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Archive for October, 2007

Greenbuild Chicago and PDX Lounge

Posted by admin | October 31st, 2007 | Filed under Design, Environmental Change, Positive Change, Sustainability, Who We Are

chicago_sears_tower_23.jpgNext week, the Greenbuild Expo will be in Chicago, making the city the site for a multinational event celebrating years of research, development, and innovation in sustainable architecture and construction. It is said to be the biggest Greenbuild yet, with approximately 18,000 attendees”the first conference only five years ago drew 4,200. No less than Former President Bill Clinton will be on hand to kick off the show. Needless to say, this will be an epic reference point for the future of the eco-conscious design and building community… and for those of us who live and work in buildings.

On the evening of Wednesday, November 7th, after a full day of keynotes by internationally-renowned leaders and innovators, over 850 exhibit booths demonstrating the newest products and technologies, and dozens of educational sessions, we will be winding down (or just starting to kick it to the sun) at the PDX Lounge for Film & Fashion Night. Located at the Chicago Illuminating Company, PDX Lounge is a home away from home during Greenbuild for Oregon businesses with an interest in sustainability. Film & Fashion Night will feature continuous screenings of independent environmental short films, sustainable outdoor clothing by Nau and footwear from the fine cobblers at Keen, performances of Pilates, Flatland BMX and Parkour by The Tribe, and beats from a seasoned DJ collective”not to mention cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.

Film & Fashion Night will be an event that can only be defined by its audience, so, download a ticket, print it out on sustainable goods, and come enjoy the unique flavor brought to us by a Portland communal in Chicago, the best No Coast City with one of the greenest futures.

The Details:

WHO: Hosted by Nau, Keen, Tonkon Torp, Oregon Economic and Community Development Department and Sustainable Industries Magazine.

WHERE: Chicago Illuminating Company, 19 East 21st St. (Less than 3 blocks from Greenbuild.)

WHEN: Wednesday, November 7th, 9pm-Midnight

No admittance without a ticket, which you can download here.
First drink is free with ticket.

A Building as a Flower?

Posted by Pierce | October 29th, 2007 | Filed under Design, Environmental Change, Positive Change, Sustainability

LBC.jpgImagine a building that is built to operate as elegantly and efficiently as a flower. Imagine a building that is informed by the eco-region’s characteristics and that generates all of its own energy with renewable resources; one that captures and treats all of its water on site, using resources efficiently and for maximum beauty.

The Cascadia Region Green Building Council (Cascadia) is issuing a challenge to all building owners, architects, engineers and design professionals to build in a way that will provide us, and our children, with a sustainable future.

I learned about the Living Building Challenge from a Cascadia member at a recent party. During our conversation, she remarked that 50 projects are already competing to become the first “living building.” Through this chance meeting, I discovered an organization truly committed to pushing the envelope of sustainability.

Read more about it HERE.

How Six Seconds Changed the World

Posted by Alex | October 26th, 2007 | Filed under Design, Personal Reflection, Who We Are


Since getting teased off the playground in grade school for not knowing who Slash was, I’ve never been much of a music aficionado. So if you had asked me yesterday if I’d ever heard of the Amen break, a six second drum solo from the b-side of a 1969 album released by The Winstons, I would have said “no” without hesitation. But I would have been wrong. In fact, we’ve all heard the Amen break many times, though I wouldn’t have known it but for this short film that provides the background for a cultural touchstone so ubiquitous it’s faded into the soundscape of everyday life.

Though a tad on the long side”I get the sense the narrator slowed his voice down for anonymity”this video provides a fascinating history of the Amen break’s transformation from B-side drum break to foundation sample of 80′s hip-hop to jungle dance beat to its modern incarnation as the background music in SUV commercials. Along the way, it demonstrates the power of data-sharing to create new genres of music, foster cultural movements and even contribute to the development of new economies. In doing so, it intersects many of the ideas of the open-source movement, such as those espoused by Copyleft, as well as the principle behind Nau’s decision not to license its fabric technologies, thereby making them available to competitors (through the individual fabric vendors) royalty-free. Read More »

I Want My VBS.TV

Posted by Rick | October 22nd, 2007 | Filed under Environmental Change, Positive Change, Sustainability


When I was in Nicaragua last summer I was watching MTV Central America and a really amazing program came on called VBS.TV. The episode I saw had a segment called “Toxic Brooklyn” and another called “Toxic Alberta” (above) that described in great detail how polluted and messed up these celebrated places are. It didn’t take me too long to figure out that the show was produced by Vice magazine. Their trademark biting sense of humor was there, but the message”at least the one they syndicated”was deeper than their printed “Dos and Don’ts” style critiques (not that those aren’t a hoot…).

The reporting was thoughtful, sharp, challenging and funny. I made a note to start watching the program on MTV in the States. When I got home, I discovered that VBS.TV isn’t syndicated in on US television. It turns out that although MTV is involved with producing the channel, which exists at www.vbs.tv, they haven’t found the programming suitable for North American audiences. Another head-scratcher: Why aren’t the countries that would actually benefit most from these programs being given the chance to see them on the boob toob? Their tagline pretty much says it all: “Rescuing you from television’s death like grip.”

The icing on the cake came last month when I found out that Tyler from my favorite surfshop, Mollusk, launched a program called Hi-Shredability on VBS.TV. Check out an episode on Dan Malloy here.

Zero Per Gallon

Posted by Alex | October 19th, 2007 | Filed under Outdoor Sport, Positive Change, Sustainability

zpgred.jpgI’d started seeing these stickers around Jackson, Wyoming about a year or so ago on cruiser bikes and skateboards, but it wasn’t until last week that I learned they’re part of a wider campaign being waged by a college classmate. In addition to stickers, patches and t-shirts extolling the virtues of petroleum-free transport, Jonny5 and his crew produce belts out of worn-out bike tires and keep a blog of their adventures. The (unabashedly meager) profits are going toward buying a 45′ boat to sail around the world. You can check out Zero Per Gallon here.

Reasons to Love Portland #82: TLC Harvest Festival

Posted by admin | October 17th, 2007 | Filed under Environmental Change, Positive Change, Sustainability

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A few weekends ago my family and I headed over to the Tryon Life Community Farm to celebrate in their second annual Harvest Festival. TLC farm, as it is affectionately called, is the product of an ongoing collective of volunteers and 10-15 sustained residents who have put thousands of hours into acquiring the land, staving off development, and fund-raising to pay the mortgage, all while living and promoting their mission, “to grow community learning in Portland while preserving common green space, restoring native ecosystems, and demonstrating sustainable urban density living.”

The small farm, nestled into the woods bordering Tryon Creek State Park, is only a five or six minute drive south from downtown Portland. However, the short walk from the road into the heart of the farm seemed to transport us miles and miles from the energetic pulse of the city and into an urban yeoman’s dream come true. At the harvest festival we checked out the diverse garden and agricultural techniques used on the farm, explored a sauna and adjacent open-air living space made of cob, watched the farm’s chicken tractor in action (a portable chicken coop, left in place for a day or two, will break up the soil and deposit fantastic fertilizer), met a few of the goats used to mow future garden-space, and enjoyed eating and drinking the uber-fresh/organic/local products of a successful harvest. Live music, a raffle, and a gaggle of jubilant children (and adults!) made for a legitimately refreshing, rejuvenating, and inspiring afternoon.

Getting Along

Posted by Rick | October 16th, 2007 | Filed under Positive Change

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We received an email recently that gave very little information about these photos, save for the fact that the photographer who took the shots thought he was going to lose his huskies when this polar bear materialized on the Manitoban tundra. Amazingly, the bear returned every night to play with the dogs. Makes you think that if these two creatures — whose DNA should be telling them to fight or flee — can get along, anybody can… right?

And Nau a Word from Our Sponsor: Grey Matters Launches

Posted by admin | October 12th, 2007 | Filed under Personal Reflection, Sustainability, Who We Are

small_grey_face_432x264.jpgA few months ago Thomas Friedman from The New York Times wrote an editorial entitled “The Whole World Is Watching.” It was inspired by the new book “How” written by Dov Seidman. Friedman argued that the emergence of the digital world and the blogosphere has enabled a much richer global dialogue and a heightened degree of transparency. The net result, he says, is that how we live our lives and how we conduct our business matters more then ever before, because our actions are available for the world to see. And, via this new ease of interaction within the global village, others can tell many more people about our practices than ever before.

In the course of designing the company that we call Nau, we’ve been clear about our aspirations and desire to create a more sustainable enterprise. However, that doesn’t mean that we haven’t encountered difficult decisions that involved some degree of trade off or compromise. In fact, many of you have asked us thoughtful and tough questions pertaining to some of our decisions. With that in mind, we’ve decided to launch a new area on our website called, appropriately, Grey Matters. Our intent is to expose and explore the “hows” of our business and the rationale behind our decisions on a variety of subjects, from our choice to use PLA to our choices about where our products are made.

We hope that over time this venue will enable more dialogue, foster deeper questioning and generate new learnings. We invite you to visit and engage with us.

Ideal Bite’s Top 10 Tips

Posted by Rick | October 10th, 2007 | Filed under Environmental Change, Sustainability

Picture 2.pngOrganic beer? Vegan sneakers? All-natural lube? Ideal Bite is a tasty website offering daily suggestions on how to live more sustainably. What makes the site so compelling is the fact that these eco-tips are simple, sassy and”to keep the food puns rolling”easy to swallow. Check out their Top 10 Tips to get your green on:

1. Beat SUV-related Guilt.
Want to make less of an impact? Purchase carbon offsets for your auto through services like CarbonFund and NativeEnergy. They’ll calculate the CO2 that your car is responsible for creating and you, in turn, offset that CO2 by funding projects like wind farms that combat global warming.

2. Shop Vintage.
A fact you already knew: it’s cheaper to buy used clothes and furniture at second-hand stores. But a fact you probably never thought of: buying “vintage” is just another form of reusing and recycling. It also helps to avoid support sweatshop labor, and you’ll never have to worry about your friends showing up to a night on the town in the same skirt as you.

Picture 1.png3. Go Natural with Your Yoga Mat.
90% of today’s sticky mats contain PVC, considered to be the most toxic of all plastics. Combine a natural yoga mat (made from organic jute, cotton or all-natural rubber) with non-toxic cleaners that don’t contain potential hormone disruptors… and may all your downward dogs be chem free.

4. Go Veggie – One Day a Week.
Becoming a full-time veg head not your thing? No worries… just pick up a veggie cookbook and try cooking veggie once a week. You’ll be surprised at just how easy it is to eat well while eating healthier. Because meat production’s so resource-intensive, if 10,000 people gave up eating steak just once every seven days, it would save enough water to fill 22,719 Olympic-sized swimming pools and the weight of more than 9 humpback whales in fertilizer.

5. Lather, Rinse, But Do Not Repeat.
According to many hair stylists, shampooing once every two days is usually plenty, unless maybe you’re a swimmer or mud wrestler. The waste that shampoo bottles create should be reason enough, but shampooing too often also strips away beneficial natural oils from your scalp, along with floating more soapy chemicals into the waterways.

Read More »

Made, Recycled, Dismantled in China

Posted by Josie | October 10th, 2007 | Filed under Design, Environmental Change, Sustainability


I happened to catch “Manufactured Landscapes” during its brief stint here in Portland and it brought my busy mind to a screeching halt. It’s a documentary about nature transformed by industry in rural and urban China through the lens of Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky. It won several “Best Documentary” and “Best Canadian Film” awards since it was released earlier this year. I can say with absolute certainty that I will never look at the “Made in China” stamp again without thinking about the images in this movie and my personal contribution to their existence.