Archive for December, 2008

We’re Going to Blogging School

photo by Julie: Lucky's Warehouse by Furbish Co.
Recently, we started in earnest to learn all we can about the blogging world, including how to increase our site traffic so we can continue to offer GOforChange to our community and the wider world. Naturally, we enrolled in Upstart Blogger’s 30-Day Blogging Course . We are known mostly within our own networks, where we reliably preach to the converted. But what about people who are just waking up to environmental and economic challenges? With our expertise, wealth of information, online forums, calendar, and marketplace, we are determined to reach a wider audience.

We started GOforChange in early 2008 to help spread the word about the growing sustainability , local food , social justice, and greening movement in the Baltimore area. A blog was the right format to share information about upcoming events, volunteers opportunities, advice, and all the organizations and businesses in our area that are working for a better world. We are always learning about new things — community gardens, energy auditors, local artisans, schools — and the list of topics keeps growing. We continue to believe that reliable information about local resources is valuable to people who want to know how they can make a difference in their daily lives and communities.

As of Day 5 of the course, we have already learned much about social networks, Technorati rankings , Google Analytics, and reaching out to like-minded blogs. We are shifting our posts to offer more advice, musings, and stories from Julie’s work as a green architect and sustainability consultant, and Alyssa’s hands-on artistry in urban gardening, composting, and other DIY projects. Interspersed with posts about Baltimore-area topics, these will have a broad appeal beyond our geographic region. The Upstart Blogger course is something we probably should have taken six months ago, but back then we just didn’t realize how much we don’t know! Stay tuned for updates on our progress.

Baltimore Treasures

photo by: alyssa

A couple of years ago, I worked for a Poster Restoration Company and walked passed this impressive fence design every day. I knew nothing of its creator, but could tell that the posts are made from chunks of salvaged concrete. Natural builders have coined the name "urbanite" for this repurposed concrete material. (Yes — that’s "urbanite" — same name as our beloved local magazine !) I was particularly impressed with the detailed wood cuts that form so nicely around the posts.

Read on to see other uses for urbanite. Continued

Fun is Found in Restoring the Bay

photos courtesy of: VoiCes
"VoiCeS , which began in 2004, creates a deeper understanding of the Bay and the efforts to restore it. This professionally-taught, two-part program, meets each week (for eight weeks) and includes field trips and participant-led community projects. You’ll learn about the Bay’s biology, the issues we face, and how you and your community can help its restoration."

Connect to the GOforChange CollectiveX calender to search dates and locations.

The Clean Coal “?”: March On March 2nd

photos courtesy of: GreenPeace

Dear Friends,

There are moments in a nation’s—and a planet’s—history when it may be necessary for some to break the law in order to bear witness to an evil, bring it to wider attention, and push for its correction. We think such a time has arrived, and we are writing to say that we hope some of you will join us in Washington D.C. on Monday March 2 in order to take part in a civil act of civil disobedience outside a coal-fired power plant near Capitol Hill.

We will be there to make several points:
#Coal-fired power is driving climate change. Our foremost climatologist, NASA’s James Hansen, has demonstrated that our only hope of getting our atmosphere back to a safe level—below 350 parts per million co2—lies in stopping the use of coal to generate electricity.
# Even if climate change were not the urgent crisis that it is, we would still be burning our fossil fuels too fast, wasting too much energy and releasing too much poison into the air and water. We would still need to slow down, and to restore thrift to its old place as an economic virtue.
#Coal is filthy at its source. Much of the coal used in this country comes from West Virginia and Kentucky, where companies engage in "mountaintop removal" to get at the stuff; they leave behind a leveled wasteland, and impoverished human communities. No technology better exemplifies the out-of-control relationship between humans and the rest of creation.
#Coal smoke makes children sick. Asthma rates in urban areas near coal-fired power plants are high. Air pollution from burning coal is harmful to the health of grown-ups too, and to the health of everything that breathes, including forests.

Continued

Edible Eco-Flooring!!?

Chris Moline, a Residential Group Manager of Carpet One Flooring of Alexandria Virginia ate a piece of Marmoleum yesterday afternoon to prove its truly green properties. Lets just hope its durability doesn’t complicate his digestive system, hmm….let me know how that goes Chris.

Alexandra Carpet One offers several kinds of eco-flooring including Marmoleum, a non-toxic alternative to most other post-industrial flooring options. It’s made with 100% natural ingredients: linseed oil, cork, limestone, tree resin and natural pigments. According to the Green Building Supply website, "The natural bactericidal properties of marmoleum prevent micro-organisms including Salmonella Typhimurium and Staphylococcus Aureus from multiplying themselves. It is the continual oxidation of the linseed oil that enables this phenomenon."

Well, Chris perhaps you could advertise it as an antioxidant too!

Check out more from Chris Moline and what he put in his mouth here .

SpringField Farm Redux

photos courtesy of: Springfield Farms
Remember Springfield Farm ? We wrote a post about them almost a year ago now. One of our CollectiveX members went for a visit a couple weeks ago in search of free range organic meat and wanted to tell us about her encouraging experience with some delightfully cared for farm animals.

Written by: Baltimore resident Erin Fostel
My first time at Springfield Farm was everything that I hoped it would be. I went in search of happy farm animals who lived a nice life up until the moment they made it onto my plate. What I found was an amazing place that was welcoming for both animal and human. I saw over 200 hundred turkeys hanging out in the fresh air listening to, none other then, Beyonce on the radio. Having been told that if I talk to the turkeys they will respond, I said the only thing I thought a turkey would understand, “gobble, gobble.” Sure enough in response, all 200 turkeys stopped moving and gobbled back in unison! I nearly collapsed with glee. Next to the turkeys was a wooded lot that I mistook for the edge of the farmland. Inside the woods were pigs. Huge, beastly, muscular pigs that came barreling up to say hello. I was upset to have left my camera at home.
The store where they sell their meat and eggs is right inside their garage, a pure Ma and Pa operation. Every question is welcomed and their prices are on target with anything of quality from Super Fresh or Whole Foods. I recommend calling ahead if you are shopping for something specific. Having made the decision that I would only eat meat that came from a farm where they respected and cared for their animals, I feel that I have hit the jackpot with Springfield Farm.

Check out more organic farms here

What I Have Learned About Learning from Experience

photo: sketch by Julie Gabrielli

When I was a brand-new parent, my friend Mara O’Connell gave me the best advice I’ve gotten in my life. I confessed to her how overwhelmed I felt with the responsibility of caring for such a precious, helpless creature. I had so much to learn; the enormity of what I didn’t know pressed on me like a heavy weight. I was frightened by it. Her advice was, don’t worry. You learn what you need to know, when you need it, little by little. As you go along.

I have come to appreciate that this is a perfect observation about life in general. Especially life as an innovator or entrepreneur. I don’t have to know everything there is to know about business, nor beat myself up about the things I don’t yet know or understand. In fact, what I DON’T know about business could fill a good-sized bookstore. Yet, somehow I don’t let that stop me.

"Experience is the best teacher" is something I have feared and felt in awe of all my life. Continued