Archive for ◊ April, 2012 ◊

• Friday, April 27th, 2012

Taxi sharing mobile appSource: Digital Journal

The taxi-sharing service will be known as Tous les Jours ( in French and Every Day ( in English and will be accessible from a web platform and on smartphones. Essentially, depending on the specific departure and arrival points, users will be able to travel with one, two or even three other taxi service users.

The goal of this matching system is therefore to compete with solo car commuting. The ultimate goal of the project is to reduce the environmental impact of the trips people take, improve public health and help users cut down on their travel costs.

• Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

On this Earth day, one of the easiest and most fun ways to help Mother Earth is to drive less, walk more and bike more. Yes, it really is that easy and so healthy for us, too. First, moving our bodies is very healthy and second, cars are deadly – for the planet and people.

The car companies, tire companies and gasoline companies don’t want you to know that 1.4 million people die every year from car accidents worldwide. No, that would shatter the glorified, sexy image we have of driving. The truth is, there should be warning labels on cars like the ones on packs of cigarettes – no joke.

To obfuscate the fact that cars are deadly, the auto industry plants  seeds of fear around biking. One way to discourage biking is to promote bike helmets. While a bike helmet seems to make sense at first glance, there is mixed evidence to the efficacy of bike helmets in preventing head injury in adults (for children, there is more evidence that helmets prevent traumatic brain injury). In fact, bike helmets make adults 14% more likely to be involved in an accident.

For an eye opening look at the fear propaganda around bike helmets, see the video below (note how Montreal is on the Top 20 list of most livable cities in the World!).

Source: Lew Rockwell

Some folks believe that not wearing a helmet while cycling or motorcycling is “stupid,” though this comment is actually pretty dumb on its own. The lack of a helmet is not a result, at all, of lacking intelligence, or even common sense. The wearing or non-wearing of a helmet reflects how you comprehend and rate risk.

There is a website called Helmet Freedom: Risk in Perspective, and its motto is “Cycling without helmet laws is safe. Fear is unhealthy.” I like that motto because as much as the fear mongering and obsession with safety is worldwide, in America, the totalitarians-at-large have turned safety fixation into a national pastime.

On TedX Copenhagen, bicycle advocate Mikael Colville-Andersen gave a talk, “Why We Shouldn’t Bike With a Helmet.” In his talk, he discusses the culture of fear that controls the public. He calls it a “pornographic obsession with safety equipment” in a “bubble society.” While the culture of fear ignores facts and science, the fear mongering is big business, and it is lucrative.

Category: Transportation | Tags: ,  | One Comment
• Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

Source: Yes Magazine

Imagine you open the paper tomorrow, and the headlines are not about the “sluggish economy,” but our nation’s quality of life. You turn to the business section, and find not just information about a certain company’s profitability, but also about its impact on community health and employee well-being.

Imagine, in short, a world where the metric that guides our decisions is not money, but happiness.

That is the future that 650 political, academic, and civic leaders from around the world came together to promote on April 2, 2012. Encouraged by the government of Bhutan, the United Nations held a High Level Meeting for Wellbeing and Happiness: Defining a New Economic Paradigm. The meeting marks the launch of a global movement to shift our focus away from measuring and promoting economic growth as a goal in its own right, and toward the goal of measuring—and increasing—human happiness and quality of life.

Not just for dreamers

Some may say these 650 world leaders are dreamers, but they are the sort that can make dreams come true. The meeting began with an address by Prime Minister Jigmi Thinley of Bhutan, where the government tracks the nation’s “Gross National Happiness”:

The time has come for global action to build a new world economic system that is no longer based on the illusion that limitless growth is possible on our precious and finite planet or that endless material gain promotes well-being. Instead, it will be a system that promotes harmony and respect for nature and for each other; that respects our ancient wisdom traditions and protects our most vulnerable people as our own family, and that gives us time to live and enjoy our lives and to appreciate rather than destroy our world. It will be an economic system, in short, that is fully sustainable and that is rooted in true, abiding well-being and happiness.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon cited Aristotle and Buddha in calling for the replacement of our current economic system with one based on happiness, well-being, and compassion. “Social, economic, and environmental well-being are indivisible” he said.

angel painting by Angelo Bronzino

 President Laura Chinchilla of Costa Rica followed with a keynote speech that provided an explanation of why her country is one of the worlds most eco-friendly and happy nations, despite its relative poverty. Decades ago, Costa Rica eliminated its army, prioritizing spending on a strong education program, support for social security, and the protection of national parks that spur tourism.

From Finland to France, Israel to India, speakers of parliament, ministers of the environment, and other high-level officials followed with brief speeches about the need for a new economic paradigm to replace the current economy. The afternoon featured Vandana Shiva, Martin Seligman, John Helliwell, Lord Richard Layard, Jeffrey Sachs and other luminaries.

Helliwell, Layard and Sachs introduced the World Happiness Report, a study they prepared for the conference. The report found that money and economic growth have a relatively weak correlation to happiness; happiness is much more strongly associated with things like community engagement, having lots of friends, doing work you love, and feeling a sense of trust in others. Altruism, too, is essential; a world that makes equity, care, and compassion more possible will be a happier world.

• Saturday, April 07th, 2012

These are fascinating ideas that have a chance to work if we can step out of daily reality and look objectively at what our current monetary system is doing to our planet, and ourselves.

We must never forget that money is only a tool – it is neither evil nor good. It is what we choose to do with it.

I propose we start to consider new ways to use money so that it benefits all people (not just a few bankers and their friends who control money creation), and acts to protect what is sacred in our lives – people, clean air, clean water and nutritious food.

Source: Pittsburgh City Paper

Money, or at least the desire for it, is at the root of our biggest problems, from injustice and economic inequality to environmental destruction. The need for money always seems to make us do the wrong thing: Hoard wealth, strip the land.

But it needn’t be so. In his 2011 book Sacred Economics author and speaker Charles Eisenstein proposes fresh, even radical ways to think about how money is created, and even what it’s for.

Money as we know it is created through interest-bearing debt. It’s born when a central bank, like the Federal Reserve, purchases securities, or when your neighborhood bank makes a loan. The issuers of money demand to be paid back, with interest…

…By contrast, Eisenstein argues, the proper purpose of money is simply to connect people who need something with people who have something to give — “to facilitate the flow of gifts.” 

But how? Eisenstein argues for creating money differently. 

Rather than fabricating it from interest, or basing it arbitrarily on, say, piles of gold, “My idea is that we create money out of what’s becoming sacred to humanity today,” he says in a phone interview. “Intact ecosytems, rainforests, the beauty of the planet. The integrity of indigenous cultures. The health of the watershed. The sustainability of the aquifers, and the well-being of all human beings on earth.”

Eisenstein proposes setting up bioregional governments that would issue money based on things like the ability of the atmosphere to absorb air pollution, or the amount of water that can be sustainably drawn from a region’s aquifer.

“Today, there’s really not much of an incentive to conserve water,” he says. “But if aquifer depletion became very expensive, then conservation would have a financial incentive, and you’d be aligning money with what is sacred.”

Eisenstein also proposes that we reform the money system by making interest rates negative. In other words, the longer you held money, the less it would be worth: It would “decay.” And an interest rate of, say, negative-3 percent would encourage people to spend money and to loan it out (even at a low, or a 0 percent, return). That would spur economic activity. And it would help redefine wealth as a flow of resources, rather than an accumulation. (Negative interest differs from inflation, he says, largely because it would affect everyone equally — unlike inflation, which tends to raise prices and wages at different rates.)

• Friday, April 06th, 2012

Update 4/23/12: “We want to let you know that the funding campaign, Open Source Permaculture, has completed funding. They raised $16,038 of their $15,000 goal, thanks to your contribution.”

Permaculture is one of the best strategies for re-inventing agriculture, transforming our cities and living a more sustainable life.

This project aims to bring together all the great ideas and experiments in the world using Permaculture and offer it free to the world, like the open source software movement that gives away the source code.

Great stuff!

There are 10 days left to raise enough money to fund the project. They will accept pledges as low as $1!

Source: Indiegogo

We believe that sustainability is for everyone. That’s why we’re creating Open Source Permaculture, a free online resource for anyone who wants to create a more sustainable world. Imagine having all the resources you need at your fingertips to enhance the sustainability of your home or land. Anyone (including you!) could learn how to grow an incredibly productive backyard permaculture garden, just like this one:

Permaculture is a visionary design methodology for creating sustainable, and thriving livelihoods, from ecological farms to urban landscapes. Open Source Permaculture can heal broken communities with no money, and transform our cities into thriving ecological landscapes.
Category: Permaculture | Tags:  | Leave a Comment
• Tuesday, April 03rd, 2012

It’s that time of year again. Sign up for a weekly or bi-weekly basket of fresh, local food from a farmer via Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).

Source: Equiterre

  • Encourage pesticide-free farming in your area…
  • Discover rare and heirloom produce…
  • Eat healthy food…

Join the thousands of Quebecers who receive a weekly basket full of locally grown fruit and vegetables from a family farmer.

  1. Use our Find a drop-off point page (in French only, our apologies)
  2. Scroll down to LISTE DES POINTS DE CHUTES
  3. Select Fruits, Légumes (vegetables) or Viande (meat).
  4. Select an area from the Emplacement menu.
  5. Select a city.
  6. Where applicable, select a neighbourhood.
  7. Click Appliquer.
  8. Contact the farmer directly to sign up.
  9. Feel good about helping a local farmer pursue their dream of farming on a small, sustainable scale.
Category: Food Security | Tags: ,  | Leave a Comment