Archive for October, 2008
This recent essay on CNN.com by Elizabeth Economy highlights the parallel paths of economic development and environmental crisis in China. Every day, 14,000 new cars are added to China’s roads and every 7 to 10 days, another coal-fired power plant opens to help fuel the country’s economic growth. Although a success story in its rapid development, China also serves as a warning as the environmental costs of that development unfold.
The essay is accompanied by this slideshow of dramatic images from China’s Huai River Basin, a rural area heavily impacted by water pollution, taken by photojournalist Stephen Voss. The essay and photos also appear in the book “What Matters” by David Elliot Cohen.
Treehugger’s Matthew McDermott blogged about the topic earlier this week, suggesting that in light of the environmental damage that sometimes results from economic development, “we need a new meaning for ‘developed,’ a new measurement of wealth.” It’s an interesting notion: wealth is so often measured, not just in China but throughout the world, by the amount of material goods you have, the size of your home, the number of cars in your garage … the degree to which you’re able to live excessively. At present, we don’t live in a world that values conservation as much as consumerism.
We look forward to the day when wealth is measured by the weight of your recyclables … or how small your electric bill is … or the number of miles you log on your feet or a bike instead of in a car. Until then, our thanks to Treehugger for inspiring us to think about it.
Those of you in the greater Boston area, take note: Now through Sunday, October 19 select restaurants in the area are participating in Fresh From the Family Farm Week. Click here for a list of participating restaurants, all offering menu items with fresh ingredients from area family farms and donating a portion of the proceeds to Farm Aid and Chefs Collaborative – two nonprofit organizations that support the family farming industry and healthy, sustainable food businesses.
Fresh From the Family Farm Week is a win-win: you get to enjoy healthy, local, good-for-you food … and farmers get a much-needed boost in their effort to provide high-quality, locally-grown food for our tables.
Food for thought.
The rigorous training program (8 hours a day, 5 days a week) teaches students the disciplines of landscape design, arboriculture, hydrology and urban forestry. They learn proper techniques for pruning shrubs and trees, monitoring water quality and removing exotic species. It sounds like a college-level course, but in fact it’s the Youth Environmental Steward (YES) program managed by North East Trees – a Los Angeles, CA nonprofit organization helping at-risk youth become environmental stewards.
North East Trees has several important initiatives aimed at restoring nature’s services in resource-challenged communities; to date, the organization has planted over 20,000 trees, created over 35 parks and facilitated other landscape improvements, including habitat restoration along the Los Angeles River and across Los Angeles County. The YES program offers environmental and community support in a slightly different manner, combining education and training to help develop community work force, build individual character and ensure their restoration projects will be maintained into the future. To date, thousands of local youth have completed the YES program, with many going on to find employment within the green industry.
Hands-on education in North East Trees’ YES program
North East Trees and many of its youth stewards will be on hand tomorrow, October 11, for Timberland’s third Dig It event taking place at the William Mead housing facility – one of Los Angeles’ largest housing public housing communities and home to some 1,400 residents. In addition to planting 250 trees and creating a community garden, volunteers will learn how to select, plant and care for trees appropriate for their living environment.
Click here to register for the LA Dig It event and for more information about the evening celebration at Avalon featuring musicians like Pearl Jam’s Stone Gossard. To learn more about North East Trees and their efforts to cultivate youth stewards and preserve local communities, visit their website.
Odonata is an ecovillage in the making, comprised of a core group of families in the Newburyport, Massachusetts area who are looking to live more simply and sustainably. While still in the early stages of development, Odonata’s founders have concrete ideas about how to create less burden on our environmental resources in their intentional community — including using green building techniques, clustering homes to conserve land, creating common gardens and purchasing food and other necessities cooperatively, to share resources and reduce consumerism.
We recently caught up with Mark Schultz, one of Odonata’s cofounders, who shared his thoughts with us about living more simply in an age of over-abundance:
The biggest addition ecovillage projects add to the conversation about sustainability is a lens into the social elements of sustainability. The power of technology has really made us an incredibly independent nation – independent of each other – while usually the greatest gains are made in collective action. I have studied numerous alternative technologies with an eye to implementing in our village, or servicing or selling as a side-business. You know what every expert said? The #1 technology for the environment was not a technology: it was conservation. Stop using stuff!
The only way I know how to tame the inner child that wants that extra helping of everything is to be with others who believe the same thing. So ecovillage is built through technology, but it is not about technology, it is about people on the planet. While we are all understandably focused on these incredible, new techniques just within our grasp, saying “it’s not just science” is kind of revolutionary in an evolutionary sort of way.
The next Odonata Exploring Membership Meeting will take place Oct. 19th from 2 to 5 p.m. Contact voice@odonataVillage.org or visit odonatavillage.org for more information.