Reindeer herders in Norway take a wind farm to court

January 21, 2021 by  
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Reindeer herders of the Sámi Indigenous community have moved to a court of appeals in Norway to challenge a proposed wind power project. The Øyfjellet wind farm is one of the largest onshore wind projects in Norway and is expected to help the country move away from traditional fossil fuels. But reindeer herders have maintained that the project will negatively impact their animals and cultural practices by illegally blocking reindeer migration paths. “The Sámi people are not the ones who have contributed the most to climate change, but we seem to be the ones who have to carry its greatest burden,” said Gunn-Britt Retter, the head of the Arctic and environmental unit at the Sámi Council. “That’s not climate justice , that’s climate injustice.” Related: Hydropower demand is damaging Indigenous lands The Sámi community lives in Norway, Finland, Sweden and Russia. They traditionally made their living through herding reindeer, and this practice is now protected by law. Only about 10% of the Sámi people still practice reindeer herding full-time in Norway. Even so, herding remains important to the community. Members of the community lament that if wind farms are built on their lands, the turbines will greatly affect the available area for herding the animals . “Studies and Indigenous knowledge show that reindeer don’t go near wind turbines,” said Áslak Holmberg, the vice-chair of the Sámi Council. “These areas are lost from use to the herders.” In September 2020, a court ruled against the reindeer herders, giving the project the green light. The herders have now opted to take the case to the court of appeals, with the hope of stopping the project or having some aspects revised. “From our client’s point of view, it seems that the government will go far to protect the construction of a wind power plant that has been given concession and that this trumps the rights of the Indigenous people,” said Pål Gude Gudesen, the lawyer representing the reindeer herders. Both Tony Christian Tiller, state secretary of the Energy Ministry in Norway, and Eolus, the company behind the proposed wind farm, have said they hope to see that the reindeer and the wind turbines can coexist. But the Sámi community said that both the government and energy companies are not taking Indigenous concerns into account. “It’s a paradox, really,” Retter said. “You are squeezed between the impact of climate change and the impact of green energy , which is the answer to climate change.” Via The Guardian Image via Bo Eide

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Reindeer herders in Norway take a wind farm to court

Maven Moment: Community Action

December 23, 2020 by  
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One of the activities that I miss most during this … The post Maven Moment: Community Action appeared first on Earth 911.

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Maven Moment: Community Action

Bradley Plaza Green Alley: a new park for an old LA neighborhood

December 15, 2020 by  
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As the need for safe outdoor space is more pressing than ever, the Bradley Plaza Green Alley project has opened a new community park in an old industrial neighborhood of Los Angeles. What was once an alley surrounded by factories in Pacoima is now a vibrant space that features shade trees, ADA-accessible amenities and a stormwater management system. Project partners included LA Sanitation and Environment (LASAN), the Department of Public Works, Pacoima Beautiful, The Trust for Public Land and Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez. “I’m proud of our collaboration to deliver much-needed green space in Pacoima,” Rodriguez said. “This project showcases how we can design with both the community and environment in mind. Bradley Plaza and Green Alley brings together beautiful community gathering spaces, and engineering that will improve water quality and reduce local flooding during rainstorms. This effort will have long-term impacts and improve the quality of life in Pacoima.” Related: Floating islands bring a new type of public park to Copenhagen Planners expect Bradley Plaza Green Alley to improve the lives of many of the 8,500 residents who live within a 10-minute walk of the space. The alley is now a shared street that slows vehicles down while making room for walking and other outdoor activities. Bradley Plaza is a smaller part of the alley that is closed to vehicular traffic. The plaza features a shade structure, reclaimed wooden seating, a nature classroom and outdoor fitness equipment. Planners hope that all residents, especially children and families, will make use of this space. Builders emphasized the importance of giving community members a say in the finished space. “From the beginning of the project, local community members were engaged in the design process,” said Veronica Padilla, executive director of Pacoima Beautiful, “providing feedback on the plants and trees that now line the alleyway to the fitness equipment and benches installed in the Plaza.” They especially sought input from the Fernandeño Tataviam tribe, the former owners of this land, and incorporated the tribe’s language and art into the final project. In addition to once being an unsightly industrial alley, the site has had a problem with dirty stormwater, which often flooded the neighborhood. Now, thanks in part to landscape architects Rios Clementi Hale Studios, stormwater will drain into a series of planters, eventually releasing it into a subsurface infiltration trench. Drought-tolerant, low-water vegetation will filter the water enough so that it will replenish, rather than harm, the groundwater aquifer. The project relied on the expertise of the engineering firm Arup for stormwater management , as well as lighting design, sustainability consulting and other important aspects. “This is exactly the type of project LASAN loves to pursue and has cultivated a unique expertise in,” said Enrique C. Zaldivar, director and general manager of LASAN. “The important and often unseen work that stormwater infrastructure does in our communities , reclaiming water and preventing flooding, can and should be paired whenever possible with other complete street projects that beautify neighborhoods and provide green space for residents.” + Arup Via Informed Infrastructure Images via the Trust for Public Land

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Bradley Plaza Green Alley: a new park for an old LA neighborhood

Zimbabwe permaculture education center promotes self-sufficiency

December 11, 2020 by  
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German architecture firm  Studio Anna Heringer  has completed the first kindergarten in  Zimbabwe’s  Chimanimani District, a rural and desolate region home to about 200 families that have long lacked access to education. The kindergarten, which builds on the firm’s award-winning portfolio of humanitarian architecture, serves as a pilot project for PORET, Zimbabwe’s permaculture community, to promote permaculture and encourage self-sufficiency in the local community. Using community labor to support the local economy, the buildings are constructed from locally sourced timber, thatch and stone. Constructed over approximately 11 months in 2014, the kindergarten consists of a pair of domed buildings set on stone foundations. The structural frames use timber from Zimbabwe tree plantations. Inspired by the country’s beautiful thatched roofs and the routine tradition of cutting grass to lower an area’s risk of fire, the architects covered the structural ribs with thatching. Local craftsmen were employed for the labor-intensive work of thatching and building the stone foundations, thus providing the community with a good share of the construction budget. “With these local techniques the project aims to build with a process that reinforces solidarity and team spirit, skills and knowledge, self-confidence and dignity,” the architects explained. “Due to the contexts climate and local conditions buildings, unless built in glass and steel, will not last forever, but it is essential that the know-how to maintain and rebuild them is kept alive and traded on to the following generations. This is why we see this project primarily as a training in advanced building techniques with existing materials that can become the compost of the kindergarten fields one day.” Related: Donkey-drawn mobile libraries bring books to people in Zimbabwe While in operation, the kindergarten will teach children permaculture principles from the basics of soil and plant care to water harvesting techniques. The two buildings can also function as training and meeting spaces for the community.  + Studio Anna Heringer Images by Margarethe Holzer

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New benchmark shows that biodiversity is in fashion

December 3, 2020 by  
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New benchmark shows that biodiversity is in fashion Liesl Truscott Thu, 12/03/2020 – 01:00 This week, in advance of World Soil Day — Dec. 5 — the Textile Exchange Corporate Fiber and Materials Benchmark (CFMB) Program is launching a new tool to help the fashion and textile industry take urgent action on biodiversity. The Biodiversity Benchmark , developed in partnership with The Biodiversity Consultancy and Conservation International and supported by Sappi, will enable companies to understand their impacts and dependencies on nature in their materials sourcing strategies, chart a pathway to delivering positive biodiversity outcomes, and benchmark their progress. Outcomes and learnings can be channeled back into the community to support further improvements. The benchmark is in beta and comments will be open through Jan. 31. All interested companies are eligible, and it is free to participate. More than 200 companies already report through the CFMB. With the Biodiversity Benchmark, the aim is to integrate biodiversity into existing materials and sourcing strategies, rather than approach biodiversity as a new or disconnected topic. The aim is to integrate biodiversity into existing materials and sourcing strategies, rather than approach biodiversity as a new or disconnected topic. The inclusion of biodiversity is part of Textile Exchange’s Climate+ strategy, which focuses on urgent climate action and recognizes that soil health, water and biodiversity will play a key role in this transition. Benchmarking drives a race to the top and is one way Textile Exchange mobilizes the industry to accelerate the uptake of preferred materials. It is my hope that this new benchmark will help transform biodiversity commitments into actions. A risk — and an opportunity The Earth’s interrelated systems of water, land, biodiversity and ocean are facing unsustainable pressure. We cannot win the fight against climate change without addressing nature loss.? — Science Based Targets Network, 2020 When surveyed in 2019, 42 percent of our member companies put “biodiversity risk” as important or very important to them. A sustainability strategy is no longer an option, it is now table stakes. Considering biodiversity as part of the strategy is the next step, not only because biodiversity is an urgent issue and the right thing to do, but also because it poses real business risks, particularly as many businesses are directly dependent on biodiversity and nature’s contributions to human systems and well-being. A company that recognizes biodiversity risk as a priority would acknowledge the importance of nature’s services to its business as well as how its operations affect biodiversity. The fashion industry, for example, is very dependent on natural resources and healthy agricultural and forestry ecosystems. The Biodiversity Consultancy’s chief executive, Helen Temple, sees this as an opportunity: “The fashion and textile industry now has an opportunity to establish a leadership position in how it tackles biodiversity and nature loss.” No-regrets approach This Biodiversity Benchmark Companion Guide is designed to catalyze companies to think about their fiber and material choices in relation to their dependencies, risks, opportunities and impacts through a biodiversity lens. While a company’s biodiversity strategy is being fully developed and science-based targets confirmed, we advocate a no-regrets approach , as defined by the UNDP, UNEP and IUCN and expressed by the Science Based Targets Network. Such an approach focuses on maximizing positive and minimizing negative aspects of nature-based adaptation strategies and options. No-regret actions include measures taken which do not worsen vulnerabilities (for instance to climate change) or which increase adaptive capacities and measures that always will have a positive impact on livelihoods and ecosystems (regardless how the climate changes). It’s there to encourage companies to start immediately by taking positive action. From my own industry — apparel and textiles — I want to share three examples of companies taking action on biodiversity: Suppliers leading the way: Sappi Biodiversity is never more relevant than with suppliers, who are arguably the closest to the issue, working directly on the land and in ecosystems, sourcing, refining and renewing resources. Sappi is a leading global provider of dissolving pulp and of everyday biobased materials created from renewable resources, from packaging paper to biomaterials such as nanocellulose. They’ve been committed to sustainability for decades and a U.N. Global Compact member since 2008. Krelyne Andrew, head of sustainability at Sappi Verve, explains why. “Our goal is to be a trusted, transparent and innovative partner. … By promoting sustainable and innovative approaches to forest management, we ensure that all the benefits of healthy forests are maintained for people and the planet. Biodiversity conservation is a central pillar of our land management.” Biodiversity conservation is a central pillar of land management. In South Africa, she explains, Sappi owns and leases 964,000 acres of land, of which about a third is managed for biodiversity conservation. In North America, Sappi is a founding member of a new risk assessment platform, Forest in Focus, aimed at assessing the health of wood baskets using trusted public data to drive action. Sappi is also accelerating partnerships to help achieve its ambitious goals. Luxury meets biodiversity: Kering In July, Kering announced a dedicated biodiversity strategy with a series of new targets to achieve a “net positive” impact on biodiversity by 2025. It included launching the “Kering for Nature Fund: 1 Million Hectares for the Planet” to support the fashion industry’s transition to regenerative agriculture. Aligned with its long-term commitment to sustainability, Kering’s biodiversity strategy outlines steps to not only minimize biodiversity loss across its global supply chains, but also support nature and create net positive conservation. The strategy encourages the prevention of biodiversity degradation, the promotion of sustainable and regenerative farming practices favoring soil health and the protection of global ecosystems and forests that are vital for carbon sequestration. As Marie-Claire Daveu, Kering’s chief sustainability officer and head of international institutional affairs, describes it: “Thriving biodiversity is intrinsically linked to the long-term viability of our industry, and society more broadly. Integrating a dedicated biodiversity strategy — which is now part of our wider sustainability strategy — into Kering’s day-to-day operations is pivotal for our contribution to bending the curve on biodiversity loss over the next years. Business has a serious role to play in shifting towards a ‘nature-positive’ economy and ahead of the establishment of the Global Goals for biodiversity in 2021, it is important that Kering’s strategy aligns with the scientific community so that we are already on the right path and taking the actions that are urgently needed.” Smaller brands taking bold action: INDIGENOUS INDIGENOUS, which promotes “organic and fair trade fashion,” was founded on the fundamental belief of supporting climate justice. Indigenous peoples own or steward about a quarter of the world’s landmass and are the guardians of more than 70 percent of the earth’s remaining biodiversity. When we think about protecting biodiversity on the planet, indigenous peoples need to participate as a cornerstone of the conversation. As industry begins to realize the importance of protecting biodiversity, Scott Leonard, the company’s CEO, believes business leaders must come together to rebuild the rights of nature economy and align on accountable supply chain practices. “The road ahead to adopt business practices that protect biodiversity is an arduous task,” he says. “We need much stronger alignment with all stakeholders in the value chain surrounding industry to adequately scale the rapid adoption of next generation solutions that truly protect our biodiversity. Our current consumption patterns are not an option for our future and yet we continue to allow more deforestation, forest degradation, species extinctions and massive carbon loss as each day goes by.” Collaborative leadership: Fashion Pact The Fashion Pact — more than 60 CEOs from the industry’s leading companies, representing more than 200 brands — is focusing on the collaborative action needed to bring solutions to a global scale. Alongside setting seven tangible targets for climate, biodiversity and oceans, the companies are beginning their first collaborative activity on biodiversity. “We are very excited for the launch of the Textile Exchange Biodiversity Benchmark,” said Eva von Alvensleben, executive director of the Fashion Pact. “Not only is this a step forward for our signatories in advancing on their global commitments but [this] will allow for the development of a common understanding of the information needed to shape effective biodiversity strategies as an industry.” It’s clear that we have a mountain to climb, but I am encouraged by the number and ambition of new commitments on biodiversity from companies of all market segments and parts of the supply network. Meaningful change requires bold action, and we hope we can provide a catalyst for this within the textile industry with the Biodiversity Benchmark. Pull Quote The aim is to integrate biodiversity into existing materials and sourcing strategies, rather than approach biodiversity as a new or disconnected topic. Topics Supply Chain Biodiversity Apparel Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Image credit: Sappi

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New benchmark shows that biodiversity is in fashion

4 tips for changing consumer behavior

November 23, 2020 by  
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4 tips for changing consumer behavior Lauren Phipps Mon, 11/23/2020 – 01:00 When I cover solutions to the plastic waste crisis, I typically focus on infrastructure development and bringing recycling systems to scale, standardizing materials, inventing new ones and designing out unnecessary single-use items, and rethinking business models and supply chains. But once these structures are in place, they only work if consumers embrace new models and ensure that materials move through the system as planned. Otherwise, the entire system breaks down. And if you thought it was hard getting your colleagues to recycle rigid plastic or compost paper towels, or to stop wishcycling — that whatever they throw into the bin will, in fact, be recycled — think about the complexity of changing consumer behavior across a city, country or beyond.  During a recent webcast, I had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Natalie Hallinger, a behavioral scientist and behavior change adviser working to translate research on human motivation into real-world behavior change strategies.  Here are four tips Hallinger recommends for designing large-scale interventions:  Make it relatable: “People often think they need to force people to do something they don’t want to do,” Hallinger shared. But brute force is rarely the path of least resistance. “The easier route is to find a way to relate to them. What’s an intersection of a goal they already want that aligns with your goal?” For example, if your generic environmental appeal to an individual doesn’t resonate, perhaps an individual will relate more with a personal desire to visit a clean beach in the summer.  Make it desirable: Culture and social norms are strong drivers of consumer behavior. “The most desirable thing for humans is to fit in,” Hallinger explained. “If you design interventions that create community norms of waste reduction behavior, reusing and repairing, then everyone wants to be doing the same thing. You don’t want to stand out. You do it because of your desire to be part of the community.” Make it contextual: Behavior change interventions must be relevant and salient. Hallinger explained that if you’re engaging employees in a work context about actions they can take at home, it likely will go in one ear and out the other. Focus on actions that people can implement immediately.  Make it easy : The “right” choice from a sustainability perspective should also be the easy choice. “If you create the infrastructure and design built environments that make the behavior you want the default, then you have behavior without even needing to persuade the person.” To eliminate the guesswork that consumers face at the bin, Hallinger suggested that single-stream recycling with back-of-house sorting would design out confusion and contamination and lead to higher recycling rates in certain contexts.  I invite you to listen to the entire webcast here , which includes additional insights on behavior change from Jacob Duer, president and CEO of Alliance to End Plastic Waste; Jeff Kirschner, founder and CEO of Litterati; and John Warner, distinguished research fellow at Zymergen.  Topics Circular Economy Consumer Trends Featured Column In the Loop Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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How a green-roofed shopping center is redefining ‘reuse’

November 4, 2020 by  
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Now that eco-friendly building and reuse projects are on the rise, there have been some pretty amazing transformations. Many architects and designers are embracing the adaptive reuse trend, breathing new life and new purpose into old buildings rather than demolishing them. A new design by Herzog & de Meuron that transforms an old depot into a shopping center is truly inspirational, showcasing innovative ways to approach reuse projects while still adding creativity and functionality to a design for the betterment of a community. The building in question used to be a customs depot in Basel, Switzerland. But it will soon become a shopping center, in a project called Dreispitz Nord, that even has a school onsite. Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron headed the project, a mixed-use district that will expand Basel’s downtown. Herzog & de Meuron is no stranger to innovation. The firm first began the project in 2017, when it won a competition for a massive redevelopment plan for Basel. The goal in this project is to create an urban building with “large, public green space,” according to a statement released by the firm, which recently shared more details and updates on its original design. Related: BIG weaves green roofs into a mixed-use development on stilts in Miami The Dreispitz Nord project includes three mixed-use, high-rise towers surrounded by mid-rise buildings; these mid-rise buildings will add more affordable housing to the city. In addition to the shopping center, there’s also a public park and the school, which is big enough for about 600 students. The school and its accompanying gymnasium will be prefabricated to save time and construction waste. A flourishing green roof will serve as another public park, where a DIY and garden center will welcome Basel residents to get creative. There will also be playing fields, community gardens and a youth center. The project’s blend of adaptive reuse and newly added high-rise towers will transform the Basel skyline while also adding plenty of public amenities for the community to enjoy. + Herzog & de Meuron Via Archinect Images via Herzog & de Meuron

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How a green-roofed shopping center is redefining ‘reuse’

Hauser & Wirth gallery, where adaptive reuse and art thrive

November 3, 2020 by  
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New York’s West Chelsea neighborhood has a distinct character that residents have worked to preserve over the years. The neighborhood is full of historic buildings and architecture that showcases America’s design past. But West Chelsea has also become a home for innovation, art and culture. The new Hauser & Wirth building in West Chelsea celebrates this culture by preserving the community’s history and allowing art to flourish all in the same space. Selldorf Architects designed the space, which resides in the West Chelsea Arts District. Working in collaboration with Hauser & Wirth, Selldorf Architects has created multiple adaptive reuse projects in New York. The new Hauser & Wirth building has a contemporary facade composed of concrete blocks and zinc panels. The concrete blocks were sustainably sourced and partially made with recycled waste glass and aggregate. Additionally, glazed openings fill the interior spaces with light. Big, open spaces inside provide plenty of room for art installations. Gleaming polished concrete runs throughout the building, and walls of white plaster provide a bright, clean background for bold, imaginative art displays. The ground floor’s 16-foot glass door can be folded and opened up completely, giving the world outside a view of the amazing art within. The second floor has 12-foot glass doors that open up the same way. Another opening, a glazed roof hatch, resides on the fifth floor. This hatch serves two purposes: to bring natural light into the space and to allow large artworks to be lifted by crane into the building. A bar and event space on the second floor hosts artist appearances and public gatherings. Appropriately, the first project displayed in the building was called “Artists for New York.” Artists donated pieces to help raise funds for a group of 16 non-profit visual arts organizations in New York impacted by COVID-19. + Hauser & Wirth Images via Hauser & Wirth

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Hauser & Wirth gallery, where adaptive reuse and art thrive

America is hungrier than ever for sustainable food systems. Can we build them?  

November 2, 2020 by  
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America is hungrier than ever for sustainable food systems. Can we build them?   Carol J. Clouse Mon, 11/02/2020 – 01:30 In the spring of 2020, many small farms across the U.S. found themselves in a bittersweet predicament. Restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus were forcing restaurants — major buyers for the local farms that serve urban areas — to shut down. The loss of these key customers might have wiped out many of these local growers, if not for another COVID-19-induced phenomenon: individual shoppers started calling — and calling — and calling. “The farms we work with are seeing a huge spike in demand [for direct sales],” Dan Miller, CEO and founder of the crowdfunding platform Steward , told me when we spoke by phone in early April. “But now they have to quickly switch their businesses to meet that demand.” So Miller, who launched the platform in the fall of 2019 to provide funding to small, sustainably run farms — operations often underserved by traditional finance — soon found himself expanding Steward’s services to help these same farmers shift their business model. Stories of small farms pivoting their operations on a dime were easy to find in the early months of the pandemic: these farmers worked overtime to meet customer demand, added services such as online ordering and home delivery, and jumped into action to prop up community food banks struggling to serve an influx of the newly unemployed. Compared to the industrialized and supersized food system most Americans live with — represented by rivers of wasted milk and COVID-19 outbreaks at meat-packing plants that killed more than 200 people — these distributed systems looked healthier, safer, and more environmentally sustainable than ever. They also looked more agile and resilient. Crises often present an opportunity to reimagine current systems, so I wondered: Would that happen here, with food? Would the food consumption trends driven by the pandemic wind up as a paragraph in the history books — like the ” victory gardens ” of World War II — or could it lead to lasting change? And how do we transform this moment of crisis into a more resilient, sustainable, healthy and just food system? Crises often present an opportunity to reimagine current systems. At GreenBiz Group’s virtual clean economy conference, VERGE 20 , last week, speakers and participants addressed questions such as these, discussed how to make sure that these changes stick and identified what challenges stand in the way. During a session delving into lessons from the pandemic, panelists agreed that the No. 1 barrier to changing the current food system is financing. “The financial services that are out there … are really not calibrated for the moment we’re in,” said Janie Hipp, CEO of the Native American Agriculture Fund. “If we’re going to actually build an agile and resilient system going forward, then we have to invest in it.” One example of the financial challenges sustainable farms face comes in the form of crop insurance. If a farmer wants to transition a farm from conventional practices to organic or regenerative ones, costs are associated with that transition. However, insurance policies typically do not cover them, so the farmer is forced to take on the extra up-front costs and risk. The same holds true for traditional agriculture financing, developed for conventional farming. Loans are typically underwritten based on the equipment, inputs, volume, prices and insurance coverage of conventional growers. These factors are different for organic and regenerative farmers, so the numbers often don’t work, resulting in loans being denied or unaffordable. This increased access to capital could help scale the market, which hopefully would bring down the cost and make this more nutritious food more widely available, said Matthew Walker, managing director at S2G Ventures, a food systems-focused venture fund and mission investor. “There’s a lot of work to be done to provide affordable nutrition … and allow those who are seeking to grow organic, or use any tech enabled process that might be better for soil health, better for nutrition, to at least get started,” he said. This increased access to capital could help scale the market. Making healthy food available in disadvantaged neighborhoods, where affordable, fresh vegetables are hard to come by, is the mission of the Green Bronx Machine , but founder Stephen Ritz — a VERGE keynote speaker — didn’t wait for systems change. Established in 2012, the program uses hydroponic and vertical farming technology at its indoor teaching farm at a South Bronx school, where kids learn how to grow and cook vegetables themselves. Each week throughout the school year, the kids take home bags of groceries to their families. Green Bronx Machine also operates a “food for others” outdoor garden and summer youth employment program in the Bronx, which serves food-insecure families in the community. And it has various other partnerships and serves as a model for schools in other districts, including a program in more than 60 Chicago schools, sponsored by the foundation of Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews , who joined Ritz on VERGE’s Building a Better Food System for America’s Cities panel. Like the farmers who work with Steward, the Green Bronx Machine’s student farmers pivoted when the pandemic hit, Ritz said in his keynote. “As COVID-19 brought the world to a standstill, it became the ultimate manifestation of three larger illnesses: racism; greed; and corruption,” Ritz said. “And we found new ways to secure and distribute food to those who needed it most.” This has included providing weekly grocery delivery for 26 food-insecure patients at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital, who are recovering from cancer, and for 55 of the most vulnerable families in the Bronx, across a 26-mile route that includes walk-up buildings. “The truth is children want to be part of the conversation. The truth is children don’t let differences divide them. The truth is children are smarter than you think,” Ritz said. As COVID-19 brought the world to a standstill, it became the ultimate manifestation of three larger illnesses: racism; greed; and corruption. When New York was the epicenter of the pandemic  — a place where by May, the virus had killed more than 20,000 people, primarily in under-privileged neighborhoods such as the South Bronx — food grown by a bunch of kids was delivered to families who may not have eaten otherwise. The Green Bronx Machine joined community farms, urban farms and small family farms in offering a lifeline to their communities. They proved themselves resilient in a crisis, and their numbers are growing, but they remain a teeny, tiny part of the gargantuan American food system. In 2017, there were 16,585 certified organic farms, a 17 percent increase from just a year earlier, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service’s latest Organic Survey , released this month. These farms accounted for 5.5 million certified organic acres, an increase of 9 percent over 2016. This impressive growth marks the continuation of a decade-long trend. And yet, certified organic acres still represent less than 1 percent of the total 911 million acres of American farmland. (Although I should add that the survey’s three-year lag does not provide an up-to-date picture, and farms that use organic or regenerative practices but have not been certified don’t get counted.) The main challenges for these farms is getting the infrastructure and operational capacity in place to support a growing customer base. Curious to see whether the direct sales demand Steward’s farmers saw in the spring was continuing to hold, I checked back in with Miller. By email, he told me that demand had held and offered an example from Fisheye Farms, an urban farm in Detroit. Fisheye, he reported, already has sold out their entire winter CSA and is fielding inquiries for spring. CSA stands for “community supported agriculture,” a system where customers buy “a share” of the farm. They pay a fixed rate to receive regular boxes of whatever’s in season. Every other week, from November through February, members of Fisheye’s winter CSA will receive spinach, kale, carrots, turnips, radishes, micro greens and more. The cost is $300, or about $38 a week. “The main challenges for these farms is getting the infrastructure and operational capacity in place to support a growing customer base,” Miller said in his email. “Even the farmers with the most demand still need capital to run better, as they can’t finance everything they need just on cash flow.” In other words, to replicate and scale what these farms do, and build distributed food systems that are resilient, sustainable, healthy and just, will take time, cooperation and a lot of green. Pull Quote Crises often present an opportunity to reimagine current systems. This increased access to capital could help scale the market. As COVID-19 brought the world to a standstill, it became the ultimate manifestation of three larger illnesses: racism; greed; and corruption. The main challenges for these farms is getting the infrastructure and operational capacity in place to support a growing customer base. Topics Food & Agriculture Food Systems Risk & Resilience Organics VERGE 20 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Photo by Oleg Demakov on Unsplash. Close Authorship

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America is hungrier than ever for sustainable food systems. Can we build them?  

Modular Tree-House School concept connects kids with nature

October 27, 2020 by  
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Could this be the school of the future? Designer Valentino Gareri has created a concept for the Tree-House School, a sustainable and modular educational building that highlights children’s relationship with nature. The treehouse design distributes classes and age groups through multiple levels, incorporating usable roof classroom space and combining indoor with outdoor educational activities. As more and more schools prepare to reopen, the importance of having ample opportunities for distance learning and access to fresh air has become paramount. The Tree-House School envisions a learning center that is not only suspended and immersed in nature but also includes all phases of the educational process from kindergarten to secondary school. Related: Rimbin concept offers a look into the future of infection-free playgrounds Additionally, as people continue to relocate from big cities to less-populated areas thanks to the flexibility of remote work, rural areas around the world are gaining more popularity. The proposed design includes a modular educational center containing multiple levels of schooling, with all spaces fitting into two rings that create two courtyards and additional accessible rooftops. Classrooms are located inside the main circle, all with easy connection to courtyards and outdoor landscapes to help increase the relationship with nature both physically and visibly. Each 55-square-meter module is made of cross-laminated timber and corresponds to 20-25 students per classroom connected by a central corridor. The Tree-House School is operable 24/7 and features a community center, a plaza, a café and a library available to the entire community . The modular design allows for future school expansions, different programming and even opportunities for multiple functions, like temporary residential units or medical centers for emergencies. The building’s faceted facade is created by alternating solid timber and glazed panels; the circular perimeter blocks direct sunlight with opaque panels and diffuses light through transparent ones. Sustainability and energy-efficient measures include rainwater collection systems, natural cross-ventilation, photovoltaic panels and wind energy devices. + Valentino Gareri Images via Valentino Gareri

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