The best environmental blogs: EcoStreet through H, and a few out of order
People with awful jobs often have great senses of humor. Try hanging out with some longtime jail guards or social workers and getting them talking. They’ve seen it all, man, and they just have to laugh about it. If you’re at a conference of psychiatrists, crash the “forensics” table: the docs that deal with really sick violent people all day. The probability is high you’ll have a blast — while over at the “therapists to the healthy and alienated” table, that p fast approaches zero.
That’s what I was thinking this week as I read through recent entries at two surprisingly entertaining sites about economics. …more
The best environmental blogs: A to EcoRazzi
It’s been a long road, fraught with botched triple salchows, flesh-colored wardrobe malfunctions, and ice-shattering “Why me”s, but we are finally ready to share with you the enviro blog reviews from the first quarter of the alphabet.
Little house on a small planet (book review)
A lot of people are dreaming about downsizing their dwellings these days. Smaller houses go with a simpler, more rural life… and hopefully freedom from debt and “the Man.”
Naturally they’re turning to books for ideas about how to build or set up their new place. Print is still superior to the internet for providing thematic collections of photographs and drawings, and a book about dwellings can and should be something of a “wish book” for the reader… something they stay up to look at, under the covers with a flashlight if necessary.
Accordingly I was excited to receive a review copy of Little House on a Small Planet (Lyons Press, 2006), by Shay Salomon, with photographs by Nigel Valdez.
This wasn’t just because I love receiving free swag (note to all: please send more). I’ve also been frustrated by the scattershot bibliography of the small-house movement. …more
Zen and the art of trail maintenance
The tools of trail work: the Pulaski, a Janus-headed half-axe, half-adze; the adze hoe (ain’t gardening); the pick mattock, which will pick your eye out if you lose your footing. Hard metal tools, forged in fire and originally designed for wildfire-fighting.
The tools are hard, but the work is soft. You can’t just hack a trail up the side of a mountain. According to to the Student Conservation Association’s trail manual, Lightly on the Land, early trails in the Northeast U.S. used to be built this way–hacked hurriedly straight up to the summit. This was because in the Eastern U.S., most of the trails being built were recreational, e.g. from a Catskill inn up to a viewpoint, and because people had to worry more about staying within property lines.
But now the “horizontal vision”–winding, low-grade trails that obey the contours of the land–of the Western U.S., where trails were originally more logging- or mining-related, is the favored method of trail building.
The best environmental blogs: a few not in the running
I’m sure you’re all on tenterhooks waiting to see the outcome of our recently announced, completely unfair, arbitrary, and unasked-for battle of the environmental blogs. Who’s got the class to win this skating competition, and who’s standing in the shadows with a crowbar?
Just like those cardinals who confab to elevate a new pope, our progress so far has been a model of, um, restraint. A Google spreadsheet has been generated to record the arbitrary ratings which will separate the enviroblogical Nancy Kerrigans from the Tonya Hardings. All the blog names and URLs have been alphabetized nicely, which gives the project a pleasing air of officialdom.
Now that all is in order, we need to simply READ, and wait for the hand of God, I mean the tendrils of Gaia, to direct us.
In the meantime I’ve imperiously decided to eliminate a few sites from the running. …more
Left to Die on the Vine (Movie Review)
Left to Die
Produced by Elizabeth Atly
Wednesday, September 27, and I arrived by bike over 40 minutes late for the premiere of Left to Die at the Hollywood Theater in Portland, Oregon. I assumed the long line outside was for This Film Is Not Yet Rated, the other indie documentary advertised in red block letters on the nonprofit theaterâ€™s marquee.
Instead it was for the lesser hyped film, one that chronicles the personal experiences of those that suffered the so-called â€œCauseway Concentration Campâ€ …more
A kick in the pants for environmentalism
I was late for Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus’ (the authors of “The Death of Environmentalism”) keynote at Lewis & Clark College last night. I had spent an hour getting ready, dressing myself in my best funeral clothes. When my friend came to pick me up, exasperated with my naivete and our inevitable tardiness, he told me I couldn’t wear that: we needed to wear hemp and bring plenty of organic tomatoes to hurl at the speakers. Frustrated by now but also feeling a touch of the Halloween spirit, I decided to go as a CO2 molecule (maybe my hated presence would take some of the heat off these poor guys) and we hurried out the door.
But the occasion was really more of an unmasking than a dressing-up. A public stripping of the old codger Environmentalism, and an examination of his every lump, crevice and unsightly age spot.
Tiny house barely escapes strangulation by codes
[note May 2007: people keep linking to this very old post.. if you want to see the finished house, follow this link. For the bureaucratic struggle, read on...]
Though I’ve ranted in this space about McMansions and monster houses, I haven’t spoken about my own little venture into the obvious alternative: tiny homes. Now I’m going to, with drawings and dollar numbers, and man it ain’t a pretty story.
Tiny houses are just the rage among a certain set. The dream begins with artisans who give the structures a tremendous romance, where “small” doesn’t mean “poor,” it means “beautifully simple.” The dollish scale brings natural economy with energy and materials — saving cash and nature. Lots of greens with back-to-the-land dreams (like Sandra the Serene) are thinking about building them.
However, these buildings are usually pictured in a rural setting, where building codes and zoning regulations are lax or nonexistent. I wanted to do mine in the city, where money is big and bureaucrats rule.
Here’s what happened to me. There’s a lot of detail here, but if you are getting into this kind of thing, detail may be just what you need…