Archive for ◊ May, 2011 ◊

• Monday, May 30th, 2011

Cell phones disrupt beesThe title is sarcastic.

New research has shown that when a cell phone is making or receiving a  call, it sends an emergency signal to the bees to evacuate the hive.

That’s why we have 50% fewer bees in the world since 1980, but I always like to see the positive in any situation ;)

Source: Inhabitat

Research conducted in Lausanne, Switzerland has shown that the signal from cell phones not only confuses bees, but also may lead to their death. Over 83 experiments have yielded the same results. With virtually most of the population of the United States (and the rest of the world) owning cell phones, the impact has been greatly noticeable.

Led by researcher Daniel Favre, the alarming study found that bees reacted significantly to cell phones that were placed near or in hives in call-making mode. The bees sensed the signals transmitted when the phones rang, and emitted heavy buzzing noise during the calls.  The calls act as an instinctive warning to leave the hive, but the frequency confuses the bees, causing them to fly erratically. The study found that the bees’ buzzing noise increases ten times when a cell phone is ringing or making a call – aka when signals are being transmitted, but remained normal when not in use.

• Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

When an architect builds sustainable housing in North America, she is faced with bureaucratic rules and regulations. When she takes the same technology to other countries, she is welcomed with gratitude.

This touching documentary traces the work of sustainable architect extraordinaire, Michael Reynolds… best of all, it has a happy ending!

Source: Garbage Warrior web site

Garbage WarriorImagine a home that heats itself, that provides its own water, that grows its own food. Imagine that it needs no expensive technology, that it recycles its own waste, that it has its own power source.

And now imagine that it can be built anywhere, by anyone, out of the things society throws away. Thirty years ago, architect Michael Reynolds imagined just such a home – then set out to build it.

A visionary in the classic American mode, Reynolds has been fighting ever since to bring his concept to the public. He believes that in an age of ecological instability and impending natural disaster, his buildings can – and will – change the way we live.

Shot over three years in the USA, India and Mexico, Garbage Warrior is a feature-length documentary film telling the epic story of maverick architect Michael Reynolds, his crew of renegade house builders from New Mexico, and their fight to introduce radically different ways of living.

A snapshot of contemporary geo-politics and an inspirational tale of triumph over bureaucracy, Garbage Warrior is above all an intimate portrait of an extraordinary individual and his dream of changing the world.

Watch the trailer:

• Monday, May 23rd, 2011

A nice article featuring Marci Babineau and her urban farm. If you ever wondered how much food you could grow in a front or back yard, or how to keep urban chickens, this article is a good source of information.

Source: Montreal Gazette

On the sidewalk in front of Marci Babineau’s house, I craned my neck to see if I could spot the birds.

In the backyard, just beyond her root-vegetable garden and several fruit trees, a chicken stretched out a wing, then ruffled her black feathers back into place.

Not exactly what a passerby would expect to see on a quiet, tree-lined street minutes from downtown Montreal (I can’t say exactly where; more about that later).

But it’s what urban agriculture enthusiasts across North America would like to see – micro-farms where city dwellers could produce fruits, vegetables, eggs and honey, milk from goats, and meat from rabbits.

Some Montrealers have already enthusiastically embraced the growing urban agriculture movement, which took off after Michelle Obama planted a vegetable garden on the White House lawn two years ago.

Chickens are pecking away in Montreal backyards, bees are buzzing around hives in industrial areas, lettuce is growing in container gardens downtown, and the Lufa Farms rooftop greenhouse near Marché Centrale is producing enough fresh produce to feed more than 1,000 people a week.

It’s not easy, though. Municipal bylaws ban most island residents from keeping livestock, like chickens, and bees, and people are more used to seeing grass in front yards than tomatoes and peppers.

Still, if urbanites, who rely on food grown dozens, even thousands of kilometres away, want to try to become as self-sufficient as possible, how would they do it?

Using my own yard as a test case, I set about to find out.

• Monday, May 16th, 2011

Arimoto electric carThe car is not yet available in Canada.

Source: Arimoto

The Arcimoto SRK is a reasonable choice for sustainable transportation. The SRK is designed for the everyday driver: its environmentally efficient footprint is easy to maneuver and park, it has the capacity to carry two people and plenty of groceries, and its grin-inducing ride experience ushers in a new era of responsible driving – free from compromise and the gas pump.

Featuring an all-electric ultra-efficient drive system, race caliber suspension, a sturdy space frame, and a lightweight body shell, the SRK strikes a unique balance between economy, efficiency, utility and pure electric fun. It sports a variety of body options, multiple range choices and a base price that won’t break the bank.

Arcimoto unveiled the SRK product prototype, ‘Red 5’ on April 23, 2011. The Company is currently testing this prototype as it moves towards product finalization, the launch of the SRK pilot fleet and the push to production.

You can now reserve your place in the initial production fleet for a fully refundable reservation deposit of $100. Click here to place your pre-order.

• Friday, May 13th, 2011

Square foot gardenI’ve been rather busy lately, building my own square foot garden (photo right). Hopefully, you’ve also started a garden, no matter how small. Here’s a book that shows you how to start a square inch garden on a balcony or windowsill.

Source: Chelsea Books

Books on container gardening have been wildly popular with urban and suburban readers, but until now, there has been no comprehensive “how-to” guide for growing fresh food in the absence of open land. Fresh Food from Small Spaces fills the gap as a practical, comprehensive, and downright fun guide to growing food in small spaces. It provides readers with the knowledge and skills necessary to produce their own fresh vegetables, mushrooms, sprouts, and fermented foods as well as to raise bees and chickens—all without reliance on energy-intensive systems like indoor lighting and hydroponics.

Readers will learn how to transform their balconies and windowsills into productive vegetable gardens, their countertops and storage lockers into commercial-quality sprout and mushroom farms, and their outside nooks and crannies into whatever they can imagine, including sustainable nurseries for honeybees and chickens. Free space for the city gardener might be no more than a cramped patio, balcony, rooftop, windowsill, hanging rafter, dark cabinet, garage, or storage area, but no space is too small or too dark to raise food.

With this book as a guide, people living in apartments, condominiums, townhouses, and single-family homes will be able to grow up to 20 percent of their own fresh food using a combination of traditional gardening methods and space-saving techniques such as reflected lighting and container “terracing.” Those with access to yards can produce even more.

• Tuesday, May 03rd, 2011

Children watching TVMy son is at a Waldorf school which encourages down-time and creative play. The stories we tell each other through TV and other media shape the boxes that we later inhabit inside a culture of  “consumers”.

Whose agenda is it that we become “consumers”? It is not mine, and I bet you it is not yours either.

Come and learn more about how we can get off the addictive habit of media consumption for our children.

Impacts of Screen Overexposure on Young People’s Health the Facts, the Damages, the SOLUTIONS

Television content is designed to entertain the public, and especially the young, to prepare them to overconsume the planet’s resources and to get them dis-interested in life, democracy and the responsibilities of citizens facing an environmental crisis. The democratic deficit is alarming. To construct democracy, we must train Heroes.

Our most vulnerable citizens, children spend more than 40 hours a week hooked to one or more screens. Behind the screens, marketing agencies are on the lookout! Overexposure to screens affects the health of youth and is costly to society.

Dropping out of school, physical inactivity, aggression and bullying, low self-esteem, depression, misogyny, etc..

* This unique symposium is held at our home in Montreal from 4 to 6 May 2011. *
* A day with presentations in English, May 4, followed by two full days in French. *
* It’s not too late to register for one, two or three days.

Programme and registration form

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