Friday, October 21, 2011

Veolia Environment Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Go to the BBC News site to see the winners of this year's Veolia Environment Wildlife Photographer of the Year and some of the other beautiful photographs being recognized.  This event was organized by London's Natural History Museum and BBC Wildlife Magazine.

This Weekend and Beyond

This weekend's Brooklyn Park Glass clean-up unfortunately had to be cancelled.  We'll be back in the spring though.

In the meantime, check out some of the great things to do in the city this weekend.

Walls and Bridges started on the 19th and is continuing through the 28th.  There will be nearly fifty cultural events; including theater, dance, exhibitions and more; across the city at this Franco American festival.  Many events are free.

This Sunday is the 17th Annual Tour de Bronx.  There will be both a 40-mile and a 25-mile ride starting at 10:30 and 10:40.  Online registrations is closed, but you can still register in person at 9:30 at Grand Concourse and East 161st Street at the Bronx County Courthouse (near Yankees Stadium).

Also check out the Rocktober Showcase, a supporter of vh1 Save the Music Foundation, at Drom in Manhattan.  See performances by The Fire and Reason, Sarah Nisch, Julian Stephen, Redwine, DJ Pisani and DJ Sass.  Doors open at seven.  Advance tickets are $10 and $15 at the door.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Read These Articles

Over at the New York Times, they have two great articles that will definitely interest you.

First is an article on the indoor tree.  With winter coming there can be quite the lack of green in the home and a jonesing for spring's quick return.  Rather than going the usual route of getting a small houseplant, try something bigger like a tree.  There are many great trees that can grow comfortably in the home.  Check out great trees like the Improved Meyer Lemon.  Meyer lemons are sweeter than the common lemons found in grocery stores, have a softer thinner skin and are generally harder to find.  The trees are not that hard to find.  Online stores like Logees sell seedlings online for a decent price, or you can head over to local stores like Gowanus Nursery (they'll be closing for the season at the end of October and opening back up in the spring) to pick up a larger one for next year.

Check out the article for advice on growing indoor trees and recommendations for some of the best trees for the indoor habitat.

The Indoor Tree: A Tall, Green Slip of Summer

There is also a great article about schools in New York doing what they can to keep physical fitness in New York schools.  Many of you are probably already familiar with the audit showing that many New York City schools fail to reach the minimum standards when it comes to physical education.  Physical education is extremely important for kids both physically and mentally.  With budget cuts, lack of space and the push for standardized testing, it is getting harder and harder for many New York City schools to meet the requirements, but some are doing what they can to make it happen.

Fitting In Exercise Between Math and English

CEO for Change

CEO for Change from Krystal Persaud on Vimeo.

CEO for Change is an organization started by Krystal Persaud that is trying to convince some of the biggest producers in the U.S. to make their products more sustainable through altering their materials to be recyclable or biodegradable, monitoring their material and energy use, reclaiming used products from consumers and utilizing industrial design.

Head to the website to find out more about the initiative, especially if you are the owner of a small (or large) business.

CEO for Change

Food Food Food

New America Media has an article about the people using subsidized shares of a local CSA in Astoria.  Rather than poor, low-income families taking advantage of the opportunity to have access to low cost vegetables from local farms, it seems that it is mostly unemployed, college educated and recent college graduates having trouble finding work.

New Recipients for Subsidized Vegetables: College Graduates

Also, listen to the The Leonard Lopate Show today at twelve at 93.9 or listen online at  Legendary French chef Jacques Pépin will be discussing some of his best recipes and his latest cookbook, Essential Pepin: More than 700 All-Time Favorites from My Life in FoodSome of you may have seen Pépin on as a guest judge on Top Chef or may be familiar with his PBS shows The Complete Pépin and Jacques Pépin Fast Food My Way.

Feeding the Frenzy

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Save Yourself: Ride a Bike

View zoom-able version here.
Check out this infographic from Care2 on the advantages of riding a bike over driving a car.  Not only is it good for the environment, but it is great for your health.  And check out Recycle-a-Bicycle, a great local not for profit that helps bring bikes and environmental to kids in New York.  Also check out Up2Us, a great organization that tries to improve the lives of kids all over the nation through sports initiatives.  Because keeping kids active is a great way to improve their lives overall.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

CMJ Music Marathon & Film Festival

Today was the start of the CMJ Music Marathon and Film Festival.  There will be panels, seminars, nighttime parties, film premieres, special events and more all over the city.  Head out and support indie bands, cutting edge film and local businesses hosting the various events.

Above trailer for Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest directed by Michael Rapaport, screening October 20th at Clearview Chealsea Cinema at 7 o'clock.

Brooklyn Park Glass, Oct. 22--CANCELLED

The last day of the Brooklyn Park Glass clean-up is coming up this Saturday.  We'll be meeting at eleven o'clock at the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument at the top of Fort Greene Park.  We've collected a lot of glass, but there is still a lot to get out of the park.  Come join us this Saturday.  Email if you'd like to volunteer.

October is Farm to School Month

Family Security Through Frugal Living
Representative Rush Holt of New Jersey introduced House Resolution 1655 in 2010 to recognize the importance of Farm to School and its efforts to "connect schools and local farms with the objective of serving healthy meals in school cafeterias, improving student nutrition, providing agriculture, health and nutrition education opportunities and supporting local and regional farms."

Head to the Farm to School Month website to learn more about this initiative and the resources being offered.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Target: All Seafood to be Sustainable by 2015

Target recently announced that they will only be stocking sustainable fish by the year 2015.  This is a great move by a company that already removed farmed salmon from its shelves in 2010.  "As we continue toward 100% sustainable seafood, guests can shop with confidence in knowing that Target's seafood products are both healthy for their family and environmentally responsible," said Shawn Gensch, vice president of marketing.  Target, planning on opening in Canada in 2013, already has 1,767 stores across the nation.  This is a big move in the right direction by a pretty big company.  Hopefully more will soon follow suit.

Infographic from Care2.

9-9-9 and Insurance Rate Increases

Herman Cain has been making a huge splash with his 9-9-9 tax plan.  But what is his plan really?  And what effect would it have on you if it were to be enacted?  Today on The Brian Lehrer Show they discussed just that.

Herman Cain and the 9-9-9 Plan

Also on the show they discussed the push by several insurers in the New York to raise their rates, some as high as 53%.  This thankfully would have to be approved by the state.  Unfortunately, there is the possibility that some of our representatives would be more than happy to let this happen.  Brian interviewed Elisabeth Benjamin, vice president of health initiatives at Community Services Society and co-founder of Health Care for All New York Campaign, about her push to stop these devestating increases.

Health Insurance Rate Increases

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Things Happening this Weekend and Beyond

Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center
As we've mentioned before, two extra dates have been added to the Brooklyn Park Glass Project.  We'll be meeting Saturday at one o'clock at the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument.  All collected glass will be sent for recycling.  Gloves and bags will be provided.

Also on Saturday, New York City Volunteer Club will be holding a Rockaway Freeway Dog Park Clean-Up and Mural Painting.  They'll be meeting from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Volunteers will help paint the mural, paint benches at the park and clean-up for the fall season.  Meet at 82 Beach St.

Check out Scripture: Skullphone & Curtis Kulig.  "The first documented collaboration between iconographic artists Skullphone and Curtis Kulig merges their distinct motifs and styles in a single exhibition. Scripture includes Kulig's classic 'Love Me' script dripping on canvas and new digital media paintings—one of them a three-foot-tall Prada cross—by Skullphone, who is largely known for his black-and-white skull-on-a-cell-phone iconography spotted across LA. Scripture remains on view at Mallick Williams & Co. through November 8."

Today was the start of New York Comic Con and Anime Festival at the Javits Center.  See panels and screenings, take part in a charity auction, meet some of your favorite artists and writers or just go to see the cosplayers.  Now through October 16th.

Also today was the start of the NYC Food Film Festival.  This four-day multi-venue event celebrates food-related film.  As you can imagine there will be lots of food!

October 14th through 16th is the Black Farmers & Urban Gardeners Conference.  Rashid Nuri will be the keynote speaker.  Go to their site for more information on volunteering, presenting, sponsoring or just attending.

October 14th through 16th, the Historic House Trust is holding tours of several historical homes all over New York like Edgar Allen Poe's cottage in the Bronx and Gracie Mansion.  There will also be other low cost events.

October is Architecture and Design Month.  Head to the Archtober site to find an event.  There will be special tours, lectures, films and exhibitions all over the city.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Pictures of Saving Diversity

Svalbard Global Seed Vault
Artist Dornith Doherty has some great photographs of seed vaults she has been taking since 2008.  The photos are both beautiful and haunting.

Nordic Genetic Resource Center Seed Vials
The purpose of these seedbanks is to reserve seeds in case of their destruction or extinction elsewhere in the world.  They have been very important in protecting nature's biodiversity in a world of monoculturism.

Mountain Laural Seeds
Check out the photographs here at Doherty's site.  And read more about different vaults like Svalbard Global Seed Vault and Nikolai Vavilov, a Russian geneticist, botanist and forward thinking man.  The seedbank he created, now known as Vavilov Institute of Plant Industry, survived the 28-month siege of Leningrad because of several selfless botanists that were willing to sacrifice their lives to protect the collection.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Give Green to Get Green, Oct. 11

Brooklyn Farmer

 Check out some of these great initiatives in the area, and beyond, that can use some of your green.

First up is, Planting Trees for Birds in Van Cortlandt Park.  New York City Audubon is joining up with the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation to plant 6,000 trees in the Bronx.  They are trying to raise $600 to get this done.  If you can't give money, definitely give some of your time.  They will be meeting October 22nd at 9:30 a.m. at the Kelly Fields ball field on the western edge of Van Cortlandt Park (Broadway and 269th Street).  Contact John Rowden at or call 212-691-7483 to sign up.

Second is, Chicken Apprenticeship Workshops.  This Crown Heights based organization is raising money to help teach people how to raise their own hens here in New York.  They still need $457 to achieve their goal.  If you'd like to volunteer, check out for more information.

And over at Kickstarter, Idora Tilapia in Youngstown, OH is raising money to create a sustainable neighborhood fish farm.  They have 20 days to raise $4,025.  You can donate as little as a $1 if that's all you can give.  Pledges of $10 or more gets you some pretty neat gifts of thank you.

Sustainable Fish Farm for Idora

Taking the Classroom to the Stars

YouTube and Lenovo, in cooperation with NASA,  made an amazing announcement on Monday.  They have started a science contest called SpaceLab.  Students around the world from ages 14 to 18 can enter individually or in teams of three and pitch ideas for experiments to be performed on the International Space Station.  Two winning entries will be built and then flown to the space station where astronauts will conduct a demonstration to be broadcast via YouTube.

This is a great opportunity for kids from all over.  Check out this New York Times article to read about past experiments designed by school age kids and done on the space station like the one designed by seventh graders from Portland, OR.

The deadline is December 7th.  So get your kids and their schools involved soon.

YouTube SpaceLab

Monday, October 10, 2011

Alabama's Strict Immigration Laws

Today's episode of On Point with Tom Ashbrook had a very important discussion about Alabama's immigration law, HB56, which happens to be the strictest in the nation right now.  Many of you are probably familiar with Arizona's new immigration law, but Alabama's are much tougher.  This new law is resulting in many leaving the state because of the draconian enforcement where children are being pulled from classes to check their status and farmers are losing their livelihood because many Americans do not want to "work the field."

Listen to the interview and check out some of the comments left by Alabama residents that have been affected by this law.

Alabama's Immigration Law Examined

Phys Ed in NYC Schools and Global Design Ideas

Today on The Brian Lehrer Show, Brian had two great segments we think you should hear.

First there was SchoolBook: Physical Education.  Fernannda Santos, a New York Times education reporter, talked about the audit showing how little physical education is making it into our elementary schools despite state requirements.

SchoolBook: Physical Education

Mexico City

Shanghai Tower

Brian also talked to Wendy Goodman, New York Magazine design editor, and Justin Davidson, architecture critic for New York Magazine, about some of the best revolutionary ideas to bring New York City's urban design into the future.  They discuss everything like the high density buildings of Shanghai to the comforts of Copenhagen. 

Global Design Ideas

Brooklyn Park Glass, October 15th and 22nd

Please come join up October 15th and 22nd to help clean up Fort Greene Park.  We'll be meeting at one o'clock at the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument.  If you'd like to volunteer, just email us at with which day(s) you'd like to volunteer.  Also, please take a copy of the flyer and put it up somewhere in your area so we can reach more volunteers.

Just click for a larger version.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Voter Disenfranchisement Laws Making a Comeback Across America?

There is increased concern over some of the voting laws being put on the books across the nation.  Some states like Wisconsin, Tennessee and South Carolina are instituting strict voter ID requirements that target minority voters making it harder for them to vote.

The officials in many of these states claim that these laws are being enacted to fight against voter fraud.  The claim is that with a large population of illegal immigrants it is even more important now than ever to make sure all the people voting on election day in fact are legal votes.  But the fact is the combination of stricter laws and a depressed economy has resulted in many immigrants returning to their countries of origin.  In addition, there has been no evidence of rampant voter fraud, much less any kind of voter fraud in the U.S.  According to Ari Berman, a frequent reporter on these laws for Rolling Stone magazine, "a voter is more likely to be struck by lightening than they are to impersonate another voter at the polls," in addition he says "the Department of Justice looked into 300 million votes cast between 2002 and 2007 and failed to prosecute a single person for impersonating an eligible voter at the polls."

Despite that, states across America are enacting these strict ID laws that negatively affect students, the elderly and disabled in addition to voters of color.  In Chattanooga, 96-year-old Dorothy Cooper was denied a voter ID despite having a rent receipt, copy of her lease, voter registration card and birth certificate.  All because she didn't have a copy of her marriage license to explain the change in last name.  Cooper never learned to drive, so she does not have a driver's license to use as ID.  In Wisconsin, GOP leaders pushed for a bill that would make university-issued photo IDs and government-issued passports ineligible as photo ID for voters.  The same is happening in South Carolina.  Though they will accept passports as sufficient to gain a voter ID, for many passports are not accessible because of the exorbitant passport fees ($110 as of recently).  And as any New Yorker, or Dorothy Cooper, can tell you, not everyone drives.  (Check out this Mother Jones Map of the Day: Preventing Students From Voting.)

In Colorado, they are even making it harder for soldiers to vote.  Secretary of State Scott Gessler put out an order to not send ballots to soldiers out of state who are legally registered voters but did not vote in 2010.  Technically these soldiers will still be able to vote if they fax or email for ballots.  But as you can imagine, when you are fighting overseas the last thing on your mind is to remember to send out in time for a voting ballot.

Not surprisingly, a lot of these laws are being enacted in so-called battleground states and seem to be specifically targeting traditionally Democratic voters.  But it doesn't matter who is being targeted.  What matters is that people are not going to be heard.  One of the best ways to change things is the power of the vote.  Organizations like the NAACP , United Methodist Women, New York Community Trust and the ACLU are doing what they can to prevent these laws from stopping fellow Americans from having their voices heard.  If you are not registered to vote, get registered (New York state voter registration information here), if you are registered, get out and vote and keep voting.  We fought too hard for these rights to give them up.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Stopping Childhood Obesity

By New York State law, kindergarten through sixth grade kids are required to have at least two hours of physical education every week.  Daily instruction until third grade and at least three times weekly after that by law.  According to a recent audit of thirty-one elementary schools, only two were meeting the requirement.  There were many reasons given for this deficit by principals.  Some blame budget cuts, some blame lack of space and personnel.  Not surprisingly, the pressure to prepare kids for standardized tests also took a lot of the blame.

According to the 2009 DOE and DOH report 21% of children, kindergarten through eighth grade, are obese and 18% are considered overweight.  How sad is it that so many of the children that are now considered overweight and obese are not getting access to just twenty-four minutes of physical education on a daily basis.  Research shows that physical activity has many benefits beyond just making kids physically healthier (preventing obesity in kids  is a great way to prevent the prevalence of diseases like type 2 diabetes, asthma and heart disease), but can also "increase a child's capacity to learn."

Childhood obesity hurts low-income families the most.  This is part of the reason the CDC has committed $25 million to a four-year research project to "combat childhood obesity in low-income kids."

There are many ways parents can help prevent their kids becoming part of this alarming statistic.  One is improved nutrition.  The second is more physical activity.  The third is getting schools involved. 

Of course, it can seem expensive to eat the healthier, expensive fresh vegetables when compared to buying a McDonald's Happy Meal.  But really it isn't.  Feeding a family of four a meal from McDonald's can cost about $28.  Whereas, making a chicken, potatoes and salad for four meal will costs half that.  Going with the healthier option of a pinto beans and rice for four meal will costs less than $10!  Cutting or reducing the amount of soda and juice in the family diet also makes a huge difference.

Check out these links on how to save and eat better:,  and Simple Mom.  If time is also an issue, check out these links for some quick, healthy recipes under $10: LearnVest and Nourished Kitchen.

Encourage your kids to get out and play with their friends.  Simple Kids has a list of fun games for kids that involve little or no equipment.  Go for walks with your kids.  Get them involved in after school sports.  And if school is not too far away, encourage kids to walk or bike to school.

Talk to your kids' school teachers and principal to make changes.  Just getting involved and making your voice heard can make a huge difference in what is happening in your child's school for the better.  Simply rearranging how schools display fruits and vegetables in cafeterias greatly increases the chances of kids making healthier options on their own.  And even though it may not seem connected, get out and vote.  Remember, our schools are controlled by the mayor in New York City.  Who you choose to run this city is who is going to be running our schools.

Change Brewing

Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, has an interesting message for corporate execs: stop giving Washington money.  Instead he wants them to do the work to repair the economy by investing in small businesses.

Listen to the interview with Brian Lehrer.
Change Brewing

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Use This Instead: Borax

Borax is already found in many detergents and cosmetics.  It is also anti-fungal and can be used as a safe insecticide.  It can be added to your wash to make the detergents you are already using even more effective.  And of course many are already familiar with using borax for scrubbing dingy pots and pans.

Dissolve 1/2 cup of borax in 1 gallon of hot water, pour the solution into a spray bottle and use to clean baseboards, countertops and walls.

Delicate china can be soaked in a dishpan filled with warm water and a 1/2 cup of borax.  After soaking, just rinse and let dry.

Dishwasher smelling a little funny?  Sprinkle some borax in the bottom, let sit overnight and then wipe down with a damp sponge.  Don't worry about rinsing, that'll be taken care of with the next load.

Borax can also be used to get rid of rust stains in the toilet also.  Pour some borax into the boil, allow to sit over night, then swish a bit with the toilet brush and flush the next day.

Get more cleaning ideas from Better Basics for the Home by Annie Bond.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Save Money & Eat In Tonight: Chicken in Saffron Sauce with Couscous and Carrots

1 Cup Couscous
4 Chicken Breasts
1/2 Cup White Cooking Wine
1 Cup Chicken Stock, plus more
3 Garlic Cloves, roughly chopped
1 Tbsp Ginger, skinned and finely chopped
1 tsp Vanilla Extract or Paste
1 tsp Sweet Basil, plus more
1/2 tsp Saffron Threads*
3/4 Cup Heavy Cream
1 Bunch Carrots, sliced into 1/4" diagonal slices
Salt and Pepper

Bring one cup water (or chicken stock for more flavor) with a pat of butter to a boil.  Once boiling, add couscous, stir, cover and remove from heat and allow to sit for at least 5 minutes.

In a large flat-bottomed fry pan, bring chicken stock and white wine to a boil.  Once boiling, place chicken breasts into pan and cover.  Cook chicken for 5 minutes on each side.  Remove chicken from fry pan and put aside.  Add garlic, ginger, vanilla and basil to fry pan.  Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer for three minutes.  Add heavy cream, saffron threads, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp white pepper (black pepper can be used if white pepper is not available).  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and place chicken back in pan.  Simmer for 3-5 minutes ladling sauce onto chicken.

Meanwhile, heat a medium sized fry pan.  Add three tablespoons butter and melt.  Once melted add carrots and saute with a pinch of salt and pepper for 4 minutes or until carrots are cooked, but still crunchy.  Add extra chopped basil to couscous and fluff with a fork to serve.

*Saffron threads can be found at most grocery stores.  Check Dual Specialty Store in the East Village or Asia Market Corp in Chinatown for any hard to find spices.

Things Happening This Week

First Up, Wednesday, October 5th at the Greene Space, there's Lopate and Locavores: Bread and Grain.  Leonard Lopate along with  Jessamyn Waldman, founder of Hot Bread Kitchen, Mark Bello, chef and owner of Pizza a Cassa Pizza School, and Jim Lahey, owner of Sullivan Street Bakery, will be discussing the "art of baking bread."  There will also be a demonstration of the no-Knead technique.   In case you can't make it, there will also be a live video webcast at

On Saturday, October 8th, there's the Annual Meeting of the Greene Garden from 2-4 p.m.  It will be in Conference room 2a-2b at Brooklyn Hospital.  Contact Mark Greenidge at for more information.  They will also be signing people up to become members of the Greene Garden (membership is $20).

Above picture provided by Eat Local Northwest, there's a recipe for home baked artisan bread at the link.

Credit Unions & You

With Bank of America's recent announcement that they will be adding a monthly fee to debit cards many of you are probably now even more concerned about expenses than before.  Bank of America is joining many other banks that are already charging exorbitant fees when many people are out of work or dealing with a massive decrease of family income.

One possible option to deal with these costs is to consider changing to a credit union.  Credit unions are cooperative financial institutions.  That means its members who have accounts are owners of the credit union.  Quite different from the major banks that have to answer to shareholders whoaren't concerned about whether or not you can feed your family.  Much like other financial institutions, credit unions have the usual checking and savings accounts, offer home loans and can be used for both personal and small business banking.

Today on The Brian Lehrer Show, Brian interviewed Joan Goldwasser, senior reporter for Kiplingers Personal Finance, and Sarah Ludwig, co-director of New York's Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project, where they compared and contrasted the differences between credit unions and major financial institutions.

Listen to the interview and find out more.

Credit Unions and You

Friday, September 30, 2011

Please Explain: Endangered Species

Picture of a ring-tailed lemur

Earlier on The Leonard Lopate Show they did a "Please Explain" on the Endangered Species Act, animals that are currently threatened with extinction and some of the things being done and have been done in the past to head off extinction.

Please Explain: Endangered Species

Do Some Fun Things This Weekend

Tonight is the final installment of the High Line's open-air rail-themed movie series.  They will be screening the Alfred Hitchcock classic thriller Strangers on a Train.  Screening starts at 9 p.m.  Go to for more information.

Saturday is the Korean Day Parade.  It will be along Sixth Avenue from 38th Street to 27th Street from 12-2.  It's organized by the Korean American Association of Greater New York.

On Sunday, Midtown Comics Downtown location, 64 Fulton Street in Manhattan, will be having an Archie Kids' Day.  From 12-3 kids will be able to get a free sketch of their favorite characters from Archie Comics with the purchase of any Archie comic.  Dan Parent (Kevin Keller), Patrick "Spaz" Spaziante (Sonic, Mega Man) and Fernando Ruiz (Archie) will be there.  They are also having a one day 20% off all merchandise sale.

Also on Sunday is the 27th annual Medieval Festival in Fort Tryon Park from 11:30 a.m. to 6. 

Also check out the New York Film Festival.  It starts today and will be continuing on through October 16th.  Catch films from all over the world.  New documentaries Tahrir, classics Ben Hur and Crazed Fruit from Japan, science fiction Melancholia, the thriller Miss Bala from Mexico and the drama Policeman from Israel are some of the films you'll be able to see there.  Go to the Film Society Lincoln Center site to find out more.

Off-Broadway Week is also still going on.  Go to for a list of the discounted off-Broadway shows and promo codes.

Above images from Policeman, Kevin Keller and Crazed Fruit.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Protest, Rewrite the Constitution, Get Brandwashed and Migrant Workers

Today on WNYC they had several great interviews you should definitely hear.

First up on The Brian Lehrer Show was How to Build a Protest Movement.  Chrystia Freeland, global editor-at-large of Thomson Reuters, and Todd Gitlin, professor of journalism and sociology at Columbia University and author of several books discuss the protests going on over on Wall Street.  In addition, they discuss past protest movements, how to create one and much more.  Also hear what some of the protesters taking part in the Occupy Wall Street movement have to say.

Also on The Brian Lehrer Show, Constitutional Un-Convention.  Christopher Phillips, scholar, pro-democracy activist, founder of the Constitution Cafe Dialogue Movement and author of Constitution Cafe: Jefferson's Brew for a True Revolution, talks about traveling across America and asking people How would you rewrite the Constitution?  There are some pretty enlightening comments made, and some not so enlightening ones.  Like did you know Thomas Jefferson said that the Constitution should be rewritten every twenty years?

On The Leonard Lopate Show, there was Brandwashed.  Martin Lindstrom talks about his book Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy.  Learn about some of the psychology behind marketing that influences even those that think that they cannot be influenced.

And lastly, Underreported: The Lives of Migrant Farm Workers.  The food we buy everyday is picked by migrant workers.  We don't think about them, but we are so dependent on them.

Brooklyn Park Glass in The Brooklyn Paper

Sorry we've been away for the past couple of days.  Colds have been going around, but we're back to work now.

Our Brooklyn Park Glass clean-up that just wrapped up this past Sunday was recently featured in The Brooklyn Paper.  With all the great feedback we've received because of this article, we are planning on extending the length of the Brooklyn Park Glass clean-up.

We got a lot of glass this weekend, but unfortunately, there is so much more that needs to be done.  Hope some of you can make it out next time.

Park in Fort Greene Anything But

Monday, September 26, 2011

'Nuisance' Garden Update

Adam Guerrero, a Math teacher in Memphis, has received a reprieve for his garden. Guerrero has agreed to keep his front yard garden trimmed, install a bubbler, put mosquito-eating fish into the pond in his backyard, reduce the number of worm bins, and add mesh covers to his rain barrels.  In addition to that great news, the judge has "advocated finding a piece of blighted property for Guerrero to devote to an educational garden." Unfortunately, not everyone is happy with the ruling, but it is great to see the city of Memphis no longer pushing against front-yard vegetable gardens.

Read more at Memphis Flyer.

Friday, September 23, 2011

PCBs and Brooklyn Park Glass

This Sunday, the 25th, will be the last day of the Brooklyn Park Glass clean-up for the season.  As usual we'll be meeting in Fort Greene Park at the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument at one o'clock.  Email us at if you'd like to volunteer or just come and meet us.  We've made a lot of headway in the past three weeks, but there is still quite a bit of work that needs to be done and we could use all your help.  All collected glass will be sent for recycling at a local facility.  Make sure to check back on Monday with updates on the amount of glass we were able to get out of our beautiful park.

Also check out this interview on The Leonard Lopate Show with industrial hygienist Monona Rossol, author of Pick Your Poison: How Our Mad Dash to Chemical Utopia is Making Lab Rats of Us All, and Miranda Massie of New York Lawyers for the Public Interest about the recent reports of PCBs found in New York City schools.

PCBs in Schools

Disposable Diaper Alternatives

Having kids can be pricey.  One of the pricier aspects of having kids is diapering.  The average child can easily end up using 6,000 to 10,000 diapers before potty training and all that, along with your hard earned money, just ends up in a landfill.  There are a lot of great alternative to disposable diapers though.

Cloth Diapers  Cloth diapers are nothing like they used to be.  Companies like FuzziBunz, BabyKicks and Bummis make diapers that look like disposable diapers, but are in fact cloth and come in many colors.  On top of that there are many different types of cloth diapers you can go with.  The initial cost of a cloth diaper may seem pretty pricey at $16 or more per diaper, but these are diapers that you'll never have to throw away, drastically driving down diapering costs.  You buy them once and depending how long before you decide to potty-train, you may not have to buy new diapers again.  Diapers are washed just like normal laundry (we recommend adding a little vinegar to the wash and occasionally doing a bleaching here and there) and if you just don't have time for laundry at all there are diaper services here in New York.  Another great benefit of cloth diapering is kids that potty-train sooner than those that use disposables.

Hybrid Diapers  If cloth seems like too much of a big step, you can always go with hybrid diapers.  These are generally made up of reusable outer shells, that also come in many great colors, and disposable inserts.  Many hybrid diaper makers make their inserts flushable, upping the convenience even more.  And some even offer washable inserts.  Check out companies like gDiapers or GroVia.

Elimination Communication  EC is a more old-fashioned way to go and is still used all over parts of Asia, Africa and South America.  Also known as diaper free or diaper-less training, EC takes a little more work since the parent and/or caregiver will have to learn the signs of when the child will need to go.  Essentially, elimination communication is just very early potty-training.  EC is commonly used in many parts of the world where diapering is not an option for most parents.  Even though it can be tough to do in the modern Western world, it is making a comeback with families on this side of the hemisphere.

You don't have to pick only one over the other.  A parent can easily start out with hybrids, move to cloth and then eventually EC or use a combination of EC and cloth diapering.  It is all about what is best for your family.  There are many resources out there to help you make the best choice for your child and your family.

Kelly's Closet carries both hybrid and cloth diapers that you can even purchase in bulk to lower the cost.  They also frequently have great sales and advice for parents new to cloth diapering.
All About Cloth Diapers is a blog dedicated to giving advice and recommendations for cloth diapering.
Diaper Free Baby is a network of free support groups that promote elimination communication.
Natural Baby World has advice on elimination communication.
New York Family Guide has a list of recommended diaper services in the New York area.
Yelp has reviews and ratings of different diaper services in the New York area.

And be sure to check out this article at Ecopreneurist about a diaper recycling facility that recently opened in the United Kingdom.

Above photo care of Lifehacker.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Vegetable Gardens a Nuisance?

With the economy not doing too well and unemployment still high, many people are looking for affordable alternatives to feed their families.  Rather than go the route of fast food and packaged foods, some are making the healthy choice and growing their own food.

During World War II they were called Victory Gardens, but now some people are looking at them as a nuisance.  Recently, Julie Bass of Oak Park, Michigan was facing the possibility of being sent to jail for over ninety days for her vegetable garden.  Bass had placed her vegetable garden in the front yard in an effort to be a good example and inspiration for her neighbors.  The city argued that her garden went against code that said "a front yard has to have suitable, live, plant material."  According to Oak Park City Planner Kevin Rulkowski: "If you look at the definition of what suitable is in Webster's dictionary, it will say common.  So if you look around and you look in any other community, what's common to a front yard is a nice, grass yard with beautiful trees and bushes and flowers."  Though he is right that front lawns are common, there is the unfortunate fact that maintaining lawns as what people see fit in this day and age leads to lots of pesticides and fertilizers that run off into our water supply.  Bass decided to do something great and different and they tried to punish her for that.
A nuisance lawn?  Photo care of Julie Bass.
Thankfully, since Bass stuck to her principals and so much media attention was brought about by the uproar over the garden, Mayor Gerry Naftaly got involved and stated that she would not be facing jail time and instead the city was actually considering reworking the ordinance to allow front-yard vegetable gardens as several cities have also followed suit and done in the recent past.

Sadly, this same story is being repeated in Memphis, Tennessee.  Math teacher, Adam Guerrero has been told to remove his urban garden by a judge because it was deemed to be a nuisance.  Better yet, he was told that he failed to maintain "a clean and sanitary condition free from any accumulation of rubbish or garbage."  Since when were seven-foot-tall sunflowers "rubbish or garbage"?  Guerrero has used this garden as a teaching tool for his students and that could be soon put to an end, because he is expected to return to court September 23rd to "demonstrate that he has complied with the judge's orders."

Oddly enough, a lot of these ordinances came about after World War II when soldiers were returning home and starting families in the suburbs.  Many of the same ordinances that ban goats, chickens and bee hives along with front-yard vegetable gardens were put in place to further remove us from the idea of this being an agrarian society.  But with the ever increasing populace and growing demand for food, putting up a definitive line between where you can live and where you can grow is becoming more and more unmaintainable.  We as New Yorkers are quite lucky that we can do things like have roof gardens bees and chickens.  Sure there are still landlords out there that push against those ideas, but at least the city of New York is not against us in this case unlike so many others across the nation.
Photo care of Buildaroo.

Celebrate Art In New York

The Affordable Art Fair has started today.  Go today, between four and nine p.m., and you do not have to pay admission.  Tomorrow will be the first day of the Dumbo Arts Festival.  Check out local artists all over DUMBO all this weekend.  There will be music and performances in addition to activities for the whole family.  Head over to Madison Square Park to see sculptures by Alison Saar, now through December 31st.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

What Every Woman Should Know

The Cartoon Movement is an international site that publishes editorial cartoons and comics selected by their readers. Right now they hve an interesting comic by Susan Cagle called What Every Woman Should Know.  It is about the deceptive practices of "crisis pregnancy centers" that often advertise themselves as medical facilities to help women.  As Cagle explains, "their undisclosed (and deceptive) goal is not to provide women with the medical information they need to make a decision, but rather to dissuade and often delay them to the point where they have fewer choices."  The comic deals with these types of centers found in California, but they can easily be found here in New York also.  The comic is only eighteen pages long, but it is a very informative read on a subject that effects all New Yorkers.

What Every Woman Should Know

And if you need to find affordable or free help, there are many medical options right here in New York.

NYC Free Clinic at NYU
Planned Parenthood has clinics in Brooklyn, Manhattan and the Bronx information on free and confidential testing for STDs
Brooklyn Free Clinic
Family Planning Benefit Program a New York state Medicaid Program

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Urban Farming, YAY! Solyndra, NAY!

Today on The Brian Lehrer Show they discussed several issues that concern us locally and nationally.  First there was the unfortunate scandal over Solyndra.  Solyndra was to be the shining example of green energy that would create more jobs and bring cheaper more affordable green energy to the public.  But Solyndra's technology was actually pricier and their business practices were terrible to say the least.  They have recently declared bankruptcy and are being investigated by the FBI.  Fortunately this doesn't mean the end of green energy in America, but it is definitely a set back.

Solyndra, Subsidies, Scandals and Solar

On a lighter note, there was an interview about a lot of the great urban farming being done right here in New York City with June Komisar, writer of Carrot City: Creating Places for Urban Agriculture, and Viraj Puri, co-founder and CEO of Gotham Greens, a Greenpoint based urban farm.

Carrot City: Urban Agriculture

Above photo care of NonaBrooklyn.

The Low Line Park

If you've seen the High Line Park and love it, you'll probably love the proposal by James Ramsey for a Low Line Park.  He wants to take an abandoned train station in the Lower East Side and transform it into a revolutionary underground public park.  Read more at Inhabitat New York City to see slides of the proposal and learn more about how they'll make this happen.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Save Money This Fall

The Wildlife Conservation Society is offering a discount on its Family Premium Membership.  Join now and save $20.  Sixty-seven dollars of the discounted $139 membership is tax deductible.  With membership you'll be able to access the Bronx Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo, New York Aquarium, Central Park Zoo and Queens Zoo for free for the full year of your membership for you and the entire family.  There are other plans in case you're a single person or the family premium is a little too high for you.  Check out the other membership options they have available.

Also Halloween is soon and the time is coming to seek out a new costume for the kids.  Unfortunately, kids grow quickly so you usually end up having to replace costumes on an almost yearly basis.    Take part in the National Costume Swap Day (October 8th).  6,250 tons of waste could be saved from landfills by trading costumes rather than throwing away and buying something new.  Head over to Green Halloween and find in-person or online swap events.  Save some money and cut back on waste.

Photo by Mike Greenlar.

Fordham University Stops CSA

Rice with greens at Farm to Fordham
The New York Times has a great article about Farm to Fordham, a great CSA that brought fresh food to Fordham students and faculty as well as a local soup kitchen, being shut down because of bureaucracy.  Students and faculty paid $150 per semester to help benefit a local farm and received local seasonal fresh vegetables in return.  Left over veggies were given to the Church of St. Paul the Apostle soup kitchen.  Unfortunately though, Fordham dictated that the CSA would need to get a catering permit for every delivery, but since a CSA is not a caterer the city would not issue the permit.  Right Farm to Fordham is looking for a new location so that they can bring back this great CSA.  Contact them if you can help.  And please donate to the Church of St. Paul the Apostle soup kitchen on 60th and Columbus Avenue.  Also checkout the Farm to Fordham blog for lots f great recipes.

Buying Local, Feeding Needy, Till Fordham Calls a Halt

Brooklyn Park Glass

We had our third Brooklyn Park Glass clean-up this Sunday and The Brooklyn Paper reporter Eli Rosenberg was out with us again to not only take more pictures but to also help with the effort.  Hope to see some of you for the next and last clean-up for the season next week.  We'll be meeting at the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument in Fort Greene Park at one o'clock.  Gloves will be provided for volunteers.  We are also looking for a volunteer with a car to help deliver the glass to the recycling facility in New Jersey.  If you'd like to volunteer, please email us at or just come out and join us if you happen to be in the area.

Friday, September 16, 2011

To Do This Weekend

There are two great exhibitions going on at the New York Botanical Gardens right now.  First there is Mario Batali's Edible Garden.  Not only will you see the beautiful edible garden but there are also cooking demonstrations everyday.  Go now through the 25th.  There is also Fall Flowers of Japan, there are several great classes you can take to learn about Japanese flower arranging, traditional dancing and more.  The exhibit is going on now through October 30th.  Get your tickets online and save 20%.

This Sunday will be the third day of the Brooklyn Park Glass clean-up.  Come meet us at the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument in Fort Greene Park at one o'clock.  We'll be collecting broken glass in the park for recycling.  Email us at if you'd like to volunteer or just come and join us this Sunday.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

What's Up With HPV

Many of you have probably been hearing in the news about many of the Republican candidates piling on Rick Perry during the debates over his executive order as governor of Texas to make the HPV vaccine mandatory for girls under the age of twelve.  And many of you may be wondering what HPV is and why a vaccine may be necessary in the first place.

Human papillomavirus, HPV, is member of the papillomavirus family of viruses that is capable of infecting humans.  There are almost 200 known types of HPV.  Though most people show no sign of infection, many types of HPV show up in the form of warts.  Common warts, plantar warts and genital warts are all symptoms of HPV.  The large concern is with genital warts which can lead to cancer.

About 30 to 40 types of HPV are sexually transmitted.  Nearly all cases of cervical cancer are caused by HPV.  In some cases, HPV can lead to cancers of the cervix, vulva, vagina, and anus in women or cancers of the anus and penis in men.  One way to screen for cervical cancer in women is by way of the pap smear.  The cervix is checked for abnormal cells that may be an early sign of cancer.  The institution of the yearly pap smear has led to a great reduction in deaths as a result from cervical cancer.  All the same, there were 11,000 cases of cervical cancer and 3,900 deaths in the U.S. in 2008.  Worldwide, there are an estimated 490,000 cases and 270,000 deaths as a result of cervical cancer.  The HPV vaccines, which prevent infection with the HPV types (16 and 18) that cause 70% of cervical cancer, may be the best way to reduce cancer infection and deaths even further.

Currently, it is only recommended for girls to be vaccinated against HPV.  But since boys are not only carriers but can also be infected by cancers caused by HPV, it is highly recommended by some that boys also be vaccinated against this virus.

io9 has a great article, How Vaccines Saved the World, explaining a bit about how vaccines work and dispels some of the myths about vaccines causing autism and other disorders.

New York City Bike Share

The city of New York has now joined several cities all over the world, such as Boston, Paris, D.C. and Mexico City, in instituting a bike share program, starting in summer 2012.  Alta Bike Share will be running the 10,000-bike network.  Riders will only need to go one-way with these short term rentals expected to augment our already existent public transit system.

There will be a $100 a year fee for members of the share.  The first thirty minutes will be free, after that riders will be able to rent bicycles for up to two hours.  Bikes can be rented from any of the 600 planned stations and then returned to any station of your choosing all over the city.

So far stations are only planned for Manhattan, below Seventy-Ninth Street, Brooklyn and Queens.  You can go to the City's Bike Share site to recommend a final location and learn more about the program.  Members of the bike share will be responsible for their own bike helmets.

New York City Bike Share

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Housing for Those in Need Accepting Applications

40 Vanderbilt Avenue is a new complex developed by Pratt Area Community Council.  Currently they are accepting applications for thirty-eight studio apartments that "will go to single adults with incomes ranging from $21,774 to $28,650."  In addition, there are another fifty-nine units reserved for "chronically homeless" individuals.  This is all part of a larger mixed income complex that will also have.  Brownstoner posted some pictures of the construction last month here.

Also check this out at Care2:  Comcast Offers Reduced Price Internet to Low-Income Families.

Scenes from Fukushima Exclusion Zone

io9 had some great footage from the BBC and the Guardian showing some of the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.  They are haunting images from two communities from within the exclusion zone.  See what happens when lives are put on hold and everything must be dropped in a moments notice.

Scenes from the Fukushima exclusion zone: towns frozen in time and overrun by nature

The Takeaway also had this report: The Fukushima Exclusion Zone: Six Months Later

Urban Design Festival

The Urban Design Week is going on right now.  Check out events across the five boroughs including tours, seminars, screenings and more.  Many events are free, so you don't have to break the bank.  Events are organized by groups you may have heard of like Transportation Alternatives, and (one of our sponsors).  So check out the schedule of events going on now through September 20th.

Urban Design Week 2011

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Why Kids Need to Play

Over at Care2, they list the reasons kids need to get out and play while at school.  With standardized testing increasing, things like P.E. and recess have been suffering or just cut altogether.  Kids today are less active than they were just a few years ago.  It is bad enough that parents are now often encouraged to drive their kids to school rather than have them walk and/or ride their bikes for the sake of "safety."  Safety in general has been a huge excuse to limit kids from having normal happy healthy childhoods.

Check out some of the reasons kids need to play.

Cognitive development: Numerous studies show how much better students do at school once they have moved around, stepped outside, and got the oxygen flowing. Studies show that just being exposed to the outdoors can improve memory, concentration and grades. The pace of play in nature is self-regulated and thus can increase attention span and stimulate the senses.
Physical development: The decline of playtime in our schools is closely link to childhood weight problems. With one third of our youngsters either overweight or obese, this is a serious issue. Most adolescents fall short of the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommendation of at least 60 minutes of aerobic physical activity each day. Daily, quality physical education in school can help students meet the Guidelines. However, in 2009 only 33% attended daily physical education classes.
* Creativity: Kids today are becoming less creative and imaginative than they used to be. In a 2010 study of about 300,000 creativity tests going back to the 1970s, Kyung Hee Kim, a creativity researcher at the College of William and Mary, found creativity has decreased among American children in recent years. Since 1990, children have become less able to produce unique and unusual ideas. They are also less humorous, less imaginative and less able to elaborate on ideas, Kim said.
* Mind and body: Children in Finnish elementary schools—who get an average of 75 minutes of recess a day—consistently rank higher than U.S. children in International Student Assessment Scores. (By comparison, the U.S. average is 27 minutes a day.) In comparison to the United States and many other industrialized nations, the Finns have implemented a radically different model of educational reform—based on a balanced curriculum and professionalization, not testing.
* Too much busywork: Reviews of homework studies reveal very little correlation between the amount of homework and achievement in elementary school. One of the best-known experts, Harris Cooper, Ph.D, a professor and director of education at Duke University, has reviewed over a hundred studies on the effectiveness of homework. In general, he has found that the benefits of doing homework depend on the student’s grade level. In elementary school it has no measurable effect on achievement, although it may help children develop good study skills.

The only way to get kids back outside is for parents and teachers to stand up for kids.  Speak to your school board and principals about the benefits of kids at play.

Above pictures from Empowered by Play and Life Magazine.