known as the Food Lab at The University of Texas) open to anyone, anywhere with a great idea that will improve how our food system operates. Submissions open Tues, 9/1 and run through 10/15. Go to
SF's Neighborhood Vineyard Project
The Cannery in Davis, CA - a farm to table community development
Sustainable restaurant on a rooftop farm in Copenhagen
Re-Nuble - urban metabollism and local food
Pop-up urban farm in Norway
Plant This Movie - urban farming around the world, from the incredible story of Havana, Cuba to communities of urban farmers in cities as diverse as Shanghai, Calcutta, Addis Ababa, London, and Lima. In the US, the story focuses on New York, New Orleans, Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon. The film is narrated by Daryl Hannah.
The last decade of urban agriculture in Detroit
Cook County Jail flower garden
Can cities feed themselves? Estimates are that 15 percent of all food in the United States is produced in a metropolitan areawww.oardc.ohio-state.edu/7023/Cleveland-Other-Cities-Could-Produce-Most-of-Their-Food-Ohio-S
tate-Study.htm - study by OHIO AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT CENTER shows that "by using just 80 percent of the vacant land in Cleveland, producers could grow 50 percent of the fruits and vegetables, 25 percent of the poultry and eggs, and 100 percent of the honey that the city consumes..."
GrowOnUs floating garden for food and phytoremediation on Gowanus Canal
Research study on Chicago gardens and gentrification
Short history of Detroit urban agriculture system
Urban farmers around the world
Mon Aug 17th, 2015 at 10:55:56 PM EST
In April of 2015 at a forum on the British Columbia carbon tax at MIT, I heard Merran Smith of Clean Energy Canada (http://cleanenergycanada.org) say if you add up the GDP of all the individual countries which have some kind of price on carbon, either an emission trading scheme (ETS) or a direct tax, it adds up to 42% of global GDP now and, by the end of 2016 when another five provinces in China come on board, it will be over 50%. (You can hear and see Merran Smith say this at 28:20 into this video of the MIT event at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HWQRi8bmbrw ).
Having heard expert after expert say, "We need a price on carbon" in order to address climate change, this struck me. Was Merran Smith correct? Have we already begun to put a price on carbon? Looking a little further, I found a variety of carbon pricing structures - carbon taxes, emissions trading schemes, and even internal prices on carbon from individual businesses.
The World Bank 2015 carbon report advance brief (http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/2015/05/24528977/carbon-pricing-watch-2015-advance-brief-s
tate-trends-carbon-pricing-2015-report-released-late-2015) puts it a little differently than Clean Energy Canada:
"In 2015, about 40 national and over 20 subnational jurisdictions, representing almost a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), are putting a price on carbon...
"The total value of the emissions trading schemes (ETSs) reported in the State and Trends of Carbon Pricing 2014 report was about US$30 billion (US$32 billion to be precise). Despite the repeal of Australia's Carbon Pricing Mechanism in July 2014, and mainly due to the launch of the Korean ETS and the expansion of GHG emissions coverage in the California and Quebec ETSs, the value of global ETSs as of April 1, 2015 increased slightly to about US$34 billion. In addition, carbon taxes around the world, valued for the first time in this report, are about US$14 billion. Combined, the value of the carbon pricing mechanisms globally in 2015 is estimated to be just under US$50 billion...
"In addition, the adoption of an internal carbon price in business strategies is spreading, even in regions where carbon pricing has not been legislated. Currently, at least 150 companies are using an internal price on carbon. These companies represent diverse sectors, including consumer goods, energy, finance, industry, manufacturing, and utilities."
Tue Jun 23rd, 2015 at 02:56:36 PM EST
While looking for the current price per ton of carbon in the EU ETS, I came across this release on the 2014 figures:
"The EU emissions trading scheme (EU ETS) installations emitted 1,584 million tCO2 in 2014, down by 4.4% from previous year. This figure is derived from the verified emissions data submitted so far by 87% (in volume) of the 12,000 installations currently included in the trading scheme."
It includes a list of the 15 largest CO2 emitters which contribute 251 MtCO2, about a sixth of the total covered greenhouse gases in the EU ETS.
Still looking for a current price per ton for carbon under EU ETS.
Tue May 19th, 2015 at 06:03:10 PM EST
Costa Rica has provided all of its electricity from renewables, usually a mix of 68 percent hydro, 15 percent geothermal, and 17% mostly diesel and gas, for the first 100 days of 2015. The Tico Times reports (http://www.ticotimes.net/2015/04/22/costa-ricas-renewable-energy-streak-is-still-going-but-what-does
"The clean energy streak is likely to continue. Last Friday [April 17, 2015] ICE (Costa Rica Electricity Institute) released a report estimating that 97 percent of the country's electricity will be produced from renewables this year. This is good news for Costa Rican residents, who will see their electricity prices drop up to 15 percent starting this month."
In 2016, Costa Rica is a launching a satellite to monitor CO2 across the world tropical belt
"...the first Central American satellite, built in Costa Rica, will be launched into space in 2016. The satellite will collect and relay daily data on carbon dioxide to evaluate the effects of climate change."
Costa Rica announced in 2009 that it plans to be a carbon neutral country by 2021 and they are following through on that planning.
Wed Apr 29th, 2015 at 01:40:57 PM EST
I was cleaning out my storeroom the other day and came across another recycled solar device that I was fooling with a few years ago. A one liter clear plastic bottle makes a good hot cap or cloche when you cut the bottom off it. Plant a seedling, pop the bottomless clear cap over it, and you protect the seedling from the cold. It probably adds between 5 and 10 degrees F over the outside temperature by protecting the seedling from the wind and by capturing sunlight in a small, closed space. My twist on this idea was to find different sizes of clear plastic bottles which could nest one inside the other making a double-glazed hot cap cloche. A double-glazed hot cap cloche might be able to protect the seedlings even better, keeping that small, closed space even warmer than the outside air.
This afternoon, I planted two tomato seedlings in my garden using this device. We'll see whether it works.
Wed Apr 1st, 2015 at 11:17:52 PM EST
Tuesday, March 31 I saw Andreas Kraemer, International Institute for Advanced Sustainability in Pottsdam, founder of the Ecological Institute of Berlin, and currently associated with Duke University, speak at both Harvard and MIT. His subject was the German Energiewende, energy turnaround, energy tack (as in sailing), or energy transition, and also the title of a book published in 1980 (Energiewende by Von F. Krause, H. Bossel and K. F. Müller-Reissmann) 1980 which described how to power Germany without fossil fuels or nuclear, partially a response to the oil shocks of the 1970s, and probably the beginning of the nuclear phase-out. Chernobyl in 1986 gave another shove in that direction and continues to do so as Chernobyl is still happening in Germany with radioactive contamination of soils, plants, animals, and Baltic Sea fish.
In 1990 the feedin tariff began but it was not started for solar. It was originally intended to give displaced hydroelectric capacity in conservative Bavaria a market and a bill was passed in Parliament very quickly, supported by the Conservatives (Blacks) in consensus with the Greens and Reds as they all agreed on incentizing renewable, local energy production through a feedin tariff on utility bills. Cross party consensus on this issue remains today. This is not a subsidy but an incentive with the costs paid by the customers. The feedin tariff has a period of 20 years and some have been retired.
Solar began with the 1000 roofs project in 1991-1994. There are 1.7 million solar roofs now although, currently, Spain and Portugal have faster solar growth rates than Germany. Renewables provide 27% of electricity, have created 80,000-100,000 new jobs directly in the industry, up to 300,000 if indirect jobs are added, and is contributing 40 billion euros per year to the German economy. By producing energy domestically Germany has built a local industry, increased tax revenue and Social Security payments, and maintained a better balance of trade through import substitution. During the recession that began in 2008, Germany had more economic stability and was even able to expand the renewable sector because steel for wind turbine towers was available at lower prices and financing was forthcoming.
Thu Mar 26th, 2015 at 04:18:28 PM EST
For the past year, the Cambridge, MA city government has had a Getting to Net Zero Task Force studying the implications of a net zero energy building requirement. They finished the draft report on March 16, 2015 and will have an open forum to introduce the study to the public on Wednesday, April 8.
The Task Force defined net zero as "an annual balance of zero greenhouse gas emissions from building operations citywide, achieved through improved energy efficiency and carbon-free energy production," applying it to the net zero target at the community level (citywide).
Net zero new construction (at the building level as opposed to citywide) is defined as "developments that achieve net zero emissions from their operations, through energy efficient design, onsite renewable energy, renewable energy infrastructure such as district energy, and, if appropriate, the limited purchase of RECs [Renewable Energy Credits] and GHG [Greenhouse Gas] offsets."
The objectives for the proposed actions from 2015 to 2035 and beyond include
(a) ...target of Net Zero Emissions for new construction: New buildings should achieve net zero beginning in 2020, starting with municipal buildings and phasing in the requirement for other building types between 2022-2030.
(b) targeted improvements to existing buildings: The Building Energy Use and Disclosure Ordinance (BEUDO) will provide the information necessary to target energy retrofit activity, including, over the long term, the regulation of energy efficiency retrofits at time of renovation and/or sale of property.
(c) proliferation of renewable energy: Increase renewable energy generation, beginning with requiring solar-ready new construction and support for community solar projects, evolving to a minimum requirement for onsite renewable energy generation.
(d) coordinated communications and engagement: Support from residents and key stakeholders is imperative to the success of the initiative.
You can read the full report at http://www.cambridgema.gov/CDD/Projects/Climate/~/media/6087FF675ADE4D51A6677E689D996465.ashx
and access other information about the Task Force at http://www.cambridgema.gov/CDD/Projects/Climate/netzerotaskforce.aspx
Sat Mar 7th, 2015 at 09:11:27 PM EST
Here's the text of a presentation I did March 4, 2015 at Northeast Sustainable Energy Association's Building Energy conference in Boston, MA. This was the first time the conference addressed urban agriculture.
Everybody eats and it's primarily solar powered. We are all solar powered through the food that we eat. Officially, we produce between 95 and 100 quadrillion btu's of energy per year in the US, an amount that's remained steady for the last 15 years or so while the GDP has continued to increase. However, we don't count any of the sunlight that powers photosynthesis on the crops we consume. All that sunlight is "free" and not included. A back of the envelope estimate is that there's at least 300 quadrillion btu's of sunlight required for the photosynthesis that grows our food. Our world is solar powered, has always been solar powered, will always be solar powered until the sun dies out.
Everybody eats and, by last count, 35% of all households in America, or 42 million households, are growing food at home or in a community garden, up 17% in the last five years. Gardening for food tends to go up in times of economic distress. Add those households which grow flowers or have a houseplant and I'd estimate about half of us garden.
Everybody eats, half of us garden, and everybody poops. In a fully functioning ecosystem "waste equals food." Cities, neighborhoods, and buildings are all beginning to be seen and designed as metabolisms, taking in raw materials, processing them, and producing wastes which can then be used as a feedstock for other processes. We are becoming biomimetic and learning from such fellow creatures as termites how to control heat and cold and humidity. Termites also "garden" and keep livestock, one of the ways that the temperature and humidity remains constant within their mounds. We are also learning how we can design ecological systems to process our own wastes safely into fertilizer and food.
Tue Feb 24th, 2015 at 11:06:30 PM EST
Cities scale is where real climate change adaptation is taking place, now, whether or not we have national or international agreements on greenhouse gases. Cities and regions have to deal with weather emergencies and, it turns out, preparing for weather emergencies and other natural disasters is very much like adapting to climate change. The best of it can be climate mitigation, too.
One way cities are climbing the learning curve is by holding design competitions. In Boston, the city, the Harbor Association, the Redevelopment Authority, and the Society of Architects are hosting Boston Living with Water, an international call for design solutions that create a "more resilient, more sustainable, and more beautiful Boston adapted for end-of-the-century climate conditions and rising sea levels." They will be announcing the finalist on Thursday, February 26 but you can vote on which of the 49 different plans you like until 12 pm (EST) on Wednesday, February 25 at http://www.bostonlivingwithwater.org/submission-gallery
The contest is based upon the recent reports by the Harbor Association on sea level rise and the Building Resilience in Boston study by the Green Ribbon Commission. Supporting documentation also includes "Designing with Water: Creative Solutions from Around the Globe" which presents twelve case studies from around the world [pdf alert]:
World-wide networks and best practices case studies can be very helpful.
Thu Jan 15th, 2015 at 11:17:47 PM EST
We are going into our fifth month of demonstrations and actions all over the USA about police violence and sanctioned summary judgment. Hearing, reading, seeing the news, it seems as if brutality, terror, and torture are breaking out worldwide, with beheadings and mass killings happening at, perhaps, a quickening rate. Violence meeting violence to make more violence, intertribal problems stuck on stupid, here and abroad.
Recently, I saw a DVD of "The Interrupters," (http://interrupters.kartemquin.com) on an open cart in the library and I took it home. It's a documentary about a group called Ceasefire which "interrupts" street violence between gangs and violent individuals in Chicago. CeaseFire's founder, Gary Slutkin, is an epidemiologist who believes that violence spreads like an infectious disease and uses a "medical" treatment: "go after the most infected, and stop the infection at its source," to stop it. One part of that treatment is the "Violence Interrupters" program, created by Tio Hardiman, a group of street-credible, mostly former offenders who defuse conflict before it becomes violence. They can speak from experience about consequences and how "no matter what the additional violence is not going to be helpful."
About the same time, a friend wrote me about a radio interview (http://www.ttbook.org/book/reforming-lapd) with Constance Rice, a civil rights attorney and cousin to the former Secretary of State, who has trained 50 LA police officers over the last five years in "public trust policing" at Nickerson Gardens, an LA public housing project.
I picked up "The Interrupters" because I was wondering why we didn't hear about this group in relation to what has been happening with the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamar Rice and others. I listened to the interview with Constance Rice for the same reason. Why haven't I seen Ms Rice, Gary Slutkin, or Tio Hardiman on my TV screen and all over "social media"? They are doing some things which have proven to work in their own communities. How much of what they've done in Chicago and LA can apply to NYC and Boston and other places all around the world? Can they teach us all how to interrupt our own violence and to build a system of public trust policing? As Tio Hardiman says in the DVD: "We've been taught violence. Violence is learned behavior." Can these people and the others like them teach us how to unlearn our violent behavior?
We'll never know unless their voices are part of the conversation.
Wed Dec 17th, 2014 at 11:34:19 PM EST
Solar Microgrids in Tanzania:
Maasai Stoves & Solar Project
81 Kirkland Street, Unit 2, Cambridge, MA 02138
Water biomonitoring in Costa Rica:
1120 Meadows Road, Franklin, North Carolina 28734
More about these programs below.
Sun Dec 7th, 2014 at 10:42:02 PM EST
In 1983, a couple of years after the second of the 1970s oil shocks and at a time when petroleum prices were relatively low, in a village near Graz, Austria, in the province of Styria, a farmer and an engineer led a group of 32 people in building simple do it yourself solar heaters. They said, "Our primary aim was to build a collector that was inexpensive and easy to build for every one of us. Having become aware of the finiteness of natural resources, we also aimed at avoiding all material waste in constructing the collector. Other important aspects were the saving of energy, environmental protection, and community building. Everybody was expected to build their own collector in order to be sufficiently familiar with its function."
By the end of 1984, two more self-building groups with more than 100 participants were needed to meet the local demand for such solar heaters. By 1986, the do it yourself groups were producing more collector surface area than all the commercial suppliers in Austria. In 1987, the first build-it-yourself guide was published and in 1988 the Association for Renewable Energy (AEE) was founded to institutionalize the group build, self build, do it yourself solar movement which now included about 50 groups and more than 1,000 participants.
By the end of 1998 there were 360,000 m2 of solar collector area and about 30,000 household solar hot water heating systems built by the do it yourselfers, out of 100,000 private household solar systems with 1.3 million m2 of plate collector surface in all of Austria. For a decade and more, do it yourself, self-build groups dominated the Austrian solar industry and the model was exported to Switzerland, the Czech and Slovak Republics, and Slovenia.
Tue Dec 2nd, 2014 at 10:11:12 PM EST
"In a strategy approved by the utility's advisory board yesterday, E.ON [Germany's biggest utility] is preparing to split into two separate companies sometime next year. The new (as-yet-unnamed) company will take on the company's coal, gas and nuclear assets, as well as its trading business and hydropower plants.
"Once the spinoff is complete in 2016, E.ON will focus exclusively on renewable energy, energy efficiency, digitizing the distribution network and enabling customer-sited energy sources like storage paired with solar. The reformed utility will be active in Europe, North America and Turkey."