Saturday, May 31, 2008

green excitingness

the track and field olympic trials are being held in Eugene, Oregon this summer-- check out these exciting things they're doing to promote sustainability through the event. Tickets for the races are sold out, but I think I should be able to get to the festival part and see the bicycle power tent. And the idea of valet parking for bicycles really makes me smile :-)

May 26, 2008
The Sustainability Committee of the Eugene 08 Local Organizing Committee is making recommendations about sustainability and promoting sustainable practices in all areas of the promotion and production of the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Track & Field and the Eugene 08 Festival. The sustainability committee was consulted on myriad decisions from what type of banner materials to order to whether composting could work. Below is a list of the various sustainability efforts:
GreenPower – all power used will be purchased from EWEB’s green power program.
Green Lights at Hayward Field
• Recycling & composting – bins at Eugene 08 will help us work toward a zero waste event. We are partnering with Rexius to compost; compostable utensils are required of all vendors.
• Local food – the two caterers for food for volunteers, VIPs, athletes and the media will be purchasing from local vendors, and farm produce will be local as much as possible.
• All efforts are being made to use bio-diesel in vehicles operating on the Festival grounds
LTD buses and shuttle services as well as bike/skateboard valet will encourage sustainable travel.
• A committee will document all sustainability efforts before, during and after Eugene 08.
• Solar Stage – the stage at the Festival will be solar powered, and the EWEB solar station will be used to provide power as well.
• Safeway Human Powered Energy tent – people on bicycles will be producing energy that is sent back to the power grid.
• On Monday June 30th, Sport & the Environment day, Nike will be collecting shoes to be reused in the Nike Grind product that is used for track surfaces such as the one Nike is donating for installation near the Jefferson Arts and Technology Academy in Eugene.

Refrigerators make me mad.

Continuing Emily's battle against resource waste.....

Once heating & cooling is taken out of the picture, I'm taking a gander that a household's major energy consumption comes from major appliances such as the refrigerator, hot water heater, oven, and washer / drier.  However, with all the energy that goes into manufacturing these appliances (or cars or houses or ...) it probably doesn't make sense to just go about replacing perfectly working appliances with ones just a little bit more efficient.  A NYT article earlier this month delved into this topic
I don't know about you, but I’m a little tired of the whole green thing. Not the idea that Americans need to sharply cut their energy use (the words carbon footprint will not pass my lips). And not the idea that there are some relatively painless actions we can all take that will help — although I know real change will not be made without real sacrifice.

But I am growing a little cynical about the consumption-oriented part of the movement, the urging to buy our way out of environmental problems. From organic jeans to compact fluorescent light bulbs, it is getting harder and harder to know what represents genuine progress and what is a marketing gimmick.
We have a really cool chance this summer since we'll be purchasing new (or perhaps acquiring used - this may be a better, more efficient use of our planet's resources) appliances. A few thoughts:

1) We probably need a washing machine of some sort. Inhabitat has a few interesting ideas & recommendations about efficiency.. Perhaps most intriguing is the Cyclean, a bike powered washing machine made almost entirely out of parts from the landfill! Oh yeah. Seriously - we should look into this - this would really make you think twice about just washing clothes because you can. We could have a whole fleet of bikes powering just about everything in the house.

Or do we just do our laundry across the street at McCrady? We're spoiled at Sewanee - at many schools it'd be the norm to walk into another dorm to do laundry.

2) Do we really need a refrigerator? Although it's a nice thing to have, it's a massive energy sink. There are certainly benefits to having one, especially if we are going to be cooking a lot, but perhaps we could put our stuff in McCrady's or the new Scholar/Research house going in across the street.

3) Hot water heater ... maybe we look into either reusing the one currently in the house OR perhaps getting the most efficient one we can find - maybe one of those newfangled tankless water heaters?

What do y'all think?

Friday, May 30, 2008

Pens make me mad.

Hey, so I'm a pen user, but I keep on having to throw them out. I mean, most pens (that I have used) aren't filled as much as they can be with ink, so that you use more and buy more. That's great for the pen company, but that is a lot of plastic we (or maybe just me) are throwing away. If there is a way these can be recycled that you guys know about, then let me know, because I've found nothing so far. We could fill the GreenHouse and maybe even academic buildings on campus with recycled pens, but still I'm wondering what we could do with all the plastic pens that we use on a daily basis. Then the other option is to use pencils, not mechanic pencils...
And while I was looking for new ideas on this subject I came across 2 blogs by Moms (I think), and they're pretty interesting. One is called Crunchy Chicken (a very enticing blog name), which is about doing the practical stuff to be eco friendly (she calls this the Extreme Eco ThrowDown). The other blog is another woman's response to cutting out all plastic for the Extreme Eco ThrowDown and her dilemma with disposable plastic pens.
So, hey, this is what I've been thinking about lately. Help me out if you can. Thanks!


Thursday, May 29, 2008


So I am in Scotland for the summer, spending my days planting, sowing, cooking, and relaxing with the people living here on Culdees- the funny thing is that no one is Scottish- i have learned some Dutch, German, Japanese, and British, representing the range of backgrounds people come from. i am learning something new everyday- yesterday i learned how to kill chickens (which almost made me cry) and today i learned how to pluck and gut them (which almost made me puke). I have a million new ideas about how to reuse things and build, cook, plant- this place is really dedicated to recycling and such.

also- my school email doesn't work so if you want to contact me, you can email me at or post me at
Boreland Farm
Fearnan by Aberfeldy
Perthshire PH15 2PG
I would love to get mail and i would definitely write back-
oh yeah and here is the view i wake up to and see every day - (though yes, most of the time it is foggier and rainy- still amazing though)

Timing Showers

Professor Zigler sent me a New York Times article about our equivalents at Oberlin. I highly suggest reading it (It sounds like they are talking about us at times!); there's even a video on the NYT site.

(photo: David Maxwell, NYT)
While previous generations focused on recycling and cleaning up rivers, these students want to combat global warming by figuring out ways to reduce carbon emissions in their own lives, starting with their own colleges. They also view the environment as broadly connected with social and economic issues, and their concerns include the displacement of low-income families after Hurricane Katrina and the creation of “green collar” jobs in places like the South Bronx.

The mission is serious and yet, like life at the Oberlin house, it blends idealism, hands-on practicality, laid-back community and fun.

“It’s not about telling people, ‘You have to do this, you have to do that,’ ” Mr. Brown said. “It’s about fitting sustainability into our own lives.” And hoping, he added, “that a friend will come over, recognize that it’s fun, start doing it, and then a friend of theirs will start doing it.”

Miles to go before WE sleep...

I just got back from a week visiting some friends out at Stanford in California and, while I'm mighty glad I'm at Sewanee for all of it's small-school beautifulness, we sure have a lot of catching up to do regarding campus wide sustainability. We need to stop talking about it and actually start making things happen (the last few years have been a great start, but we could certainly do a better job):
  1. Further the student-led rage for sustainability (w/the ERs at the helm). While we still rock, we could certainly work next year to really revolutionize campus. These guys are doing fairly good job. Remember the 70's  when students burned down buildings and chained themselves to executive offices at colleges across the country? Let's try for that level of dedication to a cause (well maybe without the destruction of buildings...).
  2. Improve McClurg.  Aramark is actually doing a pretty good job at Sewanee, it just doesn't always seem to be very organized. Stanford's equivalent has a decent website outlining what they do. Above the salad bar they have a sheet that states how many miles each veggie traveled.  Also, they have an EatGreen program that is pretty good too. Meanwhile, students across the country at Middlebury convinced their dining facility to go trayless... they just did it, they didn't mess around with getting it approved or anything. 
  3. Let's get ResLife on we can do stuff like this.
  4. Campaign for faculty positions dedicated to environmental that we can have a sweet Center for Environmental Science and Policy.
  5. There's too many lightbulbs on campus that are still incandescent, mainly personal lamps that students or professors bring... and some people have five or six bulbs in these things. crazy. I'm (again) advocating for people in yellow jumpsuits to go around campus exchanging the bulbs. Yellow jumpsuits and crazy antics are necessary. 
  6. There's been a good push towards the motion sensing lights at Sewanee, but for some reason they seem to only go off after 15 minutes. Why not set these to go off after 2 minutes? Additionally, for the regular lights/electronics around campus, let's get some "turn me off" stickers (similar to what a few ERs did with the stickers on the paper towels dispensers) to place on each light switch.
  7. Challenge the university to find a real vision... a strategic plan, if you will. We raise all this money... but what do we do with it? Currently, there is little top-down vision or guidance and so us teenagers are left to do the pushing and the shoving, edging the university towards what we think is better. We shouldn't have to do all that - there should be a vision for the future that is established by the university (w/student input, obviously). Quite frankly, I don't trust myself or my peers to know what is best for us, but the administration doesn't step up and help us here at all. We're slipping in the college rankings - and that's not going to stop with current administrative approaches. I realize this is over the top, but here's another (extreme) example from Stanford.
  8. We need more rational discourse. It's a cool thing...the fundamental basis for democracy, actually. But it just doesn't happen at sewanee very often. Thus, I propose something along the lines of SPU.
  9. Can we get greek life, Pub, Stirlings & the Globe to switch away from traditional plastic containers to biodegradable material and initiate campus-wide composting? This requires a lot of coordination, but is certainly possible. 
  10. Better online presence for our environmental activities. Incoming students will look at the website ... we need to be there to attract them. Good examples are St. Lawrence (simple but effective) and (yet again...sorry) Stanford. Sewanee is doing a ton of fantastic environmental initiatives, but none of the students know about them except the ERs, and what good is that if we aren't education the students about how they can live their lives once they graduate?
  11. Freshmen... I was reading a book about college by some professor at harvard, and he found that the biggest impact on students (& the most memories of college) are formed in the first three weeks of freshmen year. Thus, orientation is HUGE!!! Let's make a concerted effort to try to make the environment a major focus this year. Composting, biodegradable plastics, sustainability 101, dance parties... Get people excited about our planet & our community. Greenhouse needs to be involved in orientation somehow. Let's make sure we get ourselves on the actual orientation schedule. Potluck? Jam?
Greenhouse/community related stuff
  1. Stanford has a class to teach sustainable agriculture in their organic garden. We should try to get this going next spring, which requires planning early next fall. Professor Haskell seems like the logical person. Also, the rest of their community garden website is pretty interesting. They were busy building a new mud oven when I visited last week... they are building little "wings" on the side of it for benches. 
  2. Synergy House at Stanford seems to be pretty sweet. We've one-upped them on avoiding the drug culture, but they sure do have some cool parties...
And finally, go tricycles! I was at the Phoenix airport yesterday and found this lady tricycling her way across the tarmac in a sea of airplanes & trucks. She's cool. What a rebel. Note the orange flag on the back for extra safety. Even cooler.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Sweet ideas, please.

HEY everybody! 

I need your guys help. I'm working with 7th and 8th graders at my church this summer, and I have a lot of flexibility as to what I can do with them. SO, I'm wondering if you guys have any ideas of what I could do with hundreds of middle schoolers, or maybe even small groups of them. Ideas could pertain to the environment, or not at all. You guys are creative, so that's why I'm asking. Paul was thinking that having a Paint Yourself Day would be cool and I agree... that would be sweet. He also mentioned growing plants in pots... But, you know, some other examples could be having pet earth worms with leashes or going on backpacking trips... SO.. let your minds go crazy and then let me know what you're thinking!
Hope your summers are going GREAT : )


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Hi friends! So I've been biking on the levee these past few days and I wanted to show you all these pictures. Usually I say that I bike with the city on one side and the river on the other, but this is kind of an exageration because the river is normally out in the distance (beyond the trees that are in the picture on the right). But things are different this summer because of all the snow up north this past winter-- now that it's melting, the river is rising and has come up to the levee. You can see the water on the right of the path and the city on the left. The water is actually lower than it was a few weeks ago-- but it's still high enough in places for people to stand on the levee and go fishing.

Also I think this is really cool-- I pass by this place when I'm biking. It's somebody's garden right in the middle of the city. It's a little hard to see in the picture, but there are lots of rows of plants, and the sunflowers are blooming right now.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Garden Contest?

What if the GreenHouse hosted a garden competition next fall soon after (early Sept?) we return to campus? We could ask for entries in the messenger, and then the judges (perhaps one GreenHouse member, one faculty, one community person) would visit each garden. We could have different categories - vegetable, flower, organic, overall, etc...  The winners could receive a cash prize OR we could have them over for dinner at the house.

p.s. I played in our garden with my little brothers today and it was delicious. i heartily recommend it.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Bicycle Month

In 2003, cars idling in traffic wasted 5 billion gallons of fuel.

May is Bicycle Month, and the folks over at Trek have a great program called 1 World 2 Wheels to encourage cycling. They also have an interesting blog that discusses bicycle manners and "bicycle benefits," among other things. 
Hey everyone,

I hope that everyone's summer has started off well. I was thinking about where everyone is going to be this summer and was amazed at how scattered we all are...

Anyways, I am doing my best to keep the garden alive and kicking until others return. Watering and weeding has been a nice daily task. In a couple of days I will take some photos just so you can see some progress (hopefully).

I want to share some thoughts I had about the garden to hear what others have to say...
I think the garden is amazing. It is very evident that it has received much unique and genuine care. However, I think that it would be cool if it were a little more aesthetically pleasing. I know that you can not judge a garden by its look. But I think that it would be nice if it were a little more accessible and better put-together. I think all of the wine bottles hanging from the tree with the hammock are awesome. And Kate did a terrific job with the Organic Garden tin lettered sign. Wouldn't it be cool if we had a more well-defined pathway to navigate through the garden? I think that is what I am asking. Should we have a better pathway? Just something that has been tilled up and smoothed down and kept trimmed. Any ideas or opinions?

One more thing... Do we have a scythe?
I could really use one to keep all of the tall grass growing everywhere trimmed back.


Grey water system

"It just doesn’t make sense to use good drinking water to wash down poop, eh?"


I am working in the LAL right now and just heard some amazing news!
PPS has released their prioritized list and the renovation of the Richardson house and the one across the street are two and three.
Way to go GreenHousers!
This means someone heard us.
There is an $8,000 job at number one.
This all comes from Dr. Evans' mouth. He added on that he will believe when he sees it.
But things are promising...

Reforestation & Recycling in Haiti

Haiti Innovation, a group of Peace Corps volunteers, has two articles linked below relevant to sustainability.

Recycling in Haiti
Plastic has been an incredibly beneficial invention for the developing world, but in many countries, there is no established recycling of the material - and thus an entire city can become covered in discarded plastic bottles. Haiti Innovation describes a new group working to establish a recycling center in the capital city of Port au Prince.
In Dhaka, an entrepreneurial person can make ends meet by collecting trash and selling it to middle men who then bale it for the plants. This seems like a no brainer for Port au Prince and other urban centers in Haiti. Port au Prince is crowded, full of people who need and want a job, and ample amounts of trash which just winds up in the canals or in the Bay of Port au Prince. From reforestation to recycling, environmental preservation will succeed in Haiti only when it is linked to livelihoods. Though it will take years to make the transition from environmental degradation to environmental management, recycling could be part of the solution. It would create jobs and make Port au Prince a cleaner and more livable city.
Reforestation - by the youth?
This article references an organization dedicated to sustainable agriculture called ORE. Sewanee's Outreach Office has raised several thousand dollars for ORE, most recently with the documentary photography & human health classes' book and exhibition.
It doesn't matter what political party you are for, whether urban or rural, whether rich or poor, whether Christian or Voudouisant - As Jonathan Katz noted in an article last month, Haiti's future depends on being able to halt and then reverse environmental degradation. If not, there will be continued food insecurity and political instability. At a minimum, this should be something we can all agree on and thus something we should all be able to work together on.

Haiti has a wide network of schools, churches, and other organizations that could and should be involved in reforestation. If the students from each school were given one week a year to learn about the environment and to take part in reforestation, it could plant a seed in the minds of young students who could become the next generation of environmental leaders. Regardless of whether you are Christian or Vodouisant (or both), nature is sacred and it is the responsibility of humankind to be a good steward over it. If the environment were discussed in church, and if every church had a tree nursery, it would make a difference. Both schools and churches would benefit from National Days of Service which could incorporate the environment and other important social issues.

America's Role in Haiti's Hunger Riots

In a report released last month, human rights lawyer Bill Quiqley explains how Haiti went from being self sufficient to importing nearly all of its food - thanks to our foreign policy. The entire report is below.

Riots in Haiti over explosive rises in food costs have claimed the lives of six people. There have also been food riots worldwide in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivorie, Egypt, Guinea, Mauritania, Mexico, Morocco, Senegal, Uzbekistan and Yemen.

The Economist, which calls the current crisis the silent tsunami, reports that last year wheat prices rose 77 percent and rice 16 percent, but since January rice prices have risen 141 percent. The reasons include rising fuel costs, weather problems, increased demand in China and India, and the push to create biofuels from cereal crops.

Hermite Joseph, a mother working in the markets of Port-au-Prince, told journalist Nick Whalen that her two kids are "like toothpicks - they're not getting enough nourishment. Before, if you had $1.25, you could buy vegetables, some rice, 10 cents of charcoal and a little cooking oil. Right now, a little can of rice alone costs 65 cents, and is not good rice at all. Oil is 25 cents. Charcoal is 25 cents. With $1.25, you can't even make a plate of rice for one child."

The St. Claire's Church Food program, in the Tiplas Kazo neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, serves 1,000 free meals a day, almost all to hungry children - five times a week in partnership with the What If Foundation. Children from Cité-Soleil have been known to walk the five miles to the church for a meal. The costs of rice, beans, vegetables, a little meat, spices, cooking oil and propane for the stoves, have gone up dramatically. Because of the rise in the cost of food, the portions are now smaller. But hunger is on the rise, and more and more children come for the free meal. Hungry adults used to be allowed to eat the leftovers once all the children were fed, but now there are few leftovers.

The New York Times lectured Haiti on April 18 that "Haiti, its agriculture industry in shambles, needs to better feed itself." Unfortunately, the article did not talk at all about one of the main causes of the shortages - the fact that the US and other international financial bodies destroyed Haitian rice farmers to create a major market for heavily subsidized rice from US farmers. This is not the only cause of hunger in Haiti and other poor countries, but it is a major force.

Thirty years ago, Haiti raised nearly all the rice it needed. What happened?

In 1986, after the expulsion of Haitian dictator Jean Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) loaned Haiti $24.6 million in desperately needed funds (Baby Doc had raided the treasury on the way out). But, in order to get the IMF loan, Haiti was required to reduce tariff protections for Haitian rice and other agricultural products and some industries, to open up the country's markets to competition from outside countries. The US has by far the largest voice in decisions of the IMF.

Doctor Paul Farmer was in Haiti then and saw what happened. "Within less than two years, it became impossible for Haitian farmers to compete with what they called 'Miami rice.' The whole local rice market in Haiti fell apart as cheap, US subsidized rice, some of it in the form of 'food aid,' flooded the market. There was violence ... 'rice wars,' and lives were lost."

"American rice invaded the country," recalled Charles Suffrard, a leading rice grower in Haiti in an interview with the Washington Post in 2000. By 1987 and 1988, there was so much rice coming into the country that many stopped working the land.

The Rev. Gerard Jean-Juste, a Haitian priest who has been the pastor at St. Claire and an outspoken human rights advocate, agrees. "In the 1980s, imported rice poured into Haiti, below the cost of what our farmers could produce it. Farmers lost their businesses. People from the countryside started losing their jobs and moving to the cities. After a few years of cheap imported rice, local production went way down."

Still, the international business community was not satisfied. In 1994, as a condition for US assistance in returning to Haiti to resume his elected presidency, Jean-Bertrand Aristide was forced by the US, the IMF and the World Bank to open up the markets in Haiti even more.

But Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere; what reason could the US have for destroying the rice market of this tiny country?

Haiti is definitely poor. The US Agency for International Development reports the annual per capita income is less than $400. The United Nations reports life expectancy in Haiti is 59, while in the US it is 78. Over 78 percent of Haitians live on less than $2 a day, more than half live on less than $1 a day.

Yet, Haiti has become one of the top importers of rice from the United States. The US Department of Agriculture 2008 numbers show Haiti is the third-largest importer of US rice - at over 240,000 metric tons of rice. (One metric ton is 2,200 pounds).

Rice is a heavily subsidized business in the US. Rice subsidies in the US totaled $11 billion from 1995 to 2006. One producer alone, Riceland Foods of Stuttgart, Arkansas, received over $500 million in rice subsidies between 1995 and 2006.

The Cato Institute recently reported that rice is one of the most heavily supported commodities in the US - with three different subsidies together averaging over $1 billion a year since 1998 and projected to average over $700 million a year through 2015. The result? "Tens of millions of rice farmers in poor countries find it hard to lift their families out of poverty because of the lower, more volatile prices caused by the interventionist policies of other countries."

In addition to three different subsidies for rice farmers in the US, there are also direct tariff barriers of three to 24 percent, reports Daniel Griswold of the Cato Institute - the exact same type of protections, though much higher, that the US and the IMF required Haiti to eliminate in the 1980s and 1990s.

US protection for rice farmers goes even further. A 2006 story in The Washington Post found that the federal government has paid at least $1.3 billion in subsidies for rice and other crops since 2000 to individuals who do no farming at all; including $490,000 to a Houston surgeon who owned land near Houston that once grew rice.

And it is not only the Haitian rice farmers who have been hurt.

Paul Farmer saw it happen to the sugar growers as well. "Haiti, once the world's largest exporter of sugar and other tropical produce to Europe, began importing even sugar - from US-controlled sugar production in the Dominican Republic and Florida. It was terrible to see Haitian farmers put out of work. All this speeded up the downward spiral that led to this month's food riots."

After the riots and protests, President Rene Preval of Haiti agreed to reduce the price of rice, which was selling for $51 for a 110-pound bag, to $43 dollars for the next month. No one thinks a one-month fix will do anything but delay the severe hunger pains a few weeks.

Haiti is far from alone in this crisis. The Economist reports a billion people worldwide live on $1 a day. The US-backed Voice of America reports about 850 million people were suffering from hunger worldwide before the latest round of price increases.

Thirty-three countries are at risk of social upheaval because of rising food prices, World Bank President Robert Zoellick told The Wall Street Journal. When countries have many people who spend half to three-quarters of their daily income on food, "there is no margin of survival."

In the US, people are feeling the worldwide problems at the gas pump and in the grocery. Middle-class people may cut back on extra trips or on high price cuts of meat. The number of people on food stamps in the US is at an all-time high. But in poor countries, where malnutrition and hunger were widespread before the rise in prices, there is nothing to cut back on except eating. That leads to hunger riots.

In the short term, the world community is sending bags of rice to Haiti. Venezuela sent 350 tons of food. The US just pledged $200 million extra for worldwide hunger relief. The UN is committed to distributing more food.

What can be done in the medium term? The US provides much of the world's food aid, but does it in such a way that only half of the dollars spent actually reach hungry people. US law requires that food aid be purchased from US farmers, processed and bagged in the US and shipped on US vessels - which cost 50 percent of the money allocated. A simple change in US law to allow some local purchase of commodities would feed many more people and support local farm markets.

In the long run, what is to be done? The president of Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who visited Haiti last week, said "Rich countries need to reduce farm subsidies and trade barriers to allow poor countries to generate income with food exports. Either the world solves the unfair trade system, or every time there's unrest like in Haiti, we adopt emergency measures and send a little bit of food to temporarily ease hunger."

Citizens of the US know very little about the role of their government in helping create the hunger problems in Haiti or other countries. But there is much that individuals can do. People can donate to help feed individual hungry people and participate with advocacy organizations such as Bread for the World or Oxfam to help change the US and global rules which favor the rich countries. This advocacy can help countries have a better chance to feed themselves.

Meanwhile, Merisma Jean-Claudel, a young high school graduate in Port-au-Prince, told journalist Wadner Pierre "... people can't buy food. Gasoline prices are going up. It is very hard for us over here. The cost of living is the biggest worry for us; no peace in stomach means no peace in the mind.... I wonder if others will be able to survive the days ahead, because things are very, very hard."

"On the ground, people are very hungry," reported Father Jean-Juste. "Our country must immediately open emergency canteens to feed the hungry until we can get them jobs. For the long run, we need to invest in irrigation, transportation, and other assistance for our farmers and workers."

In Port-au-Prince, some rice arrived in the last few days. A school in Father Jean-Juste's parish received several bags of rice. They had raw rice for 1,000 children, but the principal still had to come to Father Jean-Juste asking for help. There was no money for charcoal or oil.

Jervais Rodman, an unemployed carpenter with three children, stood in a long line Saturday in Port-au-Prince to get UN-donated rice and beans. When Rodman got the small bags, he told Ben Fox of The Associated Press, "The beans might last four days. The rice will be gone as soon as I get home."

Bill Quigley is a human rights lawyer and law professor at Loyola University New Orleans. He can be reached at 

Extreme urban gardening

The New York Magazine asked several architects to go wild with one block of city space. One group proposed a strange take on the rooftop garden &  local food production...

why bother?

Pradip Malde, the photography professor who lives next to the garden on Old Farm, has an excellent blog over at He clearly shares many of our concerns in a post entitled question everything: why bother.
I teach in a small college town, where the administration of the university has taken some sustainability initiatives (like changing lightbulbs - the same thing that Pollan finds so alarming), but they are mostly on paper. It does not, for instance, have an effective municipal recycling program in place, spends thousands of dollars a month on cosmetic grounds keeping, and just this last weekend, served up over a thousand meals in cardboard and plastic, which as far as I know, were then trashed. On the other hand, community and students are doing some extraordinary things by establishing organic community farms, starting up small recycling programs, and establishing ‘eco’-houses, among many small efforts. Why bother? Read Pollan’s article.

The article Pradip references by Michael Pollan (author of Omnivore's Deliemna) can be found over at the NYT

Monday, May 12, 2008

Paul's Books

I've made a brief list of books I'm currently reading or plan to read over the summer. The list focuses on community and international relations & development. It is perhaps a tad deficient in environmental issues or the likes of Edward Abbey - perhaps y'all could give me a few suggestions...

Statecraft by Dennis Ross
"how to restore America's standing in the world" - i.e. how to undo our current foreign policy

From Brokenness to Community by Jean Vanier
thoughts by the founder of the L'Arche movement

The Bottom Billion by Paul Collier
"why the poorest countries are failing and what can be done about it"

The Rule of St. Benedict
The original (400AD) guide on how to live in a community

The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne
"living as an ordinary radical" by a founding member of the simple way

A Human Economy by Wilhelm Ropke
economics beyond supply and demand into social concerns

The Intellectual Life by A.G. Sertillanges
Its Spirit, Conditions, Methods

Ghost Wars by Steve Col
the CIA, Afghanistan, & bin Laden, from the soviet invasion to september 10th, 2001

A Universal Heart by Kathryn Spink
a biography of Brother Roger, the founder of the Taize movement


Hey so I read yesterday that before humans discovered turnips, they had no way of keeping livestock fed over the winter. Good thing we are growing turnips at the garden.
Also, there is a recipe for pirate stew online that uses turnips- see, they are useful!!!!
And, they grow really easily and just about anywhere in any type of soil, weather, and acidity.
AND they look really cool.

Totally justified.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Paul's thoughts

Hey everybody! Hope your summers are off to a delicious start. I just about have this blog up and running; thoughts and comments are always welcome! 

And if you are wondering about the title: USGH = University of the South GreenHouse. If you can't remember that, think USGS (U.S. Geological Survey) and change the last letter into an H cause H is a cool letter.

Feel free to post anything relevant to the GreenHouse on this blog. Suggestions include: sweet gardening ideas, ways to be more sustainable, cool books, thoughts, rants, name suggestions for your pet elephant, summer plans, and Tyrannosaurus rex sightings. Include photos or drawings as supporting evidence whenever possible. Email me if you have any questions/suggestions.

Remember that this blog is our blog - it'll be whatever you make it into, so keep it happy by feeding it a daily serving of delicious ideas about life.

And finally, start planning for the best day of the year: International Paint Yourself Day.

A brief history of the GreenHouse

The GreenHouse at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, serves as an intentional living community dedicated to environmental leadership on campus and to building a stronger community, primarily via active participation in organic farming and gardening.

The GreenHouse evolved from the EcoHouse at the University of the South, which was established in 2003. The EcoHouse served as an environmental interest house for sophomores, juniors, and seniors who attempted to work together to live in an environmentally friendly manner while serving as leaders of other sustainability-related groups on campus. 

Despite a plethora of wonderful events and dedicated members, the EcoHouse never quite fulfilled its potential. Thus, in the spring of 2008, the EcoHouse began an ongoing process to reinvent itself as the Sewanee GreenHouse. If all goes well, the GreenHouse will move into a new building on central campus in August 2008 and, as a community, will abide by the following principles:

• Develop students of all academic pursuits into creative and inquisitive servant leaders,
• Engage with the local community through active participation, and
• Promote involvement by faculty, their families and community so that we all may more fully
• Practice sustainable living here at Sewanee and in our global community as a means of
• Confronting a self-centered mindset that motivates local and global inequality.

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