Archive for sustainability

power to the coffee people

Tommie’s cafe at the wonderful public library in Livermore makes yummy sandwiches and pours high-quality McLaughlin coffee. It became a wonderful example of how an outspoken sustainable (aka “annoying”) customer can encourage a business to become more green:  Every time I went there for a cup of coffee I would purposefully leave my travel mug in the car and ask for a reusable cup. Every time I would end up walking back to my car to get my own mug—with a big, emotionally manipulative “sigh”.  Usually the baristas would only charge me for a small coffee to make up for my “inconvenience”. Until today when they were all smiles pointing at a new sign that was  advertising Tommie’s “House” mugs. A few weeks earlier I had a chat with the owner about offering at least one sustainable coffee with the result that “Sumatra Organic” has entered the six-coffee line-up. One more problem: the open ceramic mugs are not welcome inside the library. Tommie …?

Advertisements

Comments (3) »

the lion sleeps today

Earth Day in Livermore gave local businesses and non-profit organizations an opportunity to gain healthy and earth-friendly exposure within the community. A poster child of green was Rising Sun Energy who were offering free exchanges for halogen floor lamps (which produce mostly heat and waste electricity) with fluorescent versions. But the green spirit seemed lost on some: The Lion’s Club, for example, was fund-raising with unhealthy snacks, paper plates, and plastic cutlery still double-bagged in disposable plastic bags. Do you want 500 plastic bottles of Walmart’s Great Value Purified Drinking Water with that … (-;

Leave a comment »

doubly green recycle monsters

Because I had volunteered to take care of the recycling bins in my building at my LLNL job, bottles and cans had been accumulating at an alarming rate behind my house. With Earth Day around and my sister in town it was time for a trip to the Refund and Recycle Center on 2680 Old First Street in Livermore. The process is fast, the staff is efficient, and the reward is doubly green: green feelings & green bucks. We made plenty of the first and twenty of the latter.

Comments (1) »

a love potion as organic pest control

Driving up North Vasco Road to Brentwood is a wonderful way to spend a sunny Sunday springtime morning: white wind mills, green soft hills, family farms, cattle, goats, and orchards in bloom. For the annual blossom festival farmer Al of Frog Hollow Farm was giving us a tour of his organic fruit orchards. For pest control he uses a special “love potion” that prevents the moths from mating: from every tree hangs a little plastic envelope that is filled with female pheromones. When the male moths arrive there is an intense smells of female everywhere but they cannot find a single one. Poor male moths … I know exactly how you feel.

Comments (1) »

meeting Tom’s bees

Tom (a fellow “urban farmer” from Pleasanton) gave us a bee tour and some hands-on experience on what beekeeping is all about: we got to open one of his hives and inspect several frames. I was amazed how friendly and calm the bees were. Sure … being in the protective suit was reassuring but it did not really seem necessary. The bees were busy doing their thing and showed no aggressive behavior whatsoever. There was something truly magical about handling those bee-loaden frames. I am so looking forward to get my own hive.

I got to know Tom who maintains a website on bee-lining (a neat GIS & bees mash-up) through Linda Schneider who is running a visionary non-profit to create self-sustaining communities in El Cerrito.

Comments (3) »

BART to Livermore EIR hearing 1/3

At the first of three environmental impact report (EIR) public hearing organized by BART a lot of people seemed afraid that a downtown station would change Livermore to the worse and increase crime. One teenage girl – clearly indoctrinated by mom – broke out in tears as she envisioned BART bringing muggers and rapists to Livermore.

Yet, a pure highway alignment along I-580 is something that i – and all urban planners and city officials i talked to – strongly dislike because it would mean to repeat the mistakes of (auto-centric) planning in the past. A BART station in downtown Livermore presents a unique opportunity to create a wonderful walkable community around downtown setting a textbook example for sustainable transit oriented planning in America. I already love what the City has done during the redevelopment efforts of the past few years that have converted downtown from a four-lane freeway to a welcoming and cute destination. But it is still a downtown on life-support. There is no sustainable traffic throughout the day to support the kind of business you expect to find in a healthy downtown: produce stalls, a delicatessen, a small grocery store, a bakery, a cheese store, or a butcher. Try to buy a carton of eggs or a loaf of bread in downtown. Impossible. Fortunately i got my three minutes of rallying support for a downtown Livermore station and my comments were picked up by reporters of the contra costa times, the independent news, and the pleasanton weekly.

Comments (2) »

building a chicken coop from reused materials

I collected the following items for building a chicken tractor with a detachable chicken run:

  • a frame of a wooden coffee table (Karleen found it on the curb)
  • 20 recycled 5 foot 1×8 redwood boards (bought from a fencing company)
  • a stack of nail and screw prodded 2 by 4s (used to hold drywalls inside my garage)
  • the leftover semi-gloss latex paint (from painting my interior doors and windows)

The design of the tractor is determined by the coffee table that is the base of the chicken tractor. The size of the run is determined by the length of the 2 by 4s. Since dad is visiting I am taking a few days off work so we can build the coop together:

Comments (1) »