Archive for September 25th, 2011

Prairiewoods celebrating 15 years as ecospirituality oasis

Prairiewoods celebrating 15 years as ecospirituality oasis

The labyrinth at Prairiewoods Franciscan Spirituality Center, 120 E. Boyson Rd., Hiawatha, Iowa. Taken Friday, Sept. 16, 2011. (Angela Holmes/SourceMedia Group)

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Posted 24 September 2011, by Cindy Hadish, Eastern Iowa Life (SourceMedia Group), easterniowalife.com

 

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The Gazette

HIAWATHA — With more than 40 years in the making, Prairiewoods Franciscan Spirituality Center will celebrate its 15th anniversary with a nature festival.

After purchasing farmland in 1962 as a potential site for a regional headquarters, the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, based in La Crosse, Wis., had numerous offers to buy the land on the Cedar Rapids/Hiawatha border.

“The sisters could have made millions,” says Prairiewoods Director Barry Donaghue of the Congregation of Christian Brothers. “But they said, ‘Let’s see if we can make it an oasis. Let’s take care of it.’”

Betty Daugherty, a Franciscan nun and one of six founding members of Prairiewoods, initiated weekly committee meetings to determine the future of the site.

Betty Daugherty

“It was a gradual process,” says Daugherty, who still resides at the center at 120 E. Boyson Road in Hiawatha.

Joann Gehling, another Franciscan nun and founding member, says planning began in earnest in 1994, once the philosophy was determined to combine ecology and spirituality into what would become known as an ecospirituality center.

Gehling, who lives near the center, says other religious communities had similar undertakings elsewhere in the country, but nothing like Prairiewoods existed in Iowa.

Joann Gehling

Their vision, based on the Franciscan philosophy of God revealed in the natural world, included restoration of the prairie and ecological practices, such as the use of natural materials and renewable energy in the buildings.

Doors of the center opened in 1996.

With 30 acres of tallgrass prairie and 40 acres of oak woodlands, the site offers the oasis that the sisters envisioned.

Picnickers and hikers walk the center’s woodland trails. Business workers find respite at retreats in the center’s main building, which sports meeting rooms, a fully-staffed kitchen and meditation room with inspiring view of the woods. Meals, cooked to perfection by chef Jill Jones, use produce grown on-site and other local foods.

One hundred solar panels generate 22,500-kilowatt hours of electricity annually and classes use a new building as a solar training facility.

Barry Donaghue

Artists and writers find solitude in Prairiewoods’ two hermitages. A 19-room guesthouse also provides overnight accommodations.

People of all backgrounds and faiths use an outdoor labyrinth and traditional sweat lodge.

As Donaghue describes it, the center isn’t focused on Catholicism or any particular religion.

“We don’t proselytize,” says Donaghue, who has studied and ministered in Australia, England, Ireland, France, Israel and the Fiji Islands. “Basically, we’re trying to get people to think.”

With that in mind, Prairiewoods is home base for groups such as Wednesday Women, who meet 10-11:30 a.m. Wednesdays to explore topics related to spiritual growth, and Green Living Group, which meets 6:30-8 p.m. the third Wednesday of every month to discuss subjects such as voluntary simplicity.

Holistic treatments, including massage and reflexology, are scheduled by appointment.

Prairiewoods also offers retreats and events, including Nature Fest, scheduled for 1-4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 2, to celebrate the center’s 15th anniversary.

The celebration features music, games, blessing of animals, an ice cream social and environmental art and poetry from Iowa winners of the 2011 River of Words.

In a column Daugherty wrote about exploring ecospirituality, she notes that “eco” comes from oikos, a Greek word for “home.”

“Hence, ecospirituality is not about a relationship with a God in a far-away heaven,” she writes. “The Divine can be found in our daily lives, in our human relationships and in our relationship with Earth.”

 

FYI

 

What: Nature Fest at Prairiewoods

Where: 120 E. Boyson Rd., Hiawatha

When: 1-4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 2

Other: Event features live music by Deep Dish Divas and Bob Ballantyne; games, nature tours and outdoor activities. Ice cream social begins at 1:45 p.m.; message from Sen. Rob Hogg and storytelling at 2 p.m.; blessing of animals at 2:45 p.m. and more.

The event includes the only Eastern Iowa showing of winners of River of Words, an environmental art and poetry competition for youths ages 5 to 19.

More information: www.prairiewoods.org

A deer roams the woods at Prairiewoods Franciscan Spirituality Center, 120 E. Boyson Rd., Hiawatha, Iowa. Taken Friday, Sept. 16, 2011. (Angela Holmes/SourceMedia Group)

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http://easterniowalife.com/2011/09/24/prairiewoods-celebrating-15-years-as-ecospirituality-oasis/

 

A Climate Convergence in San Francisco

A Climate Convergence in San Francisco

Organizers call San Francisco “flagship” event for worldwide campaign

Christopher Penalosa / KQED More than a thousand people marched down Market Street in San Francisco for the Moving Planet rally.

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Posted 24 September 2011, by Sarah Terry-Cobo, KQED News – Climate Watch, blogs.kqed.org/climatewatch/

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About a thousand people marched in San Francisco on Saturday, chanting slogans, carrying signs and wearing costumes. But unlike many demonstrations that frequent the City by the Bay, the Moving Planet rally was one of hundreds around the world, calling for action and awareness to halt global climate change.

Organized by 350.org, the non-profit founded by author and activist Bill McKibben, the San Francisco rally brought together some predictable allies, such as the Sierra Club, Greenpeace and the Berkeley-based Ecology Center, but it also included groups with broader aims, such as the National Organization for Women, Food Not Bombs and 100,000 Poets for Peace. McKibben’s group is devoted to reducing carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere to 350 parts per million (from the current 390 ppm), a number that some scientists estimate could stave off catastrophic effects of climate change.

Chris Penalosa / KQED Bill McKibben addresses the crowd at the Moving Planet rally in San Francisco

“Every country on Earth — except for probably, North Korea — is having rallies around this wonky data point, 350 parts per million CO2,” said McKibben in an interview after addressing the San Francisco gathering.

n the absence of national climate change legislation, McKibben told the crowd, it’s important to “put our bodies on the line.” The Vermont-based activist is one of about 1,200 people that was arrested August 20 for protesting in front of the White House the proposed construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would bring crude oil from Alberta, Canada to Texas.

Michael Brune, President of the national Sierra Club noted that his organization was the first to create “blue-green” alliances between environmental and labor groups.

“What we’re trying to do is find a way to make this an issue that brings us together, that doesn’t divide folks, so this doesn’t punish one industry and reward another,” said Brune in a separate interview.

Brune added that the Sierra Club is working with clean technology companies to ramp up renewable energy. “We firmly believe the road to a clean energy future is one that will make our country more economically resilient,” he said.

Chris Penalosa / KQED Carl Anthony, a long-time Bay Area activist for environmental and social justice, addressed the crowd.

Another focus of the afternoon rally was the connection to environmental justice, the concept that poor communities and ethnic minorities are disproportionately affected by pollution of all types. Carl Anthony, founder of Urban Habitat, one of the nation’s oldest environmental justice organizations, spoke to an energetic crowd packed into Civic Center Plaza. He emphasized that people, not just polar bears, are affected by climate change.

“Global warming is a climate justice issue,” he told the rally. “The people of color, the poor people, the indigenous people will bear the burden of climate change, even though they, less than anyone else, are responsible for our CO2 emissions.”

He continued, “This means that any solution we come up with for climate change must also be a solution for social and racial justice.”

“We have the opportunity in California, to take money away from suburban sprawl…to rebuild a public transportation system that works for poor people as well as rich people,” Anthony said, citing the Sustainable Communities legislation that would redirect $218 billion to rebuild public transportation.

Many people took public transit to the day’s event. Cassie Barr rode BART to the rally from Oakland with her six-year-old son, Philip. She said she wanted to make a statement that people should do more to avert climate change and that she supports an outright tax on carbon emissions. “I think it’s the only way to get businesses — corporations — serious about lowering their CO2 levels,” said Barr.

Jordan Pacheco also took BART from Moraga with his five-year-old daughter, Macy, “…because this is her planet too.” Pacheco works for the solar panel installation company Sungevity, on the firm’s design and engineering team.

In the future, he said, “I would like to see a more openness to any kind of alternative energy, whether its solar, wind, anything. I think the politics have taken over to the point where there’s no common sense anymore.”

Chris Penalosa / KQED Employees from Sungevity hold a parachute painted with a depiction of the Earth.

Bill Carney, president of Sustainable San Rafael helped to organize participation from Marin county. In recent years, activists there won state approval for a community-owned energy company, after much resistance from the investor-owned Pacific Gas & Electric, he said.

“There are many sources of renewables: hydro, solar wind, or methane and with the funding to our local power provider, they are able to buy that energy but [also] create a local marketplace for additional generators of that clean electricity,” said Carney.

Falling back on a familiar metaphor with a global warming theme, Carney said, “Events like this really are the tip of the iceberg of public awareness that is really growing by leaps and bounds.”

More:

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http://blogs.kqed.org/climatewatch/2011/09/24/a-thousand-descend-on-san-francisco-for-climate-rally/

Maine Gardener: Ferry Beach students elevate garden to a sustainable ecosystem

 

Maine Gardener: Ferry Beach students elevate garden to a sustainable ecosystem

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Posted 25 September 2011, by Tom Atwell, Maine Sunday Telegram (MaineToday Media Inc.), pressherald.com

 

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The Ferry Beach Ecology School in Saco has given a new name to its organic garden.

“We are calling it a ‘sustainable food ecosystem,’ ” said John Ibsen, coordinator of the school’s Food for Thought program. “This garden is our feeble attempt to replicate a natural ecosystem.”

Ibsen showed a bit of a twinkle when he mentioned the new name, but it fits with the school’s goals.

“Our focus is on the science of ecology,” said executive director Drew Dumsch, “and the practice of sustainability. It is sustainability applied to ecology.”

Founded in 1999, Ferry Beach Ecology School hosts students from other schools for as little as an afternoon or as long as a week, taking advantage of the seven natural ecosystems within walking distance of the school and teaching about nature and ecology. It’s located at a Unitarian summer camp that was established in 1901, and uses the buildings when the camp isn’t. So far, 80,000 students have taken part in the program.

The garden is located on a challenging site that was built on beach sand on secondary dunes and buffeted by ocean winds. But the students and staff have slowed the winds by creating woven fences from trees cut down for projects elsewhere on the property.

The soil is improved by a no-till method of lasagna gardening, where layers of organic matter and newspapers are put down and allowed to decompose to create a rich topsoil.

“We teach that it takes 5,000 years in nature to create an inch of topsoil, but we can make it a lot faster,” Dumsch said.

Ibsen stresses putting plants close together, having mulch and compost on the soil and gardening vertically, to make the most of a garden that is about the size of a small house lot.

“Bare soil is like an open wound, letting out soil moisture and soil fertility,” Ibsen said.

He combines the permaculture and American Indian practice of the three sisters with a crop rotation in several plots in the garden. The three sisters are corn, squash and beans. The corn provides structure for the beans to climb, the beans provide nitrogen to the soil for the other two plants, and the squash shades the soil to keep weeds to a minimum.

The planting pattern is more like a forest, Ibsen said, where there is a mixture of plants rather than the distinct rows of a traditional vegetable garden.

After the squash is harvested in October, Ibsen has the students plant garlic, which is supposed to cleanse the soil. This year, he planted some summer squash around the garlic a few weeks before the garlic harvest to make more use of the soil.

Next year, that plot will be planted with peas, rye and vetch, all of which improve the soil.

In another area, Ibsen uses more combination planting with an apple tree as a centerpiece. Rhubarb will improve the soil. Fennel is believed to repel a lot of apple-tree pests. And bee balm will attract a lot of pollinators.

Ibsen was especially proud of a tomato cage that was about 7 feet tall and 6 feet long, made entirely from items taken from a Dumpster at a school construction project.

The wood for the frame came from discarded pallets. The tomatoes climb metal reinforcing grids that usually go into a concrete floor.

All of this is put together in a package that will please older elementary and middle-school students. There are wanted posters for some of the bad bugs, such as Japanese beetles and tomato hornworms.

The little red garden shed has snacks from the garden as well as tools. The woven fences are both whimsical and practical. The mammoth sunflowers are about 8 feet tall with foot-wide seed heads.

Although the garden provides only a small percentage of the food served at the school, the dining hall is used as a teaching tool.

“With the kind of teaching we do here, we didn’t want the cafeteria food to be from Sysco,” Dumsch said.

It costs the school about an extra $30,000 a year to get organic and local food, he said, but donations help pay for it.

One of the major fundraisers for the school will be Eco Appetito, to be held from noon to 3 p.m. Oct. 2 at Cinque Terre, 36 Wharf St. in Portland.

Chef Lee Skawinski and his staff will be preparing locally sourced food, wine and beer. There also will be live entertainment, door prizes and a silent auction. Tickets are $40.

Tom Atwell can be contacted at 791-6362 or at:

tatwell@pressherald.com

 

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http://www.pressherald.com/life/homeandgarden/ferry-beach-students-elevate-garden-to-a-sustainable-ecosystem_2011-09-25.html

First Nations Day of Action in Saskatchewan Sept. 26

First Nations Day of Action in Saskatchewan Sept. 26

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Posted 25 September 2011, by ICTMN Staff, Indian Country Today Media Network, indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com

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First Nations of Saskatchewan are holding a Provincial Day of Action on Monday September 26 to draw attention to the ills and issues that they feel are not being addressed adequately by the provincial government.

According to the Regina Leader-Post, a few hundreds people are expected at the event. It will start with a pancake breakfast at the Creeland Mini Mart in Regina, after which the elders, leaders and youth will walk to the legislative offices, the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) said in a media release.

The goal is to draw attention to a host of ills plaguing First Nations peoples, including the high rate of diabetes—four times higher the national average for women and 2.5 times that of men—as well as suicide rates that are five to seven times higher among First Nations communities than in the rest of the country, and an overall aboriginal unemployment rate of 18.2 percent, whereas non-aboriginals’ rate is just 4.2 percent, the FSIN said in a fact sheet.

“In Saskatchewan, First Nation and Métis youth are 30 times more likely to be incarcerated than non-Aboriginal youth,” the fact sheet said. “First Nations and Métis youth make up 20% of the Saskatchewan population aged 12- 17, but comprise 66% of the young offenders population.”

The sheet listed numerous other sobering statistics as well.

Chief Glen Pratt of the George Gordon First Nation characterized First Nations’ relationship with the current provincial government as “challenging,” the Regina Leader-Post reported. He said that for starters there needs to be more treaty recognition, and that First Nations communities should be included in revenue sharing and the economy in general.

“I feel like this government is treating us like we don’t belong to Saskatchewan,” Chief Glen Pratt of the George Gordon First Nation said at a September 20 press conference, as reported by the Leader-Post. “If we don’t do something now, we’re going to get left far behind – to the point where our people aren’t going to have a lot of hope left.”

Read More:

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http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2011/09/first-nations-day-of-action-in-saskatchewan-sept-26/

Media Arrested at Wall Street Protest!

 

Media Arrested at Wall Street Protest!

Marissa Homes Arrested for Filming Arrests by Public Domain Image from YouTube

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Posted 25 September 2011, by Mark Adams JD/MBA, OpEdNews (OEN), opednews.com

 

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Originally posted on the Daily Censored at this link, but updated with new information.

Current reports indicate that up to 100 arrests have been made at the Wall Street protest.  Those arrested are reported to include members of the media team posting the live video on Livestream. See the live video feed of the peaceful ongoing occupation of Wall Street at this link.

Marissa Holmes, a member of the team posting video on the live feed on Livestream, shown in the photo above, was arrested for filming arrests.  Here is a short video of that plus a report on the various reasons for the protests.

Most of the police have not been interfering with the protesters, and many have expressed support for the protesters’ concerns.  However, the media team has reported that a team of police destroyed cameras and laptops being used to broadcast the protest, and it has reported that some police have indicated that they may order the protesters to clear the square after dark or face arrest.  Apparently, those statements were made after the mass of arrests in order to intimidate the protesters and to try to break up the protests.

Sources report similar protests are occurring in cities across the United States including Los Angeles and Chicago and the rest of the world. Naturally, the “news” media cartel is continuing to do its best to cover up the protests and the banksters’ crimes.

The banksters have committed fraud in loan origination, securitization, servicing, and foreclosure to steal the homes of millions of Americans. See this report by Florida’s Attorney General.

Unfortunately, the banksters’ looting spree is not over. They are in the process of stealing millions more Americans’ homes right now. See how widespread the banksters’ looting spree really is at this link.

By the way, the banksters’ minions in government are paying the banksters to foreclose. See this report and this report.

Don’t think that the banksters will not try to steal your home, too. They have even tried to foreclose on homes with no mortgages. See this report by the Daily Show and subscribe to this news outlet for the latest foreclosure news.

Get out and protest the banksters’ looting spree before they steal your home, your life savings, and impoverish us all. Remember, if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem, so do something to help.  Even little things can help such as emailing the link to this article to your contacts, calling your local TV news departments and asking them why they aren’t covering the protests, calling your government representatives and asking them why they are doing nothing while banks are breaking the law to steal homes, organizing or attending a protest in your city, or donating to the protesters in New York.

If you want to know how the banksters get away with their crimes, see Why Does the Government Ignore Our Wishes? and don’t miss my short speech. If you take a look, you’ll learn why those in government and those who can illegally influence them get away with violating our rights, abusing their power, and committing horrible crimes. My article on torture includes a link to the U.S. Supreme Court case which explains how one of our stolen rights makes the difference between justice and injustice, between freedom and slavery.

– Mark A. Adams JD/MBA

Notice: You may copy and post this article on other web sites if you include a link to the original article.

 

I am active in the election, judicial and media reform movements. I obtained the first injunctions getting a third party candidate into debates, and I have handled more Congressional election contests than any other attorney. I practiced law (more…)

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author
and do not necessarily reflect those of OpEdNews or its editors.

 

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http://www.opednews.com/articles/Media-Arrested-at-Wall-Str-by-Mark-Adams-JD-MBA-110925-476.html

Block By Block, City By City

Block By Block, City By City

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The resistance continues at Liberty Square, with free pizza 😉

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Posted 25 September 2011, by , Occupy Wall Street, occupywallst.org

 

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09/23/11; Day before Mass-Arrests from JRL on Vimeo.

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#OCCUPYWALLSTREET – THE MARCH TO UNION SQUARE from Rhodes Pictures on Vimeo.

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https://occupywallst.org/article/block-by-block-city-by-city/

Luce Irigaray – Quotes

Luce Irigaray – Quotes

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Posted 24 September 2011, by Staff, The European Graduate School, egs.edu

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…more than other senses, the eye objectifies and masters. it sets at a distance, maintains the distance. in our culture, the predominance of the look over smell, taste, touch, hearing, has brought about an improverishment of bodily relations…the moment the look dominates, the body loses its materiality.

Irigaray, Luce.

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“Sexual difference is probably the issue in our time which could be our ‘salvation’ if we thought it through.

Irigaray, Luce.

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Between gods and men, territories are set up. At least in the no-man’s land of the heights of heaven, the depths of hell, and inside the boundary traced by the oceans. Dimensions installed by a cosmogonic trilogy that leaves each term in its generic place. There remains the earth ancestress, a fourth term, that was once the most fertile, that has been progressively buried and forgotten beneath the architectonic of patriarchal sovereignty. And this murder erupts in the form of ambivalences that have constantly to be solved and hierarchized, in twinned pairs of more or less good doubles.

Irigaray, Luce and Gillian C. Gill (Translator). Marine Lover: Of Friedrich Nietzsche. Columbia University Press. April 15, 1991. Hardcover 176 pages, Language English, ISBN: 0231070829.

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Is E=Mc² a sexed equation? Perhaps it is. Let us make the hypothesis that it is insofar as it privileges the speed of light over other speeds that are vitally necessary to us. What seems to me to indicate the possible sexed nature of the equation is not directly its uses by nuclear weapons, rather it is having privileged that which goes faster.

Irigaray, Luce. Parler n’est jamais neutre. Éditions de Minuit. 1987. p.110. (Quoted in and translated by Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont, Intellectual Impostures, London: Profile Books, 1998, p.100.)

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“The ‘feminine’ is always described in terms of deficiency or atrophy, as the other side of the sex that alone holds a monopoly on value: the male sex. Hence the all too well-known ‘penis envy.’ How can we accept the idea that woman’s entire sexual development is governed by her lack of , and thus by her longing for, jealousy of, and demand for, the male organ? Does this mean that woman’s sexual evolution can never be characterized with reference to the female sex itself? All Freud’s statements describing feminine sexuality overlook the fact that the female sex has its own ‘specificity’.

Irigaray, Luce and Catherine Porter and Carolyn Burke (Translator). This Sex Which Is Not One. Cornell Univeristy Press. 1985. Paperback, 223 pages, Language English, ISBN: 0801493315.

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Who, surprised and horrified by the fantastic tumult of her drives (for she was made to believe that a well-adjusted normal woman has a … divine composure), hasn’t accused herself of being a monster? Who, feeling a funny desire stirring inside her (to sing, to write, to dare to speak, in short, to bring out something new), hasn’t thought she was sick?

Irigaray, Luce. “Body against Body: In relation to the Mother.” in: Fifth Conference on Mental Health entitled ‘Women and Madness”. May 13, 1980.

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http://www.egs.edu/faculty/luce-irigaray/quotes/

Five modern trends in sustainable architecture

 

Five modern trends in sustainable architecture

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Posted24 September 2011, by Pratik Basu, EcoFriend (Instamedia), ecofriend.com

 

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With so many ecological concerns coming up every year, the need for the hour is to grasp the concept of Eco-friendly and sustainable architecture. The dawn of this green architecture came from the Eco-build in London, Cannes and the Earth Day and it seems to be develop rapidly in the developed countries. Green architecture can change the world. With rapid advancements in the field of Eco-friendly products, there is a huge demand for making buildings and construction techniques more greener and sustainable and less harmful for Earth. The world has grasped this idea very well. The need for new techniques and materials which can be easily recycled are taken into consideration. Here’s showcasing 5 trends in green and sustainable architecture which is a focus of attention amongst Eco-designers.

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1. Vertical Farming

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Vertical farming. Trends in sustainable architecture

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With an expected increase in population to 9.1 billion people within the year 2050, feeding all the people around the globe is a cause for major concern. Food production needs to increase by 70%. This would mean having higher crop yields and expansion of the area cultivated. However land available for cultivation is not evenly distributed, while others are suitable for cultivating only a few crops. Thus architects have been designing buildings where one can grow crops on all the edges surrounding the building. This gives more area for cultivation and helps solve the expansion crisis. The vertical farms can be integrated with residential buildings too, with farms being set up on the external periphery of the buildings. This provides a clean environment for the residents to live in.

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2. Straw

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Straw House. Trends in sustainable architecture

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Straw is a sustainable material which can be used as a building material. Many designers and builders today are making use of this natural material to make phenomenal designs which are Eco-friendly. These buildings can be made from prefabricated panels using straw. These panels can be assembled from locally sourced star which can be fit into the panel frame made from timber. This production style helps save money and energy and decrease build times and carbon emissions. Electricity can be generated by photovoltaic and solar thermal panels and the extra electricity can be sold to the electricity grid. The homes made by straw would be considerably cheaper, as straw is a product which is available in vast quantity. This low cost makes it more popular to the general masses.

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3. Phase change materials (PCMs)

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House from PCMTrends in sustainable architecture

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Phase change materials are used to store both cooling and heating energy. These new age materials can be embedded in the ceiling and the wall tiles from where they absorb heat to keep the space cool and reduces the need for air conditioning. These Phase change material tiles have micro capsules made of a special wax which is developed to contain heat during the day. Some companies selling phase change materials claim that using the material reduces temperature of your indoor surrounding by almost 7ºC, hence reducing air conditioning costs.

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4. Bees and biodiversity

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Bees and diversityTrends in sustainable architecture

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Bees are an integral part of our biodiversity. A small garden or a rooftop is all that is required to keep bees. They help in making delicious honey from plants and flowers in your gardens, parks and the tree lined roads. It is important to make an environment in cities that safeguards wildlife and also helps in further diversity. By incorporating biodiversity into architecture, we can make a cleaner and greener world. Hence keeping bees and making bee hives are an important step that needs to be taken to ensure a cleaner, greener environment. In London, vast number of bee hives have been created on the roof tops of buildings, attracting many bees.

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5. Sustainable materials

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Sustainable materialsTrends in sustainable architecture

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Apart from the many products used in construction made from recycled materials, many researchers are looking at the construction industry for other sustainable materials from other sectors which are rarely used in design and construction.

Thousands of samples have been taken from countries all over the world. These selected materials provide an Eco-friendly alternative to other resource hungry materials which generally have many by products which are harmful to the environment. These samples are being studied and their properties are made good use of. So it is essential that we find sustainable materials which can be easily recycled and are durable and appropriate for construction.

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http://www.ecofriend.com/entry/modern-trends-sustainable-architecture/

For the love of cats and dogs

For the love of cats and dogs

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Posted 25 September 2011, by Rashvinjeet S. Bedi, The Star, thestar.com.my

 

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Thanks to social networking, many pet lovers are taking their fight for animal rights to cyber space and forming groups to pressure the authorities to act against abuse cases.When news broke out that 300 cats were being neglected and starved at a pet hotel in Damansara Damai early this month, scores of pet lovers in Klang Valley headed to the premises to rescue the animals.

Many volunteered their services, taking the traumatised cats to veterinarians or fostering the animals until their rightful owners came to claim them.

Some even stood outside the shop from morning till night for a few days to inform cat owners who had just returned from their Hari Raya holidays the whereabouts of their pets.

In loving hands: Lai and rescued pup Baby leaving the Petaling Jaya district police headquarters after Lai and MDDB supporters lodged police reports in connection to a video depicting animal abuse. — DARRAN TAN/The Star

Animal lovers, banded under a group called KTAJ (Kucing Terbiar Anjing Jalanan), coordinated the rescue efforts.

The KTAJ is one of several animal welfare groups that have sprung into the limelight recently. These independent groups, some bearing little known acronyms, are made up of individuals who share a common bond – their love for animals.

Formed in March this year, KTAJ has already attracted more than 14,700 “likes” on its Facebook wall.

Besides KTAJ, other groups include Malay­sian Dogs Deserve Better (MDDB), Malaysian Cats Care Project (MCCP), Independent Pet Rescuers (IPR), Myanimalcare, Garden of Eden, and Paws mission. The roles they assume, at times, appear to have eclipsed those of mainstream organisations like the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and PAWS.

“Many individuals have been feeding and rescuing animals for decades but it is only recently that animal lovers, especially those from the younger generation, are organising themselves,” says MDDB adoption coordinator Christine Lai.

Saving cats: Suzana, founding member of KTAJ and, right, the KTAJ Facebook fanpage.

With social networking tools, animal lovers are now able to share their views online with many other like-minded people, resulting in groups being formed at the community level.

These groups use Facebook, blogs and Twitter to send out alerts if there is an emergency, as in the Damansara Damai case three Sundays ago where the cats were left at the pet hotel without food for days.

Both KTAJ and MDDB constantly update their Facebook to inform members on pets that need to be adopted or urgent rescue missions. They also highlight cases of animal cruelty by posting pictures and videos online.

Lai says the group was formed in 2008 when seven volunteers collaborated to rescue a stray dog whose ears had been torn out while trying to escape some dog catchers.

MDDB believes in organising members to have a louder voice so that the authorities will take action against those found neglecting or abusing animals. Members have exposed the sorry state at pounds and circulated photographs showing animals being mistreated.

“Initially, detractors rebutted our findings and even claimed our pictures had been doctored. But all that changed when members of the public started coming forward to expose similar atrocities.’’

Lai points to a video posted on YouTube which showed a group of local council workers brutally euthanising a dog at a housing estate in full view of residents. Someone captured the scene and uploaded it on the Internet. The video sparked off a public outrage with calls for action to be taken against the errant workers.

“This shows that cruelty against animals is no longer tolerated. We are glad that the people have become more proactive. We also want to change the public’s perception on animal welfare and create a more caring society.”

When videos of a cat “killer” in Serdang and abuse of Sushi the toy poodle went viral recently, they resulted in a huge outcry. Independent groups lodged police reports and handed petitions to the authorities, demanding justice.

Some good came out of it – the government decided to review existing laws and look into more deterrent measures. The Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry, for instance, has proposed to amend the existing Animal Act 1953 to impose a stiffer penalty of up to RM50,000 and a year’s jail for those convicted of ill-treating animals.

MDDB also tries to highlight the good work of independent rescuers to encourage others to follow suit.

“Many animal lovers have been doing great work quietly on their own. We want them to be seen and heard to inspire others,” Lai says.

MDDB has a halfway home for dogs, and employs several full-time staff. Funding comes from the public and the members’ own pockets. The group is in the midst of registering an association called the Animal Protection Society and hope to be able to operate larger shelters like the SPCA in future.

KTAJ, meanwhile, came about when a few cat lovers decided to band together after seeing MDDB’s fight for dogs.

Founding member Suzana Sulaiman, 30, says many stray cats too need help. The group’s target is to minimise the stray population by neutering and nursing the animals, fighting animal cruelty and helping the local animal shelters.

The architectural designer believes that independent rescuers prefer to work with independent NGOs such as KTAJ as they are more flexible than groups that operate during office hours.

“You are more likely to get a quicker response from these groups. You shout for help and there are bound to be volunteers. We can pull our resources together,” she says, adding that 80% of the group is made up of women, mostly students and housewives.

Another KTAJ member Shahriza Idrus, 32, says members share the same interest in wanting to create animals rights awareness.

“We got to know each other through Facebook. Our members have big hearts and there is transparency in everything we do,” she shares.

Members usually come up with their own funds but in cases where the medical bills are too steep, they can request others to help via their Facebook page, says Shahriza.

In the past two months, Shahriza has spent about RM400 on medical bills for two cats – one, a kitten with hernia and the other, an adult cat with a serious head wound.

Despite being a busy event planner, Shahriza finds time for the felines. She drives to a few areas every night to feed stray cats. Even when she returns home from work in the wee hours of the morning, she will stick to this routine lest the strays go hungry.

Her car is always equipped with dry food, newspapers and gloves. If Shahriza comes across any animal carcass on the road, she will wrap it up before placing it by the roadside. If she is not busy rushing anywhere, she will bury the carcass behind her house.

Shariza says she is always bombarded with questions by people who ask her why she channels so much time and energy on the animals.

“Cats cannot speak or ask for help. At least, people know how to earn money and defend themselves,” says the event planner who finds keeping pets therapeutic.

One of the earlier independent groups to be formed, the IPR was set up in 2005.

“Many of us cannot turn a blind eye on a puppy or stray animal by the roadside,” says IPR volunteer Carnea Lee, who is a real-estate agent.

The IPR, she says, has a pool of volunteers who are on call. Like MMDB, the group has an animal sanctuary in Kuala Kubu Baru run by members using their own funds and public donations.

There are also pet lovers who are not affiliated with any one group but will readily offer help when needed.

Rena Chang, 46, for instance, has rescued countless animals over the last 10 years and works with any group that requires her assistance. She herself keeps four dogs and two cats, all rescued.

The property agent and events management executive helps strays and abused animals find homes with people who can be trusted. She has come across a dog with its nose chopped off while another was beaten until its jaw was dislocated.

Caring for animals can be time consuming and financially draining, as Chang has learnt over time. Most of her weekends are occupied with rescue work and she last took a holiday in 2002.

But for Chang, it’s not about the money or time spent as she gets satisfaction from helping and caring for animals that suffer from neglect or abuse.

Some independent rescue workers have even gone to the extent of setting up pet shops so they can use the premises to house rescued animals and buy pet food at cost price.

Ruth Chow and Amy Gui of the Garden Of Eden (http://www.thegoeden.com) began rescue work in 1996 when they reluctantly rescued a kitten. Many more rescued animals soon found a home in their house. But neighbours, tired of the endless barking and yelps, reported them to the authorities.

In 2006, they started a pet shop to keep the authorities at bay and listed boarding as one of the services provided. They were also able to get good food and supplements for the animals at a cheaper price. However, people started to dump animals outside their shop.

“We had no choice but to keep the animals as we didn’t have the heart to leave them. In the few years that we ran the pet shop, the number quadrupled. It was difficult to sustain the business financially and we had to close shop.

“We were getting into debt. I’m still paying off the supplier to this day,” laments Chow.

Last year, they managed to rent a tract of farmland for RM1,000 monthly and now have over 90 dogs and 200 cats under their care. Apart from contributions from well-wishers, Chow teaches English and music to help sustain the animal sanctuary.

“We have to live frugally as we will never let the animals go hungry. To us, they are God’s creations too and have a right to live, just like us humans.”

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http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2011/9/25/focus/9468486&sec=focus