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