a boots-on-the-ground view of the change that's a-foot

Archive for October, 2008

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

I’ve been biking a lot more this year and I’m pretty happy about it. Daily commutes downtown, to stores and services like the bank and post office. To the coffee shop, to visit friends, to social events and my legs think nothing of those miles these days, which feels good, too. I’ve learned more about the right gear to get around conveniently and feel more confident.

Hmm, Confident? Cocky may be more like it. Ride a lot and you can begin to get a bit too headstrong about traffic – after all, I’m on my bike to rise above this carbon-emmitting mess, right? Well, not really. When you are on a bicycle, you ARE traffic. Although I wouldn’t say I’ve had any  truly close calls, I have caught myself taking chances for no good reason – you know, crossing at a red light because there are no cars in sight, riding through a parking lot to turn a corner, hopping onto the sidewalk and back onto the street when it seemed more convenient. Fortunately, I woke up – before I caused an accident. I now ride with my bike AND my head in the right place.

Of course, there is much that can and should be done on the driving side. Drivers education programs and testing should include important information when it comes to sharing the road – a big part of the safety equation. More and better-designed bicycle lanes, intersections and shoulders will go a long way towards creating harmony in the way we get around.

Still, there is a lot of good news for cyclists in this comprehensive article on Safe Streets, by Alan Durning, where he reminds us that not only is commuting by bicycle safer than you think, but “Not Pedaling Can Kill You”. Whether you ride now, or are considering it, this article is a must-read. Because the truth is, when you look at facts and figures, bicycle commuting is actually safer than any of us think. Statistics show that while bicycling is increasing, crashes are not. Bicycling is also safer that getting around by foot – pedestrians are 3 times more likely to be killed by a motorist per mile than cyclists.

Much of cycling safety seems to depend upon the rider – one survey shows that 80% of bike wrecks involve falling or colliding with something other than a moving vehicle. (Come to think of it, my only significant wreck was with a mailbox.) For more on this, read The Art of Urban Cycling: Lessons from the Street, by Robert Hurst.

If you’re still a cycle-skeptic, or a risk-taking rider, read the full article where you can wrap your head around the information above and much, much more. It could get you into a more fit world and body and help you keep both wheels on the ground.

Average Rating: 4.4 out of 5 based on 276 user reviews.

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

There really are no coincidences. No mistakes, no accidents. This is how the journey happens, I promise. Just remember to keep your eyes, mind open.

There I was, in the woods with the dogs (again). We somehow disturbed a nest of yellowjackets – the dogs got the worst of it – those buggers burrow right into their fur. We got into a creek fairly quickly and I was pulling the stubborn bees off the dogs as fast as I could. I felt a few stings on my hands, but kept going until a bee found it’s way down the back of my jeans  – eek – sorry, girls, you’re on your own now! We finally outran the swarm and collapsed on the grass near the house.

BEE STING REMEDY: Within about 15 minutes, I was able to give the homeopathic remedy, Apis Mellifica, and a dose of baking soda dissolved in milk to all of us. (It works great if you can act fast!). Ayla’s eye swelled but went down again within 30 minutes of dosage and, as for me, I barely knew I was stung after an hour (I normally react to all bee stings with long-lasting pain and swelling). Moral of the story? Keep these remedies on hand, especially in the Fall, when some bees become more aggressive. But, the story has really only begun…

At this point, I realized I had thrown the leashes somewhere in the woods. I bravely returned to the scene of the crime that evening, but since the leashes were leather and the color of the ground, I couldn’t locate them. This is when the unfolding began. Need leashes…but I don’t want more toxic nylon or leather…time to search for more sustainable options. Of course, Hemp! I knew they were available, but I didn’t know how much I would learn and be inspired by the company which offered me the most simple, undyed version.

Rawganique made my day. Not just with the discovery of their many good for people and the planet products, but with their inspiring, hopeful and unambitious story of life and work. The founders of Rawganique, Touch Jamikorn and Klaus Wallner, former accomplished academics, set out to share information on sustainable living for humanity and the environment – and a way to live lightly and work mindfully. Living completely off-grid on Denman Island, BC, they co-founded a “human-scale” family business in 2000, replacing bad goods in the marketplace by offering products and clothing made of naturally organic and sustainable cotton, hemp and linen.

Their About Us page reads like a good book – one that leaves you hopeful and encouraged to find your own way to peace and balance in your life and in your work. They don’t take all the credit for finding their way to success, health and wholeness, but share the names and ideas of those who have guided and inspired them along the way. After all, this is how it works.

Watching. Listening. Sharing. Growing. Healing. All from a few bee stings~

Average Rating: 4.7 out of 5 based on 298 user reviews.

Tuesday, October 14th, 2008

….that I couldn’t get one of my thoroughly researched posts up. I’ll put it on the shoulders of Mercury in retrograde, but also add a few words:

Taxes – Dogs – Deadlines

Sorry – see you tomorrow! Tao

Average Rating: 4.5 out of 5 based on 277 user reviews.

Monday, October 13th, 2008

My long-time friend, nutritionist and guest blogger, Greg, has moved to CO. Here’s his latest update!

It’s been 7 weeks since landing in Glenwood Springs, CO, my new home in the Rocky Mountains and being car-free could not be any easier.

With free local bus service that runs every day and great bike lanes, I am impressed. I commute to work by bike and take the bus on rainy or on the soon to be cold winter days. Many people use the bus and more and more are jumping on board. The buses run every 30 minutes and start at 6am and finish at 9pm.
If you want to access the nearby towns of Carbondale, Rifle, Basalt, Snowmass and Aspen, pay a small fee of $2-$6 and sit back, enjoy the scenery and relax. Aspen is 40 miles north of Glenwood Springs and the buses that run between the various towns keep running until 1am. (WOW!)

Some of the buses accommodate bikes and I took advantage of this a few weeks ago by riding to Aspen and riding home on the Rio Grande Trail, a 40 mile pedestrian/bike trail that follows the Roaring Fork River. It’s nearly all paved, with a small section of hard pack dirt for about 5 miles. It’s a beautiful trail and that’s not all. The Glenwood Canyon Trail goes for 15 miles through the Glenwood Canyon, following the Colorado River.

I rode that one last month for a beautiful 30 mile round trip.

Add the hiking trails that start right in town and this place is a gem.

The Boy Scout trails starts on the 8th street, three blocks from my house. It gains 2700 feet in three miles, going from 5700 feet to Lookout Tower, 8400 feet. From there, the Boy Scout trail splits into two other trails that journey on for many more miles.

To top it off, the Amtrak station is right downtown and it is staying busy. One day, I will jump aboard and go on down the line to Denver, for a 5 hour majestic trip through the Rockies.


Peace, Greg

Average Rating: 4.9 out of 5 based on 185 user reviews.

Thursday, October 9th, 2008

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

At least some of us have been at this green business for a long time. The rest of us could use all the help we can get. And, it’s that time of year again – when we’re programmed to buy more stuff. What really is the bottom line to sustainable consumerism? Well, as we all know, the greenest products are the ones you don’t buy. So, don’t buy what you don’t need and give lots of thought to what you do need and buy to last.

While we’re at it, think relationship in all that you do and acquire, because it will build meaning and purpose back into our lives. Oh, yes, it will make the world more fair, more kind and more sustainable – in some cases, it’s this simple.

But, there’s a lot of information even well-intentioned consumers still need. Fortunately, it’s available from many sources. One of the purchases I needed to make recently were laptop batteries and charger. And with just a tiny bit of attention and effort, I found the GreenPeace Guide to Greener Electronics. I was able to compare electronic companies and products regarding both use of chemicals and recycling programs. The entire site is really helpful and answers all the questions that had already begun to form in my head, like these.

This Guide was established in August of 2006, with the goal of driving both consumer awareness and the top manufacturers to address all the issues of E-Waste. Most of the companies have taken the challenge seriously and are making strides in both areas. Learn who and how here.

You say you haven’t looked at GreenPeace lately? You’re missing out on past, future and present history, as well as a shipload of information! It all began in 1971 with a vision for a peaceful and green world – yes, these activists have always been ahead of the times and they’ve stayed that way. Based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, Greenpeace now has 2.8 million supporters worldwide, with offices in 41 countries, passionately prioritizing global environmental campaigns.

GreenPeace covers alot of green ground. If you want the here and now when it comes to the ecology and economy, read Deep Green monthly here, where Rex Weyler of GreenPeace reminds us, it’s “Homeostasis or Collapse. Then for the really important stuff, he adds, “Don’t get depressed. Get Informed. And get active.”

Average Rating: 5 out of 5 based on 239 user reviews.

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

by Tao Oliveto

Remember the Vote video from the other day that made me inexplicably teary? Well, here’s one that got me going again. It’s short, moving, not frightening or dark, just heart-opening.

What if you turned on your tap and nothing came out? What if it happened for an hour or more, or a day and then another? This is a real possibility in our near future. What if you didn’t have a tap? Running water is something many of us take for granted. Rainfall? ditto.

Watch this and tell me what your reaction is. What do you think of? Who do you think of? What is the next thing you’ll think about?

Average Rating: 4.8 out of 5 based on 300 user reviews.

Monday, October 6th, 2008

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

Vote. Vote Early. Vote now.

There’s some good voting videos going around in cyberspace. Sarah Silverman reaches out to Jewish grandchildren in The Great Schelp and the other one, 5 Friends Uncensored includes a couple dozen celebrity voices. Sarah was more poignant than anything else in both views (though she does take her bra off under her shirt), so don’t hesitate to click on and click in, wherever you are now.

Watching Sarah made me think and made me laugh, but watching the other made me cry. I can’t say why. So, I watched it again just to be sure, and, well, tears running down my face and everything. Celebrities, irony and redundancy usually don’t move me to this place, but, for some reason, this did. Please watch and explain to me what happened.

If we could have three things in this world to instigate change, I believe it’s honesty, passion and action. Maybe that’s what this message tapped into. Looking at ourselves and the world in an honest way and then taking action to make the world and ourselves better.

Take time to think, take time to act.

Yours in Change, Tao

Average Rating: 4.4 out of 5 based on 255 user reviews.

Thursday, October 2nd, 2008

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

One of the things I enjoy most in my co-housing community is that we don’t have much outdoor lighting. Solar lights illuminate the walkways from foot level, while only few lamps overhead light up the parking lot, allowing the stars and moon to quite literally, shine through the nights. Awareness of the moon cycles are a part of my evening strolls and hooping to music/drums in the field under only stars is extra magical.

Since the community is just a couple miles from downtown Chapel Hill and Carrboro, we’re able to have this cake and eat it, too. Urban centers have a need to light up the night for safety, but it’s possible we’ve reached exaggerated proportions in our response. Some city areas are so bright, it defies logic and certainly, conservation of any sort. “But officer, I actually thought my headlights were on!”…..this happened to me more than once while driving in downtown areas:

This week, NY Times blog, Green Inc., reported that a number of municipalities are turning off streetlights to save energy, as much as 64% of them. Other programs include the switch to efficient lighting. St. Paul, MN, following the lead of cities like Anchorage and Austin, is currently testing LED streetlights in one of it’s neighborhoods. The advantages are many, including a brighter and whiter light, no mercury, less heat produced, and as much as a 10-year lifespan of each bulb. The energy savings averages around 50%, while further savings from lower maintenance costs sweeten the deal.

Ann Arbor, MI, already using LEDs, is also considering implementing motion sensors in areas, so lights come on only when needed. Now that’s smart and efficient! Imagine if stores and other public buildings, locked up at night, considered this option in lighting – energy/money savings AND theft prevention in one.

Motion sensor floodlights have been around for residential use for a long time and I wish they were more widely used. My theory is that it makes your home safer from intruders because the light coming on suddenly is more of deterrent than one that is on by routine.

The future of lighting and energy use is looking damn bright! Changed those bulbs at home or in the office yet? If you were intially turned off by the weird look and light of the introductory CFL bulbs, come out of the dark and into the many options of new and improved Super-efficient-super-saving CFL, solar and LED bulbs available today. Find 40 choices here on, including indoor/outdoor floods, dimmables, 3-ways and speciality bulbs for your favorite lamps.

Average Rating: 5 out of 5 based on 182 user reviews.

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