Green Skiing

IdlinglogoFor many Scandinavians and Europeans, skiing isn’t just a sport, it’s how they get to work.

Source: Montreal Gazette

…at Le Massif in the Charlevoix region, where a $230-million expansion is under way, green transportation is a major theme. The project, which should be completed by 2013, will offer dedicated rail service from Quebec City, gondola service from the train station to the base chalet and various types of green transportation on site (including dog sled and electric vehicles). A new hotel will be heated and cooled using geothermal and solar energy.

Mont Sutton, in the Eastern Townships, now composts organic waste from its four restaurants, buys local food when possible, provides shuttle service for its employees and guests from the village to the mountain, and encourages carpooling on its website and through occasional lift-ticket discounts. Along with five other Quebec ski hills, Mont Sutton is running an awareness program to get clients and bus drivers to stop idling their engines in ski-hill parking lots (and elsewhere).

So if you must downhill ski or board, and apparently many of us must, it’s important to support these changes and to encourage more. Here are some other tips on skiing green to keep those mountains white:

Take a bus or a train to the ski hill whenever possible. Check the ski-area websites to see if they are served by bus or rail. Also check out express-ski.com,which offers bus transportation from Montreal and lift ticket deals to several ski destinations, including Killington, Le Massif, Mont Tremblant, Mont Ste. Anne, Smugglers’ Notch, Stoneham, Stowe, Sugarbush, Whiteface and Sejour.

Carpool whenever possible. Check ski station websites to see if they offer a carpool coordination service. You can also coordinate with other skiers and find group travel deals at qc.bougex.com.

Take your own food and drinks. Even if some resorts do offer recyclable dishes and packaging, you will waste less energy, reduce waste and save money by taking your own food in your own containers.

Don’t idle your engine at the hill or elsewhere. It’s bad for your engine, wastes gas and pollutes big time. The vehicle will warm up faster as you drive.

Buy or rent used equipment at places like Play it Again Sports and La poubelle du ski.

The Credit Commons

Money_RollIf cash becomes scarce and the wheels of commerce come to a grinding halt again, the idea of  “mutual credit clearing” will be critical. In the meantime, banning interest charged on money is a worthy goal which would instantly make the economy more sustainable.

Source: Reality Sandwich

We need to learn to play a different game. We need to organize an entirely new structure of money, banking, and finance, one that is interest-free, decentralized, and controlled, not by banks or central governments, but by businesses and individuals that associate and organize themselves into cashless trading networks. This is a way to reclaim “the credit commons” from monopoly control and create healthy community economies.

This approach is no pie-in-the-sky pipe dream, it is proven and well established. Known as mutual credit clearing, it is a process that is used by scores of commercial “barter” companies around the world to provide cashless trading for their business members. In this process, the things you sell pay for the things you buy without using money as an intermediate exchange medium. It’s as simple as that. According to the International Reciprocal Trade Association (IRTA), a major trade association for the industry, “IRTA Member companies using the “Modern Trade and Barter” process, made it possible for over 400,000 companies World Wide to utilize their excess business capacities and underperforming assets, to earn an estimated $12 billion dollars in previously lost and wasted revenues.

Perhaps the best example of a credit clearing exchange that has been successful over a long period of time is the WIR Economic Circle Cooperative. Founded in Switzerland as a self-help organization in 1934 in the midst of the Great Depression, WIR provided a means for its business members to trade with one another despite the shortage of official money in circulation. Over three quarters of a century, in good time and bad, WIR has continued to thrive. Its more than 60,000 members throughout Switzerland trade about $2 billion worth of goods and services annually.

Yes, it is possible to transcend the dysfunctional money and banking system and to take back our power from bankers and politicians who use it to abuse and exploit us. We do it, not by petitioning politicians who are already bought and paid for by an ever more powerful elite group, but by using the power that is already ours to use the resources we have to support each other’s productivity and to give credit where credit is due.

Green Your Alley Forum

ScreenHunter_02-Jan.-05-09.50Do you wish you had more green space in your neighborhood? Are you motivated and willing to improve the quality of life in your alley? Join us!

The Éco-quartier NDG is launching our first forum on green alleys in NDG. Greening projects can only come to life thanks to the will and participation of alley-way users and owners, while encouraging a vibrant community. Learn how to engage in this exciting movement and share your vision for your alley! Bring your neighbours!!

Sprouting Workshop

Learn how to sprout at this workshop given by the NDG Food depot. Sprouting is a surprisingly easy way to grow your own fresh veggies in the dead of winter. They are only sprouts (baby veggies), but they contain many of the vital nutrients and energies our bodies need for healthy functions.

Source: Montreal Permaculture Guild

**Monday the 24st of January at 5pm* @ the NDG Food depot,  2121 avenue d’Oxford, Montreal.

Come to learn how to make sprouting in jar or in soil, and keep greens in your plate during the winter! A soup will be prepared and served following the workshop.

Washable Cloth Diapers

ScreenHunter_02-Jan.-18-12.54For those 1st time parents, or to veteran parents looking to take care of babies in a more sustainable way, buying and using cotton, cloth diapers is probably the #1 way to reduce your weekly land fill (garbage) bag.

Disposable diapers take an estimated 500 years to decompose. Additionally, it takes up huge amounts of resources including wood pulp and plastic during their manufacturing.

As a parent who used old-fashioned disposable diapers, I can attest to the enormous waste that occurs from using these things. It takes more work, but If I had the opportunity to do it again, I would choose cloth diapers.

Source: Sandra’s Schlog

Bummis has been the go to place for Montreal Moms who wanted to learn how to use cotton diapers and their made-in-Montreal diaper covers. Bummis has moved this month to a nice new home – with more walk in traffic possible.

In their store they have always cheerfully given demonstrations of how to diaper and care for diapers. Starter kits, beginning at $175, are really popular, and would include 2 doz. organic cotton prefold diapers, 6 covers, Biosoft liners, fleece liners, Dimpleskins Naturals Bum Bum Balm and a wet bag. They manufacture diaper covers and swim diapers (and have 2nds too).

You can expect to find products made of recycled plastic, locally made skincare products and an array of baby carriers from the Ergo Baby to Sakura bloom, as well as the Arms Reach co-sleeper bed and Bummis breastfeeding pillows, Bravado bras and pads, Lilla P origami tops and Medela breastfeeding products.

Improved Commuter Rail Service To The West Island

ScreenHunter_01-Jan.-12-11.00Looking at the affluent West Island demographics, it is strikingly similar to Philadelphia’s western suburbs in the “main line”. Those suburbs west of Philadelphia were called the “main line” because of the excellent commuter rail service that was created in the 1950′s. There is no practical reason why the West island couldn’t have such a service. Of course, the reason why there isn’t and why the freeways are jammed every day, is political.

Source: The Suburban

Traindelouest.ca wants to improve commuter rail service to the West Island and Vaudreuil-Soulanges

Like Laval and the South Shore, we need regular, reliable service with trains every half hour running from 6:00 AM to midnight. For this, commuter trains must have a dedicated commuter line and stop sharing the rails with freight traffic.

Montreal is opposed, but the decision is not in the bag. They put a priority on funding the airport shuttle, a prestige project of $600 millions that won’t serve a single commuter and will compete with the STM new 747 airport express bus.

As for the government, they believe the West Island have no political alternatives and take the West Island vote for granted no matter how hard our local MNA’s try. We have to show stronger political resolve and demand to be heard.

Movie Screening – ZEITGEIST: Moving Forward

The first Zeitgeist film (2007) was excellent. I am looking forward to seeing this new one, particularly now that the filmmaker has picked up the torch of sustainability.

Source: ZEITGEIST: MOVING FORWARD

Zeitgeist: Moving Forward, by director Peter Joseph, is a feature length documentary work which will present a case for a needed transition out of the current socioeconomic monetary paradigm which governs the entire world society. This subject matter will transcend the issues of cultural relativism and traditional ideology and move to relate the core, empirical “life ground” attributes of human and social survival, extrapolating those immutable natural laws into a new sustainable social paradigm called a “Resource-Based Economy.”

Ecocity World Summit 2011

If the major issues surrounding sustainable urban development are an everyday concern for you, don’t miss the Ecocity World Summit 2011, in Montréal, August 22-26 @ the Palais des Congres.

This major international conference will address a number of themes at the heart of ecocities: climate change, ecomobility, governance, the economy, built environment, etc.

ScreenHunter_01-Jan.-05-09.26

The Ecocity World Summit is the opportunity to present research projects and achievements which will help governments, researchers and industry professionals meet the challenges which they face in the quest for a healthier and more sustainable world.

The Dark Side Of Green Energy

This is a cautionary tale from Iceland for anyone in the Eastern townships considering opening up their land to natural gas “fracking”. Although I am sure many Quebecers have similar tales to tell about Hydro power.

Source: dreamland.is

How much unspoiled nature should we preserve and what do we sacrifice for clean, renewable energy? Dreamland gradually turns into a disturbing picture of corporate power taking over small communities.

Dreamland is a film about a nation standing at cross-roads. Leading up to the country’s greatest economic crisis, the government started the largest mega project in the history of Iceland, to build the biggest dam in Europe to provide Alcoa cheap electricity for an aluminum smelter in the rugged east fjords of Iceland. Today Iceland is left holding a huge dept and an uncertain future.

In Dreamland a nation with abundance of choices gradually becomes caught up in a plan to turn its wilderness and beautiful nature into a massive system of hydro-electric and geothermal power plants with dams and reservoirs. Clean energy brings in polluting industry and international corporations. It’s the dark side of green energy.

Secrecy, Wikileaks And The Death Of The Free Internet

The Wikileaks controversy has stirred up old debates about openness, government, corporate secrets and society’s right to information about its institutions. Few writers have acknowledged that the current, free Internet is the foundation, the sina qua non, of the debate.

Remarkably, the Internet has survived for 40 years because it is sustainable. It is open. It is honest (at least at the network level). And costs are shared, more or less, equally.

Without this sustainable foundation, Wikileaks and the surrounding debate would not exist. Ironically, it may be the Wikileaks controversy that destroys the open, free Internet.

Already, many law makers in Washington D.C. and Ottawa are calling for stricter network controls on the Internet in order to maintain national “security” secrets, to prevent the formation of other web sites like Wikileaks and so that “terrorists” don’t get us.

In countries like Russia and China, web sites are routinely blocked from the Internet and communicating to the rest of the world. Now, England is urging ISP’s to ban any web site that may be “pornographic” in the name of keeping children safe.

daniel_EllsbergAs Americans have known for 200 years, free speech is messy and sometimes dirty and even offensive. But that is the ironic principle behind free speech: once you start restricting some speech because it is offensive, eventually all of it gets censored, free thought is aborted and people cease to be free. Our free-flow of information on the Internet didn’t happen by accident or without the effort of thousands of early pioneers who shared a vision of open, free communications between free peoples.

That vision of free speech online is under threat by the Wikileaks scandal. At its heart, the Wikileaks scandal looks like a replay of the Pentagon papers released by journalist Daniel Ellsberg in 1971 that shamed the U.S. government and showed that the Johnson administration deliberately and repeatedly lied to Congress about the war in Vietnam. The response then was the same as today: shut down the source of the information leakage (rather than admit fault and take responsibility). The U.S. government sued the New York Times and won an injunction preventing the paper from publishing for 15 days in 1971.

This was the first successful attempt by the federal government to restrain the publication of a major newspaper since the Civil war. Luckily, the Supreme Court overturned this case and the Times resumed publishing the Pentagon papers.

This time around, however, the Supreme Court may not hold jurisdiction over Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, because he is not an American and his web site is hosted in Europe.

If free people don’t stand up and defend the right of whistle blowers to spread facts about the unlawful and dishonest actions of government and corporations, then we don’t have much to stand on. The continued existence of a free Internet and free people depends upon it.

Source: The Atlantic

It is possible for tiny actions to occasionally have huge consequences on the Internet – like the creation of a Facebook or a Wikileaks by tiny teams – because many thousands of people over decades set up the underlying structure of that seeming magic trick.

It seems to cost nothing to send an email, so we spend billions of dollars on spam. The existing Internet design is centered on creating the illusion of no-cost effort. But there is no such thing. It’s an illusion born of the idylls of youth, and leads to a distorted perception of the nature of responsibility. When there seems to be no cost, the idea of moderation doesn’t seem sensible.

Source: Wall Street Journal

Tomorrow morning the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will mark the winter solstice by taking an unprecedented step to expand government’s reach into the Internet by attempting to regulate its inner workings. In doing so, the agency will circumvent Congress and disregard a recent court ruling.