Thar Be Dragons

So it’s been a little quiet around here, and I’m sorry about that. Quiet usually means I’m in the throes of some crazy project, and this is no different. Today’s part of that project has been the writing of a proposal summary so that we can get final approval for a project I am really, really wanting to see go live.
Working on it has been a little stressful, but I just have to note that sometimes it just really makes me stop and go “wow, this is my life” when I look around at all the talented people I get to work with, and the beautiful things I get to help create. When I am feeling overwhelmed or sad, I need to remember this update because truly my life is full of beauty and magic and people who inspire me every day, and I am damned lucky.

Sang Bu

Speaking of that, here: here is Ryan Mathern’s Dragon Sang Bu in all her glory. If I can have one wish right now it is that she can live here in the park forever so that all my neighbors can feel a smidgen of what I feel right now when they go to visit her. Sometimes living in our neighborhood can feel like living in a war zone, and the Dragon of Compassion is such a peaceful reminder of what is truly important.

Water Wars, pt 2.

A little while ago, after a trip to my family’s home-town, I wrote about a disturbing trend by Nestle that involved buying land and businesses, solely to get access to water wells. This was resulting in neighbors losing their access to water because Nestle was pumping the aquifers dry to fill the nation’s demand for bottled water.

Well, here’s the guy behind it. He calls the belief that water is a basic human right an “extreme solution”. He prefers privatization, control by corporation, monetization of this precious resource.

If you don’t have water, it’s because you don’t work hard enough.

And because I know this is old, and some people may dismiss it simply because of that, here is a link to his “explanation” on Nestle’s Water Stewardship page. It isn’t much better.

Save the Bees! post for ecoetsy.com

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When you think about animals vital to human survival, bees and their fellow pollinators are right at the top of the list. Without bees, crops don’t grow, and we don’t get to eat real food. For a few years now, researchers and gardeners alike have been wringing their hands over the mass disappearance of so many bees, known under the collective name Colony Collapse Disorder.

Several culprits were named, including cellphone towers and radio waves, while some organic gardeners quietly began to question the role of pesticides intended to kill harmful insects. Unfortunately, even though the makers of these products promised us they were safe, the evidence is rolling in like a tidal wave, and it’s really no longer possible to believe those assurances. The true killer is looking undoubtedly like a product produced by Bayer Crop Science, called a neonicotinoid, which is a synthetic derivative of nicotine. It works by attacking insects’ nervous systems, and not just the insects you want affected. Tom Phillpot explains how in this Mother Jones article:

Neonicotinoids are what’s known as “systemic,” meaning they suffuse and “express” themselves in the whole plant when it germinates, including nectar and pollen. That’s precisely what makes them so effective at attacking pests—and, unfortunately, “nontarget” species like honeybees and other beneficial insects too.

Now here’s the truly scary news: It’s not just big industrial growers using these harmful products. They’re right in your own lawn and garden center, and quite possibly in your or your neighbor’s yard. Do any of these products look familiar?

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Again, from Mother Jones:

Take a close look at the label, and you’ll find that its one active pesticide ingredient is imidacloprid, a neonicotinoid. “Apply granules to soil around base of plant, sprinkling evenlyin the area under branches,” the instructions state. How does the product work? Bayer provides a helpful explanation right on the label:
This product is absorbed by roots and moves through the entire plant. Even new growth is fed and protected against insects for up to 8 weeks. Rain or watering cannot wash off this internal protection!
That’s great news for your flower garden—and bad news for honeybees and other benign insects that your flowers might be beckoning with pollen and nectar.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, a new report out by the American Bird Conservancy indicates that these pesticides may not only be harming bees, but birds and some amphibious species. The synopsis states that “This report reviews the effects on avian species and concludes that neonicotinoids are lethal to birds as well as to the aquatic systems on which they depend.” You can read that report here (PDF) in it’s entirety.

Environmental Agencies in both the US and EU have been pressured by concerned organizations to ban these products, but have so far caved to industry pressure and not done so. According to HuffPo, in the EU, Syngenta and Bayer have proposed a “Bee Health Plan” to try and avoid government action. The plan consists of “the planting of more flowering margins around fields to provide bee habitats as well as monitoring to detect the neonicotinoid pesticides blamed for their decline and more research into the impact of parasites and viruses.”

Here in the US, according to NBC, a group of “four professional beekeepers and five environmental and consumer groups… filed a lawsuit against the EPA in the Northern District Court of California, demanding that the regulatory agency suspend the use of pesticides clothianidin and thiamethoxam.”
“Beekeepers and environmental and consumer groups have demonstrated time and time again over the last several years that EPA needs to protect bees. The agency has refused, so we’ve been compelled to sue,” said Peter Jenkins, a lawyer for the Center for Food Safety who is representing the coalition of plaintiffs.”

If you’d like to make your voice heard, Care has a petition to the EPA over here. Talk to your local garden stores about the products mentioned above, or help educate your friends and neighbors about their potential dangers. Try your hand at natural pest control (more on that in a future post) and plant more pollinator friendly organic flowers like bee balm and butterfly bush.

The effects of these neonicotinoids is immediate, and irreversible. We need our bees and our pollinators for our very survival, so action must be takes as soon as possible to get these products out of our ecosystem.

(this post was originally written for the ecoetsy team blog, and is saved here for my convenience)

Monsanto Protection Act is a disgrace.

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The graphic pretty much says it all, but if you’d like to read up on this abomination of a law, try these few articles.

The good news is that this is only a temporary law. It is set to expire in 6 months. The bad news is that unless we make an un-ignorable stink, it’s likely to become permanent. Here are a few places you can go to sign petitions, learn more about various action plans, and make your voice heard.
Food Democracy Now!
Organic Consumers Association
Center For Food Safety

It may take an epic battle, but together, we can defeat Monsanto.

In the meantime, avoiding processed foods and growing your own when you can seems like the best defense. Here are a couple of places where you can find heirloom and non-genetically modified seeds:
Botanical Interests
Seeds Now
The Ark

Do you have another trusted source? Please share it with us in the comments!

Originally written for the EcoEtsy blog, check it out over here.

Atlanta Maker Event – call for participants

A local charter school is hosting a Maker event this Spring and is looking for participants. Do you do carpentry, metalwork, large scale art projects? Do you craft or work with your hands? Know sewing, canning, or how to build a solar oven? If so, they want YOU!

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and if you further want to inspire the kids of this local charter school, there is also a maker career day:
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spread the word, let’s get kids interested in building, making, designing!

Let’s change the debate

Did you know there are actually six major candidates for the US presidency?
Yep, six, and I’m willing to bet there’s even one among them that would make you feel good about voting, no matter what your political leanings.

Politics in the US is a hot mess these days, isn’t it? So much money being spent, so many sound bites being uttered, so much mud and finger pointing, so little actual substance. Just the word “politics” is often enough to make people stop reading any post. While I completely understand wanting to turn it off and tune it out, what I would really like is to see people channel this frustration into a meaningful change in the debate.
How?
By changing the actual debate. We have 6 candidates who gathered enough interest and backing to be included on the ballot in most states. To me, this says that there are very real issues that are not being addressed by either of the two main parties. So why aren’t we officially including these other four candidates in the discussion?

Free and Equal is one place that’s trying to change that. On October 23rd, Larry King is moderating a debate between 4 other main party candidates. Jill Stein of the Green party, Gary Johnson of the Libertarian party, Rocky Anderson of the Justice party, and Virgil Goode of the Constitution party. You can watch it here, or on Al Jazeera. It’s a shame no major US media outlets are giving it any attention.

No matter what your beliefs, open, active discussion is crucial to a functioning Democracy, and without it, we all suffer. Let’s change this mess. Let’s change the debate!

(this post was originally written for the EcoEtsy team blog, and would normally post here after there. However, due to the timing of the debate, I’m posting it a couple days early…)