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The Though Kitchen - Dedicated to Stirring the Pot

Archive for August, 2007

Protect Our Home

Posted by admin | August 30th, 2007 | Filed under Environmental Change, Personal Reflection, Positive Change, Sustainability

Yes on 49 picture.jpgThe fate of Oregon is on the ballot in less than nine weeks. Measure 49 is the upcoming ballot measure to protect our home — to safeguard those things that make Oregon Oregon. M 49 will fix Measure 37 and protect Oregon from unchecked growth. The work in the next couple of months to pass Measure 49 will determine whether hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland, forestland, mountains, coastal areas and special places in Oregon will be safe, or whether land speculators will turn Oregon into a land of strip malls, sprawling subdivisions, open pit mines and traffic jams.

The passage of Measure 49 is the only way to prevent the destruction of the Oregon we love and the stakes couldn’t be higher…

Measure 37 passed in the 2004 election and not only threatens farms, forest land and open spaces, but has opened up Portland, Bend and other Oregon towns and cities to dangerous, unchecked development such as more Wal-Marts, huge billboards, and buildings without height limits. There are already about 8,000 claims for developments including 6,000 housing subdivisions in the works.

The question is whether or not citizens like you and me will step up to the plate and provide the resources and volunteer hours needed to pass Measure 49. Fighting the misleading campaigns that big land speculators are launching is going to be a challenge, but it’s better than the alternative — unchecked sprawl and the destruction of Oregon’s farms, forests, waterways and open spaces.

I encourage you to visit the Yes on Measure 49 website to learn how you can help.

A moment of appreciation for individual style…

Posted by Eugénie | August 28th, 2007 | Filed under Design, Outdoor Sport, Personal Reflection

070827_skatebike.jpgLast weekend I drove through Oregon’s wine country to go to Otis’s wedding outside of McMinnville (congratulations Otis!). For the bulk of the hour-long drive on 99W, which is part suburb, part bucolic country road, I tailed or was tailed by this guy, whose lawnmower-like speed only barely surpassed my nearly dead Subaru’s. With a nod to the Sartorialist, I had to snap his picture. Form + Function + Pursuit of Passion unite. I think he was on his way to the Chehalem Skate Park in Newberg, which is a work of art in and of itself.

Who Test Drove the Electric Car?

wheel.gifI did! And it was really cool. Ecomotion, a new Earth friendly vehicle dealer opened near my house in Northeast Portland last week, and I couldn’t resist swinging by to see what they were selling. The showroom was filled with electric Zap! cars ” lipstick pink ones, Kermit green ones, fluffy cloud white ones, and even a surfboard blue teeny truck that got me thinking about the possibility of zapping my way to the beach every weekend. Unfortunately, this version of the electric car — only capable of going 25 miles per charge up to a maximum speed of 40 miles per hour — is not freeway legal… yet. Apparently, within six months Ecomotion will carry souped-up versions of the Zap! car that will be faster and capable of going much farther. I’m sure it’s not this one, but the notion of pimping my electro-ride makes me wonder if I could run an extension cord from the bathroom at Short Sands to a parking space.

zap_me.jpgThe car I test drove was the Zap! Xebra, a three-wheel, four-door sedan that seats four and weighs in at 1,800 pounds. The first thing I noticed about the car was how quiet it was. I had no idea the thing was on until I pushed down the accelerator (not “gas pedal”) and it took off. The car has more spunk than I was expecting, and feels pretty solid on the road. I hesitate to call this a glamorized golf cart, with its fully enclosed seating area, classy interior, and faux wood dashboard, but it did rattle a little over bumps. No problem, I thought, and cranked up the little stereo system. Classic rock inspired me put the pedal to the metal and within seconds I had the green machine maxed out at 40.

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Limited Edition Environmentalism?

Anya_1.JPGA couple months ago, I came across an article in The Christian Science Monitor that went into great detail about Britain’s recent revolt against the plastic bag. It chronicled how concerned citizens across the pond have gone as far as encouraging small towns to ban plastic bags and as a result, large retailers have been experimenting with plastic-bag-free days and reusable totes.

Of particular interest to me was a section of the story describing a limited edition reusable cotton bag emblazoned with “I’m Not a Plastic Bag,” designed by London fashion house Anya Hindmarch. The reason it caught my attention was because my Thai sister-in-law had called me a month before, asking that I beg, borrow, or steal one of those very bags for her when they came to the US on July 20. At $10, I didn’t think it was a big deal, but then I found out how impossible they were to get.

It turns out that this bag is a major status symbol, not only in Asia, but around the globe. Sold in limited runs that didn’t come close to meeting their demand, the bags are virtually impossible to buy, unless you’re willing to shell out much higher prices (somewhere between $600-$1000) for originals that are being resold online.

All evidence points to the fact that people want to be seen as green, which is an interesting trend around the world, and not necessarily a bad thing in cases where positive change is the end result. But a trip to Anya Hindmarch’s website made me scratch my head. On the section of the site devoted to the bags, several disclaimers described why bags are so hard to get:

“Due to the unprecedented demand for I’m Not A Plastic Bag in South East Asia and our concerns for our customers safety we will be cancelling [sic] the launches at the following stores: Anya Hindmarch Beijing, On Pedder in Shanghai and On Pedder in Jakarta.”

“Please note all I’m Not A Plastic Bag bags have now sold out in the United States.”

This made me wonder why Hindmarch doesn’t simply make more of the bags (in more earth-friendly ways), allowing more people to use them, thereby reinforcing her mission to raise awareness of the message written on it. And, more importantly, if more people can actually buy and employ the bags everyday, less plastic bags will be produced that will eventually end up in our oceans… right?

Setting Sights for a Sustainable Future

Posted by Josie | August 20th, 2007 | Filed under Environmental Change, Positive Change, Sustainability

If I asked five different people to define “sustainability” I’m positive I’d get five different — and correct — answers. Finding ways to set goals and measure something so slippery is difficult, but the Sightline Institute has developed a way to do it on a geographic scale. Their Cascadia Scorecard has defined and set achievable sustainability goals for the entire Northwest region.

Cascadia.jpegThis 4th annual publication summarizes seven trends which measure sustainability for the Cascadia region (which includes Washington, Oregon, Idaho, British Columbia, and adjoining parts of Alaska, Montana, and California). Using real-world models as benchmarks, this report graphically projects when the Cascadia region will reach goals based on its existing data. The report is a quantifiable way to tell if we’re moving in the right direction and at what pace in health, economy, population, energy, sprawl, wildlife, and pollution.

The Sightline Institute was founded in 1993 and is a not-for-profit organization based out of Seattle. Sightline’s mission is to “bring about sustainability — a healthy, lasting prosperity grounded in place. Nonpartisan and wholly independent, Sightline’s only ideology is commitment to the shared values of strong communities, fair markets, and responsible stewardship.”

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We’ll Take the Tots

Posted by admin | August 17th, 2007 | Filed under Environmental Change, Personal Reflection

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Reasons We Love Summer #237

Posted by Pierce | August 16th, 2007 | Filed under Personal Reflection, Positive Change, Sustainability

hang em up.JPGMy mom taught me the slightly neurotic behavior of going outside and watching the power meter spin. At first I thought she was nuts, but when I bought my own house, lo and behold, I found myself doing it in an effort to see how slowly I could get it to spin. My mom’s initial motivation wasn’t out of any great concern for the environment, but to see how cheap she could make her electric bill.

Summer is the only time of the year that I excitedly open my utility bills. Watching the utility bill bar graphs plummet as July and August round the corner brings great joy to my eyes and wallet. One great factor that has helped me beat the meter race has been line drying. It’s a bit more effort, but nothing beats freshly, and freely dried clothes.

Matador Travel: No Bad Trips

Posted by Rick | August 14th, 2007 | Filed under Compassionate Capitalism, Positive Change, Sustainability

Panga_2.jpgBefore I went to Nicaragua last month, I had a pretty difficult time finding current information about the dynamic political climate of the country and the best places to surf and stay there. Travel books seemed out of date and surf themed sites offered conflicting information between their sales pitches for all-inclusive surfaris. What I wanted were honest opinions from people who had actually been there recently. I needed a little Web 2.0 magic to make sure I scored, not only with the waves, but also with our accommodations and cultural experiences. I did my best to prepare by asking around on message boards and my surf blog“then I purchased a wildly inaccurate online surf map, booked a condo and a cheap flight, and crossed my fingers.

The trip went great, but it could have been better with a little practical advice from people with Nica surf experience (For instance, I lost a whole day of surfing because the airline I chose didn’t allow surfboards on flights to Nicaragua).

Picture 2.pngWhen I plan my next adventure, I’ll check in with a new travel site called Matador Travel, a startup that’s building a community of creative, passionate travelers who also happen to be socially conscious. So far, I love how the content is set up, with articles and blogs organized into categories like sustainability, music+art, travel+place, sport, and innovators. The company is also part of the 1% for the Planet program, with Surfrider Foundation as their beneficiary, which I’m especially stoked about.

Matador also has a cool new feature called The Bounty Board, where travel writers and photographers can pick up a few bucks by covering assignments that they (and other travel companies) are looking for. And wouldn’t you know it? One of the stories they’re after is a piece on “Surfing Central America.” The Nicaraguan travelogue I’m planning on submitting includes this list of dos and don’ts:

1. Check airline rules (small print) for embargoes on oversized baggage to Nica.
2. Get full insurance for your rental 4X4.
3. Read Salman Rushdie’s The Jaguar Smile.
4. Prepare for rolling blackouts.
5. Bring three boards: Your daily driver, a step-up board, and maybe a fish/quad.
6. Stay out of trouble ” don’t be a “bad gringo.”
7. Have backup plans for flat spells: day trips to Granada, hiking volcanoes, etc.
8. If you don’t stay on a surf break, budget for boat trips.
9. Bring old gear to give to local kids.
10. Support Nicaraguan-owned restaurants and hotels.

Click here to check out my profile on Matadortravel.com.

Recommended Reading

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As The Thought Kitchen nears its one-year anniversary (8/24, for those of you interested), we’re pretty thrilled about the ideas, discoveries, people and topics that have found their way into our company. We’ve grown in our awareness of the blog world, and awareness of us has grown as well. To that end, we wanted to acknowledge that we’ve updated our list of Like Minds links (at left) with a bunch more interesting, compelling and often inspiring sites. Check ‘em out. They’re where we go for insight, info and laughs. You should too. Thanks for reading, and keep the comments coming!

How Easy Is Walking?

Posted by Alex | August 8th, 2007 | Filed under Environmental Change, Positive Change, Sustainability

Picture 4.pngWith good planning and zoning, your neighborhood can provide most of your everyday needs within easy walking distance. With bad planning, you have to hop in your car every time you need a half-gallon of milk. Though the charms of a suburban cul-de-sac might once have seemed to outweigh the pain of having to drive everywhere, it’s hard to ignore the problems it’s helped to engender: sprawl, obesity and carbon emissions.

By now, you probably know how easy ” or painfully difficult ” it is to walk in your neighborhood. But in a cool new Google Maps mashup (and I’m a sucker for any Google Maps mashup), Walkscore.com rates your address on a scale of 0-100. At the same time, it maps and lists everything from the grocery stores and restaurants to bookstores and libraries in walking distance of your home.

So check it out. Who knows? Maybe your neighborhood is more walkable than you think. Via Treehugger.