Archive for ◊ September, 2010 ◊

• Thursday, September 30th, 2010

This looks like an authentic, non-corporate version of An Inconvenient Truth which always seemed to me less like a plea to rein in the culture of consumption and more like a big advertisement for carbon taxes.

Force of Nature, a documentary about Canadian scientist and environmentalist David Suzuki, opens Friday at the AMC Forum.

Source: Globe and Mail

“…This documentary about (Suzuki’s) life could be the most persuasive argument yet that saving the environment is the most critical fight for human rights occurring today. Without clean water and air, as Suzuki says, we are not only destroying the environment; we are destroying us. The speech can indeed be compared to Martin Luther King Jr.’s I Have a Dream when describing the air we breathe and the atoms we share as an irrefutable commonality – a bond with the past, present and our children’s future.

Category: Air, Water | Tags:  | Leave a Comment
• Wednesday, September 29th, 2010


The permablitz was announced for Sunday, October 3, is canceled It will be postponed to Sunday after or on Sunday, October 10 .*

A slight possibility exists that the project can be realized. The project is on hold until Monday when we will finally have an answer clear from the committee owns the church.

Sorry for last minute changes. More news will follow earlier in the week.


* Date: Sunday, October 3, 2010
* Time: 9:30 am to 17h
* Location: The garden, located on Galt **, north of Bannantyne (Map)

That the time has come for a permablitz Fall! Yep!

The project takes place in a community garden Culture Verdun Elementary (CEV), a nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote the development of individual and collective knowledge, the awareness and support for citizens of Verdun food security, among others through the gardens collective. In addition to two community gardens, where participants work together, exchange knowledge and share the harvest, CEV is also implementing a teaching garden located in the courtyard of a primary school, and another garden tub in a house for youth 12 to 17 years.

The organization is in its third season of gardening, and we will become aware through discussions with gardeners how to improve the size of gardens. Because there is no denying it’s still very modest.

Here we are particularly pleased to see the possibility of expanding our gardens and to make better use of land currently grassed and under-utilized. Also, we invite you all to come with a  hand shovel, to completely transform the Garden of Hope!

The work we do during the day will be to transform and prepare the ground for planting next spring. We will therefore use the technique of “lasagna” to kill the grass, then we will transfer the land to the garden, add compost, and possibly sow a green manure for the winter. We also dismantle bins that we used previously, but will no longer be needed.

We will need equipment, so if you can bring:

- Something to share for dinner
- The Excavator
- Two wheelbarrows (if you have any, please let me know)
- Of unbleached cardboard, no ink color

• Monday, September 27th, 2010

This day is designed for people interested in the development of Transition Initiatives in an Urban Context. A good understanding of the Transition Town model is recommended.

The training will be held October 2, 2010, from 9 am to 16:30 in a Montreal bistro called “Earth Tribe” located at 2590 Jarry East. Lunch and hot drinks throughout the day are included in the cost of $ 35. Please register by email before September 26 in quebec @ quebec@villesentran and make payment in advance by check to the Foundation Echo-logy, 7011 Champagneur Avenue, Montreal, H3N 2J6.

You can also buy copies of the Handbook of Transition in French at $ 20 each including tax (regular price $ 25 in library taxes) and complete your registration with:

- Serge Mongeau (Montreal, Mile-End)
- Dominique Laroche (Montreal, Plateau Mont-Royal)
- Diane Gariepy (Montreal Mercier)
- Michel Durand (Boucherville)

Copies will be available for training at the same price of $ 20.

The interim committee Transition Que-bec

• Friday, September 24th, 2010

From the instructors:

Steve and I will teach our course on Sustainable Gardening Practices again, using the base of life cycle and from our last class, with a special focus on the harvest as well as putting the indoor and outdoor garden to bed for the winter.

With regard to the harvest there will be discussions of what to harvest, when, how to save and dry seeds and which seeds (from which plants) are viable for the next generation, etc.

We will also have a workshop on growing mushrooms and greens indoors and developing small indoor growing chambers. One of our principle interests is to assist the sustainable gardening community to grow and develop in Montreal.

The class will be held at Victoria Hall in Westmount as part of its community programs at 7-8:30 PM Thursday evenings for 10 weeks. It is $50 for residents and $80 for non-residents.

Source: City of Westmount

Learn ways to intergrate sustainable gardening practices in any home setting – backyard garden, windowsill or container planting, indoor winter blooms, etc. Bring sustainability into your life by the presence of nature around us. Explore nature, innovative landscaping and growing techniques. Classes will include time for Q & A.

• Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Recycle KabukiThis article got me thinking about recycling which is one of the oldest, best-established environmental habits for everyday-folk to practice.

Is it really just a grand show that consumes more resources than it’s worth?

No matter your conclusion, the best course of action is to use less and throw away less before it has to be carried away by someone else to somewhere else.

Source: Boston Globe

Most of the stuff we throw out — aluminum cans are an exception — is cheaper to replace from scratch than to recycle. “Cheaper’’ is another way of saying “requires fewer resources.’’ Green evangelists believe that recycling our trash is “good for the planet’’ — that it conserves resources and is more environmentally friendly. But recycling household waste consumes resources, too.

Popular impressions to the contrary notwithstanding, we are not running out of places to dispose of garbage. Not only is US landfill capacity at an all-time high, but all of the country’s rubbish for the next 100 years could comfortably fit into a landfill measuring 10 miles square. Benjamin puts that in perspective: “Ted Turner’s Flying D ranch outside Bozeman, Mont., could handle all of America’s trash for the next century — with 50,000 acres left over for his bison.’’

Extra trucks are required to pick up recyclables, and extra gas to fuel those trucks, and extra drivers to operate them. Collected recyclables have to be sorted, cleaned, and stored in facilities that consume still more fuel and manpower; then they have to be transported somewhere for post-consumer processing and manufacturing. Add up all the energy, time, emissions, supplies, water, space, and mental and physical labor involved, and mandatory recycling turns out to be largely unsustainable — an environmental burden, not a boon.

“Far from saving resources,’’ Benjamin writes, “curbside recycling typically wastes resources — resources that could be used productively elsewhere in society.’’

Category: Waste | Tags: ,  | Leave a Comment
• Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

Car Free DayEvery September 22, people from around the world get together in the streets, intersections, and neighborhood blocks to remind the world that we don’t have to accept our car-dominated society.

But we do not want just one day of celebration and then a return to “normal” life. When people get out of their cars, they should stay out of their cars. It is up to us, it is up to our cities, and our governments to help create permanent change to benefit pedestrians, cyclists, and other people who do not drive cars.

Let World Carfree Day be a showcase for just how our cities might look like, feel like, and sound like without cars…365 days a year.

Source: openalex

There are events this year in over 2000 cities, and every one does it differently. Montreal this year will be blocking off a 7 block portion of the downtown [map] and running a week long “In Town Without My Car” campaign. The Montreal Gazette has a good article on how the car free challenge can be expanded beyond a single day a year and work that is being done to established new car-free zones within the city. The Montreal Urban Ecology Center has a full rundown of the week’s events – including two excellent looking talks with speakers from Germany and Norway on European experiences with car-free neighbourhoods.

Car-Free Neighborhoods Week Activities

Car free MontrealExhibition Berlin On the Go- Towards a Pedestrian-Friendly City
September 20-24 at the Atrium of Complexe Desjardins

Lunch hour presentation | Potential avenues for car-free living year round
Wednesday, September 22
12:05pm – 12:50pm

Public Conference| Changing Conduct: European Ideas for Car-Free Neighbourhoods
Wednesday, September 22
6:30pm – 8:30pm

• Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

Marketing SustainabilityWhat goes on in marketing meetings at major brands and their ad agencies is something like this:

“Hey Joe, did you see Wal-Mart’s new Greener Good line? They are able to sell almost the same products but at higher margins. We should do something like that. We’d make a killing.”

And so goes the selling of a sustainable way of life.

Sustainable style soon will be added to the pantheon of existing “lifestyle choices” that consumers can decide upon when choosing how to define and separate themselves from their peers as they blithely cruise down the aisles of Ikea and Target.

Eventually, the word “sustainable” will not have the same meaning as it does on this blog because companies will position their products as sustainable, co-opting the word as it becomes associated with just another meaningless marketing campaign in the minds of most citizens.

The ultimate effect, I fear, will be for the word to be owned by the very corporations it was designed to supplant.

Green-washing (see cartoon above) was an earlier example of this co-opting of language. As always, Caveat Emptor and use discernment when a company tries to sell you their “sustainable” products.

Source: Montreal Gazette

Everybody’s doing it. “Smart,” “green,” “natural,” “pure” are today’s ubiquitous advertising buzzwords, capitalizing on the fragile state of planet Earth and what to do about it.

The trend also reflects and stimulates sheer societal peer pressure to show your true col-ours in the face of the ecological apocalypse.

Tom Wolfe’s famous dictum – “Style is always a window into what a person thinks of his place in the world or what he wants his place to be in the world” – rings even truer today on the environmental stage, where folks trip over each other to demonstrate eco-consciousness in the products they consume.

Indeed, being environmentally unfriendly is the new taboo. Especially among those who consider themselves Born to Buy. The “green” and “smart” movement is a middle-class phenomenon, with all the status-seeking the petit bourgeoisie is historically notorious for. Yuppies, for whom consumerism is self-defining, get an opportunity to give their consciences a workout by buying green. It’s all about, as the mantra goes, “making a difference.”

In fact, these days it’s hard to tell the difference between green/smart ad campaigns and traditional not-for-profit public service announcements.

The mainly young people in green and smart ads chirp with the self-satisfaction of knowing a good thing when they see it, even at Wal-Mart: “Hey, all-natural fibres. Cool.” They strut their smart sustainable stuff, safe in the knowledge they’ll never be stigmatized, like cigarette smokers (ugh). The geopolitical world may be in trouble -rife with war, inequities, racism, poverty -but don’t blame these smart people: they’re doing their part for the environment.

• Sunday, September 19th, 2010

AlgaeNow here is a local, sustainable food and energy source that doesn’t require massive centralization or government controls and subsidies.

World Energy Congress: how will you control this and make money from it? HA!

Source: Shareable

Microscopic spinning orbs and spirals of green goo are the answers to our planet’s energy crisis and arable land shortage. At least that’s what Aaron Baum, a 40-year-old Harvard graduate and Stanford PhD, has concluded.

And Baum should know. After a mid-life crisis of sorts, he spent months researching the types of science that would most benefit the world and concluded that algae are it. Now, he wants to share his passion with the public by creating communities of people with their own algae farms. Imagine that – you can have a personal algae tank that provides fresh, ultra-nutritious food on a year-round basis.

We’d like to create an international network of people growing all kinds of algae in their homes in a small community scale, sharing information, doing it all in an open source way. We’d be like the linux of algae – do-it-yourself with low-cost materials and shared information…

For biofuel, you want a species that produces a lot of oil. Many species of algae can produce huge amounts of oil — they can be more than 50 percent oil by weight, compared to normal plants that only produce a few percent.

Algae can produce about 100 times more than typical oil plants like soybeans, on a per acre basis. You can grow enough algae to replace all of the fossil fuel in an area that’s small enough to be manageable.
• Friday, September 17th, 2010

Source: Dirt The Movie

1. Only one planet that we know of in all the galaxies of the universe has a living, breathing skin called dirt. For 2 million years, humans have used dirt to grow their food for survival. If we don’t take care of the soil, our future is condemned. We can’t survive on Twinkies alone. (But it sure would be *fun…*for an hour or so.)

2. A handful of soil contains tens of billions of creepy-crawly microorganisms. These organisms keep plants, animals, and the planet alive.

3. Industrial farming is eroding the soil and disrupting its structure. We’ve lost a third of our topsoil in the last 100 years.

4. When there are miles and miles of only one species and one variety growing on our farms, as there is in modern-day industrial agriculture, this creates a vulnerable system. Monocultures are dangerous to our future. Diversifying crops on our farms, especially in drought, can keep the system from collapsing.

5. When we grow just one species on our farms, it’s an all-you-can-eat restaurant for pests. Once a pest learns to unlock the key to that plant, you have a pest infestation, and then you add pesticides. Exposure to pesticides, especially in children, has been linked to higher birth defect rates, cancer, learning disabilities, and abnormal hormonal changes.

6. Insects and plants are so like us physiologically, cell to cell, protein to protein, gene to gene, that if a pesticide is going to kill plants and insects, it’s going to kill humans, too. *Ta-da!*

7. Chemicals (synthetic fertilizers and pesticides) deplete the life of the soil. They take away the structure and the moisture of the soil. They take away the very organisms that make the soil fertile. When you add a layer of compost to your dirt, instead of a nasty chemical fertilizer, you’re adding life to your dirt, and can then call it “soil.”

Repeat after me: *Compost, compost, compost*.

8. When the land is dead and we add synthetic nitrogen fertilizer to feed the crops, only about 20 percent goes to the plant roots. In the Midwest, the rest of the wasted fertilizer flows into the rivers and streams, and then into the Gulf of Mexico. This excess fertilizer feeds algae that grow and suffocate nearly all of the marine life, creating “dead zones” where only jellyfish survive. This mobile nitrogen combines with oxygen, which forms nitrous oxide and rises into the atmosphere accelerating climate change. Twenty-five percent of greenhouse-gas emissions come from agriculture.

9. In India, farmers have been pushed to buy more genetically modified seeds, chemical fertilizers, insecticides, and tractors. Now a farming activity that was zero cost is increasingly expensive. In India, over the last decade an *estimated 200,000 farmers have killed themselves*, many by drinking the pesticide they can no longer afford.

As farmers around the world go broke and lose their farms, their land is taken over by international agribusinesses that grow genetically modified single crops for a globalized economy.

10. Each year 100 million trees are turned into 20 million mail-order catalogues.

• Monday, September 13th, 2010

Oil-soaked Protesters Demand Sustainable EnergyDemanding sustainable energy solutions from large, multi-national energy corporations is like  demanding humane treatment at Abu Ghraib prison. Good luck with that.

We believe change will come from below in the form of micro changes and small scale innovations. When millions make changes in their daily energy consumption habits (driving less and eating locally), it will force corporations to change if they want to stay in business.

From windmills to solar panels to zero-point energy, the future of energy is smaller, decentralized systems that work together in intelligent networks where everyone is an energy producer and energy consumer.

Think of it like the Internet. It doesn’t work because large corporations created it and run it. The Internet works because of peer-based sharing and protocols that allow anyone to tap it, connect to it and contribute to it. Most people are content consumers and producers. The future of energy will be similar, although the specific technologies and protocols are still unclear.

Source: GreenDiary

Criticizing the provincial Quebec government for inviting oil companies to the five-day World Energy Congress at the sprawling Palais de Congres, the protestors demanded a sustainable energy future. Many protesters covered in molasses staged a “Black Tide Beach Party,” while dozens of others carried banners that read “Too dirty, too risky, go beyond oil.” Many protesters showed their anger at the BP oil spill, but the protest targeted the oil industry as a whole.

The Montreal 2010 Congress expected nearly participants from industry, government and academia to understand energy issues and solutions from a global perspective. The protesters saw the demonstration as a great way to raise the issue of oil spill, ahead of a global gathering of energy experts.