Posts filed under ‘How-To’

Squeezing Oil Out of Your Travel (Make Your Life Less Oily in 2017, Part 2)

oil-spillAs long as you and I consume oil, we make oil nastiness possible in the most basic way. Our money, and how we spend it, is an extension of our values, our intent, our convictions. If we don’t consume the oil, then, yes, someone else might. But when we participate in the ugly world of oil by consuming its products, we not only make it profitable, we give the whole craziness our implicit consent. Our efforts to change this are not useless drops in the bucket. Paradigm shifts most often happen first within small subgroups that eventually form enough critical mass to cause large-scale cultural change.

Now I know you’re not going to shed your junk miles, move to a ten-minute neighborhood or replace all your flights with trains tomorrow. It may, in fact, take you years to squeeze the oil out of your travel. I suggest for 2017 that you adopt the task as a kind of hobby, (after all, we don’t mind spending time and money on our hobbies) and get creative, flexible and even adventurous about the options available. You may be surprised by the life benefits that cheap oil has been hiding from you.

Read Squeezing Oil Out of Your Travel (Make Your Life Less Oily in 2017, Part 2) by Karen Lynn Allen at Musings.

May 1, 2017 at 11:07 am Leave a comment

Lead in Urban Soil

raised-beds-square-jpgLearn about safe levels of lead in soil, testing soil for lead, lead remediation, and how to take a few simple precautions to take when gardening in urban soil.

Green, growing plants and vibrant flowers drastically improve upon broken concrete, crumbling brick, rusted chain-link, and shattered glass. However, there are different challenges to gardening in the city, and one of the biggest issues for urban gardeners is lead in soils.

Although adults can be affected by lead, children, especially those under 6, are at the highest risk of serious lead poisoning. Minor symptoms of lead poisoning will go away over time if the lead source is removed, but severe damage is permanent. There is no known safe threshold of lead in the blood for children; any lead at all in the body is a concern.

What Are Safe Levels of Lead in Soil?

What does this have to do with urban gardening? Lead contaminates many city soils. All soil contains a small amount of lead, measured in parts per million (ppm). Normal soils can contain 10 to 50 ppm of lead. Many governments and researchers have established guidelines for lead in soil.

Read Lead in Urban Soil by Andrew Weidman at The Heirloom Gardener.

April 26, 2017 at 11:02 am Leave a comment

How to Throw a Successful Yard Sale

By gosh, there’s nothing better than a good sale. And I’m not talking about shopping. Selling off your stuff can be surprisingly fun, liberating, and profitable. It’s hard work, though. To ensure good profits, your best bet is to organize a multi-family or neighborhood sale. Bigger sales bring more customers; a well-run, well-publicized event can net hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.

So how do you do it? Well, you’ll need more than a newspaper ad. Get organized, plan ahead, and use social media to make your sale stand out.

1. Start early and in person.
A month or two before the sale date, start calling your neighbors and friends. Hold a planning meeting, potluck-style. Topics of conversation: location, date, theme, and price points. Make an action plan and let every household choose a manageable task.

2. Create a web presence.
This step makes all the difference, but it doesn’t need to be complicated! The easiest method is to create a Facebook event. It’s quick to set up, and you can invite most of your friends and neighbors.

3. Catalogue the goods.
Create an online photo album (e.g. on Flickr). Use a shared login so your co-sellers can upload photos. Ask everyone to post their interesting or valuable items, along with information about any antiques or collectibles. If possible, set up a separate album for each participating household.

Read all 8 tips at How to Throw a Successful Yard Sale by Jessica Reeder at Shareable.

April 24, 2017 at 11:07 am Leave a comment

Make Your Life Less Oily in 2017: Part I, Taking Stock

Most of our consumption of oil is so deeply embedded in our way of life that we’re unconscious of it or believe there’s no alternative. The antidote is to first make that consumption conscious and then get creative with alternatives, tailoring them to our specific situations. Here’s the good news: most of the steps you can take to purge oil from your life will make you healthier, happier, and your household more resilient! If you have kids, many of the steps will make them healthier, happier and perform better in school! Many of the steps will also make your community healthier, more prosperous, and more resilient. And if your prosperity is linked to your community’s prosperity, it will make you more prosperous as well.

So let’s bring the unconscious to the light of day. Just how oily is your life?

Read  Make Your Life Less Oily in 2017: Part I, Taking Stock by Karen Lynn Allen at Musings.

March 29, 2017 at 11:18 am Leave a comment

How to Share a Vegetable Garden

 Yard-sharing has many benefits, from access to fresh food to stronger neighborhood connections to environmental sustainability. But there are also potential pitfalls to sharing a garden, which you can avoid by discussing them early on with your neighbor.
Share Expectations
The first step is to discuss your expectations — this will prevent most potential conflicts or legal problems. You might start by talking through the following questions with your neighbor:
  • What will you grow? Who gets to eat the vegetables?
  • What should the garden look like and what will make it aesthetically pleasing?
  • During what hours may you come to work on the garden?
  • May you bring friends to work in the garden with you?
  • Who will care for the garden when you are away?

Read How to Share a Vegetable Garden by Janelle Orsi at Shareable.

March 13, 2017 at 10:43 am Leave a comment

Policies for Shareable Cities

IMG_0443Cities are built for sharing. It’s what makes cities engines of prosperity, innovation, and cultural exchange. Well connected cities have the unique capacity to raise per capita production and innovation while using dramatically less energy. For this reason, cities may be our best hope for achieving widespread prosperity within the earth’s natural limits.

The sharing economy has deep implications for how cities design urban spaces, create jobs, reduce crime, manage transportation, and provide for citizens. As such, the sharing economy also has deep implications for policy making. The sharing economy challenges core assumptions made in 20th century planning and regulatory frameworks – namely, that residential, commercial, industrial, and agricultural activities should be physically separated from one other, and that each single family household operates as an independent economic unit.

The guide curates scores of innovative, high impact policies that US city governments have put in place to help citizens share resources, co-produce, and create their own jobs. It focuses on sharing policy innovations in food, housing, transportation, and jobs — key pocket book issues of citizens and priorities of urban leaders everywhere. The guide is meant to help cities develop more resilient, innovative, and democratic economies.

Read the guide  Policies for Shareable Cities: A Sharing Economy Policy Primer for Urban Leaders produced by Shareable and the Sustainable Economies Law Center.

March 6, 2017 at 11:57 am Leave a comment

Ten Climate-Conscious Parents on Talking to Kids about Global Warming

walkingNobody wants to frighten their kids. (We know even the most reasonable adults are shut down by fear.) But as the stakes grow more stark and the politics get more divisive, it’s more crucial than ever that we bring the full force of our emotions to this fight and that we raise active, community-minded, and environmentally-aware citizens. And, I believe, talking to our kids is one way to focus all our own difficult and powerful feelings in a way that fuels rather than saps our civic and political engagement.

Think about it: dealing with climate change is about things kids already know well. It’s about cleaning up our messes; about the sun, wind, air, water, and our own bodies; it’s about treating all people with respect and dignity, about stopping bullies; about sharing; and also about making rules that keep us safe — and making sure everyone follows the same rules! Young people are naturally curious, observant, and creative — they can get excited about nature, science, and new ideas.

Read Ten Climate-Conscious Parents on Talking to Kids about Global Warming by Anna Fahey at The Tyee.

March 1, 2017 at 11:05 am Leave a comment

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