Archive for ◊ November, 2010 ◊

• Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Last month, I wrote about the benefits of vegetarian diets. While eating less meat would generally be beneficial for most people and the planet, it should not be taken to an extreme in one’s diet.

The article below is from a hard-core Vegan (someone who eats no animal products whatsoever) who started eating meat because she became sick and depleted from a strict Vegan diet. During her transformation, her idea that a Vegan diet is better for the planet got smashed. It is eye-opening and deserves a full read.

Source: Voracious Eats

As I learned while sitting at the metaphorical feet of the world’s leading revolutionary ecologists and food rights advocates, the only way for humanity to survive in any meaningfully sustainable way is for us to live entirely within our local food systems, eating the plants and animals that naturally live on our immediate landbase. And this most definitely does not include millions of acres of grains, the cultivation of which is amenable to only very small parts of the globe. To produce the vegan foods that I used to consider so cruelty-free; modern, industrialized agriculture forces land to grow crops that are alien and unnatural to it, robs the planet of its resources, destroys whole eco-systems, wipes out entire species of plants and animals, and creates a chaos of death and destruction as more and more wild land is needed to replace the devastated cropland.

• Saturday, November 20th, 2010

Just in time for the holiday shopping season, The Story of Electronics introduces you to the design strategy that has us dumping our electronics every 18 months and rushing out to buy new ones: It’s called Designed for the Dump, and it’s a major problem for our planet and our wallets.

This is the story where we challenge CEOs and the electronics industry to take back their products once we’re done with them, offering a real solution to the growing problem of toxic e-waste.

Category: Waste | Tags:  | 4 Comments
• Monday, November 15th, 2010

Sustainable HomesThis seems strange coming from Southern California, one of the most unsustainable areas in North America, but this is an offering for the richest of Orange county including Newport Beach and Huntington Beach. These folks can afford the high up-front costs of sustainable homes.

Source: Permaculture Properties

Green is great, but thinking about how the actions we make today will echo into the future is something we’re not doing nearly enough of. Worshiping resource intensive technologies instead of following nature’s path to abundance.

It’s not all that smart to ship flooring with a thin veneer of bamboo from a distant location to cover your living room floor that won’t last more than a decade instead of harvesting a much more durable, local wood or stone that will out live yourself. These are the short sided, reactionary decisions that we’re hoping to influence. We feel the ideas associated with permaculture are the most efficient and appropriate way to define the change that’s needed in our community.

• Friday, November 12th, 2010

Free screening of the documentary “In Transition 1.0: from oil dependence to local resilience”

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010 · 19:00 – 23:30

Location: NDG FOOD DEPOT, 2121 Oxford Avenue, NDG

The NDG Food Depot and the Montreal Permaculture Guild invite you to a free screening of the documentary “In Transition 1.0″ at the NDG Food Depot on November 17th at 7:00 pm.

‘In Transition’ is the first detailed film about the Transition movement filmed by those that know it best, those who are making it happen on the ground. The Transition Town movement is about communities around the world responding to peak oil and climate change with creativity, imagination and humour, and setting about rebuilding their local economies and communities. It is positive, solutions focused, viral and fun.

Check out the trailer:

The screening will be followed by a talk and discussion about the burgeoning Transition Town movement with Michel Durand of Villes en Transition.

Source: Montreal Permaculture Guild

• Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

The original plan to repair the Turcot interchange that connects the 20 and 15 highways was heavily criticized last spring. This “new” plan doesn’t make any improvements and is a step in the opposite direction. Here’s why:

First, $3 Billion to re-build a small piece of highway is insanity. It’s double the price of the original plan and it seems like a great way to keep construction workers busy forever, at taxpayer expense.

Second, the plan fails to address the biggest complaint of the current Turcot interchange: the community south of the 20 is separated from the rest of the city, in effect creating a slum.

Third, the plan calls for several factories to be removed to make way for the new road, but there is no funding to do so!

Finally, if the plan is executed on time (highly doubtful based on past projects), the interchange will be ready in 2018 – just in time to experience the full effects of peak oil. They are planning for a road that will not be used at 100% capacity because the price of oil/gasoline will prohibit many drivers from using it.

I imagine that $3 Billion could buy us a nice train from downtown to the airport, but that wouldn’t be as politically advantageous.

Turcot InterchangeSource: CBC News

The new highway will be north of the current one, with a reserved lane in each direction for buses, taxis and carpool vehicles. Tremblay said it would “encourage the creation of a vast new neighbourhood” between Highway 20 and the Lachine Canal.

There are several large factories in that space right now, and Transport Quebec’s plan doesn’t include measures to purchase, expropriate or move any of them.

That leaves a modest space for any new neighbourhood, about three kilometres long and 150 metres wide, Projet Montréal Leader Richard Bergeron said.

Only a “pseudo-neighbourhood” could sprout in such a space, said Bergeron, a former urban planner with the City of Montreal.

“Can you imagine a neighbourhood with a highway on one side, and big industry on the other? It’s impossible!”

Bergeron accused the province of manipulating the public into believing the plan is sustainable. “They lied this morning,” he said simply.

Vision Montréal Leader Louise Harel echoed Bergeron’s concerns, saying the new design will isolate Montreal’s southwest borough. “Barriers divide the population, and it’s worse for people who live there,” said city hall’s opposition leader. “What they proposed is a virtual world, but it doesn’t exist in reality.”

From Spacing Montreal:

I highly recommend readers visit the MTQ’s new website devoted to the Turcot, browse the interactive map and experience for themselves the new heights of green-washing. Be sure to check out the ‘Présentation modélisée du projet’. Just be sure you have something strong close at hand.

From Walking Turcot Yards:

Apply the Actual Reality Formula (ARF) for major Quebec construction projects and you will end up with a modest completed in 2020 at a cost of 7-10 Billion dollars. And 43,000 jobs created is a pretty sweet deal, but it still doesn’t answer the question of why the Quebec Liberal Party is so deeply beholden to the construction industry.

The government says there will be less expropriations as though they are born again urbanists! Don’t buy their spin. They are trying to bypass the fact that for at least 7 years people living near the project will have to live in a construction zone nightmare.

• Tuesday, November 09th, 2010

Source: Ottawa Citizen

A shop on Montreal’s Boulevard St. Laurent (5243) is lighting the way to the sustainable future in decor.

Galerie CO is Sarah Richardson’s passion, a place where she has been able to join her enthusiasm for the work of cutting-edge designers with her belief in supporting art that focuses on recycling and sustainability. She calls it CO, because those two letters are the thread that bind the elements she wishes to highlight: eCOnomy, eCOlogy and COmmunity.

“We specialize in sustainable design for the home in a setting that is as much art gallery as it is retail shop,” says Richardson, who opened her store in 2008.

Category: Architecture | Tags: ,  | Leave a Comment
• Monday, November 08th, 2010

Buy Nothing DayOn November 28th, there is an event called the “BUY NOTHING DAY“.

Good folks have been doing this once a year for 10 years now. Congratulations. 1 day out of 365 is a good start.

Try not buying anything for one day every week! This is a good exercise to see how unsustainable our lives are. In general, we are not sustainable. We are dependent on cash money.

We don’t grow our food, own our homes, generate our own electricity, make our own clothes or entertain ourselves. Thus, we need money to get these things. As Americans are starting to discover, money is in short supply and the money they do have buys less and less of what they need.


Buy Nothing Day is your special day to unshop, unspend and unwind. Relax and do nothing for the economy and for yourself – at least for a single day.

Can you really buy absolutely nothing for just one day? You might say “Sure!” but can you ACTUALLY go one whole day without transacting ANY business? Are you totally debt free so that you can go a whole day without accruing interest on your mortgage? Are you off the grid so that you can go a whole day without paying the power company? Do you have ANY utilities? Water, Sewer etc? Do you have a cell phone? Do you have stocks or other investments that transact business in your name every day without your input? Do you have other debts, such as credit cards that accrue interest? Can you really go one whole day without buying anything? Try it!

Category: Economics | Tags: ,  | Leave a Comment
• Tuesday, November 02nd, 2010

Sustainable prosperityWhat is the purpose of our economy?

  • To provide the greatest amount of things for the greatest amount of people?
  • To harvest the bounty of the Earth?
  • To enrich the few at the expense of the many?

Any of one of these answers is true, to a degree. I raise the question because so few of us actually consider it.

Our economy exists primarily because it is useful. It allows people to trade for and acquire things that they need. Along the way, however, we forgot what we need before all else:

  • Clean air
  • Clean water
  • Nourishing food
  • Shelter (with heat in the winter!)

We forgot about these vital things because for so long, they were cheap and abundant. We didn’t need to calculate their costs in our economic transactions. That time is coming to an end because we need to start planning for sustainable prosperity.

Source: Huffington Post

Given that the most important element in systems is purpose and goals, the big question is: What’s the economy for? If the goal is building resilience, the priority flips from growth and expansion to sufficiency and a sustainable prosperity. Resilience also favors economic re-localization, which in turn produces greater energy and food security.

How then do we set about redesigning human systems? And who has decision-making power?