Sunday, April 5, 2009


Hi. I know I haven't been around for a good week and a half, or is it two weeks? We had a series of unfortunate events.

Blogger burped on me in the midst of the conference recap. I didn't lose what I had written up, but I had to move it off Blogger and haven't had a chance to get back to it...

Because my husband went out of town for a business trip and he never travels, so being a single parent for a week was a shock.

Currently, the baby is sick.

And I haven't slept in 2 days and spent last night in the ER with a minor, but annoying problem that is now on the mend thanks to antibiotics.

So. Sometimes life is bigger than me. I will be back as soon as I can. It may be a few days yet. My apologies.

We have had 2 events in the past 2 weeks that were lightly attended (and my hope is to recap those as well). One of the attendees was the person who started the farmers market at Stearns Homestead and I very much enjoyed talking/sharing with her.


Monday, March 23, 2009


Good morning! Hope Monday finds everyone hail and hearty and basking in the pre-Spring sunshine. I am still coasting on a post-conference high from this weekend's Leadership Summit and attempting to figure out how to condense the experience into mere words for you.

While I mull it over, I encourage you to peruse the Open Roads website. Much of conference will be available on their site and there are several speakers not to be missed; Catherine Austin Fitts talking about financial permaculture, Micheal Shuman on making local business competitive and sustainable, Debra Rowe on how to be a change agent (I am pretty sure no one has lived to tell Dr. Rowe no, she is a force of nature unto herself).

Also, if you haven't heard of City Fresh spend a minute on their website. Forget about being 'green' or reducing our carbon emissions, let's get real and talk about what counts, our wallets. Local food is of vital economic importance. If NE Ohioans spent 10% of their food budget on local food, that would keep $1 billion dollars in our local economy. For $24 a week during the growing season you can have enough fresh produce for a family of 4 and contribute to a vibrant and sustainable Ohio economy.

Lastly, I believe later this week the Sun paper will be running an interview with me about the upcoming roundtable on world food supply and how it affects Parma.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


I am beyond delighted to announce that I will be attending the Leadership Summit: Community Organization for a Healthy Economy this weekend.  The agenda for the conference is here  and it was pure torture to pick just one breakout session to attend.

However, I believe I've settled on Green Jobs Guaranteed to Grow and Reinventing the Local Economy. I will post copious notes on everything I learn sometime next week.

If you are in Cleveland (or close enough to drive) note that the conference fee has been halved and there are still scholarships available. I was told they are interested in having the Transition Town perspective represented at the conference, so if you are TT consider attending.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


This past weekend, the Ohio Environmental Council hosted a 'game' of Stabilization Wedges. Contrary to what the title might have some of you thinking, this did not involve fraternity style pantsing or whirlies in public toilets. I was relieved. The Greek system was not kind to me in college. One sorority rejected me because of the way I styled my bangs (never mind I wasn't pledging or thinking of pledging) and there was a fraternity hazing incident where a plebe flashed me. (My eyes! My eyes!)

Anyway...luckily the topic tow truck showed up and is ready to haul me out of the off-topic ditch I landed in.

The Stabilization Wedges were developed by Princeton's Carbon Mitigation Intiative and focuses on what we can do--in terms of known technology that is available today--to keep carbon emissions at current levels (detailed info at the link). The game comes into play when teams debate and select the most politically palatable combination of wedges to fight climate change. Think Model UN, but with climate.

Now, when I say 'we' I am not referring to the consumer level 'we' but the policy level 'we', which is actually one of the criticisms I have of the game. It gives a good sense of where the policy wonks and corporate interests are coming from, but it doesn't provide much of a takeaway for local or individual change/action.

Further, some of the 'wedges' are not long-term solutions and maybe not even medium-term solutions, meaning I found the game to be a bit short-sighted in terms of peak energy resources. It sounds great on paper to shift from dirty coal plants to cleaner natural gas plants for electricity generation, however, natural gas reserves are estimated to be a 60 year supply, less if we accelerate use. Given that we need to build 1440 natural gas plants to make up one wedge, the return on investment is prohibitive. We'd likely hit peak almost the second the last plant came online. Not the greatest bang for the environmental buck if you ask me. Nuclear power (another emission reduction wedge) has similar constraints in that the planet only has so much uranium available. So there are some limits that the game does not take into account (which I, personally, found problematic but they may not be an issue for other people).

In addition, one of the wedges seeks to reduce carbon emissions via natural carbon sinks (i.e. forests). Reforestation and land conservation sound like great ideas, but there is a downside. I happen to be reading the book Six Degrees which discusses the fact that stressed plants emit CO2 instead of absorbing it. During the 2003 heat wave, European forests emitted 1/12 of the world's total CO2 in just one short summer. With climate change, heat waves will be more common and more and more CO2 emissions will come from stressed vegetation. We can plant forests, but multiple and likely heat waves can easily make them a problem, not a solution.

Further, there is no wedge for the sum total impact of individual actions such as composting instead of throwing food waste into landfills, carpooling, improved community planning (i.e. new urbanism) etc... Maybe because it's hard to predict the impact. A power plant is a known quantity with proven math, whereas people are...well, weird and defy the laws of statistics quite regularly (witness my little Greek flashback or the idea that pants belted around the knees with one's underwear hanging out = high fashion in more than one person's opinion). However, I wish there was a wedge to show the cumulative effect of small actions as it would've provided important education and change incentive.

The big take home point for me was, forget inflation from printing money to deal with the financial crisis, energy prices are going to go through the ROOF on their own steam. The costs to build new plants and implement new technology such as carbon capture and sequestration will all be passed on to the consumer both in terms of our taxes and our energy costs. I suspect we will see a boom in home insulation and other energy renovations that cut heating and cooling costs. We will be doing anything and everything we can to NOT spend the equivalent of a very expensive car payment for heat and light.

Overall, I learned a lot, met some wonderful people, and have a better perspective of where we are going with environmental policy. The nitpicks mentioned here are more indicative of thought provocation than any fatal flaws in the game.

The wedge game would make a good educational activity for schools and other groups (here's a link to a teacher's guide). Although, I would like to adapt it a bit to address some of the issues I've noted here.

I believe the OEC plans to have additional events on the topic of climate change and the policy thereof. If you have time, I encourage you to try and attend. I plan to!

Monday, March 16, 2009


I'm here! I'm here! Sorry. We have relatives visiting so I have very little free time at the moment.

However, relatives = free babysitting so my husband and I did manage to sneak out to an event held by the Ohio Environmental Council (I think I have their name right).  I will do a proper write up in a few days.

Until I have a moment to breathe and fact check to be sure I'm not doing something stupid like Blue City Green Lake, please peruse the following links that I thought were salient and thought provoking. (NOTE: Thought provoking does not mean endorsement or agreement. I'm a broad reader and tend to look at ALL sides of an issue so please don't infer my views based on anything I link to. Sometimes people think I believe something simply because I have read up on it which is not true. Although I do think there's lots of good material here.)


Some thoughts on paradigm shift, which is what I think we are a facing.The writer and philosopher Laurens van der Post, in his memoir of his friendship with Carl Jung, said, "We live not only our own lives but, whether we know it or not, also the life of our time." We are actors in a moment of history, taking part in it, moving it this way or that as we move forward or back. The moment we are living now is a strange one, a disquieting one, a time that seems full of endings.

The End of Suburbia. 1 in 13 houses in Cleveland is empty.  

Op ed from The Boston Globe on 'Surviving the Great Collapse.'

Some truly scary news for the local food movement. Criminalizing seed banks sounds crazy as well as trying to regulate small farmers and markets out of business, but Congress is considering it--one among many anti-local food statues in bill HR875.  I know Sharon Astyk says not to panic, but I do think there is something to be concerned about here and I will be contacting my reps just as soon as I can.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Blue City Green Lake Green City Blue Lake has released their report on sustainability in Cleveland. Check it out here.  I'm still taking it all in. I'm amazed at how much they've done and how much they plan to do and astounded that I never heard of GCBL until I started becoming interested in doing something myself. I happened to find their website with a google search. Up until then, the only time I ever heard the phrase Blue City, Green Lake Green City, Blue Lake was in those Lube Stop commercials about recycling reclaimed oil.

Which I think is indicative of the wide, yawning gap of ignorance we need to bridge in order to bring about effective change. For example, I knew plastic water bottles were an environmental problem so I took steps to eliminate them from my consumption. Yet I had no idea about the environmental impact of the toilet paper industry. None. So I did nothing.

I'm beginning to believe that if someone like myself --who is actively trying to learn and 'green' my life-- can be missing out on key information, it must be that much worse for the people who aren't really paying attention. And the people who aren't paying attention are the ones we need to reach.

We need a broad spectrum marketing initiatives. Similar to what organizations like Peta do. Marketing is how we will reach critical mass in fostering sustainability on a local and global level.

Another example of how we are failing to market the 'green' message, mommy blogs. Per the Today Show this morning, there are something like 32 million moms online. 26 million of them use social media such as Facebook or Myspace or blogging. Currently, there is huge corporate interest in advertising with these moms. Companies whisk prominent mommy bloggers away for swag-filled spa weekends. They gift the moms with iphones and Wiis and free samples and advertising dollars. However, the thing I notice is the distinct lack of green perspective in both the content this demographic produces and from the advertisers.

Moms are not going green. At least not on any large scale I can discern. If you've read the 'big' mommy bloggers, tell me the last time they talked about the environment or vented about the lack of green products or in any way engaged the topic of sustainability? I can think of one 'big' mommy blogger who went to cloth diapers. There was a marketing push for the 'green' generation of household cleaners that distributed free samples, but lacking an overall theme of sustainability, the brand was marketed without the core message.

Being a mom myself, and, at times, a mommy blogger, I'm sort of confused as to why moms aren't pushing green. The future of our children is of immediate concern and instead of using our collective power (which is considerable) to do something about it, we decant our power into determining Advil's commercials are offensive. In other words, the politics of mommy bloggers tend to be, in my opinion, superficial and short term as opposed to focusing on the issues that matter.

Again, I think this all goes back to marketing and outreach. While going green tends not to rely on the mass consumerism driving most of mommy blogger advertising revunue, there are green products (like toilet paper!) that could be leveraged into a comprehensive green campaign to raise awareness and bring about change. So why isn't it being done?

Monday, March 9, 2009


Good morning, Parma! Hope Monday is treating everyone well. I have a hodge-podge of things to share today.

First, Earthbound Farm Organics is offering free lettuce seeds.  If you buy organic lettuce at the store, you are probably buying Earthbound's lettuce. The idea is to reuse the plastic container to grow your lettuce.

Second, did you know toilet paper is terrible for the environment? Apparently, they cut down lots of virgin forest to give us soft-on-the-tushie paper. I had no idea.  You can read more about it here.  And Greenpeace has an environmentally friendly toilet paper shopping guide here

According to Greenpeace Americans could save more than 400,000 trees if each family bought a roll of recycled toilet paper—just once.

Recycled tissue products help protect ancient forests, clean water, and wildlife habitat. It's easier on the Earth to make tissues from paper instead of trees.