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The 100-mile diet

Steinar Ellingsen, The Inland Sea
“We start on the 1st of Feb,” says Ben Clarke. We’re in his front yard, crouching over a pile of drying apricots from Northampton, about 50kms north of Geraldton.

“It’s about as far north as you can grow stone fruit,” he informs us.

“We got these from a local farmers market that is starting up. There’s a few people who are selling stuff there already on Sundays. And that encourages community, when you know the people that are growing your food, and they know who they’re providing it to.”

Not a weight loss program

This is the onset for the 100-mile diet. It has nothing to do with losing weight or looking after your posture. Rather, it has everything to do with connecting to the people, the land and the produce in your local surroundings. It is an attempt to re-engage with place through food. As a teacher in the subject of sustainability at a local high school, this is something that is close to Ben’s heart.

“[As people] we’ve re-imagined ourselves as global Gods and say that we live in a global village, eating stuff that comes from all over the place. When you look in newspapers and they have these recipes that you can cook – nine times out of ten the asparagus that you need is not in season unless you import them from Chile or somewhere else.”

As such, the 100-mile diet involves taking a firm stand against the globalisation of food distribution, and what Ben refers to as ‘replicating humanity as a series of McDonald’s chains.’

“What we’re saying is that to live in Geraldton and to be a part of the community in Geraldton, we need to be committed to working out what it means to live here. What seasons are here and what kind of food can you produce. Because, otherwise you end up in a global suburb where you don’t really know what’s different.”
(19 January 2009)

It’s Just Garbage
(but provides profit and happiness)
Cory Doctorow, Forbes
What corporations throw away provides Darren Atkinson with profit and happiness

Darren Atkinson has discovered a marvelous fact about selling garbage: There’s always more to be had. The 40-something dumpster diver (as a rock and roll drummer, Atkinson is shy about giving out his exact age for fear of dating himself) has been in the game for 16 years, and he’s learned to stop worrying and love the trash. (See Jack of All Trades, Master of Drums.)

“It’s all about the relationships,” he says. “I meet people, maybe they’ve got a degree, six years studying chemistry, and now they’re working at Starbucks, or they used to work in some industry that they still have connections to. They take the junk that they think they can fix or sell, and give me back a cut in cash or trade. And if they rip me off, what have I lost? It’s just garbage.”

Just garbage–but also a successful business. Atkinson has built an empire collecting high-tech junk out of corporate trash bins, repairing it and selling the second-hand goods to customers worldwide …
(8 December 2008)

Tour that rocked the renewable energy world in Florida

Florida Alliance for Renewable Energy
The Florida Alliance for Renewable Energy (FARE) held it’s conference ‘Effective Renewable Energy Policies’ for a standing room only crowd of more than 250 people on February 3rd in Tallahassee.

The conference focused on which policies were most cost effective to the ratepayer and would result in the most jobs created to keep Florida dollars in state. Seven delegate members from the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) were present.

Executives from Q Cells, Phoenix Solar, Solar World, and SMA told the incredible growth stories of their companies and time and again stressed to the crowd the direct correlation between the growth of their respective companies and the implementation of a Feed in Tariff policy mechanism in Germany and throughout Europe.

In Germany, where the Feed in Tariff was crystallized, the country currently produces more than 50% of the world’s solar power while having the solar radiance as Juneau, Alaska. Florida is currently one of ten states to consider such a mechanism, which goes by many names such as Renewable Energy Payments, Feed in Tariffs and Renewable Energy Dividends.

Jobs and economic recovery were discussed at length as the primary benefit of the policy design. The availability to install solar and other types of renewable on every home, church, farm, condo and commercial property was correlated to the thousands of permanent jobs created and millions of dollars that would be kept in the State.
(February 2009)
Online presentations from the conference, including one by Energy Bulletin contributor Jerome Guillet.