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Archive for the Local Category

Parking Day Slideshow

park

I found this over at Treehugger, many of you are aware of Parking Day, where people reclaim urban spaces for a single day to bring awareness to many issuses such as urban development, dependencies on cars etc.  Check out the slide show here

Localwashing

You have heard of Greenwashing, now we have Localwashing.  You just have to love how when a good idea comes out marketers just love to bastardize it!

localwashing

Reprinted: Treehugger 9/2009 Brian Merchant

We’re all plenty familiar with the advertising trend where marketers seek to portray products and services from a ‘green’ angle, regardless of their actual environmental impact. Well, perhaps such greenwashing campaigns have proved so successful (some 98% of ‘eco-labeled’ products were greenwashed last year) that marketers are following its lead to exploit another growing environmental trend–this time, it’s “localwashing.” Here are some pictures of the worst ads by big companies pretending to be local in order to cash in on conscious consumers.

Grist put together an informative/appalling/hilarious slideshow that demonstrates how big corporations–from the Venezuelan oil company Citgo to Starbucks to Lay’s–have launched marketing campaigns attempting to portray their businesses as ‘local’ to cash in on the positive trend of buying and eating local.

What Office?

What is the best way to create a low impact office? To not have one! I have found several people that have done just that.

First lets meet Isobella Jade. She is a the new face of modeling: model, marketer, promoter, manager, make up artist all in one.   She has used the Apple store in NYC to write an entire memoir from start to finish. She setup and launched her own website, blog, and online portfolio by using the computers in the Apple store for free! Here is a video about her life as a the 5’ 4” model / entrepreneur.
The Underdog

To find out more about how she works in the Apple store here is a great interview with her from Mental_Floss

Out next person is Nicholi. He is 12. What on earth does a 12 year old need an office for? Funny you should ask. Nicholi has shot numerous youtube videos right in the Apple store with their computers. He doesn’t own his own computer so he was forced to spread his creativeness through creative means. What is more impressive is that his videos and story ended up getting him spots on TV.

There are some of you out there that are asking, well I don’t live in NYC or near an apple store. Well you are not alone. David Lee King blogs about Libraries (I love how on the internet you can find people jazzed up about everything!) . In his post he discusses how Libraries are becoming the new office. With computers, wifi, fax machines, copy machines and a slew of research materials its no wonder these are hot spots for entrepreneurs. You don’t have to pay for lighting, heating, cooling. You don’t have to take time to clean the bathrooms, fix a leaky roof, etc.

Today libraries have come a long way. Many of them have conference rooms, food and coffee shops. Public transportation almost always has a stop at the libraries. The down side is that you have to walk outside to use the phone, but I will tell you that more and more things are just going to email; I rarely pick up the phone.   In addition to entrepreneurs using libraries, homeless use these resources to find jobs, find information about services for poor and homeless, stay in contact with family and friends.

coop office

Finally you have you shared office space Co-op’s which are basically non-profit business that have space, resources, materials, and sometimes a secretary for patrons. Co Work Chicago is a rental office, where individuals will rent a desk and work along side of others who just need office space. They each run their own business, but from the same space. A few times a week they all sit down for lunch, which is locally sourced. Rates run $20 per day, $90 per week and $300 a month, not bad! Their services are “T-1 Internet Connection, Kitchen & Bathroom, Furnished with Desk, Security Camera, Office Dog (included), Close to CTA & Downtown, Flexible Lease, and Most Importantly Good People. “
Check out this great article about it and their website.

Rethinking Big Box

Big Box Stores are often given a bad wrap, though they seem to firmly fill a need in our lives.  This bad wrap is often justified for many good reasons.  But what if we were to rethink about their function, their form, their purpose, their method?  The Reburbia contest got me thinking about this interesting spin on Big Box stores.

Take for example Ikea.  If you have ever been in one of these they are huge!  I’m not talking about Sam’s club huge or Costco huge, no no, Ikea makes these stores look like mini-me.  The average Sam’s or Costco 190,000 square feet, Ikea 300,000 and up!bb1

That is allot of space, what if we could repurpose that space or repurpose the space of an empty warehouse, closed walmart etcetera to become a giant living grocery store.  When I say living grocery store, this is what I mean.

The interior of the structure will be converted to a giant greenhouse, where the aisles of shelves are now long raised bed rows of plants that the customers walk down and pick their food.  The guy that used to stock the shelves of produce section will now show you how to harvest it all, offer up recipes and dietary advice.  All the vegetables and fruit will be grown on site.  Chicken and beef will also be done free range in the area surrounding the store and some of the massive parking lot will be converted back to green space.  The store’s power could even come from wind mills on the property.  Imagine how much better your buying experience would be when its filled with shades of greens instead of harsh lights, neutral color tiles and obnoxious advertisements.

If you have ever been to an EarthFare grocery store, you could have a similar dining area, with daily selections of hot food (they make them daily, all organic and from scratch). Where I used to live, Asheville, NC, the grocery store also had a community center that anyone could rent and yoga, meditation, art classes were held.  This store could have something similar teaching classes on gardening, farming, and sustainability etcetera.bb3

Many of us know about the Urban Homestead, path to freedom.  They grow 10,000 pounds of produce on a 1/10 of an acre 20 minutes from downtown LA with only four people.  If you scale that to the size of Ikea, you are looking at 650,000 pounds of produce! Ikea’s are often built on 40 acre lots, so figure 15 for the building and parking.  I have read you can raise chickens under free range conditions at 400 an acre.  If you were to bring in feed, you could support a decent number of cows per acre.

Imagine how your relationship with food would change?  You would be forced to by local, to by seasonal, to know exactly what went into your food.  How would this impact the cost when you eliminate transportation, gasoline, repackaging, and merchandising.  Would this work, what are your thoughts on this?

Mad Houser

A little while back I talked to someone who was a reader of this website; the topic was about how tiny houses might be able to address a need for homelessness. hut1 This is of great interest to me as I work for a non-profit in order to reduce poverty and homelessness.  My job is a bit different from most who work in this field as I am essentially a staffing agency for volunteers.  I seek out non-profits who need volunteers and then get volunteers, train both sides and facilitate them to fight poverty.  All of this is done for free, except for when large companies want a “work day” or “community service day” for their employees, we charge them a consulting fee.

Homelessness is a big issue right here at home, with the economy in a funk, I personally know many people who by all measures financially were responsible, saved 3-6 months of expenses in a rainy day savings account, but were still forced out of their home.  If you have ever worked with homeless folks, we find that really aren’t that different than us.  I was struck by irony one day when I served food to a group of gentlemen who were dressed better than I was.  I was struck when 4 nurses who were still employed sat down to eat because they had a job, but couldn’t afford to eat because of pay cuts and they were giving their portions to their kids.

This Atlanta group called the “mad housers”  is a really interesting idea of making cheap houses and dropping them off at homeless camps and tent cities.  They construct these for around $400 and have a sleeping loft, a wood stove and a place to secure their belongings and sleep safely.

If you live in a city, you may no know, but every city has several tent cities.  Homeless people don’t always just sleep on the streets, they construct in prompt tu shelters in groups for security, community and many other reasons.  These things are huge too!  I have seen some covering an entire acre.

They say this about their mission:

MAD HOUSERS Inc. is an Atlanta-based non-profit corporation engaged in charitable work, research and education. Our charter outlines our goals and purposes:

  • To provide shelter for homeless individuals and families regardless of race, creed, national origin, gender, religion, or age.
  • To develop low income housing for people in need of housing.
  • To help people develop the skills and knowledge for constructing and rehabilitating housing and shelter.
  • To increase the quantity and to improve the quality of housing in the world.
  • To act, if necessary as an advocate for the homeless, to ensure that their moral and civil rights are protected.

The Mad Housers believe that if a person has a secure space from which to operate, they are much more capable of finding the resources to help themselves.

Check them out here

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