naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (self-portrait)
http://fashionintel.com/2011/02/24/altadena-urban-farmers/

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/home_blog/2011/02/community-gardens-empty-raymond-avenue-lot-becomes-growers-haven.html

http://www.latimes.com/features/food/la-fo-urban-farming-20110310,0,3691966,full.story

This is an older LA Times article from 2009, but the http://growfriend.org website still looks like it's alive and kickin'. Cool!
http://www.latimes.com/features/home/la-hm-share20-2009jun20,0,1628042.story

This is a reminder to myself to visit this part of the Tujunga Wash in a couple months after my schedule calms down, to see what's become of the waterway-reclamation project described in this 2009 blogpost, and also to check out the books by the blog's author: http://www.harvestingrainwater.com/2009/03/24/harvesting-urban-drool/

"Because everyone loves a home-grown tomato!" http://hyperlocavore.com/

I've signed up for a free account on http://myfolia.com/, which is a social networking site for gardeners. I'm still just finding my way around there, but there's all kinds of tools for tracking planting, growth and harvest and sharing knowledge with other people growing similar plants in similar zones. Very interesting!


Of course there's http://altadenablog.com/ which is Made Of Awesome. :-D I've been reading it for the past year or so and it's a big reason I'm moving to Altadena. In fact I've set up a DW feed so I can follow it on my DW Circle: [syndicated profile] altadenablog_feed.

Other blogs I've started reading lately:
http://www.lafarmergirl.com/ (This is a co-worker's wife's blog, and I set up a DW feed to follow it at [syndicated profile] lafarmergirl_feed)
http://www.rootsimple.com/ ([syndicated profile] rootsimple_feed)
http://woodandbones.designsimple.com/ ([syndicated profile] woodandbones_feed)
http://hometown-pasadena.com/ ([syndicated profile] hometown_pasadena_feed)
http://athinkingstomach.blogspot.com/ ([syndicated profile] athinkingstomach_feed)

The Arroyo Lowdown for event news:
http://www.facebook.com/TheArroyoLowdown#!/TheArroyoLowdown?sk=info
http://www.facebook.com/TheArroyoLowdown

Arroyo Time Bank:
http://www.facebook.com/arroyotimebank#!/arroyotimebank?sk=info
http://www.facebook.com/arroyotimebank
http://www.arroyotimebank.org/

Altadena Urban Farmers Market:
http://www.facebook.com/AltadenaUrbanFarmersMarket#!/AltadenaUrbanFarmersMarket?sk=info
http://www.facebook.com/AltadenaUrbanFarmersMarket

:-)

Later, I'm thinking maybe these might be nice:

In-Season Produce Exchange:
http://www.facebook.com/RIPEAltadena?ref=sgm#!/RIPEAltadena?v=info
http://www.facebook.com/RIPEAltadena
http://www.ripealtadena.com/

Altadena Heritage... I think this is like a historical society type group, with urban planning activism:
http://www.facebook.com/AltadenaHeritage#!/AltadenaHeritage?sk=info
http://www.facebook.com/AltadenaHeritage
http://www.altadenaheritage.org/

Two other interesting articles I turned up on the way to all of the above links:
http://hometown-pasadena.com/creative-types/melkon-khosrovian-organic-spirits-maker/
http://hometown-pasadena.com/creative-types/private-knives-ben-abbott/
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (reflective)
How high will the price of gas have to rise before it becomes more economical for gardening companies in the United States to pay more humans to sweep with with brooms than to pay fewer people to use noisey, gas-powered leaf blowers?

The calculation depends not only on the price of gas, but also on the price to purchase and upkeep the blowers, the minimum wage and prices of insurance and/or other benefits for hiring more employees, right?
naturedance: crafting joy (crafting joy)
I typed some of this up as a response to a post by [livejournal.com profile] armchairgamer last weekend, but I wanted to post it here as well, along with some other links... this is a followup to my earlier post here about the current state of our country...

I trust Howard Dean, and the Democracy for America folks. http://www.democracyforamerica.com/ -- they're working to put progressive clueful candidates in races nationwide, from the local to the national. That's how I first encountered Barack Obama, who's pretty amazing... http://obama.senate.gov/

Habitat for Humanity is making a difference for good in the world... http://www.habitat.org/

Second Harvest is doing good work in the food bank area... http://www.secondharvest.org

Which reminds me... the Caltech Y has a group of folks who volunteer at a local shelter here in Pasadena, cooking meals... they also do beach cleanups and such. Easy, local, make a difference stuff in the Pasadena area... http://www.caltechy.org/program/calendar/

Mercy Corps is doing good things... some of my friends who dislike the Red Cross and/or the Salvation Army for various reasons give to them, and after doing a bit of research, I can see why... http://www.mercycorps.org/

Doctors Without Borders does good work... http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/

Heifer International does, too... http://www.heifer.org/ (plus it's just pretty cool to give a family a critter that allows them a better livelihood, you know? Critters are cool.)

There's also The ONE Campaign To Make Poverty History at http://www.one.org/

There are a set of six websites which I try to click buttons on every day...
http://www.TheBreastCancerSite.com and
http://www.TheHungerSite.com and
http://www.TheChildHealthSite.com and
http://www.TheLiteracySite.com and
http://www.TheRainforestSite.com and
http://www.TheAnimalRescueSite.com.
You can click buttons for free and goods/money/services are donated to those causes. Setting one as a default homepage in a browser reminds me to click each day... it's not just that it's a free way to help out, but it's also a conscious reminder that I'm part of the larger world and that I can make a difference in it when I sit down at the web. They also have affiliated stores... http://www.gearthatgives.com/

That reminds me... about debt stuff... do you know how much your own credit card companies donate to the Republican Party each election cycle? What about the bank where you have your checking or savings account? I did some research on that last spring, got pretty angry/depressed, and realized I needed to make a significant effort to deal with my debts and my investments to make sure that megacorps weren't using my money or debt to advance their agendas which contradict mine.

Oh, and when I remember to, I check out where I'm spending my money to see if they are green or blue rather than red (and yeesh, color-coding sucks, but, hey...) I try to buy environmentally-conscious or Democrat-donating rather than Republican-donating:
http://www.buyblue.org/
http://spendingliberally.org/
And I just spotted another interesting place... http://www.alonovo.com/about

I get action alerts by email from these:
NARAL ProChoice America http://www.naral.org/
Planned Parenthood http://www.ppfa.org/
American Civil Liberties Union http://www.aclu.org/
MoveOn.org http://www.moveon.org/
NRDC BioGems http://www.savebiogems.org/
The Nature Conservancy http://nature.org/
The Sequoia Natural History Association http://www.sequoiahistory.org/

I also signed up to get news emails from my elected officials a while back... the Congressional folks all have such mailing lists, linked off their official websites. I haven't yet done the same for the state representatives or local government stuff, but I probably should.

Do you read http://www.dailykos.com/ or http://www.blogforamerica.com/? I don't read them as much as I feel I should... I find that I get overwhelmed if I read them every day, but I can handle the smaller doses at Kit's Concatenation (http://concatenation.blogspot.com/) and two journals by the Plaid Adder: http://www.democraticunderground.com/plaidder/index.html and http://www.livejournal.com/users/plaidder/.

After seeing image after image online of poor black people struggling for survival, and sometimes not making it, in New Orleans, I couldn't help thinking about the United Negro College Fund http://www.uncf.org/ and that also led me to the American Indian College Fund at http://www.collegefund.org/. I'm still looking for useful organizations for poor white folks and women to get help to pay for college.

V-Day has a press release with information about organizations assisting battered women in the Katrina disaster areas. From that page: "Following Hurricane Andrew in Miami, spousal abuse calls to the local community helpline increased by 50%. The Missouri floods of 1993 saw the average state turn-away rate at shelters rise 111% over the preceding year and an overall 400% increase in need for services." Numerous shelters in the gulf coast region need help to rebuild, and that press release has good links and info.

You can locate blood drives by US ZIP code at http://www.givelife.org/

And because I just want to link to pretty recycled and/or eco-conscious things right now... Natural Spaces looks like a really neat storefront.

Lately, I've replaced a couple halogen torchiere lamps with fancy fluorescent bulbs in nicer torchieres. I'd had a fluorescent torchiere once before, but the circular bulb just didn't have the brightness I needed in two rooms of my current place. But I found an uber-fluorescent bulb that works, and I'm thrilled with it. It'll save money on power bills, and it doesn't get as hot, and the light is bright enough. Yay! I use fluorescents wherever I can.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (spring valley)
Growing up soaking up PBS like a happy little sponge, and fostering an ever-present interest in ancient archaeology, I have a particular soft spot for books and documentaries by Michael Wood.

In Search Of The Trojan War was one of my favorite miniseries growing up, and I've always been disappointed that I somehow managed to miss seeing Legacy: The Origins of Civilization. Many of those shows have companion books, and Michael Wood has written books not associated with his television productions. I have a hardbound copy of this version of Legacy, and there's a paperback version that's still in print. They're both available used online.

I can't seem to find DVD or VHS versions for the home viewing market, but Legacy is available on VHS for public viewing, though that of course makes it expensive, $500. And I see that DVD for public viewing will be available in June 2003... for $300. *sigh*

Another of Wood's recent series is already available on home VHS and in book form: In The Footsteps of Alexander the Great. Unfortunately PBS doesn't seem to be ahead of the curve on offering their shows on DVD. Perhaps I'll get the book and wait for the DVDs to come out...

Why am I blathering about all of this today, you ask, especially at such length? Well, I awoke in the wee hours of the morning and couldn't get ancient Babylon out of my mind. Yes, this is normal; it happens from time to time, though it's sometimes ancient Sumer, Akkadian city-state warfare or mythology, Neo-Babylonian culture, the Hittites... but I've been trying not to think too much about any of this because of recent events in Iraq.

Seriously, that sand is so bloodsoaked that it's difficult to be optimistic about our species sometimes. We've been battling over the same piece of roasted desert for over five thousand years... that's at least a hundred and fifty generations. And that's just since we settled in city-communities from the marshlands of southern Iraq... and much of what is now desert did not used to be so. Civilization, literally meaning the settling of humankind into cities, has always damaged the surrounding environment, and has always included warfare. Until we maintain family-unit dwellings in cities which are net-zero impact on the environment, and until we learn to get along with our neighbors both near and far, those patterns are not going to change.

I also read an article yesterday on Slate that got me thinking... seven ways to reduce ethnic and religious tension in Iraq.

I highly recommend reading Legacy, especially the chapter about Sumer and the chapter about the barbarians of the West. Wood denigrates the idea of sovereign nation-states, which differs from my own opinion, but otherwise the trends he draws attention to in the book are quite profound.

As a side note: I don't trust world-scale government. I feel that government, even representative government, as removed from its constituency as my own California state and US national governments are, is significantly out of touch with reality and this can lead to both dangerous governmental behavior and lack of accountability.

But back to Legacy... I took Western Civ in high school. I took world history in middle school. And I learned some mythology in elementary school. I grew up steeped in Midwest American Protestantism and Catholicism. And still I have the deep-in-the-gut impression that civilization and rationality flowered most brilliantly in my cultural heritage in Classical Greece, or perhaps in the Enlightenment...

*buzzzt* Wrong. Those were important steps along the way, but did not exist in a vacuum. They were firmly tied to their own cultural heritage, and most of that came from outside Europe.

I think I'm going to end up typing a brief history of Western Civilization here in the next few days, just to try to keep everything straight in my mind... because there's a traceable path from Marsh Arabs in southern Iraq through the ancient cultures and ethno-religious traditions of the Middle East and through the Greek and Roman cultures of the Classical period straight through to modern times.

And unless I regularly feed my thirst for ancient history, I tend to forget that those influences exist. For some reason, the idea doesn't stick.

It's far easier, far cleaner, to assume that the flower of Western (yes, you can read that as American if you like, most Americans do) culture has strong stems in Rome, and broad, clean leaves in Classical Greece, with its toga-clad philosophers and playwrights and gleaming architectures... and that our culture's roots are so obscure that either no one knows about them or they are so old that all reliable records have been destroyed or lost to time. We're willing to own up to our Roman, Greek, and even Egyptian interests and influences... check out the Egyptian obelisk Washington Monument, or the Doric temple Lincoln Memorial, or the Greco-Roman Jefferson Memorial.

Our roots aren't that hidden. Our influences go deeper than we want to acknowledge, and we are simply another step along the path humanity is walking. And our school systems need to be teaching that.

Another idea that wouldn't leave me alone this morning is tied in with the nation-state sovereignty issue. The global economy, if free trade is allowed, will self-select for specialization... countries will use their resources (both material and human) to produce and export goods and services if they can do those specific things priced competitively, or they will be forced to import those goods or services. National governments may try to place trade barriers on items going in or coming out, to try to tune what their countries produce and import, and that is both a good and a bad thing (that's probably fodder for a whole separate essay!). The exchange of ideas, however, really does need to be free. Without the free trade of ideas, I personally think we'll all be in big, big trouble.

That said, there's an interesting line in Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy about the babel fish... communication without civility or tolerance will also probably lead humanity to disaster.

I've always enjoyed the BBC's production of the book, and have it on DVD.

The Babel Fish is small, yellow and leech-like, and probably the oddest thing in the Universe. It feeds on brainwave energy received not from its own carrier but from those around it.

The practical upshot of all this is that if you stick a Babel Fish in your ear you can instantly understand anything said to you in any form of language. The speech patterns you actually hear decode the brainwave matrix which has been fed into your mind by your Babel Fish. Meanwhile, the poor Babel Fish, by effectively removing all barriers to communication between different races and cultures, has caused more and bloodier wars than anything else in the history of creation.


And no, my brain's gears aren't really slowing down much today. That's helped me get work done this morning, and hopefully the trend will continue this afternoon, as I have a bunch of documentation to type up. If it's still churning away tonight I may do that brief history entry tonight... and cling to optimism rather than pessimism about our species and our world.

Don't panic!
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (bright dreams nasa)
I know, it's been too long since I've posted here. But here are two quick links that are just amazing technology. I really, really hope this technology (a) works as well as they say it does and (b) becomes widespread.

Anything into Oil
Technological savvy could turn 600 million tons of turkey guts and other waste into 4 billion barrels of light Texas crude each year

Read the article here.
Check out the company's website here.

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