From Slow Food to Slow Building: Bringing the Principles of the Slow Movement to Our Housing Choices
Monday, 04 August 2014 13:30
By Maria Klemperer-Johnson
Are you familiar with Slow Food? As a member of GreenStar, you likely know something about the movement that advocates a food system working at a more traditional pace: from production to distribution to consumption. In contrast to fast food, where industrialized processes deplete our environment, disempower workers, and produce unwholesome food, Slow Food creates a richer culture that nourishes consumers, the environment, and the people within the food production and distribution system.
As a builder and educator, I've been contemplating bringing the principles of Slow Food to residential building: Slow Building. What can we achieve by slowing down the process of design and construction, rooting our buildings in local traditions, and considering the impacts of our building choices on us, our environment, and the people working in the system?
Think of the ways that our building choices impact our community. Do they fulfill us personally? Do they sustain or deplete our physical environment? Do they contribute to a socially just economic system?
When making building choices that are nourishing to us personally, we usually think aesthetically. Most of us have made a self-indulgent choice to spend more for the granite countertop, or the extra dormer, or the flat-screen TV. Other less conspicuous, health-oriented choices are also worth making to promote our well-being in the home. We might consider the toxicity of materials, indoor air quality, and the relationship of our homes to our outdoor environment. Taking time to account for both aesthetics and the healthfulness of our homes is one aspect of Slow Building.
Monday, 02 June 2014 15:26
By Joe Romano,
Don't eat anything advertised on TV.
— Michael Pollan
In late November of 1953, the executives at C.A. Swanson & Sons had the biggest Thanksgiving leftover problem in history. The Omaha, Neb., frozen food company had overestimated the demand for its 1953 Thanksgiving turkey supply, to the tune of over half a million pounds of fresh turkey. With nowhere to store such an amount, the Swanson brothers, Gilbert and Clark, loaded the turkeys into ten refrigerated railroad cars, which had to keep rolling to stay cold.
As the turkeys rode the rails from Omaha to the East Coast and back again, the two brothers gave their staff a challenge — figure out what to do with the birds before they got back.
One of their salesmen, Gerry Thomas, had just returned from the Pan Am kitchens, where he had been given one of their new silver, multi-compartment, airline meal trays as a souvenir. He figured it might be just what the Swansons needed to sell off that turkey. Thomas mocked up a turkey dinner-filled tray and suggested marketing the meals by linking them to the national obsession, television. The box would look like a TV screen, complete with knobs and dials. By the time the turkeys arrived back in Omaha, the TV dinner, a meal that needed no preparation or cleanup, had been born. More important, home-cooked food had successfully been typecast in the role it plays across America today, the inconvenient, annoying, and unimportant sidekick who only earns his keep when he amuses us.
Friday, 02 May 2014 15:11
By Joe Romano,
What's Goin' On?
I just wanna ask a question
Who really cares?
To save a world in despair
Who really cares?
— Marvin Gaye
In 1971, the world seemed to be in a dangerous place. Richard Nixon was president, nuclear proliferation was on the rise, and the Pentagon Papers had been released, revealing corruption at the highest levels of government. Any leaders who had offered hope, like John and Bobby Kennedy, Malcolm X, or Martin Luther King, Jr., had come to shocking and violent ends. The Vietnam War had been raging for over ten years, and Lieutenant William Calley had been convicted of murder for leading the My Lai Massacre in which over 500 unarmed villagers, including many infants and children, were brutally massacred. Catastrophic oil spills off the California coast, smog clouds over our cities, and harmful additives to our foods were the dirty footprints of our path to the future. Protests and riots were commonplace in overcrowded, drug-ridden cities. To many, the future looked bleak.
That summer of 1971, Marvin Gaye released "What's Going On," an album that critics, artists, and public surveys worldwide consider one of the greatest ever made. He did so against the advice of his record company, which preferred that he continue writing love songs. To that, Gaye responded, "With the world exploding around me, how am I supposed to keep singing love songs?"
With very similar intentions, the earliest members of a burgeoning food co-op in Ithaca, NY were crafting their response to a world gone awry. Marvin Gaye would describe his motivations in creating a vision of change: "I didn't know how to fight before, but now I think I do. ... I'm not a painter. I'm not a poet. But I can do it with music." At GreenStar we have the same vision, and are fighting the same fight. We do it with food.
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By Alexis Alexander,
June 6 marked a milestone in GreenStar's history when Brenda Wickes became the 10,000th member-owner of the Co-op! Even more impressive, this milestone represents the number of current member-owners, not the total number of people who have been member-owners over the 43 years of the Co-op's existence. In honor of this landmark event, we presented Bre...