Keep on reeling in the green world

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Change, Consumption, Current Affairs, Energy, Environment, Farming, Film, Food and Drink, Home and Garden, Sustainability, Sustainable OKC, Transition Town | Posted on 11-09-2009

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Sustainable OKC, the Cimarron Chapter of Sierra Club, and Slow Food OKC are sponsoring a film series, “Sustainability on Film,” at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Wed., Sept 15 – Sun., Sept 20, with a panel discussion following the Sunday film.

The films highlight a complex array of the challenges facing us. Film Curator Brian Hearn describes the series:

As our economic, social and environmental activities become increasingly integrated on a global scale, the human species faces unprecedented challenges. In the wake of the groundbreaking documentary “An Inconvenient Truth,” filmmakers have been examining the complex issues facing our species and planet: climate change, dwindling natural resources, population growth, economic crises and political conflict. Along the way humans are finding innovative, simple solutions from growing their own food, to green building, to developing new forms of renewable energy. These films explore how we meet our needs in the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs.

Films

Wed., Sept. 16 – “Fresh” & “Food for Thought”

Thurs., Sept. 17 – “The Great Squeeze: Surviving the Human Project” & “Greening in the Heartland”

Fri., Sept 18 – “The Greening of Southie” and “Food, Inc.”

Sat., Sept. 19 – “The Garden” and “No Impact Man

Sun., Sept. 20 – “Earth Days

Join us Sunday after the final screening for a panel discussion, “Sustainability in Oklahoma: Where Do We Go from Here?” with local experts on how Oklahomans are dealing with the global issue of sustainability. Panelists for the discussion following Sunday’s film:

Bruce Edwards, Director, Urban Harvest at the Oklahoma Regional Food Bank

Kenneth Fitzsimmons, architect, U.S. Green Building Council, Oklahoma Chapter

Stephanie Jordan, Sierra Club Conservation Committee / Buy Fresh Buy Local Central Oklahoma

Jim Roth, attorney and Chair of the Alternative “Green” Energy practice group, Phillips Murrah P.C.

Shauna Lawyer Struby, Sustainable OKC / Transition Town OKC

Jonathan Willner, Professor of Economics, Oklahoma City University

Complete listing of films, screening times and summaries of each film available here.

A reel green thing at the deadCenter Film Festival

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Current Affairs, Film, Food and Drink, Social Justice, Transition Town | Posted on 05-06-2009

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Now in its ninth year, the merry, amazing, ever-growing deadCenter Film Festival has a reel green thing going on this year with an entire block of four films devoted to sustainability, Sat., June 13, 1 p.m. at the Kerr Auditorium, Oklahoma City. Click here for details. Of course the whole festival is worth checking into for a few days of creative immersion, but if you can’t make if for the full film

enchilada, then at least save time for the sustainability slice.

Here’s what’s reeling in the deadCenter green world:

Chase the Can | DEQ | An aluminum can makes an unexpected journey in this wind-powered video from the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality.

Soil in Good Heart | Deborah Koons Garcia | Soil In Good Heart is a taste of a documentary currently in production by Deborah Koons Garcia, director of The Future of Food (2004). The importance of understanding, preserving and rebuilding this essential resource is the foundation of sustainable agriculture. We are all part of the soil community and we ignore this at our peril.

The Next One in the Nest

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Community, Current Affairs, Local Economy, Local Government, Nancy Love Robertson, Oklahoma City, Public Works, Travel | Posted on 16-05-2009

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by Nancy Love Robertson

I love Oklahoma
City. I really do. I am a life-long resident and have watched our community ebb
and flow over the span of my 53-year lifetime.

In my life, it
seems we’ve ebbed more than we flowed for so long, and I, like many of us,
experienced discomfort when people from other parts of the U.S. would grimace
when I’d tell them where home was.

Today, however,
I sing a different tune. I defend my hometown with the fierceness of a momma
lion. I am so proud of what we’ve accomplished over the past 15 years or so.

As a community,
we invested in ourselves and made the first MAPS happen in 1992. We marveled at
our pretty new ballpark, and applauded when we stepped into the Civic Center,
Downtown Library and Cox Convention Center for the first time. It all looked good
and making progress FELT good.

We the people
stood tall on April 19, 1995 and survived the Oklahoma City bombing with
dignity and compassion. The whole world watched us in awe, and through the
profound sadness of that time, we found our voice as a community with heart.

The momentum of
the 1990s propelled us to further our city’s promise when we took a stand to
advance public education in our city in 2001. We made a down payment toward our
future by telling children in our town that they mattered when we passed MAPS
for KIDS in November of that year. “Good for us,” I thought at the time. “I’m
proud of you, Oklahoma City!”

So, that’s our
community basket of golden eggs we laid over the past 15 years. And, to
paraphrase a Joni Mitchell line from For the Roses, “Who’s to know if the next one in the nest will
glitter for us so?”

Don’t mistake my
question as doubt or as a complaint. That’s not my intention at all. On the
contrary, I have an idea on how we can produce another golden egg that will
sparkle for our city long into the future.

Thankfully,
Oklahoma City as a micro-society is finally beginning the dialogue of what the
pressing environmental issues of the day mean to our way of life. Don’t forget,
we used to pride ourselves on being the largest city, in landmass, in the
United States. Thankfully, Jacksonville, Florida, now owns that dubious
distinction. However, in our quest to “be somebody” back in the 1950s and
1960s, Oklahoma City sold its soul to developers and thus created a scenario
that took decades to create. Now, it will take decades to unwind.

For what it’s
worth, I am throwing my voice behind my fellow Oklahoma Cityans who’ve been
calling us on our BS for the past several years about having one of America’s
most livable cities. They’re correct. If we really want to be a livable city
then where are the sidewalks? Where is the network of running trails and bike
lanes? Nothing spells “l-i-v-a-b-l-e c-i-t-y” more than a community that
encourages walking, running and cycling. 
So, what have we done to put our collective muscle to work on this
issue? First of all, doesn’t it make sense to create a world-class city for the
residents who live and work here before we cast our net to the larger world?

Fortunately,
we’ve been blessed with the hard work of a few. A case in point: Every year,
thousands of us enjoy the fruits of the labor of those dedicated staff members
and volunteers who breathe life into the Lake Hefner Trails. I have personally
logged many hours and miles running or cycling around that lake. And, as a
birder, I truly enjoy the opportunity to connect with nature in such close
proximity to my home.

Or, take the
mountain bike trails at Lake Stanley Draper. In less than half an hour, my
partner, Shelly, and I can be resetting the little computers on our mountain
bikes (one of us captures time, the other distance) at the Draper trail head.
Generous people give their time and sweat equity to creating and maintaining
the patchwork trail system at Draper Lake so folks like Shelly and I can have a
getaway that is restorative far beyond the two hours we spend flying through
the woods, practicing German and playing like two little kids. For those of you
responsible for making that space the oasis that it is, I say, “Thank you.”

I am certain
there are many more examples in our city that illustrate my point. All of them
can inspire us to do more to make our city livable and sustainable. And, these
examples of what could be might be the indicators of the next golden eggs we
produce in our nest.

So, how does a
grassroots initiative get traction in Oklahoma City? In reality, it starts with
civic and business leaders.

Attention please!
Mayor Cornett, take note. Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, tune in and pay
attention. Your constituents might be onto something here.

How marvelous it
would be if the next MAPS project involved a network of sidewalks and
cycling/running trails that would be the envy of forward-thinking cities like
Portland, Oregon? We’ve had MAPS and MAPS for KIDS. How about MAPS for LIFE (Living in
Full Enjoyment)? Like two of the other three MAPS
projects, (MAPS for Millionaires was a step backwards) this MAPS project,
Living in
Full Enjoyment…of our community, of our healthy bodies, of
our scenic beauty (our sunsets have been known to take one’s breath away) and
of each other…has something in it for everyone in our community. I also like
the metaphor of a network or web of life for our city. What a gift to be
connected to people and places, via a bike trail, to parts of town that are off
of our beaten paths. How awesome it would be to figuratively stumble onto a
celebration of a culture that’s different, while running along a trail that
connects one part of town with another.

I like imaging how
this could weave together for the good of our community.

In addition to
promoting recreation, fitness, a sense of community, sustainability and
livability, there’s a pragmatic side to bike lanes, running paths and
sidewalks, and it’s called safety. Here’s what I mean, and it begins with an
image that’s burned into my mind’s eye that I never want to see again. It’s an
image borne from years of unsustainable city planning for our way of life and a
visual that would’ve been less painful to see had there been a sidewalk.

Right before
Christmas, Shelly and I were driving on May Avenue just north of N.W. 63rd.
It was a freezing cold and blustery Saturday afternoon. Against the curb as
close as they could get for safety, was an elderly couple. The man was bundled
up in a wheelchair and he had an oxygen tank in his lap.  Behind him a few paces, was an old
woman in a car coat, clutching her purse and holding onto what was left of her
dignity. In the face of this dangerous situation, both of them appeared stoic.
Shelly and I were stunned at the sight, and I am confident that the other
motorists who saw it were equally as horrified. There was so much traffic,
there wasn’t an opportunity to stop and help them, so we moved our car as far
to the left in our right-hand lane to give them as much room as possible under
the circumstances. Nothing was in the headlines the next day, so I trust they
made it to where they were going.

Now, back to
sidewalks. Is this the image we want to project as a city?  Does the scene I’ve just described
bespeak a community that’s forward-thinking, sustainable, livable?  For those whose jobs it is to bring
commerce and people into our town to expand our tax base, it might be a wise
investment of time to take a look at an initiative that has broad implications
for the common men and women in our city. MAPS for LIFE would not only promote
a healthy lifestyle for our community, therefore enhancing the quality of life
for everyone. It could also say to residents and ultimately the rest of the
country that we are doing our part to be sustainable and leave a smaller
footprint as a city. While this utopian network of sidewalks and trails isn’t
the light rail system many of us dream will someday connect our suburbs with
the city center, it is likely to come into being more quickly and for less money.
Yet the long-term benefits would be far-reaching. 

What about the next
golden egg? MAPS for LIFE could be the next one in our community nest that
could glitter for us so. 

Take your sustainability IQ up a notch at the OSN conference

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Community, Current Affairs, Shauna Lawyer Struby, Tips | Posted on 13-03-2009

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by Shauna Lawyer Struby

You’ll get a visionary view of life and a short cut to sustainable knowledge at the Oklahoma Sustainability Network’s 8th annual statewide conference, so don’t wait, register now. It’s scheduled for next week, Fri. and Sat., Mar. 20-21, and is an excellent opportunity for networking, brainstorming and learning. The OSN conference provides resources and information on a variety of topics such as environmentally-friendly building processes and business p

ractices, water resources, farming, purchasing local products and transportation, agriculture, daily living and more.

Register now online at the Oklahoma Sustainability Network Web site.

Friday conference speakers will include city leaders from Greensburg, Kan., who will discuss their green rebuilding efforts after a May 2007 tornado leveled nearly the entire city. On Saturday, William Greider, former Rolling Stone and Washington Post editor, will be the keynote speaker. Greider will discuss relevant and timely topics such as how economic and political forces have brought us to the financial crisis of the day, and how a return to our nation’s core values will bring a better, more fulfilling society. To see the full slate of programming go to OSN’s Web site.

Come learn and share with others about:

  • Energy- speakers include Oklahoma Secretary of Energy Robert Wegener, who will explore the latest developments in alternative energy and coal burning po

    wer plants.

  • Activism sessions will teach you how to incorporate sustainable practices at home and work.You’ll also learn how put your own activism to work.
  • Water rightsand the importance of water quality for recreational use. Oklahoma Attorney General, Drew Edmondson, will discuss protecting water resources. Oklahoma Secretary of Environment, J.D. Strong, will lead a panel discussion on water rights.
  • Agriculture sessions take a look at urban farming, the Community Food Project, and agriculture market concentration.
  • Farmers markets and food cooperatives will be one of several panel discussion topics. Bob Waldrop, founder of the Oklahoma Food Cooperative and local advocate for social and environmental responsibility, will lead the panel.
  • Sustainable daily living featuring Trathen Heckman, founder and executive director of California-based Daily Acts, an organization that promotes and educates on earth-friendly lifestyles for individuals. Check him out at www.dailyacts.org.
  • Transportation including sessions on electric vehicles, transit-oriented development and freight and passenger railroad transportation.
  • Business and nonprofittracks will explore marketing green business, real estate, green building codes, alternative business structures, business pollution prevention and marketing nonprofits.
  • Education topics focus on sustainability and the student body, sustainable university curriculum, the sustainable campus and the Oklahoma Farm to School Program featuring representatives from Tulsa University, Oklahoma State University, Oklahoma City University and the University of Oklahoma.

The Oklahoma Sustainability Network Conference is March 20-21 at the University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond, and begins with registration at 8:15 a.m. each day. Admission is $75 for both days or $42.50 for single day registration. The OSN Conference is presented by the Oklahoma Sustainability Network and hosted by Sustainable Edmond. To register or to get times and further information, go here.

Please forward this information to anyone you who might be interested in attending. Hope to see you there!

Infinity and Beyond

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Community, Current Affairs, Energy, Public Works, Shauna Lawyer Struby, State Government, Transition Town | Posted on 27-02-2009

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by Shauna Lawyer Struby

I love Buzz Lightyear. His optimism in the face of reality (believing he can fly on pop-up wings), makes this diminutive Toy Story hero full of geeky bravura and sincerity incredibly endearing. But it is his mouse-sized roar of, “To infinity and beyond!” that makes him my way cool, sustainable hero.

You’ve probably noticed energy discussions are as ubiquitous as chewing gum these days. The growing awareness we’ve got to do something has folks from cowpokes to CEOs grappling with their “holy electricity switch” moment, that dark point in time they realize cheap, easy energy days are floating away like so many plastic Wal-Mart bags in a sweeping prairie wind.

But start talking about designing sustainable energy systems and things get considerably dicier. While just about everyone supports being energy independent, the notion that the equivalent of Star Trek’s dilithium crystals will be found to satisfy our energy addiction is so deeply embedded in our psyche that some of our elected leaders tend to grasp at any energy solution like desperate junkies in need of a fix. 

The recent deceptive blathering about nuclear power in Oklahoma’s House of Representatives is a perfect case in point. Two bills were approved by the House Energy and Utility Regulation Committee Feb. 17 after nuclear energy advocates manipulated the fear factor that other energy sources alone such as solar, wind and geothermal, will not be enough to meet future power needs.

While there are many reasons nuclear energy is not a sustainable option (and reasons why other truly clean renewable energies like wind and solar are), one of the most under discussed reasons for axing nuclear energy out of any future energy mix is this — nuclear energy production is totally dependent on yet another finite resource — uranium. Dr. David Fleming, author of “The Lean Guide to Nuclear Energy” estimates if the entire world’s electricity were generated by nuclear power, we’d have around three years of uranium left and writes:

“Shortages of uranium — and the lack of realistic alternatives — leading to interruptions in supply, can be expected to start in the middle years of the decade 2010-2019, and to deepen thereafter.”

Clearly nuclear energy is not a Buzz Lightyear, “infinity and beyond” option. And even more obviously, we need to dig deep into proposed energy solutions and thoroughly evaluate them with a stringent list of sustainable criteria.

A few thoughts on the criteria:

  • What is the Energy Return on Energy Invested (EROEI) for the resource? Energyreturnonenergyinvested_edited-1
  • What is the carbon footprint of the energy source? Carbonfootprintenergysources_edited-1
  • What is the water footprint of the energy source?
  • What is the waste footprint of the energy source?
  • With all environmental, waste, water, infrastructure and production costs factored in, how much does the energy cost per kilowatt hour?
  • Since taxpayers subsidize our energy systems, who will profit and how much, i.e. what are the CEO and executive staff salaries, perks and bonuses of the energy producing company, and what is the anticipated return to shareholders on new infrastructure?
  • Are the energy company’s middle and lower-level employees sustainably and equitably compensated with living wages and adequate benefits?
  • How will the proposed energy source impact the area where production is located, the people, non-human animals, eco-system and general environment?
  • What other factors do we need to be thinking about?

As Rob Hopkins notes in “The Transition Handbook” a future with less energy is inevitable. Richard Heinberg extensively covers many of the various pros and cons of a variety of energy sources in his latest Museletter, which beautifully illustrates the depths of the challenges facing us and the urgent need for massive energy conservation programs.

The Transition Movement, founded by Hopkins, takes these realities and helps us see them as opportunities for creatively rethinking how we live in the world and how we use energy, to envision something better, something hopeful, less toxic to ourselves, to our fellow species and congruent with this amazing planet we call home. The first Transition Town initiative in Oklahoma, Transition Town OKC, launched last month, aims to enhance opportunities for our communities to imagine, envision and implement this energy transition together, to capture the power of every person's creativity and move us together toward a positive future.

We know reducing energy consumption will go a long way toward solving the energy puzzle, as will investment in energy technology and clean, truly renewable energy resources, but every energy technology and resource needs adequate and thorough vetting using sustainable criteria. And that means thinking not just about the next 10, 20 or even 50 years, but in Buzz Lightyear speak, “To Infinity and beyond!”

A Moment of Reflection

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Current Affairs, Jennifer Gooden, Politics, Social Justice, Volunteering | Posted on 26-01-2009

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by Jennifer Gooden

Occasionally, everything comes together in a way that triggers my reflection and gratitude. I had one of those days today and thought I would share this moment with our Fresh Greens readers.

It began this morning at work at the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, where we had the first meeting of our green team. The food bank has already made admirable strides toward energy efficiency and environmental stewardship, including efforts as sophisticated as lighting and energy management systems to practices as hands-on as organic gardening and vermiculture. Still, there is more we can do, and our nascent team met this morning to plan for future improvements. I am so happy to be a part of an organization that has broad vision and an ethic of constant improvement.

Today, Monday, January 19, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, was also the day that Michelle Obama called upon our country to engage in volunteerism, suggesting we give up our lunch money and lunch hours to donate to and volunteer at food banks. Our building was filled with people today, all helping sort food and assemble backpacks for our Food 4 Kids program. We regularly have volunteers at the food bank—15,000 a year, in fact—but it was a busy day for us and a great opportunity to come together as a community to feed those in need.

Connected to this day of service is a day of anticipation. Tomorrow is the inauguration of Barack Obama as President of the United States. I have never seen so many people in our country so full of hope, so aware of the significance of this moment in history, and so proud to be part of this collective celebration of our nation. 

So this day closes with gratitude and optimism. In the spirit of progress and the many ways in which we can come together to craft a brighter tomorrow, I savor this moment and look forward to the years to come.

New Law, Good News for Area Pets

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Chelsey Simpson, Current Affairs, Local Government, Local News, Pets, Waste Management | Posted on 19-01-2009

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by Chelsea Simpson

My friend Tracy strikes a pose in front of my swiss chard. She has a new home now, but last summer she and six other dogs were found abandoned at a home. Thanks to irresponsible breeding practices, Tracy is deaf and has vision problems.
Sustainability in Oklahoma City took a small, unexpected step forward last week. As of January 15, the city will pay for the spaying or neutering of any dogs and cats that wind up at the city shelter, even if their owners come to claim them. Previously, owners hoping to take their lost pets home were required to pay a fee to cover the costs associated with caring for the animal at the shelter. But now owners can have that fee waived if they provide proof that their pet has been altered or agree to have it altered at the city’s expense.

Hopefully the fee waiver will result in more owners claiming their pets, which will save the city in boarding and euthanasia costs, and more pets being altered, which will eventually lead to a decrease in the overall population of unwanted pets.

That last point is where sustainability comes in: unwanted pets. According to an article in the Journal Record last month, Oklahoma City euthanized 17,654 dogs and cats last year. That is waste, my friends, at its most grotesque. I fret about throwing away all kinds of things—leftover potatoes, socks with holes, wrinkled printer paper. I also realize that we are a wasteful society, consuming too much on many fronts, but the lives’ of living things? That stretches wastefulness beyond acceptable limits.

Let’s remind ourselves what we are talking about here because I grew up on a farm, and I eat meat. I know the argument, and it goes like this, “Dogs and cats are animals, and just like livestock they are here to be used by humans. If that’s how you feel, then use them—let them warm your lap and welcome your visitors and perform more noble tasks, like search and rescue or bomb sniffing because that’s what they were bred for. There is no need to breed new animals so long as thousands of them are being euthanized. To my knowledge, no one kills cattle just to make room for more cattle; we kill them for a purpose. Their slaughter isn’t simply a matter of convenience.

Yet more dogs and cats continue to be produced because we keep buying them. Then we throw the old ones away. So as we move toward sustainability with our recycled pop cans, hybrid cars and local food, let’s not forget our loyal companions. “Recycle” a pet from the shelter. Avoid creating “new waste” by spaying and neutering. And support new legislation and rules like the one that took effect last week.

All You Can Take With You

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Current Affairs, Family, Film, Finances, Food and Drink, Nancy Love Robertson | Posted on 19-12-2008

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by Nancy Love Robertson  

Part 1
Sometimes little gems of truth come at me from unexpected places. Take this quote for example: “All that you can take with you is that which you’ve given away.” This quote hangs below a picture of Peter Bailey, the founder of Bailey Brothers Building & Loan.

“Who’s Peter Bailey?” you might ask. For those of us who cherish film and consequently hang on holiday traditions through movies, Peter Bailey is the father of George Bailey, the protagonist in It’s a Wonderful Life.

I surprise myself every year about this time. Somehow in all of the busy-ness of the holiday season, I find the opportunity to steal 130 minutes, time I’ve decided to climb off of the merry-go-round and indulge myself and my family in a bit of nostalgia and sentimentality. In fact, I never tire of re-living the life experiences of George Bailey and the goodness of his guardian angel, Clarence, who finally earns his wings after helping George through a profound life crisis. Even though I know how the movie ends, I always cry when all of George Bailey’s friends extend themselves to a man who has given selflessly and loved large.

Last Saturday night was our night to watch It’s a Wonderful Life, and the quote – “All that you can take with you is that which you’ve given away” –jumped off the TV screen, demanding my attention.

What does this mean? How will this notion manifest itself in my life when it’s time for me to take something with me?

Part 2
My brother-in-law, Rod, held a family meeting via e-mail back in October.  The father of four grown daughters and grandfather to a 2½ year old Mighty Mouse named Cal, I consider Rod the steady hand in my family, and when he speaks, I listen. His message was simple: Given the economic crisis that is gripping our planet, let’s let Christmas 2008 be about family, friends, good times, love. The subtext was, “No presents.” It didn’t take me long to speak for the Robertson-Short side of the family. “We’re in,” I cried, in my best e-mail voice. It was a dog pile from that point on and unanimous! There is no stress of holiday shopping, only cooking problems to solve, which, to me, is the best kind of holiday stress.

Part 3
So far, this is the best holiday season I’ve experienced in years, perhaps the best ever in my life. I have a partner I adore, and family and friends I’d throw myself under a bus for. I dig the notion of not acquiring more stuff, as well, and I relish the idea of not contributing to the commercialism that has plagued this time of year for too long.

So, it’s back to the basics for the Robertson-Short, Warner-Welker-Ellingson-Holton, Robertson-Farha-Patrick households. Rather than root around in search of more stuff, I’m responding to e-mails about what’s on the Christmas Day menu and whether to bring champagne or full-bodied cabs as well as which game we’re going to play as a big ol’ family. (Pictionary is becoming a holiday favorite, by the way!)

Part 4
As I was sharing the It’s a Wonderful Life quote with an out-of-town friend last night over dinner, I identified what the quote means for me: I’ll be taking love with me. Like George Bailey, I’m the richest person I know. I feel so much love for the people in my life, and I don’t ever want a day to come when those closest to me ever wonder whether I love them because loving them is the most sustainable thing I’ve ever done. Besides, when you’re the richest person you know, who needs more stuff to take with you anyway?

We Are What We Eat

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Business, Current Affairs, David Brooks, Food and Drink, Science | Posted on 12-12-2008

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by David Brooks

Someone once said, “You are what you eat.” They were correct. Unfortunately, we have become a nation that should be wearing yellow and red suits, big red shoes, and answer to the name Ronald. We all know the general trend in America has been to eat more, eat poorly, add unwanted pounds, which cause health problems that diminish the quality of life, etc, etc, etc. 

Recently food producers and consumers have been providing momentum to the health and wellness trend. Food manufacturers are the first step in wellness adoption, and consumers have been driving profound changes in how today’s food and beverage products are formulated, packaged, and sold.

Food is used as fuel for the body and pleasure for the tongue. People are learning that nothing will affect their health as significantly as what they put in their bodies. The Hartman Group has been tracking the shifts occurring in American’s food consumption for the past twenty years. In the late 20th century, consumers began to reject products they considered sugary or salty. The term ‘junk food’ was coined and attributed to items high in salt, sugar, or fat. Packaging began providing options such as “low fat,” “low sodium,” “fat-free,” and “sugar-free”

Now in the 21st century consumers have begun to take back there personal health and nutrition through better food and, unfortunately, a new found fondness for food additives. Research shows that more and more consumers are deliberately adding ingredients and nutrients to their daily diet. A recent wellness study concluded that the following ingredients are being added regularly by a substantial percent of the population:

  • 70% add fiber
  • 68% add Calcium
  • 61% add Protein
  • 59% add Whole Grains
  • 55% add Olive oil
  • 50% add antioxidants
  • 41% add fish oil or Omega 3 oils
  • 40% add Oat Bran

In the long term consumers want foods that will help them manage weight, lower cholesterol, fight cancer, and extend life. Whole grain breads, high fiber yogurt, brown rice are all good ideas and all beneficial. The one thing all have in common is additives and preservatives. 

In an effort to keep folks growing gardens naturally and organically I will leave you with this last bit of information. Preservatives have what are called negative organoleptic properties brought on by the metallic taste of some additives. Things with names like; potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate, and calcium chloride have a flavor, and it is not a pleasant flavor. Ingredients are actually added to ingredients to block acidity, bitterness, and astringency. Researchers want consumers to have a pleasant ‘taste event.’ These events have a beginning, middle, and end. Good R & D teams concern themselves with the full spectrum of the experience. So, food is enhanced with additives, which are protected with preservatives, which are flavor masked with more additives so the consumer can have a pleasant experience.

Read the back of any package in your cabinet and it will encourage you to get your shovels sharpened and the seeds ordered. Merry Christmas to all of you, and may God bless you and your gardens in the coming year.

Do You Have Post-Petroleum Stress Disorder?

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Book Reviews, Books, Current Affairs, Energy, Shauna Lawyer Struby, Tips | Posted on 17-11-2008

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by Shauna Lawyer Struby 

"And so I’ve come to conclude that all the predictions—both good and bad—tell us absolutely nothing about what is possible. Trends and events can only relate to what is probable. Probabilities are abstractions. Possibilities are the stuff of life, visions to act upon, doors to walk through. Pessimism and optimism are both distractions from living life fully.”

            —Tom Atlee, author of Crisis Fatigue and the Co-Creation of Positive Possibilities, Co-Intelligence Institute

Over the last couple of months, in private conversations with friends, I've increasingly heard these words, "I feel overwhelmed," usually uttered in hushed tones within the context of discussing the constant drumbeat of our Trifecta of Emerging Crises—economic tsunami, peak oil, and climate change. The sentiment that usually follows is, “It’s scary.”

The comments come from people with a wide range of perspectives in all walks of life. Regardless of who they are, I can relate in this age of unending what-ifs—what if there’s a global pandemic, a catastrophic interruption in oil supply, food supplies, nuclear terrorist attack, hungry hordes of people roaming the streets. I’ve watched my mind jerk from one worst case scenario to the next over the last few years, in fear for my life and that of my children, spouse, family and friends, trying to decide whether to run for the hills or hunker down and hope for the best while refining and tweaking my lifestyle for whatever comes my way. 

Plenty of magazines, books, websites, and experts give us advice about how to downsize our lifestyles, live more simply, or just survive, but trying to manage this humongous data stream from experts and pundits, some days my mind just shuts down. The reality: the enormity of transitioning from an instant gratification lifestyle baked in cheap energy and topped with unsustainable supplies of credit is a big task comprising not simply changing a lifestyle but changing the heart and mind as well. Therein lays the challenge. As author Rob Hopkins notes in The Transition Handbook: From oil dependency to local resilience, “ … the process of deciding to change and then changing … is more subtle and sophisticated than that.”

Untitled2 Hopkins writes that enabling change has always been the Holy Grail of the environmental movement, but that it’s remained frustratingly elusive. His theory: we’ve failed to engage people on a large scale,  and certainly not on the scale needed to address peak oil and climate change, and not because we don’t understand the problems. We do! Rather, we never really understood change, how it happens, what it entails.

In our well-intentioned push for change, we try to engage people in action by, as Hopkins notes, “ … painting apocalyptic visions of the future as a way of scaring people into action,” with the result being many people experience what Hopkins calls ‘post-petroleum stress disorder.’

This stress disorder can exhibit itself in a variety of ways—see if you recognize any of these symptoms below (more on each the symptoms here):

  • clammy hands or nausea and mild palpitations
  • a sense of bewilderment and unreality
  • an irrational grasping at unfeasible solutions
  • fear
  • outbreaks of nihilism and/or survivalism
  • denial
  • exuberant optimism
  • the 'I always told you so' syndrome

How can we cope with change, with the “dark nights of the soul” within our own hearts and minds? Hopkins recommends that we:

    1)    Be aware of the feelings and realize they are natural.

    2)    Seek to generate what Chris Johnstone calls “inspirational dissatisfaction,” where the feelings generated motivate us to make changes in our lives. Acknowledge the change we want to see starts with us, and see this as an opportunity to rethink basic assumptions.

    3)    Finally and probably most importantly, don’t rush it! Change occurs in increments or stages. Take some time to sit with awareness and realizations as they are revealed to you. It may feel uncomfortable, but as Hopkins notes, within the feelings lies “a call to adventure,” one that with time, you will come to see as a positive transition in your life.

I encourage all of us, myself included, to help ourselves and others by:

    1)    Checking out The Transition Handbook and at the very least reading the chapters covering the psychology of change.

    2)    Harnessing the power of a positive vision (see chapter seven of Hopkins’ book).

In his book, Hopkins includes a long quote from Tom Atlee. I opened this post with part of that quote and include more of the same to close it. His words eloquently speak to this pivotal and hopeful place where we find ourselves.

“I think the emerging crises transcend such false end games like optimism and pessimism … I think the call is to act like a spiritually healthy person who has just learned they have heart disease: We can use each dire prognosis as a stimulant for reaching more deeply into life and co-creating positive change.”

For more information on Transition Culture, Rob Hopkins and The Transition Handbook, go here.