Monday, December 28, 2009

Habari Gani?! Ujima: Collective Work and Responsibility

In the spirit of "reusing", I am re-posting a piece I wrote last year, on today's Kwanzaa principle, Ujima, or collective work and responsibility. Enjoy it now.

Black Santa Collectible Display

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is to put my African American Santas on display. I even have a Black Santa teapot! It has been a few years since I purchased any Santas, so I guess it's about time to check out eBay!

More Green Holiday Entertaining Options

On the menu for my holiday open house were mostly vegetarian options (I did have turkey and cheese for those who must have meat at every meal). Pictured above is a wonderful black eye pea salad, which was served with whole wheat pita chips.

Fruit bowl does double duty as centerpiece and healthy snack alternative.

Vegan antipasti (almost raw dish) features lots of veggies (peppers, onions, artichokes, asparagus, mushrooms, herbs and olives), grilled tofu and vegan pepperoni. This was a very popular dish, even among the "what in the world is tofu?" set.

All excess food (wasn't much excess) was composted and with the exception of the sugar cane plates, no disposable items were used.

Go Green With Your Holiday Entertaining

These are some approaches I took to greening my holiday entertaining, though Christmas has passed, we still have Kwanzaa and New Year's Eve to make a great green impression while entertaining family and friends. My original plan was to use my collection of cranberry antique plates, but I found this package of sugar cane based plates (purchased at CVS) in my cabinet which supplemented my china. They were tossed into my compost bag and will sweeten my garden next year!

This cute serving tray was found at cool vintage store on the west side of Cleveland. I tried to throw a few good for you treats likes dates and nuts in with the typical holiday candies. I buy Mars chocolate products because they use ethically sourced cocoa. I forgot that rule when I purchased these Hershey's Kisses. Oh well.

My cousins are vegans, so I provided vegan treats (served in this cute little server found at a flea market) and featured vegan menu items as the primary dishes in an effort to make them not feel singled out.

This eclectic collection of napkins were an eco-friendly alternative to paper napkins. The tablecloth is fair trade.

These oatmeal cookies were made with organic butter and raw cane sugar. I used parchment paper to avoid contact with the teflon coating on the baking pan. They were a hit!

Democrats pose threat to President Obama’s cap-and-trade climate Bill - Times Online

Democrats pose threat to President Obama’s cap-and-trade climate Bill - Times Online First it was healthcare and a few key Democrats (listed in this article) are threatening to hold the cap and trade bill hostage. Sometimes, the donkey party can be soooo weak. I understand that these folks need to answer to their constituents, but my question is, which constituents are they answering to - main street or Wall Street? Feel free to use the "write your rep" link on this site to voice your concerns. Reuse is latest environmental trend Reuse is latest environmental trend Reuse vs. recycle. This is a good article to share with family and friends.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sunnyvale Urban farm brings kids full circle with food they eat - 12/21/09 - San Francisco News -

Sunnyvale Urban farm brings kids full circle with food they eat - 12/21/09 - San Francisco News - With obesity and diabetes becoming serious problems among children of color, we need to take advantage of every angle to encourage kids to eat pesticide free fruit and veggies. This article and video highlights an urban farm program based on a middle school campus and its success in getting kids to love healthy eating.

Baltimore greenhouses spur hope for more farming | San Francisco Examiner

Baltimore greenhouses spur hope for more farming San Francisco Examiner High schoolers grow excited about urban farm produce on their campus.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Arianna Huffington: Attention Last-Minute Shoppers: HuffPost Has a Store With Gifts That Give Back to Those in Need

Arianna Huffington: Attention Last-Minute Shoppers: HuffPost Has a Store With Gifts That Give Back to Those in Need I don't mean to cause you to panic.......but, Christmas is only a week away! Ahh! I have purchased nothing. So sad. Truthfully, at the risk of sounding like Scrooge, I wish we could just re-do the entire culture and concept of how we choose to celebrate Christ's birth. It's sooo superficial and wasteful. I like the good old days you hear about, families, friends and neighbors (ok, maybe not) getting together to enjoy one anothers company, exchanging simple gifts like cookies and fruit, singing songs, going to church. Oh well, at least these gifts capture some of that spirit (we vs. me) of the holiday. So hopefully, you will join me in perusing through these great time friendly and people friendly gift ideas, compliments of Huffington Post and Causeworks.

Feeling the Heat: Climate Change Has Become a Reality for Germany - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Feeling the Heat: Climate Change Has Become a Reality for Germany - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International One always hears reports of developing or brown nations feeling the heat of warming global temperatures. Unfortunately, for some reason, this news appears to fall on deaf ears. African countries are hurting, what else is new? Why should I care? It's all about me, right? Kind of like the same attention that crime, drug supply, low academic achievement, unemployment and poverty receives in America; that is until these issues are faced by folks in suburban locations. Well, I think we may have found our climate change counterpart of the suburbs. It turns out that folks in the hinterlands of Europe are now feeling the heat of global warming. OMG! Someone call Nancy Grace! This article outlines how subtle changes in our environment can affect our way of living and should encourage you to observe your natural world, notice changes and connect the dots. Perhaps, with a few more Germany's reporting in on how climate change is threatening their economies, this issue will be taken more seriously by the general public and their political representatives. That is unless the lobbyists for the status quo, generate a corresponding increase in congressional subsidies.

Obama Lands, Climate Talks in Serious Disarray - ABC News

Obama Lands, Climate Talks in Serious Disarray - ABC News This hasn't been the best week for President Obama, let's hope things can turn around for him with some good news today in Copenhagen. Quick summary of where things are to date:

- African nations heated up over lack of progress in agreeing to reduce carbon emissions
- Goal of a new carbon emissions agreement between nations (Kyoto expires 2012) is vaporizing
- Quest by developing nations for payment to develop and grow economies sustainably, gaining traction
- U.S. proposes to put $100 billion towards this effort, developing nations feel this isn't enough
- A 2 degree rise in global temps will put the planet and specific geographic locations in serious jeopardy
- Proposals under discussion will reduce global temp increases to only 3 degrees, so we are still underwater
- China agrees to be more transparent in its efforts to reduce greenhouse gases and explain increases
- Very likely that no legally binding agreements will be produced at this summit
- Looks like you are on your own folks

Click here to view this well organized, easy to read and comprehensive guide to climate change, published by the World Wildlife Fund.

I wonder if there are any Worst Case Scenario books for climate change?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Watch Al Gore Repower The Climate Change Debate

Watch this YouTube clip of Al Gore trying to fire everyone up again in Copenhagen. Personally, I think he is just warming up for President Obama's appearance later this week. No pressure, Mr. President.

Vintage eBay

Found these pre-screened vintage clothing eBay sites in the December issue of Lucky Magazine, though blogger, Jennifer Romolini did all of the work!

  • Bleubirdvintage
  • Liebermarlen Vintage
  • Linda's Stuff (80's fashion)
  • Gene's Vintage Eyeglasses

For those of you that live in Chicago, check out Haystack at 2934 N. Broadway, for organic lingerie with a 20's vibe (another Lucky Mag tip).

Logon to for a chance to win one of five $100 eBay shopping awards.

My Very Green Africentric Christmas Table

My holiday table features an eclectic mix of vintage and new, fair trade and TJ Maxx. The tablecloth was purchased from a Cleveland area fair trade retailer, Revive. It is hand sewn in Mumbai, India and colored using vegetable dyes. It is one of many products produced by a women's cooperative there. The napkin in the fruit basket was purchased at a flea market and the organic fruit provides a wonderful fragrance when you pass the area. The large leafy plates in the place setting are made in Portugal and were a TJ Maxx find and the lovely cranberry colored plates were purchased at an antiques mall. I love sipping eggnog and holiday tea out of the gold leafed Lennox mugs that I purchase many moons ago from Macy's. Pinecones and ornaments dating back to my mother's childhood, surround the fruit bowl. The teacups will be filled with candies, nuts and dried fruits. I love this metal nativity scene. It was made in Haiti and purchased from Trade Winds, another fair trade retailer.Animal print touches were a gift from my son's grandmother. I had a lot of fun putting this eco-friendly table setting together and didn't have to buy anything but the fruit!

Green Christmas Books and Gifts

I browsed through both of these greener Christmas books the other day. "A Greener Christmas" was a little too country and crafty for my tastes, but featured lots of ideas to streamline the holidays and save money. "I'm Dreaming of a Green Christmas", by Anna Getty, is a better fit for those of you with eco-urban tastes. Anna was featured on a CNN "green your Christmas, segment this weekend.

The last two photos featured, a picture frame and a clutch/makeup bag are from Two's Company and are created from recycled computers. Eco-cool man.

UN climate negotiators look to US for fresh ideas - Yahoo! News

UN climate negotiators look to US for fresh ideas - Yahoo! News African leaders are turning up the heat this week at Copenhagen, as their countries are most threatened by the status quo. Everyone is turning to the US to develop a game plan that works. I'm prayerful, but not so sure if Copenhagen climate talks will anything substantial. We need to find a better way to communicate to the every day man or woman, what is at risk. So far, environmentalists have stalled in being able to get Americans to be serious about making the needed sacrifices to reduce global warming. Individualism has its limits.

A Poopy Holiday Gift Idea

These gift ideas are literally full of crap. Really. But in a good way. The company Uncommongoods, scoops up elephant poo from the zoo, cleans and filters the waste and creates crafty, paperlike products from what remains. So if you have a friend that is a Delta (OO-OOP!) with an extensive collection of elephant stuff, this funky gift idea will amaze and surprise her! I found these at the botanical garden gift shop, which featured an extensive array of eco-friendly and fair trade products.

Visions of Sugarplums and Gingerbread At The Botanical Garden

I kicked off the holiday season by taking a trip to visit the gingerbread house display at the Cleveland Botanical Garden. Dozens of delightfully decorated gingerbread homes filled the air with the sweet and spicy fragrance of Christmas! Categories of the entries included, adult, professional, family and children. I had a wonderful time taking in the visions of sugarplums, candy canes, Kisses, wafers and cookies.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Nimli - Hip Eco-Fashion Site for Women and Men

Nimli - Cri De Coeur Scout Ankle Boot I like this hip eco-fashion site. Awesome boots!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Cool Eco Shoes

Gaia Terra Plana Cool eco-shoes and boots. Sexy ones too!

Why Are School Campus Exteriors So Boring?

This is my beloved old high school, Collinwood (Go Railroaders!). The 90+ year old building sits on eight acres of real estate, smack dab in the middle of a busy, high traffic urban neighborhood. I used to love to sit on the silver painted barriers featured here, under the shading of the trees. But isn't this a huge waste of green spaces? Grass, and a few typical shrubs. As a gardner, I turn up my nose to such lack of inspiration. Humpfh! The trees on the property save the day. I chose this site as my sustainable re-do project in the design class I took recently. I'm going to post more photos of the site as it exists and then I will post my site plan for the sustainable do-over and then we will learn more about an exciting educational concept called Power of Place based education and what we can do to encourage our school districts to adopt this style of curriculum. I sit on a green schools action circle at Cleveland chapter of the U S Green Building Council and I am taking on the Power of Place based section and green financing section of our toolkit. Today Cleveland...tomorrow, the world! LOL!

More Typical Views of a High School Exterior

Once you make it past the front of the campus, it just gets worse and more depressing. Look at all of the concrete. Imagine the huge sewer bill. Rain goes straight into the system, and I'm sure the water bill is huge with all of the grass in the front. What is up with the grass and gravel "landscaping" on the side? And we wonder why kids don't want to go to school? Would you want to be here five days a week? Why can't we create physical spaces that create a sense of excitement, that are welcoming, stimulating, appealing? That make a statement? That create a sense of place for the kids?The physical surroundings of a school campus set the tone for everyone - students, teachers, administrators and neighbors. Many school districts have received funding to build new schools, as many older buildings are just too decrepit to renovate, so now is your chance to contact your school board, councilperson, mayor or principal to demand green and welcoming environments for our kids, for whom, too often, nature is a concept reserved for the movies. I just wrote the head of our school district with my thoughts. In Ohio, the building commission that is responsible for school construction and renovation funding and standards, has mandated that all future buildings be LEED certified. But trust me, my research reveals that LEED certified building exteriors can be just as cold, sterile and uninspiring as older or conventionally constructed school buildings. Don't all kids deserve to attend a school like the Sidwell School? So, this is the site I chose for my project. I will feature my site plan next week for your review (left the memory device at work). What are your thoughts?

Raw Oatmeal Is Raw!

On my raw days, I usually enjoy a bowl of raw oatmeal. I'm a big oatmeal lover, so I had to find a way to incorporate it into my raw food regimen. There are several raw oatmeal recipes out there. My favorite is from Ani Phyo's Raw Food Kitchen cookbook. You can find raw oat groats (think oats wrapped in a coat) at most health food stores. I can't give you the exact recipe, as I don't have the authors permission, but a basic recipe goes something like this:
1 cup oat groats soaked overnight, rinsed and drained
A handful of pitted dates or naners (bananas)
A dash of vanilla, salt and cinnamon, a large handful of your favorite nuts. Chop in a food processor until oat groats are broken up and you have a thick oatmeal texture. Top with agave (though not too much, because the dates or naners add a lot of sweetness), walnuts (tumor killers) banana slices and unsweetened almond milk. Enjoy in a big ole bowl! This recipe yields about 3 or 4 servings.
This will keep you full until lunch.

Water Filter Water Bottle (Perfect Eco- Stocking Stuffer!)

Another contribution from my very green writer friend Chandra. Ever have to resort to drinking unfiltered tap water with your current water bottle? This happens to me frequently at work or the gym. I just pray and drink it. The water from the work kitchen and the gym fountain is not bad tasting actually, compared to the water fountain water at work. Horrific! I digress. Clear2Go offers products from water bottles to water pitchers that will keep you in filtered water all day! It is even endorsed by champion cyclist and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong, I'm definitely getting one. A great gift for yourself and your family! Click here to read more and get a discount on your purchase, or you can purchase through the Amazon link on this blog.

Ho! Ho! Ho!

Budget Friendly Organic Fashions

I know that many of you are making out those Christmas and Kwanzaa lists with visions of green in your head. Thanks to my great journalist friend, Chandra, I discovered a green website called Gramicci that features an organic clothing outlet. The clothes featured are competitively priced organic fashion basics. Great way to introduce your loved ones to eco-consciousness and support a budding industry. Start here.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

COP15 United Nations Climate Change Conference Copenhagen 2009

Home - COP15 United Nations Climate Change Conference Copenhagen 2009 The official website.

COP15 United Nations Climate Change Conference Copenhagen 2009

COP15 United Nations Climate Change Conference Copenhagen 2009 The official website.