Archive for the ‘Movements’ Category

Movements refer to social and environmental movements located occurring in cities that are associated with contributing to urban sustainability. Although they may appear to be isolated, they contribute to a larger movement of action and thought. Consider the “relocalisation” movement. If you are part of such a movement you are welcome to post your experiences on the site. To do so visit the “How to use this site” page and follow the prompts.


Celebrate Local Food: Terra Madre Day 2013

Posted in Events, Movements, Visions by Kate Archdeacon on October 29th, 2013

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Now in its fifth year, Terra Madre DaySlow Food’s annual worldwide celebration of local food held on December 10 – will take place in communities across the globe. We invite everybody, whether you are a member or not, to join this international day of celebration. For one day, whoever and wherever you are, you can put local food in the spotlight through a myriad of different activities: From community picnics and food festivals, to film evenings, rallies and farmers’ markets, or even a simple dinner with friends.

The theme of Terra Madre Day 2013 is saving endangered foods. All around the world traditional foods are disappearing, including fruit and vegetable varieties, animal breeds and cheeses, as a result of an increasingly industrialized food system and fast modern life. Slow Food is working to list and protect these at-risk products on the Ark of Taste online catalog.

This Terra Madre Day we want to use December 10 to raise awareness of these products, along with the knowledge, techniques, cultures and landscapes behind their production, and let everyone know that they are at risk of disappearing.

You are free to celebrate Terra Madre Day in any way you want, but if you wish to embrace the theme, you can do this in a number of ways – either by celebrating an existing Ark product; or hunting down local endangered foods, adding them to the Ark of Taste and putting them at the centre of your celebrations. Once your have your product, you could ask a local chef to cook it, put it on the menu at local restaurants, present it to the community or hold an amateur cooking competition using it as an ingredient, or anything you wish.

If you are nominating a new product for the Ark, remember to nominate it using the online form. Actions speak louder than words!There is no better way to highlight the foods in your area that risk disappearing than dedicating a day to them along with all the other products being celebrated around world on the same day.

Together we’ll paint a picture of the incredible food biodiversity that surrounds us and by creating a symbolic map of these foods, we’ll send an even stronger message about its fragility. So get involved this December 10!

Find an event near you or create one of your own, as simple or complex, big or small as you wish. Get inspiration from past editions and download graphics on the Terra Madre Day website. And don’t forget to register your event – you will join the world map and be published alongside all the other initiatives happening at the same moment in a truly global celebration.

www.slowfood.com/terramadreday

Find the event on Facebook or follow #TMD2013 on Twitter


Never pay an Electricity Bill again? Sounds pretty good to me.

Posted in Models, Movements, Sustainable Cities, Visions by emma.gerard on August 21st, 2013

Source: Climate progress

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photo from: Habitat for Humanity of washington DC

From the article Why Habitat For Humanity’s Newest Homeowner Might Never Pay An Electricity Bill by JOANNA M. FOSTER

Lakiya’s new home is the first super energy-efficient passive house in D.C. It also just happens to be a Habitat for Humanity home.

The house doesn’t look like a futuristic spaceship, but it is different from the other small pre-fab houses along the street. It is a two home duplex with a big wooden porch in front and, of course, solar panels on the roof.

Lakiya’s house started out two years ago as an entry in the Department of Energy’s biannual Solar Decathlon. Dubbed “Empowerhouse” for the competition, it was an ambitious concept brought to life by engineering and architecture students from Stevens Institute of TechnologyParsons The New School for Design and Milano School for International Affairs, management and Urban Policy, many of whom had never even wielded a hammer before attempting this elaborate construction project. The team’s dream was to build a solar-powered house that could not only compete with the most cutting-edge technologies out there, but was actually affordable and something ordinary people would want to live in.

According to Josh Layrea, one of the Stevens engineers, the winning entry from a German team two years before cost over two million dollars. “It was an impressive piece of engineering,” Laryea concedes. “But made for exhibit, not habitation. The entire outside of the house was covered in solar panels.” Laryea and his teammates had a different goal. In a way, they were in a competition of their own, in which they were competing against themselves to see if they could create something that Habitat for Humanity could use not only as a home for a low-income family in the Deanwood area of D.C. but also as an affordable housing prototype for Habitat going forward. The Stevens-Parson-Milano house won the top prize for cost-effectiveness at the Solar Decathlon.

Lakiya’s house was built based on passive house design principles. The basic concept of passive house is to lower energy consumption by being super-insulated and practically airtight. Empowerhouse has 12-inch thick walls and triple-glazed windows and, as a result, uses up to 90 percent less energy for heating and cooling than an ordinary house. Such low energy consumption enabled Empowerhouse to have one of the smallest solar panel arrays in the competition, which helps keep construction and maintenance costs down.

As anyone who worked on Empowerhouse hoped, Lakiya’s home is not the end of the dream. Habitat is gearing up to build six more passive houses in Ivy City, a short drive from Deanwood. They’ll look a bit different from Empowerhouse, more townhouses than duplex, but they’ll cost about the same and hopefully pass on the same savings.

“As much as we can afford, we would like to have the highest standard of energy efficiency available for our homeowners,” said Susanne Slater, President and CEO of D.C. Habitat for Humanity. “Our whole mission is to provide affordable housing to low income families, and if homeowners pay less in energy costs, that helps us reach that goal.”

“I really believe that with the mounting cost of electricity, passive houses with solar panels are going to take off,” said Slater. “And our homeowners are going to be out in front of the movement.”

>>> You can read the original article on Climate Progress


A world without bees

Posted in Movements, Research by Jessica Bird on July 1st, 2013

Source: Fast Co.DESIGN

WHOLE FOODS MARKET PRODUCE DEPARTMENT
Photo: PRNewsFoto

From the article ‘This is what our grocery shelves would look like without bees‘ by Sam Medina:

Last winter’s so-called Beepocalypse ravaged U.S. bee colonies like nothing that had come before. The country’s beekeepers reported that 31.1% of their colonies perished in the months spanning last fall through early 2013. The number of bee casualties in that period–twice that considered natural–is in keeping with rising honeybee mortality rates of the last six years. Scarier still, scientists aren’t exactly sure as to the cause for the degrading health of bee populations–something that should give you great cause for concern. After all, without bees, you can kiss your favorite fruits and nuts goodbye. Now, if you can manage it, imagine life without apples, mangoes, or almonds.

Well, you don’t have to. Earlier this week, a Whole Foods store in Providence, Rhode Island, temporarily removed all of its produce that is grown with the help of pollinators like bees. It then posted the photographic results online, in which whole parts of the fruit and vegetable department are seen to be completely barren. You can almost spot the tumbleweed. In a press release, Whole Foods says the stunt was part of the “Share the Buzz” campaign, a joint project with The Xerces Society that seeks to “raise awareness” about the importance of bees (honeybees in particular) to the health and vibrancy of our food system. Bees are the unsung heroes behind most of the world’s produce supply, and along with other pollinators like bats and birds, they are integral to growing and sustaining at least a third of its crop production.

Or as Whole Foods puts it: One of every three bites of food comes from plants pollinated by honeybees and other pollinators. Yet, major declines in bee populations threaten the availability of many fresh ingredients consumers rely on for their dinner tables. In total, the Providence store pulled 237 of 453 products off their shelves, amounting to just over half of the shop’s entire yield for the department. The variety of the ghost produce is astounding: Apples, avocados, carrots, citrus fruits, green onions, broccoli, kale, onions, and more would be obsolete or very expensive to grow without flourishing bee colonies.

Whole Foods says that consumers should be mindful of these facts and be proactive with, here it comes, their purchasing choices.

  • Bee organic: Buying organic is an easy way to support pollinators.
  • Bee savvy at home: Most pest problems can be solved without toxic and persistent pesticides.
  • Bee a gardener: Plant bee-friendly flowers and fruits.

[…]

>>> You can read the original article on Fast Co.DESIGN.
>>> You can learn more about ‘share the buzz‘ from Whole Foods.


Cyclists account for 24% of London’s morning commute

Posted in Movements, Research by Jessica Bird on June 27th, 2013

Source: The Guardian

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Photo by Karla Lopez via Flickr CC

From the article ‘Cyclists make up a quarter of London vehicles says TfL‘ by Laura Laker:

Cyclists make up an incredible 24% of vehicles in London’s morning rush hour, according to Transport for London (TfL) figures . The arresting statistic formed from a mass census of cyclists in London – apparently the biggest of its kind to date – is adding weight to campaigners’ and cycling proponents’ arguments that the bicycle is no longer the transport of the minority, and that we need to take the bicycle seriously as a means of mass transport.The numbers on some headline routes are perhaps not surprising to anyone who has squashed in with scores of cyclists at the traffic lights in London’s morning rush hour, though they do make previous cycling targets look shamefully unambitious. […]

London’s new cycling commissioner, Andrew Gilligan, told the Guardian: “Cycling is clearly a mass mode of transport in central London and until now it hasn’t been treated as such. Nearly all provision for cycling is based on the presumption that hardly anyone cycles, that you can make do with shoving cyclists to the side of the road and that just clearly is wrong.” Since [London Mayor Boris] Johnson’s cycling vision was launched in March, there have been fears that the proposed £913m funding for cycling will suffer at the hands of George Osborne’s spending review, due tomorrow. Gilligan remains optimistic, however, and says although the money is a lot more than previously spent on cycling, it’s not a lot compared to TfL’s overall budget. As Sir Peter Hendy, TfL’s transport commissioner, noted at the cycling vision’s City Hall launch, we get more for our money from cycling infrastructure than for other mass transport systems. He wants to make cycling “one of his highest priorities”. As campaigners point out, urban cycling is still dominated by a minority. The next goal is surely to get everyone else on a bike.

The London Cycling Campaign’s chief executive, Dr Ashok Sinha, said: “The latest cycling figures from TfL simply underline that, given the right circumstances, a large proportion of London’s population would opt to cycle to work. “The ultimate goal must be to enable people of all ages and backgrounds to feel safe enough to cycle for everyday local journeys, not just commuters. The good news is that Boris Johnson gets this and understands that investing in cycling saves money in the long run. That’s why he must resolutely defend his impressive new cycling programme from impending Treasury cuts.” […]

>>> You can read the full article here.


Obama’s plan for climate action: Infographic

Posted in Models, Movements, PostCarbon by Jessica Bird on June 26th, 2013

Source: tcktcktck via Post Carbon Institute
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Infographic: tcktcktck

From ‘Infrographic: What’s in Obama’s Climate Plan?‘ by Heather Libby:

In a major speech today, U.S. President Barack Obama has made the fight against climate change a priority for his second term. Saying he “refuses to condemn your generation and future generations to a planet that’s beyond fixing,” Obama outlined the first comprehensive U.S. Climate Action Plan. […] While the details of much of the Plan have yet to be decided and his continued support for natural gas and carbon capture and sequestration will likely be met with criticism, Obama’s all-encompassing plan to tackle climate change is being seen as a positive signal for bold action from the United States.

>>> You can access the infographic and full article on the tcktcktck website.


24 TED Talks That Will Help Save the Food System: FoodTank List

Posted in Models, Movements, Visions by Kate Archdeacon on May 30th, 2013

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Photo via FoodTank

The magnificent crew over at FoodTank have put together a rather special list:

 

“TED is a non-profit devoted to “ideas worth spreading”, and you can find literally thousands of free -inspiring and awesome- talks from experts and innovators around the world. We’ve decided to highlight 24 TED talks specifically around food issues that we found compelling and worth sharing. Please check out and watch as many of these as you can. And, most importantly, share this with 24 friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers who might be open to watching a few of these insightful talks – and learning more about the food system.”

  1. Roger Thurow: The Hungry Farmer – My Moment of Great Disruption
  2. Mark Bittman: What’s Wrong with What We Eat
  3. Anna Lappe: Marketing Food to Children
  4. Ellen Gustafson: Obesity + Hunger = 1 Global Food Issue
  5. Tristram Stuart: The Global Food Waste Scandal
  6. Brian Halweil: From New York to Africa: Why Food Is Saving the World
  7. Fred Kaufman: The Measure of All Things
  8. LaDonna Redman: Food + Justice = Democracy
  9. Jose Andres: Creativity in Cooking Can Solve Our Biggest Challenges
  10. Jamie Oliver’s TED Prize Wish: Teach Every Child About Food
  11. Dan Barber: How I Fell in Love with a Fish
  12. Carolyn Steel: How Food Shapes Our Cities
  13. Ann Cooper: Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children
  14. Ron Finley: A Guerrilla Gardener in South Central L.A.
  15. Tama Matsuoka Wong: How I Did Less and Ate Better, Thanks to Weeds
  16. Stephen Ritz: Green Bronx Machine: Growing Our Way Into a New Economy
  17. Angela Morelli: The Global Water Footprint of Humanity
  18. Birke Baehr: What’s Wrong With Our Food System
  19. Graham Hill: Why I’m a Weekday Vegetarian
  20. Joel Salatin: Thinking About Soil
  21. Roger Doiron: A Subversive Plot
  22. Britta Riley: A Garden in My Apartment
  23. Arthur Potts Dawson: A Vision for Sustainable Restaurants
  24. Ken Cook: Turning the Farm Bill into the Food Bill
>> Go to the FoodTank website to follow up on any or all of these talks.
>> foodtank.org


Sharing the (sour)dough: Pasta Madre

Posted in Movements by Kate Archdeacon on May 23rd, 2013

Sourdough for sharing

From Hands into the Dough (in the latest Slow Food International newsletter):

Nothing is more satisfying than preparing your own bread at home, using your flour of choice, kneading the dough, waiting while it rises and then finally savoring its aroma fresh out of the oven. However, for amateur and professional bakers alike, real bread requires the use of the ancient sourdough technique – the cultivation and use of a starter dough that provides a diversity of natural yeasts and bacteria.

Each year the Pasta Madre (mother dough) food community (part of Slow Food’s Terra Madre network) organizes Pasta Madre Day – a day celebrated across Italy with events to promote traditional sourdough bread. Free pieces of mother dough are handed out with recipes and information is provided on where to source good flour.

Riccardo Astolfi, the community’s founder, says: “the easiest way to start is to ask somebody for a piece of the mother dough they are already using.” If you are in Italy, the groups’ website www.pastamadre.net lists more than 1,000 bakers who are willing to give away a piece of their dough to any interested home bakers. If not, you can follow the follow instructions to prepare your own sourdough starter.

>> Read the full article for more, including instructions on making sourdough


Energy co-ops retrofit to lower bills and emissions

Posted in Models, Movements by Jessica Bird on May 2nd, 2013

Source: The Guardian

CARBON CO-OP
Photo from the Carbon Co-op

From the article “Energy co-ops are cutting household bills alongside carbon emissions” by Simon Birch

For customers, trust is key when it comes to getting advice on improving energy efficiency – and co-operatives have the edge.

Ruth Rosselson is an environmental pioneer. The freelance writer and community trainer is one of the first homeowners to sign up with the Manchester-based Carbon Co-op for a programme of energy-efficiency improvements that will transform her cold and draughty house into a warm and toasty low-energy home. “The main motivation for making my house more energy-efficient is that currently it’s so cold and damp,” says Rosselson, 42, speaking from her Manchester semi that she shares with her partner, Justin. “We also care deeply about the global environment and so we wanted to improve the carbon efficiency of the house.”

Carbon Co-op, which launched in 2011, is one of a new generation of co-ops that are now aiming to address the critical issue of climate change by making houses more energy-efficient, which in turn will slash carbon emissions and in the long-run save homeowners money. “The UK has a legally binding target for cutting carbon emissions by 80% by 2050 from a 1990 baseline,” says Carbon Co-op’s Jonathan Atkinson. “At the same time, escalating fuel bills are leading to more and more people experiencing fuel poverty. Consequently we’re aiming high and offering packages of retrofit improvements to householders that will cut both energy bills and carbon emissions.” […]

“We take the whole house approach to retrofitting and recommend a package of complementary measures such as wall and loft insulation that will improve the energy performance of a house,” says Atkinson. “And because we have a strong ethical strand to our work, we aim to source materials from local businesses such as highly energy-efficient windows from the Green Building Store in West Yorkshire.”

So what’s the key benefit of operating as a co-op in this sector? “The big issue in the retrofitting industry is that of trust,” replies Atkinson. “The big energy companies dominate the energy-efficiency market because they are forced to by Ofgem, the energy regulator. However, very few people trust the big energy companies any more because of the recent mis-selling scandals.” He says people are increasingly suspicious of energy companies trying to sell them big-scale changes, thinking that all the companies want is for their bills to increase. “As a co-op, we’re community orientated and householder-owned with no external shareholders,” says Atkinson. […]

The Birmingham-based Energy Saving Co-op, which like Carbon Co-op launched in 2011, has similar ambitions to be a national player in the energy-efficiency retrofit market. “We’ve already retrofitted 50 homes with a target of completing 600 homes by the end of the year, two thousand homes in 2014 and a plan to eventually operate nationally,” says the chief executive and co-founder Ewan Jones, who aims to fund this expansion programme through its current share offer.

Financing the retrofit ambitions of both Carbon Co-op and the Energy Saving Co-op is a major challenge though both co-ops and the wider co-op movement are set to benefit from the green deal, the government’s flagship programme to make millions of homes more energy-efficient, which was launched this year. Essentially a type of personal loan where you pay for the work over time through your energy bill, the green deal is set to kickstart the energy-efficiency market – and co-ops and social enterprises are lining up to take a slice of the action. The Energy Saving Co-op, for example, is now working with a number of co-ops which will act as green deal energy assessors including Energywise, a new Birmingham co-op and the Jericho Foundation, a social enterprise which will install the energy saving kit. […]

>>> Read the full article on The Guardian website.
>>> Find out more about Carbon Co-op and  the Energy Saving Co-op on their websites


Become a Green Ape Today

Posted in Movements by Kate Archdeacon on April 10th, 2013

Green Apes Screen Grab

Sustainable Cities Net’s mothership, the Victorian Eco-Innovation Lab (VEIL) has become a Green Apes Jungle Guardian (!!!) and so we’re doing a shout-out to our networks to let you know that the Green Apes app is now available online.

What’s a Green Ape and why would you want the app?

From the website

Build & share your green profile and kick some jungle butt!

    • get points for everyday sustainable actions
    • track your progress
    • compete and collaborate with friends
    • find answers, inspire and be inspired

Book your tree in the jungle! join the ultimate sustainable community

We (VEIL) are pretty interested in behaviour change tools that are appealing, fun, or just not mind-numbingly terrifying.  A quick look at the YouTube video and the website indicates that this app might be quite fun to use, although it’s pretty new (version 1.1) and may have a few issues. It also requires a facebook log-in. What will be really interesting is what happens if/when it reaches a large audience of users and glitches get ironed out.  Unexpected (and hopefully awesome) results should follow.

>> http://www.greenapes.com/en

>> https://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=597932602


Financing energy efficiency: Learning from Thailand

Posted in Models, Movements by Jessica Bird on April 4th, 2013

Source: Greenpages

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Photo by Asian Development Bank via flickr cc

From ‘Lessons from Thailand: Mobilizing Investment in Energy Efficiency‘ by Louise Brown and Athena Ballesteros.

[…] The development of Thailand’s energy efficiency sector is an interesting case study. It demonstrates how strong government leadership combined with strategic support from international climate finance can drive the transition toward an energy-efficient economy. In the early 1990s, Thailand’s economy was growing rapidly at 10 percent per year; the power sector was growing even faster. The government recognized that conserving energy would provide a low-cost way to meet its citizens’ rising demand for energy.

It responded by passing a law in 1992 that set energy efficiency standards for industry and established an Energy Conservation Promotion Fund, which raised funds for energy efficiency projects by taxing petroleum products. The government also introduced a demand-side management plan, using about $40 million in climate finance from the Global Environment Facility (an international climate fund) and the Australian and Japanese governments. This plan included public awareness campaigns, setting energy efficiency standards for buildings and appliances, and demand-side planning to better manage the timing of consumer energy use.

The state energy generation utility successfully implemented the demand-side management plan, with impressive results: The utility achieved 15,700 gigawatt hours of energy savings by 2012, exceeding its own energy-savings targets. Key to the plan’s success was the fact that it was designed in close coordination with the private sector, carefully tailored to the Thai context, and widely disseminated through public awareness campaigns, resulting in strong support from industry and the public. Furthermore, the utility underwent considerable staff expansion and training to build its capacity to effectively implement the plan.

Financing Low-Carbon Projects in Thailand: While the demand-side management plan yielded positive results, an important barrier remained: Thailand’s local banks had a limited understanding of energy efficiency projects, making it challenging for potential developers to access financing for such projects. The Thai government took action by establishing an Energy Efficiency Revolving Fund in 2002, offering credit lines—initially at no interest—to local banks so that they could provide loans for energy efficiency projects. The Revolving Fund made commercial banks more familiar with energy efficiency projects, and by 2010, it had financed projects worth a total investment of $453 million, resulting in energy cost savings in the region of $154 million each year. The financial incentives to banks, combined with the enhanced awareness of energy efficiency, were key to the success of the Revolving Fund. Another critical factor was that the government had a reliable source of funding from the Energy Conservation Promotion Fund to invest in the Revolving Fund, so it did not need to rely on international support.

What Can We Learn from Thailand? Thailand has been able to transition smoothly from readiness activities—such as capacity-building, awareness-raising, and demonstration—to large-scale investments. It is now embarking on a 20-year energy efficiency development plan funded through the Energy Conservation Promotion Fund, which aims to reduce the country’s overall energy consumption by 20 percent by 2030. Other countries can learn from Thailand’s experience of combining strong national leadership with strategic use of climate finance for carefully targeted readiness activities. […]

>>> Read the full article, and learn more about the Thailand case study on the World Resources Institute’s website.
>>> You can follow the WRI’s six part blog series on Mobilizing Clean Energy Finance, which draws from their recent report Mobilizing Climate Investment.