Sunday, July 25, 2010
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Step #1- find out how to utilize electricity generated from renewable energy sources... maybe even convince the landlord to invest in solar panels in which all tenants would find reduced electricity bills due to generating a portion of our own electricity needs.Step #2- already into July, look into what type of foods can we still grow and harvest into the autumn? create raised beds or planters to shareStep #3- designate a composting corner in the shared backyard to enrich local soil and not throw away nutrient-rich food scrapes and install an easy-to-use recycling area for all tenants to useStep #4- education on weatherization as the autumn approaches with cooler temperatures- turn the landlord of the building onto more weatherization projects for the entire building and also educate tenants on energy conservation.Step #5- really audacious, but create a living roof to 'green-up' space or install living walls in the building to help circulate heating and cooling (depending on the season) throughout the space and create healthy atmosphere
Friday, July 16, 2010
As mentioned before, while walking the streets of Totnes, I could sense there was something quite special about the town and was amazed and delighted to see the variety of community-owned shops; artisans galleries, speciality shops, bakeries, quaint cafes and resturants, independent bookstores, little groceries selling local foods, natural health stores, handcrafted wears and body shops and more. In a way it did remind me of my community, Durango, Colorado but on an even more localized, down-home, humbled wavelength. After visited Totnes and reading up on all the community initiatives happening, I also ended up viewing the In Transition: The Transition Town Movement Documentary at the local Sustainable Living Film Festival in Karlskrona, Sweden where I was studying Sustainability at Blekinge Institute of Technology. The documentary is great and I recommend you see it and even more get a bunch of community members together to watch it and get inspired to start your own Transition Town in your town!
And this is what I am interested in doing here in Durango, Colorado. I am in the process of researching the steps in which other towns have initiated a Transition Town movement in their own communities and I hope to share the steps and process of doing it here with you. I know in theory it seems like an easy thing to do- talking to people, getting a steering committee together, joining the network and connecting to other Transition Towns to share stories and processes about success aspects and such, but the initial stage of communicating to the community and getting support, involvement and momentum seems a little daunting. However, I realize, here in Durango, similiar initiatives are already happening with great non-profits like Four Corners Office for Resource Effieciency, the Sustainability Alliance of Southwest Colorado and Turtle Lake Refuge, just to mention a few, as well as a weekly local farmer's market and great locally-owned and supported businesses, orgnizations and programs... yet it all needs some glue it seems. It seems, often, in a lot of places that there are great things happening, but they are not glued together in some sort of overall momentum building towards a shared vision.
A shared vision- the secret to success...
Visiting communities in Denmark and Germany that were initiating and establishing community renewable energy projects, it seemed that the key to their success- producing community supported renewable energy and profiting from it with good return on investment, was heavily related to them having a shared vision which built an image and town branding, like "Clean City..." or "Green City..." or "Fair Trade City..." that attracted tourists and residents and helped retain the young people that would continue to make that town or city a great place to live.
So what is Durango's vision? What does Durango want their image to be- their branding as a model city? I think this may be a first step that either leads to a transition town movement or maybe the transition town movement would help Durango discover???
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
"After review of the local solid waste, reuse and recycling system, there are a number of services that stand out as critical to moving forward with the Zero Waste goal in this region:
♦ Composting - A composting facility is needed to compost all organics, including yard trimmings,
food scraps and food-soiled paper
♦ Resource Recovery Park - More efficient recycling operations are needed to process reusables and recyclables from the region, including recyclables from construction and demolition debris, ideally in a Resource Recovery Park design
♦ Solid Waste System Redesign - Garbage contracts, rate structures and services provided need to be revised to provide incentives to all involved to move to Zero Waste (as detailed above)."
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Monday, July 5, 2010
Flying from Spain (which isn't the greatest mode of transportation in itself) and it's siestas into fast NYC was an interesting homecoming, especially because we did not just land and find friends or family welcoming us back to a home to recupurate from let jet-lag and culture shock, but a trip to Budget Rental and onto the road to Michigan. Our plan of visiting my brother in upstate NY, devised back in the winter, was foiled and this was the next best thing we thought. However, after getting used to not having a car, using public transportation, riding a bike and witnessing most people making similar choices, it was a surreal experience landing back in this country of 'fast' and 'big' things. Also never visiting NYC before and navigating out of the city through all the suburbs on our way out like Harlem, the Bronx and others- it was crazy! I was practically freightened to be in our rental car navigating, in and out, through the sea of vehicles.
I am still getting used to being back on the road with so many over-sized trucks, SUVs and big vehicles. With it being 4th of July and celebrating our Independence, I find it somewhat ironic that 'independence' can be associated with big trucks sometimes- this is not independence, this is dependence of a finite supply of oil that will be the downfall of the US economy if we are not smarter. Maybe someday a wind turbine can signify Independence more than a big loud truck.
So, some solutions...
I think I may stick with not owning a vehicle for a while. After growing used to not having a car in Sweden and just biking, walking and using the bus, I have found this to be quite enjoyable.
BUS... any PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION
smart vehicles- biodiesel, electric, smaller and more efficient vehicles
How can we make this smarter way of getting around more sexy? How can we promote healthier habitats while promoting healthier lifestyles and ways of getting from point A to point B... it is more about looking at the service that people need instead of the 'products' like big and 'false sexy' vehicles. We can do better, right?
The precise definition of "smart" varies from one engineer to the next. The gist is that a smart grid would be more automated and more "self-healing," and so less prone to failure. It would be more tolerant of small-scale, variable power sources such as solar panels and wind turbines, in part because it would even out fluctuations by storing energy—in the batteries of electric cars, according to one speculative vision of the future, or perhaps in giant caverns filled with compressed air.A Smart Grid offers more than more efficient, stable and safer electricity supply, it would also help us all to become more conscious of our electricity use and advocate for consumers to be more involved in the process of consuming and depending on necessary electricity. Once again I'd like to quote Achenbach, especially because it echoes what I have been researching and designing in my thesis work:
But the first thing a smart grid will do, if we let it, is turn us into savvier consumers of electricity. We'll become aware of how much we're consuming and cut back, especially at moments of peak demand, when electricity costs most to produce. That will save us and the utilities money—and incidentally reduce pollution. In a way, we'll stop being mere passive consumers of electrons. In the 21st century we'll become active participants in the management of this vast and seemingly unknowable network that makes our civilization possible.
Attention. You may be part of something great that happens to the US...
According to government sources, the United States plans to announce the formation of the International Smart Grid Action Network, or ISGAN, to expand the U.S. energy market through smart grid standardization and take the lead in the new energy business. The Obama administration is expected to make the announcement at the first ministerial meeting on clean energy to take place in Washington, D.C. on July 19-20. For complete article, visit the new article at Smart Meters website.
Smart Meters, Leverage Points for more sustainable energy consumption...
Along with the Smart Grid, the Smart Meter which helps consumers better understand their electricity needs and their consumption of electricity is a growing solution for smart consumers. Smart meters are very popular in renewable energy progressive countries like Denmark, Germany and Sweden.
For more info on Smart Meters see this great introductory pdf