Archive for the ‘The Stuff of Life’ Category

Here is a group I want to find out a lot more about: The Center for Land Use Interpretation. I discovered them from a little sidebar in the New York Times on the Hudson River which mentioned their new book, Up River: Man-Made Sites of Interest on the Hudson from the Battery to Troy. According to their website, the CLUI:

is a research organization involved in exploring, examining, and understanding land and landscape issues. The Center employs a variety of methods to pursue its mission – engaging in research, classification, extrapolation, and exhibition.

But that seems to be putting it mildly. They seem to have a fascination for all the many ways that man and landscape intersect for good or for bad. And their medium is based in the visual. They have many other books, online features, newsletters (going back to 1995!), and exhibitions on everything from trash to parking spaces. I’m going to have to spend a lot more time checking them out.


Read Full Post »

Somehow, I managed to miss all pre-press about The Bottle Project in Atlanta, an installation in a park walking distance to my house. Last night, I was walking over there, and happened upon part of it that remains – it was supposed to be installed through September, but it looks like the Department of Watershed Management destroyed it as part of a runoff control project. Here is the part that I saw (photos are from my cameraphone, sorry for the poor quality):

The Bottle Project - Web

The Bottle Project - Entryway Post

The igloo or dome was gone. I hope they’ve simply moved it during the watershed project and will return it when that is complete.

I was curious about the artists and any other info about The Bottle Project, so I looked it up when I got home and found the above linked Blogspot page, along with the following coverage from the local Public Broadcasting station: Sunken Garden Park – The Bottle Project, including a recorded interview with one of the artists, Pam Longobardi.

Here is info on the project from the Blogspot site:

The Bottle Project is a temporary public art project created for Atlanta’s Sunken Garden Park by artists Craig Dongoski, Pam Longobardi and Joe Peragine. The project explores the invisible network of connectedness that runs through everything, whether human or non-human, built or naturally occurring. This network can be made visible by examining the flow of water, both local and global. Atlanta is experiencing the longest drought in our collective memory, and yet very little conversation about conservation has occurred. The reaction of habit and convenience is to buy bottled water. The natural network of water flow has become artificial and commodified. Plastic that never disappears off the earth is being produced and used by the billions every day to contain and transport this naturally mobile substance. We are attempting to make visible a problematic cycle that needs to be re-thought.

Read Full Post »

Take a few minutes to watch this video: Chris Jordan Pictures Excess – TED Talk 2008

Artist Chris Jordan talks about his work at the TED Conference earlier this spring – in his own words here from his website:

Running the Numbers looks at contemporary American culture through the austere lens of statistics. Each image portrays a specific quantity of something: fifteen million sheets of office paper (five minutes of paper use); 106,000 aluminum cans (thirty seconds of can consumption) and so on. My hope is that images representing these quantities might have a different effect than the raw numbers alone, such as we find daily in articles and books. Statistics can feel abstract and anesthetizing, making it difficult to connect with and make meaning of 3.6 million SUV sales in one year, for example, or 2.3 million Americans in prison, or 32,000 breast augmentation surgeries in the U.S. every month.

This project visually examines these vast and bizarre measures of our society, in large intricately detailed prints assembled from thousands of smaller photographs. Employing themes such as the near versus the far, and the one versus the many, I hope to raise some questions about the role of the individual in a society that is increasingly enormous, incomprehensible, and overwhelming.

Read Full Post »

Knowledge is Power

I believe knowledge is power – the power to change our behavior for the better. Driving a hybrid car with dashboard feedback on fuel efficiency lets you know instantly how you can change your driving habits to reduce the amount of gas you use.

What if you could see instantly how much electricity, natural gas, and water you were using in your home? Would you turn off the lights more often? Plug in fewer gadgets? Turn down the gas on the stove when not needed?

To this end, I got myself a new gadget called Kill-A-Watt which provides feedback on electricity usage by standard appliances. So far I’ve tested it on my cell phone charger (0.01 kWh/h) and table lamp with CFL bulb (122.3 kWh/h). I’m going to test more appliances and gadgets around the house and will keep track of the results here. I’m especially curious about comparisons between lamps with CFL bulbs and conventional; computer in active vs. hibernate mode, etc.

In Georgia we are paying about 4 cents/kWh until June. Cost isn’t my concern (I think power is way too cheap), but it is easier to deal with psychologically than kilowatts. I’ll translate the figures to dollars eventually.

Cell phone charger (Blackberry charging and not charging, but wall wart plugged in) = 0.01 kWh/h
Table lamp with CFL bulb = 122.3 kWh/h [I think this is an error – I was looking at the wrong setting]
Computer equipment plugged into UPS = 11.3 kWh/h

To be continued…..

Read Full Post »

It’s almost CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) season! I just re-subscribed to the CSA I joined last year and am looking forward to the local, organic food that will be delivered weekly for distribution to my nearby synogogue. It’s important to eat local and organic food for a variety of reasons including reduced carbon emissions from transport, reduced packaging waste, reduced/eliminated herbicide and pesticide application to the land and exposure to your body, and supporting your local economy. There was a great article in the New York Times last week called Did Your Shopping List Kill a Songbird? about the effect of imported fruits and vegetables on songbird populations. Here’s an excerpt:

Migratory birds, modern-day canaries in the coal mine, reveal an environmental problem hidden to consumers. Testing by the United States Food and Drug Administration shows that fruits and vegetables imported from Latin America are three times as likely to violate Environmental Protection Agency standards for pesticide residues as the same foods grown in the United States. Some but not all pesticide residues can be removed by washing or peeling produce, but tests by the Centers for Disease Control show that most Americans carry traces of pesticides in their blood. American consumers can discourage this poisoning by avoiding foods that are bad for the environment, bad for farmers in Latin America and, in the worst cases, bad for their own families.

If you want to find a CSA, farmer’s market, or other source of local, organic food, check out Local Harvest, a website that lets you search by city or zip code along with a lot more information about the local/slow food movement. Enjoy your fruits and veggies!

Read Full Post »

The mountains of Canada have inspired a line of rugs by Maude Decor in Vancouver.

These colorful designs features handpainted canvas rugs in the shape of such natural wonders as The Three Sisters (picture above), Tip Top Mountain, Mt. Logan, and seven others. They are not inexpensive, but they are beautiful to look at.

Read Full Post »

If you have not yet seen The Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard, I highly recommend it. It’s a clever 20-minute video about the production/consumption/disposal cycle and what it is doing to the earth and to people. A la An Inconvenient Truth, you can sign up to host a screening (some schools have done this and posted their experiences) – my daughter loves to watch it and discuss how we can contribute less to the Golden Arrow.Watch a snippet here, and then click on the link above to visit Annie’s site.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »