I was over at YouTube this morning and came across some funny eco-videos. Given that this is the start of the long weekend for us Canadians, Monday is Victoria Day, a statutory holiday for us. Victoria Day is celebrated on the last Monday before or on May 24 in honour of both Queen Victoria’s birthday and the current reigning Canadian Sovereign’s birthday. For many of us, we will be spending the weekend outside gardening, at the cottage and enjoying good times with our friends and family.
I personally have a ton of gardening to do. My vegetable garden has been tilled and prepped and is now waiting for me to plant my herbs and veggies. I hope that we have seen the last of the frost. I will post some pictures of my weekend gardening efforts, on Monday or Tuesday of next week.
If you are in the office or at home today and need a good laugh, I recommend that you watch the following videos from Ali G (comedian Sacha Baron Cohen’s character – Same guy who created Borat). You need to have a very open mind to appreciate his humour. I find some of his sketches extremely funny and on a friday before the long weekend, just what I needed! The key to watching these videos is to not take it seriously and enjoy the absurdity.
Prince Charles is asking the business leaders of Britain for help fight climate change. During a speech to more than 1,200 business chiefs at St Jame’s Palace, Prince Charles asked for their assistance in finding solutions to this global problem. “If the scientific consensus is right we need to act very rapidly indeed.”
In his address he compared the fight against global warming with the Second World War. He said: “We can do it. Just think what they did in the last war. Things that seemed impossible were achieved almost overnight.” The Prince’s call for action was well received and by the end of the day, more than a thousand companies had pledged to work within and outside their organization to reduce their carbon emissions.
According the articles that I have read, Charles has had a very passionate interest for green issues for many years. He has described climate change as “the biggest threat to mankind.” In recent months he has been criticized for not practicing what he preaches. It turns out that he recently flew to the United States to receive an environmental award. Was this the best decision that he has made, probably not. However, I think it is important to not judge or minimizes someone’s contribution on one incident.
Many celebrities who have lent their name to the fight against climate change, will self admittedly tell you that they are not 100% green. I remember watching a video with Annie Lennox. In the video she quite openly states that she is not the perfect “green” role model. However, she is trying to become more conscious of her actions on how those actions impact the environment. Wherever possible she is making strides to reduce her eco footprint. It all comes back to the EcoSherpa message, Realistic Responsible Living.
Each week many of our readers reach out to us via email to help inform us of the many wonderful eco-initiatives they support and are involved with. We received an email today regarding the Common Fire Housing Co-op in New York’s Hudson Valley.
The Common Fire Housing Co-op is a 3,600-square-foot building located on 36 acres of land in Tivoli, New York. The total cost of the building was $1 million. Though initial construction was partially financed by donations from individuals and corporations throughout the US, and by New York State, residents primarily fund the venture by sharing the cost of the mortgage, food, utilities and maintenance.
Facts about the Common Fire Co-op:
* The Common Fire Co-op is the second “greenest” building in the United States and is the greenest building east of the Mississippi*.
* The USGBC has given the building a Platinum certification, the only one of its kind in New York state.
* It is one of only 18 buildings in the United States to receive Platinum certification in the New Construction category.
* The USGBC’s LEED certification is based on 69-points of criteria, with 26 points necessary for basic green building certification, 33 for a “Silver” certification, 39 for “Gold”, and 52 for “Platinum”. Common Fire received 57 green building certification points for its project.
* The “greenest” building in the U.S., based upon the most points ever given to one building in the New Construction category, is the Alberici Corporate Headquarters, in Overland, MO, which scored 60.
* The Common Fire Co-op is considered a net-zero energy building, because it generates enough electricity on site to meet all of its energy demands.
These are just a few of the many green features/achievements the Co-op has accomplished. To learn more about how they built the co-op and green technologies and materials they used, head over to their website located here.
Last night I opened the mail box and came across a newsletter from the Region of Waterloo, called “ENVIRONEWS”. I looked at the front cover and instantly I wanted to read more. The April 2007 issue is chalked full of valuable community information. The newsletter contains information on vermicomposting, water conservation, recycling and tips on how to help our region conserve energy and resources. I hope that people actually read the newsletter and not recycle it with the other “junk” mail that inundates their mailboxes. I will try to do my part, by spreading the Region’s messages on our website. My marketing background is kicking in, we need frequency!
I must say I am proud to live in the Waterloo Region and feel fortunate that we have many fantastic environmental programs and initiatives at our disposal. I get the feeling from our readers that not all communities are alike and many fall short with their environmental programs. If you think your community needs an eco-boost, get involved and lobby your politicians for better programs. Show them what other communities are doing to help our planet. Education and awareness is the key to positive change!
I encourage all of our EcoSherpa readers to head over to the Region of Waterloo website and download a PDF version of the ENVIRONEWS. I am going to recap some of their tips and information in my next few posts on the website.
It appears Toronto wants to take part in the Live Earth concert for global warming. Toronto City officials are currently looking for a local promoter to host the event. I think it is extremely important for Canada to get involved in this event. We need to demonstrate to the rest of the world that we are serious about climate change and we are prepared to take action. Once a location is determined I am sure it wouldn’t take long to secure the musical acts. The Canadian performers I would expect to see at the concert: Bare Naked Ladies, Sarah McLachlan, Sarah Harmer, Bryan Adams, Our Lady Peace, The Tragically Hip.
Finding the talent shouldn’t be an issue. Agreeing on the venue location and constructing the venue in a sustainable way, not that is another story. I was at the SARS concert in Toronto and remember the amount of trash and waste that filled the venue site. I could barely find a piece of ground that was not covered with plastic water bottles. The clean-up from that concert was an enormous task. When I left that concert, I felt like I needed to be hosed down, as the trash was disgusting. I had a chance to go over to the Live Earth website, and according to the site, each venue will be designed to maintain a minimum environmental impact and will showcase the latest state-of-the-art energy efficiency, on-site generation, and sustainable facilities management practices. I am excited to see what new technologies will be showcased at the various venues.
More about Live Earth
Live Earth will use the global reach of music to engage people on a mass scale to combat our climate crisis. Live Earth will bring together more than 150 of the world’s top musicians for 24-hours of music from 7 concerts across all 7 continents. Live Earth will bring together an audience of more than 2 billion at the concerts and through television, radio, film, and the Internet. That audience, and the proceeds from the event, will create the foundation for a new, multi-year global effort to combat the climate crisis led by Vice President Al Gore. Kevin Wall, Worldwide Executive Producer of Live 8, is producing Live Earth.
If you are interested in learning more about Live Earth, head over to their website.
To read more about Toronto’s plan to join the concert, read the article here.
I was over at YouTube a few minutes ago and came across a promotional video for Eco-Challenge, the adventure racing competition (According to a few websites I came across, the Eco-Challenge is no longer running). Even if you are not into adventure racing, watching the video will help lighten your day. The video contains breathtaking scenery and demonstrates the beauty and power of our planet. If you have a few minutes to spare today, have a look at the video. It might inspire you to do something helpful for the environment.
We just received a nice email from Tabitha Alterman, associate editor of Mother Earth News, thanking us for our “lovely” post about the magazine ( see Surprise From Mother Earth).
Aside from sharing some kind words, Tabitha also informed us that the 21st Century Homestead article is now available on the website: Our 21st Century Homestead. Be sure to check it out, especially if you are interested in homesteading, independent living etc.
I will update the other post as well.
I griped a little in my first post about having some issues early on with Mother Earth (took several months and some email exchanges before I started receiving magazines), but I should mention that I’ve been quite happy with the way they’ve handled the situation. They’ve continued to follow-up with me, making sure both Mother Earth News and Natural Home had safely arrived.
Both magazines are fantastic and I’m definitely looking forward to future issues!
I did a quick search tonight on the term eco inventions and came across General Electric’s (GE) website called ecomagination. GE has made a commitment to produce products and services that are as economically advantageous as they are ecologically sound. This is eco-entrepreneurship at its best (in a grand scale). GE, Home Depot, Wal-Mart and others have come out publicly about their green platforms.
I did some digging through GE’s website and found myself going from page to page learning about their commitments to the environment. GE’s eco-platform is laid out in their Four Commitments:
1. Double Investments in Clean R&D
2. Increase Revenue from Ecomagination Products
3. Reduce Our Greenhouse Gas Emissions
4. Keep the Public Informed
GE is investing in tomorrow’s energy technologies—from renewables to hydrogen to the next generation of nuclear power. The company’s ability to meet its ecomagination goals will require the full capability of the technologies GE has today and the creation of new ones that expand GE’s ability to solve tough problems tomorrow.
The website is full of information on GE’s initiatives. I encourage you to have a look at their products section. It is encouraging and inspiring to see such a vast variety of technologies GE has already created. Having followed Jack Welch’s career, I have been a big GE fan for many years.
How are we going to overcome our environmental issues? One Word – IMAGINATION. With an open mind, a clear pad of paper, a passion for change, and an unwillingness to accept the status quo, green technologies, services and solutions can be born. There are so many products out there that need a little eco-innovation to make them operate more efficiently and more eco-friendly. Just think of all the products that could be converted into newer, better models. Eco-entrepreneurship is on the rise!
If you are in need of a digital sketch pad, have a look at GE’s Imagination Cubed website. The site allows you to turn your monitor into your own digital etch a sketch (with a few enhancements).
When you think of the term Guerilla Gardening what comes to mind? When I first heard of the term I started to think of people dressed in dark clothing going out at night and secretly planting seeds. It reminded me of my childhood days where I would take sunflower seeds and plant them in my grandmother’s flower beds without her knowing. Year after year she continued to wonder how the sunflowers came to be in her front yard. I never had the heart to tell her that I was the culprit.
During my search for Guerilla Gardening websites, I came across a Toronto website, Publicspace.ca. According to their website, they define the term Guerilla Gardening as, “Without permit or license, we plant seeds and seedlings in all those neglected corners of public space. Join us as we vandalise the city with nature!”. I am intrigued by the concept of eco-vigillanties, armed with seeds and trowels, heading out on their covert operations bringing back life and beauty to abandoned wastelands. Sign me up! I am ready to go on an eco-mission!
Some of the more popular targets are:
* Vacant lots
* Property lines under utility right of ways
* Edges of alleys and walks next to buildings where the owners don’t grow plants or weed
* Edges of parking lots and homeowner parking pads that are neglected.
I did a search on google for “guerilla gardening” and came across 1.3 million results for the term. One of the top sites I cames across is Guerilla Gardening.org. They have a great website that is filled with stories and images from various global Guerilla Gardening organizations (New York, Toronto, Zurrich and other cities). The website also list 11 Steps you should think about when Guerilla Gardening. I will just list a few for our readers. For the full detailed list, please visit their website.
Step 1: Spot some local orphaned land
Step 2: Plan a mission
Step 3: Find a local supply of plants
Step 4: Choose plants for front line battle
Step 7: Regular Watering
Step 10: Spread the Word
For those of you looking to plant in areas with limited to no access, there is a great solution, “Seed Grenades”. The recipe found on the website lists two carrier options, an old glass christmas ornament and a water balloon. A seed grenade is a great tool for those legally inaccessable areas. Off the top of my head I can think of a dozen areas where I could lauch a few grenades. Perhaps when spring arrives, Bentley and I will test out our throwing arms and bring some beauty back to Waterloo and Elmira.
I hope this post will help spread the word to our rearders and will encourage many of you to look in your own neighbourhoods for potential targets. Grab some seeds, a trowel and a few friends and help revitalize your community. If you are looking for links to guerilla gardening organizations in your country and city, have a look at the links section on Guerilla Gardening.org’s website or a google search. If one does not exist for your community, start your own!