Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Broadening Perspectives - a collective work (Part II)

(At the beginning of 2013, The Green Elephant embarked on a journey to look for other bloggers to engage them on various green topics. Our first topic was on "Sustainability and Education" and you can read the articles here. Our second topic for the months of March and April is on Green Buildings and as usual, in our research we invariably touched on topics such as community building, innovation, zoning, urban agriculture, and other relevant topics. Our research is limited but we came to some common conclusions about growing a worthwhile city and shifting our paradigm of industrialization. If you wish to contribute to our work or want to suggest a topic, please contact Lauren at contact@brainboxltd.com.)

1.    How to Make Great, Green Cities: People, Water, and Streets - by Stephen Wade  

2.    Trash is the New Green - by Lauren Campbell-Kong 

3.    Zoning and Regulations - by Jin Kong 

4.    Zoning and Urban Agriculture - by Jin Kong


How to Make Great, Green Cities: People, Water, and Streets
 - by Stephen Wade

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A New Addition to Indianapolis' Green Initiatives - Interview with Greg Watson

by Laure Campbell Kong

Greg Watson is the owner and developer of Green With Indy, Indianapolis’ first curbside composting program. Greg is a small business owner and is now branching out; he began Green With Indy in 2009 and added the composting component just 6 months ago.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Zoning and Urban Agriculture – A Case for Shifting to an Agrarian Society

Humanism, properly speaking, is not an abstract system, but a culture, the whole way in which we live, act, think, and feel. It is a kind of imaginatively balanced life lived out in a definite social tradition. And, in the concrete, we believe that this, the genuine humanism, was rooted in the agrarian life . . .

-- I'LL TAKE MY STAND, The Twelve Southerners

Urban agriculture has become popular these days.[1] The movement of growing our own food and raising our own farm animals has been embraced by locavors, foodies, hippies and anarchists alike. The reasons for urban agriculture’s increasing popularity are many: some advocates for relocalization of food production to reduce carbon footprints of food,[2] some think it’s about food safety and security,[3] some want to save money,[4] some believe it to be a patriotic duty,[5] some believe in food sovereignty thereby claiming a defiance of government regulations and embracing self-reliance as a virtue;[6] then there are people like me who enjoy the labor of growing something, the love for food and connecting with it on more intimate—and often muddy—terms, and the nostalgia for having helped my parents grow all sort of things as a kid.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

How to Make Great, Green Cities: People, Water, and Streets - by Stephen Wade

(At the beginning of 2013, The Green Elephant - TGE - decided to embark on a journey; we decided to look for other bloggers and engage them on various green topics. We defy the new social media trend that less is more, that blogs are just the mundane. We wanted to inject wisdom and deep introspection into the new media culture. So we asked bloggers to write on topics we proposed and we asked them to cite to sources to direct our readers attention to proper knowledge. This is about learning and bringing joy to those who would want meaningful change. There are no empty slogans here, no fast remedies for our troubles. The articles are not meant to be something precise or linear; they are meant to be a composition in a work of art, to be used; the whole is meant to be more than its parts as interpreted by the reader, not the writer, and they are meant to be transformative in nature. So as I compile and edit them, I bring them to you individually, and at the end of every two months, as a whole. Stay tuned.

Today, we bring you a piece written by Stephen Wade of the 2nd Green Revolution. We asked him to contribute on the topic of green buildings; he wrote this specifically for us and we thank him for his efforts. You can learn more about Stephen on 2nd Green Revolution's Writers Spotlight.)

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

How to Make Great, Green Cities: People, Water, and Streets
 - by Stephen Wade

What does it mean to be green? In the modern era, its meaning has evolved from Rachel Carson’s documentation of pollution in Silent Spring, Teddy Roosevelt and and John Muir’s founding of the National Parks, and Henry David Thoreau’s solitary musings in Walden to a more complex, integrated, consumption-based, and urban meaning exhibited by Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth, the emergence of the ecological footprint concept, and reports by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) about creating equitable, healthy, and sustainable communities.

Simply put, New York City, once considered the antithesis of green, now has some of the lowest per capita energy consumption in the USA because of its extensive reliance on public transit.[1] If green is now analogous to urban, what are the elements that make for great urban places?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Green Nontoxic Remodeling Ideas for Common Home Upgrades - Article by Anna Hackman, Editor of Green Talk

(This article was originally published on Green Talk. We told Anna about our new initiative seeking out green bloggers to collaborate on various topics and she happily forwarded this for us to post under our green buildings topic for the months of March and April. We also have another article by Stephen Wade of the 2nd Green Revolution on green cities coming your way. Cheers) 

Vintage Paint Cans We worry about the toxicity of our personal care products, pesticides in our food, and leaching of chemicals.  However, shouldn’t we be equally worried about the chemicals contained in the building products we install in our homes?

I am no stranger to writing about green building products.  Just to give you some background about me for those new to the site, hubby and I built an energy star house starting 2003 with a mission to source only low toxic or non-toxic materials.  Back in the early 2000s this was no easy feat.
Sourcing green building products has gotten so much easier.  To make your journey easier than mine, I did some legwork for you.   Listed below are some chemicals dos and don’ts for these common household upgrades.

Monday, April 15, 2013

On Happiness and Sustainability - Inglorious Bastards of My Writing

It's April. A few things happen around this time of the year: my birthday, a steady reminder that I'm getting older; tax-day, a not so friendly reminder of things to do and bills to pay; and remembering Tiananmen, a constant crack of my brain on the walls of my sublime hope that one day we will be free of transgressions against our own.  

In light of these dark and depressing things surrounding the time of the year, April is not all that bad. Grass is beginning to bud from the rain-soaked lands, flowers can be seen from a distant; the constant bird-songs in early mornings serve-up a reminder that summer will soon follow, women will show a lot of skin, and children will invariably get sun burned from hours and hours of soaking in the fun.

So this is a time to be happy as it is an inglorious bastard of my writing.

Monday, April 8, 2013

'Nough Said

"The good want power, but to weep barren tears.
The powerful goodness want: worse need for them.
The wise want love, and those who love want wisdom;
And all best things are thus confused to ill."

- Prometheus Unbound 

Alexis de Tocqueville once said that democracy is an equation which balances freedom and equality on each side of the calculation.

Yet power, a principle constant in the equation for democracy, expresses as the variables of the human heart, of the passion, of the struggle for freedom, of corruption, of hatred, and of much human evil, consents the weak who coerces the strong to their level—power “reduces men to preferring equality in servitude to inequality in freedom.”

Power, reduces nonviolence to the power of violence; it reduces the struggle of a spiritual means to badly composed anger and frustrations as graffiti on blighted walls. Power reduces the way of life meant for greater things to a struggle of physical means; it transforms the coercive power of the politics to the accepted fashionable norms that sells.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

So Much of My Life Is Determined On Randomness

When I was young, my mother and I frequently traveled by train between Beijing and Lanzhou. The trip took more than two days and as reward for being quiet and on the promise of no tantrums, mom would always let me have the window seat. I treasured having a view to pass the boredom; it was the only means by which I could tolerate what felt like eternity.

I enjoyed watching farmers leaving their houses early in the morning, riding on the back of their water buffalo. Sometimes I would see children standing by the side of railroad, as close as they would dare, to catch a glimpse of the city folks roaring by on the strange locomotive.

Often, I was lost in the passing rural China. I wildly fantasized what it must’ve been like to live in a mud-hut. Occasionally I would focus my eyes on the dirt path next to the railroad to avoid my distant guilt for the inability to relate. As a five-year-old, I had no concepts of the rich and the poor, just enough to know that we lived in a building, had electricity and running water, while these folks had to walk a few miles to just get some water for the day.

Soon enough I learned that if I drop my eyes as close to the train as I could, and loose focus of my field of vision, life simply became a blur of lines: colorless, tasteless, and irrelevant. Yet when I blinked rapidly, I would see snapshots of the path underneath me, ever rock, every blade of grass, and every piece of the wooden rail-bed: full of color, patterns, and details... I would often imagine when there wasn’t a loud smoke belching locomotive roaring down at 60 miles per hour, children would walk by the railroad and pick up a rock to toss.

These days I avoid window seats on anything: airplanes, cars, and trains. I avoid having to relive the nostalgia for the fear of transporting my imagination. I fear the moment when I saw a rag-tag boy, picking his nose, snots crusted just above his lips, standing next to the railroad and wondering if he was going to be hungry that day...

These days, I drop my eyes close to my path, lost my focus, and rarely blink to catch the moments of details...

These days, I only dare to blink when I know there wasn’t a child staring back at my soul...

Late Night Fingerprints. - randomness from Jin

No matter how long, how high, how grim,
If I can sweep, nearly free, let my mind be tricked and story be told.
My life too precious, but it never leaves;
On solid ground, I let my words flow.
I am here, I am rotting, I am illness-stained;
I listen without pity, hear me not;
I bury without a shovel, smell of garbage, but it really don’t matter no more.
A different sound I hear, like milk and honey;
I asked myself if I am made for this world.
Golden roads, fixed, crumbled, fixed again,
A different taste, like spring freshness at the end of autumn;
Winter is here again, smelling and tasting cost the grown man his patience.
Play that song again, lock up them folks in the cells again;
But it really don’t matter no more.
All my life, cycles cooked onions in dreadful tears,
Cutting with a smile, square fits a few short years.
No matter how long, how high, how grim,
Let me sleep, nearly free, let my mind drift into the thicket plot untold.
Any day now, late night shadow remembers where the path leads.
Convince me to walk into the sun again,
The future is just that part of history.
Think sharp and preach slow,
Remembering but it don’t really matter no more.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A Conversation on Human Rights

Conversations change the world. But the participants of those conversations must carry weight and speak with force and conviction.

Without either, the dialogue becomes chatter and empty in meaning.