When one is not a lonely number

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Change, Environment, Film, Shauna Lawyer Struby, Sustainability, Transition OKC | Posted on 10-06-2011

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Photo credit Julie Evans

YERT: Your Environmental Road Trip screened last night at the deadCenter Film Festival and will screen again tomorrow at 1 p.m. at Harkins Theater, Oklahoma City. I couldn’t go last night but am getting very excited about the Saturday screening. Just in case you missed it, YERT was winner of the Audience Award at the 2011 Environmental Film Festival at Yale.

Today I’m hoping to snag some cool YERT swag at the Meet & Greet with Mark Dixon Transition OKC is hosting from 4-6 p.m., Elemental Coffee, 815 N. Hudson. Come on down! First ten people at the Meet & Greet win a reusable YERT ChicoBag, and Dixon will also be giving away two copies of Better World Shopping Guide by Ellis Jones.

Couple of days ago on a conference call with Carolyne Stayton, executive director, Transition US, I mentioned YERT was screening here (Carolyne is interviewed in YERT), and boy, she really perked up. Her voice got all and happy and she said, “I love those guys. They are so much fun.” I can’t think of any better recommendation.

Final words.

And finally … the last installment of the Q&A email interview with Mark Dixon and Ben Evans, YERT’s producers and directors. A huge heartfelt Okie thanks to them for being so thoughtful in answering the questions and for taking so much time with this. Gotta say — these two guys are rich with insights – realistic and hopeful – a useful balance for all of us as we keep on transitioning. Be sure to read all the way to the end – they saved their best words for last.

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Q: What was the most inspiring thing you discovered on your journey?

A: Wes Jackson and the Land Institute in Salina, Kan., were particularly inspiring. He’s really addressing a number of problems simultaneously by rethinking the entire idea of agriculture.  His visionary concept of a perennial polyculture addresses soil erosion, water scarcity, food security, climate change mitigation and adaptation, fossil fuel use, pesticide use, biodiversity, and general ecological health in one fell swoop. t’s pretty amazing stuff. And once his work is done, he plans to give it away to humanity. Our children and grandchildren will be thanking him, big time.

Q: Most interesting?

A: In Idaho we found a guy with an idea to pave all the roads in the U.S. with solar panels. His invention, Solar Roadways (which is featured in the film), was one of the most interesting ideas we found all year – largely because it seems so outlandish and impossible on the face of it. But the more we dug into it, the more sense it made and the more brilliant it seemed. The short video we created to help get the word out about his invention has been our most watched video by far – amassing a million YouTube hits in the past ten months. So apparently, other people find it pretty interesting too.

Q: Most meaningful?

A: It’s hard to pin down a single most meaningful part of the trip.  Certainly WWOOFing in Wyoming was very meaningful – getting to dig in the dirt and really be a part of growing our own food. Visiting with Wes Jackson at the Land Institute was an incredibly profound and meaningful experience, as was our time spent with Joel Salatin on his farm in Virginia

Bob Berkebile’s story of turning personal tragedy and disaster into the inspiration for our modern green architecture movement and, by extension, a way to help others (like the people of Greensburg, Kan.) rebuild more wisely in the wake of their own disasters is an incredibly meaningful example of the power of one person to leverage their own pain in the service of humanity.

And of course, the unexpected pregnancy on the trip amplified the meaning of just about everything we encountered and served as a constant reminder of exactly what’s at stake as we navigate our way through these challenging times on planet earth.

Q: Most discouraging and/or darkest moment?

A: Covering mountaintop removal (MTR) coal mining in West Virginia was probably the trip’s darkest hour. We all went into a depression after that – it was hard to wrap our heads around a country bombing itself in that way. While we had heard about MTR and knew that it was a problem well before we got to West Virginia, nothing could prepare us for seeing it up close and first hand from the air and from the ground. The complete and permanent devastation of an entire region of our country – one of the oldest and most bio-diverse regions on the planet and its uniquely American culture – in the name of a very marginal short-term increase in profits for a few coal barons is an almost unimaginable crime against humanity and nature. The insanity of this practice really hit us hard, and we hope that the film, in some small way, can help end this ongoing environmental and social tragedy once and for all.

Q: Happiest and most fulfilling moment?

A: As a self-professed sunset hound, Ben filmed a lot of sunsets all over the country on the trip which have been fun to relive on film, although Mark ended up filming perhaps the most memorable sunset from the back of a ferry leaving Alaska. The wonderful people that we met all along the way in every corner of the country and the tearful hugs and mutual inspiration that we shared with them has been one of the best things about the experience. And it was especially wonderful when we could use our journey to connect people from different walks of life or different parts of the country who needed each other (but perhaps didn’t know it yet) – something that happened a number of times on the trip.

Introducing people all around the country to the solutions and ideas that we’ve fallen in love with – like Earthships or Solar Roadways – and hearing them get excited and say they want to build an Earthship now or help make Solar Roadways a reality has really been fulfilling. And of course, the journey of the pregnancy and birth, while it was a lit
tle challenging for Mark to deal with at the time, has proven in the months and years since to have been one of the most fulfilling moments, not only for Julie and Ben, but of the trip itself in that it really gave the entire experience a new level of depth, meaning, and humanity that it might not have had otherwise. 

Q: What do you hope people will take away from the film?

A: We really hope people come away from the film recognizing that the most powerful solutions to the environmental challenges we face happen to also be the most satisfying, nourishing ways to live, and that people are joyfully exploring and sharing those solutions all around the country.

And we hope they recognize that they too have the power of "one" – that none of us has to be any smarter or prettier or richer than we are right now to have an enormous, immediate, and lasting positive impact on our own communities and on the larger world around us – as exemplified by the everyday heroes in the film. That’s a pretty empowering idea, when you tap into it.

Posted by Shauna Lawyer Struby. This post originally appeared on ThinkLady.

A 50-state environmental anti-depressant comes to Oklahoma

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Change, Environment, Film, Shauna Lawyer Struby, Sustainability, Transition OKC | Posted on 10-06-2011

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YERTLogoTransparentMore YERT scoop is here! See below for part 2 of the Q&A email interview with Mark Dixon and Ben Evans, producers and directors of the documentary YERT: Your Environmental Road Trip, a year-long eco-expedition through all 50 United States. With video camera in hand and tongue in cheek, these daring filmmakers explored the landscape of environmental sustainability in America and found plenty of laughter, fun and innovation happening all along the way.

YERT is screening today and Saturday at the deadCenter Film Festival in Oklahoma City and was winner ofYERT_laurels_EFFY_Winner the Audience Award at the 2011 Environmental Film Festival  at Yale. And tomorrow, Transition OKC is hosting a Meet & Greet with Mark Dixon from 4-6 p.m. at Elemental Coffee, 815 N. Hudson. First ten people at the Meet & Greet win a reusable YERT ChicoBag, and Dixon will also be giving away two copies of Better World Shopping Guide by Ellis Jones.

More YERT scoop tomorrow.

Come back for the third and final installment of our interview with Mark and Ben where we’ll find out what the YERT team discovered that inspired and depressed them, what was meaningful and made them very happy, and what they hope people will take away from the film.

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Photo credit: Erica Bowman

YERT email chat continued.

Q: How did you plan your routes and stops, and research and select those you interviewed along the way?

A: The first thing we did, way before we started the road trip, was to do a fair amount of research by meeting and listening to people at Green Festivals, the Bioneers conference, and also doing a fair amount of web-based research. That gave us a rough idea of the topics we wanted to cover, states where those topics might be most relevant, and which states held the most interesting interviews for those topics.

Then we jumped into the actual road trip route, and our goal there was to figure out how to hit the northern states in the summer, and the southern states in the winter — particularly hitting Alaska in the height of summer. We were ultimately trying to avoid driving in snowy conditions to make it easier on ourselves, our car and our schedule.Then we identified a few key events that we wanted to be sure we hit along the way — college reunions, San Francisco Green Festival, Bioneers, and holidays near home — and that led to a rough state-by-state itinerary.

Ben is a bit of a road-trip junky and map nut who had been to almost every state before the trip even started, so he really went to town solving the route puzzle and pinpointing key must-see spots while Mark, who is a spreadsheet guru and great contingency planner, dove into logistics and figuring out the perfect equipment and packing list that could keep the mission functioning on the road. 

With the itinerary in mind, we generally focused on the next couple of states in our planning efforts, setting up about 1/3 of the interviews in advance, and leaving plenty of room for fate (and a bit of luck) to guide us to the remaining 2/3. We often found that one interview would lead us to another interview, and so on, until our schedule forced us to leave a state. All throughout the trip we were hopelessly dependent on the Internet for research, e-mail, mapping and web-based communication with our audience.

Q: How did you handle conflict on your team during the trip and throughout the production process? 

A: Everybody on the team had their individual reasons for wanting to do the project, but ultimately we all wanted the trip to succeed and were motivated most by our collective desire to address the large-scale environmental problems facing us all – and we weren’t looking to get rich or famous from it. So from the beginning, we never needed to second guess the motives for anybody on the team. That said, we had no shortage of different ideas about how to best move things along, and we ultimately spent huge amounts of time in extremely thorough discussions of the smallest details. Generally, Mark was more conservative and interested in arriving early with extra time (turning down unique opportunities in order to get to places on-time, and to get enough sleep), while Ben was often interested in pushing the limits of what was humanly possible (embracing unique opportunities as they arose, trusting in providence to sort out the logistics, and ready to pull all-nighters to make them happen). More than anything, we handled conflict with patience and mutual respect, knowing that we had to solve most issues for the long-term, not just push them under the table for another day.

Q: Regarding conflict, any anecdotal incidents you’d care to share?

A: We had to work through a few tough spots – like Julie’s pregnancy in the face of our garbage challenge and the mostly healthy tension between Mark’s cautious risk aversion and desire to shoot less versus Ben’s intuitive risk taking and desire to shoot more freely. Generally, the fact that we were all doing this in the service of a much larger mission kept our egos in check and our foibles in perspective. Mark did eventually have a significant meltdown about halfway through the trip when Julie’s food needs from the pregnancy started to conflict with the garbage challenge — but, as a friend of Mark and the husband of Julie, Ben tried to function as a mostly-neutral sounding board and, ultimately, it wasn’t anything a little ice cream apology couldn’t solve.

– Posted by Shauna Lawyer Struby. This post originally appeared on ThinkLady.

Is it possible to laugh and help the planet at the same time?

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Change, Film, Sustainability, Sustainable OKC, Transition OKC | Posted on 07-06-2011

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Mark Dixon and Ben Evans shout out a resounding “Yes,” and they show you how they’re doing it in YERT: Your Environmental Road Trip, a documentary screening not once, but twice, at Oklahoma City’s deadCENTER Film Festival this week. For screening locations and times click here.

The tagline describes the film like this:

50 states. 1 year. Zero waste. Three friends on an environmental road trip across America in search of extraordinary innovators tackling humanity’s greatest crises.

That intriguing sound bite and the film’s trailer convinced me that not only did I need to see this film, but that it’d be cool to find out more about this project straight from the filmmakers. Lucky for us Okies, Dixon, one of the filmmakers, will be on hand Fri., June 10, from 4-6 p.m. at Elemental Coffee, 815 N. Hudson, in downtown Oklahoma City, to discuss the making of the film, which won the Audience Award at the Yale Environmental Film Festival. The informal Meet & Greet is organized by Transition OKC a program of Sustainable OKC. Coffee and snacks will be available to purchase from Elemental Coffee. yert

Giveaway alert.

First ten people at the Meet & Greet win a reusable YERT ChicoBag, and Dixon will also be giving away two copies of Better World Shopping Guide by Ellis Jones.

Advance chat.

As a lead-in to the screenings and Meet & Greet, I got to do a little early Q&A with Dixon and his colleague, Ben Evans, producers and directors of the film, and am featuring part one of that email interview here. Stay tuned for more.

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Photo credit: Rich Press

Q: How did the idea for this project develop – specifically from inception (the germ of the idea) – to actual “We’re going to make this happen” implementation? And what or who do you credit – in addition to yourselves — for encouraging, supporting, making the idea reality?

Group answer.

All three of us were really starting to get worried about the state of the planet and not feeling like we were doing enough about it in our respective careers. A video road trip to explore sustainability seemed like an interesting way to educate ourselves and others about all kinds of encouraging solutions to the urgent environmental problems facing humanity, a good way to discover hidden pockets hope and inspiration and share them quickly and widely. We weren’t sure what we’d find in all the nooks and crannies of the country, but we were determined to have fun finding it.

Ben’s more personal take.

I credit my mother for instilling in me a strong sense of environmental concern and a general interest in creative solutions to repairing humanity’s relationship with the planet. When she died from cancer in 2004, it really lit a fire under me to start living my beliefs more fully and focusing my life on issues of lasting importance. I’d been an actor in New York and Los Angeles for a number of years and had started kicking around ideas for a bunch of different environmental endeavors with a creative bent. I packed up my life in New York and co-created YERT with Mark as a way to marry my love of creative entertainment and performance with my long-standing concern for environmental issues. I really wanted to stop worrying and start doing something about the problems.

Mark’s more personal take.

I was a newbie to the environmental movement and was struggling to understand where I fit into a world faced with so many troubling ecological symptoms. I quit my job in an attempt to re-direct my life and lifestyle, but it wasn’t until halfway through a 10-day silent Vipassana meditation retreat that the idea for a national road trip documentary project dropped into my head. I quickly checked the idea with friends and family (all of whom were very supportive– particularly my parents), and that’s when Ben jumped at the opportunity to help shape the adventure in its early form. A year later, after intensive planning, preparation and a few videos under our belts, we embarked on Your Environmental Road Trip – YERT.

Q: With all the environmental films and documentaries that seem to be hitting the market almost every day, why did you decide this project was worth pursuing?

A: There’s a lot of doom and gloom out there in traditional environmental organizations and films, and many of these issues have become needlessly politicized. We wanted to cut through all that with humor, visiting with regular people on the street, and by turning ourselves into guinea pigs on the trip. Really the project is an effort to personalize these issues in a way that can reach out to people who, for whatever reason, aren’t part of the conversation yet.

Q: When did you start and end the project and how old were you when you started?

A: It’s been almost five years from the first germ of the idea to the premiere. The idea germinated in summer 2006 and we prepped for a year before leaving on the trip in July 2007. The film premiered in April 2011. At the start of the trip on July 4, 2007, Mark was 32,  Ben was 37, and Julie was 38.

Q: How did you fund your trip and the year off for traveling and exploring?

A: We basically pooled our savings and begged friends and family for contributions. Ben and Julie had been working as stage actors in New York City and Mark had been working in Silicon Valley saving for a house and grad school in California at the time, so that provided the bulk of the funding. We’re all pretty much broke at this point, but hopefully screening at great festivals like deadCENTER will help start to change that.

More insider YERT scoop to come so check back soon.

– Posted by Shauna Lawyer Struby. This post originally appeared on Thinklady.

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.

Look how far we’ve come

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Books, Consumption, Entertainment, Film, Robbie White, Television | Posted on 09-06-2009

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by Robbie White

From paper to plastic to paper again, from tape to disc to digital files, Robbie takes a thoughtful look at how technology is changing the way we consume, hopefully for the better.

The other day I picked up a paper straw at the OKC Zoo to drink a coke-flavored Icee and was transported back to my childhood when paper straws were the norm. At first the paper straw was kind of annoying because I crushed the end, and unlike the plastic version, the paper straw did not return to its original shape. I turned the straw over and was careful not to crush the drinking end again — firmly resisting the urge to get a new straw — and this led to pondering differences in consumption since my childhood.

Consider for a moment television and movies: I was recently telling my kids about elementary school days in the late 1970s, when we watched movies and film strips sparingly at school. We filed into the old gymnasium at Neil Armstrong Elementary School in Bettendorf, Iowa, and watched nature films projected onto a huge screen using 16mm projectors. These films were carefully cared for by our teachers who shared them with the whole district. I can’t remember being told this specifically, but I always knew the films were valuable and had to be checked out in advance.

The early ‘80s saw the advent of Laserdisc, VHS and Betamax consumer video recording and viewing formats. As a young married couple, we started accumulating VHS tapes purchased or received as gifts. We were so excited to finally own a player! I recorded my favorite shows and even catalogued a few seasons of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”

Our collection of VHS cassettes was impressive by the time DVDs became readily available in the late ‘90s. We still have a collection of favorites on VHS we can’t bring ourselves to part with, but we’ve slowly replaced many titles on DVD as they become available. Admittedly, we’ve created a small nostalgic but wasteful set of movies on both formats. The ten years that passed between the purchases does not excuse the waste.

In 2008, we discovered Apple TV which allows us to build a library digitally stored and accessible from any of our authorized devices. Apple TV is not perfect but it is getting better. We can rent a movie without using any resources at all (except money and electricity) for store visits or delivery by mail. We can purchase other media this way as well. There are no discs to scratch, no magnetic tapes to deteriorate, but there are some limitations with regard to licensing agreements, sharing media with others, and decades from now when we pass away, we wonder whether our digital media will become nothing but virtual debris.

The movies we love (and hate) create a story of their own about us. My unique set of movies is a way of describing myself. For example, I liked “The Departed,” but not “The Godfather;” the Keira Knightly version of “Pride and Prejudice,” but not the ‘80s version; and I love “iCarly” and “M*A*S*H,” but not one other TV sitcom in the intervening decades has engaged my attention. Much as the books we keep and reread over years say much about us, I wish to preserve our film and video collection for our children and grandchildren, or at least the essence of it.

The same questions apply to e-books. My husband and I both have Kindle readers. We love the experience of reading on this elegant device, and appreciate the fact this digital tool allows us to control our consumption so we can again enjoy reading daily newspapers without waste or mess. I am discovering periodicals again because of Kindle. I cannot, however, loan you a magazine, but I can send an email with an article or selected text, or if really necessary, print it in the old-fashioned way.

I see new media delivery and storage devices as a
n improvement over the consumption of paper, but I don’t know what is involved in the production of a Kindle device. Will we discover some toxic secret (such as mercury in compact fluorescent light bulbs)? Will new technology in a few years cause us to recycle outmoded Kindles for something more cutting edge?

While none of us knows what the future holds, what each of us can do in the present is consume less of this planet’s resources by making decisions based on the best knowledge available in the present, and by doing so, contribute to a better future.

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.

Seeds

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in David Brooks, Farming, Film, Home and Garden, Science, Seeds | Posted on 18-05-2009

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by David Brooks

It is time
once again to put the seeds in the ground, and with that come some questions: Do
I put one seed in the hole or two? What happens if I put three? How close
together should I put the seeds? Can I squeeze one more plant in this row, or
will that crowd out the others and lead to the ruination of the entire garden?
To a seasoned gardener there is no quandary concerning the seeds, but to a
novice that plot of ground can be a puzzle of immense proportions.
 



The seeds
planted determine a lot about your garden. So, let’s look at seeds. Where did
you get them? Are they safe? Did you choose organic seeds to try and control
what is inside you food?
 

 

There is a
lot of research going into seeds and crop output in the country now. Over the
past 20 years we have seen the introduction of a number of bioengineered crops
throughout the world. The argument rages as to whether we are making it
possible to feed the world, or setting ourselves up for a genetic mess and an
insect or disease infestation that cannot be stopped.

 

Many of you
are seasoned enough to remember in the mid-nineties when it became almost impossible
to buy a taco in America. A bioengineered corn seed named
Starlink made
it into the food supply and was quickly deemed unsafe and not fit for human consumption.
The corn had made it so deep into the food supply that anything made with it
was pulled from the shelves and millers nationwide had to stop milling and
empty any silo that could possibly have had
Starlink in it. To this day
labs check each load of corn delivered to a processor for traces of
Starlink
corn.
 

 

The quality
of the seed determines the quality of the product you grow. Choose wisely.

 

The Future
of Food
is a good documentary to watch concerning this issue. The length is
around 1 hour and 30 minutes, but it’s well worth the time spent.

 

After you
watch the documentary the timeline following will make more sense. Please take
time to watch it and then enjoy your backyard garden.

 TIMELINE

  • 1901 -
    Ishiwata Shigetane discovers that the cause of a disease outbreak in silkworms
    is a new species of bacteria, later called Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt.
  • 1905 – Sir
    Roland Biffen shows that the ability of wheat to resist infection with a fungus
    is genetically inherited.
  • 1907 -
    Erwin Smith and C. O. Townsend discover that the cause of crown galls is a
    bacterium called Agrobacterium tumefaciens.
  • 1930 – In
    the 1930s, plant breeders notice that plants infected with a mild strain of a
    virus are protected from infection with a more destructive strain.
  • 1938 – The
    first commercial insecticide that contains Bt hits the market.
  • 1947 -
    Armin Braun shows that A. tumefaciens introduces a factor into plant cells that
    permanently transforms them into tumor cells.
  • 1950 – In
    the 1950s, studies show that proteins produced by Bt bacteria kill insects.
  • 1972 -
    Ernest Jaworski reports that glyphosate herbicides work by inhibiting a
    critical biochemical pathway in plants.
  • 1974 – Jeff
    Schell and Marc Van Montagu discover that a circular strand of DNA (a plasmid)
    carried by A. tumefaciens transforms plant cells into tumor cells.
  • 1977 -
    Eugene Nester, Milton Gordon, and Mary-Dell Chilton show that genes on the A.
    tumefaciens plasmid are transferred into infected plant cells.
  • 1981 -
    Helen Whiteley and Ernest Schnepf, at the University of Washington, clone a Bt
    toxin gene.
  • 1983 – Jeff
    Schell and Marc Van Montagu, Mary-Dell Chilton and colleagues, and scientists
    at Monsanto introduce genes into plants by using A. tumefaciens plasmid
    vectors.
  • 1986 -
    Roger Beachy shows that plants bioengineered to produce a viral coat protein
    are protected from infection with the virus.
  • 1990 -
    Field trials show that Bt cotton strains resist bollworm and budworm.
  • 1996 -
    Genetically engineered virus-resistant squash seeds hit the market.
  • 1996 – Bt
    cotton hits the market.
  • 1996 -
    Herbicide-resistant strains of soybeans, cotton, canola, and corn reach the
    market.

 

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?