Archive for alyssa
Alyssa is an artist interested in architecture as it relates to human function. Enjoys drawing and painting, making things rather then buying them, roof top gardens, using a worm compost, magnetic termites, hiking, climbing and all things art, music and film. Currently, some of her favorite reading is "Overlay" by Lucy Lippard and "Design Like You Give a Damn".
Gasoline production is never actually going to be "green" but to show they really care, British Petroleum has been going the extra mile for the environment in other areas. A Los Angeles BP , Helios House, is the nation’s first station to operate with high "green" standards which includes low-flow toilets, solar panels, a rain-catchment system and floors made from recycled glass, everything green (except its product.) The station also hands out tips on being green and seeds you can plant in your home garden.
Here in Baltimore we have our very own "growing" equivalent. The BP station across from the Museum of Industry off Key Highway has a greenroof on both the convenience store and the car wash. This roof was was planted in spring, 2007 by me, your GOforChange contributor, while working for Furbish Co . The easiest — and probably the only — way to see it is if you have any friends with roof-top decks in South Baltimore. Although most of us can’t see it, it is helping improve air, lowering the urban heat-island effect, and slowing storm water run-off.
Is BP acting "Beyond Petroleum" or is it closer to greenwashing? Listen to NPR news story.
Greenwash is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “disinformation disseminated by an organization so as to present an environmentally responsible public image.” View a list of America’s 10 worst offenders from The Green LIfe.
We have two new programs starting up, including the Green Website Adventure Tour, which begins the week of July 13. Join me on a F*R*E*E phonecall to find out more: Friday, July 3 at 11:00 a.m. EST.
B-more Productive was the title given to one of this year’s Urbanite projects . This particular project asked the question: what could a typical Baltimore homeowner or renter be doing to increase the use of small open space for the production of food and energy? I was fortunate enough to work with Catherine Pancake and Dru Schmidt-Perkins to help visualize this idea by taking an existing row-house and illustrating various opportunities of adding solar panels to the sides of a houses, cultivating edible weeds and taking up beekeeping. Watch a video interview with each Urbanite Project team and if this doesn’t make sparks fly, see a video about a 300-year-old 2-acre food garden in Vietnam. Both examples fully define sustainability and doing a lot with a little can absolutely be the gift that keeps giving.
In other news:
Cafe Hon just bought wind power and they did the math and figured they would save $11,000. on their utility bill in one year! Read more from WJZ.
There are two new green renovation companies in Baltimore; Shelter and Green Building Alternatives.
Article mentioning Transition Towns for DC. There is talk about bringing the idea to Baltimore. Check back soon for more info.
In honor of Green Week Baltimore I wanted to highlight a few important efforts that I’ve come across in the past couple of months. The MTA of Maryland has implemented a Green Facts page on their website. This interactive page provides information on all the energy alternatives which are taking place within our Mass Transit system. We currently have 10 hybrid diesel-electric buses and coming soon are some 100% biodiesel conversions and much more. Parks and People Foundation of Baltimore has created the Community Greening Resource Network (CGREN) , a membership program supporting Baltimore City community gardeners with materials like seeds, plants, tools, and educational hand-outs and downloadable PDFs. There are a list of upcoming events and workshops on their calender and ours that include information on composting, rainbarrel systems, etc. This year I’ve signed up to be a member of the Village Green Community Garden in Remington and will be making visits around to as many other community gardens as I can. Check back soon to hear more about the exciting momentum stirring around urban farming city-wide! In addition to active green spaces, the city has also set a goal of increasing its tree canopy from 20 percent to 40 percent. The Growing Home program is an innovative public-private partnership between Baltimore County, Baltimore City, Harford County, 50 local retail nurseries and garden centers, and homeowners to increase the tree canopy in the region by offering homeowners comprehensive education about planting trees and a cash incentive, the $10 Growing Home Tree Coupon redeemable toward the purchase of a qualifying tree with a retail value of at least $25.
I leave you with this quote from critic and urban activist Jane Jacobs, "No one can find what will work for our cities by looking at..suburban garden cities, manipulating scale models, or inventing dream cities. You’ve got to get out and walk." Be the green you wish to see in the world. There are hundreds of ways to get involved. Check our calender for more Green Week Events.
Other urban farming/gardening resources:
Fresh Start Farm
Recently my family and I have been faced with the unfortunate decision to move my grandmother into an Assisted Living Community, based on her increasing battle with Dementia. In addition to many other things, one of my jobs has been to find a place to dispose of her unused prescriptions and over-the-counter medications — which had probably been mounting for quite some time. Based on a few conversations and reading a few disheartening articles (one which came from Johns Hopkins ), the consensus seems to be that one option is to dispose of unwanted medication by dumping them into the toilet.
However, with some more research, I found that this is incredibly unsafe. One reason is that septic tanks and waste treatment plants aren’t designed to remove 20th-century synthetic drugs, most of which aren’t even biodegradeable. This means that a huge percentage of this stuff is getting fed right back into our water supply; eek!! It also negatively effects surrounding ecosystems and public and private land. A common alternative and a suggestion that came from the FDA is to to mix or dilute meds with undesirable substances like kitty litter, soda, dirt or cayenne pepper and throwing them into the trash, which theoretically will deter children or household pets from accidentally harming themselves. Although I think this is better then dumping them into the toilet, it’s still contaminating the earth by potentially leaching into the ground once they’re dropped into a landfill, thus creating unknown health effects. Some suggestions that are easy and might engage the public more on this issue:
1. First, see if the medication has a label for advice on disposal. This is usually done because of concerns with illegal uses, overdoses or human or animal contamination.
2. Call your doctor to talk about taking back unused medication.
3. See if there is a take-back program in your community.
Call local pharmacy
Call trash service
Call local hospital or Medical Center
4. Donate to a developing country. One example is the Starfish Project .
5. Donate locally. Kansas has a new law that lets mail-order pharmacies, nursing homes and other medical facilities donate unused drugs, which is producing a windfall for the state’s safety-net clinics. Why not get one of these passed in your state? Continued
In the vein of our recent posts about food (one of our favorite topics here!), I wanted to write a little follow-up from my kitchen. The debate over HR875 and other such bills is certainly food for thought. The fact that Monsanto is able to sue farmers in the U.S. for having unwanted genetically-engineered seeds on their land — that blew there from other fields, thereby contaminating heirloom seeds — is nothing short of alarming. What if we just pause and imagine a better path forward?
What’s most important for a healthy crop is the biodiversity of the soil and microorganisms that produce it in the first place. Over the past few years, I’ve read success stories of a natural fertilizer business called Terra Cycle which uses the age-old genius of worms to compost waste and turn "worm tea" into a sought-after consumer product. The good news is, this isn’t rocket science. This stuff can be made for free inside your own home; that is, if you aren’t squeamish about some squishy worms.
I have a compost bin in my kitchen with about 500 to 1,000 worms inside eating my junk mail and food scraps. The particular bin I bought has a drainage spout, so that when there is heavy moisture content the extra water can simply drain to the bottom, be collected in a bottle, and fed to my house plants. The above picture displays the awesome power of worm tea. I had never fed my Money Tree worm tea before, but after only two servings and a couple of days’ growth, you can see the obvious difference this stuff makes. The water and nutrients shot up to the top leaves and what was similar to the bottom leaves only days ago is now a shimmering forest green (actually much shinier and green in real life!). Now, let’s see if some actual money starts growing. . . .
See our calender for composting workshops.
Treehugger article about Terracycle.
It’s hard finding a niche for the cradle to cradle approach to everything and avoid the unending "just throw it away" syndrome. The good news is I keep finding amazing examples of people using recycled materials in new construction. The photo above shows the Furbish Co. workstation dividers at the Lucky’s warehouse. Each section was built from recycled hollow core doors and painted with reclaimed house paint from the Loading Dock . Designed and constructed by James Uhrich and other Furbish employees, they are a beautiful addition to this already exceptionally green company. There are also many other projects which follow this same idea, including a conference table being built using old bowling balls as feet for mobility so that office space can be better utilized.
After I wrote a post about my discovery and use of urbanite for fencing posts and in a backyard bench construction, I was informed that our volunteer Debbie Smith was getting rid of some and found the perfect person to receive it. Polly Bart, owner of Greenbuilders, Inc , used Deb’s gift of concrete in a retaining wall at her home in Maryland. The photo on the left is the demolished concrete patio in Deb’s backyard. On the right, the new urbanite wall reveals the creative potential of this abundant material.
Click continue on to see a photo and read more about where to take your stuff. Continued
There have been many new and exciting developments in the area of the sometimes frustrating issue of easy access to and affordability of transportation, especially in Baltimore. Not to mention the fact that fuel prices had been steadily falling but are starting to rise again. Listed below are some efforts which have come through at a grass roots level or from the city itself.
1. The Parking Authority of Baltimore City is helping to launch the bonafide non-profit, Baltimore Carshare. Operating similar to the Zipcar model, it will provide temporary assess to a variety of choice vehicles that would include insurance, maintenance, parking and gas. 50 percent of rentals will be fuel-efficient; the other half would include hybrids.
2. Baltimore Bicycle Works is a new bicycle shop down on Falls Rd. near the Street Car Muesum.
3. GO Green Riders sells low-speed electric vehicles in Fells Point. They seem reasonably-priced and get 30 miles on a single battery. No fossil fuels! (Well, technically, that’s only if you charge yours with a solar panel. . . But, we’ll get there, folks! Promise!)
4. B-cycle is a bike sharing program that is growing all over North American cities. For Example Denver B-Cycle will make 500 bikes available to the public at 30 to 40 stations throughout the city. The coolest thing about their website is you can enter any zip code and see how B-cycle can positively affect your community, based on population stats. There is also a way to let it be known how much you want your town to be a B-Cycle city.