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Erik Hoffner's Posts

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Urban Ag Revolution

Will Allen talks about growing the ‘Good Food’ movement

This weekend I caught up with Will Allen who was keynoting the always excellent Northeast Organic Farming Association's Annual Conference in Amherst, MA. He’s founder and CEO of Growing Power, the country’s premier grassroots urban gardening program, and also a MacArthur Genius Award Winner and former pro-basketball player. Growing Power demonstrates growing methods through on-site workshops and hands-on demonstrations, and has farms in Milwaukee and Merton, Wisconsin, and Chicago, Illinois, where they grow vegetables, fish, bees, livestock, worms, and more. They have also established satellite training sites in Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Mississippi. Erik Hoffner: What’s the youth component’s …

Read more: Food

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Prison Farms and the Future

Canada set to close important asset: its prison farms

In February 2009, Canada's Public Safety Minister and the country's Correctional Service announced a planned closure of all six of the prison farms owned by the people of Canada and operated by CORCAN - the branch of the Correctional Service that operates the farm rehabilitation programs which also provide employment training to inmates. The excellent syndicated Canadian radio show Deconstructing Dinner, which covers the local food movement, detailed all of this in its July 2nd show, and it's a fascinating listen. The proposed closure is a move that's spawned a national grassroots movement to block the action, Save Our Farms. …

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Earth and Sky and Shell Oil

A clear voice for science?

I really like Earth and Sky's podcast, just not the part about it being a mouthpiece for Shell Oil lately. Sad but true. I've been listening to it for half a year on my device, and it seems like nearly once a week, this daily 2 minute podcast, which claims to be heard 100 million times each week, interviews a Shell scientist about how global warming is real and action must be taken. Earth/Sky never in my experience interviews scientists from any other oil company, and never discloses that Shell is paying them, unless you go to their site, where …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Canvass(ing) their Ass(es) off

Making change, one door at a time

It's officially summer, and one thing that brings, besides Kennedy yacht races on Nantucket Sound, is an army of thousands of kids with clipboards, out canvassing neighborhoods, street corners, and subway stops for green: green causes and the green of cash. This tried and tested organizing tactic is a mainstay of many groups from Sierra Club to the PIRGs (college-based public interest research groups), and is one of the biggest, most regular shows of force that the green movement has outside of climate rallies and mountaintop removal protests. It's proven to build member rolls and donor bases, yet has many …

Read more: Living

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burn, baby...burn?

Big biomass, bigger opposition

Electric cars powered by the burning of biomass would "average 81% more transportation kilometers and 108% more emissions offsets per unit area cropland than cellulosic ethanol" according to a recent study, and climate science guru James Hansen has declared implementation of biomass crucial to combating climate change, but those endorsements won't make a bit of difference if few bio-electricity plants are built due to pollution and sustainability concerns. At least that's the state of play here in Massachusetts, where 5 biomass plants are proposed and face big hurdles. Two are further along than the rest: Russell Biomass proposes a 50 …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Go deep, organic!

Coleman’s elegant year-round vegetable production blueprint

The June National Geographic features a story The End of Plenty which starts off saying that even though humans produced a record amount of grain last year, we still had to dip into stockpiles from past years to feed ourselves. Sobering stuff. But then for solutions it goes deep on the same tired green revolution song and dance, and notes GMOs and the Malawi Miracle (hybrid seeds and a bag of fertilizer for every farmer) as points of hope. But at least it notes all the ways Borlaug’s theory has failed and gives time later in the piece to Vandana …

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Not so bright

Why you shouldn’t recycle that bright-orange paper

One of the thorniest questions I used to get as a recycling educator for the awesome grassroots recycling company EcoCycle in Boulder, Colo., was why 'astrobright' papers weren't recyclable. You know this stuff: the super-dyed paper used by everyone from bands to Girl Scouts to make posters announcing their bake sales and death-metal guitar battles. It's often bright orange, but also comes in every other shade imaginable. The dye used to make these papers is so bright that it has the effect of washing your white clothes with one dark blue T shirt and are hence called 'beater dyes' -- …

Read more: Living

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National River Heroes announced

River Network is a crucial national organization working to build the capacity and effectiveness of grassroots activists and groups that work to improve water quality. This weekend at its annual River Rally in Baltimore, 6 new River Heroes will be named. Here's your sneak peek: Dr. T. Allan CompFounder and Coordinator of the Appalachian Coal Country Watershed Team (ACCWT) and the Western Hardrock Watershed Team (WHWT). An employee of the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, Comp works through the ACCWT and the WHWT to support the efforts of small community/watershed groups in mining communities of Appalachia and the …

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Coal Ash Dumped on the Disadvantaged

In December, a coal slurry impoundment owned by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) gushed 50 times more toxic waste than the Exxon Valdez in a well publicized and inevitable disaster that unjustly ruined many homes and downstream ecosystems. So how to describe what's happening to the sludge currently being dredged from waterways and swimming pools? More injustice, as reported today by The Institute for Southern Studies: "TVA is sending the spilled coal ash waste from Tennessee to landfills in Taylor County, Ga. and Perry County, Ala. The choice of these communities for disposal of the waste raises environmental justice concerns, …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Tired of rearranging your closets? Why not play with some genes?

OMG, it’s DIY GMOs

I learned of a newly popular hobby for the masses thanks to a recent edition of Food Chain Radio podcast: amateur gene tinkerers. It's such an obvious plot for a Michael Crichton book, featuring an innocent experiment wiping the planet's motherboard. Why let corporations and academics in their ivory towers have all the fun? Just join DIYbio and you can access all the info and encouragement you need to extract DNA and poke it WHERE IT DOESN'T BLOODY WELL BELONG without the hassle of safety protocols (why destroy novel organisms in an autoclave when you can just flush them down …

Read more: Food