Archive for ◊ February, 2010 ◊

• Friday, February 26th, 2010

It would be so great to have an un-driver’s license – I want one!

Source: La Presse (francais)

Un-Driver's LicenseIt all started with a car accident. “I decided not to replace it because I was afraid. I thought my life would never be the same, but I realized that I didn’t know the bus network,” she recounts.

Mme Field joined an organization in her neighborhood, Sustainable Ballard. One thing led to another, and she became the head of the Undriver License project. As of today, more than 3,600 members have received an undriver license. At different levels, they are committed to leave aside the car for alternative modes of transport.

The 52-year-old woman explains that she changed her habits slowly. “I began for example by looking at the labels and I realized that I was eating crackers that came from England.”

Julia Field is not an eccentric granola or an extreme militant. No more than the president of Sustainable Ballard, Jenny Heins. “In Seattle, it’s part of the culture. It’s the people who go around in Hummers who are the strange ones. There are a lot of groups like ours,” she stresses.

the Dow rose 4.23, or less than 0.1 percent, to 10,325.26. It fell 0.7 percent for the week but rose 2.6 percent for the month. That’s the best run since it jumped 6.5 percent in November.The broader S&P 500 index rose 1.55, or 0.1 percent, to 1,104.49. It fell 0.4 percent for the week and climbed 2.9 percent in February.

The Nasdaq composite index rose 4.04, or 0.2 percent, to 2,238.26. It fell 0.3 percent for the week. For February, the gain came to 4.2 percent.

• Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Organic Apple TreeApple trees are one of the few fruits that can be grown easily in southern Quebec and have been used for centuries to make cider, jams and sauces. One day, I’d like to have an apple orchard of my own.

What: Theory and Practice of Organic Apple Tree Maintenance

When: Saturday, March 20th, 9AM to 4PM

Where: Lobinière, Quebec

Duration: 6 hours

Description: In collaboration with the Collective regional agricultural training, Team Haunted Farm organizes a course on mastering techniques based on the size and maintenance of organic apples.

There will be further concepts such as the physiological development of apple trees, their major pests, the basic techniques of pruning with distinctions appropriate for different sizes of trees (from training, annual maintenance, fruiting and most importantly, restructuring of old apple trees).

At the end of training, participants will be able to make the right size of Apple tree, the recultivation of abandoned apple trees and to develop a plan to fight against the major integrated pests.

Cost: The cost of this course is about $ 50 (or less, the total fee is divided in proportion to the number of entries). Depending on the interests of participants in a sequence can then be available on the cuttings (in April) and planting (Fall).

Who: The trainer is John Lamontagne, CFP professional arborist of Fierbourg. For more information and to book your spot, place contact (as soon as possible!) Lea, Coordinator for Productions Haunted Farm.

Looking forward to prune in your company for the finest apples this fall!

*** Possible barter tuition cons of 5 hours work size in the orchard the next day (ie Sunday AM March 21) and / or work the size of the orchard in exchange for the equivalent  vegetables (summer 2010); to negotiate with Lea. ***

* Chance of carpooling and lodging on site. *

Contact: Lea Charest, for the Haunted Farm
585 rang St-Eustache, Lobinière,

• Monday, February 22nd, 2010

Wood Energy is SustainableDespite the laws and propaganda that come from city hall, wood is a clean, sustainable form of energy.

Source: Mother Earth News

Wood, the oldest fuel source known to humans, may be about to experience a renaissance, thanks to rising oil and gas costs combined with shrinking bank accounts. Ultra-efficient, ultra-clean advanced wood combustion technology and fast-growing “perpetual” fuel woods can, on the micro level, bring increased home heating security for landowners and, on the macro level, create a regenerative fuel source for electricity generation.

How does fuel wood combat climate change? Wood is often considered “carbon neutral,” because growing it pulls as much carbon dioxide out of the air as is released into the atmosphere when it’s burned. So, unlike gas or oil, it releases no net carbon. It is a closed-loop energy source, simply recirculating the carbon dioxide already within the Earth’s carbon cycle.

An analysis led by Daniel D. Richter, professor of soils and forest ecology at Duke University, proposes we are missing a key strategy in our search for sustainable energy solutions. Richter says we need to consider advanced wood combustion, which he defines as “automated, high-efficiency wood-fired energy generation systems with strict air pollution control.”

The analysis was detailed by Richter and a multidisciplinary team of experts in the March 13, 2009 issue of Science magazine, and points out that creating thermal and electrical energy with advanced wood combustion has been growing quickly throughout Europe. “These facilities release remarkably low quantities of air pollutants and have system-wide thermal efficiencies approaching 90 percent,” Richter says. According to the article, the cost of wood fuel is several times cheaper than fossil fuel costs (per unit of energy produced).

The authors of the Science article say the United States is well-suited for sustaining a wood-energy economy. Yet currently, energy from wood provides only about 2 to 3 percent of total U.S. energy consumption. This is about half of the potential annual sustainable wood supply available to us for power generation.

The report also identifies “waste” wood as an untapped asset, estimating that 30 million tons of urban wood per year can be safely burned for energy. For example, the District Energy program in St. Paul, Minn., burns 250,000 tons of waste wood and other biomass per year to provide heating, cooling and other energy to part of the city.

Continue reading this article…

Category: Peak Oil | Tags: ,  | Leave a Comment
• Friday, February 19th, 2010

Simply Raw movieI have been eating a lot of raw food for about 9 months now and the difference in my energy level is amazing. I hope to eat this way forever.

In addition to personal health benefits, eating raw foods is more sustainable as it requires less energy, fewer chemicals and fewer pollutants to produce.

If you want to see more evidence of how good raw food diets are for your health and for sustainable living, see this movie. Wednesday February 24th at 7PM at Coop la maison verte: 5785, Sherbrooke st. West, Metro Vendome + bus #10

Source: Raw in Montreal

Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 days is an independent documentary film directed by lead editor Aaron Butler that chronicles six Americans with “incurable” diabetes switching their diet and getting off insulin. The film follows each participant’s remarkable journey and captures the medical, physical, and emotional transformations brought on by this diet and lifestyle change. We witness moments of struggle, support, and hope as what is revealed, with startling clarity, is that diet can reverse diabetes and change lives.

Buy the DVD “Simply Raw”

Category: Food Security | Tags:  | Leave a Comment
• Sunday, February 07th, 2010

Weekend Seed Fair in Montreal

10th Annual Seedy Weekend Seed Fair in Montreal at the Montreal Botanical Gardens

This event aims to promote seeds of the open-pollinated variety which have been grown locally and sustainably.

Please note this year’s changes outlined below as there have been quite a few. You can contact Action Communiterre for a more in-depth interview at

This year’s seedy weekend will take place over two days, Saturday, February 13th and Sunday, February 14th 2010 in order to accommodate the public’s growing interest in this event. For that same reason, the layout of the room will also be modified to allow for greater circulation. The fair will run from 10 :00am to 4 :30pm. Access is free, but a voluntary donation would be greatly appreciated, as the event is organized as a fundraising opportunity for Action Communiterre (a non-profit, community organization that sponsors collective gardening and works on issues related to urban agriculture and food security) and les Amis du Jardin Botanique de Montréal, who’s mission is to support the Botanical Gardens and it’s cultural, educative and scientific development. There are however fees for parking at the Botanical Gardens.

There will also be a snack kiosk in one of the adjacent rooms catered by Au Pois Chique, a non-profit organization taking care of a local ‘meals on wheels’.

Location :
Montreal Botanical Gardens
Pavillon d’accueil
4101 Sherbrooke Street East, Montreal

To get there: The parking lot entrance of the Botanical Garden is located on Sherbrooke Street, between Pie IX and Viau. The Botanical Gardens is also accessible by metro, Pie IX station
Important notice: The parking lot now has parking meters. The cost is $10, payable by coin, or by credit card

• Friday, February 05th, 2010

This “plan”, whose goal is to have 9 billion people “living well, within the resource limitations of the planet”, was created by corporations in an effort to preserve their usefulness in the face of Peak Everything. While there are some good ideas here to be pursued, such as reducing our carbon footprint and doubling agricultural production, there is no mention of any practical ways to achieve these goals.

For example, in their executive summary they claim that the assets to achieve their ambitious goals already exist: “The participating companies strongly believe that the world already has the knowledge, science, technologies, skills and financial resources needed to achieve Vision 2050…

Well, that’s great, but they didn’t mention how to provide the basics of life needed to sustain 9 billion people: energy, topsoil and water. Where will they come from? Another planet? The report basically says very little. How is that so much energy gets put into writing something so large that is so useless?

Source: Smart Planet

There’s a new prescription for global sustainability being put forth by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. The Vision 2050 report is described as nothing less than the pathway to a world that supports 9 billion people “living well, within the resource limitations of the planet” by that time frame.

The analysis represents the viewpoints of about 29 global businesses (from 14 different industries) who are advocating that the corporate world take a leading role in setting strategy and policy that will lead their respective customers, partners, employees and communities down the right path. In a press release announcing the publication Syngenta CEO Michael Mack (who was involved with the project) describes humanity’s relationship with the planet in the past and present as an “exploitative relationship.” We need to transform it into a “symbiotic one,” he says.

Among the issues businesses need to address are how carbon footprint, ecosystem services and water usage considerations should be mapped into marketplace and pricing structures. Agriculture will come in for major investments: The report calls for a doubling of output over the 40 years between now and the report’s end game. Two other goals are the halving of carbon emissions worldwide, based on 2005 levels and “universal access low-carbon mobility.”

• Thursday, February 04th, 2010

Update, July 31, 2012: Please see Chris’ request (below the article in the Comments section) for a venue to introduce his new book and film on the subject of Green Spirituality.


Sunday February 7th, 7pm, at Mainfilm. More details below:

The Resilience Cycle aims to inform citizens about the issues raised by peak oil and climate change, and to help them take concrete action to help Montreal become more “resilient” in the face of future challenges. The purpose of this fifth evening will be to provide you tools to spread the word around you: family, neighbours, elected officials, community organizations…
  • How to talk about peak oil and convince others that this issue will impact us very soon?
  • How to discuss climate change and its consequences for Montreal?
  • What is the Transition Town movement, which offers a response to these issues – a movement created by citizens for their community? It is based on facts, focuses on concrete action, and most importantly, is also fun and inclusive!
  • How can we find inspiration in the Transition Town movement to launch initiatives in various areas of Montreal, in order to reduce our dependence on oil and better resist the shocks of the near future?
We are inviting to this evening all the folks who want to take action and start initiatives in their neighbourhood, in preparation for the challenges we will face very soon: limited energy supply (in particular gasoline, whose price will go up), more expensive food, challenging of the current road transportation system – and therefore of the way and price at which we bring food and items to Montreal stores… As well as the risk that our communities rise against each other, and that governments be even less able to protect the most vulnerable citizens.

Where: Main Film – Saint-Laurent subway
4067 Saint-Laurent in Montreal
When: Sunday February 7, at 7pm.

Free entrance – Donations welcome
Bring your mug!

• Wednesday, February 03rd, 2010

This is great news, if it ever gets implemented. At least the money is there. Now, local NIMBY opposition must be overcome. This is local, sustainable thinking at a state level. Bravo!

Source: Montreal Gazette

On Monday, Ottawa and Quebec gave $215.1 million to Montreal, Laval, Longueuil and the South Shore regional municipality to build compost treatment centres. Montreal Island municipalities will add another $79.9 million for its centres, while Laval will kick in $56.9 million.

The question now is where the facilities will be built…

As for the Montreal Island, Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblay launched a preemptive strike against “not-in-my-back-yard”-ism Monday by reminding suburban mayors and Montreal city councillors that four potential sites were identified in the island-wide waste-management plan, which the agglomeration council unanimously adopted last summer. It called for four compost-treatment centres, two in the centre of the island, and one each in the west and east ends.

Tremblay said that towns and boroughs have until June to submit potential sites in industrial areas for four compost treatment centres – two closed facilities that will convert garbage into biogas and compost, and two semi-closed facilities that will create only compost.

Construction could begin in 2011, with all centres up and running by 2014, said city spokeswoman Valérie de Gagné. The first to be built will be located in the central part of the island, she said. Montreal will also set up a sorting facility in the centre of the island where regular garbage will be taken in order to remove any recyclable or organic materials before it goes to a landfill site.

“The challenge is going to be to convince people to use a brown bin,” Tremblay said, adding that it took years for people to get used to sorting recyclable materials out of their garbage. “We have no choice – we have to go ahead with this.”

Category: Waste | Tags: ,  | 2 Comments
• Monday, February 01st, 2010

A new community group has sprung up in the Mile-End neighborhood with the ambitious goal to reduce auto use.

Stop (Driving) Sign, Berekely, CAOther urban areas, most notably Berkeley, CA have managed to dramatically reduce auto use by aggressively installing berms, stop signs and barricades where only bikes and pedestrians can pass. There is also a more aggressive vandalism/propaganda campaign that has been in effect for many years (see photo, right). It is simply annoying to drive through that city, which was by design.

Mile-end must navigate the murky Montreal political process to achieve its ends.

Source: Car Free Mile-End

Clinging to car-dependence as a way of life or as an economic model for growth is like climbing the smokestack on the Titanic. But I hesitate to extend the metaphor to include the proverbial “lifeboat community” as a way of casting the Mile End. None of the seemingly catastrophic changes that seem to loom is going to happen overnight. Yes we should try to reshape our neighbourhood according to sustainable, sensible principles. And yes, this should involve a dramatic reduction in car use by us all. But this will never happen in a vacuum to the exclusion of our neighbours. Perhaps as a motivating factor we can think of a Mile-End striving to be car-free, or going “car-lite”, as a matter of setting an example for those neighbours who must ultimately be a part of our future.