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Solutions & sustainability - June 28

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The 12 Steps of Transition - The Movie(s)
(Youtube)
Rob Hopkins and Alex Munslow', Transition Culture
The 12 Steps of Transition are really central to the whole Transition process, and have been documented here in the past.

Now, thanks to Alex Munslow's inexhaustable one-man editing empire, we can now present two films which, combined, present the 12 Steps in all their glory, using material from the TN event in Nailsworth.

The first one (above) is of Steps 1-6, and the second (below) is Steps 7-12. Combined they hopefully take you on a journey through the steps that can be assembled in a variety of ways to get your Transition process going successfully. Many thanks to Alex for making these available. Where would we be without YouTube? Who ever needs television ever again?
(28 June 2007)
Another video by Munslow: The Importance of Resilience and the History of Totnes.


Soil: The secret solution to global warming
(Youtube)
Quantum Shift TV via Dave Roberts at Gristmill
Quantum Shift TV has made a video about the coming farm bill called "Soil: The Secret Solution to Global Warming." It opens with Canadian superstar farmer Percy Schmeiser, and segues into a smart discussion of farm bill politics. It's about 9 min. long.
(27 June 2007)
The specific suggestion is no-till farming, plus cover crops.


Terra Preta Soils - Agricultural Miracle from the Past?

Richard, Oil, Be Seeing You (blog)
Sometimes we literally can't see the forest for the trees. In recent years there has been a great deal of scientific interest in a soil phenomenon in South America's Amazon River basin, a phenomenon called Terra Preta.

Scientists now understand, though they did not until recently, that Terra Preta soils are anthropogenic, created by man. They were, in fact, created hundreds, even thousands of years ago through the efforts of indigenous peoples living and thriving in the Amazon River basin. It was only recently, through efforts to re investigate myths from Spanish explorers about the fabulous golden cities of El Dorado that the forest behind the trees finally started to come into view.[3] It was through those efforts that the full extent of anthropogenic Terra Preta soils in this area were finally realized. It is estimated that as much as 10%, maybe more, of the soils in the Amazon basin are Terra Preta soils. Only after understanding these magnitudes did archaeologists finally understand how there had been a sufficient agricultural base to support the vast ancient civilizations (now estimated to possibly number into the millions of people) in the Amazon basin, civilizations that, until recently, had largely been written off as myth.

What is Terra Preta soil? Essentially, and it is a mistake to believe this gives a complete understanding of what makes Terra Preta work, Terra Preta is soil that has been enhanced by black carbon, derived from charcoal, and other organic matter. But there is more.
(27June 2007)
Author Richard Embleton speculates how Terra Preta soils were propagated throughout the Amazon Basin, and cautions about the potential lack of viability of Terra Preta sytsems in northern growing zones.


10 Steps to a Slow Home

John Brown, The Slow Home Report
Slow Home is not a product that is purchased but a process to be followed. It empowers you to take control of your home and community. These ten steps will help guide you in that process.

1. GO INDEPENDENT
Avoid homes by big developers and large production builders. They are designed for profit not people. Work with independent designers and building contractors instea

2. GO LOCAL
Avoid home finishing products from big box retailers. The standardized solutions they provide cannot fit the unique conditions of your home. Use local retailers, craftspeople, and manufacturers to get a locally appropriate response and support your community.

3. GO GREEN
Stop the conversion of nature into sprawl. Don't buy in a new suburb. The environmental cost can no longer be justified. Re-invest in existing communities and use sustainable materials and technologies to reduce your environmental footprint.

4. GO NEAR
Reduce your commute. Driving is a waste of time and the new roads and services required to support low density development is a big contributor to climate change. Live close to where you work and play.

5. GO SMALL
Avoid the real estate game of bigger is always better. A properly designed smaller home can feel larger AND work better than a poorly designed big one. Spend your money on quality instead of quantity.

6. GO OPEN
Stop living in houses filled with little rooms. They are dark, inefficient, and don't fit the complexity of our daily lives. Live in a flexible and adaptive open plan living space with great light and a connection to outdoors.

7. GO SIMPLE
Don't buy a home that has space you won't use and things you don't need. Good design can reduce the clutter and confusion in your life. Create a home that fits the way you really want to live.

8. GO MODERN
Avoid fake materials and the re-creation of false historical styles. They are like advertising images and have little real depth. Create a home in which character comes from the quality of space, natural light and the careful use of good, sustainable materials.

9. GO HEALTHY
Avoid living in a public health concern. Houses built with cheap materials off gas noxious chemicals. Suburbs promote obesity because driving is the only option. Use natural, healthy home materials and building techniques. Live where you can walk to shop, school and work.

10. GO FOR IT
Stop procrastinating. The most important, and difficult, step in the slow home process is the first one that you take. Get informed and then get involved with your home. Every change, no matter how small, is important.

Slow Home is a new design environment that will help you learn about modern residential design and how to start integrating the principles of good design into your daily life. Slow Home takes its name from the slow food movement which arose as a reaction to the processed food industry. In the same ways that slow food helps people learn how to become more familiar and involved with the food they eat, Slow Home provides design focused information to empower individuals to step beyond the too fast world of cookie cutter housing.
(June 2007)
Site is recommended by Sarah Rich at Working Assets (The Slow Home Movement). She describes the site as:

a web-based design community and resource library dedicated to taking residential architecture back from the grip of the "cookie cutter houses and instant neighborhoods" churned out by community-blind development corporations, to revive the presence of good design and empower individuals to create homes that will support and fulfill them for a long time. .... [The site is] a positive, constructive and informative collection of resources meant to cohere disparate allies and establish a network for those wishing to see a change in the way we build and live in our homes.


Germany mulling programme to boost energy efficiency

Reuters
The German government is considering launching a plan worth billions of euros to boost energy efficiency and cut the use of oil, electricity and gas, a newspaper reported on Tuesday.

According to the plan, the government would increase the amount set aside to modernise older buildings to 3.5 billion euros ($4.7 billion), the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported, citing documents prepared for a meeting between government coalition officials and the energy industry on Tuesday.

State support for renewable energy and cogeneration -- the simultaneous production of electricity and heat -- will also be increased, the paper reported in a preview of its Wednesday edition, citing the documents.
(26 June 2007)

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