blog (category: eco)
I met someone, Friday, at the recycle bins behind the West Side Market. He was sorting for metals as I was making a drop-off. We talked; I have some things he might want. He showed me a few spots to leave him aluminum, brass, copper: toss it over this fence, cover it with these boxes, leave a bag as a signal under the corner of this dumpster's lid...
They have a bad name from the start -- "Scrapper" having a pejorative connotation -- and they've developed a worse one, as many are catching attention by stealing from and dismantling houses and buildings.
The profession, itself, though, is indispensable by nature, for nature, for all. I can't think of a much more admirable but undervalued pursuit than sorting others' trash to reclaim and reuse -- particularly considering our society's overconsumption, energy inefficiency, and pollution :: material abuse!
What if we started with a new, positive, name for the scrapper: Re-user? Re-claimer?
We could clean up our land, cut material costs, decrease waste, and employ many, if we would better codify the process and bring it out from underground. Formalize the networks of people and organizations involved: connect re-claimers with builders, deconstruction agencies, materials businesses, waste management. (Integral industry!)
It starts, though, with respect for and the re-naming of this pursuit and those that occupy themselves with it.
- Made it to work today by bus(es) in just 25 minutes. The Euclid Corridor is quickening.
- A cop pulled me and my bicycle over on Saturday. That's twice this year.
- Felt a new and disconcerting snap in my knee while stretching (improperly) Sunday.
- Wrote WestSoy about the un-recyclability of their aseptic packaging a few weeks ago. They responded with a vacuous letter and coupons, (for more of same product & packaging,) to purchase my silent compliance
- My living room found a couch on a neighbor's curb. There were no back-cushions, but we're making do with replacements.
- Great email today from my supervisor at CleveMed: "I have a goal next year to reduce my needs for commercial software..."
I call them nature band-aids because there's a general idea in American that the remedy for mutilated urbanism is nature. And in fact the remedy for wounded and mutilated urbanism is good urbanism, good buildings. Not just flower beds, not just cartoons of the Sierra Nevada mountains...
Saturday was one of those adventure days I enjoy so much.
I bicycled to eight gardens on the Urban Harvest Garden Tour. Met good people doing good work, transforming (mostly-)urban lots into fertile vegetable gardens, to feed themselves, their families, and their communities.
Re-learning, teaching, growing.
Some (like the Barkwill/Doloff Community Garden, above,) are transformations of once abandoned lots.
The community garden maintainers I spoke with seemed less interested in expanding their own gardens than in suggesting that Clevelanders interested in doing the same:
- find an abandoned lot in their hood,
- ask their councilperson to support its reclamation, and
- get started, with help from Summer Sprout:
Summer Sprout is a collaborative effort between OSU Extension and Cleveland, through the Division of Neighborhood Services, Department of Community Development. Community gardens registered with Summer Sprout receive vegetable seeds and plant starts, soil preparation services such as plowing and rototilling, assistance in getting fire hydrant permits and equipment for watering, and garden fertilizer and leaf humus.
Growers keep their vegetables for themselves or to share. The rest of the produce goes to area hunger centers and agencies.
For details, 216-429-8246.
-- Community gardening sprouting up all the time in the Cleveland area (The Plain Dealer)
To know that Summer Sprout consists of some 170 gardens in Cleveland is inspiring. To see just a few of them and meet the people behind them, even moreso.
I've put all the photos I took in a set on Flickr: Urban Harvest Community Garden Tour 2007. The descriptions list which garden they're from, and each photo's location is geo-tagged; look for the map link.
Cleveland Midtown Innovation Center finally has a City recycling dumpster. :)
It was over a year ago that John McGovern referred me to Cassandra Moore, (Project Director for the City of Cleveland's Division of Waste Collection,) to request a city recycling dumpster in my workspace parking lot.
Our building owners and management were open and enthusiastic, (thanks, Michael Fleming, Heartland Developers, 4415 Euclid LLC.) Being publicly accessible 24/7 by Euclid and Chester made our location an easy sell to the City, we just had to wait on the new containers to arrive and be painted. A year of predictions, postponement, recontacting.
I've been collecting recyclables in the CleveMed kitchen for a few years -- in cardboard boxes from the water jugs we'd buy -- and toting them to City dumpsters every couple weeks. Until I'd drive my car to work, the filled boxes would stack to form a wall next to my cube, and the heap in the kitchen would tend toward constant overflow, pissing off the germ-paranoid.
Great, then, to return from California this week and find that our dumpster had finally arrived, and that the company switched from gallon jug shipments to a tap-water purifier.
An opportunity for us to collect more materials. Get some real bins, better publicize, and (hopefully) have the cleaning crew take the recyclables out with the trash. That's less crushing, stacking, and transporting for me.
Maybe it's because the content is bite-size chunky, and they fit well in the seat pocket?
Even if the subject is non-trashy, though, magazines themselves are trashy. Or at best, recycley, which is preceded in preference by reducey.
(I still read books, but) I don't read the newspaper or magazines; I read from the web. I'm not iPhone hip, though, and still rock the off-line, often. I used to print out web-reads for off-line consumption, but I've made another step in paper-less. (The soapbox I'm standing on is 100% post-consumer recycled cardboard.).
Here's my online/offline web-reading strategy:
- Browse the blogs and news feeds I read with Google Reader.
- Kick stuff that looks interesting off to a new (Firefox) tab -- using keystroke
ffwith the Google Reader Quick Links Greasemonkey script (or Better GReader Firefox add-on.)
- Mark everything else as Read (keystroke
A,) close Google Reader, and sift through the opened tabs.
- Consume what I have time for, and tag longer items for later in del.icio.us as to_read. Using the del.icio.us Bookmarks extension, keystroke
CTRL-D (CMD-D)then typing the tag name does it all.
- Use Plucker to grab all of the pages at 1-link depth from my del.icio.us/to_read list, and convert them to a Palm-readable format.
- Sync the Palm
- Read tagged items at leisure, on- or off-line.
No trees, no inks, no waste, no shipping!
No big glossy pictures, either, (yet.)
we had better prepare to make other arrangements for living in this country, by which I mean specifically re-localizing, de-globalizing, with an emphasis on local agriculture wherever possible, the emergency restoration of passenger railroad service and related modes of public transit, the rebuilding of local commercial infrastructures, and a radical rethinking of how we inhabit the landscape under New Urbanist lines.
In any case, those who keep wringing their hands over the bulldozers leveling the plots of prairie, or cornfield, or desert -- those distressed folks can direct their anxiety elsewhere. Worry less whether one final strip mall will tilt up out in gloaming, and think harder about how you are going to feed yourself and your family in a couple of years when the stupendous motorized moloch of American life begins to sputter, and the Cheez Doodle shipments can no longer make it to your supermarket shelves, and all that is "normal" melts into air.
I've been tossing around some ideas for a plant/seed/produce/tool-sharing site to grow a community around local gardeners, (urban, rural, and in-between.)
It seems a nice blend of [my interests in] web, software, ecology, and local community -- helping to build that economy/ecosystem that'll become necessary as our current concoction collapses, (as Kunstler continues to promise.)
I need a good project, but it might be more than I'm up for right now.
A city could be the home of technical nutrition, and the countryside the home of biological nutrition. And as the city brings in biological nutrition-its food, its natural resources-from the country, it utilizes them to good effect to support its people, and then it returns them to the countryside to rebuild the health of the soil. On the other hand, the city could be the place where we make things, where the industrial producers of cars, tractors, computers and communication devices send beneficial goods out into the world and accepts them back as resources for new products that only cities can make.
Not only has it been diluted through achieving buzzword status, but sustainability isn't even an adequate objective:
When I won the award from Clinton at the White House, the press all came up and said: "Oh, Mr. Sustainable, what does it all mean?" and I said I'm not that interested in sustainability, really, because if it is just the edge between destruction and regeneration, if sustainability is just a kind of maintenance, is this exciting?
If I were to ask if you were married and you said "yes," and I asked, "What is the relationship to your spouse like," and you said, "Oh, ah, sustainable."
Who cares? What we are looking for is fecundity, sex, children, movement.
I doubt fecundity has the phonemes for memetic procreation, but intending that the world should improve because we're here is a more appropriate ambition.
Mr. Sustainable spoke at the Cleveland Clinic's Ideas for Tomorrow series last week (PD review.) I instructed that others not miss the event, but was crushed (like so much recycled glass) when I found I'd committed myself elsewhere.
During the last two centuries we have known nothing but exponential growth and in parallel we have evolved what amounts to an exponential-growth culture, a culture so heavily dependent upon the continuance of exponential growth for its stability that it is incapable of reckoning with problems of nongrowth.
-- M. King Hubbert, "Exponential Growth as a Transient Phenomenon in Human History", 1976. (found at Hubbert peak theory on Wikipedia)
I think we will discover (probably painfully) that globalism was a set of transient economic relations made possible by a half century of cheap oil and relative peace between the great powers, and that enterprises that rely on these transient mechanisms -- such Wal-Mart, with its 12,000-mile merchandise supply chain to China, and its "warehouse on wheels" of tractor-trailor trucks circulating incessantly on America's interstate highways -- will be on their knees in a few years as we enter the export crisis phase of post-peak terminal oil depletion and the great powers of the world act with increasing desperation to compete over the remaining supplies.
I found the City of Cleveland's list and locator pretty poor, so I rolled my own (Google) map of Cleveland Recycling Drop-off Locations. The map shows all of the public bins where city residents may deposit recyclables.
For the bins I wasn't familiar with, (the majority,) I used the address provided, pointing to a spot right on the road instead of their exact locations, which are at times somewhat hidden. If you can help me pinpoint bins you know about, (the Satellite map view helps) I'd appreciate it.
The map is shared for viewing on Google Maps, but I believe I'm the only one that can edit it there. Please export the data and do what you like with it, though.