Archive for environment

Environmentalist

Posted in Critical Commentary of Civilization, Environmentalism, Organic Development, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on December 27, 2015 by Drogo

An environmentalist is not purely one type of strict practice, nor does it mean that an environmentalist does nothing to pollute or kill things. Not all environmentalists are pacifists, vegans, or political radicals. Perhaps some of the best environmentalists are more strict about their actions regarding anger, diet, or society; but snobbishness is not the heart of environmentalism. Environmentalists think and act in many ways that they and others believe are good for Nature and individual habitats. This does not mean that we all do more than one type of thing towards natural goals, nor does it mean that we never do anything that hurts others or their environments, the truth is we all are consuming resources from living and non-living things on this planet; which pollutes to various degrees. The ultimate environmentalist is a non-existent person; for even in death we pollute some; therefore the next best thing to never being born, is safe, painless, and legal suicide options. Since we do not have safe, painless, and legal suicide options, and our deaths would only leave the worst types of people on the planet, we should at least do what we can, within our own capabilities and circumstances, which for some people will be more diet based, and others will be more political, and others will be both mixed or more personal and not subject to the judgment of others, because of decisions they have made that are not observed by anyone else.

Here is my response to anyone that says you have to practice only one type of eco-thing, or all types of eco-things, to be environmentalist; you see it starts getting like Christian ‘Sin’ to shame all those not practicing your particular belief, and claiming that one branch is superior to another because they have figured out the ‘word of god’ more than others… Certainly i believe vegans are good little environmentalists in their own ways, just as vegetarians and omnivores do good for the environment by not just eating meat products exclusively; but to say that someone is not an environmentalist because they do or do not contribute in some ways to the system is fucking bullshit. Why? Because the issues are more complex within and without any system; for example no one thing in this World is the cause of everything in this World, FOOD, MONEY, JOBS, TRANSPORTATION, POPULATION all are pollution factors but they are also connected and not exclusive to all environmental problems.  – Drogo Empedocles

Fairs as Wilderness Stewardship Sponsors

Posted in Events / Celebrations with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 5, 2014 by Drogo

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I attended the 2014 ‘Harpers Ferry Outdoor Festival’ (HFOF) at the ‘Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship’ (BRCES) because I believe in the concept of celebrating art and sport to preserve wild land and clean water. It is amazing to consider, during a recession based on commercial monopolies, that it is possible to support local talent and save our woods, forests, creeks, rivers, and the wild and free creatures whose lives depend on these environments. During an era where it is common for people to litter on their way to a job that pollutes natural ecology, events like HFOF are truly revolutionary and patriotic in Native American terms.

The BRCES land is beautiful; almost 1,000 acres of wilderness and a small organic farm run by a caring family. Years ago when I visited with my father, BRCES had just begun their mission on the land, and the old white house was over grown and in disrepair. Now the buildings and land are functional again, while being in harmony with the landscape. BRCES is truly a success story for environmentalists.

Volunteers run the show during HFOF. I was lucky enough to be a volunteer under the leadership of President Lisa Cullinane. Lisa is very friendly, kind, and smart; which by the way is my favorite kind of leader. We started preparing a few weeks before the event, and by the event I felt things were flowing well. Vendors are small businesses and non-profit organizations that rent spaces around the field, using tables and tents. I really enjoyed the variety of concessions, and the food and drink was good. There are always tensions and stress involved in any production, but any problems that arose were resolved. Hundreds of people attended the festival; although my non-profit tent for ‘Sustainable Cooperative for Organic Development’ (SCOD), and my fine artist partners did not get visited by many people during the event, so we did not make any earnings. For me it was ok, because I believe in the concept and I was happy to be there.

Camping was easy. I slept in my tent the first night, in the field behind my table. At night the humidity lifted, however this created a dew which saturated my books and artwork exposed to the sky; however items in the tent and oddly enough below the table-cloth were fine. The second day my art partners arrived and set up a tent to shade us a bit; which really helped survive a day of full sun in the field. I also wore sun-block, a large hat, and sunglasses so as to not be sun-burned. Some of us rented the white house for the second night, which was very nice indeed! Staying at the house was a relief from the electric generator that was kept running all night at the main field, to keep their fridge on to preserve the food. Also the best part of the field at the crest, had become over-crowded with vehicles; which in my opinion ruined the very purpose of being there… in other words it turned the perfect camping spot into a parking lot. Despite traffic congestion, most reveled in the mirth, and many stayed up all night with enthusiasm and excitement!!

Bands began playing the first evening, and continued through the night into the next day and night. Some of the bands I had already worked with as friends, so it was a good treat to have them play there. I was even able to deliver my final fan cartoon print-outs to one of the band members that visited my table. Unfortunately I was not able to advertise for the bands, as I had hoped, because like I said very few people came to my booth. Although most of the show revolved around the main stage, my favorite part was the small stage by the grand fire pit. The field has a natural amphi-theater shape around the fire pit; which had just been made formal by Boy Scouts with impressive stone work and movable wood benches. At night the fire pit area hosts musical jam sessions, which embrace the audience, allowing anyone to play with the bands; this is musical freedom and creative collaboration at its finest!!!

Lastly in this article I want to thank everyone that helped make the event happen. Some of my personal high-lights were being with friends, hiking the trails, and witnessing natural phenomena such as the lightning-bug show across the fields, and even into and above the trees!! As I observed the natural light show, I meditated on how often our Nation’s founders enjoyed wonders that surpassed the magic of their technologies back then. Even today many scientists concede that our artificial efforts fail, in comparison to the energy efficiency of the natural world. Thank you also to those that stayed and picked up all the trash! I admit I was tired after the event, and disappointed to once again have to pick up after people that litter. Also the sheer abundance of garbage was not encouraging to my opinion of humanity. However I was pleased there were enough people to pick up all we could find, after many hours of pick-up. I even returned to the site days later to double check that the clean-up was as effective as I thought. Any negative issues did not stop us from having fun, nor did any problems hinder the success of the event as a whole. I definitely want to return next year to BCRES, and be a part of music festivals and sports competitions that donate to wilderness stewardship, and take place within a nature preserve. Please let us get more people to join us!!!!

Rev. Walton D. Stowell II, M.Arch.

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Savannah, Georgia

Posted in Alternative Architecture, Historic Architecture, Organic Architecture, Recommendations & Tributes, Sustainability with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 16, 2013 by Drogo

Historic Architecture, Environmental Landscape, and Urban Social Art

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Savannah has the historic integrity of an ivy-league campus, yet for the poor as well as rich. Yes, it is very much the old pirate ‘Port Royal’ still, but in some ways it also surpasses the nobility of elite university campuses. Even the SCAD (Savannah College of Art & Design) campus is spread throughout the city, and SCAD classes are held in renovated industrial buildings, often with Richardsonian strength; so that liberal education is fully-integrated with the city. As far as competing with modern industrial metropolitan cities, Savannah has plenty of modern and post-modern architecture, and SCAD teaches cutting-edge technology; but it has no desire to be as massively impersonal as New York, or any other major city.

Savannah urban design is overwhelmingly utopian, despite there being dystopian flavors as well. The main streets force cars to either park or drive around the eleven park squares (circuses), while pedestrians can go straight through on sidewalks and bike lanes. It is easy to find any place in the formal city because there are no diagonal streets, one tall building in the middle (DeSoto Hotel), and a few tall buildings downtown parallel with the Savannah River. The downtown main-streets (River Street) on Saint Patrick’s Day are celebrated on par with Mardi-Gras. There are so many unique aspects to Savannah, from its very origins. The basic ‘Roman encampment’ grid urban layout is flavored by multiple circuses with vegetation. Live-oaks, palms, and crepe-myrtle trees are naturally hung with Spanish moss. From sandy soil hedges, herbs, flowers and grasses are also publicly grown for the enjoyment of all.

I will find out more about the city founders, besides Oglethorpe; specifically the Native American chief of the local Creek Indians, because he seems to deserve the same level of respect as the English founder, Oglethorpe. The British and Indians were friends, and one of the largest monuments in a prominent park is dedicated to the Indian Chief’s grave. Southern hospitality is less surface courtesy in Savannah, and more a part of its essence; in regards to integration of whites and blacks, international representation, multi-culturalism, and willingness to welcome even enemies (like General Sherman during the Civil War).

There are several ways to consider the social types that comprise the ‘daily population’ of Savannah. There are five basic social types; the rich residents (white blue-blood aristocracy and new-money millionaires), the poor working-class (merchant and service residents and workers), the street beggars (homeless, hustlers, artists), SCAD students (artists, professors, staff), and tourists (pedestrian, trolley, horse-buggy).

According to Dr. Hsu-Jen Huang (SCAD Architecture Professor), Savannah has been growing, even during the recession. In ten years, the city population and SCAD enrollment have doubled. Some buildings still fall between the cracks, but for every loss two more renovations or new constructs emerge. After the 1994 book Midnight In the Garden of Good and Evil, Savannah has continued to blossom as one of the best cities in the World. Many of its qualities were always inherent in the original urban design, and it continues to grow because of accepted differences.

From the American Revolution, to the Civil War, and beyond; Savannah embraces its strange stories. It has an other-worldly, old world, old town feel. Ghost tours are quite at home with the lamp-lights, cobblestone streets, brick walkways, and French ironwork balconies. It is in fact a small city; one which favors pedestrian traffic more than automobiles. The whole downtown is walkable, and locals often easily commute with bicycles as well (as I did for 3 years).

There are so many fun things to do there, it might be hard to know were to begin; if Savannah were not an immediately immersible, hospitable environment. The whole city is a memory garden, which literally blooms because of all the flowers. There are less flowers and leaves in the Winter, but Fall, Winter, and Spring are best weather-wise; as there is rarely snow, and Summers are often walls of heat and humidity (which it is known for even during Fall and Spring).

Architecturally Savannah is truly unique, with historic world and southern romantic blends. Town-houses often have the side-porch design, as with nearby Charleston, SC. The cast-iron railings and french dormers have that New Orleans feel. Parks and trees really do make a huge difference for traffic. Even while continuing to grow, Savannah is still one of the most colorful and pedestrian friendly cities in America. I can say after living there, the magic is real; including the variety of character personalities that the famous book alludes to.

Midnight In the Garden of Good & Evil describes much of the architectural and social feel of the town. ‘Midnight’ the book has much more analysis of detail, while the film has literally has more visual images. I lived in three parts of town, and often passed by famous landmarks on daily commutes to classes. The main character’s house (Mercer Mansion) is on Bull Street along a square, towards the largest city park, Forsyth Park. Forsyth Park was my favorite park that I loved living on, because of the large open grass lawns, largest and most beautiful fountain, organic paths, and shady flora. There I was free to publicly practice Tai-Chi, hippy folk music, or jogging without much bother.

Most of this essay describes the utopian aspects of Savannah, but this paragraph should put some of the dystopian perspectives in context. The poor and the dead, out-number the rich and the living. Southern swamp-lands naturally have a salty entropic power that corrodes metals, moisture that promotes the decay of organic matter, and massive humidity that stifles productive activity, while encouraging roaches and gnats. The humane social ‘decadence’ of the town, allows for an ease of poverty. Kindness tolerates and sometimes falls prey to hustlers. Vandalism and theft are common crimes in Savannah, with the occasional mugging (typical of cities in general). Although crimes are committed by lower classes, the majority (which are poor) are respectful, lawful, and often generous. So you see despite the ‘scariness’, actual dangers are minimal for a city.

Savannah’s name appropriately indicates the climate heat, and the flat field look of the surrounding wetland marsh grasses. Old pirate maps referred to the lands inland along the River as ‘Savannah Land’. Google Street view is very impressive, with realism. It really helps get the feel for the freedom of moving through the town by photographic vista. In the 1990’s we were taking panoramic photos for architecture projects so it really feels appropriate. Day trips easily include the famous Bonaventure Cemetery, Oatland Island Wildlife Center, and Tybee Island Beach.

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STEWARDSHIP: Freedom and Responsibility

Posted in Critical Commentary of Civilization, Sustainability with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 1, 2013 by Drogo

Part 1: Freedom

One can never truly be free.

As Gerry Spense says, “True freedom is nothingness”. To be free of loneliness, people confine themselves to a relationship of some sort. To be free of their current lives, people drive away in a car to be alone on the highway, but then they are confined to the driver’s seat and their own minds, not to mention the laws of physics. Then people blast off in a rocket-ship to outer-space, and are restrained by life support systems, and their own human minds once again.

Life is about constantly trading one freedom for another. While existing in this universe, we are confined to laws, whether natural or man-made. Physically there is no escaping this reality, but the mind has the potential for freedom, during certain transcendental moments or states. As Immanuel Kant alluded to in his writings; with a rational approach we can determine our terms of reality and freedom, and respond to them respectively.

To live in a society there are obligations to maintain living standards and order. If we respect the lives of others, then we might expect the same in return. If we do not respect the lives of others, then we should not expect respect in return. Perhaps freedom is not just self-determination in choices me make, but also our ability to free our minds from suffering, so that we can enjoy our lives. If freedom is transcendental, then we as a culture can shift our paradigm so that environmental and social stewardship is less of a burden, and more of a freedom.

Part 2: Ethical Responsibility

Respecting the lives of animals is a necessary part of our existence. To maintain and respect what we have achieved as humans, it is the least we can do to maintain and respect the natural environment of which we are all a part. To defend animals from our aggression, we must assign them legal rights, to protect the ecosystem which is our food-chain if nothing else.

As humans we must decide ethical issues in order to be responsible stewards of the Earth, as our population increases. Hunting is natural, but it disregards rights to life. We need to analyze certain natural occurrences, and adjust our living situations according to our conclusions.

It can be said by literal semantics, that when we create something, we are responsible for creating it. For example when asked the question “Are you responsible for creating that?”, and we say yes, then then we are the ones responsible for the action of creating it. This is true biologically as much as technologically; and yet we act like irresponsible ignorant idiots by producing massive amounts of toxic waste, garbage, and other pollutions. As creatures with the ability to reason, perhaps it is time to take more responsibility for our actions. Life is a learning process, and so is evolution; we must be open-minded to different ways of thinking in a New Age.

I think, therefore I am.

Regarding human over-population, I believe that the problem is solvable, but we must be open to redefining our ambitions and reducing our numbers. We have become needlessly dependent on machines created to simplify our lives, but often these devices are not more convenient when the time spent earning the money needed to buy, repair, and replace them is added up. Using the same human ingenuity it took to invent all the contraptions, we can expand our architectural realms and enlighten our ways of living with nature; only then can we progress into space, and work on Universal goals.

The purpose of technology is to secure a good living environment, not to destroy the environment. Technology serves us, so maybe we can put computer intelligence to good use by dealing with our population problem. As humans we must remember our compassion, and never let technology blindly guide us towards a sharp spike, and then a dead-end flat-line.

Responsible human beings should decide for themselves what their own guidelines are for life. We should not have to rely on machines. There are many humans with reasoning disabilities, but society can help them. It is fortunate that groups like Green Peace exists to battle the irresponsible ignorance committed by irresponsible humans. We must strive for responsible stewardship, despite ignorance. The battle between ignorant irresponsibility and wise responsibility is on-going, but it if there is no battle then the lazy selfish ignorant masses will have their way, and the human race will exist as demons and zombies. As we peal away one layer of ignorance, we find another, so it will take a long time. We need to be shepherds of ourselves, and stewards of our domains.

Wisdom through awareness of ignorance.

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Self, Family, & Culture

RWU Dec. 8, 1995

Arcology by Paolo Soleri

Posted in Alternative Architecture, Arts (Design & Performance), Cooperatives / Communities / Networks / Travels, Critical Commentary of Civilization, Individuals / Members / Monsters / Creative Writing, Sustainability with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 2, 2011 by Drogo

Cosanti and Arcosanti

Report based on books, and images and text found on the Arcosanti Project website

Architect Paolo Soleri was a student of Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin East and West. In 1956 he settled in Scottsdale, Arizona and established Cosanti. The Cosanti Foundation then began their largest project called “Arcosanti” in 1970 based on Arcology (Architecture + Ecology). Arcology advocates urban interaction and accessibility in environmental structures. It seeks to minimize the use of energy, raw materials and land, reducing waste and environmental pollution; and allow interaction with the surrounding natural environment.

Arcosanti is an evolving prototype town with a capacity for 5,000 people. Arcosanti demonstrates massive ways to improve urban conditions through alternative architecture, and lessen pollution. Even the mega-structures will only occupy 25 acres of a 4060 acre land preserve. This keeps the natural desert an intimate part of the architectural experience. The rules of nature dictate the human designs, instead of just copying conventional methods that miss the point of living with nature. Arcosanti builds for efficient use of space, resources, and solar orientation.

Stowell Architects owned his books, and  loved his designs.

“Greenhouses provide gardening space for public and private use, and act as solar collectors for winter heat. The residents of Arcosanti are workshop alumni, who work on planning, construction, teaching, computer aided drafting, maintenance, cooking, carpentry, metal work, ceramics, gardening and communications. They produce the world-famous Soleri Bells, as well as hosting 50,000 tourists each year in a Gallery, Bakery, and Cafe open every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day. Guided tours introduce visitors to the philosophy, history, planning and ongoing construction of the site. Concerts and other events in the Colly Soleri Music Center also allow visitors to experience Arcosanti. Shows include dinner, and are often followed by a pictograph light show on the opposite mesa.” – Arcosanti Website

Rainforest Pollution & Deforestation

Posted in Nature Studies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 15, 2011 by Drogo

Rainforest History, Status Updates, and Studies


Amazon Rainforest History

Amazon Rainforest Chronology of Deforestation

Amazon Studies

Amazon Rainforest Oil Pollution by Texaco & Chevron in Ecuador

Understory Oil Pollution Article

Worst World Ecological Disasters

Posted in Cooperatives / Communities / Networks / Travels, Environmentalism with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 5, 2010 by Drogo

Worst World Ecological Disasters

(taken from “Foreign Policy”)

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1. Nigeria

Niger River Delta, Oil Spill

(since 1966)

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2. China

Coal Industry, Underground Coal Mine Fires

(since 1962)

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3. Haiti

Charcoal Industry, Deforestation

(since 1492)

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4. Uzbekistan / Kazakhstan

Cotton Industry, Aral Sea, Water Depletion from dams and canals

(since 1960’s)

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5. Pacific Ocean

World Consumer Production Industry, Garbage Dump Island

(since the 1960’s)

* Garbage Island is now larger than the United States, and 100 ft deep!