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

Archive for April, 2009

World Naked Bike Ride – nature friendly transportation

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

Perhaps, in the end, we are not what we wear. After all, what is more freeing than being naked? Probably being naked on a bicycle. I don’t know because I haven’t tried it – YET. But this sure makes it look tempting. And I can’t think of a better way to peacefully and positively express our support of a nature-friendly mode of transportation.

“A peaceful, imaginative and fun protest against oil dependency and car culture. A celebration of the bicycle and also a celebration of the power and individuality of the human body. A symbol of the vulnerability of the cyclist in traffic. The world’s biggest naked protest: 50+ cities and thousands of riders participate worldwide, including around 2,000 in the UK in 2008.” This year’s rides will take place between June 12 – 14th. Visit for more info. – and photos!

I was looking at this with a friend yesterday and we were wondering just how many people we could get to join us on a naked ride through Carrboro…we decided that if there were at least 25 people, we could find the verve to take it all off …..then I read the part on the web site where it said this year’s event in the UK expected thousands of riders. THOUSANDS!?!?

Let’s get the U.S. up to speed and get naked. Start organizing in your town. I’m going to!


Denmark Police Love Heads

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

My good friend and fellow Changer, Sami Grover, over at sent me this video link, showing the police response to helmet-free riding in Denmark. It’s not what you think. Take a look. Tao

Bicycling – Fashion Friend or Foe?

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

Bicycle commuting is on the rise. Tough economic times may be a factor, though in anthropological terms, I have a feeling style and the times have a lot more to do with it.

And what about style and biking? Is it possible to combine the two? Not much hope if you’re an actual cyclist. They definitely deserve our awed admiration as they move along – 50 miles at a stretch – at speeds higher than my town’s speed limit. But in all their aerodynamic sleekness, I would not call them stylish (I know because I’ve been there and I felt a lot of things while breezing along those country roads, but stylish was not one of them.)

So what happens to those of us who happen not to be a “cyclists”, but a normal person who happens to ride a bike? As I’ve mentioned here, somewhere along the line – consciously or not – I made the shift from cycling to bicycling, finally pawning off my lycra shirts and shorts on Craig’s List. And it’s much more part of my identity than it was in my past life. As a result, I prefer not to look like a geek on my bike, but like, well, my Fashionable Self.

Take a look at this video of riders in Copenhagen, where “there is no bike culture – all culture includes the bike.” And it shows, not just by the fact that 36% of the population rides daily, but because they look damn normal to me – normal enough that I can see myself as one of them. If you think of this same scene in the U.S., it is most likely not as inviting to the average plumber (I mean, person).

Will gearing up for the ride become a thing of the past? Will enough of us ride through our fair cities that bike paths and shelters will pop up everywhere? Will we embrace a sort of slow bike movement that will allow us to be more safe as well as stylish? (Notice that the riders in Copenhagen don’t feel the need for helmets.) Writer, David Colman explores those possibilities in this article and finds out how we can solve the tricky questions faced by 2-wheeled city commuters who want to look like they still “mean business” in no-other than our own NYC. (Interesting article and photos introducing the latest NYC “It Object”, the Dutch bicycle.)

That helmet thing – ? I realize I’m playing with fire here, but it may be the clincher that shifts the mainstream consciousness into a whole new gear.

as Jerry says: The Truth Is Your Best Tool….

Monday, April 27th, 2009

I’m going to leave you with this thought/image today – Happy Monday, Tao 

Musical Inspiration at Shakori Hills

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

I spent last weekend at the bi-annual Shakori Hills Music Festival in Silk Hope, NC. This a beautiful piece of forest and fields which hosts a green-style, grassroots event that once experienced, captures your heart and soul. At times like this, I’m reminded just how much Music Matters – it brings us together and it spreads positive and passionate energy like wildfire.

Four music stages, a dance tent and an almost never-ending drum circle around a bonfire at Shakori provides all styles of musical magic. A young local group, The Beast, highlighted Saturday afternoon with their Hip Hop, soulful jazz. The band has been described as “beautifully rebellious and refreshingly conscious.” The lead singer, Pierce Freelon, brought down the house with his heartfelt lyrics and tribute to his mom, grammy-winning Jazz vocalist, Nnenna Freelon, who came up on stage to sing with her son, finishing with a moving bearhug between the two. In fact, it didn’t finish – the audience pounded the stage for an encore.

Saturday night brought the “old time” sound of Donna the Buffalo, as well as one of my favorites, an electrified blues rock group called Scatterbones, which rocked me into a second wind that I used later to drum into the night. In fact, sleep was not a top priority once the stars were out and it’s probably not an accident that the dance tent is next to the Coffee Barn, serving up Fair Trade and Organic Larry’s Beans coffee, “25 hours/day”.

This festival is also a model of mixing fun with green-ness. All food vendors are required to compost and recycle, a portion of the lightlighting was solar powered and a bio-deisel bus brought people in from stops all throughout the Triangle for 4 bucks/ride.

Why does music matter? Because it has the ability to bring us deeper into ourselves, beneath the layer of conformity and apathy. Because music carries messages, subtle and otherwise that can plant the seeds of Change.

More and more musicians are gaining green creds, from Radiohead to Black-eyed Peas, an inspiring part of our collective journey. Go to IdealBite to download a playlist by the artists doing right by the planet.

Earth Day is for Kids – just how it should be.

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

One of my faithful commenters – and one of the best pre-school teachers on the planet – read my Earth Day post and immediately helped me see the light! Earth Day is a perfect way to integrate planet care into kid’s lives and awareness. Teachers and parents have the perfect opportunity to put on fun events and introduce ideas, products and habits with help from the ever-alluring mainstream culture.

Skip the balloons but bring on the organic, fair-trade chocolate treats and carrot costumes.

Silly me, Earth Day is for kids – let’s make the most of it!

Earth Day Trivia (or Trivial?)

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

It’s officially Earth Day – year 39 and counting. Have we become more aware of saving the Earth? I think so. Has naming a day for the earth helped or hurt the cause? I’m not sure. It’s possible that designating one day for the earth has had a placebo effect. If it’s a national holiday, that means somebody is out there taking care of things, right….? Take a look at Earth Day History from and see what you think.

In fact, in the early years, Earth Day events were a little like the debate over LiveEarth – a lot of trash and carbon for a little awareness and fun. Even just a few years back, Whole Foods decorated the stores and handed out lots of plastic party favors in the form of balloons and buttons, all in the name of the Earth. Fortunately, most events now have a handle on compostables, recyclables and offsets but as the writer, Jennifer Oladipo points out here, the Earth Day impact may have lost its luster.

However, Earth Day is a miracle marketing tool for green zines and green goods, so if you have been thinking about finally getting those CFLs, a composting bin, or LEDs, now’s the time to browse sites like, who is offering 20% off popular items.

This Earth Day celebrates more green orgs and efforts than I can keep up with, so I’ll tip my party hat to that. Al Gore had a hand in starting it all and he’s still at it with and RePowerAmerica, where he says, “In order to solve the climate crisis, we can’t just change light bulbs — we need to change laws.” Let’s think bigger than balloons, so we will really have something to sing about. Happy Earth Days. Tao

Better World Books – Buy Used, Do Good

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

Better World Books collects and sells books online to fund literacy initiatives worldwide. Buying used lessens the impact on our resources and environment. The site is super user-friendly, with over 30 lists and categories, including, Green Festival Books, Oprah’s Book Club, Todays Top 20 and Best-selling Fiction and Non-Fiction. You can also browse the Bargain Bin, where you can get 5 used books for $15. Here’s part of the story from their really comprehensive web site:

We were founded in 2002 by three friends from the University of Notre Dame who started selling textbooks online to earn some money, and ended up forming a pioneering social enterprise — a business with a mission to promote literacy.

We’re not a traditional company with an add-on “cause” component. Social and environmental responsibility is at the core of our business. You could say it’s in our DNA.

We’re breaking new ground in online bookselling. We believe that education and access to books are basic human rights. That’s why books sold on help fund high-impact literacy projects in the United States and around the world.

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