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Archive for January, 2008

Put a Little Green in the Bowl

Posted by Rick | January 31st, 2008 | Filed under Positive Change, Sustainability

Green Bowl 1.jpgSuperbowl Sunday is usually one of the best days of the year to score uncrowded surf, short lines on ski-lifts, or an empty climbing wall, but if you’re into watching America’s most popular sporting event, you’ll be happy to know that the NFL is taking steps to make the extravaganza a little greener. NPR’s All Things Considered talked to Jack Groh, the NFL’s environmental program director (yes, there is such a position) about what the league is doing to tackle offsetting the big game’s massive carbon footprint. Check out the interview HERE.

Also, I think I may have just coined a phrase: “Bowlpooling.” That’s when you watch the Superbowl with as many friends possible on one television; thereby reducing the amount of overall electricity used this gameday.

Blue and White and Sweet All Over

Posted by admin | January 28th, 2008 | Filed under Outdoor Sport, Who We Are

Hiking for the good stuff!

You know those days when all you want to do is be at home, drinking coffee with your love and watching the weather out the window? Well, if I was at home on Saturday I’m sure that’s how I would have felt. But I was in Utah, burnt after a week on the road to the Sundance Film Festival and the Outdoor Retailer show. I missed my wife, my French Press and any amount of humidity (good thing chapstick falls from the sky like manna at the OR show). I was not at home. Lucky for me, however, Utah in January just happens to have a seriously good cure for homesickness: Alta powder.

So, while the coffee and air quality may not be stellar, that’s irrelevant when you wake up early, beat the crowds (mostly) and score first tracks on Ballroom and the Devil’s Castle traverse and generally ski yourself silly in fresh snow under blue skies. I laughed out loud more than once on Saturday, skiing with an old friend and pushing myself as hard as I could, finding untracked stashes and just burning out the crud of travel and trade show lighting. Home now, I’m rejuvenated by a day in the mountains followed by day of cooking and couch time with my girl. Today, my thoughts turn to the coming storm, and what it has in store for Mt. Hood. Funny how the mountains can do that you.

Has Flip-Flopping Gotten a Bad Rap?

Posted by admin | January 25th, 2008 | Filed under Positive Change

Picture 2.pngYou bet. But rectifying one’s views from time to time is evidence of learning, especially when your shift in thinking is informed by data, experience and personal insight. Every year, at the beginning of the year, the online salon known as The Edge asks an artful question and turns to their community of extraordinary thinkers to respond. This year’s question was formatted as follows:

When thinking changes your mind, that’s philosophy. When God changes your mind, that’s faith. When facts change your mind, that’s science.


Science is based on evidence. What happens when the data change? How have scientific findings or arguments changed your mind?

165 of the world’s finest minds replied. Their words serve as an astonishing entry point to an amazing collection of reflections on science, culture, and the evolution of ideas. It’s a robust kitchen of thought.
Well worth the read.

Pulling Back

Posted by Rick | January 23rd, 2008 | Filed under Outdoor Sport, Personal Reflection

Pulling Back.jpg

Last week I made my first pilgrimage back to the surf since my son was born. Conditions were forecast to be large”maybe too large”but having gotten a green light from the family, I piled in a van with my surf buddies and hoped for the best. When we got to the break, the ocean looked seasick. Massive walls of whitewater tumbled in from the horizon and the inside was a mess. Yet, being optimistic and surf-starved, my friends and I scoured the water for workable shoulders. There were a few, but getting to those waves would require taking a pounding and submitting oneself to unpredictable storm currents.

A brave surfer nimbly negotiated the rocky entry into the churning sea in front of us. He had a long pintail gun under one arm and was wearing a helmet. As soon as he paddled past the inside shorebreak, he vanished from sight into the fog and froth. Then, one of my friends asked the million-dollar question: Do we go for it?

I took a deep breath, filling my lungs with the salty sea air. I imagined the feeling of cold water flushing through my wetsuit. I thought of the slippery boulders, the ice-cream headaches, the huge breakers holding me down as I tried to find the outside; the burning of my shoulders, arms and lungs from a lack of conditioning.

I thought of my new baby at home, waiting for me to come back and play with him.

“Let’s grab a beer and watch the waves,” I suggested. And that’s what we did. We talked trash, told stupid jokes, and planned our next session. It was a blast, and just what I needed, but the experience made me wonder: Would I have charged it if I didn’t have this newfound responsibility?

A Digital Dialogue

Posted by admin | January 22nd, 2008 | Filed under Environmental Change, Positive Change, Sustainability

Picture 5.pngEvery year the World Economic Forum invites many of the world’s top leaders from politics, business, NGO’s and the arts to gather in Davos, Switzerland to talk about how to make the world a better place. This year they’re reaching out to the broader community by asking others to join them — and help out — by answering the “Davos Question” which is:

What one thing do you think that countries, companies and individuals must do to make the world a better place in 2008?

The exchange is being facilitated by YouTube. The idea is to have people submit their response by video. Submissions will be ranked and the highest rated videos will be screened at Davos and responded to by the assembled participants. Is it possible that this emerging form of digital dialogue will kick-start action that will truly make a difference?

A Treasury By Any Other Name

Posted by admin | January 18th, 2008 | Filed under Who We Are


I love the unexpected pleasures that await me as I scroll my daily sites for news, laughs, insight and inspiration. Many of you no doubt know of this site, but today’s post left me feeling like I needed to share. It’s one of my favorites to date, right up there with the one about Herman Melville on his birthday. Just in case you were ever curious about how such a compilation of words as the thesaurus ever came to be, here’s the scoop.

From The Writer’s Almanac:
It’s the birthday of the physician and lexicographer Peter Mark Roget, born in London, England (1779). He was a working doctor for most of his life, but he was also a Renaissance man, a member of various scientific, literary and philosophical societies. In his spare time, he invented a slide rule for performing difficult mathematical calculations, and a method of water filtration that is still in use today. He wrote papers on a variety of topics, including the kaleidoscope and Dante, and he was one of the contributors to the early Encylopaedia Britannica.

He was 61 years old and had just retired from his medical practice, when he decided to devote his retirement to publishing a system of classifying words into groups based on their meanings. Other scholars had published books of synonyms before, but Roget wanted to assemble something more comprehensive. He said, “[The book will be] a collection of the words it contains and of the idiomatic combinations peculiar to it, arranged, not in alphabetical order as they are in a Dictionary, but according to the ideas which they express.”

He organized all the words into six categories: Abstract Relations, Space, Matter, Intellect, Volition, Sentient and Moral Powers, and within each category there were many subcategories. The project took him more than 10 years, but he finally published his Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases in 1852. He chose the word “thesaurus” because it means “treasury” in Greek.

Roget’s Thesaurus might have been considered an intellectual curiosity, except that at the last minute Roget decided to include an index. That index, which helped readers find synonyms, made the book into one of the most popular reference books of all time. It is considered one of the great lexicographical achievements in the history of the English language, and it has been helping English students pad their vocabularies for more than 150 years.

Thoughts for ’08

Posted by admin | January 15th, 2008 | Filed under Environmental Change, Personal Reflection, Sustainability, Who We Are

Green 08 Drawing sm.jpg

OK, we’re a few days late to it, but here’s a selection of well-intended resolutions from the Nau gang. Hopefully they’ll inspire, or at least inspire a chuckle.

What’s on your plan for the New Year?

Eat Tastier Food, Dude
I’m of the school of thought that New Year’s resolutions shouldn’t be painful. As a matter of fact, they should be as decadent as possible, to counteract the post-holiday blues, crappy winter surf and the end of fantasy football season. This year my goal is to eat more delicious meals, meaning I’ll have to shop regularly at the farmer’s market and frequent local restaurants that abide by the slow food ethos like Portland’s Nostrana. Everybody knows that organically grown food tastes tons better and supporting our area’s mom ‘n pop farms and eateries is good for the environment and the health of our community. Next year’s resolution? Drink lovelier wines. “Rick

More Work, Less Office.
I have resolved to put in less time at the office, so as to cut down on the amount of fossil fuel I consume on my daily commute from the houseboat. I will endeavor to drop down to three days in the office, and two days telecommuting from home. If that doesn’t work, I’m just going to shack up with our office manager and walk into work from her house. “Hal

Car Smart
My resolution starts with a dilemma: I have a ten-year-old truck, and I want to keep it rolling. But, 2008 will likely be the year for a trade-in, so I’m looking to move to a biodiesel or a hybrid vehicle. “Ian

Home Is Where the Napkins Are

My resolution is to permanently turn my paper towel holder into an abode for the cloth napkins Santa brought me. “Josie

Deep Thoughts
My resolution for 2008: At the juncture where heart and mind collide, I will choose to follow the heart. “Mark

More or Less?
And mine? I resolve to make 2008 the year of more and less. I will write more of my own work. I will cook more of my own food (good start on that one so far). I will visit my family more. I will ski more (and hopefully better). I will ride my bike more…which means I will drive to work less. I will spend less money, and more carefully. I will spend less time on things that leave me unsatisfied. I will do more, with less, whenever possible. That’s a lot of line items, but after a year filled with richness and exhaustion of the best kind (marriage, buying our first home, meaningful work) I am seeking to reinvest in my own routines and rituals in a way that can hopefully transcend the calendar year.

And yours? What ever they are, the Nau collective wishes you success in realizing them.

Also, if you need some more inspiration for a greener 2008, check this post out.

Blinded by the “Green?”

Posted by Rick | January 14th, 2008 | Filed under Environmental Change, Outdoor Sport, Sustainability

01news.jpgI just got an email from David Hirsh, a lawyer, environmental professional, and longtime surfer who is currently fighting a proposal to place 350 wave energy conversion buoys in and around the surf at Westhaven State Park in Washington. Not only would these buoys potentially destroy the waves at Westport‘s most popular break, but according to Hirsh’s research, these harvesters would have a negative impact on the local ecosystem. Hirsh’s attempt to raise public awareness of the project and to convince local city and county leaders to adjust the proposed location of the buoy array makes me wonder:

When does carbon-free energy trump outdoor recreation? Shouldn’t we all take the time to research the holistic impact of “green” projects, even if the intent is good on a macro level? Am I just being a selfish outdoor enthusiast who doesn’t want to sacrifice a limited commodity”a surf spot”to increase a necessary commodity”carbon neutral energy?

Other issues that are similar to this, and that definitely fall into this line of thinking, are the dam being built on the Ashlu River in BC (see our Collective Video on the subject), and the wind farm controversy currently taking place in a number of eastern states. When do you have to give up part of your backyard to ensure there will be any yards at all?

Cutting Through the Crap

Posted by admin | January 10th, 2008 | Filed under Positive Change, Sustainability

Zoetic_jpg.jpgI recently spoke with Zoe Cameron, who hails from Toronto but is currently living in London. She works as an award-wining freelance journalist specializing in science, environmental, and health-related stories.

When I went to check out her blog Zoetic I found the following post pertaining to the United Nations Development Programme report: “Fighting Climate Change: Human Solidarity in a Divided World.”

Zoe contends that “there’s no better way to cut through the crap and get right to the point than with some simple statistics.” So here are some interesting numbers from the report:

  • Number of Earths required for everyone on earth to have the carbon footprint of the average Canadian: 9
  • 19 million people living in New York State have the same carbon footprint as 766 million people living in the world’s 50 poorest countries.
  • Global average temperature rise we must keep within: 2C
  • Level of ambient carbon dioxide we must keep within to stay under 2C: 450pp
  • Amount developed countries need to cut carbon emissions: 80% by 2050
  • Amount developing countries need to cut carbon emissions by 2050: 20%
  • Therefore, amount the world needs to cut carbon emissions by 2050: 50%
  • Amount required to reach this goal: £800 billion/year
  • What is £800 billion? Just 1.6% of our global GDP

There you have it. Just 1.6% of our global GDP. Would that seriously be so difficult? But there’s one statistic that, to me, is more revealing than anything else:

£800 billion is just two-thirds the amount we spend globally on weapons every year.

There isn’t anything else I need to say.

A Real Humm-dinger…

Posted by Rick | January 7th, 2008 | Filed under Personal Reflection, Sustainability


Rain, flooding, hurricanes, Armageddon… What can we do?! During a football game over the holidays I saw a commercial that looked like a public service announcement about the disastrous effects of global warming, but about halfway through I realized that it was a Hummer spot. Called “Hummer Helps,” this is GM’s campaign to reposition their 6000 lb gas-guzzler as a benevolent life-saving machine and not a symbol of American disregard for the environment. It’s common knowledge that the majority of people driving Hummers don’t use them in the same way the Red Cross does, but GM hopes that by providing a website where actual Hummer drivers can send pics of themselves towing 2WD cars out of mud puddles, everyone’s karmas will be cleansed.

I think a commenter on the Thinking in Vain blog said it best: “Firetrucks help [too]… Guess I should go out and buy one.”

More commentary on the Hummer Helps campaign:

Hummer Helps: Ad PR Industry News Blog
Egg USA: Hummer Stuck in the Mud
A video response to the Hummer Helps Ad.