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Archive for the ‘activism’ Category

Kombucha Love

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

Hello. I’m Tao and I brew kombucha.

Kombucha fermented tea won me over first in its bottled form sold at my local co-op. A raw, enzymatic, probiotic drink that fizzed it’s way into my heart, despite the mysterious floaty culture things in every bottle. I knew enough about raw and fermented foods to understand this was really healthy stuff –but I came to understand that it is actually a complete health therapy – full of immune-enhancing, detoxifying and balancing nutrients, probiotic organic acids, enzymes, B-vitamins, antioxidants and more.

The word spread quickly, first in the raw food communities and health food stores. When Whole Foods stocked and then expanded and restocked their shelves with two brands, it became as close to mainstream popular as a health beverage could get. Still, we early drinkers felt like we were in a secret society — smiling and nodding when we came upon others who splurged (at almost $4/serving) regularly on the magic brew.

Then the home brewers began to surface, bringing their coveted kombucha “Mothers” out of the closet to share with others on the path. Now we could brew our own kombucha, organically and to our health’s content — for somewhere around 50cents/gallon. And, not a moment too soon, since some kombucha beverage brands were recently pulled from the shelves of stores due to a labeling mishap.

Like many twists of fate, the invasion of governing forces served only to boost interest in the drink, and especially in the brewer’s world. Although I had been brewing occasionally in the past with a culture a friend shared with me, I quickly upped my brewing game and am loving it.

If you aren’t connected to the underground world of shared Mothers – or even if you already have your SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast), I recommend learning more about the process of brewing and the health benefits at any of the many resources now available online.

I discovered Kombucha Dave on Twitter. With unmatched enthusiasm and passion, he has invited all of us to join the kombucha brewing community by providing supplies, home brewing education and a lot more through his website, online store, blog, newsletter, videos, Facebook page and Tweets. I found his free online brewing course super helpful – there was more to know about brewing than I thought!

It’s empowering to explore and participate in your own wellness. Happy brewing!

My (somewhat) Intentional Life

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

a so-called comic strip

The debut of My Intentional Life: Somewhat true stories of attempted sustainability

Since the Gulf oil-saster, I have been laying low in my please ‘let me live my fantasy!’ foxhole – I’ve got my supply of kombucha, organic wine and a deck of tarot cards – I’ve been getting more into the questions than the answers these days.

So, I’m not devouring the news on either side of environmentalism — but devouring creative experience in a whole new way. Hey, there’s a connection, of course. Oil may be flowing through the gulf, but the energy flowing through the counterculture right now feels stronger.

But if, like me, you aren’t quite ready to come completely out of hiding yet, start with this smile-friendly “so-called” Comic Strip, “somewhat true”, debuting on Grist. Hipsters will love it and hate it – it sets the stage in an urban collective in a Brooklyn brownstone. Visit My Intentional Life here.

Hey, it’s a start.

The National Marriage Boycott

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

Let’s not get complacent. While our nation is making strides towards equality of race, gender and other social issues (Barack Obama anyone?), we still have a lot of work to do. And, as the wave of change continues to push policy and awareness, the shadow side of humanity darkens (got Arizona?). We need to keep the momentum.

Since 2004, marriage for gays and lesbians became legal in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, Maine and most recently New Hampshire. But the rest of the country is slow to follow and polls show that a surprising majority of Americans still oppose it. WTF?

And now, another political push with Congress’s DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) which denies up to 1,000 rights associated with marriage to same-sex couples.

The answer seems pretty obvious to me. Like marriage? Then pass it on. If you don’t, then shut up and don’t get married. But why anyone would be against is beyond me and probably you too, since you’re reading this blog (it’s called “taoofchange” not “taoofstuckinthefingmud!”).

You can show your support for the LGBT population by joining the National Marriage Boycott. And you can get a really cool ring that says “Equality” so others know where you stand and that you’re not getting married until everyone can get married.

Bountiful Backyards Shares “Beautility”

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

As enamored as I am with the entire idea of “food, not lawns”, I’m still intimidated at the idea of caring for a large garden of my own. I managed to get my tomato plants in the ground last week, along with a couple fig trees, but I’m hesitant to take on much more. Still, plenty of my neighbors have abundant “Victory Gardens” and don’t appear to spend hours working in the hot sun – one of my big garden fears. A Crop Mob may be able to give me a communal push if I had a plan, but what my household needs is information, ideas that will fit into our yard and the amount of time we want to commit to the whole process. Where else can I turn?

Enter Bountiful Backyards, a team of designers, landscapers, educators, artisans and motivators who can make any yard (or parking lot or street corner, for that matter) into an edible landscape.

Bountiful Backyards will consult and evaluate the potential of your yard and help you turn it into something that is both feasible for your space and your lifestyle. They will do as much or as little as you need in the areas of design, preparation, installation, education and guidance.They will design to help you grow and yield at your own pace.

By creating a mutually beneficial relationship between you and the environment, you can trade the time you spend at futile attempts to tame weeds and lawns into a way to feed your family fresher, healthier food for most of the year. You will also be improving soil and creating a much-needed friendly habitat for birds and beneficial insects, all while cultivating your own connection to what happens in those rare moments away from streets and sidewalks.

Bountiful Backyards believes in sharing “Beautility”. Besides their professional services, they offer donation-based workshops on things like backyard bee-keeping and outdoor worm composting.

Crop Mob is alive, well – and a blast

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

Crop Mobbing is growing (pun intended) in NC, and spreading all over the country. I’d like to call it progress and innovation, but of course, this kind of collective community is what past generations of farmers counted on at planting and harvest times. Sustainable farming was (and still is), labor intensive. People came together when necessary, to make food happen.

Crop Mobbing today hasn’t changed much in theory, though it’s novelty lends it a modern allure. Just watch this video and try to tell me you don’t want to be one of those people digging in the dirt!

Crob mobs are made up of anyone and everyone who understands and is excited about the local food movement – student groups, experienced and inexperienced gardeners, the agri-savvy or simply the agri-curious. They may do any number of necessary tasks, such as weeding, rock-picking, gleaning, planting, fencing and more. The group on the above link is making a boggy field into a rice paddy (in NC!!) – a job that may have taken months for the two farmer/owners, took this mob of smiling faces about 4 hours.

Although the time, place and tasks of each farm encounter is planned ahead, anyone can join in at any time, and the mobbing looks more like spontaneous fun than grueling work. (More likely grueling work is transformed into fun.) No money exchanges hands, but a meal is shared between mobbers and farmers – one that is surely infused with more energy and fresh deliciousness than I can imagine.

NC is known for it’s plentiful mobbing. To date, The Crop Mob has descended upon 15 small, sustainable farms in the Triangle area of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill. And, the trend is spreading into city neighborhoods as well, with the growing popularity of urban farms and edible landscaping.

Educational resources are also showing up online and through community workshops for those of us intimidated by what we don’t know about planting, growing, and harvesting food. Me? I like to connect with nature, but I admit to a tiny lazy streak when it comes to the thought of tending a full garden. But even a small plot can provide a lot to a household hungry for local, organic grub. Now, I just have to find a shovel…

Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival of Music and Dance – and the beat goes on

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

Music. Moonlight. People. Passion.

Music Festivals seem to have a life of their own these days, fed by a culture’s desire for both connection and escape – possibly in equal amounts. I arrived at the Silk Hope grounds (by bio-diesel shuttle) ready to leave it all behind, in order to find it all again.

Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival of Music and Dance, once a bi-annual locally-inspired 4-day event on a rolling 72 country acres in NC, has grown into an internationally-fused tradition of music, community, and the arts. This year’s Spring festival included as many as 50 bands/performers on 4 stages from all over the country and the world. Well-organized and well-run, shows and events ran continuously and on-time, a huge amount of the waste generated was recycled or composted, and solar panels sparkled in the middle of it all.

A shining example of spontaneous and relatively sustainable entertainment and fun, there were impromptu (and sometimes all night) drum circles, poi and fire hooping, poetry jams, and other expressions of energy, including solitary morning yoga. This festival has increased in acclaim and diversity, all while maintaining it’s grassroots appeal and atmosphere, all with a big dose of sustainability.

Music. Moonlight, People. Passion. Pass it on.

Larry’s Beans Turns the Caffiene Business Cosmic

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

I’m always looking for inspiration and when I met my now long-time friend, Larry Larson, I hit the motherlode! Larry is founder of Larry’s Beans, which started out as a coffee company and has since evolved into a living, breathing sustainability whirlwind – with coffee at it’s core.

Larry is the perfect role model for sustainability because he understands what it takes to marry his environmental principles with his business ones, and does it with aplomb. The renovated warehouse – the “Bean Plant” – is so eco-smart and fun, he has opened it up for tours – Willy Wonka style. (Really! He is thinking of getting a velvet suit!)

This isn’t someone who has much down time, yet if you sit with him for dinner – like I have – expect a 2 or 3-hour meal with stimulating and far-ranging conversation. He is as good a listener as he is a communicator. Larry is a bon vivant who loves hiking, dancing and wine as much as he loves coffee – and composting.

Are you inspired yet? You should be! Find out more about Larry’s Beans at this recent news story, or visit the website at

photo by  (That’s Larry on the right!)

Treasured Trash for the Feet on The Beach

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

by Tao

We’re starting to shed layers here in NC. My whole body sighs a big Ahhhh, when that happens, but my feet are the most joyful this time of year. I spend yoga time barefoot, of course, but otherwise, I’m a wool socks and boots person for almost half the year. So, when warmth hits, I want to go as naked down, er, there, as possible. My latest pair of sandals came from and are made from hemp and recycled tires. Love ’em, but like most people, I usually gravitate towards the good old flip flops. (BTW – Rocket Dog has partnered with Soles4Souls to provide shoes and other relief supplies to Haiti.)

So, this art installation/shoe recycling project profiled by Oregon really floats my surfboard! Dawn Stetzel, Portland artist/entrepreneur, has been collecting lost beach footwear at beach clean-up events, making art, and now working on a line of “Beach Found Footwear”. Cleaned up and revitalized, this is definitely trash turned to treasure. Contact Dawn at

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