Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Resolutions

With another resolution in mind, I purchased a book at the Denver Art Museum while there on Saturday.

It's called Art and Craft in Africa by Laure Meyer and it looks very interesting. When my studio make over has settled down a bit, I'll have to take the time to read it.

Here's a quote from the first line of the introduction.

"It has often been said that the "objet d'art" in the European sense - that is, and object created more for the sake of its beauty than its utility - does not exist in Africa. Yet perhaps nowhere is the art of the object and the love of aesthetic form so present in daily life as it is in Africa."

Redecorating and Organizing

As part of my New Year resolutions I'm getting my studio back in working order. Step one is well under way.

I purchased a white melamine storage cabinet and have been painting it before assembling. I have some bookshelves that are a very dark rosewood color and 2 carved plaques on the wall that are mahogany. So I chose a paint color close to the mahogany.

As I was painting last night, I realized that the color reminds me of the dirt roads in Cameroon. Since my studio has my African art in it, I felt it was appropriate.

Since the cabinet is made from pressed wood it is REALLY heavy. I purchased some Mighty Mover Furniture Sliders that should help move it around without throwing my husband's back out or dropping it on my toes.

When I worked at a frame shop we had these on the legs of a table with computer and printer on it. That table floated over the carpet so easily we never had to worry about it. I'm hoping to get the same results with the cabinet.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

New Year Resolutions

I resolve to get back into going to Tai Chi 3 times a week. I've gotten out of that in the last 2 months due to work and personal circumstances that have left my plate too full. Something had to give.

I resolve to renew my interest in African Art History. That took a hit this last year and so now I need to take it up again. Perhaps not as earnestly, but certainly on a more active basis than I have been.

I resolve to create more art this year. I've come up with some ideas for combining my fiber fascination with my book fascination and plan to explore that more. I'm moving my print stuff into the studio so that I can do some printmaking this year as well.

With that in mind...

I resolve to get my studio back in working order. I've avoided it as a place to create most of the year for personal reasons and it's time to forge ahead.
I'm getting a new storage cabinet today that should help free up space and help store materials much more efficiently. I need to get it primed and painted to match my studio decor over Christmas break.
I have plans for new work tables and need to rearrange the furniture I have to be sure that my plans will work. I hope to build a new desk, a work table big enough for my flat drawer space to fit underneath, and a taller work table with a drop leaf work space.
I'm moving as much of my creative pursuits into that room as possible. Some of it is out in the family room and I'd like to make that space available for my husband to move most of his silversmithing indoors.
I'm going to try and work my creative pursuits around materials I already have. My flat drawers are overflowing with wonderful decorative and art papers. I have empty frames waiting to be filled with art that fits. I have fabric just waiting to be turned into something special whether utilitarian or artistic. There's no reason to go buy more stuff to make things out of.

And out of that...

I resolve to come up with a business plan for an Etsy store. This is going to be the tough one.
• I need to design a look and feel as well as page templates and pattern templates.
• I want to start out with some prints and possibly develop a few knitting and crochet patterns for people to download. I'll build from there, hopefully with some stash-busting art.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Green Christmas

As I was looking at a Christmas decoration display in a local store the other day (already on sale) I was thinking about how we generate a lot of junk for Christmas. Why is that?

So my creative challenge to you is this: How can you make your Christmas less about junk, more Green and Sustainable, and more about Relationships?

Believe it or not, this takes some real creative problem solving.

Something that I used to do when I had to live on a tighter budget was to have my groceries bagged in paper rather than plastic. Then I would cut open the bags so that they laid flat and decorated them with whatever I had. Usually a bottle of 99¢ red or green paint. That was my wrapping paper and it was beautiful.

But since I'm encouraging you to use fabric bags for your groceries, try finding other ways of wrapping gifts. Here are some ideas:

1. Reuse paper from last year. I know this sounds awful and cheap, but it's not a bad idea.
2. Use part of the gift as the container or covering. You could give each person a fabric grocery bag and put the rest of their gift inside. Wrap a gift of jewelry in a matching scarf. It might mean you won't want to put some of the gifts under the tree until the last minute, but it would save on all that paper that just gets thrown away.
3. Use newspaper. The funnies section would be great for the kids, give the financial section to the accountant in the family, give the ads to the bargain shopper...

Are you getting the idea?

Some of us are crafty/arty and have stuff around the house that we can assemble into gifts. That's a great way of reusing or recycling. If you knit or crochet, you've probably got a yarn stash that could be raided for good scarf or hat materials. Instead of buying toys, make paper pads for coloring. Take a stack of paper and drill 2 holes at the top edge. Finish by tying the stack together with string through the holes. What a great way to encourage creativity and to use materials you probably already have.

If you don't have stuff to use to make gifts, you can purchase the materials to do so. A really nice hand made gift is knitted cotton dish cloths. They're nicer than the sponges or dish cloths that you can buy, they last longer, and they're a lot less expensive. I can usually get 2 out of one ball of yarn. That makes the cost for each $1 plus my time. I imagine that if they ever end up in a landfill that they'd decompose a lot better than a sponge as well.

If you like to take photographs, put together a photo book through one of the various web sites that are available out there. If it's for grandma, put together a bunch of pictures of the grandkids from throughout the year. If you like to do art photography, put together a book for the photography lover in the family.

I hope this is sparking some ideas. Let me know what you do to make this coming Christmas less about junk and more about what's good for the environment and for the relationships in your life.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Simplify

"Simplicity is the hardest thing of all" was the title of an art show I did in 2001. All of the works were sumi paintings which use just a few expressive lines to capture the essence rather than the literal appearance of the subject.

Simplicity is hard with words, too. I work for an internal corporate design agency and we're always trying to get our marketing department to trim their words down. More is not better. But it's hard and they often resist.

But rather than trying to explain, I'll give you this post. Leon Ho says it much better than I could.
Limit Your Word Count When Making a Point

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Color Combinations

Are you someone that likes nature and natural things? Do you tend to get stuck in your decorating ambitions because you're not sure how to choose or combine colors?

Go out into your garden and pick things up that you like. Then raid your herbs and spices and start making a mess.

1. Take apart any flowers you picked. The reason for this is that it becomes easier for you to see the color of each part.


2. Make little piles of the herbs and spices on white paper.


3. Start laying the stuff you brought in from the garden next to the piles and see what wonderful combinations you can come up with.


The herbs and spices are fairly neutral and can represent your wood and paint. The garden items can be more layers of color and accent items.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Writing My Life

I'm writing my autobiography.

It all started with a mid-life crisis. A friend of mine suggested I try it since Write a Novel Month is coming up. Then my sister talked about a retreat she went to that had them writing their life story for 4 hours every morning. She's continued adding to it and suggested that I try it.

So I started writing. I started just writing whatever came to mind that was part of a specific 4 year time span. I was doing it in my pocket sized Moleskine that I carry with me everywhere and quickly realized I needed a notebook exclusively for this project. I picked up one of the new extra-large softcover Moleskines, transferred what I had already written and kept going.



I took a look at the Write a Novel Month website and decided that my memory doesn't work on a novel timeline, so I'm just going at my own pace. I've numbered as many pages as will hold the number of words they recommend (50,000) and I'm about 1/6th of the way there. Not that I'm going to make that a hard and fast rule. It's simply for goal purposes.

It's been an amazingly positive experience. I just write what comes to me and when I'm not writing and remember something, I jot it down on a small piece of paper and stick it in the Moleskine for later. I've been reading through some old family letters in order to spark memories as well. I think that in the final rendition, it would be good to include exerpts from the letters with my part of the story. I think it could also be interesting to combine my efforts with my sister's while retaining our individual voices. Then we'll have to comb the family photos for the appropriate images to illustrate our story.

I know that I'll get to parts that hurt, but I'm going to persevere. I think it will have it's own healing from the honesty of writing it down. The mind often supresses the parts that hurt and sugar coat them over time, which really isn't good.

I'm not doing this necessarily for publication, but for me and my family. So much of a family memory is lost because it is no longer passed from generation to generation. In this way, my neices and nephews will have the best heirloom of all.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

7

warm fuzzy cats
snuggling on a rainy day
cozy

Creative Ideas for Reusing Stuff

If you're a knitter/crocheter there are some great ideas out there for reusing stuff for new purposes.
For instance, check out these two patterns for making pot scrubbers.
This one uses tule added to cotton thread: http://www.geocities.com/iluvdlls/scrubber.htm
This one uses recycled produce netting bags: http://www.myrecycledbags.com/2008/06/12/my-greenie-pot-scrubber/

If you're wondering what to do with all those massive amounts of plastic grocery bags you've accumulated, check this bag pattern out: http://mimoknits.typepad.com/knitting/2008/04/grocery-bag-pur.html
Or this one: http://www.myrecycledbags.com/2008/07/19/the-ultimate-grocery-bag/
In fact, this blog has several patterns for making bags and other things out of recycled plastic bags and cassette tape.

Monday, June 30, 2008

The Three Rs

REUSE
Cloth shopping bags vs plastic ones
Water bottles vs bottled water
Resealable bags (I'm bad about this one) rather than use and dispose
Washable dishes vs disposables (yes I hear about people using disposables at home instead of regular dishes)
Travel coffee mug vs paper cups
Real camera vs disposable ones
Tupperware or Rubbermaid vs plastic wrap, tin foil, or resealable bags
Fabric hankies for everyday use vs facial tissue
Cut up old t-shirts vs paper towels for dirty jobs
Dish towel instead of disposable wipes or paper towels

RECYCLING
Plastics of all sorts
Newspapers
Electronics such as computers, phones, PDAs...
Donate old clothes and shoes, old toys, bicycles, etc to charity

REDUCE (what doesn't fall under Recycling and Reusing)
Use soap vs shaving cream: less packaging and lasts longer.
Sign up to get your junk mail reduced.
Buy what you will eat, not what you might want.
Eat before going to the grocery store.
Fabric shower curtain vs plastic one. It will last for years, doesn't get nasty like plastic, and can be washed in the wash machine when needed.
Use insulated curtains to reduce heating and cooling costs.
Turn the lights off in unoccupied rooms.
Unplug electronics not in use in order to reduce phantom power usage.
Compost food scraps and yard waste to reduce trash.
Buy bulk rather than single serving.
Take cloth shopping bags everywhere, not just the grocery store.

ALTERNATIVES
For cat litter and dog poop: use paper bags instead of plastic.


http://earth911.org/blog/2008/06/23/three-pros-of-plastic/

Friday, June 20, 2008

One more way to reduce plastic consumption

It occurred to me the other day, as I was getting in the shower, that I unintentionally figured out how to reduce my plastic consumption several years ago.

I hate cleaning the bathroom, especially the shower. The shower curtain was always a major point of frustration because I could never get it clean without a lot of labor and harsh chemicals. I would end up just throwing away the plastic shower curtain and buying another.

Then we went on vacation and, as I was getting in the shower, I realized that the curtain was cotton instead of plastic. I took my shower and then checked things out. The curtain was saturated, but there was no water on the floor. Huh!

So I went out and bought a 100% cotton shower curtain. It gets saturated with water, but none goes on the floor. When it needs cleaning, I throw it in the washing machine then hang it up wet. I haven't bought a plastic shower curtain in 7 years!

Here's where you can get one.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Cost of Food

If you've been paying attention, you may know that there is a Global Food Crisis going on. If you Google it, you'll get no shortage of articles on it and reasons why it's happening.

What most don't seem to be dealing with is the affect it's having on people. It's hard to relate to numbers and a co-worker of mine has managed to put it in terms that makes sense to those of us in the West.

How do you relate to someone who only makes $1 a day? How do you understand that food costs them at least 80¢ a day and what that means? That is so out of our realm that it's hard. Try this:

The median salary in the United States is apparently $48,0000. (Not me, but I won't go into that.) That person makes about $132 a day. Imagine spending $105 on food every day of the week for 2 adults plus children. And that's not full meals consisting of a meat and 2 sides with pop to drink. That's just for a little rice, oil, and bread.

That only leaves $27 for health, car, and home insurance, clothing, gas, the house payment, the car payment....never mind the Starbucks, movies, televisions, gym fees...

Does that help clarify things? Do you want to help? There are a lot of organizations trying to collect donations so that they can help? You can contribute. If you need direction to a great organization that is helping the poorest of the poor, go here. Our spare change can feed the poor for a very long time.

Monday, June 09, 2008

From Beaded Yarn to Art

I've taken the beaded yarn I spun and turned it into a work of art. Here's the beginning. I'll take more pictures and add them later.

It's a "book" and it's entitled "Only the Moon and the Stars to Illumine the Grass."

Here's the yarn and frames ready to start.


Here's the first frame finished with the base layer.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Pruning

I spent Saturday cleaning up my front yard garden. Due to weather, weddings, and surgery I haven't had the chance to do it until now and it REALLY needed work.

I set to work with the gloves and snippers on the dead stems and branches. I also spent a lot of time pulling and digging up weeds. Because of my delay getting to the task, the debris had accumulated to an excessive degree.

As I was going about it, the thought occurred to me that we must often do the same thing in our creative endeavors. As we are carried along in our creative fervor, it is easy to loose site of the whole as we focus on the details.

When we finally step back from our work it is often hard to be objective in assessing our work. However, it is critical that we do so and take care of what needs to be cut out or changed.

The result is hopefully the same as what is happening in my garden. The clutter is removed leaving only beauty.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Green E-mail

Can e-mail be green?

Yes, I believe it can. I received one today with this little addition to the signature.
How many of us print off e-mails that really don't need to be printed because we read them and then throw them away?

So consider adding this to your email signature and think twice before printing your email. You never know how much less paper you might use.

You could write the information you need on your to-do list that you've already started. You could write it on a post-it and so use a smaller piece of paper. You could act on it immediately and then delete or file the email. Just think of all the alternatives.

A good chance to exercise some creativity. Just make sure your solution isn't as bad as what you're trying to replace.

Friday, April 18, 2008

How We Look at the World

It's so easy to only pay attention to ourselves and what affects us directly. You know, like when a plane crashes and the media announces the number of Americans who died. What about the rest of the passengers? Don't they count? For those of us from multi-cultural backgrounds, things like this are frustrating. However, we can hardly expect everyone to be that way since that's not a part of your life experience.

Here's a quote from Global Voices Online:
It is well-known that a tree (…or an airplane) that falls makes a louder sound than a rotting forest. And in terms of forget sufferings, the DRC has already delivered. This country has just gone through the deadliest conflict since World War II, without really moving the Western media.

Go here to read the rest of the story.

So my creativity challenge for you today is to figure out how to step outside the media barriers we have placed on our global awareness and figure out how to add some "non-sanctioned" news to filter into your life. It will open up your world...literally. The linked blog is a good start.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Third Culture Kids

I learned a new term to describe myself this week. Third Culture Kids (TCKs).

I've been reading a book called Third Culture Kids by David C. Pollock and Ruth E. Van Reken. If you're like me and grew up in two or more different countries or you're a parent of a child like me, then I highly recommend this book.

One description that I read on a Facebook group called Third Culture Kids Everywhere, was this:
"My teacher took a glass of lemonade and cranberry juice and mixed them. Then she asked if anyone wanted to try to separate the two flavors."

That describes it pretty well. You can't try to figure out what "nationality" we are. We're blended together from all the places we've lived. For me it's the U.S. (or The States as we TCKers say), Cameroon, and Nigeria.

One of the things that gets discussed endlessly by TCKs is the question, "Where are you from?" For most, that seems like a normal question to ask with a fairly normal answer. The reason we discuss it so much is because for us, it's often long and always complicated. "From" implies a place to which you are tied and where all your roots (relationships, emotional connections, experiences) are at.

Most TCKs have a response that would be similar in structure to mine, although different in details:
I was born in the US but we moved to Africa when I was 5. We lived in Cameroon for 4 years and Nigeria for 2 years. However, I went to boarding school in Nigeria for 3 of those 6 years. We moved back to the US when I was 13.

Some would look at that and say, "You were born in the US so that makes you an American." However, in response to that I would ask you to revisit the lemonade/cranberry juice illustration I mentioned above. My life is a mix of the US and Africa, two completely different places and cultures. I am a mix of both of these places and so, strictly speaking, I am "from" both.

So, to make life less complicated my response is usually something along the lines of, "I currently live in...." Most people are satisfied with that.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Save a Life for $10

Malaria kills more kids in Africa than AIDS and it's 100% preventable.
Biteback Video



"There’s no excuse for not stopping malaria right now. Poor parents have so much to worry about—how to feed their children and try to get them an education and keep them safe…This is one thing we can take off the list. We can get them nets so their children can sleep safe at night. We can do that. We can bite back." –Jordan

Beaded Yarn

I learned how to add beads to my spinning at a local spinning group about a month and a half ago.

Too much work to do very often, but I think it turned out well.


Right now I'm turning it into art. I'll post the pictures when I'm done.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

What do you do...

...when your dreams are about to come true after a lot of hard work... and then they're yanked out from under you?

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Make a Difference...Can I?

If you've ever doubted that you could make a difference in this world, check this out. My Biggest Fear

Poverty and Biofuel Requires Some Creativity On Our Part

The poor pay the price if we don't do green creatively and responsibily. Everything we do affects the whole world. Read this article by the BBC about the cost of food going up in the poorest countries because of biofuel.

While biofuel has been labeled as a green alternative to the gasoline we have used for decades, many have not properly thought out the impact it makes on the poorest of the poor.

Imagine going to the grocery store this month and spending $100 for a week of groceries. Then imagine going to the grocery store next month to find that you have to spend $200 to $300 for the same thing. That's what's happening in countries like Burkina Faso, Afghanistan, Cameroon, El Salvador, and Haiti.

So while I like to complain about the cost of gasoline when I go to fill my tank, I need to remember that the solution needs to be good for the whole world; environment, animals, and yes...people.

One creative way that you can help the poorest in the world is to sponsor a child. A really great organization to do this through is Compassion International. They are making a difference and not only will your sponsorship change the life of the child you sponsor, it changes the lives of their family and, most especially, you. One of the things I find wonderful and amazing is that when the children who are sponsored through Compassion grow up, they give back by helping other children who are in the same circumstances that they were.

We just received a letter from our sponsored child who lives in Uganda. He told us what he had done with our Christmas and birthday gift to him. He bought chickens for eating (meat is a luxury) and a new suit. He's 12 and growing fast, so I imagine the new clothes were badly needed. He even sent a photograph of himself in his new clothes, eating his Christmas dinner. I'm glad we can make a difference in his life and stop the cycle of poverty by giving him the resources to do that as well as hope for his future. Because we care about what happens to him, he can dream about what he will do when he grows up instead of just surviving.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Flogging a Dead Horse

I have officially applied to Grad school and have been enjoying my free time. However, I need to go back to research to keep from going too soft. So I'm going to make an attempt at something I've always wanted to do: Flog a dead horse.

When I was a kid we lived in Cameroon. One day, in 1973, a white Combie went through our village and the all men stood along the road dressed in their best clothes, firing their guns in salute.

A couple of days later we were invited to the Fon's palace to celebrate the return on the Afo-A-Kom. If you can find a copy, you could see a few pictures of the occasion in the July 1974 issue of National Geographic. However, here's some pictures my Dad took of the occasion.

I'm the tall white one in the middle of the picture. The red man to the left is the Fon (King) of Liakom sitting on his throne stool.

The Afo-A-Kom is the red beaded figure in the center.

These are women of the court.

While there has been a lot of scholarship done on this object and the controversy surrounding it, I've decided to have a go at it. I think I may have a different perspective.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Playing Hooky and Finishing a Book

Last night, I finished a book I've been working on for quite awhile. I should have been studying for the GRE, but the brain needed some creative juices used up. It contains and gives a visual interpretation of an Emily Dickenson poem about death.

This is the cover.
I constructed it as an accordian fold book.
The pages are sewn onto an unbleached cotton strip.
The text is written in black ink and the suggestion of earth is brown ink.

Here it is all laid out.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Green Artist

Check out this podcast of an interview with the artist El Anatsui. He uses recycled materials to create incredibly beautiful work.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Computer Predjudice

Creativity is about thinking outside the box, problem solving for more than just the obvious, and thinking about how what you generate will impact the people it comes in contact with. There's a certain amount of creativity involved in producing a product for a target audience.

However, as normal human beings we naturally fall into regular habits and assumptions. One that drives me nuts has to do with computers and doing the minimum.

When I get directions on how to fix something and only find PC instructions I'm thankful that, like most Mac users, I'm smarter than the average bear. We Mac users have to be since we are rarely considered important enough to care about. In fact, when we started producing computer training discs where I work, I have exerted a lot of pressure to make sure that the instructions include BOTH PC and Mac.

I just got the free GRE prep disc in the mail and I can't run it because it's Windows only. Are they saying that since I only have access to Macs that I'm not important enough or worthy enough to receive a free disc like the PC users get?

Well, the GRE guys seem to only do the minimum. Fortunately I'm smarter than the average bear and I'll just have to figure out how to find other ways of getting my GRE practice in.

Easy Green

Here's an easy green thing: Take only one or two napkins!!!

Are you one of those people who grabs a whole handful of napkins when you go to the fast food restaurant? How many of them do you throw away after not using them?

Well, STOP IT!

If you actually use more than 2 and you're older than 10, I'd say you need to work on your table manners.

Take the time to only pull out one or two and if you get messy in spite of your best efforts, go back and get a couple more.

One place where it's hard to control the number of napkins you get is the drive through. So here's a couple of ideas.
• If you eat in the car, stick the extras in the glove compartment or center compartment for when you need a paper towel, napkin, or facial tissue.
• If you take it home, put the extras where you can use them for other meals. There's no reason you can't use them for non-fast food meals at home. If you eat fast food regularly, you'll never have to buy napkins again.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Fugly Crocheting

I've been a crocheter for over 30 years and so when I read that someone thought crocheting was "fugly" I took it personally. Another comment a short time later about crocheting being more "crafty" than knitting, motivated me to do something about this erroneous and ignorant view of crochet. FYI, I also knit although I don't call myself a knitter.

I feel a strong need to prove them wrong.

As much as I love to make and create things, I do try to be a little practical in my choice of projects since I have a limited number of people to give things to and they can take only so much. But I don't care anymore. I'm just going to create and decide what to do with it later. I'm going to make them up and post them for you to pass judgment.

I LOVE bags, hats, and scarves, and I like making them. I often wish I could have a bag/hat/scarf walk-in closet. And so my first two presentations for you to consider are bags. They aren't lined yet, but I will do that later when I have a bunch of them to do all at once. The linings will make them more functional and prevent things like pens or crochet hooks from escaping. I'd like to extend my apologies for the less than stellar photos, but I'll do more formal shots after I've lined them.

I made the first one on our New Year trip to Taos. It's made of blue one-ply Frog Tree Alpaca and a Mohair/viscose blend that is variegated red, green, blue, and beige with a little bling. The body is 100% single crochet, so a beginner could do it. I used a lucet to make the strap (easy to learn and a nice technique) but you could crochet it or buy a cord.

Taos Evening



This one I made last weekend in a few hours. I used Lion Brand Chenille Thick & Quick (Royal Blue), Trellis (Copper Penny), and Incredible (Aquarium). Once again it's 100% single crochet, even the strap. When I line it, I'll add some stiffener to help it hold it's shape.

Tropical Horizon


P.S. Friends and Family: If you see something you like and want, let me know and I'll send it to you.

More Green

There's some things we really need to think about when thinking "green."

Is it really green because someone says it is. I mentioned in my previous post on Seeing Green that I'm a print buyer. I know something is green if it has the FSC logo on it since I know that it had to go through rigorous certifications at every stage from how the forest that the trees came from is managed all the way to how the printer manages their shop. However, the "green" fabric that I was shown may not be since the regulations and certifications for that aspect of the print industry aren't so iron clad.

And then there is that window envelope with the corn based film I was telling you about. It may be good for the environment, but is it harming us elsewhere?

If I have to choose between saving someone's life or being green I'd have to pick saving someone's life. So now you're saying "What? What do you mean? Isn't saving the environment saving lives?" And I say yes, up to a point.

The majority of the people in this world live in deep poverty. Those of us living in the West are filthy rich compared to the rest of the world. It's not because they're lazy or violent or because they bring it on themselves, it's because the rich exploit the poor and take away their opportunities and their hope. We, the rich, throw money at them to make ourselves feel better and... but that's a whole different post. Back to being green.

The people who pay the biggest price are the poor when we, the rich, aren't being green. The globe we live on has a natural rhythm that includes temperature changes over time.

Yes it's true! Back in the days of the Renaissance the earth was warm enough that England grew grapes and made wines that rivaled those of France. Flax (from which linen is made) is a warm climate crop and could be grown as far north as Germany. Life was prosperous until the temperature dropped a few degrees and then we have the poverty and hunger of the Age of Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution.

So if that's true, why should we worry about global warming. Because we've taken the natural rhythm of the earth and exaggerated it. It's like constantly irritating a wound so it won't heal. When the heat won't stop going up, it's the poor, especially in the developing world, that take the hit. They have no artificial defenses to protect them from the changing environment like we do. They're the ones that suffer when there is no rain since they can't just run down to the grocery store to buy food grown in a place where there is no drought. They can't just turn on a faucet that pulls it's water from a reservoir carefully maintained in another part of the region. They're stuck with what is immediately available and if the environmental conditions are adverse, there might not be anything available. So they move somewhere else until those resources are exhausted and the cycle continues.

But being green could make the circumstances for the poor even worse. Let's talk about those corn based products that are going to save our world. Where will the corn come from? Can our high yield farm techniques help us to provide all the corn we will need or will we have to import it? If we have to import it, where will it come from? If it comes from a developing country will it force the cost of corn up so high that the even the farmer who raises it can't afford to buy it?

So we need to go green responsibly. Don't just jump on the bandwagon and go with the flow. Be intelligent and ask questions. Do a little research before just going for it. If someone says it's green, check to make sure it really is. Is it regulated and are there standards that determine if it's green? Do they make sense?

And most of all, who does it impact and how? This whole global warming, going green thing really is global. It doesn't just affect how we live, it affects everyone. So in your quest to go green, make sure you're also saving lives.

Seeing Green

Green is fashionable right now. With all the hooplah about global warming, hybrid cars, carbon footprints and such, everyone is beginning to feel the pressure.

So what's a person to do? Go hide in a corner and cry? Or run down to the nearest hardware store and max out the credit card on florescent lightbulbs, extra insulation for the attic, light switches that sense when the room is occupied and automatically turn the lights on and off, plastic to cover your windows....?

I'm a print buyer by profession and green has struck that industry as well. I have an FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) brochure sitting on my desk right now. I also got to get a look at "green" fabric for banner displays last week. We've been investigating window envelopes with corn based film for the windows.

I do believe we need to start thinking about the mess we're making of the world for the sake of comfort and consumerism. We heat our homes to a toasty 72ยบ in winter and cool them in summer. We buy a house in a nice neighborhood and then drive 20 to 40 miles round trip to work. We leave our Tivo on 24/7 so that we can be sure to record all our favorite shows don't bother to shut down the computer, just log out, since it's faster to get up and running that way. And there are all those clocks in the house that are always running. The one in the bedroom, the one in the bathroom, the one on all 3 DVD players, and the one on the stove as well as the one on the microwave. All those little things quietly eating electricity. And then there are all those disposable products... I could go on forever, but what to do.

Here's an idea. Start with one thing you can handle. Most people recycle. Our waste disposal companies often make it easy by providing guidelines and bins. So if you haven't started yet, it's a good place to start turning green.

If you're someone who uses a lot of light in your home, change to florescent. I must confess that we haven't done that yet. I live under florescents at work all day and they wear me out. So we just keep the lights off except in the room where we're at. For example, we change the main light bulbs in our family room and my studio fairly regularly, but I can't remember the last time I had to replace a light bulb in the kitchen or living room.

If you want to go to a larger scale, start finding ways you can conserve otherwise. How about your junk mail. On the Church of the Customer blog, the writer saved up his junk mail for a year and accumulated over 21 pounds of paper. Somehow that seems low.

Can you imagine how much you would reduce the amount of trash you put on the curb every week if you didn't get any junk mail? Sound like an out of reach dream? Go to the DMA web site and sign up for a dollar to get your junk mail stopped. I did and I'm really looking forward to when it starts kicking in. It takes about 3 months to start tapering off since most mailings are planned at least that far in advance.

Does anyone else have any small but easy and significant ideas that can help us live a little more green? Please share.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Worn Out

I'm worn out. I've finally got both my applications for graduate school submitted and all I have to do is take the GRE in the next 3 weeks. EEEEEEEK! For better or worse, I will be really glad when all this is over.

It's not just the stress of getting everything pulled together and done. It's the emotional rollercoaster that I deal with every day. It's even affecting my work, although I'm trying hard not to let it.

Then comes the stress of waiting to find out if I got accepted, then how to proceed if I do...or...how to proceed if I don't. I don't even want to think about that now, not until after the test.

I do know that I'm going to get a lot of sewing (new curtains) and spinning (for a sweater) done in February and March. I'm looking forward to it.