Sustainability In Motion

With all the wonderfulness in the garden I have not been posting much on cycling, or sustainability, or subverting the dominant paradigm But I have been thinking about it.

I have been involved in the effort to save an amazing --and all too rare-- urban farm from being developed into McMansions. Having successfully saved it, we have begun longterm strategic planning for the use of the land. Currently, there is a co-housing group living int the existing farm house, but they are not currently producing sufficient revenue to cover all the cost of maintaining the land. So proposals for everything from a CSA to a Retreat Center are being considered, and with them the fact that there is almost no on-site parking currently available. "Experts" assisting with the planning process insist that this needs to be addressed.

But if part of the mission and vision of Tryon Life Farm is to subvert the dominant paradigm, is seems obvious that inherent in that process would be the challenging the assumption that people must drive, particularly to a place located right on a bus line, and within a moderate bike ride of less than 7 miles from the city center. The surrounding neighborhood, who is unanimous in it's support of the farm, has it's own need for increased public transit, shuttles, and bike paths. It seems to me this is a golden opportunity for networking and creating community partnerships. No one wins if a new parking lot goes in, everyone wins with transportation alternatives.

If anyone needed evidence that more parking lots are no answer, there is the story of a new LEED-certified shopping center has become the subject of public scornand even boycott businesses in the Abercorn Commons, despite the fact that the project's developer seems be doing everything right, from using recycled construction materials to incorporating energy efficient HVAC schemes and recapturing rainwater.The reason for the uproara few of the parking spaces in the permeable surface parking lot are set aside for hybrid cars. And people are up in arems about it. People who own conventional cars.

One irate citizen was quoted as saying: "I've been looking forward to the new stores but I don't drive a hybrid car, whatever that is, so I won't be shopping there."

sigh. Thanks to John at Bike Year for the lead on the story of the crazed car-heads

Mean while I have a crazy dream (every girl needs one): a bike powered bussiness. Like many collage students, I have a background in food service, and even had my own baking and catering bussiness. And even this high falootin --and highly expensive-- education I am getting, I find the notion of bicycle powered smoothies delectible --and potentially a great way to make money durring summer vacations. So what do ya all think: totally nutty? Any thoughts on a biz name?.

The only thing standing between me and a beautiful pipe-dream is start up capital inventment of about $1000; anyone know any cool alternative venture capitalists?

I'm not saying that bike powered smoothies will change the world, but I believe absolutely that we must become the change we wish to see in the world. Whether it is finding creative solutions to parking and transportation issues, or whipping up sustainable, locally grownn meals, we must re-imagine our story,and our way of walking through this world.


zilla said...

Care to share your biz plan? Shouldn't be too hard to raise a grand on the internet.

We have two equally "green" cars -- the Accord hybrid and a conventional Civic. The idea of premium parking reserved for hybrid vehicles makes absolutely no sense to me as an incentive to go hybrid. Besides, considering the weight and waistlines of the general population, people who choose to drive ought at least to choose a parking space as far away from the door as possible. Sheesh.

zilla said...

I'm back.

Okay, granted, some electricity is saved by blending smoothies with a bike. The novelty/quirk-factor alone would probably attract smoothie lovers.

I make smoothies at home as an occasional summer treat for the kids, but if I want fruit, I tend to eat it out of the fruit bowl, and if I'm thirsty, I tend to drink filtered well water or chilled green sun-tea I keep in refillable glass bottles. It amazes me that there's a thriving market for smoothies -- they're everywhere, people love 'em.

To consume or not to consume smoothies has never been a question of green VS not green with me, it's just a matter of my personal appetite.

That admission aside, and in light of your interest in breaking the dominant paradigm, I have a couple of questions:

How much waste is generated by serving beverages in disposable cups with straws? Is there a greener way to serve a publically vended smoothie?

To take the green factor a bit further, when we compare the US and say Germany (or any other European country), which are two cultures operating within the dominant paradigm, we see that one culture is a lot less dependent on refrigeration, and particularly ice. In fact, in every other country I've visited, eggs sit in a bowl on the counter. Nothing screams "Ugly American" louder than requesting a chilled beer as opposed to a room temperature beer, or requesting ice in your water at a restaurant.

How does typical American overdependence on largely unecessary refrigeration impact the environment?

Not being critical, because I have no room to criticize; just offering a little food for thought.

griffin said...

Great questions/observations Ms.Z, which was part of what I was hoping for when I mentioned my crazy pipe dream.

So, yes, the quirk factor is a huge selling point and a big part of the appeal, though another point is that most commercially produced smoothies have all manner of artificial crap in them. I always assumed smoothies the world over were healthy and "green", then The Boy developed a food fixation on the cafeteria smoothies and, because of how expensive they were, I asked the gal for the recipe, thinking I could make them at home. Yikes! I don't want that stuff in my home!
So, the fact that the ingredients would be organic, absent dyes and fillers and strange goo that comes in gallon jugs, would also be a plus, the fact that the waist would be composted rather than landfilled, as well the small scale, local aspect, are all good things
The electricity is doubtless negligible --though I should probably check just to sound smart when I am talking to people, but I do think that any time we demonstrate alternative technologies and ways of incorporating human power, thats a good thing, and gets people thinking. If I can peddle for 4 hours to make smoothies, maybe they can bike to work once a day, etc.
I am with you on the tea/whole foods thing, and I would like to include sun tea on my "rig"
The cup thing is a real issue, I am looking into compostable cups made out of banana fiber, etc. Real Goods has some plausible solutions, but that is certainly an issue, especially if the point is subverting the dominant paradigm
I havnt made formal biz plan yet, cuz I was still trying to figure out if it was a totally crazy idea, but maybe now I will, crazy or not. Keep your great ideas and questions coming

zilla said...

Are compostable banana fiber cups available directly to the consumer? How cool would that be? And are there banana fiber plates and bowls? I've got to look into this. I have paper plate guilt. Our recycler won't accept food-tainted paper, but sometimes paper plates are too convenient not to use.

You could use your bike-powered smoothies station to educate and promote everything from sound ecology to physical fitness! I hadn't even thought of that.

I was thinking of you this morning as Tim constructed my 99.9% recycled footbridge over the ditch to my drive. Its planks are made of recycled tires and milk cartons, and a railroad tie I was planning to dispose of is used as a center support. It's way cool. The only parts not recycled or re-used are the screws.

Work on a biz plan, woman!

griffin said...

Havnt been able to find bamboo cups, but Real Goods has compostable, Tree- and petroleum-free cups made from corn sugars. I am having a lot of fun researching all the options and figuring out how to use the bike-powered smoothies to educate and promote as many aspects of sustainable living as possible
Will keep you posted