Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Sustainable Inspiration for Waste Free Living

Hi folks,

As I get closer to a Waste Free Living website launch date I am inspired to share with you some of what has inspired me along the way in starting this company. As an entrepreneur I'm inspired by sustainable practices like zero waste, ethical manufacturing, and making meaningful, social-change-producing connections with vendors and producers. Of course, I'm a big proponent of businesses for social change and I'm looking forward to attending the annual BALLE (Business Alliance for Local Living Economies) conference in Boston this June.

Check out this video of my friend (and world class nice guy and ultimate frisbee player!), Daron Byerly, of Seventh Generation talk about their approach to sustainability.

In good tilth,
-the compost maven


Sunday, April 27, 2008

Fedco Love

Hi folks,

I took a little trip to Fedco seeds in Waterville, Maine yesterday with my pregnant friend Ann-Elise. I picked up a bunch of seeds, a cherry tree, two grape vines, raspberry canes, a dawn redwood, and a rose. Very exciting! Ann-Elise got a plum tree and lots of other stuff, too. It was their annual tree sale and a very nice scene. Here's a photo essay from the trip...

...driving past the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

Ann-Elise on the grass at Fedco... for her, a dream come true. the Fedco seed room.

...driving back past New Hampshire's Whites, and then home again to Vermont's Camel's Hump.

So now, it's time to get my hands in the soil and do some planting!

Stay tuned for more gardening news.
-the compost maven


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Pledging my allegience to the soil

Hi folks,

I was just reading one of my favorite poems and thought I would cap off this Earth Day with a quick poem post and a random photograph of a black radish.

For All
by Gary Snyder

Ah to be alive
on a mid-September morn
fording a stream
barefoot, pants rolled up,
holding boots, pack on,
sunshine, ice in the shallows,
northern rockies.

Rustle and shimmer of icy creek waters
stones turn underfoot, small and hard as toes
cold nose dripping
singing inside
creek music, heart music,
smell of sun on gravel.

I pledge allegiance

I pledge allegiance to the soil
of Turtle Island,
and to the beings who thereon dwell
one ecosystem
in diversity
under the sun
With joyful interpenetration for all.


Happy Earth, Soil, and Compost Day!

Happy Earth Day, folks! A lot of people ask me, what does Earth Day mean to you? To me it's simple: Earth Day is about soil and compost. Why soil and compost? Because if we all always acted with the best interest of the soil in mind we would have a healthy planet. Period. For starters, soil organic matter is usually way too low and the soil food web is way to depleted. Luckily, we can easily fix that by adding compost! I personally think we need a national I LOVE COMPOST Day, and maybe someday we will, but until then I'm going to post an annual video about my compost pile on Earth Day. Here's my first installment...

Check out my girlfriend Alison's blog for more Earth Day video madness!

In good tilth!
-the compost maven


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Tip O' the Nib Award WINNER Announced!

Now, folks, I'm sure that by now you can tell I'm not the type to blow my own whistle, but today is different. Why, you might ask? Why is today different than all other days? Because I have finally realized a life-long aspiration by being named WINNER of the Tip O' the Nib Award in Episode 526 by THE Dyke To Watch Out For herself, Alison Bechdel.

Here's Alison drawing...

Here's me and Alison at the awards ceremony...

I'm totally thrilled. Thanks, Alison!

Until next time,
-the compost maven

P.S. Tip O' the Day: Anyone can be a winner if you make up your own contests. Try it, it's fun!


Monday, April 14, 2008

Composting Regs, Bear Pond Books, Persepolis...and a name change?

Hi folks,

I guess I'm on a little roll with writing diary-like posts...

Yesterday I spent almost the entire beautiful spring day indoors with about 40 composters and regulators from around Vermont in the first of a series of meetings to rethink current composting regulations. I was happy with how the meeting went. I felt that a lot of the problematic rule ambiguities, inconsistencies, and redundancies were unearthed and identified. I personally felt good about being able to articulate what I want to see in terms of regulations. I want us to move towards goal-based regulations, where we regulate our activities as if we are a part of an ecosystem, rather than definition-based regulations that bog us done in irrelevant distinctions, that at best don't get us closer to our goals of environmental stewardship, and at worst are actually counterproductive--as in the case of the Intervale. I think we can get there but it's going to take vision and real leadership from the State, and that's always a crap shoot.

Afterwards I finally got it together to send my mother something I've been meaning to send for months, which she reminded me of in a non-subtle manner when I saw her this weekend. So that was a load off. Then I went to my favorite bookstore, Bear Pond Books, in Montpelier, right before I went to see Persepolis, finally, with Alison. I thought Persepolis was powerful. I cried the first time she left Iran... That's right, folks, I'm a weepy butch!

Bear Pond is so great. Imagine those old creaky wood floorboards like in old general stores, plus an amazing selection and an informed staff. Can I just say that Montpelier is completely awesome and worth a visit no matter what? Let me know if you're coming to Vermont and I'll tell you exactly where to go, okay?

Another shot from my recent trip to Ithaca...

Also, I woke up this morning with an idea for changing the name of this blog...

For the love of god, stay tuned!
-the compost maven


Sunday, April 13, 2008

My little spring break in Ithaca, NY

Hi folks,

I'm just back from a few lovely days in Ithaca, NY where Alison spoke and signed books at Cornell. I used to live in Ithaca so it was extra fun for me. I met so many interesting people including Alison's Firebrand publisher, Nancy Bereano, and her partner Elizabeth. It was simply a blast to be so well attended to by so many lovely people. We were shown a night on the town and a wending walk through Sapsucker Woods at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology where we saw skunk cabbage, sapsuckers, and a Cooper's Hawk sitting on a branch about 50 feet from us!

Here's Alison taking a picture of a sure sign of spring: a drunken cedar waxwing on the Cornell campus...

...These pictures are from my visit to the greenhouse on campus...

Another sign of spring in Ithaca is the start of the Ithaca Farmer's Market, where I got some black radishes, dried beans, and a few random but beautiful pieces of wood. I'll have to show that all to you next time in some kinda still life.

A few more shots from the trip...

...rowing, farmer's market, local fever, the co-op...

And now I'm watching the really cool scene towards the end of Oceans Twelve where the Italian thief is dancing around the lasers. One of the best things about this movie is the tie that he's wearing at the very end where he discovers the truth about the egg. You might say I have a little thing for nice ties...

Until next time,
-the compost maven


Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Ode to Gretchen Phillips

Okay folks, finally, after much anticipation, here it is, the short but sweet: Ode to Gretchen Phillips blog post.

Well, let's see, quite frankly and concisely she rocks, she's cute, she's funny, she's totally out, and she's ridiculously talented, charming, and insightful. Plus, who can overlook the great hair? Many years ago I got involved with two nice girls who introduced me to her work. Seriously, Sweet Jane (With Affection) is nothing short of sublime. If you're new to her genius, then here are a couple YouTube links to get you started.

"Gretchen Phillips for President" (would it were that she had ran!)
"Car Accidents and Other Coming Out Stories" (highly entertaining)

Enjoy, and of course, Viva la GP!
-the compost maven


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

My fabulous metal water bottle

Hi folks,

In case you were wondering, this is what my water bottle looks like. Don't get me wrong, I have more than one. In fact, my cupboard is packed with all manner of aging nalgene and sports squirt-style bottles from various races. One old purple nalgene bottle has an awesome sticker of a green, voluptuous alien riding some kinda chrome space missile. She's been the "Space Hussy" for years. But let's face it folks, metal bottles are where it's at: they last a really long time and they're inert. I plan to carry metal water bottles on Waste Free Living once it's up in running--which will be soon!

It's been fun picking out products and designs. I was at a party this past weekend and brought my SIGG water bottle catalog with me for some market research. Sort of a nerdy drinking game. Anyway, it was lots of fun and people really got into the task at hand, which was to pick out their top three favorite models. Most people had a hard time only picking three because there are just so freaking many cool styles. It was sort of like getting the thrill of shopping without the side effects. I think one woman was imagining the different styles as complimentary accessories to her shoes, which I thought was like earth-friendly fabulous. A nod to Emma Goldman's dancing at the (green) revolution.

And so I ask, can earth-friendly be fabulous, fun, and sexy? Holly Rae Taylor says yes.

-the compost maven


Sunday, April 6, 2008

Buttons Buttons

I mean, how cute is that?


Friday, April 4, 2008

Sad Day for Intervale Compost

Hi folks,

Oh dear. It's a sad day for Burlington residents and everyone who loves Intervale Compost. Check out today's article in the Burlington Free Press. Around here 10's of thousands of heads are collectively shaking in helpless disbelief.

-the compost maven


Thursday, April 3, 2008

Emily Dickinson, Fun Home, and a new warehouse!

Hi folks,

The past two days have been very action-packed and interesting. Yesterday I took the day off and went on a quick trip to Amherst, Mass. where Alison gave a talk at Amherst College about her book, Fun Home. We got down there a little early so we went to the Emily Dickinson Museum. It was so powerful to be there in her house. Fortuitously, we were the only ones there and the house manager was trying to wrap up the day and gently usher us out. It was during this chit chat that he gave us an interesting scoop on the polyamorous relationships going on in Emily's life. For instance, it appears that Emily and her sister-in-law (her brother's wife) were romantically involved, while her brother had a long-standing extramarital relationship with a married woman! Here's a picture I found on the web of her house...

Alison gave her talk in Converse Hall after we had dinner with some nice folks from the Pride Alliance, and then coffee with an exceedingly bright and lovely student (that's her in the book signing picture below). It was a great talk, moving and interesting, and well attended by some really cool people. Gotta love that valley! As an aside, in the lobby (behind where Alison is sitting in the picture below) there are hanging plaster friezes from the Parthenon! It was sort of shocking, quite frankly.

...Alison Bechdel signing her Fun Home

And today's big news is that the Waste Free Living warehouse is lined up and ready for the good goods! It's tucked away in the artist's warren on Pine and Howard in Burlington--the same area as the Burlington Glass Studio (where I'm taking a stained glass class), Liza Cowan's Pine Street Art Works, and many other cool stores and studios.


I'll leave you with a poem. It's from one of my favorite books: Picnic, Lightning by Billy Collins.

-the compost maven

Taking Off Emily Dickinson's Clothes
by Billy Collins

First, her tippet made of tulle,
easily lifted off her shoulders and laid
on the back of a wooden chair.

And her bonnet,
the bow undone with a light forward pull.

Then the long white dress, a more
complicated matter with mother-of-pearl
buttons down the back,
so tiny and numerous that it takes forever
before my hands can part the fabric,
like a swimmer's dividing water,
and slip inside.

You will want to know
that she was standing
by an open window in an upstairs bedroom,
motionless, a little wide-eyed,
looking out at the orchard below,
the white dress puddled at her feet
on the wide-board, hardwood floor.

The complexity of women's undergarments
in nineteenth-century America
is not to be waved off,
and I proceeded like a polar explorer
through clips, clasps, and moorings,
catches, straps, and whalebone stays,
sailing toward the iceberg of her nakedness.

Later, I wrote in a notebook
it was like riding a swan into the night,
but, of course, I cannot telly you everything--
the way she closed her eyes to the orchard,
how her hair tumbled free of its pins,
how there were sudden dashes
whenever we spoke.

What I can tell you is
it was terribly quiet in Amherst
that Sabbath afternoon,
nothing but a carriage passing the house,
a fly buzzing in a windowpane.

So I could plainly hear her inhale
when I undid the very top
hook-and-eye fastener of her corset

and I could hear her sigh when finally it was unloosed,
the way some readers sigh when they realize
that Hope has feathers,
that reason is a plank,
that life is a loaded gun
that looks right at you with a yellow eye.


Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Compost, Tina Turner, and Chopping Wood...

...simply awesome.

Hi folks!

Looking back on some of my blog posts I'm noticing that I like to post multiple, somewhat disparate topics concurrently. I'm not sure what that's about. I think it's probably just a true reflection of how my brain functions.

Today's potpourri post is a short report on yesterday's Vermont Organics Recycling Summit, plus a link to a funny little video of me chopping wood that Alison made a few days ago. She quite gracefully and graciously trimmed off the two or three minutes of my missed attempts and stubbornly chopping at stubborn, knotty wood for naught.

I thought the Vermont Organics Recycling Summit was a big success. Malcolm Beck gave a wonderful talk. He's a natural storyteller and among other things he had great pictures of comparative root zones, which was awesome! There were over a hundred people and lots of good energy and conversations. I gave the opening remarks, introducing the idea of Community Nutrient Management Planning, which I developed after leaving Intervale Compost last fall. In my address I even got to say that we need to eliminate the concept of waste TWICE, which I think is worth repeating. There was general agreement that an all-out organics ban in landfills is in order. Actually, BioCycle is leading the way on this with its soon-to-be-launched COOL 2012 Campaign. One of the big issues around this is that organics in landfills creates the potent greenhouse gas, methane. I talked about this in an earlier post called, "What's Compost Got To Do With It?".

...Malcolm and Delphine's garden, where they use Integrated Pest Management (IPM).

It's a beautiful day in Vermont today. The rivers and sap are flowing under blue skies and bare naked birch trees!

ciao for niao!
the compost maven