Saturday, May 3, 2008

Green Living Is Beautiful Living!!!

That was the main message I got from today's Green Living Conference . I feel privileged on so many levels to have been able to attend, and it was very inspiring to be around so many other people who clearly felt the same way. I don't really know where to start, I feel as though I have so much to say about all that I saw and learned.

The conference was hosted by Greg Peterson, of The Urban Farm who is one of the main movers and shakers of sustainable living here in the valley. Apart from The Urban farm, he and his business partner Amy Godfrey also run Your Guide To Green a resource for sustainable living products and information. Greg is an energetic speaker, and this was evident today, as it was for all of the other guests that I saw.

Toby Hemenway, author of Gaia's Garden spoke about permaculture and how these principles can be applied for those of us that live in the suburbs. The basic principles he discussed were as follows-
Plant densely such as within square foot gardening, otherwise known as "Stacking and Packing." This provides the benefits of conserving water, providing shade, and using fertile land economically.
Use living resources such as hens and pigs to naturally prepare the soil for crops, while providing vital nutrients at the same time.
Harvest Rainwater to conserve precious water resources, while not wasting potable water.
Create guilds of plants, a mainstay of permaculture, which increase biodiversity. (I thought he was speaking about guilds of people at first!)
Observe nature which has all of this stuff figured out already if we would only watch and take notice.
The results of course are truly green and sustainable living.

(I actually bought Gaia's Garden which was rather extravagant of me, but I couldn't resist it, especially as Toby Hemenway signed it for me as well!)

Brad Lancaster spoke eloquently and hilariously about his work in Tucson and beyond with rainwater harvesting, and the use of greywater systems. I learned so much from him and realised almost immediately that much of what I am doing in our yard is contrary to so many of the principles he teaches. He made it clear though that it is OK to make mistakes with all of this stuff, and that ultimately this is how we learn. His enthusiasm and passion for his work was so obvious and infectious, as was his message that all of this can create and maintain beautiful and connected communities. His book Rainwater Harvesting For Drylands and Beyond has been on my never ending wish list for ages. Now he has written volume two as well!

Mick Dalrymple of AKA Green which is a green building supplier and resource here in the valley also spoke. Once again I was so inspired by the obvious passion that he has for making changes in building and design so that we are living in harmony with nature, not destroying it. These changes are often so simple and logical, but often don't make the corporations much money, and therein lies the problem. He argues that it can all be achieved, we can live in a sustainable world, and people can also earn a good living, but that things need to be changed at the very core of business. Although this is a huge concept, Mick made me believe that even this can be done, we just need to start clamoring for change at the legislative level, and start voting with our pocket books.

There was also a speaker from General Motors called Jack Smith talking about alternative fuel vehicles, and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised at the strides made in this area. I am typically sceptical of vehicle manufacturers when it comes to sustainability, but it seems that things are changing, and they are finally taking notice. Based on what Jack talked about, I expect many new alternative fuel vehicles to be unveiled over the next few years.

I also learned that there will be an Earthship built at Superstitian Farm starting in the fall. Of course that has to be fabulous news!

Do I sound excited? I should because really I am! There are many people like me who care deeply about the damage we are doing to this planet, and many of them are people who can truly make a difference. Yes it's great that I am reusing bags, and trying to save water, and grow food, but really in the grand scheme of things it is a drop in the bucket. I do know this! It doesn't much matter that I am trying, we ALL need to be trying, as individuals, and as communities, and many of the people that I met today are able to spread that message loud and clear, in real ways, for real people.

Finally, another thing I took away was something that I have known for ages. I want so much to work within the "green" world in some way, shape, or form. It truly is my passion in life. I am still not sure quite how to make this happen, or where to make it happen. I feel so far away from this with the work that I currently do, and the lifestyle that I lead, and yet I know I am making a start. By attending conferences such as this one today, and by reading lots, and by meeting other like minded people, who knows where it all may lead.

It's OK, I have fallen off my soap box now!!


leaner said...

I am jealous. That conference sounds awesome. I wish that I was able to live more green. Really.
You know my dad waters his lawn with their washing machine's wastewater? Yeah, he always has, and his grass is nice and green. Well- his backyard- the front is watered with sprinklers.

I finally have my clothesline, that was such a big step for me, but I need to get another of the retractable ones, because only 12 feet of line is not enough. Sigh, I would love to have enough to hang out all of my laundry at once. It made me feel so good when I was hanging it up.

I could go on and on, but I need to go back to bed. I am sick from too much running around. Or maybe its a cold.

Mo said...

It was great though it made me realise how little I do as well. I feel like I want to go and dig up our lawn and replant everything that is planted wrong in our yard!! My mind is still spinning today from all of the ideas, but unfortunately I need to come back down to earth.

That is very cool about your Dad! I am sure he will have heard of Brad Lancaster as he lives in Tucson and is pretty well known around here.

You are already doing more than most to be green you know! Even thinking about all of this stuff is huge!

I hope you feel better today and have someone who can watch the girls for a little while so you can rest!

leaner said...

No one to watch the girls, we watched a lot of tv today. Normally- not so much. I got a short nap, too.

I get worked up like that, too. Sometimes I need a smack in the head to remind me why we can't do some of the stuff we want to.

Like hubby wants to get wind turbines for energy. We looked into solar, too. It doesn't make sense to either of us that more people do not use those things to make renewable energy. If SRP would help more to get started with solar panels, out house would be covered in them. Then we could be cool all summer and I wouldn't be so anal about the a/c being on all the time!

Mo said...

I truly know what you mean! I have to say though that Saturday made me realise that there are big strides being made in green building and things like retrofitting existing houses. This stuff will all be considered "mainstream" very soon I think.

Solar water heaters are a good starting point as they are generally cheaper, and save a lot of energy. There are many rebates offered, and they pay for themselves in about three years apparently. It's still a big chunk of cash initially though.

bodaat said...

You're inspiring. :) Thank you for your blog. It has inspired changes in my life so please know that you are impacting this Earth in more ways then one.

Mo said...

Bodaat, thank you! That means a great deal to me, especially coming from you!

It has inspired more changes for me as well. I really didn't know how much wirting this blog would stretch me to make even more changes.

I think "green" almost continually now, in all that I do. (Plus it makes me really happy! :) xxx

Anonymous said...

Mo, please contact me. I'm producing another Green Living conference and would like to publish your article/review on the event website. Thanks!