The Power of Wind!

On February 16, 2011, in Los Angeles, by Nathan

Hey LA!  Next week there are a couple of meet ups for LA Planeteers.   In addition to getting together and having a good time, we’d love for you to being your ideas for Planeteer projects too.  There is some great work being done in LA, from planting trees to cleaning beaches to promoting farmers markets – LA is where it’s at.

In addition to all that awesome work, there is another neat way you can help to build a green LA.  Did you know that the LA Department of Water and Power has a green power program?  You can sign up for it for just three cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity – and depending on what you can afford, you can sign up to have anywhere between 20% and 100% of your power come from renewable source like wind.

If you think about it, you have a choice.  You have to pay your electric bill anyway, so do you want to be paying for coal to be burned, or for wind turbines to be built?  The power is yours!

The program is awesome, but it is far smaller than other similar programs in other cities.  The City of LA had a goal to get to 20% renewable power by 2010.  That deadline has come and gone, but the program hasn’t.  Some LA Planeteers are thinking about how to spread the word and get more people to sign up.  Do you have any ideas for how we can do that?

We’ll see you next week, and we can’t wait to hear your ideas for this project and lots more!

 

Can We Make the Big Apple Organic?

On February 9, 2011, in New York, by Nathan

One thing is for sure: New York City is teeming with Planeteers.  Every time I go for a weekend it seems like a dozen new sustainable restaurants have sprung up, and I meet dozens of people who are doing what they can in their own way to live the life of a Planeteer.

We stopped into a watering hole on the Lower East Side to do some brainstorming on how to expand our community and make sure we were doing as much as we could to help local and sustainable businesses thrive in Manhattan.  We talked about making maps of local places so that they would be easy to find, making a wiki page so that people could all contribute info on their favorite local/sustainable place and, of course which local brew ordered that night was the best.  Our meeting ended as the band began to play and we all sang along to observe the holidays in the city.

The great thing is the community of people.  Really, really great people.   Not pictured here, but certainly great are Maddy and Tom who are both perusing their dreams of working on Broadway, acting and writing plays.  They also wait tables, and are passionate about sustainability.  There there is Neal, the bar manager at Frankie’s in Brooklyn, who loves real food.  Similar is Jess who wrote a blog here, and knows quite a lot about the NYC food scene.  Kristin and her colleagues at Wide Eyed Productions who make time to get an environmentally-themed children’s show in their busy company schedule.  Mary is a top hair and makeup artist who wonders if her industry can ever be sustainable.

Many, many more Planeteers all working to do their part and spread the word.  If you are a New Yorker, and you are reading this?  Get in touch :)

 

The Women of Chive are Planeteers on a mission.  Check out their incredible vision for their business and see them in action:

Tagged with:  

Sorry to ruin your new years plans, but eco-villains have invented a time machine. They plan to go back to the 1950′s, when there were no environmental laws, and emit enough carbon to make Greenland into a beach-front resort!

This is the premise for a fantastic episode of Captain Planet that will be performed tonight on Twitter at 8:00 ET. To check it out, follow the characters below, or watch the hashtag #newyear.

Plenteer Alert – @planeteeralert
Captain Planet @captplanetsays
Gaia @mama_gaia
Kwame @earthenkwame
Wheeler @wheelersonfire
Linka @linkawind
Gi @giloveswater
Ma-Ti @MaTi_soamerica
Hoggish Greedly @hoggish_greedly
Rigger @rigger15
Dr. Blight @DocBlight
Mal @cybrmal

Without giving too much away, the episode illuminates two possible paths you, dear reader, can go down in the new year. In one path, you decide that you are not important, and that your actions don’t really make a difference for the planet. As a result, we continue on our unsustainable course toward major global climate change. In the other, you believe in your own power to make a difference, and you take up the fight for the planet like it is what you were born for.

One one thing is certain, you do have the power to affect the way the future goes. So what will it be?

The Global Planeteer Network is growing. Are you ready to join us? The Power is Yours!

 

The Christian Case for Sustainability

On December 14, 2010, in Denver, Uncategorized, by Nathan

And He Put Them In the Garden To Tend It
By Gregory Robertson

In the Book of Genesis, the creation of man and the rest of the universe is recorded. After the world has been created God’s final and greatest creation, humankind, is set in it and given the awesome duty of watching over it. Man was created to tend the whole of the cosmos and when we, by disobeying our Creator, do not the world groans under the weight of our sins. Therefore, the degradation of the environment, not to mention the death that results from it, is the consequence of human sin.

The origins of this sin include: misunderstanding and misuse of dominion, greed, pride, or a combination of them all. These sins are an important part of why our environment is suffering and in disarray.

Dominion is the concept of taking care of something, as a steward. It does not mean that man is free to run roughshod over the planet, exploiting its resources for selfish purposes and desires. Dominion is not domination. If it is held properly in Christian thought and practice it is one of the most important roles God gives to mankind.  Our role however, is more than this. In his book In the World, Yet Not of the World, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew states:

“Humankind is seen as the nexus of creation, the point of convergence that mediates the cosmos, which was created as “very good” (Gen. I.26), for the glory of God. Humanity has a meditative and, indeed, eucharistic role in exercising dominion over the earth. This is a far cry from the domination and exploitation that have characterized the technologically capable, post industrialist era” (43).

Therefore, if we misuse dominion we sin against God, the planet and one another.

Greed often results from the misuse of dominion. We begin to believe that the gifts given to all of creation are our own property to be used for our own selfish desires. We see the world, not to mention each other, as something to be exploited for our own personal enrichment, or to stoke our already bloated egos. We see the gifts we are given as our due or as an entitlement and as such we demand and desire more, often taking from those who already have little in order to fulfill that desire. Our present day greed directly threatens the human rights of future generations. The book Facing the World Orthodox Christian Essays on Global Concerns by Archbishop Anastasios Yannoulatos addresses this profound possibility by saying:

“Many of our overwhelming problems, such as environmental pollution, pollution of the seas, contaminated food supplies the squandering of energy sources among others are issues that concern the human rights of future generations” (75).

God entrusts humankind to care for the earth so that future generations will have what is needed to sustain them so they may grow and become the people that God intends them to be. It is our responsibility today to look out for future generations so that they will have what is needed to care for themselves, create healthy relationships with one another and have a relationship with a loving and caring God. This is something that we have no right to deprive others of and it is a sin to do so.

Human pride makes humankind believe that we have all the answers. We believe that our technology and our science give us license to do what we want without regard to the serious consequences of our actions. Often our pride in our technological creations blinds us from seeing the harm that they are causing our environment. Conversely, humankind far too often believes that our technology will fix every problem we confront. Therefore, we do not prevent the careless exploitation of the world that God has given us. Our pride gets in our way because we believe our technology is good or is even a savior, despite the fact it is killing us. Stanley S. Harakas spells this out plainly in his book Contemporary Moral Issues Facing the Orthodox Christian when he says,

“There is ecological sin; and modern industrial, technological men commit it every day” (163).

Elizabeth Theokritoff points out in her book Living in God’s Creation that all of mankind benefits if we assume responsibility for the ecological well being of the earth when she states:

“In the accounts of holy lives, we sometimes encounter the idea that everything exists for man’s benefit. But we also discover that what this means to the saint is very different from what it means to someone who does not see himself as the creator of all things. Certainly, the world around us is to be used as necessary to serve man’s basic physical needs. But there is also another benefit to be derived from other creatures, less obvious but vitally important: we grow spiritually by perceiving how God’s beauty and wisdom is reflected in them, in adjusting our own lives accordingly” (129).

In other words, the whole of creation is iconic. It is a window to our creator, not to be used as a commodity to our own selfish ends. Rather it is a template for our own relationship with our creator and by extension our relationships with each other. Our relationships with each other and with God grow when we identify with and are responsible for all of creation.

All of humankind is called to a life that is filled with service to our environment, each other and to God. This is the true reason we were created; to serve with joy and thanksgiving our Creator and all that he has made in our universe. However, we can only do this if we cease serving ourselves and strive to become the servants of all.

Misuse of dominion, greed and pride are sins that not only destroy our earth but also impair our relationships with one another and God. They destroy not just the individual, but also the entire human race along with the planet and the whole of the cosmos with which we are deeply connected. They threaten the human rights of others, and impair their ability to grow and become who and what they truly are meant to be. However, as we have seen, our relationships and our world do not have to be this way. We can be the mediators of the cosmos who tend and nurture God’s gifts. We can take responsibility and live up to our calling as eucharistic stewards by tending and nurturing our planet and each other, or the world can continue to groan under the weight of our sins.

Gregory Robertson is an iconographer and is currently studying Theology while discerning his vocation. He resides in the Rocky Mountains.


Bibliography:
  • Harakas, Stanley S. Contemporary Moral Issues Facing the Orthodox Christian. Minneapolis: Light and Life, 1982. Print.
  • Yannoulatos, Anastasios. Facing the World Orthodox Christian Essays on Global Concerns. Crestwood: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2003. Print.
  • Theokritoff, Elizabeth. Living in God’s Creation Orthodox Perspectives on Ecology. Crestwood: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2009. Print.
  • Bartholomew, Ecumenical Patriarch. In the World, Yet Not of the World. New York: Fordham University Press, 2010. Print.
 

Think Outside the Bottle

On December 1, 2010, in Uncategorized, by Nathan

This blog was originally posted at TheSocioCapitalist.

My dad has always wondered about bottled water. He jokes that if he went to a bottled water factory, he’d probably find a guy out back filling thousands of bottles of water with a garden hose. It’s funny ’cause its true.

According to Corporate Accountability International, 40% of bottled water comes from the same sources at tap water. So when you are shelling out a couple bucks for a bottle of Coke’s Dasani, Pepsi’s Aquafina, or Nestle’s Pure Life, you might as well be drinking from my dad’s garden hose.

If you’re like me, you buy bottled water, not because you think it is better than tap water, but because of the convenience of having a bottle of water AND getting to throw it away (hopefully in a recycle bin) when you are done. You probably even know it is not a good thing to do, but what choice do you have? It’s a pain to go to the drinking fountain, again and again, if there is even one around.

The truth is, environmental and social problems you are contributing to when you buy a bottle of water are something we all should be ashamed of. It may be convenient, but the costs are unbelievable. The reason the system I am about to describe exists is because of us. If you don’t like this, stop supporting it.

Water is essential to life. We need to drink it every day, and without it, we cannot produce any food to eat. Access to water is a human right, yet the production of bottled water is draining wells and depleting stores of groundwater in places like India, were the people who rely on their wells have no feasible alternative to get clean water. Because bottled water manufacturers are not required to disclose the source of their water, there is no way to hold them accountable for the impact they have on communities whose water they are taking. Not cool.

Plastic bottles are an environmental disaster. This is no surprise, but if you haven’t heard it before, the vast majority of trash in the ocean is plastic. To quote Wikipedia,

“Unlike debris, which biodegrades, the photodegraded plastic disintegrates into ever-smaller pieces . . . This process continues down to the molecular level.”

At some point, the plastic is small enough to be ingested by fish and other critters and enters the food chain. Not cool.

Bottled water is big money. About $15 Billion per year is spent on bottled water in the US, and about $110 Billion globally. It is no wonder that people make bottled water. It is making them rich. That will be the case, including the nasty human rights and environmental impacts, as long as people still buy it. According to Corporate Accountability International, spending that same amount annually, on ensuring that all people had access to clean water, would achieve that goal by 2025.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., three out of four of us drink bottled water, and one out of five drink it exclusively.

Okay, Okay, but what about when you’re flying or forgot to bring your metal water bottle? You can bring those bottles through airport security empty, and fill them up at a drinking fountain near your gate. That way you don’t have to wait for the flight attendants to get to you with the cart either. As for when you just forgot your bottle, think about who needs a drink more: you, or the kid in India whose well you could be taking it from. Seriously.

 

Green Jobs, Green Economy

On November 18, 2010, in Boston, by Nathan

Any effort to rein in the emissions that cause global climate change must include weatherizing homes, and making buildings more energy efficient.  As Kalia Lydgate, the Director of the Green Jobs, Green Economy Initiative (and a Planeteer) informs us in the video below, buildings are responsible for an estimated 40% of carbon emissions! That means that focusing on energy efficiency in buildings can make a huge difference.

In addition to the environmental impacts, leaders like Van Jones, and his organization Green for All make a compelling case that programs to improve energy efficiency can also create jobs where they are needed most.  What’s more, having an energy efficient home saves homeowners a ton of money.

Kalia is on a mission to weatherize thousands of homes in New Bedford, Massachusetts.  Along the way, she will create scores of jobs, save New Bedford residents about $7,000,000 in utility bills, and take a huge bite out of New England’s carbon emissions.

Kalia does much of this work through bringing the community together for ‘barn-raising’ events in which a team of volunteers weatherize a few home on a Saturday.  Kalia’s leadership, along with the visionary support of the Mayor of New Bedford, P.A.C.E. Youth Build, the Marion Institute and others, are making a real difference in the community.

You can read about Kalia’s efforts, and learn how you can get a similar program started in your city at the Green Jobs, Green Economy page here.

TPIY!

Tagged with:  

Planeteer Alert on Twitter

On October 31, 2010, in Boston, New York, by Nathan

With the U.S. mid-term elections next week, the Planeteers reproduced the Planeteer Alert on voting.  Stay in the loop with the Planeteers on twitter: @GiLovesWater @EarthenKwame @MaTi_SoAmerica @WheelersOnFire @LinkaWind @PlaneteerAlert



You can watch the original Planeteer Alert here.  The Power is Yours!

Tagged with:  

Celebrating Urban Agriculture

On October 25, 2010, in Boston, by Nathan

Tomato plants growing in old coolers, herb gardens outside of kitchen windows, and pies made from fruit found around town. This is the world of urban agriculture: a counter-intuitive paring of words with the potential to bring a connection to the land, to the heart of the city.

Cambridge, MA is one city where urban agriculture is catching on. The work of many of these spare time farmers was on display in Harvard Square at the Cambridge Urban Agricultural Fair. From contests to find the best (and ugliest) produce in the city, to pickling and canning demonstrations, to delicious local fare and local music, hundreds of people came out learn, celebrate, and enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of the labor of their friends and neighbors.

Urban agriculture is a growing part of the movement for people to get back in touch with the origins of their food. While I couldn’t find much hard data on how many people actually participate in urban agriculture, anecdotally, the numbers are surprising.

Having a fair or other public celebration for the efforts of urban agriculturalists can help to reinforce and expand the practice within a community. If you are interested starting an event in your city to celebrate and promote the practice of urban agriculture, it is surprisingly easy to get started.

In talking with the founder of the Cambridge Urban Agriculture Fair, I learned that there were essentially three elements that need to be in place:

  • Get approval from your city or town.  This can be achieved through getting a few friends together and talking with someone on the city council to see if they will help you.  Most elected representatives will at least point you in the right direction, if not jump at the opportunity to help their constituents.
  • Get some local businesses on board.  If there is a local chamber of commerce (even a green chamber of commerce) they will be interested in having a festival that will bring people out, and get exposure for their businesses.  Get them on board and they can help to get businesses interested and involved.
  • Make it fun! At the Cambridge fair, a local restaurant called Grendel’s Den sponsors a beer garden.  Add live music, and a lot of interactive booths and displays and people will come because you are giving them something fun to do.

So if you want something like the Cambridge Urban Agriculture Fair in your town, there is a reason you are reading this blog.  Get to work!  If you need help, I’ll be watching to comments, and I’ll be happy to put you in touch with the organizers in Cambridge.

Happy Growing!

Tagged with:  

Win a Trip to Atlanta, GA!

On October 23, 2010, in Atlanta, by Nathan

VIDEO CONTEST EXTENDED!!

Want to win a trip for two to Atlanta, Georgia? All you have to do is enter and win the Captain Planet video contest (rules below the video). We will fly you to Atlanta for the first annual Global Planeteer Summit December 10 – 12, 2010. There, you will meet other Planeteers from around the world and play an integral role in helping to direct our movement. Oh – and we are going to do some serious partying for the planet!

Submission deadline is November 20th, 2010 at midnight U.S. Eastern Standard Time (GMT-4) – So get crackin’.

It works like this:

  • create a video 2-7 minutes in length which shows you and what you are up to – be sure to include how Captain Planet’s message is alive in what you do.
  • Submit a link to the video to 20captainplanet (at) gmail (dot) com by Midnight U.S. Eastern Standard Time (GMT-4) on November 20th.
  • Your fellow Planeteers will vote for the best video from November 22nd – 27th, 2010
  • If your video receives the most votes, we will fly you and a friend to the Global Planeteer Summit in Atlanta, Georgia on December 10th – 12th, 2010 – and we’ll show your video at the kick-off party.
  • Then we will take all of the video submissions and edit them into a documentary film to be released in 2011.

OK – if you have any questions, email us above, or post them in the comments here. Now go get filming!

The Power Is Yours!

Tagged with: