Tag Archives: Sustainability

How Thinking of Sustainability Affected our Kitchen Remodel Project

We really USE our house. We host neighborhood soup nights, community meetings, discussion groups, game nights … all with a side of food and drink. We can tomatoes and pickles, sprout seeds, brew beer and wine, bake bread and culture the occasional yogurt. We do it all in a typical South Minneapolis bungalow kitchen that measures 9′ x 10′.

Not a lot of space to move in the old kitchen

Not a lot of space to move in the old kitchen

One evening, while watching 4 people bump into each other getting ready for a potluck, I thought to myself, “This is just not working! I’ve GOT to do something with this kitchen, NOW!”

What had stopped me in the past was, of course, the money. Kitchens are the most expensive room to remodel and ours would be no exception, since little had been done to it since the house was built in 1921. But this time, exasperation pushed me all the way to the doors of the community bank. We weren’t getting any younger – or richer. If we didn’t do something now, it was increasingly unlikely we’d do it later. Loan in hand, we were ready to begin.

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First Saturday Longfellow Sustainability Group

For the past year, the Longfellow Sustainability Group has met on the first Saturday of the month, usually at Peace Coffee. At our first meetings, we decided to do monthly mini-challenges on topics the group itself decided to explore — the following month we would discuss how we did on that challenge.

For year 2, we’re considering a change. We recently discovered Resilience Circles. While they use slightly different language than we might use — “personal security” where we would use “resilience and self sufficiency” — I think that concept is very much what we were trying to do when we began our group.

Resilience Circles are intended to help people:

  • Face  economic and ecological challenges, learning together about root causes.
  • Take concrete steps for mutual aid and shared action.
  • Rediscover the abundance we have and recognize the possibility of a better future.
  • See ourselves as part of a larger effort to create a fair and healthy economy that works for everyone, in harmony with the planet.
  • Get to know neighbors, find inspiration, and have fun!

The website about resilience circles talks about three components:

Learning – The realities of our economic and ecological challenges may be overwhelming for isolated individuals. The Circle is a supportive community in which to learn about and analyze structural flaws in the systems within which we live — particularly our current economic system, which has created massive insecurity for young, old and everyone in between.

This is very much in line with the Post Carbon Institute‘s new Community Resilience Initiative. Two books from PCI focus on economic issues: Local Dollars, Local Sense (hot off the presses) and The End of Growth.

Mutual Aid – Resilience Circles provide members with concrete opportunities to stretching their “mutual aid muscles.” For example, in session 5 participants write down things they can offer – such sewing skills, tools, or child care – and things they need — and then take action. This step helps participants gain a new sense of the wealth within the group and the community.

Social Action – Many of our challenges won’t be solved through personal or local mutual aid efforts alone. They require us to work together to bring about change on the state, national and even global level. While there is no official Resilience Circle social action agenda, many groups choose to take action based on their own values and interests.

If you would like to participate in a Resilience Circle — or if you do NOT want to see our current sustainability group shift to this model — please show up at Peace Coffee this Saturday morning to weigh in on this decision. We meet from 10:30 to noon.

2012 Sustainable Film Series

The Minneapolis College of Art & Design and reDesign are sponsoring a series of sustainability movies this spring. Free and open to the public.

Be the Change Explores the motivations for, and the challenges and rewards of, trying to live more lightly.
Wed., Feb. 15, 7:00 p.m.

Living Lightly A 21st century family lives with the land and the season in a corner of New Brunswick, Canada.
Wednesday, March 21, 7:00 p.m.

A Quiet Revolution A documentary featuring leading permaculturists.
No date published yet

Urban Roots Follows the urban farming phenomenon in Detroit, a community forging a sustainable and prosperous future.
Wednesday, April 18th, 7:00 p.m.

Longfellow Sustainability Group – I’m Loving the Support

The Longfellow Sustainability Group meets on the first Saturday of every month at 10:30 am at Peace Coffee on Minnehaha and 33rd. We get to meet new neighbors almost every month. We discuss our experience with the prior month’s mini challenge, share tips and  resources, and have a great conversation.

Next group meeting is July 2. We’ll be reporting in on our local food efforts.

The group has been a wonderful addition to our family’s greening lifestyle. We really enjoy hearing what other people have done. We learn a lot and every single time we come away with new ideas. I’m really grateful for the people who have come, whether once or several times. Because of you, we’ve:

  • Signed up for the Shop the Coop class (and the home pickling class while I was at it)
  • Gotten involved in the Southside Food Hub
  • Met the wonderful owner of Gandhi Mahal restaurant
  • Fearlessly moved forward in a lifestyle with less toilet paper (Who knew that this was such a hot topic! But I guess we’re a pretty cosmopolitan bunch here in Longfellow and once you’ve traveled the world a bit, you have a better understanding of what is and is not a necessity.)
  • Begun worm composting
  • Diligently kept moving forward on reducing our energy use because we want to report back that we’ve made progress

Thanks, everyone, for making this community a better place to be.

Two Potentially Interesting Talks This Week

Tuesday January 18, Bryant Lake Bowl, 7:00 pm (6:00 doors open)

Café Scientifique is a happy hour exchange of ideas about science, environment, and popular culture. Topic: Households and Urban Pollution. The University’s Twin Cities Household Ecosystem Project involves a survey of 3,100 urban and suburban households in Ramsey and Anoka counties and their household emissions of carbon dioxide, nitrogen and phosphorus. The study centers on a range of behaviors, including household energy use, food choices, vehicle use, air travel habits, pet ownership and lawn care practices. University scientists Larry Baker, Sarah Hobbie, and Kristen Nelson will discuss the surprising results of this new study.

Wednesday, January 19, White Bear Lake Unitarian Universalist Church, 328 Maple Street, Mahtomedi, MN 55115,  7:30 PM

“Cars, Houses, and Sustainability” a talk by Dr. Chris Wells, Environmental Studies, Macalester College. What if Americans drive cars more than anyone else on the planet not because of a great “love affair” with the automobile, but because of how we’ve organized the places we live, shop, and work? Chris will discuss his research on America’s car culture and sustainability. He studies U.S. environmental history, including movements such as green architecture, New Urbanism, and Smart Growth. Look for his upcoming book: Car Country: Automobiles, Roads, and the Origins of Car-Dependent Landscapes in the United States.

This is part of the 2010-2011 Global Climate Change Speaker Series,
on the third Wednesday of the month, 7:30 -9:00 p.m. The Global Climate Change Committee at White Bear UU Church educates and informs the congregation on global warming and urges action to solve the problem.