A company in Italy called Capsula Mundi has designed an elegant pod to serve as a biodegradable casket. The idea is that the deceased person's unembalmed body is placed in the pod and buried in the earth. A tree planted over the burial site is nourished by the decaying body. The vision is to have tree-and-pod pairs replace traditional burial plots. As more and more trees are planted in a cemetery, the land eventually becomes a sacred forest, to be protected and cared for by loved ones through the generations. The company is in a startup phase. Right now only biodegradable urns to be filled with ashes of a cremated body are available for purchase, but as the green burial movement continues to grow, Tom and I hope this idea will flourish. This is our preferred method of burial if the place and the means become available in time.
Mother Nature Network, "Border collies run like the wind to bring new life to Chilean forest"
1.4 million acres of land were destroyed during a devastating wildfire in Chile in 2017. The Torres sisters, Constanza and Francisca, had the idea to start reseeding the area with the help of their energetic sheep dogs
Six-year-old border collie mom Das and her two-year-old pups Summer and Olivia take to the forest with backpacks of native seeds. As they run through the woods for the joy of it, seeds stream out and take root in the forest. They can distribute as many as 20 pounds of seeds in a day. "We have seen many results in flora and fauna coming back to the burned forest!" says Torres. The sisters purchase the seeds out of their own pockets. The Chilean landscape is coming back to life, thanks to this energetic and caring family and its intelligent, hard-working dogs.
With help from funding from the international Ashden awards that find and support innovative sustainable solutions, women in India, Nepal, and now Myanmar are starting their own clean-energy businesses. Their newfound entrepreneurship is helping bring solar energy to rural villages, where lighting for evening farm work and electricity for charging phones is helping bring more ease to difficult lives. The women business owners are also delighted to have the chance to determine their own life paths as they bring clean solar energy to their countries.
Treehugger.com, "Rescued gorilla and her caretaker win Wildlife Photographer of the Year award"
Beautiful moment caught on camera when Pikin, rescued by Ape Action Africa, woke up during a car ride to a larger sanctuary. She was in the arms of her caretaker, so she remained calm during the bumpy ride. There is good in the world, still.
The photo by photographer Jo-Anne McArthur was chosen over 50,000 other images. The Natural History Museum in London is displaying the photograph until the end of May 2018.
The island of Samsø, off the coast of Denmark, has a remarkable story to tell. Winning a 1998 contest sponsored by the Danish government allowed the island to become a showcase community for reducing carbon emissions.
We've been fascinated with the concept of tiny houses since we first learned of them. We've loved watching the reality shows that demonstrate the builders' amazing creativity designing multi-use activity areas for the most efficient use of the space they have to work with. One of my favorite uses of space was a quilting workspace and sewing-machine cabinet that doubled as a kitchen table! We have also followed the experience of our friends who had a tiny house built at Starseed Healing Sanctuary in Savoy, Massachusetts. Their off-grid tiny house is nestled in a quiet, wooded area and you can even rent it for the night on AirBnB if you want to try out tiny-house living.
This article notes that tiny-house plans are changing, with designs moving from cute, little spaces to those that sustain a more permanent kind of living, with the perks you would want for a well-rounded lifestyle. There is a trend now to build in a modular fashion to keep an extended tiny-house collection movable, with each piece able to be moved on its own trailer.
The tiny house featured in the article has a separate green house and a comfortable front porch with a swing. The interior of the house is beautiful, with full-size kitchen facilities, stairs that lead to a comfortable sleep space, and dining and lounging areas. You can even buy this exact house because it's for sale in South Carolina for $81,000. We're all set with our smallish house, but if I were looking for a tiny house, I might be tempted by the extra relaxing room on the porch and the ability to grow plants and vegetables through an extended season.
With less open space and more people, smaller farms that feed people locally and replenish the soil are becoming popular in many areas. Limestone Permaculture Farm is a one-acre farm in New South Wales, Australia that was started ten years ago when the wife fell ill. Her husband, a builder, described his excitement about discovering permaculture like this, "When I found permaculture, it was less about one form and more about following nature’s design. It blew my mind.”
Their farm now produces enough produce for 50 families. It uses permaculture techniques and also powers itself primarily from renewable energy. Bees, goats, and chickens also share the farm and contribute their talents. The farm's owners, Brett and Nici Cooper, are still working full-time at jobs away from the farm, but they hope to make farming a full-time life soon.
The Coopers share what they've learned by offering tours, internships, and permaculture programs, hoping to pass on their knowledge and inspire others. As Nici Cooper puts it, “We feel there has been an awakening across our beautiful country, self-reliance is on the rise again; urban and rural homesteading has people taking their food and energy supply back into their own hands. With each passing day we are transitioning to a more wholesome life, creating a more fulfilling and positive future, not just for ourselves but also for our family, friends, and community.”
That's inspiration worth growing everywhere!
According to this article, electric vehicles are not only the way of the future, they'll be our drivers too. They're getting cheaper and there are fewer moving parts to maintain. That has wide implications for the auto industry and all those who support it. England and France have announced that they will be banning traditional internal combustion engine vehicles in 2040 and undoubtedly more nations will follow suit. There are lots of interesting details in this article, including how this timing aligns with the end of the oil industry. Electric vehicles are non-polluting and I hope we'll be around long enough to see them widely used.
Speaking of the Fresh Express mobile deliveries in the Phoenix, Arizona area, Elyse Guidas says, “For a lot of our customers, this is one of their only lifelines and access to healthy food.” And it's not only inner-city lives that are affected. When we traveled across the United States a couple of years ago, along the East Coast and through the back roads of the Midwest, there were many rural, desolate areas where factory farms grew food for people far away and the people who lived there had to travel long distances to find anything other than convenience-store food.
Turning vacant lots into community gardens, delivering fruits and vegetables to community centers, and setting up urban farmers' markets are all examples of bringing the earth's gifts to barren food deserts and the people who live in them.
Shareable.net, "A model of community-supported agriculture in western Massachusetts is going strong"
One of the reasons we moved to western Massachusetts was the bounty of small farms in the area. Living here we could support the farms, simultaneously helping the local economy and reducing the carbon emissions caused by long-distance movement of food. Indian Line Farm in Great Barrington, Massachusetts is located in the Berkshire Mountains west of where we live. It serves as an example of long-term farm planning that brings together community-shared agriculture, land protection, and incentives for investing in local businesses.
Members of the community can purchase shares in the coming year's crop. When they purchase those shares with BerkShares, the local currency, they effectively receive a 5% discount, thanks to the incentives for using the currency to make purchases at local businesses.
A model like this that helps local farmers, businesses, and community members is one that we believe is the foundation of future resilience.