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Black Monday

by: Heather on 10/06/2008
Posted in: Guest Posts

This just in from Mike Nickerson, author of Life, Money & Illusion: Living on Earth as if We Want to Stay , reflecting on the state of the financial markets in the context of other historic downturns. Thanks Mike!

The current stock market plunge has more in common with its name sake "Black Monday," two decades earlier, than the news has explained.

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Launching Local Food Campaigns

by: Heather on 08/19/2008
Posted in: Guest Posts

This article on strengthening your local food channels just arrived from Lisa Kivirist, co-author of Ecopreneuring and Rural Renaisance (originally published on eatdrinkbetter.com and used by permission).

When you're shopping at your local farmers' market or picking up this week's CSA box, do you get this nagging feeling that there's something more you can do to promote local food in your community? Feel the urge to active some activism for local food, but don't know where to start?

Consider Patty Cantrell your local foods campaign advisor. No hidden lobbying agenda or smoke and mirror political agenda, Cantrell wears her passion for growing healthy, economically vibrant communities through strengthening local food channels on an open sleeve. "Food is one of the most powerful ways to push the building of a healthy, local economy," explains Cantrell, Program Director of the Michigan Land Use Institute and a Food and Society Policy Fellow. "But this requires a significant shift in what economic developers and planners traditionally chase and prioritize, such as smokestack industries."

Communities with a healthy local food base will form the next generation of desirably, sought after places to live, argues Cantrell. "Increasing numbers of people today, particularly those in their 20s and 30s, prioritize where they want to live first and foremost, not just where they can get a job," explains Cantrell. "A healthy local food community proves to be an attractive, authentic appeal for moving to a certain area. With increasing numbers of retired Baby Boomers resulting in less people in the workforce, communities will start competing to attract residents and those with a vibrant local food economy, from farmers' markets to restaurants showcasing area fare, will have a marketable advantage."

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Guest Post - Paul Scheckel

by: Heather on 06/23/2008
Posted in: Guest Posts

This just in from Paul Scheckel, author of The Home Energy Diet, about the importance of pushing the envelope of your comfort zone when it comes to the environment. Thanks Paul!

Action for a healthy future

My resolve to foster energy awareness grew last month.

I usually offer my local workshops on home energy for free, and I'm thrilled if 10 people who care show up. I recently spent a week in Carbondale, Colo., to co-teach a one-week class on sustainable building practices for Solar Energy International. Twenty dedicated adult learners enrolled in the workshop. These participants came from all around the country and places as far away as Jamaica and Pakistan. They were all taking personal steps to make their homes, businesses, building practices, and lifestyles more sustainable and efficient.

The course included daily field trips. The local Waldorf School is the second-largest straw-bale structure in the country. I'm not a big fan of straw bale -- perhaps because I've seen too many early failures. But to my surprise, the building works, and my attitude towards straw bale construction has changed. The school is comfortable, efficient, welcoming, and feels "alive" -- an inspiring place to learn.

Another site visit took us to a contemporary residential development that adheres to the vernacular design of the old western mining town. Each of the dozen homes sports roof-mounted solar electric and hot-water panels. To our surprise, we learned from one homeowner that the developer had written covenants for the lots which included a no-clotheslines rule. This outdated practice shows that efficiency remains the unseen, unsung, and still struggling older sibling of younger track star "green" and the sexy "renewable." If only we could show off efficiency like we can show off a roof full of solar panels. (Psst! Guess which one costs less and saves more?)

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You Know Your Empire Is Collapsing When...

by: Heather on 06/04/2008
Posted in: Guest Posts

Kirkpatrick Sale, author of Human Scale has written an excellent, thought-provoking essay entitled "You Know Your Empire Is Collapsing When...", which is reprinted here by permission of the author. His basic point is that when you can no longer accept living within an increasingly corrupt and failing system then ... don't. Just don't.

You Know Your Empire Is Collapsing When...

I want to start out with a little game, called "How Do You Know When Your Empire Is Collapsing?" - invented in a little different form by a political scientist on Long Island.

Let me give you a few examples of how it works.

Let's say for starters, you know your empire is collapsing when the empire that is your fiercest rival buys up a total of 26 percent of three of your major Wall Street firms for $9 billion, and declares that it has another $200 billion that it is looking to invest.

[Since we're going to be doing some numbers here, I should pause to give a little reference for the concept "billion." A billion seconds ago was . . . 1959, which means some of you here haven't yet lived a billion seconds. A billion minutes ago Jesus was walking along the Sea of Galilee - more than 2 millennia ago. A billion hours ago, about 100,000 years before the present, the classic Neanderthal peoples were wandering Europe and the Middle East, and Homo sapiens started to move out of Africa. We throw the term around a lot, but a billion is a big, big number.]

Next, you might figure your empire is collapsing when its total debt obligations amount to $50.5 trillion. That is so big that it's about the same as the total household income of everyone in the country, including the billionaires. In other words, we owe almost more than we make.

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