Aug 28, 2007

Bicycle Music Festival

Some creative and straight up lovely people have brought bike culture to a new high in SF this summer. Clearly the brilliant folks behind the Bicycle Music Festival have been at their melodic and mechanic trades for a while. How did they make those awesome bikes that power the PA? No doubt, if you asked, someone would take the time to explain.

Like other cyclists who love their creations, Gabe (shake your peace), Paul (rock the bike), and all the other contributers also like to share them. With smiles. No snobby scene included. Just good music. And let me tell you, the music and performances could be bad (imagine if this was a more macho subsection of bike culture), but they all work!

Last night there were several great performances. I rolled up to see maybe 5 people playing an laundry basket rigged w/ instruments. The music was pedal powered throughout. Everything and everyone arrived on bikes and left on bikes.

Truly sustainable music. Umm, who needs carbon offsets?

Aug 24, 2007

Hauling Plants w/o a Trailer

Today I went to see my friend, Greg, again about more native plants for the Really Really Free Market. He got me psyched about variety and started pulling horkelia, bee plant, and coffeeberry out for me to take.
"Wait", I said, "I'm on my bike so I can only take two".

Oh boy was I wrong. I wondered how Greg transported plants as he rides a bike, too. Well, today I found out.

Greg pulled a bunch of these plants (above plus 2 doug iris' and coast buckwheat) out of their one gallon containers and placed them into a plastic bag. He grabbed a second bag, sprayed the lot w/ water and put the load into the box on the back of my bike.

Ok, so now my cooler box (great for groceries) smells like beer b/c the bags were used to haul bottles to the recycling center where Greg runs the native plant nursery, bu so what. I hauled 3x the number of plants today, and I can realistically get them all to the RRFM tomorrow.

The plants are free tomorrow, like everything else. See you there!

Aug 23, 2007

Really Really Free Market this Saturday

I'm stoked to go to this month's Really Really Free Market in SF's Dolores Park on Saturday. I'm taking some nifty native plants to give away. I have a kick ass friend who collects local seed and propagates native plants at a recycling center in the Haight. Today I picked up some toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia) and sticky monkey flower (Mimulus aurantiacus).

Along with the plants I'll have the new Nature in the City maps to give away. And some fresh pears from my backyard. I'm hoping that the plants initiate some conversation that can make the ecology aspect of this month's market something of a skill share.

But now I have to re-pot these plants. My bike fell over and everything spilled. I need a trailer for Saturday!

Aug 20, 2007

Bikes Rock, Rep McHenry Should Shut Up and Take a Ride

Did ya'll read/watch the ridiculous comments of North Carolina's Rep. McHenry regarding an energy provision last week (H.R. 1498)? There's this incentive to give bicyclists who commute to work a $20/month credit.

McHenry thinks this is no solution to our energy [consumption] crisis. Nuclear energy, that's a real solution. According to McHenry, bikes are "antiquated" but this spiel has some creepy Manifest Destiny moments tied together by the 1950's progress paradigm that has led to our high impact/high consumption lifestyles.

I'm pretty familiar with North Carolina, having grown up in Georgia. I bet it's a gorgeous place to ride, particularly in the coming months of Fall. Maybe McHenry should get on a bike instead of making sarcastic speeches rife w/ partisanship and completely lacking in substance. Maybe he'd find a little inspiration in the twists and ascents of the Smokies.

Anyway, here's a bit of what he said.

“A major component of the Democrats’ energy legislation and the Democrats’ answer to our energy crisis is, hold on, wait one minute, wait one minute, it is promoting the use of the bicycle.

Oh, I cannot make this stuff up. Yes, the American people have heard this. Their answer to our fuel crisis, the crisis at the pumps, is: Ride a bike.

Democrats believe that using taxpayer funds in this bill to the tune of $1 million a year should be devoted to the principle of: “Save energy, ride a bike.”

Some might argue that depending on bicycles to solve our energy crisis is naive, perhaps ridiculous. Some might even say Congress should use this energy legislation to create new energy, bring new nuclear power plants on line, use clean coal technology, energy exploration, but no, no.

They want to tell the American people, stop driving, ride a bike. This is absolutely amazing.

Apparently, the Democrats believe that the miracle on two wheels that we know as a bicycle will end our dependence on foreign oil. I cannot make this stuff up. It is absolutely amazing.

Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you the Democrats, promoting 19th century solutions to 21st century problems. If you don’t like it, ride a bike. If you don’t like the price at the pumps, ride a bike.

Stay tuned for the next big idea for the Democrats: Improving energy efficiency by the horse and buggy.”

Aug 7, 2007

Media Moments: Can You Help?

I have 2 opportunities for folks who'd like to weigh in on consumption issues.

Journalist Zachary Slobig is looking for someone to chat w/ about dropping out of the Compact. If you tried it and found that it did not work for you, perhaps you can help him out. Maybe you've set some other standards for yourself that work better? This is for an article in Good Magazine. Zachary rocks, very easy to talk to. Email me if you can help w/ this one.

And there's a documentary in the making called American Dream that is also seeking to get feedback from Compactors. Video diaries are sought from around the country/globe.
The film is not directly about the Compact, but you may still have something relevant to say. Below is the info provided to me by Justin, a rad fella who's working on the film. I did an interview w/ him and Jason (?) last week. Again, great folks, easy to talk to.

New Documentary looking for Compactors!

A new feature documentary called American Dream is looking for people
participating in the compact!

The documentary is about an everyday man who realizes that his financial
success and his accumulation of material things are not making him
happy. He decides to sell most of what he owns in order to make a film
about the over consumption and lack of sense of purpose that mark
today’s vision of success. Through his journey, we will find out what
has happened to the American society and to the original American Dream
after the arrival of industrialization, advertisement and mass-consumption.

The documentary includes engaging interviews with celebrities,
luminaries and industry leaders such as Danny Glover, Howard Zinn, Vicki
Robin, Ed Begley Jr., Jean Kilbourne, Rickson Gracie, Satish Kumar and
will be released in theaters nationwide.

Part of the film includes a search for solutions. We plan on
interviewing the original compactors in San Francisco and we want to
speak with others in the US and around the world!

If you are compacting or planning on compacting..or just like the
idea---We want to hear your story!

Please email and we will be in touch very soon!

Aug 1, 2007

"Green" Shopping One More Time

I did this radio show on Monday that actually pitted "green" shopping advocates against the anti-consumerist/simple lifer mindset. It was not a positive experience for me in the moment, but it's meant that folks are pressing me to talk about this so here's a bit of how I approach this.

The Compact was a challenge to not buy new products for one year. We made a few exceptions, but the point was to reduce our personal landfill contributions among other things.

We advocate reducing consumption because it is evident that the American standard of living is not tenable on a global scale: there are not enough resources available for all of the 6.7 billion people on earth to have the average American lifestyle. Even if we made all products environmentally friendly, there would still be inequity in their distribution because there is not enough to go around. Thus, as the "green" products market explodes, I do not feel that I now have license to buy the unnecessary junk that's being marketed.

This problem is pronounced for my household as we cannot afford to buy into this market of "ethical" goods. We couldn't buy a new refrigerator, even if our landlord said it was ok. If we can't, as Americans in their twenties with college degrees, then it seems like a fallacy to think this is what will preserve rare species, slow climate change, and create sustainable communities across the planet.

Rather the "green" market seems like a continuation of over-consumption that's designed to eliminate the responsibility one may feel about the realistic footprint and lifespan of a product. It's the same market approach that brought us to the threshold upon which we now stand. If I have to buy new, then sure, I'll buy the "green" product. But I won't fool myself into thinking I need a personal espresso machine just because I can get one that barely draws any watts.

My framework with respect to over-consumption reflects a need for community based solutions. Rather than everyone having a personal espresso machine, I think we're much better off walking to the local coffee shop w/ our cups in hand. "Green" shopping is a continuation of the individualist paradigm that has led so many of us to think each home needs it's own steam cleaner and chainsaw, even if those items are only used every six months.

Once we have all of these products, we've long forgotten that their materials were extracted, they were assembled, shipped, marketed, and then used. Each of these steps has an impact, and I sincerely doubt that each one is being made "green".

So for me, if I want something, I'll first decide whether I really need it. If I have to shop, I'll try used first. (And you might be shocked at even the "green" products you can find used. Just look at Craigslist for an energy star refrigerator.)