Living conditions rise in an Indonesian village

November 9, 2021 by  
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Climate change and increased human activities affect every corner of the planet. Whether in New York, Costa Rica, or a remote village in Indonesia, there is always a focus on efficient use of resources. This is the story of how the village of Wajomara reversed a tragic history of impact from natural disasters by creating a plan for the environment , the people and the economy.  Wajomara is located in Indonesia , which is also part of the Nagekeo Regency of the East Nusa Tenggara province on Flores Island. The Regency is divided into seven districts and nearly 100 villages. It’s remote, hilly and completely isolated when the only road into the area is washed out by flooding.  Related: Indonesian eco village features rammed earth domes and ocean views In 2017, a village organization called the Community Disaster Management Group (CDMG) was formed to create a plan for the village that would improve disaster response. At the initial board meeting, the members elected Patris Mana to become chairman. Mana then led efforts to complete a disaster risk assessment and reduce the impact of disasters in the village.  There were several issues to look at — primarily that the area around the village flooded regularly, cutting the community off from nearby resources. Also, annual drought deeply affects the area, limiting the amount of water available for crops, cleaning and drinking.  To better prepare the village for these events, Mana and his team coordinated a disaster response. They trained the villagers how to respond to flooding, earthquakes and fires. It wasn’t long before they had to implement that response. In 2018, heavy rains triggered a landslide that washed out a significant portion of the only road into the village. With a plan in place, the team was able to evacuate the affected households and obtain help from the government to repair the road in a timely manner. Even more significant, they applied for and secured funds to build a retaining wall and a drainage channel for rainwater . They have not had a washout in the years since it was installed. While emergency response is a central component of the plan, Mana realized early on that taking care of the land was going to benefit the village in a variety of ways. With that in mind, he and his team planted trees to slow land erosion, filter the air and balance nutrients in the soil. Since the region’s people relied on farming for their economy and their food , they constructed terraces and water traps on agricultural land to mitigate damage during the rainy season, and make more efficient use of water during the dry season.  In addition, the farmer’s were educated about native plants, especially food crops that required less water to grow in the region. In the forested areas, the villagers leaned into agroforestry, where they grew fruits, nuts and vegetables for the village and to sell at the local market. This system discourages the clearing of forests and increases the primary food and economic support for the citizens. The development of these practices also minimizes the environmental impact of clear cuts. In the five years since starting the program, Wajomara has dramatically changed course from an insecure lifestyle to an area that stands as an example of ready response and land conservation while improving the stability and security of the resources in the region.  The results come from an organized effort to include villagers in the process. In addition to attending response training sessions, citizens are educated about water conservation practices, both in the home and in the gardens. Mana’s group has also submitted a proposal to the government for funds to install a clean water distribution system that will provide water throughout droughts and improve the cleanliness and health of the villagers. They’ve now also embraced organic agriculture after realizing the use of fertilizers and pesticides are not only harmful, but cost more. These combined efforts have led to higher profits from a larger crop yield. A portion of the profits have been used to develop a local banking system that allows villagers to take small loans with low interest rates to grow their farming practices, including building greenhouses and buying better seeds and plants .    Wajomara is a regional example of how acting as stewards to the land goes hand in hand with being stewards to the people and the results are notable. An annual assessment of the resiliency in the village has improved from a basic-status score of 25 in 2017 to an intermediate-status score of 127 four years later.   In addition to the landslide mentioned above, the village has also decreased the effects of droughts by choosing drought -resistant plants, planting according to predictive rainfall and placing plants near existing water resources.  They also reacted to a house fire in 2020 and the loss of two additional houses in 2021 with steps to obtain food and clothing in addition to building materials.  The region is no longer invisible to the local government and the committee continues to apply for program aid. As a result, they’ve been supported with perennial tree saplings from the Environment Agency of Nagekeo district with 700 sandalwood saplings distributed to 70 families and 1,300 mahogany saplings distributed to 50 families. Via Principor Communications Images via John Jordan

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Living conditions rise in an Indonesian village

New business in Philadelphia recycles fabric waste

November 9, 2021 by  
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The biggest brand names and retailers in New England now have more options for obtaining fabric resources. Thanks to a new FABSCRAP building, clothing sellers and designers have a more sustainable, eco-friendly option. FABSCRAP, a non-profit organization, is all about long-term circular business, sustainability and doing good things for the Earth. FABSCRAP reclaims, reuses and recycles post-consumer fabric waste. Thanks to a new facility recently opened by the non-profit organization in South Philadelphia , many huge retailers in New England will have access to this material. FABSCRAP has set up shop in the historic BOK building in South Philly, with the aim of engaging local artists and community members in the neighborhood. Related: Osprey uses recycled plastic fabric for durable bags This is destined to become the signature fabric waste recycling service for FABSCRAP. It will engage with companies in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia and New Jersey to serve as a resource for sustainable materials for designers, clothing makers, artists and others. FABSCRAP will provide textile recycling services and provide materials to any businesses and individuals who want to use it. FABSCRAP has also partnered with Nordstrom to create a partner portal that allows all brand partners to access diversion data and environmental impact data. This portal will increase supply chain visibility to promote more responsible decision making. Part of FABSCRAP’s goal is to increase transparency and awareness about commercial waste. So far, the organization has saved almost one million pounds of fabric from landfills . As far as CO2 goes, that’s the equivalent of planting 110,000 trees. The pioneering system of recycling and reusing fabric waste and making it more accessible could change the fashion industry. Every year, more than six million tons of textiles are thrown into the scrap heap and end up in the trash. Swatches, samples, mock-ups, scraps, excess yarn and trim and more materials all end up being thrown away. FABSCRAP saves these materials so they can be used again. These fabrics have not been used or worn. And FABSCRAP knows there is no reason for it be thrown away. + FABSCRAP Photography by Erica Schroeder

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New business in Philadelphia recycles fabric waste

Largest nature reserve in Jordan threatened by copper mining

October 5, 2021 by  
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Dana Biosphere Reserve is the largest and most ecologically diverse protected region in Jordan . The reserve extends over 300 square kilometers and includes a mix of natural features that give it its natural beauty. The shallow valleys, mountain ridges, plains, indigenous trees and wildlife diversity make the biosphere a beauty to behold. However, a Jordanian government plan to explore copper mining within the reserve may threaten that beauty. Abdulrahman Ammarin, a local conservationist who protects the reserve, has been open with his frustration. “The excavations will ruin the area we were protecting for so many years,” Ammarin told Al Jazeera. He warns that such an attempt would lead to the loss of key species , some of which are only available in Dana. Related: 23 species are about to be declared extinct Ammarin has worked with the Royal Society For the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) for 20 years. The RSCN is a non-governmental organization that runs Jordan’s reserves. The Bedouin tribe, which Ammarin hails from, has also protected the reserves for centuries. According to Ammarin, the exploration of copper in the reserve would lead to irreversible effects. He argues that besides the effects on birds, animals and the ecosystem, it would also affect the local communities. “The pollution will affect all of us,” Ammarin said. The Dana Biosphere Reserve was established in 1989 and has remained protected since then. The reserve is home to over 800 different species of plants and over 215 species of birds . These species represent roughly one-third of all plant species in Jordan and about half of the bird species. Some of these are already threatened, while others are native to the reserve. Conservationists are worried that mining might drive away such species. The RSCN and other conservation groups have condemned the decision by the Jordanian government to go ahead with its plans. According to Al Jazeera, the government began choosing mining areas in August. “It’s a very diverse area with four different bio-geographic zones, and it also has important archaeological sites. Its biodiversity and heritage need to be protected,” said Fares Khoury, co-founder of the NGO Jordan Birdwatch and a professor of animal biology. Via Al Jazeera Lead image via Jonathan Cook-Fisher

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Largest nature reserve in Jordan threatened by copper mining

Take a trip to explore natural beauty on the San Juan Islands

September 24, 2021 by  
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As I pick my way between the crazily-shaped logs, to the water of South Beach on San Juan Island, it’s a driftwood lover’s dream come true. Some pieces are propped up to make primitive shelters. I’m here to run a half marathon and see some fellow runners huddled inside these shelters, appreciating the windbreak as we watch gentle gray waves and await our start time. Only an hour off the Washington coast by ferry , the crowds and tall buildings of Seattle seem very far away. Related: Green-roofed vacation home embraces old-growth trees in the San Juan Islands The San Juan Islands include 172 named islands and reefs. But only a handful are well known, even in Washington, and only a few are served by ferry. I recently spent a September weekend exploring San Juan Island on the hunt for nature experiences and a look at island culture. Outdoor adventures My friend and I drove up from Portland and took the ferry from Anacortes to San Juan Island on a Friday morning. Since the road around the island is only 41 miles, we figured we’d have plenty of time to see everything. However, once we started dilly-dallying on island time, the hours evaporated. We started by driving up to Roche Harbor at the north end of the island, where we visited the San Juan Island Sculpture Park . The park covers 20 acres and displays more than 150 works of art , many made from recycled materials like sheep crafted out of old fishing nets. The garden area around the entrance is more manicured, with sculptures surrounded by plantings. But our favorite part was the Whimsey Woods, a forested trail full of art surprises like garlands of old LPs strung between trees, or a strange little outdoor living room with colorful, broken-bottomed chairs arranged around a creepy monkey jack-in-the-box. The park displays an ever-changing collection of work. If you’re an artist, you can find out about submissions here . Visiting a mausoleum is not everybody’s idea of a good time, but Afterglow Vista draws an impressive number of tourists. This mausoleum is the final resting place of John S. McMillin and his family , who monopolized the limestone trade on the west coast in the late 20th century. The huge round structure features seven columns (one broken, to represent life cut short) with a limestone table surrounded by six stone and concrete chairs. The ashes of the family are in the base of those chairs. McMillin was a Mason and the huge structure reflects Masonic symbolism as well as that of various spiritual and architectural traditions. While we didn’t manage to work whale watching into our trip, it’s one of the reasons I most want to return to the San Juan Islands. The Southern Resident Killer Whales who frequent the waters of the islands include three pods: J, K and L. They follow salmon and are most often seen in the summer months. The best ways to view them are from land, on a whale watching cruise or in a kayak. Or you can do like we did and visit the excellent Whale Museum on a rainy afternoon. If you do venture out by boat or kayak, follow these Whale Wise guidelines so you don’t harm or disturb the orcas and other local whales. Lime Kiln Point State Park on the west end of San Juan Island is considered one of the world’s best whale watching spots. Biking , hiking and running are other good ways to get outside and see the island. San Juan Island has both forested and beachy trails. Biking is very popular. Some people bring bikes on the ferry and get around on two wheels. But watch for cars—the roads are narrow and some have little in the way of shoulders. I participated in Orca Running’s annual San Juan Island Half Marathon, which is a fun way to check out the scenery with running support like periodic electrolytes, gels and portable toilets. Visit the lavender farm If you like the smell of lavender , stop at Pelindaba Lavender Farm. When we visited in September, the flowers in the organically certified fields had turned an inky purplish charcoal, rather than the typical purple. Turns out, that’s the time to harvest lavender for its oil. Culinary harvesting happens earlier. We got a lavender education and saw the distilling process in action.  The grounds are open for picnicking and wandering. Pelindaba’s website lists an impressive number of ways the public are invited to use the space free of charge, no reservation necessary: book club meetings, vow renewals, elopements, photo shoots and yoga in the fields. But I found it impossible to leave without a sack full of lavender souvenirs—salve, lip balm, essential oil, dark chocolate lavender sauce, to name a few—as well as, consuming a cup of lavender/lemon sorbet on the premises. Dining out Mike’s Café & Wine Bar is a phenomenal restaurant with a sleek, modern look and an all- plant-based menu. It’s a happening place on a weekend night and draws way more than just the vegan crowd. Locals stop in for Northwest beer and wine. Visitors like me are thrilled to see a big menu of tacos, interesting salads, sandwiches, bowls and fancy hors d’oeuvres. Since the islands are known for seafood, I was drawn to the crabby tacos made with vegan crabby cakes. We also got an appetizer of heirloom tomatoes with plant-based mozzarella and some delicious shishito peppers. The Cask & Schooner Public House also has several clearly marked vegan items, including an eggplant and red pepper spread sandwich, and a chickpea and leek saute. For coffee, we got hooked on the Salty Fox, which is in a big white Victorian house. Not only was the coffee good, but it’s perfectly situated on the harbor to watch the ferries and other boats come and go. Getting around We took our car on the ferry and then drove around the island, as many visitors do. But there are much more eco-conscious ways to go. You can leave a car in Anacortes and walk onto the ferry. Or take Amtrak to Mount Vernon, Washington, then get to Anacortes by Uber or public bus . Once you arrive on San Juan Island, you can get around by shuttle bus, or rent a bike, e-bike, scooter or electric car. Be sure to reserve your ferry passage ahead of time, especially if you’re bringing a car during the high season of June through September. Amy Nesler, stewardship and communications manager for the San Juan Islands Visitor Bureau , would like to see more visitors arrive car-free. Her ideal visitor “patronizes local shops, restaurants and tour operators, while being patient, kind and appreciative of service workers. They respect traffic etiquette, stay on marked trails, leave campsites/picnic areas better than they found them and maintain a respectful distance from wildlife , whether on land or sea.”  Where to stay Islanders are conscious of their island ecosystem, so many hotels have green initiatives. One of the best is the Island Inn at 123 West in Friday Harbor, the main town on San Juan Island.  Once the site of a fuel and storage facility for the local fishing fleet, cannery and ferry, the hotel is now Silver LEED certified. They reuse rainwater, supply extremely lightweight towels and sheets to save on laundry energy and stock refillable bath amenity dispensers to cut down on waste. Plus, they feature a custom blend by San Juan Coffee Roasting Company packed in recyclable materials. If you venture over to Orcas Island, the Pebble Cove Inn & Animal Sanctuary will serve you vegan food and prepare your room using cruelty free, natural cleaning products. You can meet adorable rescue animals like Dolly the mini horse and the Dread Captain Redbeard, a turkey who escaped the brutal American Thanksgiving tradition. Doe Bay Resort & Retreat , also on Orcas Island, offers yoga, massage and outdoor hot tubs. Doe Bay has a long history of being an alternative to the mainstream, from the time a mixed-race couple raised their family on 175 acres in the 1870s to hippie types discovering it in the 1960s and beyond. Photography by Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat

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Take a trip to explore natural beauty on the San Juan Islands

Dry Gardening for a Better Tasting Tomorrow

September 20, 2021 by  
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If your summer water bills – or your local government’s water use restrictions – have… The post Dry Gardening for a Better Tasting Tomorrow appeared first on Earth911.

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Earth911 Podcast: Reinventing Community Recycling With Recyclops’ Ryan Smith

September 20, 2021 by  
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Recyclops founder Ryan Smith has a vision for locally grown recycling services. The company’s Uber-like… The post Earth911 Podcast: Reinventing Community Recycling With Recyclops’ Ryan Smith appeared first on Earth911.

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Earth911 Podcast: Reinventing Community Recycling With Recyclops’ Ryan Smith

Third Space proposal imagines accessible education programs

September 14, 2021 by  
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Studio Saar has teamed up with  Dharohar , a non-profit that runs science workshops and school programs, to unveil the design for a new accessible learning center in Udaipur, Rajasthan,  India . Known as Third Space: The Haveli of Curiosity, this learning and cultural center will support leisure, cultural and educational programs and provide high-quality facilities for learning, socializing and performing arts. Already, Dharohar works with between 30 and 40 schools each year to facilitate programs that support student academic and extracurricular enrichment. Once open, Third Space will have enough space to accommodate 2,000 visitors each day for activities, workshops and laboratories. It will also include a theatre for film screenings and talks, a cafe, shop and store. The proposed plans for the center are inspired by traditional Haveli  courtyard  homes and position trees as wayfinders for visitors. Related: Walk to work at this eco-friendly office tower in India Construction materials will include local white  marble  cut using water jet techniques to create ventilation screens and projecting wind catchers for enhanced passive cooling. The off-cut marble screen waste will be used to create floor tiles and wall masonry on the ground floor. Even the  waste  from marble dust will be used in the concrete mix to reduce cement and sand content, resulting in a whiter finish.  The center will also feature a  rooftop garden  with play spaces for children shaded with tensile fabric and a steel system to limit the use of concrete. The building site is situated adjacent to a 123-acre reforested jungle to provide hands-on opportunities to learn about nature, monitor flora and fauna and connect the community to the local ecosystems.  “Working on Third Space has been an incredibly exciting and rewarding journey so far,” said Jonny Buckland of Studio Saar. “It was a joy to draw inspiration from architectural heritage of Rajasthan and have the freedom to reimagine it. A key challenge for us was interpreting this complex brief and being able to bind the multiple uses into a single coherent building.” Construction for the project commenced in December of 2020 and is expected to be completed by  Spring  2023. + Studio Saar Images © Hayes Davidson and Mir

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Third Space proposal imagines accessible education programs

What Norway’s election results mean for the environment

September 14, 2021 by  
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Norway’s parliamentary election on September 13 tested the country’s commitment to fighting climate change. With the election of new prime minister Jonas Gahr Støre of the Labour Party, many are wondering how the country will reconcile its fossil fuel-based economy with a need for climate action. As David Boyd, U.N. Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment,  reports  Norway has a “strong environmental record.” Hydropower plants generate most of the country’s power, and its air and water are fairly clean. Strict environmental regulations ban fossil fuels for heating in buildings. In August, about 70% of new cars sold in Norway were electric; that’s more than any other country on Earth. These climate-friendly indicators are at odds with Norway’s continued economic dependence on fossil fuels. Related: Modern wood cabin embraces daylight and landscape views in Norway This paradox can be put into context by looking at the history of Norway’s economy. While the Norwegian economy was stable when relying on fishing and timber operations, it grew tremendously as the country began focusing on fossil fuel production. Fossil fuels comprise 14% of Norway’s GDP and 41% of its exports. The industry also accounts for 6-7% of employment. Currently, Norway’s petroleum production is predicted to increase until 2024. Conservatives and Labour, known as establishment parties, recognize a need to transition away from fossil fuels — though their commitment to proactive change is questionable. Still, a coalition between the Labour and Socialist Left parties could produce some changes. Complete ending fossil fuel exploration faces an uncertain future, however, as the Green Party lost out in the election . Summing up the election results, CNN reports, “Labour secured some 26% of the ballots, which translates to 48 seats in the 169-seat parliament. The eurosceptic Progess Party came in third, but is an unlikely Labour ally. The smaller Center Party and the Socialist Left Party gained 28 and 13 seats, respectively. The Greens ended with just three seats, two more than it already had.” Via Time , CNN and Life in Norway Lead image via Pixabay

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What Norway’s election results mean for the environment

Explore the Saltbox Passive House’s sweet sustainable design

August 20, 2021 by  
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The Saltbox Passive House is located in Bromont, Quebec , and is a residence for a family of four. The 3100-square-foot home sits in a meadow at the edge of a 2.5-acre wooded plot. Its design combines elements of the local context with energy-efficient strategies to enhance sustainability while maintaining a modern aesthetic. Through the efforts of the architects from Atelier l’Abri, the contractor Construction Rocket and consultants from the Passive House Institute U.S. (PHIUS), the building has obtained LEED Platinum and PHIUS 2018+ certifications, making it the third certified passive house in Quebec. The architects employed an L-shaped plan with two different roof slopes that mirror the topography of the landscape. The name of the house stems from the architectural language of saltbox buildings, a form of vernacular architecture from New England . The primary characteristic of saltbox houses is a gable roof over the main section of the building with a single-pitch roof over the lower section, making them easy to identify at first glance. Related: Passive House-certified residence frames ski resort views in Utah The Saltbox Passive House comprises three levels, of which the bottom two are tucked into the mountain along the rear retaining wall. The basement level serves as a workshop and houses a garage. The ground level includes shared spaces for the family. This includes living and dining spaces, which are organized around a double-height volume encompassing the kitchen, pantry, mudroom and powder room. This volume extends to the top level and is adjacent to the passageway that leads to the private spaces, including the three bedrooms and a home office. Throughout the design process, the architects collaborated with consultants to ensure that the project met Passivhaus Institut standards. Established in the early 1980s in Germany, the institute promotes buildings that consider occupant comfort while maintaining high levels of energy efficiency. This is often achieved through the use of well-insulated interiors, extensive heat recovery from mechanical ventilation systems and conscious design of openings for thermal comfort. Several design choices were made to ensure high performance without compromising comfort and aesthetics. The house incorporates south-facing, triple-glazed UPVC openings to capture sunlight and frame views of the lush landscape while serving as a means of passive solar heating. Close attention to materiality has further reduced the building’s carbon footprint. Cellulose insulation, excavated stone for the retaining wall and cedar cladding are all readily available in the region and aid in keeping the house thermally insulated. Though the building is connected to public electricity systems and utilities, its enhanced environmentally friendly measures reduce dependence on these facilities. + L’Abri Photography by Raphaël Thibodeau

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Explore the Saltbox Passive House’s sweet sustainable design

These 6 startups are creating buzz around edible insects

August 18, 2021 by  
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It’s not something you can swat away: Insect-based foods are winging their way to your local market.

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These 6 startups are creating buzz around edible insects

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