After chowing a few-too-many organic sandwich-cookies found on a plate on a table in the media room, I strolled over to the “Leading-Edge Climate Initiative” panel featuring David Orr and four other power-grid whizzes. The biggest threats we face are not technical. It seems they center around our lack of cultural and political will. Meanwhile, the Clinton-era media consolidation, the costs associated with Bush’s Wars, and the Robert’s pro-corporate court all make a difficult situation worse.
Yesterday, my 10 minutes of gradual greening occurred when I walked down to New Mexico Bike and Sport to pick up my new “xtracycle.” A simple bike extension, called the “FreeRadical(TM),” hooks onto the back of almost any bike to quickly create what Xtracycle, Inc., calls “the world’s first S.U.B.” That’s right, friends, I’m now the proud owner of a “Sport Utility Bicycle.” And why shouldn’t I be proud? According to company literature, my xtracycle can haul 200 pounds, and the manual shows an illustration of an xtracycle handling what looks like an 8’ or 10’ ladder. With the help of an accessory called an “H-rack,” long loads like “ladders, flagpoles, kayaks, or lumber,” can be delivered.
One of my many plans is to haul 50 lbs. bags of lay pellets for our six backyard chickens. Coincidentally, having run out of food, I had to drive my truck down to the feed store on Saturday for what I hope was my last time wasting gas to buy lay pellets for our hens who are now, quite wisely, fast asleep.
Thanks to my old friend Michael Kramer, Melissa and I had the pleasure of having Woody Tasch, the author of the relatively new book “Slow Money,” over for dinner last night. The slow-money concept is based on the slow-food movement’s idea that local food is much better for people and the planet than fast food (imported from far-off places). With this in mind, it was fitting that nearly everything on the menu came either from our backyard (kale, chard, onions, tomatoes, lettuce, cabbage, chives, and other herbs) or the farmers’ market (burger, mushrooms, and pecan pie).
A Santa Fe-based company is days away from opening up a very cool factory. Located at the Albuquerque city dump and recycling center, Growstone, LLC, is turning used glass bottles into a substitute for perlite, used in hydroponic growing applications and as a hygroscopic (water retaining) soil amendment. My guess is that their product will also soon be seen as an excellent alternative to pumice—at least when replacing the essential ingredient in one of may favorite passive water harvesting techniques, the pumice wick.
At the outset of the Industrial Revolution, the protagonist of Voltaire’s Candide travels extensively in an attempt to discover “the best of all possible worlds.” In the end, Candide realizes that he and his party would have been better off if they’d never gone on tour in the first place. “What’s necessary,” the tired traveler declares in the last sentence of the novella, “is that we cultivate our garden.” Thanks to the slow-food movement made popular by Alice Waters, Michael Pollan, Barbara Kingslover, and many others, 250 years later people are finally starting to get this message. From backyard gardens to downtown farmers’ markets, people are realizing the rewards of becoming truly productive human beings.
I moved down to Santa Fe from Boulder, Colorado back in 1987 with a 20-year-old, one-speed Schwinn bungeed to the roof of my car. It was the best bike in the world: springy seat, beefy fenders, wide handle bars with hard, groovy grips. Best of all it was an adult bike with foot brakes. When I bought it at a garage sale for $20 bucks, it was striped like a green, yellow, and black zebra, but it also came with two half-jars of paint (green and yellow). The implication was that the new owner should make the bike his or her own. Before officially purchasing the masterpiece, I asked the owner if he still had any of the black, and the guy laughed and said, “Sorry. It’s long gone.” He could see that I was already sold on the beauty, which I ended up spray painting gold and blue and then used the remaining green and yellow in a thick-and-juicy Jackson Pollack style.
Every year some crisis comes up that makes me believe people might wise up to the fabulous freedom that bike commuting provides. This year it’s the Gulf of Mexico disaster. Last year, it was the economy. Before that it was two or three years of high gas prices. Going back further, it was the polar bear animation in Al Gore’s movie. I started switching over from driving to biking after my country picked a ludicrous fight in Iraq. But I don’t think I put the whole bike-commuting deal into full gear until reports started coming out of Abu Ghraib. That just pissed me off and turned me into the relatively hard-core commuter cyclist I’ve become. (Supporting war and torture for oil, even tacitly, just aint my thing.)
“Downey’s anthem to the rain could do for the backyard and the water table --and therefore, let’s hope, for the Earth and its inhabitants-- what the “Joy of Cooking” did for the kitchen, or what “The Joy of Sex” did for the bedroom. It’s one of those rare how-to books that, by way of the author’s wit, warmth, and passion, converts practical wisdom into a kind of transformational incantation.”
--Nick Paumgarten, Staff Writer at The New Yorker
The Santa Fe City Council will vote June 9 on a proposed telecommunications law. If it passes, the ordinance will authorize hundreds of antennae towers to be built all over town. The problem is that if your house happens to be near a new cell tower, the signal will be so strong that your health could be negatively impacted. These would not be the kind of low-grade signals that emanate from your typical Wi-Fi. The waves associated with the system will have to travel to your distant neighbor’s home at the other end of your street many blocks away. Do Santa Feans really want to risk the health of our entire community in a Guinea-pig style test? If you question the antenna-tower approach in the same way that you wonder if we trust our technology too much (in light of, say, the Gulf oil disaster), please attend this hearing.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 9, 7 PM
CITY HALL, 200 LINCOLN AVE.
Please also call your city councilors before the hearing, and let your concerns be made known. I will make my calls but will be unable to attend the hearing. For more information contact:
PO Box 6216]
Santa Fe, NM 87502