Friday, January 28, 2011

Egypt Rising Up

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Standing Our Ground on Sustainability

Read our mission statement. Sustainability is part of it. Obviously, the Community Garden fits right in there, so does our involvement with the Farmers Market Steering Committee, both individually and as an organization.

And the music? you might ask. The creativity in iCreate. Human sustainability. "Spiritual nourishment" Gregor Samsa would say (from The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka)

So where does this belong? Another feature, say "Sustainability," or perhaps under "Virtual Community Garden." "La Vida Locavore" is high on the list for a sidebar feed. What do you think? Let me know.

Vanessa, resident Ariadne

La Vida Locavore

Standing Our Ground on Sustainability

by: Jill Richardson

My latest on Alternet is titled "Have Corporations Hijacked the Word 'Sustainable'? It's based on a trend I've seen over the past year or two. Sustainable means "capable of being maintained at a steady level without exhausting natural resources or causing severe ecological damage." Easy enough to understand, right? But over and over, I hear Big Ag interests (who are not always corporations, but are certainly serving corporate interests) say that sustainable is defined as "producing more food off of each acre while using less natural resources."

To compare these two definitions, imagine we are talking about cars instead of agriculture. Let's say you're driving a Hummer. And you want to be "sustainable." Obviously, the Hummer won't do. Should you swap out the H2 for a Ford Expedition? Now, the Expedition can produce more with less resources than your Hummer. That is, it can go more miles using less gas. But is it "capable of being maintained at a steady level without exhausting natural resources or causing severe ecological damage." Absolutely not.

How about a Prius. Wow, that can REALLY go more miles on less gas compared to a Hummer. But if we all drove Priuses, could that be maintained at a steady level without exhausting natural resources or causing severe ecological damage? Sadly, probably not.

To get to the point where we meet the true definition of sustainable, we'd likely need a very robust public transportation system, much of which is powered from renewable clean energy like wind and solar, plus bike trails, and plug-in electric hybrid vehicles that plug into an upgraded grid powered by renewable clean energy. And honestly, maybe that wouldn't be sustainable (based on the true definition of the word). But it would be helluva lot closer to it than a Ford Expedition.

So back to agriculture, clearly the Big Ag guys are trying to take us on by redefining "sustainability" in terms of yield. And they've already managed to hoodwink an awful lot of influential people into thinking that they will always win a contest based on yield, even though science proves otherwise. Here, in the industrialized world, we'd likely see a slight decrease in yield if we switched to organic agriculture, but we'd still have enough to eat, and some data indicates that we'd do better during periods of weather extremes (like droughts) than if we continued with chemical ag. In the non-industrial world, things are entirely different. Since the farmers there can't afford too many chemicals to begin with, switching to organic will actually INCREASE their yields by 80%.

But even if that's the case, even if sustainable ag can match or beat industrialized ag on yield, sustainability is STILL not a question of yield. It's a question of whether a system can be maintained over the long term without using up natural resources and wrecking the earth. Crop rotation, intercropping, cover crops, and composting can all do that; nitrogen fertilizer and pesticides cannot.

Posted via email from Mountainair NM

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Haitian remembrances, in their own voices

Anniversaries are supposed to be celebrations, not catalogs of destruction, marked by delays and frustration. I can't help but recall that the 1st year is the paper anniversary and think on the symbolism, "Paper represents fragility, a delicate nature, but can also denote the acquisition of knowledge." Fragility, yes. Knowledge, to be hoped for. 

Blogger DocCrof writes, "Google and NewsNow are saturated with earthquake-anniversary stories, with few adding anything useful to our understanding of Haiti."

After going through my feed reader  skimming and tagging anniversary stories, looking for standouts for an anniversary remembrance post, I'm of the same mind. The post excerpted below, itself compiled from other posts by Haitian bloggers, caught my attention for its authentic and unadulterated voices. 

Perhaps later, I'll return to the anniversary stories, pick out a few for sharing links and images. 

Today marks one year since the devastating earthquake struck Haiti. Haitian bloggers are remembering…

The Livesay Haiti Weblog writes:

On 1/12/2010 at 4:53pm the landscape of Haiti was irrevocably changed. Despite great tribulation and loss the heart and spirit of the people endures. Today an entire country stops to remember those they lost. Please pray for them and with them.... There is no week in our lives in 38 years that is as vivid and clear in our memories as a year ago this week. 

Pétion-ville cemetery by caribbeanfreephoto, used under a Creative Commons Licence.

Karlito's Blog posts an image that “you possibily have been seeing this image pop up pretty much everywhere on social networks (Facebook, Twitter, BBm) today”, explaining:

Late last night as I was thinking about a way to commemorate the one year anniversary of Haiti”s devastating earthquake, It came to mind that I didn’t need to do much, I just needed to be a survivor, so I created this little image symbolically.

We need to be there not only to tell a story, the story, our story as we remember it to our children and our grandchildren but also to help built a better and safer future for them. We need to be survivors everyday so that every step we make forward in this life be the reflection of our gratitude for the blessings that God has bestowed upon us everyday since that day. Nothing is greater then the gift of life.

National Palace, by caribbeanfreephoto, used under a Creative Commons Licence

On Twitter, the hashtags for the one-year anniversary of the earthquake are #remember #Haiti - and Tweeple have been using the micro-blogging platform to do just that. Bloggers on the ground in Haiti continue to weigh in. The Apparent Project Blog writes:

The last few days have been hard. Somehow I wish the calendar wasn't cyclical, because I'm not really ready to remember what happened a year ago.... I heard that they resurrected the Iron Market and it opened yesterday.... It was a place of significance for me and I cried as I saw the beautiful historical marketplace crumpled on the ground in the wake of the quake. I think for me it will be a moment of joy to see it rebuilt. The one thing that is fixed. The one thing that has been restored and repaired.

Indeed, @RAMHaiti posted several tweets about the inauguration of the rebuilt Iron Market…and a few about the stark contrast of the new facility to other areas of the capital:

Tent city, Juvenat by caribbeanfreephoto, used under a Creative Commons Licence

Today, whether it was through tweets, poetry or suggestions about ways in which to move forward, there is no doubt that this sad anniversary was top of mind in the regional blogosphere. Perhaps Shelley Clay sums it up best - today is important to remember because it is about the Haitian people:

It is January 12th. A baby is coming into the world today. A country is on her knees today. I will spend my day waiting for news of a boy or girl, probably go down to see the beautiful Iron Market, probably cry a little, hug my kids a lot, and remember what happened one year ago. God Bless Haiti this year!

All photos used in this post are by caribbeanfreephoto, used under an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) Creative Commons License. Visit caribbeanfreephoto's flickr photostream here.

Posted via email from Haven at Harbor Homes

Sunday, January 9, 2011

cities rise and fall

How nice to find a city something to blog (re-purpose) for places, among other functions, also designated citylit destination ~ all the more so when I'm behind on posting. All MLA'd out too, without even attending. Appropriate for places along the way though, all those LA images, plus irresistible "MLA in LA" (aka "MLALA") inspired juxtapositions ~ Academy in Hard Times, End of the Univeristy as We Know (and other examples of the genre), The Day of the Locust and so on.

From Lapham's Quarterly, a special issue on The City. From City Journal, Victor Davis Hanson on the destiny of cities: Throughout history, forces both natural and human have made cities rise and fall; Asian megacities, free and unfree: How politics has shaped the growth of Shanghai, Beijing, and Seoul; and Brandon Fuller and Paul Romer on cities from scratch and a new path for development. From THES, a review of The Just City by Susan S. Fainstein; and a review of City Life by Adrian Franklin. There is a growing understanding that it is actually “love” that will be the prime force in the future economy of successful 21st century cities. The 30 most dynamic cities on Earth: Which metropolis is leading the world out of the recession? The answer is Istanbul — and the rest of the list is equally surprising. Mario Polese on seven reasons why big cities matter more than ever. Ross Perlin on ten megacities of the near future. What makes a city grow and thrive, and what causes it to stagnate and fall? Geoffrey West thinks the tools of physics can give us the answers. Tom Vanderbilt on how a planned highway can change a city, even if it never gets built. A new era for the city-state: Joel Kotkin on the New World Order. An article on predicting the climate-changed city of the future. An innovator in every apartment: Conor Friedersdorf on how cities should unravel their pre-digital regulations.

... time enough tomorrow (or whenever the rest of the convention post-mortems roll in) to blog collected observations and links.

Posted via email from Meanderings

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Art as a public good

Aviad Heifetz makes the case for treating beauty as a public good, and therefore for public funding of the arts.
Beauty cannot be provisioned in a decentralized market. Unlike with vaccinations, the problem has nothing to do with free riding. The point is that there is no way in which beauty can be marketed: there can be no promo to genuine surprise. We cannot form demand for an experience which will alter our outlook, because the new outlook makes no sense to us before we actually have it. Our only chance to have beauty is to commission it by a centralized, public initiative.
One argument Heifetz doesn’t make is that, in the midst of the Second Great Depression, public funding of the arts would put people back to work. Just as the Works Progress Administration did during the first Great Depression. Together, the Federal Art Project, the Federal Music Project, the Federal Theatre Project, and the Federal Writers  Project provided employment to thousands of struggling cultural workers and gave the nation hundreds of thousands of new cultural artifacts. Visual artists decorated post offices, schools and other public buildings with murals, canvases and sculptures; musicians were to perform with symphony orchestras and community singing concerts; new forms of theater were created in New York City, while touring companies traveled the country performing old and new plays; and published state and local guidebooks, organized archives, indexed newspapers. and collected folklore and oral history interviews.
Yes, beauty is a public good and, especially right now, we could use a lot more of it.