Ithaca is Rock Stars

Monday, 01 September 2014 14:47

The rocks are not so close akin to us as the soil; they are one more remove from us; but they lie back of all, and are the final source of all. ... Time, geologic time, looks out at us from the rocks as from no other objects in the landscape.

— John Burroughs

By Joe Romano,

Marketing Manager

Geologists-tools hgIssues like fracking, protecting our local biodiversity, whether local wine should be sold in supermarkets, whether Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) should be stored in the Seneca salt caverns, which neighborhoods get funding for what, supporting local farmers, and the role of the colleges up on the hills of our community seem like issues of the moment here in Ithaca. But actually, all of these things were caused by the same factors and each had its genesis over 360 million years ago.

You may be looking down at your feet and scratching your head, wondering how that is possible. Well that's a perfect response. In fact, look down at your feet right now, because that's where the answer lies.

Imagine that it's 410 million years ago. The continents have yet to differentiate and drift apart. High sea levels have flooded this part of what will become the North American continent, so you're standing under warm ocean water very near to the Earth's equator. A collision with the landmass that is now Europe has created a long mountain range on the scale of the Himalayas that rise above the water just to the east of this undersea Ithaca. The water around you is teeming with life. At your feet are seashells and skeletons of sea creatures that form a limey mud that will eventually become limestone.

Read more: Ithaca is Rock Stars

 

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

double-dog-17Are 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.

Read more: From Slow Food to Slow Building: Bringing the Principles of the Slow Movement to Our Housing Choices

I'm Not a Real Dinner, 
but I Play One on TV

Monday, 02 June 2014 15:26

By Joe Romano,

Marketing Manager

Don't eat anything advertised on TV.

— Michael Pollan

tv-dinnerIn 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.

Read more: I'm Not a Real Dinner, 
but I Play One on TV

 

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    ballot-boxThe 2014 annual member-owner survey revealed that many member-owners don't vote because they aren't familiar with the voting process — what it is, how it works, when and where votes take place — or they don't feel well enough informed about the issues or candidates to vote. The results suggest that GreenStar needs to better inform member-owners in order to support them in participating i...

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