Blog Archive for January 2011

Self-watering planters because every drop counts!

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2010 04 10 009 This triple-decker self-watering system was showcased at the Encuentro por Una Vida Autonoma in Oaxaca City, Oaxaca, Mexico in 2009.  This working model is made of reclaimed water jugs turned upside-down and hung from a simple frame.  The frame rests on 2 buckets filled with any  dense substance that works to both keep the bottom layer of plants off the ground and ... READ MORE

Feed Greedy Plants, Not Greedy Banks

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With the composting toilet garden! 

By Tara Hui and Judith Henning, November 2011

ImageWe created this toilet to help occupy SPACE - for human and nature.

This composting toilet model is specifically designed for the occupation movement. It combines features of several types of composting toilet into one - urine diverting dry compost toilet, tree bog, and the traditional way of just digging a whole ... READ MORE

Gift circles for easy interdependence and mutual prosperity

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Ever wish you could get a haircut and a flat tire fixed without using money but suspected the barber and the mechanic wouldn't be interested in your sleeping bag or your web design services?  A gift circle gives everyone equal opportunity to express their needs (and hopefully get them met) and offer their gifts in a way that doesn't require direct exchange but allows all ... READ MORE

Re-Skilling - Relearning what our grandparents knew

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Re Skilling Yarn

At the Regenerative Design Institute in Bolinas, CA, you can go beyond growing food and learn how to: grow medicine, grow fibers and plants to dye them with; process the fibers into clothes; make soaps and salves; preserve food with low-tech techniques like fermentation and drying; and wildforage local plant protein sources like acorns.

Re-skilling requires that we connect more deeply ... READ MORE

Neighbors Sharing Land = more food, more community

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Living Lands Agrarian Network

Potential Farm LandAre you searching for land to grow food on? Or do you know someone who has land searching for a farmer? The Living Lands Agrarian Network, based in Nevada City, CA, provides a model for bringing landholders and landless farmers together. They offer training and mentorship to aspiring farmers through a diverse network of farmers and farms. When a trainee is ... READ MORE

Peepeeponics For The Ladies

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Dscn2835 1 1by Christina Bertea

Having studied every example I've seen, and even built one at a community garden, I finally decided to experiment with peepeeponics in my own backyard where I can monitor it carefully. 

I lined an old galvanized garbage can with several large plastic garbage bags to prevent the urine from reacting with the metal (if you use a waterproof plastic or rubber garbagecan you ... READ MORE

Hooping for Fun and Health!

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Alameda Farmer's Marketby Jan Camp, author of Into the Circle: Hula Hooping in California and Beyond

Hoopdance, or simply hooping, embodies the spirit of serious fun by contributing to individual and universal wellness through play. It is an affordable, low impact aerobic exercise that is available to everyone. At farmers markets across the country, hoopers give demonstrations and sell hoops. The aim, for both the farmers and the ... READ MORE

Neighborhood Crop Swaps

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Crop6In Berkeley, California a newly formed grassroots group, Transition Berkeley, held the city's first Crop Swap

A few dozen local residents happily exchanged home-grown goodies that thrive in this micro-climate in July: lemons and rhubarb, parsley and eggs. The freshly harvested produce was set out on two folding tables and a couple of blankets, and people filled their baskets and bags with greens and ... READ MORE

"Caracas" Veggie Stacks

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Dsc 0065Lauren Elder designed this vertical growing system in response to the needs of folks living on steep hillsides in Caracas, Venezuela. Although they had just tiny hardscaped patios they still wanted to be able to grow food. By suspending cheap, colorful plastic dishpans in welded wire columns, a significant amount of growing space could be created. Each pan had holes in the bottom so when watered at the top the pans would allow ... READ MORE

Farmin' In The HOOD

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From Carolyn Shaffer

Epic story of about 20 families that uprooted from suburbia and made their homes for good in one of the most blighted neighborhoods in the U.S. Lykins Neighborhood 64127 Inner City KCMO. And the game is changing! Together as Lykins Neighborhood we believe there is hope. Crime is dropping! 21% over the last 2 years and the adventure continues. Featuring Aquaponics, Neighborhood Transformation, Permaculture, ... READ MORE

The Oyster Mushroom Chair

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by Enrique Sanchez

I had attended a lecture given by Paul Stamets. One of the topics he spoke about was bio-remediation. He mentioned that oyster mushroom's mycelium can absorb and decompose oil. He also tested the fruiting body, the mushroom itself and found no traces of petroleum. The oyster mushrooms were edible! 

A few months had passed. I changed the oil in my car and placed the used oil in the back of my pickup truck. ... READ MORE

Pocket Neighborhoods

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Creating Small-Scale Community in a Large-Scale World

by Ross Chapin, architect

Book 3 D2Pocket neighborhoods are clustered groups of neighboring houses or apartments gathered around some sort of shared open space ó a garden courtyard, a pedestrian street, a series of joined backyards, or a reclaimed alley ó all of which have a clear sense of territory and shared stewardship. They can be in urban, suburban or rural areas.

These are settings ... READ MORE

Soil Restoration With Used Straw

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Lab7by Carolyn North

Severe flooding in Northern California left some valley land scoured down to bedrock. In one such place, the pit was used for ten years as a dumping ground for landslide debris ñ rock, rubble, clay and the occasional old tire. In the year 2000, we were given permission to try and restore one acre of this land to fertility, using mostly the animal-bedding straw from the local County Fair.

For two years we brought in ... READ MORE

Art From Garbage

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Henrythefish Angela Pozzi creates giant fish sculptures made from plastics gathered off local Oregon beaches.
Her latest project, Washed Ashore, is a collaborative multimedia effort to raise awareness and stimulate conversation about plastic debris in the ocean and washed up on beaches. Anybody who has stepped inside her Bioluminescent Sea Cave knows her passion for the ocean and the pleasure she takes in reinventing found objects. Her latest ... READ MORE

The Blue Economy

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Professor Gunter Pauli, founder of The Blue Economy promotes recycling while adding value, replacing unsustainable solutions. Instead of composing coffee waste, you grow mushrooms, generating food, and the waste is great animal feed.

The Simple Show has other interesting videos at Here's one on Gross National Happiness

Clean Water Components

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Pentair ValveTo resolve the difficulty of finding the parts needed for greywater and rainwater systems, Oakland water activists started an online supply company that makes it easier and more efficient to install these systems. The website has clear instructions for a variety of systems and all the components that would be necessary to complete the project. It is our mission to provide you with quality information and products which promote the ... READ MORE

"Laundry to Landscape" Greywater Systems

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LaundrytolandscapeCalifornias new greywater code allows single and two- family dwellings to install greywater systems from the washing machine without a permit so long as 12 conditions are met, including use of a diverter valve that can direct the greywater back to the sewer or septic when diapers are washed. A clear label for the valve and an operation/maintenance manual that stays with the house are also required. The greywater may be distributed ... READ MORE


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Grgich Pond 2From their conception, flowforms have been a part of the Biodynamic agriculture movement. The rhythmic and spiraling flow is widely recognized among Biodynamic farmers as a key component in the proper handling of the compost preparations before application onto the fields. They have proven very useful for larger farms where manual stirring is less achievable. There are hundreds of thousands of acres across the globe being treated ... READ MORE

Rammed Earth Cottage

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37 Cot LrBuilt to explore the feasibility of alternative construction as dense urban infill, this passive solar cottage has foot thick earth walls, radiant heat, daylighting, recycled fixtures, salvaged beetle kill cabinet wood, custom gutter downspout sconces, concrete countertops, concrete floors, and the industrial/residential artists live/work spare aesthetic. It has been much beloved by those lucky enough to live in this sanctuary! ... READ MORE

Lego Style Apartment

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When Christian Schallert isn't cooking, dressing, sleeping or eating, his 24 square meter (258 square feet) apartment looks like an empty cube. To use a piece of furniture, he has to build it. Located in Barcelona's hip Born district, the tiny apartment is a remodeled pigeon loft. Christian says its design was inspired by the space-saving furniture aboard boats, as well as the clean lines of a small Japanese home.

Tumbleweed Tiny Houses

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TinyhouseThese small homes range from 65-140 square feet. Because they are on wheels, they are considered travel trailers, and do not require a building permit. You can pretty much put one anywhere you can place an RV. Plans and how to workshops can be found at their website.


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CargotectureHyBrid coined the term cargotecture in 2004 to describe any structure built partially or entirely from recycled cargo containers. They provide complete cargo container homes starting at $59,000--elegant and minimalist. Read more here.

A Rotating Clothesline

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A rotating clothes line for drying clothes outside with the sun the old fashioned wayby Enrique Sanchez

Inspired by Christina Bertea's circular clothesline, I thought, if I could make the clothes line spin, the clothes would dry faster. I was wondering how I could to make a spinning device without too many moving parts and also be fairly quiet. I thought of using magnets and on www.GreenPower I found an example of ... READ MORE

Kiss the Cook, and the Farmer, Too!

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Moira Productions produces documentary programming for public television. A common purpose of all our projects (films, study guides, and online resources) is to create informed civil discourse around complex and often controversial issues. 

We gravitate towards stories that model solutions and offer hope.

Moira Productions films are a catalyst for social engagement. They have a point of view--eschewing the politics of ... READ MORE

The Great Sunflower Project

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Screen Shot 2011 06 29 At 9.27.34 AmMany studies have been done on our agricultural bee populations and in recent times the commercial beekeepers have experienced colony collapse. What scientists had not studied on a large scale was how the wild bees were doing and what effect that has on pollination of garden plants, crops and wild plants. In 2008, we started this project as a way to gather information about our urban, suburban and rural bee populations. We wanted ... READ MORE

Pay What You Can Restaurants

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Screen Shot 2011 06 29 At 9.23.52 AmRonald Saich, the founder and chairman of Panera Bread, has sculpted his company into one of the most successful small restaurant chains in the country. He's also done something no other chain has done before.

By creating a unique, pay-what-you-can model at three "Panera Cares" cafes around the country -- and more are coming soon -- he has proven an idea that seems revolutionary for a large corporation, but is actually very simple: ... READ MORE

The Sisters Project

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Latisha FamilybwA focus for generosity and innovation, DAILY BREAD has spawned several creative efforts, one of which is THE SISTERS PROJECT, founded by Meredith Stout and the late Zelma Brown. THE SISTERS PROJECT began at the Women's Drop-In Center as photography and poetry about the women, and evolved into live theater pieces, and eventually, a DVD called "Walk in My Shoes."

See a video featuring Meredith Stout at Facebook

The Daily Bread Project

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Carolyn1Since 1983, the urban gleaning project in Berkeley, California, DAILY BREAD has been picking up surplus food from restaurants, bakeries, groceries and caterers and bringing it to free food programs and shelters. Over the years, thousands of pounds of nutritious food that might otherwise have become landfill, have fed thousands of people. 

DAILY BREAD works exclusively with volunteers and has no budget. You can read more about ... READ MORE


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Dscn1720 1 1As a sequel to Rainflower (featured on the cover of Serious Fun), Raintree sought to add another function to the rain-catching sculpture concept. During Californias dry summers, the recycled vinyl-convention-banner fabric funnel can be removed while the wooden branches support a circling clothesline that serves to dry clothes in the sunshine.