Running Reindeer Ranch lets you meet reindeer up close

April 21, 2022 by  
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As I walked through the boreal forest just outside of Fairbanks,  Alaska , I reached out and touched the marvelously thick fur of a passing reindeer. At 15,000 hairs per inch, they were better suited for the February day than I was, wrapped up in my parka, mittens and snow boots. “Forty below is t-shirt weather for them,” said Jane Atkinson, owner of  Running Reindeer Ranch  and keeper of the reindeer herd. “They’re true  Arctic  thrivers.” Related: The smart, simple way ecoducts help animals survive Before visiting the ranch, I knew little about  reindeer  beyond their magical ability to drag an airborne sleigh around the world in a single night. But Atkinson soon set me straight on all things reindeer. Reindeer versus caribou In Europe, the terms “reindeer” and “ caribou ” are used interchangeably. But in Alaska and Canada, reindeer are the domesticated form of caribou. They’re the same species but have a long and interesting history. Caribou are native to areas close to the  Arctic Circle , including North America, Russia and Scandinavia. Nobody knows exactly when humans domesticated caribou, but archeological evidence from Siberia suggests that people may have trained the beasts to pull sleds 2,000 years ago. After archeologists unearthed and radiocarbon dated some artifacts near Salekhard, northern Siberia, contemporary Indigenous reindeer herders identified the artifacts as part of the headgear used to train young reindeer to pull sleds. Fast forward to the 1890s. Whaling had decimated the marine mammal population around Alaska. So, the U.S. government introduced nonnative reindeer to Alaska to give the Inuit people another food source in addition to their traditional diet of walruses, seals and whales. The government also funded Sami reindeer herders from northern  Scandinavia  to teach reindeer husbandry to Inuit people. Later, the 1937 Reindeer Act banned Sami and other nonnative Alaskans from this occupation. Meanwhile, some reindeer escaped their human herders and either formed their own feral herds or joined migrating caribou. This is especially true on islands, such as Nunivak, St. Lawrence, and the Pribilof and Aleutian Islands. About 12,000 of Alaska’s estimated 18,000 reindeer live on the Seward Peninsula, the remnant of the famous land bridge that allowed animals and people to migrate between Eurasia and  North America . Founding the ranch Though Atkinson’s life now revolves around reindeer, introducing her herd to  tourists  was an unanticipated career direction. The idea first came up when her daughter Robin was 10. Unappeased by pets like hamsters, finches, guinea pigs and even a chinchilla, Robin dreamed of raising a big livestock animal. The girl spent a couple of years researching reindeer, talking to herders and saving her money. She tried to find a reindeer angle for every school project, from social studies to science fairs. Finally, the family bought its first pair of reindeer from Palmer, Alaska, about 330 miles away. Over the centuries, reindeer farmers selectively bred the migratory instinct out of them. “Where they’re born is where their heart is, and they’re difficult to rehome,” said Atkinson. That held true for their original pair, who managed to escape one stormy night and try to get back home to Palmer. Atkinson and her friends and family followed reindeer tracks for four days. They enlisted the help of state troopers, Fish and Game personnel and local radio stations. Finally, the reindeer were found in a  McDonald’s  parking lot in Fairbanks and brought back to their new home. Hence the name, Running Reindeer Ranch. Since then, all their reindeer have been born at the ranch and are happy homebodies. Visiting  Running Reindeer Ranch A visit to Running Reindeer Ranch starts with a safety talk before meeting the reindeer. When I was there in February, we still had to wear masks (though most Alaskans weren’t) due to a  COVID  outbreak in deer. We stood in a big circle on the snow while Atkinson warned us to watch out for antlers. “One of their favorite games is push my antlers,” Atkinson said. We were not to engage. Also, we should be careful of naughty reindeer who like to sneak up from behind and poke visitors in the butt. Once we knew the rules, Atkinson’s helper released the reindeer, who thundered down a hill toward us to eat little piles of  lichen  set out for them on the snow. They can weigh up to 450 pounds, so it was a tad scary as they rushed past, but also thrilling. They’re gorgeous animals, and their antlers were even bigger than I expected. As they ate lichen, Atkinson introduced them to us one by one, telling us their names and histories and describing their personalities. After meeting the 11 reindeer, we strolled up a snowy hill together. The reindeer were mostly interested in trying to find things to eat in the snow and rubbing their faces against trees but tolerated a fair amount of petting. They don’t exactly respect personal space, so I kept a constant lookout for antlers. Periodically, we’d stop, and Atkinson and her helper furthered our reindeer  education  as the herd foraged in the snow. In Alaska, Atkinson told us, reindeer are  livestock . So when she’s had vets out to the ranch, they haven’t always understood that her reindeer are more like pets. If one is ailing, she’s not going to just turn it into dinner. “My reindeer are lucky to have been born into a vegetarian household,” she said. At one point, we stopped to listen to the clicking sound reindeer make when they walk. It’s the sound of snapping ligaments, an adaptation that helps them high step through the snow. In the famous  Christmas  song “Up on the Rooftop,” the “click, click, click” refers to their clicking ligaments, Atkinson explained. Reindeer shed their massive antlers every spring and grow them back in summer at the startling rate of up to an inch per day. “It’s the fastest growing tissue in the  animal  kingdom,” Atkinson said. Another fascinating factoid? They can smell lichen through snow and have UV vision. “They can see under the snow and see the shadow of the lichen. Then they dive their head in and eat it.” They are intriguing, gentle creatures, as long as they’re not trying to play “push my antlers.” Visiting them once made me want to return, preferably in summer when they turn brown and velvety. “They look like Hershey bars walking through the forest,” Atkinson said of their summer coats. Summer is also the season when Running Reindeer offers reindeer  yoga . And what could be better than that? + Running Reindeer Ranch Images by Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat

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First ceramic geodesic dome in the world is affordable

January 26, 2022 by  
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Geoship installed its first bio-ceramic geodesic dome in a bid to create long-lasting, zero-carbon , fireproof and biologically resonant architecture for a new way of building homes. The company is relatively young, with just 400 paid deposits for homes, but they work by a co-op model and have over 2,000 investors. “Homebuilding is a massive, multi-trillion dollar industry that is unsustainable,” the designers said in a press release. “The Geoship micro-factory and village building platform is a new model for the regenerative future.” Related: Are these zero-carbon domes the future of sustainable housing? The idea is to create more than a new home design , but a new way of creating communities to build homes. Morgan Bierschenk, co-founder and CEO of Geoship, said this all started with community. “My brother and I started building a home for our family,” he said. “We did it on a shoestring budget, with reclaimed materials and lumber we milled on the land. Then we started questioning why — with all of our technology — are we still building with sticks and nails? How does nature build protective shells? Why does it feel so good to step outside the boxes we live in? We started engineering a new kind of home.” To build a bio-ceramic dome, Geoship mixes a type of ceramic crystals and forms them into triangular molds. The pieces are then assembled into a geodesic dome like any other construction material. The carbon used to create the triangular components is far less than traditional sandstone, passive solar or highly efficient house building materials. Plus, the operational energy use is markedly lower as well. The panels are installed on a network of struts that support the dome structure, almost like the interior structure of a mushroom cap. The end product is recyclable , mold-proof, fire-proof and flood-proof. The domes are also hurricane, earthquake and insect resistant. It even comes in cool colors. The next round of funding will be used to build out Geoship’s pilot production, micro-factory and village design platforms. That’s because Geoship is really a materials science company. Bioceramics are a new kind of material designed to create multi-century structures. The materials products used in the builds needs certification, and the pilot program still has to be built out. Their goal is to build “living environments that resonate with nature and catalyze the evolution of consciousness.” + Geoship Images via Geoship

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First ceramic geodesic dome in the world is affordable

Brazilian Pavilion at The World Expo transports visitors into nature

January 26, 2022 by  
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The immersive displays at The World Expo Dubai speak to technology, innovation, nature and the environment . Thanks to Cactus, an innovative award-winning design studio, the Brazilian Pavilion stands as an example of these water-cooler topics.  The exhibit aims to transport visitors into scenes of Brazil through the use of larger-than-life visual projections. Encompassing 24,800 square feet of space, the enclosure is covered in a custom-designed, 1002 HT projectable fabric built to withstand the extremes of the Dubai desert. Related: Innovative i-Mesh fabric takes shape at Expo 2020 Dubai The Brazilian Pavilion’s high-tensile strength keeps visitors protected and comfortable, even in the face of sandstorms, windstorms and extreme desert heat. On the other hand, it’s translucent enough to project images inside and outside the enclosure.  The nature of the fabric acts as a projection screen for 60,000 square feet of wall, floor and ceiling to be covered in illustrations of the Brazilian landscape. Guests are immersed into a sensory experience combined of technology and design that celebrates the culture and beauty of Brazil. The digital reproduction of rainforests, cities, canyons, animals , beaches and lush hillsides aims to remove the visitor from the desert and engage them in locations over 7,300 miles away.  The experience requires no transport emissions from travel, wait lines at the airport or pollution from tourists in sensitive areas of Brazil. Instead, it relies on more than 140 projectors to spin up the fully immersive 360 degree environment in a thought-provoking installation that’s both futuristic in design and current in content. The exhibit is open now until the close of The World Expo on March 31, 2022.  “We want the world to see and feel the beauty and intricacies of the country we call home,” explained Marcelo Pontes, head of architecture for Cactus. “The process of achieving seamless UX requires good design at its core. There were many technical roadblocks, including regional weather, sand and heat that made this project more difficult than anything else we have taken on before. Unlike traditional immersive experiences, which only focus on projection mapping inside spaces, we were designing for the entire exterior of the exhibit as well.” + Cactus Photography by Joana Franca and Leonardo Finotti

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Brazilian Pavilion at The World Expo transports visitors into nature

These bags are made with Fairtrade Certified organic cotton

January 7, 2022 by  
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Each travel, duffle, shopping and computer bag that hits the stores adds to the ongoing use of synthetic fibers, environmental pollution and waste. The reality is that it doesn’t have to be that way. Terra Thread has taken that idea to heart with a line of bags that are sustainably and ethically produced. In fact, the mission of the company “is to create the best Fairtrade certified organic cotton bags by always being sustainable , ethical, traceable and transparent.” Related: Cariloha luxury textiles use organic, sustainable bamboo Its approach towards this goal is multifaceted, starting with the materials sourced for its product line. Terra Thread products are made using Fairtrade Certified Organic Cotton. This is cotton from farmers that are guaranteed fair pricing for their product. The farms are small and mostly family or community-owned. Rainwater is the primary source for watering the cotton plants so it requires few resources to produce, which means a small impact to the planet.  Fair Trade also ensures safe working conditions, gender equality and other benefits. In addition, the cotton is organic, so it’s grown without chemicals. This is not only good for the skin it touches, but also for the environment, soil health and wildlife .  Terra Thread products are certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) too. This means that not only is the material organic, but the process of turning it into bags is also fair and ethical. GOTS certification ensures a safe standard throughout the spinning, knitting, weaving, dyeing and manufacturing of the bags. It’s important to Terra Thread founders, a father-daughter duo, to be transparent in the supply and production chain.  Terra Thread products are made in a Fair Trade USA Certified Factory . In addition to the materials being Fair Trade Certified, the factory conditions are also evaluated to ensure fair wages, safe working conditions and a voice for workers within the work environment. With the focus on safe, fair and eco-friendly material sourcing and production, Terra Thread bags also produce less waste . In contrast to bags made with petroleum-based materials, when Terra Thread bags hit the landfill at the end of life, they won’t leach chemicals into the soil or stick around for generations.  Terra Thread understands the process of making any goods results in some carbon emissions, so the company is committed to investing in carbon offsets in order to remain carbon neutral overall. For example, Terra Thread invests in a reforestation and afforestation project that plants trees in order to sequester carbon from the air and improve degraded land. So far, the project has contributed to reforestation for over 12,000 farmers in India. This not only improves the land, but also provides an economic livelihood for the farmers. Terra Thread also supports a solar energy project in Rajasthan, India, which generates clean and renewable electricity. Food insecurity is an issue close to the heart of co-founder Vik Giri, so together with his daughter and co-founder Vizan Giri, the company contributes to Feeding America’s campaign to end hunger in the U.S.  Terra Thread offers a selection of bags that include backpacks, gym and duffel bags and laptop sleeves. It produces different sizes and provides several color options. The description of each product includes an impact section so you can see the effect your purchase has. For example, the Earth Backpack results in the donation of meals to children and families in need, 268 days of drinking water saved, three miles of reduced driving emissions and the support of 66 square feet of pesticide-free farmland.  Personal Review Terra Thread sent me its Earth Backpack in black for review. The package arrived quickly. It’s based out of California even though the materials and production are sourced from India, so there was no international travel to get the product to me in Oregon.  The packaging was minimalistic and plastic-free. Just the way I like it. Even the sweet note inside was printed on recycled paper. Product tags are also sourced from natural materials and the bags are colored with GOTS-certified dyes.  The first impression of the backpack is its durability. It’s a thick canvas material that’s heavy to the touch. The buckles, zipper and stitching all speak of quality. Unless something unforeseen happens, this bag is built to last. It’s also equipped with thoughtful features such as a generous outside pocket with zipper closure and drink holders above either hip. Inside, the backpack has a built-in pouch for smaller items and a full-depth section for a small laptop. The central area of the bag is large enough for a change of clothes or several large books.   The company also provided a canvas cosmetic bag called the Honua Pouch. This bag compresses flat for efficient storage but expands to hold a fair amount of makeup or other goods. The two-tone coloring is striking and the quality matches the backpack.  I really can’t say enough about the fortified edges and attention to reinforcements around high-pressure areas of both bags. Durability is one aspect of sustainable production and I see both of these bags being around for a very long time. + Terra Thread  Images via Terra Thread Editor’s Note: This product review is not sponsored by Terra Thread. All opinions on the products and company are the author’s own.

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These bags are made with Fairtrade Certified organic cotton

House in Ecuador is hidden in a forest of carob trees

January 7, 2022 by  
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The Kaisen House by Rama Estudio in Ecuador is placed in a grove of carob trees in the middle of a slightly sloping landscape. It is intended to influence the natural environment in a minimal way. The designers explained, “[We] took advantage of the benefits of the shade thrown by each of the existing trees.” Kaisen House is a timber construction combined with a traditional local building style called bahareque, with air circulation built in and ample windows looking out on the surrounding natural environment . The house is designed with a minimal depth to create the smallest footprint and best views of the forest , as well as to affect the carob trees in the least amount possible. The house is implemented as a bar shape that is 7.50 meters wide and 24 meters long. Related: This prefab home expansion in Ecuador enjoys gorgeous views It’s shaped a bit like a shipping container home, with second-story balconies situated on top of doorways that open onto the grounds. Inside, the views from every angle of the house redirect the individual to look back to the outdoors at every chance. There are two wings to the house: service and family wings. In the family side of the house, the kitchen and the dining room are connected to a deck through a sliding screen that opens to the forest. A social area is connected through a deck with the dining room, encouraging outdoor use of the space and enhancing air circulation . In this wing there is also a multifunction room that connects to another patio. “On the second floor, under the same logic, there is an area with two bedrooms that open to the best view and a family area that is in complete relationship with the front forest,” the designers said. The traditional building technique called bahareque inspired the building’s enclosure by cane-style wood slats to create air circulation indoors. Materials used include laminated wood and metal, which was molded for use as a staircase, for balcony railings and floor plates. Kaisen House is at once completely modern and completely traditional in its layout and style. From every angle, it’s a fresh air experience. + Rama Estudio Photography by JAG Studio

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House in Ecuador is hidden in a forest of carob trees

New study provides hope for restoring tropical forests

December 10, 2021 by  
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Tropical forests can grow back naturally and relatively fast, according to a new study. The  study , published in the journal Science, shows that most tropical forests can bounce back in about 20 years if left untouched. This revelation provides the world with hope in efforts to restore troubled forests . The study was conducted by a team of scientists from across the world. Researchers reviewed forest data from three continents in a multidimensional approach. Thanks to high precision modeling, they determined that most tropical forest aspects, including the soil , trees, and living organisms, can be restored to their natural state over time. Related: California fires killed nearly 20 percent of the world’s Sequoias The researchers say these findings prove it is not too late to correct the mistakes that have led to climate change . According to Lourens Poorter, a professor in functional ecology at Wageningen University in the Netherlands and the study’s lead author, the time needed to recover these forests is realistic and practical. The best news? Tropical forests could return to 78% of their old-growth status in 20 years. “That’s good news because the implication is that, 20 years…that’s a realistic time that I can think of, and that my daughter can think of, and that the policymakers can think of,” said Poorter The researchers noted that letting forests regrow is beneficial in many ways. Apart from mitigating deforestation’s side effects, it also helps restore and retain the forest’s original biodiversity. “Compared to planting new trees, it performs way better in terms of biodiversity , climate change mitigation and recovering nutrients,” said Poorter. The scientists looked at data from 77 sites across three continents in tropical zones. Over 2,275 plots of land in the Americas and West Africa were analyzed. Researchers looked at specific areas of the forest to determine the time required for their recovery. In their analysis, the experts found that the soil could recover in 10 years or less. Plant and animal biodiversity could recover in about 60 years. Overall, they found that it would take up to 120 years to recover biomass in some areas. The researchers are now urging policymakers to consider the option of protecting forested areas and allowing deforested lands to rejuvenate. “What we want to advocate is: ‘Please value those secondary forests, and in areas where you can, please let those forests regrow back again naturally,” Poorter said. Via The Guardian Lead image via Pixabay

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Los Angeles builds justice through building decarbonization

December 10, 2021 by  
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Los Angeles officials announced a new community engagement process to involve the people most affected by climate change in the city’s building decarbonization  process. The city’s Climate Emergency Mobilization Office will solicit and incorporate the input of vulnerable communities into policy decisions, with a goal of decarbonizing all buildings by 2050. By 2030, all new buildings in L.A. must be zero carbon. Urban buildings contribute 43% of L.A.’s carbon emissions,  Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti said at a news conference. The city contains more than 1 million buildings, which have a combined total of about 2.5 billion square feet. To decarbonize a building, builders must replace fossil fuel-powered systems with green energy sources. Related: Nation’s first triple net-zero housing development to rise in New York But in addition to incorporating the best energy sources, the Climate Emergency Mobilization Office has a list of key energy and housing justice principles. These include that building decarbonization should not lead to evictions, rent burden or harassment of tenants. Building owners can’t replace carbon-based  infrastructure  with alternate technologies that also pollute. Decarbonization technologies must be accessible and affordable for everybody, and people who currently live in the most polluted areas must reap the full benefits of these cleanup efforts. Workers in industries impacted by decarbonization will be able to retrain and get well-paid, unionized jobs in the green economy. The Climate Emergency Mobilization Office will host a series of community assemblies early next year to explain technical points about decarbonization and to brainstorm ideas and solutions. It will incorporate its findings into plans to attain the city’s aggressive decarbonization goals. “With this legislation, we are signaling that we are committed to ensuring that decarbonizing  buildings  will not lead to rising rents and utility costs for rent-burdened Angelenos or the slowing of housing production – particularly during this City’s historic housing and homelessness crisis,” said city council member Nithya Raman, co-author of the motion. Via L.A. City Council Climate Change Motion Lead image via Pixabay

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Los Angeles builds justice through building decarbonization

Los Angeles art show features historic Barnsdall olive wood

November 16, 2021 by  
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The Barnsdall Art Park in East Hollywood, California has spent its pandemic years getting a makeover. The park is known for its art center and the site of Hollyhock House, designed by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright. But central to this urban oasis is a historic 463-tree olive grove. And now an innovative olive-wood themed art exhibit and online auction is raising money to plant an additional forty trees. The Barnsdall Olive Wood Workshop Exhibition and Online Auction opened November 13 for in-person viewing at the contemporary art gallery Luis De Jesus Los Angeles . Twenty-one well known local LA artists, architects, designers and landscape artists have their work in the show. All the pieces feature Barnsdall olive wood from a recent pruning. The online auction closes December 4. Related: LA’s Barnsdall Art Park revives historic olive grove The show’s mission is to improve the air quality of East Hollywood — piggybacking on L.A.’s Green New Deal, a sweeping initiative that includes planting 90,000 new trees — and to further beautify the grounds. Canadian immigrant and real estate broker Joseph H. Spires originally planted a commercial olive grove here in the 1890s. In 1919, he sold the property to oil heiress, philanthropist and art lover Aline Barnsdall. She hired Frank Lloyd Wright to build Hollyhock House, which became L.A.’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. Inhabitat talked to two artists participating in the Barnsdall Olive Wood Workshop Exhibition and Online Auction: Sevag Pakradouni of Sev’s Wood Crafts and Kasey Toomey of landscape architecture design firm TERREMOTO . Here’s what they had to say about turning wood from historic trees into new works of art. Inhabitat:  How did you get involved with the Barnsdall Olive Wood show? Sev:  My daughter Katherine was the horticulturist and project manager for the recent Olive Grove Initiative which was created in partnership with the Barnsdall Art Park Foundation, the Department of Recreation and Parks and the Los Angeles Parks Foundation. One of the aspects of this initiative involved a horticultural survey of the grove’s existing olive trees and the careful pruning of 400 trees. When I heard that they were going to be pruning the olive trees, I immediately recommended that the wood be saved and utilized, rather than chipped or discarded.  Olivewood is a valuable wood, and one of my philosophies as a wood worker is to salvage and create functional art out of wood that might otherwise go to waste . We worked with the contractors who pruned the trees so that all pieces of wood two inches in diameter or greater were saved and safely stored to be made into future art that would benefit the Barnsdall Art Park Foundation’s goal to restore the grove . Even though some of the wood was still “green” and not yet workable, there were enough dried pieces to initiate this art project mere months after the grove was pruned. After the remainder of the wood cures, we will have even more to work with in years to come. Inhabitat: Tell us about the pieces you made for the show. Sev:  In my woodworking, I like to combine form with function, art with utility. When I thought of the era when this grove of olive trees became the foundation for the landscape of the Hollyhock House, I wanted my piece to harken back to that period of time in history, so I decided to use my piece of olivewood to make bases for lamps utilizing (now modern LED versions) Edison light bulbs. I let each piece of wood guide my hand to create what it would eventually become, so each lamp base has a different shape and feel from the other. Since Sev’s Wood Crafts is a family affair, my daughter utilized her selected piece of olivewood to create a pyrographic drawing entitled Sentinel . She cut and arranged the wood to form her canvas and then burned her designs into the wood freehand.  She never knows what her designs will be in advance, but allows the wood and her instincts to guide the process.  Olivewood is easy to burn and provides a good contrast, as it is light in color and relatively uniformly textured. Toomey: We selected the most gnarly piece of olive wood we could find, and our creative process started from there. We riffed on the hollyhock/spine motif found throughout the Hollyhock House, specifically the Hollyhock House chairs. We repositioned the olive wood branch as the spine for our stool seat as a direct reference to the olive grove. Also, we utilized wood offcuts from the detritus of our creative practice, highlighted by the red painted board end of the fir that was slapped on at the milling yard. As environmentally-conscious designers and artists, we work hard to use everything with love and care and often are most inspired by what’s left behind. We aim to create environments and objects that are aesthetically, ecologically and metaphysically provocative and productive. Inhabitat:  Have you worked with olive wood before? How is it different from other woods? Sev:  I’ve worked with olivewood before and have always liked its character in finished products. I’ve made vases, bottle stoppers, pens, belaying pins, hair forks and other items, and it never ceases to amaze me. It takes a natural high luster and is highly prized for its dense, intricate grain pattern when the wood is particularly old.  Fun fact: our cats seem to react to the smell of the wood as they do to catnip. If I have shavings on my shoes or olivewood in the house, it isn’t long before they’ve taken notice.  It’s not always easy to find large pieces of olivewood, so I often try to use whatever I can find from trimmings and cast-offs that are considered “leftovers” from other wood workers or carpenters. I can’t abide waste, so I will work with pieces small enough to make a simple hair stick or wooden pendant that my daughter burns with a design in order to maximize its use. Our backyard is a testament to my inability to see wood go to waste, as we have piles of wood we’ve salvaged from the neighborhood, whether it’s a 60-year-old apricot tree the neighbor just cut down, or chunks of miscellaneous wood I’ve intercepted on its way to the chipper. Toomey:  We hadn’t worked with olive wood as a material before, but we have planted many olive trees in our landscape practice. We chose to not manipulate or mill the olive branch into wood. Instead, to honor its natural form, we kept it as is.  Inhabitat:  How do you feel about the Barnsdall olive trees? Sev:  The most exciting olive trees in the grove are the oldest trees. There are 46 of the 463 trees in the grove which are 130 years old and original to the grove prior to the Hollyhock House being built. The wood that comes from the gnarled branches or stumps of one of those older trees has some of the most unique and beautiful character inside. To see a stump remaining from one of those older trees and to know that its demise years ago was treated like the demise of any other dead city tree — meaning it was chipped into mulch and processed as green waste — causes me physical pain to think about.   Toomey:  While they are a remnant of a more agrarian past, nonetheless they remain and persist — offering habitat , shade and food for birds, insects and humans. The integration of the existing olive grove into the Barnsdall landscape design by Frank Lloyd Wright is analogous to our entire design ethos where landscapes are curated amalgamations of place — the past, present and future. Images via Sevag Pakradouni and Kasey Toomey

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Los Angeles art show features historic Barnsdall olive wood

UK tests cheaper, longer-lasting roads made with recycled plastic

April 25, 2017 by  
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Around 24.8 million miles of roads crisscross the surface of Earth. And hundreds of millions of barrels of oil have been used for that development. Engineer Toby McCartney came up with a solution to that waste of natural resources and the growing plastic pollution problem. His company, Scotland-based MacRebur , lays roads that are as much as 60 percent stronger than regular asphalt roads and last around 10 times longer – and they’re made with recycled plastic. Our city roads require a lot of maintenance over time as weather deteriorates them and potholes open up. Meanwhile there are around five trillion pieces of plastic in the ocean. McCartney came up with an answer to both issues. He turns 100 percent recycled plastic into what he calls MR6 pellets, or small pellets of waste plastic, which replace bitumen , the material used to bind roads together (extracted from crude oil) and sold by oil companies like Shell. Related: Vancouver Becomes First City to Pave Its Streets With Recycled Plastic Normal roads are comprised of around 90 percent rock, sand, and limestone, with 10 percent bitumen. MacRebur’s process replaces most of the bitumen, using household waste plastic, farm waste, and commercial waste. Much of the trash would have otherwise ended up in a landfill . At asphalt plants the MR6 pellets are mixed with quarried rock and a bit of bitumen, and a plant worker told the BBC the process is actually the same “as mixing the conventional way with additions into a bitumen product.” McCartney was inspired to design plastic roads after his daughter’s teacher asked the class what lives in the ocean, and his daughter said, “Plastics.” He didn’t want her to grow up in a world where that was true. He’d also spent time in India, where he saw locals would fix holes in the road by putting waste plastic into the holes and then burning it. He started MacRebur with friends Nick Burnett and Gordon Reid. MacRebur’s first road was McCartney’s own driveway, and now the company’s roads have been laid in the county of Cumbria in the United Kingdom . + MacRebur Via the BBC Images via MacRebur Facebook

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UK tests cheaper, longer-lasting roads made with recycled plastic

World’s first mobile recycling plant turns trash into tiles

April 25, 2017 by  
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Waste management is a pressing problem all over the world, but it’s especially hard for isolated communities that lack access to recycling facilities. Taiwan-based architecture studio Miniwiz has come up with an environmentally friendly solution: TRASHPRESSO, a traveling solar-powered recycling plant that turns trash into tiles. Wherever it goes, TRASHPRESSO takes local waste and recycles it into tiles for use in architecture. The mobile recycling plant is in a 40-foot container platform that a trailer truck can transport, and Miniwiz says the plant opens up similar to how a satellite unpacks in orbit. It can recycle plastic and fabric waste, running on solar power . Garbage is “washed, shredded, melted, and molded” into architectural tiles, and the water to clean the trash is reused in the process. Related: Verti-Cult: Miniwiz Unveils Glowing Green Wall Made From Recycled Bottles The off-grid plant can pump out 10 square meters, or over 107 square feet, of the architectural tiles every 40 minutes. Each tile contains the equivalent of five plastic PET bottles . They can be utilized for exterior or interior floor finishes, according to Miniwiz, “or sold as raw material for further upcycling manufacturing processes like yarning, injection, and extrusion.” Miniwiz CEO and co-founder Arthur Huang said in a statement, “Until now, industrial grade recycling was limited to plants. The TRASHPRESSO overcomes the distance and energy barriers by showing that recycling is possible everywhere. Not only does it serve to transform trash on-site, it also serves as an educational tool in isolated communities.” The TRASHPRESSO will be deployed for the first time this summer to NianBao Yuze on the Tibetan Plateau. The natural beauty of the glacier region has been trashed by tourists who leave behind litter. From there TRASHPRESSO will travel to other remote areas where garbage gathers, such as beaches, lakes, reservoirs, or rivers. Miniwiz showed off the TRASHPRESSO recently in Shanghai to celebrate Earth Day . They’ll bring the recycling plant to NianBao Yuze in partnership with Jackie Chan’s Green Heroes documentary series on National Geographic . + Miniwiz Images courtesy of Miniwiz

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World’s first mobile recycling plant turns trash into tiles

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