Monday, June 30, 2008

Four ways to make it easier to raise chickens in Asheville

Hi Folks-
Would you like to make it easier to raise chickens in Asheville?
Here are four things you could do:

1- Attend the hearing on this topic at 4:30 PM, Tuesday, July 8th.
It will be in the city conference room in the Fire Station next to Asheville City Hall (different from Public Works or the City Hall itself)

2- Call or email a city councilperson to express your support for easing the ordinances, which lag behind those of Raleigh. We are not talking about making it easier to have roosters in the city, just chickens:
local, low-cost healthy food in a time of rising food prices. For contact info, visit

3- Join the listserv devoted to discussing this topic. More info at

4- Last, and something to do TODAY-- take part in the Asheville Citizen-Times poll at
(middle of the page, to the left). It asks
"Are you in favor of easing restrictions on raising chickens inside city limits?"

Thank you,
-- Jim
From an email I got recently:

I am writing you because you have indicated an interest in changing
the existing Asheville city chicken ordinance. There is now something
very important, and easy, that you can do.

Just to catch you up on the city chicken work, there is a group who
has been meeting for some time, gathering friendly NC ordinances,
writing a draft ordinance for the council to consider, and meeting
with council members.
We are putting together information to support our assertion that a
few chickens are positive and not a nuisance, a solution to the high
cost of food, environmentally friendly as they are very local, an
excellent experience for the family, the eggs are very nutritious, and
Asheville has historically allowed small flocks for families.

Many other NC municipalities allow them, even Raleigh, within a
reasonable distance from a neighbor¹s home, typically 25 ft, and our
ordinance requires 100ft, and our permit requires 150 ft. Impossible.

We have been told that the city is holding a public hearing to discuss
animal ordinances July 8, Tuesday, 5:30 at the 4th floor training room
of the police department, not city hall.

If you could be there, please do! If not, please e-mail city council
and ask for a more favorable ordinance. You don¹t have to ask for
specific provisions.
Better yet, come to the hearing, and e-mail city council.
Could you please forward your e-mail to me and let me know if you plan
to attend the hearing?

Please forward this to anyone who would be supportive.

Jenny Mercer

Click Here to Read More..

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Infectious Pessimism

Robert Shiller on Infectious Exuberance (and infectious pessimism):

"Benjamin M. Friedman, in his 2005 book, The Moral Consequences of
Economic Growth, cites abundant historical evidence that when economic
prospects look bleak—especially for long periods of time—intolerance,
racism, and other reactionary impulses flourish. As more people
experience hardship, trust between them tends to diminish, and the
social fabric itself seems to fray....

We recently lived through two epidemics of excessive financial
optimism. I believe that we are close to a third epidemic, only this
one would spread irrational pessimism and mistrust—not exuberance. If
that happens, our economic problems will become much worse than they
need to be, and our social problems will multiply. Only if we heed the
lessons of the boom can we keep the bust from causing lasting damage."
Click Here to Read More..

Thursday, June 26, 2008

26 Things You Can Do RIGHT NOW To Manage Your Anxiety

If you aren’t feeling some degree of apprehension right now, you aren’t
reading the news. Here are some of my thoughts for turning that
emotional energy into constructive action:

More at link above. Easier to read than to do.......
Click Here to Read More..

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Where should I Go? (in an age of peak oil)


Where should I Go?
by Dale Allen Pfeiffer
June 18th, 2008 Foreword
June 18, 2008 ( The following article originally
appeared in The Mountain Sentinel two years ago. Currently there are a number
of people making panicky statements that everyone needs to relocate. To
present a fair assessment of the idea and to help calm people down, I have decided
to reprint this article for free.
Since this article was written, my family has moved from Appalachian
Kentucky to Evansville Indiana. Evansville is not a haven of preparedness. It will
face many problems as we enter an age of energy depletion and impoverishment.
Our reason for moving here is that we have a lot of family in this area, and
family can be a far more important resource than any other.
My daughter is in public schools now. While she does battle with the
authoritarian rigidity, patriotic propaganda and religious zealotry that plague the
public schools, she is at least making friends.
For my part, when I can spare a little time from working on novels and short
stories, or playing the fiddle and the banjo, I do a little work with the
local sustainability group, and the food co-op.
As this article asserts, there is no place in North America that is ideally
prepared for the joint crises of resource depletion, environmental
destruction and economic impoverishment that now loom before us. Relocation is an
option, but for many people it is not the best option -- perhaps for most people.

The Delusion of Survivalism
Many people have asked me where they should go to survive the end of the oil
age. People asking this question generally fall into one of two groups,
those who believe that civilization will disintegrate into lawless chaos where
former neighbors will be preying upon each other and hordes of murderous
starving bandits will swarm out of the cities to feed on the suburbs. The other
group are those who see things breaking down, but not to the point where they
must seek to defend themselves against every stranger. These people want to
find a community and/or a farm where they can become self-reliant.
I will address the total breakdown group first. If there is a total
breakdown of civilization and we are left with neighbors preying upon neighbors, then
there is no place you can go. Whatever remote mountain hideaway you sneak
off to, in this scenario you will have to deal with pillagers out to take what
little you have. Anywhere you go, there are already people there.
In this day and age, the only places you can go to hide away are lacking in
human population because they are so inhospitable. There are so few people
there because it is so difficult to live there. And the few people who already
live there probably meet that ecosystem's limited carrying capacity for human
As someone who has lived alone in the wilderness, I have to ask you: do you
really want to be a hermit. Do you want to spend your entire day struggling
for the basic necessities? Can you make your own clothing, build and maintain
your own weapons, grow, forage and hunt enough food to feed yourself, lay in
a sufficient store of fuel to keep you from freezing in the winter? The list
goes on and on. Sure, you can survive off what you forage and hunt, make
clothes and blankets out of hides, and live in a debris hut; but do you really
want to?
Stop romanticizing about the myth of the rugged individualist. It is just
that: a myth. Almost all of the rugged individualists I have met were
maladjusted misanthropes who would likely have been institutionalized if they had
lived among others. This is not to say that I have not known many sane and
balanced mountainmen and mountainwomen. But the sane ones do not live in total
isolation, however limited their interaction might be, they are part of a
Consider indigenous peoples throughout the world. They are not rugged
individualists. They all belong to tribes. Their sense of identity is closely
linked to the community of which they are a part. It is their family and their
safety net. They could not imagine trying to make it on their own and would
wonder why anyone would ever want to do such a thing. When they are taken out of
their tribal setting and placed in modern civilization, they are lost without
their community.
The pioneers were not rugged individualists. They knew that community was
the key to their survival. They worked together to build their community, plant
and harvest their crops and provide everyone within their community with the
necessities of life. It was only with difficulty that their sense of
community was squashed by the modern industrialized community and the centralized
Let's get this straight. The myth of the rugged individualist is extolled by
the dominant socioeconomic system because it helps cover up the atomization
of society, and it leaves the disillusioned and disenfranchised uninclined to
work together towards an alternative.
And where did you ever get the idea that you will have to fight your
neighbors for survival, or that the cities will unleash hordes of desperate
degenerates to pillage the countryside? This is an unlikely scenario. Sure there
might be a rise in crime if the established order breaks down, or there might
not. In large part, this depends on us.
When we look at examples of collapse, we do not see much real change in the
crime rate. In a socioeconomic collapse, here does seem to be a relationship
between the crime rate and the strength of community. The more tightly knit
the community is, the lower the rise in crime, and vice versa.
During the Great Depression, people helped each other. Though they may have
little to share, they did share it. During the collapse of the Soviet Union,
people helped each other. Even in North Korea, people helped each other --
though they were terribly repressed by their government.
The counter-argument is that this is a different situation. There will be no
recovery, and in the US people are atomized, selfish and overly competitive.
We are no longer predisposed to help each other, and there is very little
sense of community left. Where people were once loyal to their community, they
are now loyal to their company. And if that company closes its doors to them,
they will do whatever it takes to survive.
My answer to that is Argentina. The people there were highly atomized and
terrorized. More so, even, than people in the US. Decades of experience taught
them not to concern themselves about their neighbors; to look out only for
themselves. But when the Argentine economy collapsed, the people banded
together to create one of our best examples of how people can respond positively on
a grassroots level to a collapse. For details on this, I refer you to my
article Coping with Collapse; Examples from Argentina in the The Mountain
Sentinel, Vol. 1 No. 1.
The scenario that the collapse of the dominant socioeconomic system will
result in a dog eat dog situation is another myth. This myth most likely evolved
from the misconceptions of social Darwinists. It is reinforced by the fear
mongering of the US news media which portrays our communities as dangerous
places full of murderers, rapists and thieves. And it is fleshed out by our
entertainment media (that is our manufactured perception of reality) that thrives
on cop shows and violence.
We are taught that it is a dog eat dog world, where you must always watch
out for the other guy, and where the successful businessman is he who reads The
Art of War. Then we internalize the perception of crime and violence that we
are fed daily by our media. It is no wonder that we wind up projecting our
own fears and insecurities onto the world around us, believing that the
collapse of the dominant system will leave us fighting each other for our very
Hog wash.
Where to Go
Okay, we have done away with the myths of survivalism. Now to address the
second group: those who worry that their community is not prepared for the
collapse of the dominant system and who are honestly wondering what to do and
where to go. Let's start off by stating that there is no place that is fully
prepared for the collapse. There are a few places where a portion of the
citizens in aware of the approaching problem and are beginning to prepare for it,
but these places are at present very few and would be quickly overrun if we
all headed there. As of this writing, most communities are unprepared and very
few people are even aware of the pending problem. So, for the most part, you
can forget about moving into a community where people are already aware of the
problem and are actively addressing it.
Now, where should you live? There are four choices: wilderness, rural, urban
and suburban. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks; except for suburban,
which has most of the drawbacks of both rural and urban with few benefits.
If you are living in a wilderness area, you will want to become completely
self-sufficient and you might want to hide your location as well. We have
already discussed wilderness living somewhat in the section above. It still
presents a viable option, which would probably be best pursued if a group of
likeminded people move to the wilderness to establish their own community. The
difficulties in doing so would be very similar to the difficulties encountered
by the first settlers who came the North America, but would be further
complicated by the fact that the remaining wilderness areas are largely inhospitable
areas that cannot sustain too many people.
If you are living in a rural area, then you will want to become a family
farmer living as part of a farming community. A farmer's life can be a hard
life, but it is not without its rewards. One major benefit of being a farmer is
that, so long as you can hold onto your land, you will have food. Bear in
mind, farming is not something you just decide to do. Even if you have the right
skills and a knowledge of farming, it will take some years of preparation,
trial and error before you have gained enough experience to even begin becoming
a self-sufficient farmer. Perhaps your greatest resource will be the advice
of the experienced farmers who are your neighbors.
If you are in an urban area, you will want to organize your community so
that you can survive with the cooperation of your community. You will want to
establish community gardens, and self-sufficient utilities such as water and
sewage. And you will need to form an agricultural cooperative with outlying
farmers, to help supply your community with the food you cannot grow.
It is those living in the suburbs who would be wisest to pull up stakes and
move to one of the other three areas. Suburbanites are too widely scattered
to build any sort of functioning community, yet too concentrated to feed
themselves by farming. If most of the residents of a suburb move away, the few
remaining might be able to plow up all of the lawns and become farmers, but they
will be lacking the support communities that are already established in
rural areas. The worst off of the suburbanites will be those who live in trailer
parks, closely followed by those who live in condos. There are simply too
many people in these locations and the living quarters simply won't be viable
without heating, electricity, water or sewage treatment.
Do You really Want to Move?
If you move, you will be the new kid on the block. Even in wilderness areas,
there are residents who will look on you as the new-comer. You may always be
the outsider. And if things become difficult, you may be persecuted simply
because are new.
If things have become difficult before you even begin to consider your move,
then you probably won't be welcome anyplace else. Communities struggling to
survive are not going to welcome the displaced.
If you move too far away, you will have to contend with cultural and
language differences. These differences will mark you and serve to keep you apart.
If you move to a small town in the south and do not join a church, then you
are likely to remain isolated. If you are moving as little as 300 miles south
or north of your current latitude, you will likely find yourself in a
different climate. Though you may have been an experienced gardener in your former
home, you will have to learn what to grow in your new location and when to
plant it.
Stop and think for a moment. If you have been living in your present
location for several years, then you know what is around you. If you need something,
you know where to go to find it. And you know what neighborhoods to avoid.
You have a network of friends and acquaintances. You know where the local
farmer's market is, where the food co-ops are, and where you can find community
activists with whom you can work. And, though you might not realize it, you
probably know where to go to fish, to hunt, to forage.
In your new location, you will know none of that. If times are already
getting hard when you make your move, then you will be at a distinct disadvantage.
Although the idea of moving might have some appeal -- certainly, the grass is
always greener -- do you really want to move? You need to decide whether it
would be preferable to move to a new and unknown community, or to help
organize the community where you are already at home. Instead of asking "Where
should I go?", you should be asking "Where do I want to live?" And, if you
honestly consider all of the possibilities and important factors, your answer might
be to stay right where you are and get more involved in your local community.
Speaking from Experience
Early in the year 2001, we had a family catastrophe that forced me to leave
my position, pull up stakes and move. All of our savings was used up paying
for medical and legal expenses. With what little we had left, we had to find a
new home in an area where I could find no employment in the field for which
I was trained. We wound up buying a trailer in a mobile home park, and went
to work as a substitute teacher until I could make enough money as a
journalist and author to leave that job.
We lived in that trailer park until summer of 2005. Although we were
grateful to have a roof over our heads, the neighborhood was bad and the trailer was
too small. Our yard was a small lot composed of shaded sand and acidic soil.
We couldn't grow anything on the little land we did have. From the
beginning, we knew that we would have to get out of this trailer park, preferably
before the economy went sour.
In summer of 2005, we did make a move, all the way from Michigan down to
Kentucky. The major factor in choosing the location was the proximity to
relatives in southern Indiana and Tennessee. The price of real estate and the
affordability of a mortgage were also major factors. There were other factors that
I won't get into here. In hindsight, although we now have more room, a better
yard and a much safer neighborhood, the move has not placed us in a much
better position.
The town we live in, as it turns out, is a dead town that has been overtaken
not by suburbs but by suburbanites. While it looks like a small town, and it
has a local government (indeed, it is the county seat), it is not a
functional town in the sense that the residents meet all of their needs locally. We
drive 20 miles to do our grocery shopping, and 60 miles to do any major
shopping, or to reach the only decent food co-op in the area. Most of the people
who live in this town make a 20 to 60 mile drive to work every day. When the
price of gasoline climbs over $4.00 per gallon, people around here are going to
have a very difficult time carrying on with their lifestyles.
We are very isolated in this community. We are not church-going people, and
so there is no social interaction with our neighbors. We have been invited to
attend a couple of the local churches, and though we have been tempted to go
simply for the socialization, we can't bring ourselves to actually do so. We
have started attending services at the Unitarian Universalist church 20
miles away, but none of the other members reside in our area.
Our daughter, who is now 14, has no friends. When we first moved here, we
sent her to public schools. Though we quickly found that the local schools were
3 years behind the schools she attended up in Michigan, we kept her in the
school so that she could make friends. She did meet a couple of girls who were
friendly, she did not socialize with them outside of school because we did
not attend their church. Other kids teased her because she was different. In
the end, we started home schooling her. We have found her one friend, who
subsequently moved 40 miles away. And it is mainly to provide her with social
activity that we began attending the Unitarian church.
Last summer we planted a large garden, but most of it failed because of the
heat. We did get a good crop of green beans, a fair crop of carrots and a few
tomatoes, but everything else failed, including corn, squash (zucchini,
summer and acorn squash), cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and peas. We have since
learned that down here peas should be planted early in the spring, while
cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower should be planted at the beginning of
September. But nobody down here did well with their gardens this summer. It was too
wet in the spring and again in at the end of summer, while midsummer was much
too hot and dry. And fall has struck hard and cold this year, so fall/winter
crops are suffering as well.
Michigan had a lot of state land where I could hunt, forage and simply enjoy
nature. And there were any number of lakes up there for fishing, not to
mention the Great Lakes. Because it was largely settled before becoming a state,
Kentucky has very little open state land. It is mostly private land and some
national forest. There are some rivers down here, but I don't know that I
would eat anything out of them, even if I knew where to fish them. And there are
a few small manmade trout ponds where you can pay to fish in a puddle so
small I would have a tendency to caste right over the water and hit the guy on
the far shore. I wouldn't know where to hunt around here or where to forage.
And half of the plant I normally forage for -- such as cattail or boneset --
are comparatively hard to find around here.
No doubt, if I had grown up in Kentucky, none of this would be a problem. I
would know where to hunt and forage, or I would know who to ask permission to
hunt and forage on their land. And we would be recognized members of the
community. But, as it is, it was a mistake to move here, and now my hope is to
get out of here before things fall apart. I wish that somebody had given me
the advice I have tried to pass along in this essay, and I wish that I would
have listened to it.

Thanks to George Vye for passing this article along to us
Click Here to Read More..

People make a city

Ken Gray
The Ottawa Citizen
Friday, June 20, 2008

If you apply the conclusions of Richard Florida's book Who's Your City? to Ottawa, this municipality looks extremely successful. However, columnist Ken Gray says the community is not getting that message out to the creative people the city needs to prosper.

If you apply the conclusions of Richard Florida's book Who's Your City? to Ottawa, this municipality looks extremely successful. However, columnist Ken Gray says the community is not getting that message out to the creative people the city needs to prosper.

Cities do not consist of freeways, buildings, transit systems, houses, malls, sidewalks, hydro wires, sewers, water mains, snowplows, corporations or government.

Good cities consist of good people. Like a vibrant company, they tap their best people -- those with intelligence, energy, integrity, goodwill and a large well of experience -- to do the best things. With a critical mass of good people, all the other elements of urban living -- transit, wealth, a healthy environment ... the list goes on and on -- fall into place.

The key to successful cities in this age of increasingly specialized labour demand and a slowly eroding petroleum economy is to attract topnotch people who can adapt to the fundamental changes occurring in our community now.

Thus the key is to get creative people to come to your company, government department, hospital, university and community. This idea didn't originate with Richard Florida, it's as old as the hills. But Mr. Florida has certainly advanced, popularized it and shown its importance.

go to
for the full article

In the competition to get the best people, the city fails itself. Get those talented individuals -- the artists, the businesspeople, the innovators, the academics, the intellectuals, the superb public servants -- and they not only take care of themselves, they take care of the life of the city. Those creative souls generate business, entertainment and innovation so that Ottawa will grow imaginatively by itself. That's what a great metropolis does.

Ottawa has most of the characteristics that make up Mr. Florida's criteria for the best places to live. Ottawans just don't sell this place very well. Promote this city properly and creative people will flock here. It's that fine and smart a place to dwell.

Then creativity would come from the hundreds of thousands of people who live here rather than a few elites. That's when this city's leadership will have got it. And Ottawa will have arrived on the international stage.

Ken Gray is the city editorial page editor and a Citizen editorial board member. His column runs on Fridays.

go to
for the full article


Click Here to Read More..

Friday, June 20, 2008

Carrotmob: Green Shopping Goes Social

Hundreds of hipsters, creatives and neighborhood folk lined up one
recent spring Saturday afternoon outside K&D Market in San
Francisco's Mission district where 16th meets Guerrero. They were there
to test an idea: Could a swarm of targeted spending prod one local
business into making concrete steps towards going green? Could
activists work cooperatively with business to encourage intelligent
upgrades, such as the switch to an Energy Star cooler, or the use of a
skylight to reduce electricity dependence?

It's an idea called Carrotmob, and it's the brainchild of Brent Schulkin. Schulkin, whose day job involves running high-tech "corporate play" events,
wanted to find a way to leverage the might of business to address the
climate crisis. His idea was simple: Let a business know which
proactive green steps to take, then reward their progressive actions
with business--and lots of it.

More at

Click Here to Read More..

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Circuit Earth- new film on energy

Produced for the Science Channel

Site includes a trailer.
Click Here to Read More..

America's Metro Areas: Carbon Leaders and Laggards

I have admired Neil Peirce's work for about 15 years now. He likes to look at cities as organic entities. I think he was the one that popularizing the notion of looking at city's GDPs-- if NYC was a separate country, it would be the Xth largest economy in the world-- that sort of thing.

America's Metro Areas: Carbon Leaders and Laggards
June 1, 2008

Neal Peirce

As greenhouse gases increasingly warm the globe, which of America's metro areas are the "cleanest" and which are the "dirtiest" in carbon emissions? And what are the most obvious steps that could be taken to protect the planet's future?

A first-ever study of the climate footprint of America's top 100 metro regions starts to tell the story. Based on 2005 figures calculated by the Brookings Institution, each region's carbon emissions caused by cars and trucks, plus power supplied to residences, is reported -- not a complete score (industries and office buildings are omitted), but close enough for a clear picture.

The "winners" -- the most modest users, per capita -- turn out to be such regions as New York-Northern New Jersey, Portland, Ore., Seattle-Tacoma, San Francisco, Honolulu, San Diego, and a surprise performer -- Los Angeles.

The biggest carbon emitters, by contrast, include such metro areas as Lexington, Ky., Indianapolis, Knoxville, Oklahoma City, Nashville and St. Louis.

So what explains the differences?

The best performers provide a clue: high-density, compact development with new and expanded rail transit. Many of the regions with the smallest per capita carbon footprints -- among them New York, San Francisco, San Diego and Los Angeles -- fit that profile.

By contrast, some of the metros with high per capita carbon emission scores have experienced dramatic sprawling and pedestrian-hostile development, and are weaker on mass transit.

There are some exceptions: The Washington, D.C., and Atlanta regions, for example, have significant rail transit ridership, but they've also sprawled so much that they have larger-than-average carbon footprints.

And the source of power makes a real difference. The nation's capital region has a carbon footprint 10 times the Seattle region's chiefly because it is heavily dependent on coal for power, while the Pacific Northwest has major hydropower sources that don't emit carbon.

Plus there's a surprise geographic factor too: The heavy carbon footprint metros are overwhelmingly east of the Mississippi, the light carbon ones in the West. And there's a north-south divide too: the map shows a concentration of high emitters in America's heavily coal-consuming, fast-suburbanizing Southeast.

The implications are compelling: State officials, mayors and county leaders should push for protection of open lands, new transit lines that attract more compact development, and rules and incentives to get utilities to switch away from coal (the most polluting, carbon-heavy energy source of all).

But the federal government needs to play a far more constructive role -- "Metros can't 'go it alone' in solving as vast a problem as global climate change," says Mark Muro, policy director of Brookings' Metropolitan Policy Program.

And arguably, how the metros go on climate emissions, so goes America: The top 100 account for two-thirds of the country's population and almost three-quarters of its economic activity. And their carbon output, despite all their mayors' noble talk of reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, rose 7.5 percent from 2000 to 2005.

The federal government is a poor ally now, Brookings charges. It fails to tax carbon fuels enough to discourage their polluting impacts and reduce the country's massive dependence on foreign oil. While countries around the world expand their clean energy research budgets, Washington is spending just a third as much on energy research as it did in 1978. Federal transportation funding is tilted heavily toward highways, away from transit; indeed, its formulas reward states for the worst behavior -- high vehicle miles traveled, fuel use, and lane miles of travel.

Solutions offered include a targeted carbon tax or full "cap and trade" system, so that polluting energy consumption pays its full costs; dramatic increase in federal research on potentials such as wind and solar power; a minimum power share of renewable sources that states must achieve (so that some, for example, can't leave carbon-heavy coal riding high even while competitor states invest forward in more expensive renewables); and "modal neutrality" -- an even playing field between highways and rail in federal transportation funding to states and localities.

The tax code could be adjusted to give smaller houses and compact development a better break -- and some ingenious shifts in regulations. Homebuyers, for example, now benefit from the federal Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act that requires sellers to reveal hazards, impediments, detailed lending terms and the like. But why not, says Brookings, also require clear, nationally standardized energy information -- factors such as the efficiency of water heaters or furnaces or lighting that can make a big difference in a buyer's real costs?
America's energy rules were written for a different world, a different century. So Brookings has it right: We need a massive re-evaluation -- federal, state, and metrowide -- to reinvent our energy future and rein in America's cumulative, massive carbon footprint.

Neal Peirce's e-mail address is Click Here to Read More..

Monday, June 16, 2008

Sustainability Convergence in San Francisco

I was struck last week when a
group of people were discussing local sustainability, and Janell Kapoor
said, "You know, there are groups of local people having this same
discussion." I nodded my head in agreement.

Every place has it's own flavor, but here's another eco-convergence below.

(and not a minute too soon!)

By the way, I am thinking more and more about the UN as a positive
force, and the local UN Association as a sustainability partner as well.

-- Jim


Community Convergence for Change

The Big ONE 2008
A Grand Collaboration

A village of engagement for healthy body, home, family and community

June 21& 22, 9am-7pm, 2008
Sharon Meadow, Golden Gate Park

next to the Children's Playground and Carousel

Big ONE "village of engagement" is a gathering of people from Bay Area
neighborhoods, schools, coops, nonprofits, foundations, businesses, and
municipal agencies. Participants will design, envision, collaborate,
and dialog with new friends about the future of their neighborhoods and

Prepare for the challenging times ahead; come, be
heard, and engage. You can set up a table or an interactive exhibit to
collaborate and share information and/or do a workshop, presentation,
forum, art project, or hands-on demonstration of sustainable skills. We
provide the space – a large grassy area with open-air tents, a media
tent, and a stage for music encircling a larger gathering tent for food
and socializing.
Fill the space with your dreams.

is a 100% noncommercial event; nothing will be for sale. Bring picnic
food and drink, plates, cups, and utensils for an enormous zero-waste
potluck. We will have storytellers and games, and an eclectic mix of
live music will be performed throughout each day.

The Big ONE
movement represents a tectonic shift in thinking toward sustainability
awareness and action, civic engagement, and localization of culture,
economy, and decision-making. Based on respect for all life and the
planet that sustains us, the gathering provides opportunities to build
community through dialogue, committed engagement, and trust.

We are using the Wiser Earth platform to organize, plan, and co-create the event.

Who we are:

are Bay Area residents from diverse social and ethnic backgrounds. The
seeds of inspiration for this movement were planted in 2005 during the
week-long celebration of World Environment Day in San Francisco, which
coincided with the 60th anniversary of the founding of the United
Nations. A small group of people who felt the need to move beyond a
celebration, continued the dialogue about how to develop awareness
around sustainability issues.

In 2006 we started gathering every
three weeks to discuss community and sustainability. We decided to host
an annual “convergence” that would bring together people from all walks
of life. In order to reach the full spectrum of the diverse community
that inhabits the Bay Area, we focused our vision on the elements
needed by all life. We all need clean air to breathe, clean water to
drink, and healthy soil to grow food. We all want inspiring education,
decent housing, meaningful relationships, and a culture in which all
life is respected and all voices are heard.

Over the past three
years 110 people have flowed in and out of our gatherings. No one
person “owns” this vision. The Big ONE is a collaborative, democratic
embodiment of what we, as engaged members of our communities can
create. It belongs to all of us.

Come experience and participate. "The New Me is We."

Ahuma Institute,
Alemany Farm, Architects Designers and Planners for Social
Arizmendi Bakery, Bay Localize, Bayview Farmers Market, Bayview/Hunters
Foundation for Community Improvement, Buddhist Peace Fellowship, Buy
Local Buy
Fresh, Cafe Gratitude, Center for Safe Energy, Communities of
Community Alliance for Family Farms, Conscious Change Collective, Core
CUESA, Culture Change, Dig Cooperative, Earth Charter Community
Alliance, East Bay Pesticide Alert, Ecology Center of San Francisco,
Farm Fresh Choice, Gabriel Cousens & Tree
of Life, Global Exchange, Global Oneness Project, Green Gulch Farm,
Green Music
Network, Greywater Guerrillas, Hillary Rubin Yoga, JK Sound, Literacy
for Environmental Justice,
National Holistic Institute, Network for Good, Oakland Based Urban
Occidental Arts and Ecology Center, Off the Mat into the World, Open
Other Avenues Cooperative, Pacific Edge Institute, Peace Every Day,
Grocery, Permaculture Guild, Planet Drum, Quesada Gardens, Rainbow
Grocery Cooperative, Regenerative
Design Institute, Roots of Change, SF Bike Coalition, SF Dept, of
Public Health,
SF Dept, of the Environment, SF Food Systems, SF Green Schoolyard
Alliance, SF
Parks Trust, SF Peak Oil Task Force, Slow Food Nation, Sunrise Center,
Green, Ultimate Prosperity, Urban Alliance for Sustainability,
Vegetable, Wiser Earth, World Savvy, and many more

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Trailer for Garbage Warrior

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DVD: Garbage Warrior

What do beer cans, car tires and water bottles have in common? Not much unless you're renegade architect Michael Reynolds, in which case they are tools of choice for producing thermal mass and energy-independent housing.

For 30 years New Mexico-based Reynolds and his green disciples have devoted their time to advancing the art of "Earthship Biotecture" by building self-sufficient, off-the-grid communities where design and function converge in eco-harmony. However, these experimental structures that defy state standards create conflict between Reynolds and the authorities, who are backed by big business.

Frustrated by antiquated legislation, Reynolds lobbies for the right to create a sustainable living test site. While politicians hum and ha, Mother Nature strikes, leaving communities devastated by tsunamis and hurricanes. Reynolds and his crew seize the opportunity to lend their pioneering skills to those who need it most. Shot over three years and in four countries, Garbage Warrior is a timely portrait of a determined visionary, a hero of the 21st century.
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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Asheville's artistic workforce


I learned about this from Richard Florida's blog at

Asheville comes in 46th in per capita artists per capita:
1,880 out of 115,000 in the metro area
0 actors (self-reported on census, presumably)
30 announcers
225 architects
290 fine artists, art directors and animators
15 dancers and choreographers
685 designers
30 entertainers and performers
180 musicians and singers
195 photographers
105 producers and directors
125 writers and authors
NY Times
June 12, 2008
A 21st-Century Profile: Art for Art’s Sake, and for the U.S. Economy, Too

If all the professional dancers in the United States stood shoulder to shoulder to form a single chorus line, it would stretch from 42nd Street for nearly the entire length of Manhattan. If every artist in America’s work force banded together, their ranks would be double the size of the United States Army. More Americans identify their primary occupation as artist than as lawyer, doctor, police officer or farm worker.

“It’s easy to talk about artists in lofty and spiritual terms,” said Dana Gioia, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. “Without denying the higher purposes of the artistic vocation, it’s also important to remember that artists play an important role in America’s cultural vitality and economic prosperity. Artists have immense financial and social impact as well as cultural impact.”

Drawing from the census, the endowment has compiled what it bills as the first nationwide profile of professional artists in the 21st century.

In 2005 nearly two million Americans said their primary employment was in jobs that the census defines as artists’ occupations — including architects, interior designers and window dressers. Their combined income was about $70 billion, a median of $34,800 each. Another 300,000 said artist was their second job.

The percentage of female, black, Hispanic and Asian artists is bigger among younger ones. Among artists under 35, writers are the only group in which 80 percent or more are non-Hispanic white. Overall, women outnumber men only among dancers, designers and writers. Similarly, while 60 percent of professional photographers are men, 60 percent under age 35 are women.

Like the population in general, the number of artists has grown fastest in the West and the South since 1990, but New York State, followed by California, Massachusetts, Vermont and Colorado, has the most artists per capita.

California claims the most actors per capita, Nevada the most dancers and entertainers, Vermont the most writers, Tennessee the most musicians, New Mexico the most fine artists, Massachusetts the most architects and designers (including, among others, commercial, fashion, floral, graphic, interior designers and window dressers), Hawaii the most photographers and North Dakota (where radio shows abound) the most announcers. By 2005 the proportion of non-Hispanic whites among artists had declined to 80 percent from 86 percent in 1990, but the proportion of blacks, 5 percent, remained the same.

San Francisco leads metropolitan areas in the proportion of artists in the work force, followed by Santa Fe (which ranks first in writers and fine artists), Los Angeles, New York and Stamford-Norwalk in suburban Connecticut. The Top 10 also include Boulder, Colo.; Danbury, Conn.; and Seattle.

Orlando, Fla., leads in entertainers and performers.

The “Artists in the Workforce” report, prepared by Sunil Iyengar, the endowment’s director of research and analysis, identified 185,000 writers, 170,000 musicians and singers, nearly 150,000 photographers, nearly 40,000 actors and 25,000 dancers. (They have the youngest median age, 26, and the highest proportion of minority workers, 40 percent).

The only artists whose ranks declined since 1990 were, as a group, fine artists, art directors and animators, to 216,000 from 278,000. The number of announcers also dropped.

More than one in four artists live in California and New York, where their sheer numbers are overwhelming compared to the artist colonies in other states. New Mexico, Vermont, Hawaii and Montana rank first in fine artists per capita, but they total 7,000, compared with 66,000 in California and New York combined. Since 2000 Minnesota, New Jersey, Rhode Island and New Mexico gained in the proportion of artists compared to all workers.

Mr. Gioia attributed the spread of artists beyond traditional urban clusters to the growth of cultural institutions in maturing cities in the South and West, the mobility of the work force, technology that enables a painter in Santa Fe to reach a broader audience and the high cost of living in cities including Boston, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Overall, the median income that artists reported in 2005 was $34,800 — $42,000 for men and $27,300 for women. The median income of the 55 percent of artists who said they had worked full-time for a full year was $45,200.

Over all, artists make more than the national median income ($30,100). They are more highly educated but earn less than other professionals with the same level of schooling. They are likelier to be self-employed (about one in three and growing) and less likely to work full-time, year-round. (Dancers have the lowest median annual income of all artists, architects the highest — $20,000 and $58,000, respectively.)

“Many performing artists are underemployed,” Mr. Gioia said, “but one of the stereotypes we’re trying to debunk is that artists are mostly marginal and unemployed.”

About 13 percent of people who say their primary occupation is artist also hold a second job — about twice the rate that other people in the labor force work two jobs. The majority of artists work for for-profit enterprises but 8 percent work for private, nonprofits and 3 percent work for government.

While the number of artists doubled between 1970 and 1990 as theaters, galleries, orchestras and university and commercial venues grew, their ranks since 1990 have increased at about the same rate as the total work force. They now represent 1.4 percent of the labor force, or nearly as many people as the active and reserve armed forces.
--end -- Click Here to Read More..

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Two Permaculture Events This Weekend

Come join us this weekend for a film and a talk as well as the opportunity to share and learn more about permaculture.

Friday Night, June 6, will be a film screening of The Global Gardener: PERMACULTURE with Bill Mollison.

Sunday night, June 8, we host "The Permaculture Underground: Getting Deeper Into The Soil Biology Of Our Region" - an evening with Dr. Laura Lengnick.

Film Screening: The Global Gardener: PERMACULTURE with Bill Mollison

Friday, June 6, 7 PM
West Asheville Library
942 Haywood Rd., West Asheville, NC 28806

BILL MOLLISON is a practical visionary. For nearly two decades he has traveled the globe spreading the word about permaculture, the method of sustainable agriculture he devised. Permaculture weaves together microclimate, annual and perennial plants, animals, soils, water management and human needs into intimately connected productive communities. Mollison has proved that evening the most difficult conditions permaculture empowers people to turn wastelands into food forests. Presented by West Asheville Friends of the Library and the Smith Mill Creek Permaculture School.


"The Permaculture Underground: Getting Deeper Into The Soil Biology Of Our Region" - an evening with Dr. Laura Lengnick

Sunday, June 8th, 7 PM
Firestorm Café, 48 Commerce St in Downtown Asheville
Donations welcome

Topics might include:

* a long-term, soil-centric agricultural vision for the southern Appalachians
* learning the most from your soil test
* intro to the soil food web
* geological origins of our soils
* soil building strategies
* the differences between forest and field, fungal and bacterial soil biologies
* cultivating beneficial microbes
* ethics and sources of mineral amendments and alternatives to those amendments
* Native and imported plants and their different soils

Laura Lengnick is a Professor of Sustainable Agriculture at Warren Wilson College. She holds a Ph.D. in Agronomy from Penn State and a Masters in Soil Science from N.C. State. Some of you might know her from the mean fiddle she plays while you dance.

This event is the first in the Asheville Permaculture Guild 2008 speaker series. The series consists of bi-monthly speakers chosen to deepen our understanding of topics related to the seeding of a resilient, beautiful culture. All of these events are open to the public. The Asheville Permaculture Guild is the new pink. For more info and the calendar of future events, check us out at

For more info pertaining to APG speakers call Gwen at 203.273.4527 or Zev at 828.279.2870 Click Here to Read More..