Denver Green Channel

The roots of the sustainability movement in Denver

New Video at Denver Green Streets TV

by admin - April 22nd, 2011

Robbie interviews William Powers about his new book Twelve by Twelve – A One-Room Cabin Off the Grid and Beyond the American Dream, and Rodman Schley, producer and star of the show, The Urban Conversion.

See both of those, and catch up on any of the previous interviews at  Denver Green Streets – TV.

 

 

Hip & Yucky – Earth Day

by admin - April 22nd, 2011

Hip & Yucky

 

Hip & Yucky talk Earth Day:   podcast   HERE

 

Two new interviews –

by admin - March 28th, 2011

Catch Robbie on DenverGreenStreets.com and her interviews with James Bertini from Denver Urban Homesteading, and Ron Douglas, President of the National Self Reliance Organization.

 

Denver Green Streets  TV

 

Hip & Yucky #2 – Earth Hour

by admin - March 28th, 2011

 

Hip & Yucky logo

 

Hip & Yucky take on turning off…. MP3 HERE

Hip & Yucky – Podcast #1 !!

by admin - March 17th, 2011

Happy St Patrick’s Day!

The original ‘green’ celebration.
 

Hip & Yucky logo

 

In DGC podcast #1, join the ‘HIP’ Vince Curren and the ‘YUCKY’ Robbie Knight talk about…BOOZE…!!

H&Y #1

Cheers!

It’s Just One Hour

by Robbie - March 11th, 2011

Earth Hour was born in Sydney, Australia in 2007 when 2.2 million individuals and more than 2,000 businesses turned their lights off for one hour.

Earth Hour is a world-wide event. Cities and countries across the globe will turn off the lights for one hour between 8:30 and 9:30, local time, Saturday, March 26th.

It’s not widely touted here in the States yet, but according to figures from the World Watch Institute, “People in the United States and Canada consume 2.4 times as much energy at home as those in Western Europe,” We are gradually increasing our observation of Earth Hour every year here in the US. This year the Empire State Building, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Las Vegas Strip, Niagara Falls and Mount Rushmore are all shutting off the lights to observe the event with the rest of the planet.

Why? Because unplugging for one hour proves that we can go without lights, computers, TVs and other non-essential appliances and still have a nice hour. It gives us a break from our technology daze and gives resources a break from being ceaselessly tapped. And it’s just one hour.

Obviously this does not apply to iron lungs, just non-essentials.* It will still make an impact.

Although it’s tough to convince business owners to stay open for that hour or turn off even just the accessory lights for one hour, it’s worth suggesting. Or, of course, you could spend a nice Earth Hour at home.

I see Earth Hour as an opportunity to unplug and slow down for one hour. It’s a statement to yourself, your community and the world that you are willing to challenge our hyper-powered lifestyle. And with a little imagination, it can be an adventure. As with any adventure, it’s more fun if you’ve done a little prep.

First, assemble your Earth Hour survival kit. Here are just a few ideas. It may or may not include:

1. Other people. Maybe you’d like some time to yourself, or maybe it’s time for a gathering.
2. Candles (no paraffin or lead wicks, please) or oil lamps
3. One or several acoustic musical instruments
4. One or several accomplished story tellers, or non-storytellers who aren’t afraid to wing it
5. A thermos containing a hot beverage.
6. A clay oven or fire pit in the yard-and don’t forget several blankets and layers of warm clothing-it’s only technically spring, after all.
7. Telescope or just binoculars for stargazing, moon viewing or counting how many of your neighbors even know what Earth Hour is.
8. Board games
9. Kinetic toys like poi and hoops (fire can be fun, but strictly observe all safety precautions if you play)
10. Alcoholic beverages and/or food (never drink and spin fire)
11. Poetry

I suggest a poem to read by lamp or candlelight during Earth Hour, particularly for kids of any age who are afraid of the dark. It’s a favorite childhood poem of mine by Ray Bradbury called, “Switch On The Night,” which the publisher’s synopsis describes this way: “A little boy likes lanterns and lamps, but he doesn’t like light switches because they turn off the light. Then one day, a little girl named Dark shows up at his door. She helps the boy to see light switches as turning on the night, rather than turning off the light.”

For more about Earth Hour, check out these URLs:

http://www.earthhour.org/
http://www.darksky.org/mc/page.do;jsessionid=82FA482BC576971269F6B5F1C9E40B87.mc1?sitePageId=119791
http://www.treehugger.com/files/2010/03/earth-hour-make-a-difference.php
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/article675948.ece

* Special thanks to my friend and podcast partner Vince Curran for the line about iron lungs.

Beeing Gregg-The Bee Guru

by Robbie - January 18th, 2011

Yesterday I interviewed The Bee Guru, Gregg McMahan, a guy who knows how to save the bees.

1 out of every 3 things on your plate would not exist without bees. The bees are in peril.  And Gregg, an expert in beekeeping, bee rescue and bee education among other things, is passionately optimistic about this situation.

Systemic pesticides and the pesticide IMD are causing massive harm to bees, according to commercial beekeepers interviewed in the film “The Vanishing Of The Bees” and also according to Gregg. We need commercial beekeepers; without them hauling their hives from Florida to California and to Maine we don’t have almonds, blueberries or other crops in the same availability. Commercial bee keepers are caught in a struggle to keep bees alive using antibiotics and other measures, including queen breeding and artificially inseminated queens (which are thought to narrow bee gene pools) to manipulate bee populations artificially.  Gregg agrees that these are necessary measures. “I don’t judge commercial beekeepers” says Gregg,”We need them and they are stuck in a cycle,” Commercial beekeepers are caught in the cycle of compensation for monoculture, which is the state of modern farming.  Growing acres of a single crop presents challenges for farmers and beekeepers, and the insecticides necessary in monoculture seem to be harming the bees.  In the film “The Vanishing Of The Bees” beekeeper David Mendes states, “We are fighting a war,”

What’s to be done in this dire situation?

Gregg declares, “It will be the urban beekeeper who saves the bees,” He doesn’t mean one urban beekeeper keeping 600 hives.  He means 600 people each keeping one hive.  In fact, one hive every 2 miles in the urban setting would insure a healthy bee population and be a boon to urban gardeners.  And lately urban hives are all the rage.  “My beekeeping classes have more than  tripled in size just in the last year,” says Gregg.  His February and March classes are nearly full already.  More good news?  It’s not hard to find a beekeeping class, and a hive will set you back less than a fancy iPod.

Gregg’s classes are just one part of his mission to make the world bee-savvy.  He leaps on every opportunity to give workshops in schools and also in assisted living establishments.  “A ninety-year old has exactly the same magical reaction to bees as a kindergartner,” he says, “When  you pull up a chair and watch my girls (hives are 95% female) come and go, doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing, it’s magical for people,”

At this point I had to clarify.  “Hold on.” I said, “You’re talking about therapy.  Nature therapy.  With bees!”

“That’s right,” he said, “It’s very exciting for people and it’s relaxing.  It’s therapy.  And that doesn’t even include apitherapy, which there needs to be more of,” Apitherapy is the practice of getting stung on purpose for medicinal use; Gregg is excited about the potential of this field.

He’s also excited about setting up hives in struggling urban neighborhoods, third-world countries and in the Colorado back country, but his favorite situation is educating young people in schools about bees.  And Gregg, who at one point explored working in the solar energy field, is quick to point out, “There is nothing greener than a honeybee,”

If you’d like to explore the possibilities of urban beekeeping or just learn more about what Gregg is doing, you can check out Rocky Mountain Bee Removal, Rescue and Education here:  http://rockymountainbeeremovalrescueeducation.com/

For classes and equipment locally you can reach Vicky Monroe at To Bee or Not To Bee here: http://tobeeornottobee.us/

To get a glimpse of the documentary “The Vanishing of The Bees”, click here:  http://www.vanishingbees.com/

Editorial: Trading “Passion” For Practicality

by Robbie - January 3rd, 2011

In  2011, will the focus of the Green movement be more practical?  Have we learned anything?

I read an interesting article by Juliet Eilperin; here’s the link: http://carolynbaker.net/2010/12/23/environmental-movement-beginning-to-understand-that-all-solutions-are-local/  I think she makes some powerful points about the need to localize Green and make it more practical.

While I understand the sentiments behind efforts to close coal plants, for instance, I’ve had a lot of questions about the practicality of that. I tend to be a skeptic of such drastic measures, particularly in light of recent Green fiascoes like the Iowa ethanol bust, which did much more harm than good. It put stress on communities and the food system and was a PR nightmare for Green in general.

I hope that we can engage in practical energy discussions.  It’s a bold idea to close all the coal plants, but wind and solar will not take up the slack and keep our petroleum-dependent infrastructure running.  Cold turkey in this situation isn’t just impractical, it’s cruel.  When the power goes out, who’s going to stand by bedsides and squeeze all the respiration bags to keep trauma victims alive in hospitals after the emergency generators die?  Energy is a big, complicated issue, and we are the five blind men clutching parts of the same elephant and shouting out our passionate reports.  Without the shouting and righteousness maybe we can communicate better, hear each other, share reports, get a more useful overview.

Can the Green community learn from examples like the ethanol bust and go forth with more a measured, practical focus? Maybe it’s our good fortune that economic conditions seem to be pushing us in that direction.

When the bottom fell out of the commodities markets worldwide and recycling became more expensive and difficult to execute, it was a reminder that recycling is not a bin. It’s a consumer loop. We were also reminded that re-use and careful wallet-voting contribute to less trash. It’s not just about throwing packages in the recycle bin; it’s about buying goods with less packaging to begin with and re-using that packaging whenever possible.

Workable solutions to our environmental issues tend to be more complicated and less sexy than an oversimplified and “passionate” ideology.  The next Hollywood actress who claims she’s “fiercely committed to saving our environment” needs to be questioned in  depth about that designer bracelet that distinguishes her as a Planetary Savior and followed on vacation to Aspen with a calculator. Passion is fun, but it’s not ultimately sustainable. Sustain, whether it’s used to belt an operatic note for a full minute or to design a water system with the people downstream in mind, is hard.  To sustain is to keep at it when passion runs out.

The environment is our ‘hood.  In this sense all Green is a grassroots movement, but the passion behind Green has been exploited in recent years.  It’s been politicized.  To make an issue political, in our climate, is to polarize it-to cut support for it in half and to invite 50% opposition.  This will harm support for any issue, but again, it’s our world we’re talking about here.  It’s the dirt that feeds us, the air that we need around 60 times a minute, the clean water that we require to live.  The issues are too serious to be subjugated to “passion”.

While celebrities go on about their “passion”, I hope that there will be enough support left over for the smart people who are plodding through the numbers, speaking softly, listening to each other and doing the real work, the long-haul, hard work that will help us truly sustain ourselves.

Reskilling

by Robbie - December 4th, 2010

What’s a Green Reporter to do in between gigs?

For one thing, a “gig” is a questionable term. When good bloggers started to get followings and make names for themselves they upped the value of the independent voice. You don’t need anybody else to give you a writing gig, not anymore. You don’t need a radio job to do a podcast. You don’t need anybody’s permission or a small fortune to have a voice.

Independent reporters are still scoffed at and disrespected by a few people who’s minds are firmly rooted in the last century. Humans respect size, prominence and money before they respect truth, but it’s still worth finding the people who won’t scoff and giving them a voice; it’s worth a little extra networking to get community pioneers heard.

So why haven’t I been doing that?

Experience has proven to me that the holidaze (typo intentional) are the very worst times to bother people. I needed a break, as well. Not just to rest, but also to reskill myself.

I believe that urban homesteading can play a part in a more sustainable future. When an apple is five bucks, it will be nice to have a tree of your own, or a few eggs from the coop to trade for some apples from up the street. Bartering is already seeing a resurgence in some communities. And the urban and suburban homesteading movements are gaining momentum. I’m not so much a slave to fashion as I am a practical person who wants to thrive. In order to thrive you must first survive, and I see the future full of challenges. I intend to meet them standing up, not kneeling and begging someone else to take care of me.

I don’t have a crystal ball. I’ve just interviewed a lot of very smart people and it changed my view. Between what I believe are the realities of cheap available energy, the viability of our swollen financial infrastructure and the human tendency to live in denial to the 11th hour, I don’t think the decadent 80’s are on their way back. On a personal note it wasn’t my favorite decade, anyway.

Reskilling has been an interesting journey. I read up on permaculture and polyculture, and applied those principals.

First, I killed the front lawn. My new philosophy is, if I’m going to water it, I’m going to eat it. We live in high altitude desert. I won’t waste water. So far I’ve grown a bunch of mint there and started some cone flowers, AKA echinacea, and sunflowers. My plum trees were killed by a monster hail storm, but I started over with them. I also started some xeriscaping with yucca and some arid climate-loving grasses. In the spring I’ll be planting lots of prickly pear. They grow anywhere and the fruit is outstanding. This is what I mean by practical.

In the back yard we had a good-sized garden. My house is still full of ground fruit; we’ve got pumpkins, acorn squash and butternut squash sitting on every surface in the house like edible knick-knacks. I dehydrated a bunch of tomatoes. We have a grinder for the Hopi blue corn.

The chickens are thriving in their coop and run. In March the new addition will be at least one, more hopefully two French Angora rabbits. Livestock are particularly nice in a permaculture system where the soil is hard clay. Soil amendment is a non-negotiable, especially here. I think of my chickens as composting machines first, then as pest control and finally egg machines. Rabbits make the very best compost and also give you fiber that’s seven times warmer than wool. They’re cheap to feed, as well, and relatively low-maintenance compared to bigger stock.

This permaculture system feeds itself to a point; you can use the poop from livestock to grow food to feed you and the livestock to a pretty big extent, so you need less money coming in.

Oh, those three magic words.

Need. Less. Money.

I’ve made some mistakes, of course. My biggest hurtle in the reskilling process hasn’t been knitting, which surprised me. It’s been cooking.

I actually thought I was a decent cook, but I’ve run headlong into my limitations, the worst of which was arrogance. As a frantically busy rock and roll disc jockey I had time to master some hipster dishes, like vegetarian sushi. Homesteading food is different. It’s really, really different. You cook to make the most of the food you’ve got and to keep it nourishing and as tasty as possible. You don’t run to Whole Paycheck to buy four things for dinner, slap them together and then toss out the trash. You give that turkey carcass a good hour of your life getting all the meat off before you put it in the stockpot with the odds and ends of vegetables you’ve been saving for a week. All the stray shreds of meals go somewhere-to the compost heap, the worm bins, the chickens. Very little ends up in the trash. With all the classes I took in chicken keeping and gardening and fiber arts, the one challenge I didn’t expect was cooking at home. Surprise, surprise.

So why all this reskilling? First, for survival. But second, you gotta walk the walk. If you really want to be of service and you really believe in a thing, you have to live it. You have to know it.

After the holidaze I’ll be getting back out there and checking out what’s going on in the Green community. I hope you’ll stop back by. The promised Ranch updates will be coming as well.

Thanks for the visit. Happy Holly Daze.

My New Column

by Robbie - November 8th, 2010

I’ve got a column now in an internet mag called Mile Hi Green. I call it “Robbie Knight’s Comm Post” as a pun but also as a definition; compost is a conglomeration of sorts, even if it isn’t exactly a potpourri. A lot of potpourris actually smell worse than compost heaps, in my opinion, but more to the point…composting is a process, and I believe we’re all in the process of coming to terms with the reality of the finite. There’s only so much wilderness, only so much accessible oil left in the ground, only so much clean water, yet the demand on limited resources grows greater and greater. Humans (perhaps most particularly Americans) don’t really believe in limits and we don’t like them imposing themselves upon our progress. We don’t like to be hindered and we don’t like the word, “No,”.

I wonder if we occasionally fail to see the creative possibilities that arise from a little imposition, especially while we’re whining about being imposed upon. “Double sided printing isn’t going to work!” “I don’t WANT to refill a water bottle!” “Why should I have to take shorter showers?” These are whines I’ve heard frequently. Nobody likes change, especially if it means an even temporary inconvenience.

I think it’s my job to be one of the folks who make those inconvenient changes seem more attractive in some way, to find the humor and creative opportunities in them and seduce people into carrying their own customized water bottles.

After a series of informal interviews with folks who’ve survived implementing earth-friendly practices at work, I’m under the impression that this is good for more than the environment. The people I talked to observed that after the initial whining and begrudging, it occurred to their coworkers that they were doing good for a Greater Reason-one bigger than themselves, and that made them feel good. They bonded over it and got some gratification from it. They were glad they were a part of the effort to make less waste. This feel-good side effect is reason enough to try Green, since it bonds humans. When humans bond, then the possibilities really are endless.

This month my column is a Comm Post heap of hints and tips for holiday season, including driving tips for sharing the road with big game (over the river and safely through the woods) and how to cut back on spending this holiday without it hurting. Sometimes just doing a little bit less than ease a lot of strain. And why should the holidays be a strain, anyway? How about a new, more relaxing tradition?

Thanks for reading, and I also appreciate your patience lately. Regular updates to Denver Green Channel begin…now!