Andrée Collier

Andrée Collier (Zaleska) is the co-founder of the JP Green House, and a community organizer at the Institute for Policy Studies. More information about the JP Green House can be found at jpgreenhouse.org. Andree also blogs and hosts discussion on the psychological effects of Climate Change at the site http://www.ClimateGrief.ning.com

Endless Summer?

Is it the natural abundance of vitamin D, or the energy boost of eating fresh foods, or those things we call vacations that remind us how life should be? Everyone feels the happiness, the ease, of summer. This year I noticed something a bit new, though. I’ve spent the last several years developing a critique of current American “civilization” that began with a deepening awareness of the perilousness of climate change. It expanded–because I’m a critic by nature–to include my understanding of what Peak Oil was going to mean, to seeing the effects of our economic recession as a symptom …

A Sailor’s Take on this Ship Of Fools

Dmitry Orlov on why the U.S. is headed toward Soviet-style collapse

Dmitry Orlov“Really, there’s no one at the helm now,” Dmitry Orlov says nonchalantly. We are talking about the economic crisis and the way that the destructive system of our economy operates without anyone really leading it. It’s a perfect statement from a man who has traded in his house and car to live on a sailboat full-time, with an excellent argument for the safety and sustainability of the water-based nomadic existence to back up his decision. Not much seems to ruffle Orlov, who describes his work as the “comparative theory of superpower collapse.” Russian-American and fluent in both cultures, Orlov …

One Less Car; One More Terrified Biker

Car free in Boston, for all the wrong reasons

I’m currently in transportation transition. By the end of the month, I will have transferred my aging VW into my partner’s name, and canceled my own insurance. I will have tuned up my bike, spent a good chunk of money on a metro pass, and signed up with the local car-sharing business. But I’m not here to moralize (unlike in most of my posts). I tanked the car for all the wrong reasons. It was an easy decision to make, after I took my soon-to-be-ex car into the mechanic for a tune-up and came out minus $2,500; and after the …

Really Awkward Moments in a Time of Cataclysm

How to talk to your friends about climate change

I may soon end up walking the streets of Boston with a sandwich board and a tinfoil hat. I know you’ll all remember me fondly when that day comes, and stop to say hello and maybe buy me a sandwich. But in the meantime, with my wits still somewhat collected, I’m going to tell you about my present struggles with self-expression and what I think they mean. I was lucky to find an old friend on Facebook recently, and then to have breakfast with him in Washingon D.C., where we were both attending conferences.  Eric and I spent a summer …

JP Green House intern dines with construction crew

Five construction workers and I crowd around a covered picnic table outside a run-down little house on the outskirts of Boston. Formerly a 100-year-old neighborhood store called "Jack's Corner Store," the place was abandoned for five years before current owners Ken Ward and Andrée Zaleska purchased it in 2008.

The personal is political; the political, personal

Dark winter days at the JP Green House

Family and crew show their climate commitment at the JP Green House.As I write this, the Northeast is methodically being blanketed with a thick blessing of snow, shutting everything down, as if the earth knows we need comfort and beauty after this horrible week. The crisis of our planet manifested at Copenhagen. We held a vigil for 350, singing Dylan into the howling winds of downtown Boston, outside of John Kerry’s empty office. We fasted at the request of 350.org. We followed the grim updates with little expectation, and we rejoiced at the protests of the people and the righteous …

We're with you. Really.

Climate deniers, hold your fire!

I went through a tough half-hour of disbelief this week, when I encountered a very ordinary story in the Boston Globe.  It was about the revised estimates of sea-level rise for the next thirty years and how they will affect our city (guess what?–more of it will be underwater!) The article was short, unremarkable, grim and based on peer-reviewed science.  Then there were the comments. Dave Pomerantz from Greenpeace had emailed the story to a group of Boston 350 activists, noting that the deniers were going wild and we needed to counter by posting something. As I scrolled down through …

They Nailed It

Reinventing the JP Green House

For the last year and a half, Ken Ward and Andrée Zaleska have been rehabbing a 100-year-old former neighborhood store in the Boston neighborhood of Jamaica Plain. They’re converting it into a home for their combined family, a community gathering place, and a zero-carbon demonstration home to inspire others — and sharing their journey in the special series Coming Home: Chronicling the (re)invention of the JP Green House. The firm overseeing the project, Placetailor, specializes in creating homes on the Passive House model, in which supertight insulation and careful use of passive solar create a building that requires no heating …

Low Impact, No Publicity

Simple people

I don’t dislike No Impact Man. He is more intentionally political than his detractors portray him to be, and I think his yearlong stunt of living without toilet paper in NYC has been eye-opening for a lot of people, and amusing for many others. I admit that the “happy green” genre of books that are appearing a lot now, exemplified by Sleeping Naked is Green (by Vanessa Farquharson), make me nauseous: a hot twentysomething journalist makes sacrifices such as “buying only green cosmetics” while traveling to eco-resorts by plane and making amends with carbon offsets. But I was, until recently, …