Posts Tagged ‘networks’

Parcel Service Uses Streetcars for Deliveries

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on October 3rd, 2011

Source: Japan for Sustainability

From “Yamato Starts Using Streetcars for Low-Carbon Parcel Transport“:


Under the new system, Yamato Transport Co. charters a single streetcar from Keifuku Electric Railroad at its Saiin carbarn, loads the streetcar with container dollies bearing parcels, and delivers them to Arashiyama Station and Randen-Saga Station. In Arashiyama, sales drivers unload the dollies, reload them onto carriers pulled by electric bicycles, and then deliver the parcels to customers.

Yamato Transport had already been using railway to transport parcels between some of its service offfices; however, this is the first modal shift between one of its distribution terminals and its sales offices, where parcels are actually collected and delivered. The company will introduce this system at other Randen streetcar stations and try to collect and deliver parcels while minimizing its use of trucks.

Yamato Transport hopes to reduce carbon emissions in Kyoto City, a city that, as the birthplace of the Kyoto Protocol, aims to be a model of environmental stewardship under the slogan “Walking City, Kyoto.”

Read the full article on Japan for Sustainability.

The Slow Food Almanac for 2011: Out now

Posted in Movements, Research by Kate Archdeacon on September 12th, 2011

The Slow Food Almanac for 2011 is now available to read online. Introduction by Carlo Petrini:

A recent addition to the movement’s publications, each edition paints an increasingly effective picture of what we are doing in the world.  Once again the Almanac is rich in stories that describe who we are and what we do: Slow Food and Terra Madre’s activities on every continent to defend biodiversity, promote local food through taste education and grow our network with projects, meetings and exchanges. They are stories of men and women, young people and elders, cooks and teachers who are united by the Slow Food movement – active, determined, working together to bring change to their communities. Through their perseverance and imaginative approaches, and sharing in our global network, their examples become a stimulus and an opportunity for common growth and exchange.

The 2011 Almanac speaks about us and the land we live on – our true wealth. It offers a glimpse of how vast geographic diversity and human interactions with ecosystems have allowed us to be creative and produce food in a good, clean and fair way, and thus continue to hope for a better world. This is our culture, the culture of Slow Food.

I hope you will enjoy the inspiring stories and wonderful photographs in this electronic publication. It also contains links for further information – connecting to the various sections of the Slow Food website, as well as other websites, photo galleries and video footage. Please share it with friends who may be interested in joining Slow Food.

To read the Almanac, click here.

Flexible Public Space: ‘Youth Factory’ in Spain

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on August 5th, 2011

Source: Fast Company‘s Co.Design

Photo © Iwan Baan

From “Simple Genius: The World’s Coolest Skate Park Doubles As A Counseling Center” by Alissa Walker:

How about a playground that’s not really a playground at all, instead it’s a vibrant, flexible space that acknowledges the wide variety of activities that kids actually want to participate in? The firm Selgas Cano has designed just the space in Merida, Spain.

The Factoría Joven (“youth factory” in Spanish) is less a junky jungle gym and more like a creative community center, equipped for activities as wide-ranging as rock climbing and hip-hop dancing. There’s a skatepark, of course, which essentially winds through the plazas connecting the buildings (almost all the ground is actually skateable), but also a concert stage for performing arts. Plus a place to learn graffiti and street art, and a section of the complex that’s set up for circus training. Yes, tightrope walking at the park.

There’s also plenty of indoor space for learning music and dance. And wireless Internet, of course. Selgas Cano chose to huddle all the activities under a single canopy, which is supported by oval-shaped cylinders for indoor activities (with white cylinders and an orange lid, it looks kind of like a series of mushrooms clustered together with a shared cap).

To keep costs down, there’s no heating or cooling, instead the canopy is a meter thick to shield kids from hot sun or rain. The bright orange and white cladding is made from corrugated plastic and has a level of translucence to it, allowing some sun through and interior light to filter out at night, turning the building into a glowing beacon for the community that can be used well into the night.

By creating a public space that’s so visually exciting, it’s hard to imagine that kids (or their parents) will want to hang out anywhere else. And that’s partly the point: The skatepark’s structure actually hides meeting rooms where kids can get group counseling. So the activities get them in, but that also creates an unparalleled opportunity to reach them.

Read the full article by Alissa Walker.

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.

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

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.


Using ICT for Water Management in India

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on June 21st, 2011

Source: Springwise

From In India, mobile water tracking system updates local residents:

The reliability of water supply is a major issue for millions of households in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Although water is meant to be delivered to communities via a piped supply on a rotational schedule, the water often isn’t being piped when it should be — leaving families waiting indefinitely for supplies. Hoping to provide a solution, we recently came across NextDrop.

The NextDrop system, designed and set up by a team of Stanford and Berkeley graduate students, began operations in Hubli, India last year, having won a grant from the Gates Foundation, according to a report on In order to communicate with residents when the water is available, valvemen call the NextDrop interactive voice response system upon opening their neighborhood valves. NextDrop then texts the inhabitants of the area the news that water is being piped 30 – 60 minutes before it arrives, as well as texting the engineers at the utility live data on the water delivery. Residents are then contacted randomly to verify the accuracy of the data supplied by the valvemen.If there is any conflict between the data supplied by the valvemen and the residents, the engineers are alerted. These engineers are also able to step in if the valves are not initially reported open when they should be.

According to, the Hubli pilot initially launched with 180 participating families across five water valve districts in Hubli, and NextDrop now plan to go on and expand to encompass 1000 households covering 25 valve areas over the next year. Crowdsourcing may be one of the simplest ways of solving social problems we know of; relying on the participation of those it benefits. What other social problem could you apply the model to?

Read the full article on Springwise for related articles. or visit NextDrop to find out more


Effective Use of Trigeneration in Australia

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on May 11th, 2011

Source: Green Buildings Alive via Sustainable Cities Collective

Investa’s Trigen Image via The Fifth Estate

From “Australia’s first trigeneration ‘precinct’ is up and running!” by Craig Roussac:


[…] Sydney now has its first trigeneration precinct, where one building’s engine can power another one’s energy needs. Why was it necessary? To answer that question, let’s clarify a couple of things. First, when we say trigeneration we’re really describing a more elaborate form of cogeneration or combined heat and power (CHP). Cogeneration describes a system where the waste heat from a natural gas-powered engine that generates electricity is captured and used on-site. In instances where that waste heat (thermal energy) is directed through an absorption chiller to generate cooling, the system is referred to as trigeneration. Using gas as a fuel offers a significant reduction in carbon emissions when compared to coal-fired power generation, and the heat reclaim adds to the system efficiency. Sounds good, doesn’t it? As always, the devil is in the detail – particularly in warm climates such as those enjoyed by most Australians.

It goes without saying that electricity is almost always useful in buildings, wherever you are. Heat, on the other hand, is useful for much of the year in cold climates, but its benefits are greatly reduced in mild climates such as the one we’re blessed with in Sydney. The obvious solution for warm-weather situations where you don’t need much heat is to convert it into another form of thermal energy known as “coolth”. Hence the popularity of ‘trigeneration’ in this part of the world.

Investa installed a trigeneration plant along with a host of other environmentally-friendly features at its new 6-star office development, Coca-Cola Place in North Sydney. Ideally such plants are designed and operated to strike a balance between electrical loads and thermal loads. That is to say, you want to run the generator for extended periods at peak efficiency and have sufficient demand for thermal energy to take up all the waste heat from the electricity generation process.

Reciprocating gas engines need to be heavily loaded. If the electrical load drops below 60-70% the engine has to stop. If there isn’t demand for all the waste heat, you merely have a gas ‘generator’, not co- or trigeneration. What Investa found was that efficiency measures which were driving down electricity demand were compromising the efficient operation of the plant. It was sitting idle almost all the time. Because the base building is operating so efficiently, even with increased demand for electricity during warm weather (due to air-conditioning) the problem didn’t go away because the electrical load would drop right off whenever the absorption chiller kicked in. There was simply no way to run the building efficiently and also operate the trigeneration plant. This appears to be the choice faced by many owners of trigeneration plants.

Investa’s solution was to lease the building’s entire Energy Centre (plant room) to a specialist operator and enter into two 12-year energy supply agreements to round out the package. The arrangement links the Coca-Cola building and Deutsche Bank Place via the electricity grid. Because Investa’s partners, Cogent and Origin, are licensed electricity retailers, they are able to manage the electrical loads between the two buildings on the National Electricity Market. Effectively the system now services an electrical load of a combined 70,000 sqm highly efficient building coupled to the thermal load of a 28,000 sqm building. This is sufficient to allow for daily and seasonal fluctuations in energy demand while still allowing the plant to run efficiently for up to 14 hours per day. Most of the thermal energy will now be captured and used efficiently most of the time.


Read the full article by Craig Roussac for Green Buildings Alive.

Mandela Market Place: Urban Food And Community Initiative in Oakland

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on May 3rd, 2011

Source: Mandela Marketplace via this article on Sustainable Cities Collective

The WYSE Team delivers fresh food to the sales point at the local bottle shop.

Mandela Marketplace is a non-profit organization that works in partnership with local residents, family farmers, and community-based businesses to improve health, create wealth, and build assets through cooperative food enterprises in low income communities.  Mandela Marketplace uses a community-driven economic framework to improve health, create wealth and build assets in low-income communities. The organization evolved since 2001, first as a project of the Environmental Justice Institute – Tides Center, until incorporating in 2005 as a stand-alone 501c3 organization. Mandela Marketplace innovates the assessment, development, and application of a community food system economy that strengthens community health, integrity and identity through economic opportunity and empowerment for inner-city Oakland residents and businesses, and local family farms.

Projects Include:

  • Mandela Foods Cooperative: A worker- and community-owned retail grocery store and nutrition education center in West Oakland that addresses economic empowerment and community health. It offers fresh, affordable produce from local family farms, food preparation classes and healthy prepared foods, as well as profit sharing with the community through community-investment accounts.
  • West Oakland Youth Standing Empowered (WYSE): An afterschool program with a mission to teach leadership skills to youth and young adults. WYSE’s goal to advocate for healthy communities focuses on the built environment and food security through projects like: Healthy Neighborhood Stores Alliance, Burbank Garden, and WYSE Streets.
  • Healthy Neighborhood Stores Alliance (HNSA): An alliance between store owners, community members and Mandela MarketPlace that works to improve community physical and environmental health by not only improving the affordability and quality of produce in convenience stores, but also by improving the store environment and its relationship in the community.
  • Family Farmers: Mandela Foods and Mandela MarketPlace have a strong commitment to local, under-resourced and minority producers. We have long-term working relationships with farmers who use sustainable farming practices from Bakersfield, Fresno, Dinuba, Watsonville, Salinas, Gilroy, Livingston and Modesto. Our Produce Distribution Center supports small, local farms by establishing a local, alternative distribution network that passes on wholesale prices to networks of neighborhood stores and other community based businesses.
  • Senior Market Booths: Mandela Marketplace operates weekly fresh produce market booths at area Senior Centers and residential facilities. Seniors are able to purchase farm fresh produce and wholesome basic staples at affordable prices in a convenient, friendly, and helpful atmosphere.
  • Burbank Garden East Oakland: Early in 2009 we met a man by the name of Bill Richie, who worked for the city of Oakland. He had been left in charge of the sprawling Burbank Garden. Bill offered WYSE the opportunity to revitalize the garden and reconnect the school and community to the garden. Our goal is to renovate the garden and grow pesticide-free produce there. We plan to organize the community around self-sustainability by growing food locally with their own resources and those available through Mandela MarketPlace.
  • Building Blocks Collaborative: The Building Blocks Collaborative (BBC) is a partnership of multi-sector community organizations in Alameda County. We are developing a blueprint to improve community conditions in order to support the well-being of our children, starting from the earliest stages of life.
At the USSF2010, Mandela Marketplace’s Quinton Sankofa and James Berk of Mandela Foods Cooperative presented to a workshop hosted by called Pathways to Sustainable Self-Governance.  Check out these videos to find out more.