the irresistible fleet of bicycles

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wired: hardware design should be free. here’s how to do it.

Hardware Design Should Be Free. Here’s How to Do It.

by Richard Stallman

in Wired

WE MUST DESIGN free hardware. But the question remains: how?

First, we must understand why we can’t make hardware free the same way we make software free. Hardware and software are fundamentally different. A program, even in compiled executable form, is a collection of data which can be interpreted as instruction for a computer. Like any other digital work, it can be copied and changed using a computer. A copy of a program has no inherent physical form or embodiment.

KEEP READING to find out more about free hardware design.

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after the aqueduct: through april 12, 2015

As California’s severe drought drags on, water is top of mind, part of a zeitgeist that the things we’ve done for decades aren’t working so well anymore and never did, for everyone. The Los Angeles Aqueduct is one of them.

Pencil illustration of future aqueduct with two columns of text, one on either side of the sketch.

First page of survey document for L.A. Aqueduct, 1907-1944, courtesy of Library of Congress collection

The always controversial L.A. Aqueduct is a 233 mile hydraulic water conveyance system that has provided potable water for the City of L.A. since 1913. Today, the water for the aqueduct originates in the Mono Basin, 338 miles away, moves through the Owens Valley, and eventually reaches L.A. through a complex system of siphons, tunnels, dams and reservoirs. The water diversions from Owens Valley effectively killed it, and continue to threaten the ecology of Mono Lake and other areas.

In a refreshing contrast, the Aqueduct Futures (AF) Project “aims to inspire civic imagination about the future of the Los Angeles Aqueduct and Owens Valley” and is “mapping the hidden impacts of the Aqueduct to create a framework for lasting peace between Los Angeles and Owens Valley. 127 Cal Poly Pomona students (and counting), together with the Owens Valley and Mono County communities have contributed ideas to the project.”

Watch a video synopsis of the project on Vimeo and, if you’re in the L.A. area, check out the After the Aqueduct exhibit in person at the L.A. Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE), 6522 Hollywood Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90028. The exhibit runs through April 12, 2015.

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free book: fields, factories and workshops

How much and how little things change. We’re delighted to be able to read and recommend the free 1912 book Fields, Factories and Workshops: or Industry Combined with Agriculture and Brain Work with Manual Work by the prescient Pëtr Kropotkin. Who was he, and what messages did he have for today’s Greenhorns?

Black adn white photo of balding man with long black beard and small wire-rimmed glasses.

Photo of Kropotkin taken by Gaspard-Félix Tournachon, AKA Nadar, as shown at

Born in Moscow in 1842, Kropotkin was a true Renaissance Man, a “Russian geographer, economist, activist, philologist, zoologist, evolutionary theorist, philosopher, writer and prominent anarchist,” according to Wikipedia.

When he wrote Fields, Factories and Workshops, Kropotkin was seeing some of the same things we are today. He saw “decentralisation of industries going on” and new-comers developing “on their own… the principal industries,” which implied freedom from exploitation. Agriculture was part of this big decentralization. Kropotkin, for instance, didn’t buy the accepted wisdom that sufficient food couldn’t be grown locally and urged people to do it:

“As the manufacturing nations of West Europe are meeting with steadily growing difficulties in selling their manufactured goods abroad, and getting food in exchange, they will be compelled to grow their food at home; they will be bound to rely on home customers for their manufactures, and on home producers for their food. And the sooner they do so the better.”

Kropotkin also wrote about soil health, crop yield, the abandonment of fertile land and the threat this posed, and sought to show “what can and ought to be obtained from the land under a proper intelligent treatment.” Sounds familiar!

An easier-on-the-eyes PDF version of the book is available here. Enjoy!

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the butterfly girls: sustainability in prisons project promotes conservation


The Butterfly Girls
By Paul Sheldon and Burt Klein, Corrections One

This story highlights the Mission Creek Correctional Center for Women’s work under the Sustainability in Prisons Project (SPP). Under the project, the prison has compost piles, recycling bins, garden beds, water-recycling systems, and butterfly-propagation greenhouse maintained by the inmates. Washington inmates raise endangered frogs, butterflies, grasses and mosses.  Pilot activities from 2004-07 helped the prison reduce its operating costs and environmental impact while fostering engagement with nature and conversation among the entire prison community.

The mission behind SPP focuses on three areas:

• Green-collar education and training
• Sustainable operations of prisons
• Scientific research and conservation

Here are a few more articles about green initiatives in the prisons:
Inmate Blog: Hard Time Cafe
Green Jobs Training Smoothes Re-entry Process
Angola’s 100-year Commitment to Sustainability

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a photo essay: what’s killing all the bee’s?

Photo Credit Chris Jordan-Bloch, Earth Justice

The Perfect Crime: What’s Killing all the Bee’s?

Honey bee colonies have experienced widespread die-offs in a phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder. Many beekeepers believe a class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids are weakening their bees. Mega-corporations are making a killing off their pesticides—but are they also getting away with murder?

A beautiful 22 photo essay by Chris Jordan-Bloch explores explores this issue. See the full essay here.

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an act to amend maine’s gmo food products labeling law

right to know gmo ME
MOFGA Press Release Regarding LD 991: An Act To Amend Maine’s Genetically Modified Food Products Labeling Law.

Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are a hot topic in Maine and across the nation. A new bill could speed implementation of Maine’s historic GMO food labeling law. For decades the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) has been leading the fight in Maine for good food, good farming and demanding transparency in labeling food made from GMO crops. Of course, several hundred Maine family farmers are growing MOFGA-certified organic crops that are free of GMOs because genetic engineering is a prohibited practice in organic farming.

In 2013, the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) organized Maine’s Right to Know – GMO coalition, which gained legislative and gubernatorial approval of mandatory labeling of foods derived from genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The law is the result of decades of organizing, research, citizen lobbying and all-around collaboration among citizens from all walks of Maine life. This year Maine legislators will have an opportunity to learn even more about GMOs in food and agriculture, and consider options for a speedier implementation of Maine’s landmark GMO labeling law.

LD 991 – An Act To Amend Maine’s Genetically Modified Food Products Labeling Law – seeks to eliminate a requirement in established law that five contiguous states, including Maine, adopt legislation similar to Maine’s. Connecticut and Vermont already have adopted GMO labeling laws. A bill in the Massachusetts Legislature has broad bi-partisan support. A legislative committee in New Hampshire has been studying the issue. Continue reading

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farm for sale in monmouth, maine

We got word from Nancy Chandler that her 50-acre farm in Monmouth, ME is up for sale. Here’s her listing:

I have a great opportunity for a new farmer to buy an established vegetable, berry, and/ or pastured livestock farm in Monmouth. This ex dairy farm would make a great meat goat, chicken, or sheep operation, with the possibility of more adjacent pasture or hay lands leased. It could also provide a quick startup for up to 10 acres of vegetable and row crop production, fruit trees or nursery plants. This is a great opportunity for experienced farmers who have access to capital for a 50 acre farm, with 10 acres of rock free, fertile hay or crop land, a 5 bedroom 2300 square foot  farmhouse, which includes 2 separate living areas, 3 dairy barns, 6 acre pasture, and 20 acres forest.  Chip and Nancy Chandler ran organically certified Phoenix  Farm from 2005 through 2013, growing berries, 4 acres of vegetables,  cover crops, hay, and cut flowers.We built a solar & wood heated greenhouse into the barn, and added a 70ft by 30 ft, 2 ply poly high tunnel. The farm is leased thru April to another organic farmer, who has put in 1 acre of fencing and pens for goats, built a walk in cooler, and kept the 4000 square foot dairy barn, and smaller hay barns in good repair.
To see my farm pictures and description, please go to  the Maine Farmlink listing, The farm address is 191 South Monmouth Rd, Monmouth, Me,  14 miles north of Lewiston/Auburn, the second biggest urban center in Maine, and 7 miles from the Maine turnpike, 1 hour to Portland. Please email me questions at, or call(207)389-1474 to discuss this property.
 For 10 years on 4 acres I have brought the ph and soil fertility up to good levels, increased organic matter, reduced perennial grasses and annual weeds, and established high bush blueberries, elderberry, rhubarb, and raspberry plantings.  We have upgraded all essential house structure, heating, waste disposal and energy efficiency on the large farmhouse, and maintained the barns of this old dairy farm.
The soils are completely rock free, ph at 6 or above, organic matter 5 to 6%, and fertility highest on 3 1/2 acres of crop land, certified organic from 2005 thru 2012, with 6 hay acres that could yield productive row crops. Established raspberry plantings have yielded 400 pints per season, 15 elderberry bushes are prolific, and 30  high bush blueberry plants are coming into full production. I have implemented an NRCS  conservation plan to vegetate the stream bank, increase field nesting birds, prevent field erosion, improve soil fertility and stream quality, & increase pollinators. Seven acres of pasture are bordered by a great firewood lot, of 20 to 40 year old mixed hardwoods, pine, hemlock, and spruce. The house is energy efficient, with double pane windows, new roof,new interior and exterior paint, furnace and septic system, with all lead paint and asbestos insulation removed, and a 10 year old well.
The farm price is $245,000 without equipment, or $258,000 with a 15 year old TAFE tractor with front loader,  discs,  plow, chains, bean/corn seeder, and FarmAll C with two directional plows and weeding sweeps. Hand equipment includes a field mower, microseeder, and cover crop spreader.

Marketing opportunities include an established, full season 25 person CSA(40 in the past), farmer markets in Winthrop, Lewiston, Augusta, Bowdoinham and Brunswick, senior farmshare, 2 small Manchester stores, CSA at a doctors office in Augusta, and wholesale to schools, hospital, Crown of Maine, and Food and Medicine in Brewer.


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