The Genius Of The Place

April 22, 2012

Burlington waterfront

Burlington waterfront (Photo credit: Lens‌cap)

In ancient Rome a Genius loci referred to the protective spirit of a place. In the Western world it came to refer to a place’s atmosphere or spirit.

It was Alexander Pope who linked the concept to landscaping. In a letter to Richard Boyle, Earl of Burlington, in 1731 Pope wrote:

Consult the genius of the place in all;/That tells the waters or to rise, or fall;/Or helps th’ ambitious hill the heav’ns to scale,/Or scoops in circling theatres the vale;/Calls in the country, catches opening glades,/Joins willing woods, and varies shades from shades,/Now breaks, or now directs, th’ intending lines;/Paints as you plant, and, as you work, designs.

Happy Earth Day

According to an article in Good written by Andrew Price there is a company, ecoATM, that will give you cash or store credit to trade up to a newer cell phone.

You take your old phone to a kiosk which will visually or electronically inspect it and decide what its value is. You can then get cash or store credit for a new phone.

You can find a location here.

The RE Store

April 7, 2012

A Repurposed Headboard From The RE Store
Photo Courtesy of The RE Store

For almost twenty years RE Store (there are actually two) in Western Washington has been providing quality recycled building materials as an alternate to new materials to sustainably conscious consumers. And over those twenty years the store has grown into a company that now also offers an amazing range of services. Not only can you go to the store to pick out materials, the RE Store also offers a free pick up service and a green demolition service.

What is green demolition you ask? It is a way to dismantle a building using machine and hand techniques to recover materials for reuse. This can include everything from structural framing beams to flooring and fixtures. The RE Store specializes in whole-building deconstruction, which is economically competitive with regular demolition and allows for the reuse up to 50 percent of most structures. This keeps a lot of materials out of the land fill.

The RE Store also has skill building workshops for the community and a Sustainable Living Center. Take a look at their web site and blog for more information about this inspiring and highly useful venture.

Brooms for sale in a Tbilisi market.

Image via Wikipedia

The Gowanus Canal is a 1.5 mile long man-made waterway in Brooklyn. The canal was originally built in the mid 1800’s for barges, and the surrounding land was used for various industrial activities.
Today, parts of the land are used for heavy industrial undertakings, some for light industrial use and some of the area along the canal is mostly residential.

The Gowanus canal has been cited by the EPA as one of the most contaminated bodies of water in the country and currently a large scale effort is being made to clean it up.

If you want to read more about the clean up efforts all you have to do is an internet search for Gowanus Canal and clean up. There is tons of information out there. What I want to write about is something I found a lot more interesting. (Although don’t get me wrong. As someone who lived in NYC for 12 years, 6 of those in Brooklyn, I am thrilled about the clean up process.)

What I want to write about is Sweep, which I read about on Urban Garden’s web site.

Sweep was started by Christina Kelly and Jeff Hutchison who run Husk in Brooklyn. The two met when Christina was growing corn and Jeff was drawing plants in CAD. They found they had a common fascination for the history of Brooklyn agriculture and decided to stat Husk.

At Husk the two work as a duo on multi-platform projects that explore the agricultural histories and possibilities of New York City.

Sweep, one of their current projects, focuses on the Gowanus Canal. With funding from the Brooklyn Arts Council and Feast, and the go ahead from the Gowanus Canal Conservatory, the steward for the site, Jeff and Christina planted a terraced garden of Broomcorn which was used to make brooms before synthetic materials took it’s place. They even brought in a broom maker from the  Catskill Mountain Broomworks, a company that sells brooms made out of Broomcorn, to give a broom making workshop.

Jeff and Christina hope the garden and the broom making will bring attention to the efforts being made to clean up the Gowanus area and help restore it to it’s original state.

English: Broom

Image via Wikipedia

Slow Trash?

February 24, 2012

Most of you have probably never heard of SWANA, The Solid Waste Association of North America. Until an hour ago I hadn’t either, but it turns out that for fifty years now they have been “the leading professional association in the solid waste field.”

Recently Jennifer Santry at the High Country Conservation Center in Summit County, Colorado wrote a piece about a SWANA conference she attended called The Road To Zero Waste run by SWANA’s Recycling & Special Waste Division.

Most people would think a conference titled The Road To Zero Waste would be about how to more effectively get rid of our garbage: composting, recycling and turning waste into fuel. However this was not the case.

“Surprisingly,” Jennifer wrote, “my take away message had more to do with the purchase than the garbage.” In other words Slow Trash. Instead of focusing on how to make our trash into something useful, concentrate on creating less waste.

In the article Jennifer wrote “Slow trash challenges you to slow down consumption and connect with the purchase. My favorite line in the article is, “slow trash is all about taking a snapshot of the life-cycle of a particular item.”

Think about that for a moment. (Or two since our theme here is slow.) Think about where the product was made and by whom. Was he or she paid a fair wage? Did it have to be shipped from across the globe using tons of fuel? How long will you use this item? When you are done with it can you pass it along to a friend?

The conference was here in Austin and Jennifer gave Austin’s Future Craft Collective a big thumps up for their “Don’t Shop; Swap” event where Austinites can swap clothes instead of going out and buying a new wardrobe. She also touted the fact that the landfill here has a last chance pile for people to go through.

The Congress for New Urbanism

February 19, 2012

At Resolution Gardens, which is located here in Austin, I read about The Congress for New Urbanism which had a post about the Partnership for Sustainable Communities which I posted about yesterday. Got all that?

CNU touts itself as “the leading organization promoting walkable, mixed-use neighborhood development, sustainable communities and healthier living conditions.” Co-founders include Peter Calthorpe, Elizabeth Moule, Andres Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, Stephanos Polyzoides and Dan Solomon all people with a wealth of experience developing sustainable communities. This organization has some real potential to do good.

Also read about this good news at the CNU website Obama Administration Releases 2013 Budget, Protects Partnership for Sustainable Communities.

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