Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Blacks More Likely to Get Burned by Climate Change

It seems as though we are constantly on the front lines of one thing or another, poverty, families in crisis, health issues, crime, environmental racism and now climate change. Check out this report which explains out how blacks will be more deeply impacted by climate change. As temperatures rise, our cities will get hotter, because many of us live in sections of urban areas subject to the heat island affect, we will be faced with higher energy costs in an attempt to stay cool. In light of the rising trend in energy costs, many families and elderly will not be able to afford to stay cool and suffer increased risk of death from heat related illnesses. Water is another issue that could pose a problem as water shortages are expected to increase with the drier weather in southern and western cities. Chicago is actually addressing the heat island issue as they prepare for hotter temperatures in the years ahead. Initiatives include planting trees and adding reflective coatings to roof and pavement surfaces. What is your city doing?

Fund Your Green Venture: Profit or Non-Profit

You know I'm always on the prowl for green funding opportunities. Check out this list of green funders for your for profit or not for profit green or socially responsible idea, provided by Black Enterprise Magazine.

Black Farmers Seek Environmental and Economic Justice

I just discovered the Black Farmers website and found it to be pretty informative. Dr. John Boyd Jr., founder and president of the Virginia based organization, is aggressively pursuing economic and environmental justice for the black farmer. He has been effective in networking and building local and national relationships for the benefit of his membership. On the environmental front, he is currently seeking to ensure access to seeds that have not been genetically engineered. Once farmers agree to use bio engineered seeds (soy, corn, peanuts crops that are highly resistant to pesticides, thus encouraging greater pesticide use), they are allegedly beholden to big agribusinesses like Monsanto, which is the largest producer of these kinds of products. Many European and Asian companies refuse to purchase anything other than products derived from conventional seeds. Read the book, "Building the Green Economy: Success Stories from the Grassroots", for more information on corporate control of our food supply. Cotton is the latest crop subject to bioengineering as the result of a merger between Monsanto and the largest cotton seed developer, Delta and Pine Land. The concern is that Monsanto will limit the production of conventional cotton seeds which are cheaper for farmers and increase distribution of bioseeds. This potentially will further strain already tight finances for black farmers. For more information on the plight and fights of the black farmer, check out the website.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Cognitive Dissonance: Go Green, Buy Clothes Made in China?

Anthropologie is one my favorite places to shop. The merchandise is a fun, funky, feminine, colorful and eclectic mix that provides lots of visual stimuli. You will even find a display of books, candles and kitchenware promoting an eco-friendly lifestyle. However, I found it frustrating in my last few excursions there, to find the all of the clothes were made in China or India. Not much luck finding organic on the website either (except for a book). All I could think of were kids toiling in sweatshops for pennies a week or farmers picking pesticide loaded cotton. I found no organic clothing or USA made items and when I asked how could communicate my concerns and interests to management, I was told to go online. Well, past experience has proven that this is the equivalent of the customer service black hole. Ironically, I almost purchased a book on display titled "The Virtuous Consumer", but couldn't bring myself to participate in this scenario of greenwashing. I clearly don't expect this retailer to switch it's product line to all organic or locally made, but my expectation was that there would a selection of these items represented, given the green themes on display in various locations in the store. Give a sista a choice! That is okay because this forces me to go online and make an investment in a green sister's organic and locally assembled clothing line, CROW. Check it out for yourself.


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Friday, July 25, 2008

Digging Deep for Earth Day: Sustainability and Spirituality

In my quest to regain the personal magic of Earth Day, I'm reposting this experience from several years ago with the hope that we don't allow Earth Day to become just another commercialized , shell of a holiday in the way that so many others have over the years. Here you go:

This morning I networked with the Cleveland Corporate Sustainability Roundtable on the lush green grounds of the River's Edge, a ministry of the congregation of St. Joseph and a place for reflection and action. My friend Starla (how cool is that name?) invited me and I am so pleased that I got up early to join the group for an early morning discussion of the relation between sustainability and spirituality. Key concepts discussed:

  • The physical and spiritual connection to all forms of life through creation
  • It is our spiritual responsibility to care for others in the planet, by addressing issues of human rights, environmental justice and sustainability
  • We must be more contemplative of our impact on the lives of others and our planet
  • We are co-creators of our future. What kind of future do we want to create?
  • Spirituality can be brought into the work place through the example we set
  • How do we balance economic demands of our jobs with social responsibility?
Attending the event were representatives from non-profits, governments, colleges, small business, law firms and big business. I was able to network with like minded individuals and receive encouragement and best practices from them on my journey to incorporate sustainability into the workplace. We also had time for meditation, reflection, prayer and even walked around the Cosmic Walk (a labyrinth that chronicled the history of our universe from big bang to climate change). We then explored the diverse artwork of the ministry (lots of African American art) and enjoyed fair trade coffee, tea and warm homemade scones. I recall thinking how great it would be start every work day with 10-15 minutes of contemplation and reflection on working in a socially responsible and sustainable manner as opposed to just diving into your inbox and dealing with the issues of the day. Image how much more effective we would be in our lives as well as the lives of others and how much more satisfied we would be at the end of the day, knowing that our work added value and had meaning.
What do you do to mentally and spiritually prepare for the day ahead? How conscious are you of the impact of your actions on others including, co-workers, employees, clients, community, our world neighbors around the diaspora, wildlife and nature?

Eco-News Impacting Black Folks Week of 7/20/08

Pulled these articles that are of special interest to black folks from the Above The Fold Environmental Health News that feeds to Black and Into Green daily:

  • Some Black Caucus seek members compromise on tobacco legislation affecting black teens
  • Great Lakes area to be greatly impacted by climate change - Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland
  • Low birth weight babies face greater health risks as adults - pre-natal impact on chronic disease
  • Blacks likely to realize harsher impact of global warming
  • Ghana becomes a dumping ground for old electronics and appliances
  • Shell and Chevron get paid for oil in Nigeria - guess who pays with their health?
  • Blacks in rural Ohio town denied water for almost fifty years - win big settlement

Please subscribe to Black and Into Green for daily environmental news, weekly green economy updates and personal environmental observations from a black perspective.

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Cold Hardy Tropical

Take a moment to enjoy this cold hardy ruby beauty! It is a Hibiscus that survives the frosty winters of Cleveland, Ohio. I planted this during my tropical, African phase of gardening. I still enjoy tropical plants, but I am more focused on native plants now as they are low maintenance and attract more wildlife. Oddly enough some of Ohio's native plants share green "bloodlines" with African species.
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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Green Teen Starts Eco-Friendly Business

Well, all of my chatter about the green economy has paid off! My teenage son participated in Ecity Cleveland’s Business Plan Camp recently and decided to start a green business. Actually he wanted to start selling solar panels over a year ago, but never got going, in part due to the fact that he was only 13! The camp, housed out of Cuyahoga Community College, provided a two week, 75 hour crash course in Business 101! The 21 teens that participated learned about revenues, expenses, pricing, marketing, selling and presenting. On the first day they were divided into teams and competed for top lemonade sales on the college campus. Later in the week each camper was given $50 purchase wholesale items and sell them at a farmers market. The proceeds from their sales would then be used towards financing their businesses. The following week each child worked on developing a business plan. Every teen was assigned a business owner to coach them on their plans. How cool was it that his coach was the owner of Good Nature Lawn Care? Good Nature provides organic and environmentally friendly lawn services and happens to be my provider. On the last day of camp there is a competition for the top three business plans and presentations. Local professionals serve as judges (I will be judging in the competition held later this month for the school year participants). I am proud to say that my baby placed in the top three! Cash prizes of up to $300 were awarded to top participants and gift cards were given to the top team. My son’s business, Keeping Green, will market affordable, energy saving, eco-friendly items to neighbors, family and friends and individuals attending various events. His inventory will include CFL’s, power strips, water heater covers, battery charger and weather stripping. The children will be encouraged to further develop and hone their entrepreneurial skills in monthly alumni meetings and have access to basic services and supplies in ECity’s offices. I was just so impressed with each of the children and how quickly they grasped these concepts. I was equally impressed with the ECity’s program and how committed the teachers and administrators were and the level and quality of the services provided to the children. This organization will definitely continue to get my financial support. If you are interested in learning more about what programs may be available in your area click here.

Eco-Friendly Company Tour

Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of touring an eco-friendly workplace of a friend. She is always providing me with information about environmental issues and started a recycling and eco-friendly initiative at the division of Philips where she is employed. She told me about how she worked with the facilities and OSHA officers at her company to develop a recycling plan which includes paper, plastic, glass, packaging filler and tennis shoes. There were recycling bins everywhere (she told me that people are inherently lazy so you have to make it easy and convenient to do). Most employers are receptive to starting a recycling plan because it saves money on waste hauling and in some cases earns income. All employees have their own mugs and access to a mini gym that includes spinning classes! One initiative led to another and soon the company started implementing an eco-design process that reduced the environmental impact of its high tech equipment. The need for eco-friendly materials expanded into an evaluation of the sustainability practices of Philips suppliers. I mentioned this trickle down theory in a previous post as a wake up call to opportunities in the green economy. Anyway, I was so impressed and excited by all of the positive sustainable business practices that I decided (with my friend’s encouragement) to start a recycling program at my job. I don’t know how I am going to balance my already busy work day to do this, but with the help of my county’s business recycling specialist and the Guide to Recycling in the Workplace, I can at least take a step in the right direction!

Low Income Seniors for Sustainability

Just left an awesome senior citizen affordable housing complex that is going green. Literally. Last year gardens were started over what was previously acres of grass. Seniors embraced the gardening initiative with open arms. The results this year have been transformative not only for the grounds and wildlife, but for the residents themselves. The director reports a boost in self esteem and a sense of community from the seniors. This is important because often our elders feel depressed, suicidal and isolated. The garden is organic and the grounds are bursting with tomatoes, greens, herbs, eggplant, squash, berries, fruit trees and flowers. Rain barrels were being installed as I toured the complex. Plans are in play for composting food scraps and many other exciting green initiatives. Looks like our elders are paving the way for a brighter, beautiful, healthier future for all of us!
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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

City Fresh Bounty

City Fresh is seeking recipes for greens and cabbage. Www. Cityfresh. Org
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Urban Access to Locally Grown Food

Today I had the pleasure of picking up my first bag of farm fresh produce from City Fresh. I wrote a post about the program earlier this month. It is a unique program that provides access to affordable locally harvested food throughout several urban locations.
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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Green Home Improvement

My home has several repair issues that need to be addressed. Gutters to be cleaned, caulking to be done, interior and exterior painting and an almost flat roof in the family room that needs repair. My initial response was that of despair as my vacation plans went down the tube, but then I realized the potential to "green up" my house. It is actually possible to use the words "excitement" and "home repairs" in the same sentence. The wet weather this summer has apparently kept the need to repair my leaky roof deep in my consciousness because I "attracted" the following information today:

1) This classified ad - "Simple Solutions Home Repair offers Green Home improvement, remodeling and repair using eco-friendly materials. We use low/no VOC stains, caulking, adhesives and more. We specialize in older homes. High quality eco-services you can rely on. Reviewed in Angies List, work guaranteed. Bonded & insured. Professional trained. Ask us about our rain barrels for your garden and lawn." (Contractors, this is your wake up call!)

2) An article about a new affordable green housing center.

3) An ad promoting an eco-friendly roofing product.

Hello! Is it in the cards for me to green up my home improvement or what?

I plan to make some phone calls this week. I will let you know how it works out.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Check out this burgundy and gold beauty that greeted me home from work today.
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Sunday, July 6, 2008

Something to CROW About: Versatile, Organic Fashion Line Launches

Another sister has launched into the green economy. Damali Ayo, a fellow green blogger, and a constant source of inspiration to live greener and to blog green, has launched CROW clothing line and a comprehensive complementary web cafe (includes social network) to support it. You can even check out "real" people sporting the fashions on the site. Features of the clothing line:

  • Uses and reuses a variety of eco-friendly sustainable fabrics
  • Stylish and versatile
  • Locally assembled
  • Variable pricing to accommodate a variety of incomes
  • Cold water washable
  • Shipped in 100% post-consumer packaging
  • Company offsets carbon emissions
  • Donates 1% of sales to Now Art Grants (artists promoting social change)
  • Crow actually represents something positive

CROW launched in May, 2008 with no debt, and is currently seeking investors. If you are looking to become a socially conscious green business owner, opportunity is knocking, will you answer?

Saturday, July 5, 2008

2008 Most and Least Fuel Efficient Cars

Looking to save money on gas, but don't want a hybrid vehicle? Check out this list, which include non-hybrids, for information on the most and least fuel efficient cars of 2008.

Lily in my Garden

Doesn't it remind you of fireworks? Just so happens that lilies typically bloom in July. Garden tip - plant flowers that bloom at varying times throughout the year, for a garden that always looks fresh.
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Creative Business Planning an Oxymoron? I Think Not.

I just read somewhere, it may have been the ONYX Woman Network, that African American women are growing businesses at twice the rate of any group in the nation! That is a good thing, considering the number of jobs that are being lost every day in this country, either through declining sales or globalization. All successful businesses need a solid business plan, or a mapquest to success and potential obstacles. Anyone seeking financing already knows this. However, developing this plan can be pretty intimidating and overwhelming, so many women put off this essential step in their launching journey. Thankfully, there is now a fun and creative option, for those of you that have been procrastinating in this area. Jennifer Lee, an artist, yoga instructor and credentialed professional coach has developed a construct that approaches business planning in very feminine and intuitive manner. You can download the template, from her website, RightBrainBizPlan, for only $19.95. You can learn more about launching your business/lifestyle at Ladies Who Launch. There are several green women owned businesses that have been launched by ladies who participated in the LWL intensive four week incubators. So ladies, no more excuses, pull out your colored pencils, scissors, magazines and newspaper clippings and start your businesses!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

House of Representatives Go Green

The House has gone green, the U.S. House of Representatives that is. This article is interesting from two perspectives, that of the individual voter and that of an entrepreneur. As a voter, I am glad to know that there is at least one branch of government that is doing is part to use the taxpayers dollars wisely as well as the earth's limited resources. As an entrepreneur or vendor, one would want to take note of how these changes could impact your bottom line if other government entities (i.e. The Senate) decided to get serious about climate change.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Non-Profit Green Chat July 1, 2008

Is your non-profit thinking about going green? Need help? Join the Chronicle of Philanthropy on July 1, 2008 at noon for a green chat to help your non-profit go green. The panel will include Cynthia L. Bailie, director of the Foundation Center in Cleveland, Ohio, Sarah S. Brophy, a consultant who specializes in museums and historic houses and Kimberly Austin of the Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta, which provides green grants to metro area non-profits.

If you miss this discussion, transcripts are available on the website.