Posts Tagged ‘community’

Meals on (Bicycle) Wheels: One part of a smart sustainable community system

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on June 27th, 2012

Source: Nourishing the Planet: Worldwatch Institute

From “Santropol Roulant: A Leaner, Greener Meals on Wheels” by Phillip Newell:

Santropol Roulant (Santropol is community, roulant means rolling in French) is an [intergenerational] organization providing healthy, sustainable meals to homebound Montreal citizens. Instead of relying on fossil-fuel powered cars like traditional Meals-on-Wheels, this group delivers with a more carbon-friendly option—bicycles.

But eliminating petrochemicals from their delivery routes wasn’t enough for the organization, so the group hired Natural Step (a non-profit sustainability research and education group) to help them further reduce their environmental impact. This is accomplished through Eco-Challenge, which is an action plan designed by Natural Step to help Santropol Roulant become even more sustainable.

Taking their organization’s sustainability two steps further than biking to deliver meals to the disadvantaged, Santropol Roulant grows a variety of fruits and vegetables on an organic rooftop garden, and recycle their food waste in the basement through vermicomposting. Vermicomposting is using worms to help decompose food waste for compost. That compost can be distributed to urban farmers who are starting their own backyard or roof-top gardens.

In addition to using a low-emission transportation source, Santropol Roulant also sponsors a community bike shop, where it educates local residents about maintenance and repairs.

[…]

Read the original article by Phillip Newell for Nourishing the Planet.

 


Fix-it culture thriving in Amsterdam repair cafes.

Posted in Models, Movements by Jessica Bird on May 18th, 2012

Source: NY Times


Photo from 1010uk via flickr CC

From “An Effort to Bury a Throwaway Culture One Repair at a Time” by Sally McGrane

AMSTERDAM — An unemployed man, a retired pharmacist and an upholsterer took their stations, behind tables covered in red gingham. Screwdrivers and sewing machines stood at the ready. Coffee, tea and cookies circulated. Hilij Held, a neighbor, wheeled in a zebra-striped suitcase and extracted a well-used iron. “It doesn’t work anymore,” she said. “No steam.” Ms. Held had come to the right place. At Amsterdam’s first Repair Cafe, an event originally held in a theater’s foyer, then in a rented room in a former hotel and now in a community center a couple of times a month, people can bring in whatever they want to have repaired, at no cost, by volunteers who just like to fix things.

Conceived of as a way to help people reduce waste, the Repair Cafe concept has taken off since its debut two and a half years ago. The Repair Cafe Foundation has raised about $525,000 through a grant from the Dutch government, support from foundations and small donations, all of which pay for staffing, marketing and even a Repair Cafe bus. Thirty groups have started Repair Cafes across the Netherlands, where neighbors pool their skills and labor for a few hours a month to mend holey clothing and revivify old coffee makers, broken lamps, vacuum cleaners and toasters, as well as at least one electric organ, a washing machine and an orange juice press.

“In Europe, we throw out so many things,” said Martine Postma, a former journalist who came up with the concept after the birth of her second child led her to think more about the environment. “It’s a shame, because the things we throw away are usually not that broken. There are more and more people in the world, and we can’t keep handling things the way we do. I had the feeling I wanted to do something, not just write about it,” she said. […] “I think it’s a great idea,” said Han van Kasteren, a professor at the Eindhoven University of Technology who works on waste issues. “The social effect alone is important. When you get people together to do something for the environment, you raise consciousness. And repairing a vacuum cleaner is a good feeling.” […]

Ms. Tellegen added that older people in particular find a niche at the Repair Cafe. “They have skills that have been lost,” she said. “We used to have a lot of people who worked with their hands, but our whole society has developed into something service-based.” Evelien H. Tonkens, a sociology professor at the University of Amsterdam, agreed. “It’s very much a sign of the times,” said Dr. Tonkens, who noted that the Repair Cafe’s anti-consumerist, anti-market, do-it-ourselves ethos is part of a more general movement in the Netherlands to improve everyday conditions through grass-roots social activism.

“It’s definitely not a business model,” Ms. Postma said. She added that because the Repair Cafe caters to people who find it too expensive to have their items fixed, it should not compete with existing repair shops. The Repair Cafe Foundation provides interested groups with information to help get them started, including lists of tools, tips for raising money and marketing materials. Ms. Postma has received inquiries from France, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Ukraine, South Africa and Australia. […]

Theo van den Akker, an accountant by day, had taken on the case of the nonsteaming iron. Wearing a T-shirt that read “Mr. Repair Café,” Mr. van den Akker removed the plastic casing, exposing a nest of multicolored wires. As he did, Ms. Held and Ms. van der Rhee discussed the traditional Surinamese head scarves that Ms. Held, who was born in Suriname, makes for a living. When Mr. van den Akker put the iron back together, two parts were left over — no matter, he said, they were probably not that important. He plugged the frayed cord into a socket. A green light went on. Rusty water poured out. Finally, it began to steam.

Read the full article by Sally McGrane.


The Garage Sale Trail

Posted in Events, Movements by Jessica Bird on April 13th, 2012


Photo by Eastlaketimes via Flickr CC

From The Garage Sale Trail: Thousands of garage sales all over Australia on one huge day – Saturday 5th May 2012

The Garage Sale Trail is about sustainability, community & creativity. It’s a organisational framework that enables the peer-to-peer exchange of assets, resources and money on a hyper local level but with national scale. Garage Sale Trail is a platform for anyone who wants to make some money or raise money for a cause and for anyone who wants to connect with their community. That’s makers & creators, local business, households, cultural institutions, charities and community groups.

In brief, the Garage Sale Trail is about making sustainability both fun & social and using the Internet to get people off the Internet:

  • The Garage Sale Trail is a program that enables the peer-to-peer exchange of assets, resources and money on a hyper local level but with national scale. It happens all over Australia on one day, Saturday May 5th 2012
  • The Garage Sale Trail is about sustainability, creativity, community and micro-enterprise
  • The Garage Sale Trail is a platform for anyone who wants to make some money or raise money for a cause and for anyone who wants to connect with their community.
  • The Garage Sale Trail is for makers & creators, local business, households, cultural institutions, charities and community groups
  • The Garage Sale Trail a perfect way to discover treasure, de-clutter, have fun, make money, make a positive contribution and make neighbourhood connections
  • You can get involved by registering your sale online, shopping on the day – May 5th 2012 and/or donate to the Garage Sale Trail Foundation

FOR SELLERS:

  • If you are a household the Garage Sale Trail is the perfect way to de-clutter & make a little pocket money
  • If you are a maker or creator, use the Garage Sale Trail as an opportunity to market your wares to an audience who want to discover treasure
  • If you are a local business it’s an opportunity to connect to your neighbourhood and make positive contribution to your community
  • If you’re a community group or cultural institution the Garage Sale Trail is the perfect way to fundraise and / or connecting to your local community

FOR BUYERS:

  • Garage Sale Trail is the perfect way to discover treasure
  • Garage Sale Trail is the biggest community-based marketplace
  • The Garage Sale Trail is the best way to find a bargain

Use your mobile on the day to find Garage Sales near you: www.truelocal.com.au

Register your garage sale or plan your trail by visiting garagesaletrail.com.au

The Garage Sale Trail website also has some good tips on holding a garage sale, keeping your sale green, and haggling for a purchase! – [JB]


Prison Garden Programs: Improving Health, Increasing Sustainability and Contributing to Community

Posted in Models, Movements by Jessica Bird on March 16th, 2012


Photo: agrilifetoday via Flickr CC

From “Prison Gardens a Growing Trend, Feeding Inmates on the Inside and Food Banks on the Outside” by Rachel Cernansky:

Nelson Mandela may have started it all when he was in prison—”A garden is one of the few things in prison that one could control,” he wrote in his autobiography. “Being a custodian of this patch of earth offered a small taste of freedom.”

But the idea probably rose to national fame only earlier this past decade, when the Garden Project of San Francisco started selling fresh produce to Alice Waters’s acclaimed Chez Panisse restaurant. Catherine Sneed, the woman who in 1992 founded that project, which is a post-release program for ex-prisoners, did so because she had already seen such success with the Horticulture Program at the San Francisco County Jail, where she would go out on a daily basis with prisoners to work on the farm within the boundaries of the jail. The vegetables they grew were donated to soup kitchens and homeless shelters. Her moment of realization of a need for a post-release program came when one student of hers asked the visiting sheriff for permission to stay and work on the farm; Sneed recalled, “he had nothing on the outside.”

She started a trend. An increasing number of prisons are launching gardening programs: on-site gardens improve the nutritional intake of inmates and as a direct result can reduce violence and improve participants’ mental health, teaches horticultural skills that can be used upon inmates’ release (slashing recidivism rates), and also often produce surplus that is sent to food banks or other community centers or services. Here’s just a sampler of such programs that have started since Sneed’s Garden Project, or even before:

– The Insight Garden Program, also in the Bay Area, runs a 1,200 square-foot organic flower garden at the the medium-security San Quention Prison, where classes are given to teach inmates about gardening, environmental sustainability, and community care through gardening.

– Farther down the coast, the California Institute for Women runs an organic garden that sends fresh produce straight to the prison kitchen and the hospital kitchen, and is also geared to establish connections between the women and the outside community.

The Greenhouse Project on New York’s Riker’s Island has seen tremendous success, while in Wisconsin, 28 adult correctional institutions started on-site gardening projects last year. Each facility is producing thousands of pounds of vegetables per year—the highest yield being 75,000 pounds of produce, a quarter of which is donated to local food banks.

– Inmates at Washington State’s McNeil Island Corrections Center have transformed an acre of lawn in the middle of the facility into an organic vegetable patch filled with tomatoes, peppers, pumpkins and other plants—and composting units. The state has several other prison gardens that send produce to local food banks.

– Greenleaf Gardens runs a Prison Horticulture Vocational Program in New York’s Westchester County, where produce from a one-acre garden that is maintained by inmates is distributed to people in need in the area.

Prison garden projects exist in New Zealand and London and no doubt in numerous countries in between. There’s even a how-to book about it (although it’s out of print), and some programs have ways the outside community can get involved. So if you’re looking for a way to green your neighborhood…

For more information about the success of The Greenhouse Program on Riker’s Island, follow the link to the article. -JB


Solar Mosaic: Invest in Solar Projects Anywhere

Posted in Models, Movements by Jessica Bird on February 28th, 2012

Source: Solar Mosaic


Photo: © Solar Mosaic

One of the biggest barriers to converting to solar power has always been the initial outlay involved in the installation of panels, and connecting to the grid where necessary. In the last ten years the concept of a Solar Lease, similar to that of a car lease, has led to the expansion of the industry with traditional investors being banks, energy companies, and private equity firms. US organisation Solar Mosaic, based in Oakland California, have opened up the idea of solar leasing so that anyone can invest in solar projects to help local communities and “Bank on the Sun”; “Mosaic is a platform where people come together to create local clean energy in their communities and around the world.”

The Solar Mosaic website explains how their platform works:

1) Invest in a Project
Choose a solar project to invest in. Each project has been carefully vetted by Solar Mosaic to ensure that your investment creates local clean energy, green jobs and benefits a site host that is financially secure and has a good roof.

2) Your Project is Installed
After you and all your friends invest in the project, the project will be installed. You’ll receive updates as your project is funded, installed and connected to the grid.

3) Get Paid Back
As your investment produces clean solar electricity, the building owner will save thousands of dollars on their utility bills. Low monthly lease payments along with other incentives will go towards paying you back. All of our current projects operate under a zero-interest loan model, meaning that if you put $100 in, you’ll get $100 back over the number of years specified in the project.

 

What’s in a name?
Tile mosaics are works of art where many pieces come together to form a whole. In the same way, Solar Mosaics are solar projects where many people come together to fund a solar installation.

Mosaic is a place where you can create and fund solar projects
The solar economy is undergoing unprecedented growth. We’ve created Mosaic so you can invest in solar power anywhere and take part in the solar revolution.

Mosaic is helping to build the new energy economy
We’re a new way of financing and unleashing solar for communities across the world. Mosaic’s mission is to democratize the financial and environmental benefits of solar.

The projects are powered by people like you
Together we can create a world powered by 100% clean energy. We are excited to have you join Mosaic. Sign up and invest today.

 

Solar Mosaic have also produced an interactive guide to help in the development of your own solar project.

Read more about Solar Mosaic and their current projects on their website.


Traffic Roundabout: Award-Winning Civic Space

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on February 1st, 2012

Source: City Parks Blog

Photo: Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects

From “A Design that Celebrates the People”: Normal, IL Traffic Circle Wins Smart Growth Award as New Civic Space” by Colleen Gentles:

[In December last year], EPA announced the winners of the 2011 National Award for Smart Growth Achievement. We are excited to report that Normal, Illinois is the recipient of the award in the Civic Places category for their traffic roundabout.

We’ve written before about how the town’s new traffic circle has successfully managed traffic flow at a busy five-way intersection, diverted thousands of gallons of untreated stormwater away from the nearby creek, and become the town center by bringing residents together in an attractive public space. The more recent news is how the traffic roundabout is spurring local economic development with the construction of a multimodal transportation station adjacent to the circle, courtesy of a U.S. Department of Transportation grant. Both the transportation hub, which will eventually have high-speed rail service and create an estimated 400-500 new jobs, and the circle take advantage of the town’s existing infrastructure, bus service, and the historic central business district to attract even more residents to the new town center.

“The one-third-acre roundabout does much more than move cars. It invites pedestrians with shade trees, benches, lighting, bike parking, green space, and a water feature. People have lunch, read, and play music, and the open space invites community gatherings such as a holiday caroling event. It is the anchor for a community-wide revitalization and is part of Uptown Normal’s LEED-ND Silver recognition.

A popular rails-to-trails conversion, the Constitution Trail, leads to and around the roundabout, helping both to revitalize Normal and to bring people from surrounding areas to Normal’s central district. A new Children’s Discovery Museum on the edge of the roundabout already receives over 140,000 visitors per year, and a hotel and conference enter have recently opened nearby. One indication of the success of the redevelopment is that property values in the district have increased by about 30 percent since 2004.” Smart Growth Awards

According to the short video, this traffic circle was almost banned to pedestrians. It’s a good thing town officials fought back. [Watching the video, it looks like there are weekly farmers markets held on the roundabout too.  KA]

Read more about the project here, as well as the other winners from the 2011 National Award for Smart Growth Achievement.

The roundabout was designed by Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects.  Check out their site for more photos and project details.

Photo: Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects


Thriving Neighbourhoods 2012: Call for papers

Posted in Models, Research, seeking by Kate Archdeacon on January 26th, 2012

Thriving Neighbourhoods is a conference on emerging approaches to the planning, design and management of local neighbourhoods that are set to radically improve health, social engagement, environmental quality and productivity in communities. Thriving communities have the resilience needed to adapt creatively to unexpected challenges such as climate change, population change, rapid technological change, social upheaval and economic crises.

The complexity of the systems involved in creating thriving communities poses difficult and challenging issues for planners, developers, managers and researchers. But the potential returns on the invested effort and resources are massive. Capturing these returns requires professional collaboration across policy sectors including health, planning, design, infrastructure, IT and the built and natural environments. Communities must also be engaged from the outset, recognising diverse cultural and individual needs.

We invite papers and presentations on research and practice related to the challenge of creating and supporting thriving neighbourhoods and communities. Work to be presented may be related to the areas represented in the diagram below, on: the challenges; the processes of change and development; the specifics of place; the measurement of outcomes.

2 April 2012: Deadline for Abstracts (400 words)

28 May 2012: Abstracts acceptance notice

Find out more about submitting a paper.


Community Renewable Energy Projects: UK

Posted in Models, Movements by Kate Archdeacon on January 13th, 2012

Source: guardian.co.uk


River Bain Hydro photo © wonky knee

From “The communities taking renewable energy into their own hands” by Ed Mayo:

“Late last year we – Co-operatives UK and The Co-operative Group – published a new report which reveals the growing number of people who are choosing to start renewable energy co-operatives in their communities, against all the odds. What is exciting about the report is that it is the first and most comprehensive guide to what amounts to a new movement of communities who are taking action for greener energy into their own hands.
In a time of doom – when all talk is of cuts, unemployment and rising prices – this report highlights a different story. Despite, or maybe even because, of the wider economic woes, people across the UK are creating a co-operative movement for green energy.  There are now 43 communities who are in the process of or already producing renewable energy through co-operative structures. They are set up and run by everyday people – local residents mostly – who are investing their time and money and together installing solar panels, large wind turbines or hydro-electric power for their local communities.
The report highlights a series of examples. Like Ouse Valley Energy Service Company, which is owned by 250 people who have installed solar panels on a local brewery. Or River Bain Hydro, which installed a hydro electric power generator in its local river with investment of £200,000 from around 200 people.”

[…]

Read the full article by Ed Mayo on the Guardian.


The Rough Guide to Community Energy: Free book

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on January 9th, 2012

What can we do to create sustainability in our own communities? How can local people work together to save or generate energy and tackle climate change?

The Rough Guide to Community Energy has the answers. Packed full of practical advice and inspiring case studies, it covers:

  • Local energy groups – how to set one up and keep its momentum going
  • Types of project including solar, wind, hydro, biomass, CHP and energy efficiency
  • Getting a project off the ground, from fundraising and planning to construction
  • Real-world advice from successful groups all over the UK

Whether you’re looking for inspiration or you already have a local energy group, The Rough Guide to Community Energy will help you make your project happen.

>> Get your free copy.

Check out the Resources section at the back of the book for websites and further reading.  KA


Insight: How the Dutch got their cycling infrastructure

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on December 28th, 2011

From “How the Dutch got their cycle paths” by Sarah Goodyear for Project for Public Spaces:

Given the reputation of the Netherlands as a cyclist’s paradise, you might think that its extensive cycling infrastructure came down from heaven itself, or was perhaps created by the wave of a magic wand. Not so. It was the result of a lot of hard work, including massive street protests and very deliberate political decision-making.

The video [click through below] offers vital historical perspective on the way the Netherlands ended up turning away from the autocentric development that arose with postwar prosperity, and chose to go down the cycle path. It lists several key factors, including public outrage over the amount of space given to automobiles; huge protests over traffic deaths, especially those of children, which were referred to by protesters as “child murder”; and governmental response to the oil crisis of the 1970s, which prompted efforts to reduce oil dependence without diminishing quality of life.

The Netherlands is often perceived as an exceptional nation in terms of its transportation policies and infrastructure. And yet there is nothing inherently exceptional about the country’s situation. As the narrator says at the end of the film, “The Netherlands’ problems were and are not unique. Their solutions shouldn’t be that either.”

Watch the video. It’s inspiring (“…it seems so simple”) and frustrating (“aaargh…it seems so simple!”) at the same time.