Archive for July, 2011

Straw-Bale Council Housing

Posted in Models, Research by Kate Archdeacon on July 28th, 2011

Source: guardian.co.uk


ModCell makes sustainable, prefabricated straw bales and sets up a ‘flying factory’ in a space such as a farmyard where wall panels for homes can be assembled close to where they are needed.” Click through to see the image gallery on the Guardian.

Two local councils in the UK have chosen to build straw-bale council houses, in order to decrease domestic GHG emissions.  The houses are extremely well-insulated, potentially reducing residents’ heating costs to 20 percent of those of conventional homes, and helping address the issue of fuel scarcity.  The straw-bale homes are built using locally produced hay-bales, and they achieve a higher fire safety rating than the required standards.

Read the full article by Cath Harris in the Guardian.


Local Harvest: Metasite for organic & local food

Posted in Models, Tools by Kate Archdeacon on July 26th, 2011

From the LocalHarvest website:

LocalHarvest is America’s #1 organic and local food website. We maintain a definitive and reliable “living” public nationwide directory of small farms, farmers markets, and other local food sources. Our search engine helps people find products from family farms, local sources of sustainably grown food, and encourages them to establish direct contact with small farms in their local area. Our online store helps small farms develop markets for some of their products beyond their local area.

The richness, variety, and flavor of our communities, food systems, and diets is in jeopardy. The exclusive focus on economic efficiency has brought us low prices and convenience through large supermarkets chains, agribusiness and factory farms, while taking away many other aspects of our food lives, like our personal relation with our food and with the people who produce it. More and more people are realizing this and actively working to turn the tide and to preserve a food industry based on family-owned, small scale businesses. They are our best guarantee against a world of styrofoam-like long-shelf-life tomatoes and diets dictated from corporate boardrooms. The Buy Local movement is quickly taking us beyond the promise of environmental responsibility that the organic movement delivered, and awakening the US to the importance of community, variety, humane treatment of farm animals, and social and environmental responsibility in regards to our food economy.

LocalHarvest was founded in 1998, and is now the number one informational resource for the Buy Local movement and the top place on the Internet where people find information on direct marketing family farms. We now have more than 20000 members, and are growing by about 20 new members every day. Through our servers, our website and those of our partners serve about three and a half million page views per month to the public interested in buying food from family farms. LocalHarvest is located in Santa Cruz, California, and was founded by Guillermo Payet, a software engineer and activist dedicated to generating positive social change through the Internet.

www.localharvest.org

Ethical Consumer is setting up a similar resource in Melbourne, Australia, and is seeking local involvement. KA


Urban Farming: Video showcase

Posted in Models, Movements by Kate Archdeacon on July 22nd, 2011

Source: Bright Farm Systems

Brightfarms was featured in the Wall Street Journal, in a video piece on the growing urban farming industry. Paul Lightfoot, BrightFarms CEO, savors the taste of locally grown tomatoes at The Science Barge.

While up front capital costs are higher, the Journal reports, rooftop greenhouse farms pay off with lower operating costs, an improved environmental impact and tastier vegetables.  The other enterprises featured in the 5-minute film are Brooklyn Granges and Gotham Greens.

Watch the video on the Brightfarms blog or over on WSJ.


Contested Streets: Breaking NY City Gridlock

Posted in Movements, Research by Kate Archdeacon on July 20th, 2011

Source: Streetfilms via Going Solar

From “Contested Streets: Breaking New York City Gridlock” by Clarence Eckerson, Jr:

Produced in 2006 as part of the New York City Streets Renaissance Campaign, Contested Streets explores the history and culture of New York City streets from pre-automobile times to present. This examination allows for an understanding of how the city — though the most well served by mass transit in the United States — has slowly relinquished what was a rich, multi-dimensional conception of the street as a public space to a mindset that prioritizes the rapid movement of cars and trucks over all other functions.

Central to the story is a comparison of New York to what is experienced in London, Paris and Copenhagen. Interviews and footage shot in these cities showcase how limiting automobile use is in recent years has improved air quality, minimized noise pollution and enriched commercial, recreational and community interaction. London’s congestion pricing scheme, Paris’ BRT and Copenhagen’s bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure are all examined in depth.

New York City, though to many the most vibrant and dynamic city on Earth, still has lessons to learn from Old Europe.

Watch the film on Vimeo


FARM:Shop – Growing Food in a London Shop

Posted in Movements by Kate Archdeacon on July 18th, 2011

From “Urban Farm in a Shop” on Urban Gardens:

FARM:shop is a workspace, cafe, and events venue packed to the rafters with living and breathing food–literally a farm in a shop. Asking themselves “how much food can we grow in a shop?” FARM:shop opened its doors in March and aspires to become the meeting place of choice for London’s food lovers and urban farmers, as well as a special place to rest one’s feet, have a coffee, and smell the countryside without ever leaving the city. Busy growing their idea, FARM:shop folks have filled the old space with a mini fish farm, vegetable garden, and are raising chickens and livestock.

The first FARM:shop, in Dalston, is the start of [a planned network of shops and grow sites across the UK.]

FARM:shop aims to:

  • Excite and inspire city dwellers to grow their own food, fabric and medicine and make an income doing this.
  • Create direct links between farms in the countryside with urban communities
  • Grow food commercially via a network of FARM:’s across cities and retail this food at FARM:shops
Read the full article on Urban Gardens

 


One Revolution: Bike Delivery Service

Posted in Movements by Kate Archdeacon on July 15th, 2011

One Revolution LLC is a member owned bike delivery service located in Burlington, Vermont. One Revolution’s mission is to provide expedient bicycle pick-up, delivery, marketing, and promotional services for individuals, local businesses, and organizations. We provide a delivery and promotional model for our partners whom share a common vision of sustainable, environmentally friendly, delivery of Vermont products while exerting a positive influence on the well being of our community. We provide bike delivery services to include catering delivery, wholesale and retail delivery, grocery delivery, CSA (community-supported agriculture) shares, compost and recycling, document delivery and publication distribution.

  • CSA and Farm Produce Bike Delivery
    Have your CSA share delivered to your door by bicycle. We work with Burlington area CSA farms to make farm fresh produce easily accessible to everyone. One Revolution will deliver your weekly share by bike to your home or office every week allowing you more time to create amazing meals.
  • Catering Delivery
    Local restaurants have partnered with One Revolution to offer bike delivery of catered meals. View menus from these great Vermont Businesses, place your order, and let them know you’d like it delivered by bike!
  • Revolution Compost (Pilot Program)
    Weekly food waste pick-up (and finished compost product return) by bicycle. This is your chance to not only reduce the amount of waste being trucked to landfill, but to reduce the amount of fossil fuels that would otherwise be used to truck this waste to landfill or industrialized compost facilities. Revolution Compost uses bicycles to provide this year-round service and recycles your kitchen scraps into rich organic compost.
www.onevt.com

 


Collaborative Consumption: Infographic

Posted in Movements, Tools by Kate Archdeacon on July 13th, 2011

Source: Fast Company‘s Co.Design


Infographic by Collaborative

From “Infographic Of The Day: A Tour Guide To Collaborative Consumption” by Morgan Clendaniel:

You might own some tools that you never use, or perhaps you have a backyard that you just don’t have the time to do anything interesting with. Until recently, those pieces of property mostly served as nagging reminders that you didn’t have enough time to do everything you wanted to do. Today, they can look like revenue streams, not wastes of money.

Ideas about ownership of property are slowly starting to change in this country. The success of Zip Car and of bike sharing programs in a few major cities are the vanguard of a host of different “collaborative consumption” services and businesses that allow people to monetize their own unused resources, or to find ways to get goods and services without purchasing them. This infographic shows some of the stuff that might be lying around your house that are just profits waiting to happen — and all the start-ups trying to help you along.

This infographic was made by the venture fund Collaborative–which invests in collaborative consumption businesses–and the Startup America Partnership in order to help illustrate the economic benefits of this idea.

Read the full article by Morgan Clendaniel to find out more about specific start-ups, including Park At My House and TaskRabbit (where you can get paid to assemble other people’s IKEA furniture).


Flexible Trading Systems: Mobile Phones as Debit Cards for Farmers

Posted in Movements by Kate Archdeacon on July 11th, 2011

Source: Nourishing the Planet: Worldwatch Institute


Image: Energy For All 2030 via flickr CC

From “Phone Banking for the Unbanked“, by Matt Styslinger:

You might have a few dollars in your wallet, but chances are most of the money you spend is through your credit or debit card. The cashless system we’ve grown accustomed to across North America, offers consumers instant access to products and services—giving us the freedom to buy whatever we want whenever we want it. Much of the developing world still relies solely on cash and barter transactions.

But now entrepreneurs in Africa are pioneering a remote electronic money network for the continent’s “unbanked” rural people, allowing customers to use their cell phones like a debit card. Investing in this social entrepreneurship could bring prosperity to markets that need it most. Over the past decade, cell phone use has increased fivefold in Africa. Worldwatch Institute’s Nourishing the Planet project traveled across sub-Saharan Africa over the last year, and has found that nearly everyone, from remote villagers in Ethiopia and Uganda to poor farmers in Niger, has a cell phone.

Farmers are using their phones to gain access to information and other things they didn’t have before. They can check crop prices before investing time in long trips to city markets, for example, giving them the option to wait until prices increase. Agricultural extension agents and development agencies use cell phones to inform farmers about changes in weather that could affect crops.

Thanks to the efforts of companies like Mobile Transactions in Lusaka, Zambia—which Worldwatch highlights in its recently released, State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet—Zambian cotton farmers without bank accounts can now electronically receive payments for their crop direct to their mobile phones. About 80 percent of Zambians, particularly in rural areas, don’t have bank accounts. By using mobile banking, farmers are not only able to get paid more quickly and transparently, but they can also use their mobile accounts to send money transfers, buy phone credit, pay school fees for their children, and order agriculture inputs such as fertilizer and seed. Electronic payments also allow them to build up a credit history over time, which will make getting loans easier in the future.

The cashless system has several benefits. First, money stored electronically is less likely to be stolen or misused. Second, electronic transactions can be instant—lowering transaction costs—whereas in-person cash transactions often mean investing time and money in transportation. Electronic money can benefit more marginalized people who often have to rely on middlemen to help them access markets.

But Mobile Transactions does not have the luxury of riding off of the coattails of highly successful ventures like Twitter and the iPhone. “We’ve faced similar challenges to any start-up of trying to do a lot with a little,” says the company’s CEO, Mike Quinn. “The investment funds are out there, but we are a new business in an emerging industry in a country that few people know much about.”

The investment needed to firmly establish mobile banking in Zambia is large, and even more is needed for it to go international. But the models are there. The technology is there. The expertise is there and growing daily. And according to Quinn, “There is no better place or time to be an entrepreneur in an emerging mobile payments industry.”

From “Phone Banking for the Unbanked“, by Matt Styslinger.


Community through Gardening: Post-Industrial UK

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on July 8th, 2011

Via The Ecologist

Photo: Henry/Bragg
Photo © Henry/Bragg

From “Blooming Britain photo exhibition tours RHS gardens this summer“:

In 2010, artists Julie Henry and Debbie Bragg visited post-industrial regions around the UK to photograph people and communities who enter gardening campaigns, including RHS Britain in Bloom and RHS It’s Your Neighbourhood. The images are an anthropological study of the dynamics between public display and the gardener’s social standing and explore how this impacts on the wider community.

Visiting ‘in Bloom’ and It’s Your Neighbourhood groups in Manchester, East Ayrshire, Fareham, Castle Point and Tower Hamlets in London, the artists said, “We were initially sceptical about photographing community gardening groups. We felt that communities didn’t really exist anymore. What we found when we visited various groups around the country blew us away. We found that community could exist in the most unlikely places, from a tower block to an alleyway, using gardening as a cohesive link to bind the community together and improve their environment”.

Check out a selection of Exhibition Images.

 


Sustainable Restaurant Association (UK): Network for Restaurants, Suppliers & Diners

Posted in Models, Movements by Kate Archdeacon on July 6th, 2011

Via Food Climate Research Network (FCRN)

The Sustainable Restaurant Association is a not for profit membership organisation helping restaurants become more sustainable and diners make more sustainable choices when dining out. We help our member restaurants source food more sustainably, manage resources more efficiently and work more closely with their community. Our independently verified star rating system means diners can choose a restaurant that matches their sustainability priorities. We recognise restaurants as one, two or three star sustainability champions depending on how they rate against a wide range of criteria covering 14 areas of sustainability. So, whether a diner’s main concern is animal welfare or carbon reduction, the SRA and its members are committed to a change for the better. We also help keep sustainability on the news agenda at a local and national level, running campaigns on issues such as finding more sustainable fish supplies, food waste and energy efficiency.

Ways in which we’ve helped restaurants be more sustainable.

Since our launch in March 2010 we’ve provided restaurants with hundreds of practical, cost saving, sustainable solutions across our three sustainable categories. Here are just a few examples of the varied ways in which the SRA has helped our members:

  • Society – Ping Pong, with 12 sites in London, wanted to engage with a local charity working with homeless people – we put them in touch with St Mungo’s and now they are working together. [UPDATE Feb 29, 2012: Ping Pong ended up working with a different charity, according to a St Mungo’s rep who contacted SCN.]
  • Environment – Quo Vadis, in Soho, asked to us solve their waste problem. The restaurant recognised it was sending too much to landfill. We introduced them to Harrow Waste. Now nothing goes to landfill, they have installed a glass crusher, cardboard and glass is separated from the rest and they are starting to recycle paper and plastic, saving thousands of pounds in the process.
  • Sourcing – In early 2011 all 11 Leon restaurants introduced a new item on its menu – the fish finger wrap and wanted to be sure that the cod was from a sustainable source. Our extensive research proved positive and now the wrap is Leon’s bestseller – making it sustainable in every sense.
www.thesra.org/

Well worth reading the SRA 2010 Report for more detail on the way it’s been working. KA