the irresistible fleet of bicycles


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des colores kites

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Meg Hiesinger is a kite maker who sees her craft as a way to help deepen people’s connections to nature through play. Meg began making kites after pulling a broken factory-made plastic  kite out of a stand of cactus near her home in Laguna Beach, California. It made her wonder how a kite might look if its mass-produced materials were replaced with something more beautiful and environmentally friendly like her own handmade fabrics. She currently sells her kites under the brand “Des Colores,” descolores.com. Des Colores, “made of colors,” is a phrase that describes Meg’s visual response to the earth and its inhabitants.

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vegetables without the plastic

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Able and Cole, a produce delivery service in the UK, is now using the UK’s first fully-compostable bag for vegetables. They are formed from non-GMO starch potatoes and a compostable polymer, and they are available in larger trash bag sizes for kitchen waste or yard debris. If you live in the UK, you can order these bags for your own home, here. If you want to order from inside US, or you just want more information on the bags, check their producer’s website!

 


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free webinar on collaborative trade and fair markets

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Yellow Seed, a nonprofit organization that facilitates connections between farmers and fair markets, recently partnered with Impact Hub Berkley, a social impact working hub out of the Bay Area, to host six curated working groups to focus on Collaborative Trade. The project was called From the Ground Up: Change Accelerator and aimed to “design healthy, global food supply chains where farmers are treated as equal partners and like-minded organizations work together to accelerate the shift towards sustainability.”

Small farmers, social justice groups, and some big names of the chocolate industry participated. (See the Yellow Seed blog for more detailed information!) To bring the sessions to a close, the groups are inviting anyone interested to take place in a webinar that will present the key findings of the working groups. The “welcome all curious minds, open hearts and everyone interested in learning about how we can revolutionize our global food supply chains together.”

Anyone interested has the choice of joining either of the two webinars:

Session A: Fri, Apr. 8, 2016 12:00PM – 1:30PM PDT

Please join my meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone: https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/521009293
You can also dial in using your phone: United States +1 (312) 757-3121
Access Code: 521-009-293

Session B: Mon, Apr. 11, 2016 6:30pm – 8:00pm PDT
Please join my meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone: https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/413804301
You can also dial in using your phone: United States +1 (224) 501-3212
Access Code: 413-804-301


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ten counterproductive behaviors of well-intentioned people

Common mistakes made in social justice conversations and how to correct them.

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Photo from dailygood.org

March 18, 2016, Yes Magazine

By: Cody Charles

Well-intentioned people make mistakes, lots of them. Mistakes must be expected and being held accountable has to be expected as well. The points below outline some of the common behaviors that show up often in social justice conversations. I want to be clear that we all participate in some of the following counterproductive acts. We are not all privileged or all oppressed. We are complex people with complex identities that intersect in complex ways. Therefore, we all show up in problematic ways with our privilege. I own that my background is from the higher education setting, but I think the points below can be useful for all folks interested in creating dynamic change in the communities around them. Moreover, this piece was written in the midst of the Michael Brown and Eric Garner non-indictments (many more people could be listed), so some of it may feel specific to race. However, these rules apply beyond the identity of race; in fact, these rules only exist in the dynamic of intersections. Below are ten counterproductive behaviors that people who want to do “good” commit and must actively work to correct:

1. Quick to marginalize someone else’s experience.

I was walking through a hotel lobby with colleagues. We were headed to a conference social, wearing business attire. There were quite a few conference attendees roaming around the lobby area at that time, all wearing business attire as well. It was a fairly loud, mingling setting. An older white woman walked up to me and asked if I knew where she could get fresh towels. I was puzzled for a moment, which then indicated to the woman that I probably could not help her.

 Listen, observe, connect with the emotion, and experience how real it is to the other person …

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peace of earth’s amazing cold storage scheme

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We have a stubborn and delicious dream that farming can evolve to exist without a constant input of fossil fuels, and Peace of Earth Farm in Albany, VT is dreaming it too! Farmer Rebecca Beidler, has put out a call for support on a super innovative research project to combine the technologies of root cellars and ice houses to create an alternative to energy-reliant walk-in coolers. The farmers need money to complete this project, and they deserve your consideration!
“Peace of Earth Farm is looking to take the principle of using earth as a constant insulator a step farther by adding tanks of water inside the cellar that will freeze during the cold months,utilizing a passive heat exchange system of copper pipes filled with butane. The frozen tanks will slowly melt and cool the space in the summer months in order to meet the cooling needs of the farm year round without electricity.”
While the farm has launched its indiegogo campaign to meet its own needs for cold storage, the farmers have pledged to share all information about the design and outcome with anyone interested. Think of it as a community-backed “grass roots research” that could take us one step closer to reducing our alliance with and dependence on the oil and gas industry.
More information, detailed diagrams, and the opportunity to help are here!


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meet johny wildseed: foraging expert russ cohen has a new mission

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Russ Cohen planting Beach Plum saplings on Marblehead Island. (Photo courtesy of Russ Cohen.)

“Putting stinging nettle balls in the oven,” Russ Cohen announces to me proudly when I can’t guess what he’s doing in the moment that I call. Amid the flutter of taking interview requests and preparing for a conference later in the evening, he is putting the finishing touches on his wild-fitted version of a 1950’s-era recipe. He’ll serve it as part of his presentation. Swapping frozen nettles collected last summer in for the traditional spinach, he’s doing what he loves: “nibbling on nature”– and then sharing it with people.

In the following interview excerpts we discuss the rad new seed bank in his second refrigerator,  what native plants can do for organic farmers, the wonders of the mighty shagbark hickory, and the danger of commercializing wild plants. Anyone interested in learning more about Russ or contacting him for seeds can do so here.

GH: Can you briefly describe yourself and your work for our readers? Let’s start with the work you’ve been doing.

I have been teaching folks about how to connect to the land through their taste buds— to nibble on nature— since I was a senior in high school in 1974. So that’s over 40 years ago. I do about 40 programs a year all over New England and upstate New York, most of which are just walking around with folks in the woods and fields, looking at wild plants and mushrooms, and talking about what’s edible— you know, explain how to identify it, what it tastes like, how to prepare it, if the Native Americans ate it, what kind of vitamins it has, whether it’s a weed or invasive, native or non-native, the impact of picking, and all that stuff.

GH: And what are you transitioning into?

RC: I am going to keep doing that, but what I am doing in addition to that is that I am aspiring to be a “Johnny Appleseed” of sorts for native edible species and plant more of them in the landscape, so that there’s more for more for everyone to benefit from, for people, for wildlife, the plants and the birds, pollinators, for everyone to benefit. So I have been gathering the seeds and nuts from native species.

I actually have a new fridge in my basement that’s filled with the nuts and seeds of native species.

As it turns out, most of them need to go through “stratification” (exposure to cold) before they’ll germinate, so the fridge is a good place to store them.

GH: Well that’s awesome. What exactly are you hoping to do with these seeds?

RC: I have been distributing them to native plant propagators and people I know who want to grow more native plants. I am actually going to be contract-growing a lot of stuff. So I’ve been contacting plant nurseries, giving them a bunch of seeds, and say “OK, turn these into plants for me”, and then I’ll buy the plants back to distribute to organizations to grow out on their properties. I am giving these plants away. I am not charging anyone for anything.

GH: A good portion of our blog readership are organic farmers. Do you see native plants playing a larger role in their work?

RC: Yes, at least where opportunities exist to grow native species in or around organic farms. Native edible species benefit birds, pollinators and other wildlife as well as offer food harvesting opportunities for people. This is a better alternative than collecting these species from natural habitats, where, unfortunately, I have been distressed to see damage to wild plant populations caused by commercially-driven harvesting.

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