In support of Mayor Menino’s Energy Disclosure Ordinance proposal, a connection chumped my linked in shout-out and blogged me. So now I really am a celebrity. Of some kind. In the green building world.
We had our usual Wednesday night dinner at the Cambicoop this eve. However, we had a topical focus on the sharing economy and collaborative consumption. Janelle Nanos from the Boston Magazine had been in touch with Zahra (from my house) about the subject and wanted to check out a real share-space, our cooperative.
Nora, our subletter of the past three months from Germany, cooked an apple cake from her grandmother’s recipe which was delicious. The discussion talked about the shared economy as seen with platforms to make markets like AirBnB and TaskRabbit, but also the more sharey stuff like couchsurfing and yerdle. I made a point to distinguish sharing as a means of exchange, the commercialization of sharing that is, and the collaborative lifestyle and the cooperative process which we embrace in coop culture. Our situation is more about the process and what goes on, than the result of the activity. We’re not so transactional as all these techie we collcons startups.
We did start talking about the various ways we participate in the collcons scene and it made me think about all the things I’m involved with, such as:
We are sharing all over the place, but these are all different ways of connecting people, and figuring out who and how to trust people and make decisions about exchanging based on anticipated future returns. Very interesting stuff indeed.
Yes, it’s been a fine birthday. I’m actually wrapping it up listening to the last of my real estate broker license continuing education webinars. 12 hours of droning…I suppose it would be quite good but being able to do it on your own time means I’m double or triple tasking and actually not much paying attention. Next round I’ll certainly go to the full day live course. I enjoy asking questions of the presenters, which is a major drawback of the online course. It’s really pathetic to let people do the online thing. You could just have a kid sign-in for you and click every 9 minutes to indicate that someone (certainly not needing to be you) is listening. Sure you have signed something threatening perjury if you don’t actually listen to the courses, but it’s really a bad system ripe for abuse. See – I’m blogging while listening.
Earlier, I started this fine bluebird of a day heading to the old Hancock Building in the Back Bay to a presentation for A Better City – I was filling in for a volunteer who’d come down with the flu, to talk about LEED accreditation and how to take the exam(s). Even though my colleague hadn’t been able to send me a presentation or anything, I let the facilitator know, “Meghan, I’m flying blind but I’m happy to talk about this stuff” and she was fine with it – she had more recently taken the exam so was actually better at it than I was. The group was ABC’s “Challenge for Sustainability” which is a regular gathering to enable mutual support for mostly facility operators in the downtown to work on bringing sustainability into their realms. I enjoyed the venue, the crowd was very receptive, and I felt like I made a good presentation, even if I wasn’t really the best person for it.
I walked across the Boston Common (from Berkeley St) through the north end of Chinatown on Tremont toward South Station and took this picture looking west toward Federal St (I think). The highest tower there is the Bank of America building. The white one has the distinct (if you know what you’re looking for) shadow of the Federal Reserve building.
I went to work for a little but then had a lunch date with my dear old UVM friend Heather (Kaplan) Coleman, and her new 4-week old daughter Lila. We went to Sam’s on the waterfront – on Fan Pier. It is so cool, with parking for her ease, and great views. I really enjoyed getting taken out by Heather! Thanks! We had tofu-mushroom cheeseburgers and I had _two_ beers! Then they brought over this dessert! Wow:
Heather got me flowers – and I can’t say when the last time I got flowers was – and when I got back to the office I bumped into one of my housemates – Yutaka – who was there for a conference. The office is co-working “Space with a Soul” and often other non-profits use the board room and conference rooms. It was great to see a housie outside of the Cambicoop.
I managed to catch up with my friend Anu for drinks at Les Zygomates in the Leather District. We sat next to the grandson of George C. Scott, Campbell James Scott, who was moving through town from VT to NYC but the Fung Wah had been shut down so he had a longer than usual layover. He offered us pot and took this pic of us:
While we were there my father called to wish me happy birthday, and while I was on the phone with him, my mother called from here phone. Funny coincidence. Two of my brothers also called. Not at that exact time though, at another coincidental moment. Then as I was leaving, someone says “Hey Grey! How are you?” and it was some friends from high school – Lindsay and Sam Hunt (now married) who had started the supper club when I was running the farm, Land’s Sake. Sam said “Yeah, we’re out for my birthday” – and I’m like, wait, it’s my birthday! but actually it was his on the 22nd, same as Jeb. But it was funny. Great to bump into them, esp. in such a fine little restaurant. He just bought the Wild Horse Cafe in Beverly and is re-launching it later this spring. Great to see them!
Then it was off to dinner for myself, with my next date, my other other dear friend, Theo van Roijen, back in Harvard Sq. We went to First Printer and I ordered a bossa nova (cachassa w maracuja) and jambalaya. We walked back to her place and got to thinking about another old friend, Gordon Fontaine, who we have a habit of calling whenever we’re together. So we left him a message at his “Zen Dog Training” answering greeting. I had met Gordon while doing controlled brush burns in Weston almost ten years ago and through him and his Aikido Dojo had met Theo. Theo had rescued a rabbit from a lab that someone at the dojo worked at. So we got started singing a song about Dojo Rabbit Phone Call – don’t ask me how. We were really into it! Dojo Rabbit!
And now I’m back wrapping up the last of my re-licensure webinar nonsense and getting the blog back on track (thanks JEB!). It was a great birthday, thanks everyone!
I’ll be at it every day from now on.
I got the following quote via a spam-bot today: ”It is seldom that liberty of any kind is lost all at once.” by David Hume….What’s up with that?
What is the one way we are really going to mitigate the overdose of carbon we’ve put into our atmosphere? Allan Savory and his Savory Institute have the answer: livestock.
Yesterday afternoon I went to an awesome lecture at Tufts by one of my old faves, Allan Savory of Holistic Resource Management fame and hailing from Rhodesia originally. About 300 people in the ASEAS lecture hall at the Fletcher School. I ended up sitting in his seat in the front row as I knew one of the organizers. Savory has a plan to use managed grazing of livestock to transform brittle desertified landscapeds to vibrant green carbon-sequestering pastures. The climate crowd is getting kinda excited. There’s 10 billion acres of this landscape, if this type of management can put 1 ton/acre of carbon into soil, that would be more than all the carbon we’ve burned so far. A three-millimeter layer of soil across one acre is 20 tons of soil (that’s what I heard)…so…maybe it’s possible. To move gigatons of carbon into a beneficial purpose in the world’s soils. And there’s a lot of other benefits like nice juicy goatburgers and stuff.
Many environmentalists have been opposed to livestock for many years: meat is bad, it causes various heart diseases and cancers, it is a waste of energy in the food chain. Cattle belch massive amounts of methane! Ranchers have been opposed to enviros, ranchers want to kill wolves and lions that enviros hold dear. Ranching causes desertification and soil erosion. So why should people listen to this ardent supporter of livestock ranching, who wants to re-invigorate pastoral communities with a new livestock management framework?
The answer is: carbon sequestration in soils. There is no other way to get what we want out of the atmosphere fast enough, by an activity spread across enough territory to make a difference. As Allan says, we have no alternative.
Take a look at his Savory Institute to read more. I’ve been following his work for 20 years since I first came across “Holistic Resource Managemet” during a class with Bill Murphy and Abdon Schmitt at UVM. Allan has worked as a ranger and researcher first in Rhodesia, and then in the States and wherever he could find clients to experiment with his process. He has left the term HRM and now refers to it as Holistic Context. Very good stuff. See the chart below? Yeah, that basic: glomalin, dung beetles, hoove chopping action, living soils and perennial grasses are happy!
By quadrupuling stocking rates, and keeping herds close together as they evolved to do, under pressure to cluster defensively against predators, and then keeping the herd moving through a range methodically – so they eat everything in one location but don’t come back to graze again for weeks if not months – he can promote grasses. Grasses cover soil and enable a vibrant surface level ecology which enables water to stay in the land and microorganisms to decay plant material. There is so much more to say: avoiding oxidization, improving water recharge, healing entire watersheds. He’s got evidence from all over, and even historical record corroboration.
I really enjoyed hearing him and being in his presence. Although he comes across very genteel and rather polished, you can tell he is tough, opinionated, and passionate. I appreciated his earnest interest in being shot down, fielding questions and critiques. He wants to be right through validation and I think his proof will be in the ability of these frameworks of his being picked up by ranchers and pastoral people across the globe. I talked with Tre Cates, his CFO, about setting up learning centers across the globe. They have a partnership with Patagonia for wool from ranchers in Argentina. I think it’s a good framework and has a lot of benefits. I’m ready to support his work. I wonder if we’ll see some “Savory Brand” eco-advantageous meat in the shops sometime soon?
It was great to hear from Allan. He urged us to get involved in whatever it was that resonated for us. The problems as everywhere. Engage and engage in the scientific process to constantly improve – experiment, evaluate, redeploy. He is a crusty old bush man, and can’t help his convictions: he ended on the one note. “There is no alternative. We must use livestock, in dense herds, to improve grasslands, halt desertification and pull black carbon out of the atmosphere. We have no other choice.”
I am laughing and crying everytime I watch this!
[If you know how I can get the image to be the link to the embedded video (in manilla), let me know - I can't get the plumbing straight...Thanks!]
I attended a great meeting this morning with the Boston Society of Architects’ Committee for the Advancement of Sustianability at the invitation of Vernon Woodward and Ken Fisher, co-chairs.
I had a chance to introduce myself to the 15 or so attendees and describe a bit about the Chapter and where we are in terms of cultivating our community, building our capacity and advocating for green building friendly state and local regulations.
We also heard from Carolyn Sarno, from NEEP (Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnership) speaking a bit about the base building code and also the stretch code for the state. It sounds like a lot of things were waiting for the recent fall’s election, and now, are just stuck in bureaucratic backlog. It may be one thing our Chapter could specifically advocate for: asserting for the stretch code and demanding the state issue appropriate regulations for green communities as per Green Communities Act of 2008.
Barbra Batshalom of the Sustainable Performance Institute hosted a great discussion today about Architecture 2030 Challenge and the Arch 2030 Commitment for architecture firms – to track their progress in creating designs that go toward the 2030 goal of 100% carbon neutral design. USGBC MA co-sponsored it. We had about 30 practitioners there, mostly architects but a couple of engineers, construction project managers and a fella from the State’s DCAM (building landlord for state agencies and such). A lively discussion from which I learned a lot – there were a lot of heavy hitters in the green building industry in the room. I tried to make a few points about the importance of LEED and research into building performance to validate pursuing the challenge. One of my colleagues subsequently told me, “Grey, you know, what you were saying, it was really good, it was like you’ve been in charge of the chapter for like 10 years. You sounded good, man!” I was very happy to get the feedback, but I know I have a lot more to learn about the industry and the trends that we’re following. Transforming the entire built environment is a lot to try to do!
Here is another member of my board, Andrea Love of Payette, and myself at the entrance to 100 Cambridge Street (where the event was held) acknowledging that we are in one of our fabulous LEED buildings. Yay LEED!
I was invited to a great gathering at Journeyman – a very cool localist experimental restaurant in Union Sq, Somerville. Every now and then Jim Newman (below) puts on a big party. His wife decided he couldn’t do them at their place any more. So his friends Diana and Tse Wei (chef/owners of Journeyman) were up for it. We all lucked out.
Jim is on my board for the USGBC MA and has been involved with the crowd forever, starting as an architect out of MIT and now running Linnean Solutions doing various sustainability consulting and energy/process/planning modeling. I’m lucky to have him on my board and to be introduced to so many great figures in the green building scene in Mass through him. Thanks Jim!
Here’s some of the crowd, with Chris Schaffner of The Green Engineer, a former board member but still very active volunteer. I had a lot of good conversations – about high-density urban development, about beer, about building energy management, about artisan chocolate and more. I was really psyched to meet Bill Reed of Regenesis Group who was eager to help me learn more about whole systems for design but also for how a person becomes whole. We can’t heal the fractures in the planet and in society until we see a broader healing and “righting” of individuals as the basic ingredient to all we aspire to together. Food for thought and I look forward to reading and discussing more with Bill!
Well, I was supposed to be on the side of a mountain with some hiking buddies freezing our asses off.
The forecast called for rain, which, in winter, is worse than snow, and, very demotivating.
So we scrapped the plan. Maybe later this winter.
However, I completely switched gears after my housemate Nora emailed the coop list that she had a last-minute free ticket to the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Nora is a german physicist researching at the MGH on how MRI scanning occurs…or something like that. She is from Heidelburg in the south of Deutschland. She’s subletting from Garga who is in India for a few months. It’s great to have her as a part of the house!
And, what luck! Short-termers sometimes are more active at embracing cultural outings. She had arranged with someone who got sick at the last minute so…I was the sub. Lucky me to be able to go. I’ve only gone one other time – luck again to attend a Christmas Concert with my family and – well – the Eastman’s that I recently blogged about doing Christmas dinner with. At any rate, I was psyched for a little “culture!” So we took the #1 bus from Mass Ave across town to the Avenue of the Arts and found great seats two rows behind the main cross corridor and in the middle, looking up the middle corridor. Amazing.
The music was fantastic – wide ranging stuff.
From the website:
“Violinist Julian Rachlin is featured in Tchaikovsky’s ultra-Romantic Violin Concerto at the heart of a program conducted by New York Philharmonic music director Alan Gilbert, who also leads the BSO in three 20th-century works: Dutilleux’s Métaboles for Orchestra, Stravinsky’s Symphony in Three Movements, the first major work the composer wrote after moving to the United States in 1939; and Ravel’s remarkable musical deconstruction of dance, La Valse.”
The violin was indeed amazing. Hitting some sequences that I was just shocked by. The dude must have been practicing for at least 20,000 hours if that was possible. Great stuff. I’ll have to look it up to hear it again sometime.
Great holiday season, great weekend, great night out, great friends, coincidences and new friends.
“When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back. A week is more than enough time for us to decide whether or not to accept our destiny.”
~ Paulo Coelho
photo credit: Katherine Awadalla (Copenhagen)