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The Though Kitchen - Dedicated to Stirring the Pot

Archive for November, 2010

A Kitchen The Thought Kitchen Loves

Posted by Alex | November 30th, 2010 | Filed under Design, Sustainability


One man’s trash is another man’s treasure…or in this case, Kitchen. Working with found, inherited, re-purposed and salvaged materials, John Preus and Charlie Roderick of Dilettante Studios in Chicago created this beautiful kitchen with a minimum of virgin materials.

Screen shot 2010-11-30 at 11.04.43 AMWhat developed was a composition based largely on the primary components, a walnut cabinet from the Rebuilding Exchange, and the various colors of aged lumber that we were able to accumulate- douglas fir floor joists, cedar fencing, walnut doors and panels, pine shelving, both natural and painted white.

Perhaps what’s most inspiring, though, is the attitude behind their design, which views the choice of raw materials not as a sacrifice, but an incitement to creativity. “We do our best to go second-hand whenever possible,” they say, “as both a principle and an invited opportunity for adaptive design.”

Their portfolio is full of stuff like this; check it out.

Sustainability at Scale

Posted by Alex | November 25th, 2010 | Filed under Positive Change, Sustainability

CFL-blbHere’s a true story that Jamie, our director of textile development and sustainability, told me today:

Back in 2008, Darrell Meyers, an associate at a Wal-Mart in North Carolina, was on a break and noticed that in all the vending machines in the break room were lit up. Inside each one, he realized, there was a light bulb sucking power 24 hours a day. He thought about how much electricity was wasted and wondered how much money the company could save by taking the lights out of all the vending machines.

Now, while Wal-Mart may catch a lot of flack for many things, missing an opportunity to save money isn’t one of them. So when Darrell’s idea got back to corporate headquarters, they ran some numbers and figured out that Wal-Mart could save more than $1 million every year by taking out the bulbs. One million dollars.

You can find all that proudly trumpeted on WalMart’s own site. What they don’t mention are the energy savings. A 25 watt bulb on 24-hours a day, running on coal-generated electricity, will result in around 460lbs of CO2 being released into the atmosphere per year per bulb. A back-of-the-envelope calculation (four bulbs per machine, 4 machines per Wal-Mart, 8,400 Wal-Marts) would suggest that just unplugging those bulbs reduced Wal-Mart’s carbon footprint by some 61.8 million pounds of CO2.

So what does that tell us? Wal-Mart didn’t make this change to save the planet; they did it to save money. But they only really noticed it because they’re big enough to save a million dollars by unplugging some bulbs. However, that doesn’t mean the same kind of numbers-based thinking doesn’t apply to us as individuals. While things like changing your lightbulbs (or, another great example, sealing your windows) may seem less sexy than solar panels and hybrid cars, they are far more impactful, and scale far more quickly. It’s the low hanging fruit, and it’s time we picked it.

On The Road with Truck Farm

Posted by Alex | November 24th, 2010 | Filed under Grant for Change, Sustainability


[TruckFarm, and its founders Curt Ellis and Ian Cheney, are the 2010 recipients of our $10,000 Grant For Change. They sent us this update from the road, where they're growing and educating on the go. Learn more about the farm, and their upcoming film, at their website, truck-farm.com - Ed.]

Screen shot 2010-11-22 at 1.53.59 PMIt’s been a busy month for TRUCK FARM!

On October 19th , we participated in a small fundraiser for our friends at New Amsterdam Market, a new outdoors market near the Old Fulton Fish Market in Manhattan. For the fundraiser, Truck Farm produce was part of a festive autumn meal held in a small restaurant in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Ian Cheney gave a short presentation about the film & food project to a dozen invited guests.

A week later, Ian brought the truck to an after-school program at a local public school in Brooklyn, where kids tasted the truck?s sage, basil, tomatoes, arugula and other treats, before heading off to begin planting their own vegetables in an indoor greenhouse.

On Friday, November 5th, we were invited to share a sneak preview of the film TRUCK FARM at the Smithsonian in Washington DC, as part of their Food for Tomorrow symposium. The event was an enormous success; Truck Farm Screen shot 2010-11-22 at 1.53.45 PMmusician-in-residence Simon Beins played a set of music before the show, and several hundred people joined for the screening itself, which was followed by a cocktail reception in one of the museum’s Halls of Invention.

Returning back to New York City, we are now putting the final touches on TRUCK FARM the film, and we’re pleased to find our first saffron crocus emerging from the chilly November soil!

On Repeat: LCD Soundsystem

Posted by Caitlin | November 23rd, 2010 | Filed under Music

[An occasional update on what we're listening to now. -Ed.]

If you haven’t heard the newest album from LCD Soundsystem, This Is Happening, then you’re seriously missing out.  Ask me what my favorite track is and I’ll tell you “all of them.” But if I did have to pick my “most” favorite, it would be (hands down) Track 01 – Dance Yourself Clean.  I recommend listening to this one in the car, really loud. It hits you when you least expect it and I can guarantee that once you finish the track, you’ll hit repeat.

How Many BTUs?!

Posted by Alex | November 19th, 2010 | Filed under Environmental Change, Sustainability


Every year, the US consumes about 100 Quadrillion (that’s twelve zeros, or a million billions) BTUs of energy. Wondering where all that energy comes from? Check out this handy infographic from our friends at GOOD, who took a look at why everything is bigger in Texas (including the energy consumption) and why New York might have the very lowest consumption per capita (Metrocard, anyone?)

For those taking climate change seriously, it’s an excellent primer on how we use our carbon-based energy economy—and where we need to focus on making change.

(via GOOD)

Alpine Styles: An Evening of Art in Golden, CO

Posted by Alex | November 15th, 2010 | Filed under Art

Emilie Lee, Storms Clearing Over Plummer Island, oil on paper, 10"x6"

When not climbing the cliffs around the country, creating collage animations for films like The Collective’s Finding Balance, or modeling this season’s newest styles for nau.com (that’s her in the scarf), you’ll find our friend Emilie Lee pursuing her greatest passion—painting. She sent this dispatch from New York, where she’s creating landscapes for an upcoming show in Golden, CO.

Alpine Styles is an exhibition showcasing art that is about climbing, mountaineering and the mountain world. The work I’m bringing includes original journals from my dirtbag climbing bum years, some prints of those journal pages for sale, and my most recent landscape paintings.

emiliescarfMy interest in landscape painting grew out of my current training in academic art and my adventurous outdoor lifestyle. My paintings are all created from life – working on location and without the use of photographs. I’ve found the quiet contemplative process has given me a totally new way to experience the mountains. As a climber and a runner, my awareness is always focused on me, my body’s performance, and moving through the landscape – covering some distance. When I go outside to paint, I am sitting very still for up to six hours at a time. My focus is on observing and recording what I see in front of me. In the stillness and with patience, I try to capture the individual character of the scene I’ve chosen to study. The resulting paintings are each a meditation on the power of nature’s beauty and the thrill of being present to witness it.

The show is organized by Jamie Givens, who is also exhibiting his work alongside Emilie and other rock climber artists Renan Ozturk, Mike Tea, and Keith Svihovec.

You’re invited to the opening reception of Alpine Styles at the Bradford Washburn American Mountaineering Museum: 710 10th St, Golden, CO. on 11/18 at 6PM. This event coincides with “Thirsty Third Thursday” and includes an outdoor beer garden! A percentage of the sales will benefit the American Alpine Club Library. The artists will be at the reception.

You can learn more about Emilie’s work on her website at emilielee.com.

Incentivise the positive

Posted by Alex | November 15th, 2010 | Filed under Design, Positive Change

By now you’ve surely seen Volkswagen’s “Fun Theory” videos, like the piano staircase and the subway kiddie slide to encourage people to avoid the escalator. Well, the winner of their contest has been announced, and it’s yet another great example of how designing positive incentives—a carrot, not just a stick—can change our behavior for the better. Check it out.

(via The Curious Brain)

Look behind the label

Posted by Alex | November 12th, 2010 | Filed under Design, Partners for Change, Personal Reflection

An amusing parody from designer Lunchbreath, lampooning so much of what passes for ‘social responsibility’ and ‘environmental stewardship’ in the corporate world. Just a reminder to dig a little deeper when someone tells you they’re doing good things with your money.

Of course, when you order from nau.com, you get to decide where 2% of the purchase price goes. To learn about the (not vague at all) group of non-profit partners Nau donates 2% of every sale to (none of which have line-items for mistresses, escorts or dominatrices), check out our Partners For Change: they’re the real deal.

(Also, be sure to check out Lunchbreath’s other stuff, including the fantastic Killer Jellyfish of Graphic Design Favors. Those of you with illustrator CS5 open 14 hours a day will appreciate it.)

(via Treehugger)

Don’t Design for the Dump

Posted by Alex | November 12th, 2010 | Filed under Design, Environmental Change, Sustainability

Screen shot 2010-11-12 at 10.23.39 AM

The latest video from Annie Leonard (of “The Story of Stuff” fame) reminds us of the importance of considering the end-of-life implications of our purchases. It’s also a succinct primer on externalizing costs: the business paradigm in which the environmental, societal and heathcare costs of companies’ decisions aren’t their responsibility. That needs to change.

To learn about Nau’s beginning-of-life to end-of-life design strategies, check out this Greymatters post on Sustainable Fabrics.

You’re invited: Party in New York

Posted by Alex | November 10th, 2010 | Filed under Design, Here/Nau/NYC, Nau Events


It’s a party, y’all. Come on by.