Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Creativity- A Driving Force

Creativity A Driving Force for Sustainability... a fabric of life
Thank you Sabrina for inspiring work

Stitching together with common threads
patchwork multitude
the world tied, laid out
as a quilt
I lay upon

"Transition Towns"

You may already be living in a transition town or dreaming about how to move your community towards something more sustainable, or maybe sustainability has not occurred to you... yet? There is a movement building in little clusters throughout the world and the country you live in. The movement is simple, micro, intrinsic and organic. The process may be part of something overarching- greater than the individual or maybe it just stirs from some innate animalistic place within us for adaptation and evolution? Who knows? Yet, there is a quiet revolution happening... do you hear or see the stirring?
Tonight I went to a Green Drinks talk on Transition Towns. If you haven't heard of these things, maybe check them out. There seems to be a great deal of small stirrings happening in Sweden. Vaxjo, is the greenest city in Europe to the North of Kalrkrona, where I am living and Karlskrona's municipality wants to become the 'garden city' of Sweden. There are community level movements happening all over. How about where you live?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Season for Acorn Milk

Turtle Lake Refuge's
Where one can find wonderful raw food recipes and information about medicinal and botanical plants

Acorn Milk Recipe:
"This delicious milk can be made with a combination of any of these nuts or seeds: acorn, almond, cashew, hazelnut, sunflower, or sesame seed. Please feel free to substitute in the ingredients most available to you.

1/2 cup acorns
4 cups happy water
3 tb sp local honey
1 cup almonds
2 tsp vanilla

Blend all the ingredients together very thoroughly. The longer you blend, the richer the milk will be. Strain through a cheese cloth or a kitchen strainer. The milk can be enjoyed straight or used on cereals, in tea, or in place of dairy milk in recipes. This milk is the way to go. It is economic, non-pasteurized, creates no trash, and is full of enzymes."

Saturday Market

I am so lucky to be in, yet another wonderful town with a wonderful farmer's market. Markets of all kind seem to carry the essence of community- attractive in socio-cultural, economical,
and ecological ways. One thing I just love, is a farmer's market! Here, I can find delicious, locally grown and harvested food, the local community of all ages interacting and a place where I can personally put my money in the hands of those making their livelihoods supporting the community and my own sustenance. The cycle, in a sense in complete... almost.

Sweden is a great progressive nation with proactive programs and principals along the lines of sustainability- city run recycling and composting, support for local food production, education, health care and social activism, to name a few. Yet, in a recent study, I read that the number one thing that Swedes can work on in reducing an individual's and family's footprint is to rethink 'food!' Food consumption, more than cars and housing is the greatest contributor to high carbon emissions here in Sweden. That surprised me with all this locally grown food, where this is an apple tree in almost everyone's yard, berries of all kinds along woodland trails... it is plentiful here in Sweden, so how is it that the food chain that is being supported is the one with a high carbon footprint?
I can't make any assumptions- I am a foreigner, and worst yet, I am from America where this question really needs to be asked.

So, when next time we all go to the market, no matter where we live- look on the label to see what country it comes from and then ask yourself- does this food grow in my backyard... my community or my country? If so, maybe I should try to support that first?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Growing into Fall

Image taken from Grow This Blog
It may be autumn, but it isn't too late to plant and grow your own food! Cool season planting varies all over, depending where you live and zone for hardiness, you can probably plant a variety of things in your backyard. Where I am from and currently living is in the northern latitudes so cool crops for me are greens (easiest with great variety) mixed, mesclun, kale, chard, spinach... garlic, small short carrots, brussel sprouts, cabbage and can be grown late into fall.

Click here for Fall Gardening Tips

For now, however, without my own garden plot to delight in, I hope to talk my landlords into making a coldframe, where greens would grow easily, even starting now in September. And even though I can't be growing and harvesting my own food, there is an awesome and abundant local farmers market that does the job for eating healthy organic local foods.

Climate Affairs

Google's Climate Stimulator to Play into Copenhagen Climate Conference

How to take this information and use it towards making personal efforts to reduce one's carbon footprint? These are my own thoughts on how I try to act...
1. Be conscious to choices we make- food, clothing, transportation, housing, energy use...
Through making better decisions in all these areas will reduce your overall personal contribution to carbon footprinting.
2. Get involved in your community- activism, politics, community development, education and enrichment. After all, this is the level we all operate in and live in- so we make it what we want it to be.

A few easy sayings to live by
'live more simply so others may live'
'Acting local means thinking global'

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Global Climate Change Week

Global Climate Wake Up Call! CALLING YOU!

Find what's going on where you live to participate on the 21st and 22nd of September

Participate by signing the Climate Petition and pledging your experience and actions towards climate change by visiting Seal the Deal!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Learning from "The Greenest City in Europe"

Vaxjo, Sweden

Is said to be called the Greenest City in Europe. After taking a trip North to visit this little town, I was surprised pulling into a town that seemed- well, normal in most ways. It wasn't until I sat through a talk by some of the city's planners that I came to understand how this little town is so dynamite!
Practically fossil fuel free, where most energy is run on biomass- collected as by product from local harvesting and production and proud cyclists that love commuting via cobblestone streets. There is a lot going on here that can easily be applied to towns all over the US. Yet, how is something like that accomplished? This is why I am here in Sweden, to soak up places and experiences like Vaxjo and other eco-municipalities and be able to translate these frameworks to the small towns in the States I roam between.

What is Biomass? And how does it actually generate enough energy to run a town like Vaxjo?

Interested in finding more resources that give ways your town or community can become more sustainable...

The Natural Step for Communities: How Cities and Towns can Change to More Sustainable Practices

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sustainability = Creativity

I recently watched Elizabeth Gilbert's talk on Ted and man did it hit a chord and link similar themes between being a writer and a creator to someone seeking work in 'sustainability.' Why do we have to fight the current, step out so far to face such a fear-based wall when you say- I'm an artist, a writer or studying sustainability? Shouldn't creativity and sustainability be inherent, innate and valued within our social structures? These may just be as important any other pillars of society.

WANÅS Foundation

Recently took a field trip to the amazing Wanas Foundation. Along the woodland paths, weaving through a beautiful hardwood forest, one comes to view various installations speaking-telling of issues on energy, architecture, social structures, cultural norms, things that 'once were'... loved, celebrating love, celebrating life and death- in natural and manmade worlds. Utterly stimulating and inspiring.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Sustainable Cup of Coffee

What is behind a cup of coffee?

It's getting cooler and a little more rainy these days, which seems to instigate an increase in my coffee consumption. And of which makes me feel a necessity to look closer at what an increase in my consumption might mean behind the scenes. What type of business am I supporting? Is the supply chain sustainable or depleting to some population of people and place in the world? And even more, what is the quality of coffee I am putting in my body?
It's easy for me not to think of these questions when I am in the moment of craving my vice, but making a point of it now, will hopefully tattoo the importance of asking myself these questions for next time.

Simple things to think about:
Am I bringing my own cup?
Or, if I forgot and have to use a to-go, can it be composted? And if your in Sweden where theres great recycling- I can recycle the plastic top and cup.
Is the coffee Fair Trade, Organic, Ethically grown... 'eco-friendly'? Any of these improve the quality for yourself and the others that are part of the process.

Carbon Footprinting of a 'Cup of Coffee'
Quoted from Nature Next, Safety 1st
"Many activities leave a carbon footprint, but you can help shrink yours down.
The term “carbon footprint” is often used to talk about our impact on the planet, but many people are still a little confused about what it means. This article takes a brief look at the term and gives a few examples of things that can cause your footprint to grow larger. We also give some quick tips on how to reduce the size of your personal carbon footprint.

A carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide produced by a human or organization over a given period of time or for a given activity. It sounds simple enough, and may even have you thinking that your own carbon footprint must be small. After all, other than driving a car, what could you be doing that releases carbon dioxide? The answer is actually quite a lot!

Two examples of activities that cause a carbon footprint are buying a cup of coffee while you are out and making a cup of coffee at home. Let us reassure you, we do not expect anyone to stop drinking coffee! But this everyday drink can be used in two simple examples to show how a carbon footprint grows.

Going to the local coffee shop
Going to the local coffee shop involves getting a drink in a disposable cup. Seems harmless enough, but think about the energy that goes into getting that cup of coffee.
Carbon dioxide released during the drive to the shop.
Carbon dioxide released to make that disposable cup.
Carbon dioxide released transporting the cup and ingredients to the shop.
Carbon dioxide released making those ingredients into a delicious drink.

Before you wonder what sort of crazy coffee shop uses a fossil-fuel engine to make a cup of coffee, remember that the majority of electricity in the U.S. is produced by burning coal or other fossil fuels.
BOOM, your foot comes down hard onto the ground and there is your carbon footprint for the activity."

For the rest of this article go to- Carbon Footprinting

Friday, September 11, 2009

Fall- a Time for Mulching and Soil Building

That cool crisp breeze of autumn is here, and with it comes the turning of leaves and earth. Fall is a good time for all kinds of harvesting and also laying ground for a good harvest in the year to come. You don't have to be a farmer or have a garden in mind for building soil, you can do this simple act as a benefit to any piece of your land. As the leaves color, turn and fall think about harvesting the potential energy for composting and mulching and enriching some earth around you.

A good and easy way to do this is set aside recycled cardboard, rake a leaf pile and save your coffee grounds (carbon rich material) and find some nitrogen rich matter- any green, living material... like grass clippings. Allocating manure is good as well as some rich compost or soil.
More specific to your environment... do you live near the sea or have access to shells? Or tropical landscapes benefit from native palms and so on. If it grows around you- use it.

It's easy to follow the posted Layer Mulching diagram or follow these easy instructions:

Start with your rich soil plot
Next add any local shell or phosphate rich material... bone meal, rock phosphate...
Next add manure- rich source of organic materials
Next add you carbon-rich leaves
Next layer your nitrogen-rich grass clippings
Next add some more manure
Now layer heavily overlapped cardboard
More grass clippings
A little compost and soil

Congratulations, you now have paved a path for a prosperous piece of land for a productive garden plot!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Dr. Karl-Henrik Robèrt and The Natural Step

In the last week I have been delighted and so lucky to hear Dr. Karl-Henrik Robèrt who is the founder of the NGO, The Natural Step and a visiting professor of my Master's program, Strategic Leadership Towards Sustainability at Blekinge Institute of Technology lecture on how to approach sustainability and what exactly ' is' sustainable development.

If you are interested in Sustainability or not really sure what sustainability means, check out

My Fruit Getter

As we approach the fullness of fall, the fruit is becoming so abundant. Everyday I ride my bike and end up with a full basket of something or other... how rich and wonderful to be amongst all this free food.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Elderberry Syrup

Click here to visit Elderberry.Coml

Here's a Quick Elderberry Syrupl Recipe:

2 lbs fresh elderberries... plucked from the stems
4 cups spring water
1/2 Lemon freshly squized
1/2 cup of sugar or 1 cup of honey

Bring elderberries and water to a boil and stir for 20 minutes
Mash and stir the berries and then strain
Return liquids to the pan and add the lemon juice and honey or sugar. Boil for another 10-20 minutes boiling off a little of the water to make more of a syrup.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Sweden Sustainability

I am still adjusting to the fact that I now live in Sweden. It is a wonderfully easy place to settle into... in the turn of autumn. Living by the Baltic Sea brings a nice crisp maritime breeze and the trees and plants seem to be initiating that fall shift. I am in utter delight strolling the streets and woodland trail systems, riding bike paths and neighborhoods to find so much fruit growing- overflowing, from people's yards and along by ways. There are apples, plums, pears, elderberries, blackberries, currants, grapes and rose-hips! I have been busy picking and trying to think ahead for some food procurement for this coming winter. I just finished an elderberry cordial and packed the freezer shelf with big ol blackberries. Next on my list is to get the low-down on where to find the chanterelle mushrooms?
My profession is gardening, so I notice a lot of detail in people's yards. These small Sweden yards are quit impressive...
It makes me wonder- Why Isn't Edible Gardening/Landscaping More Popular in the US? It is not hard or difficult- just societal norm that drives the difference between these sustainable yards to the ones I am more used to in the States.

Learn How to Build a Green Roof Like this One

And visit these sites to learn more about making Green Roofs:

The Living Roof; California Academy for Science
How To Build a LivingRoof
Building a Roof Garden

Sweden's Fall Fruit

Some of the plentiful fruit of Southern Sweden. What a nice introduction to a new home!