Category: Sustainability

Camp Pixelache in Helsinki – A Weekend of Art, Activism, Sustainability and Technology

Camp Pixelache in Helsinki – A Weekend of Art, Activism, Sustainability and Technology

When I read the description about Camp Pixelache this Winter, an event where technology, art, activism and subcultures meet each year in Helsinki, Finland, I said to myself, “These are my people.”  I submitted a presentation topic, and went to present at the event.   I just came back from Helsinki, and have came back with lots of thing to write about, and with lots of friends and new contacts  who are doing projects related to building community, cultural production, art technology, sustainability, and activism from various countries.

This year, Camp Pixelache had a core theme of “Do It With Others” (D.I.W.O) and explored the question of “How can artists, makers, cultural producers, researchers and activists work collaboratively with each other and audiences, to create new co-production models for artifacts/events with sustainability as the core goal?”

A series of presentations around 4 core themes were organized which include Do It With Others (D.I.W.O), Creative Neighborhood Skills, The Art of Gathering Environmental Data, and Social Identity and Augmented Reality.  There also were demonstrations of electronic art and design including various open source, re/upcycling, and other “trashlab” and “hacklab” projects.

Other events at the festival included a keynote presentation, a live performance club event, and a series of professional workshops. The events were held at Arbis, a Swedish-language adult education center that is located close to the Finnish National Museum, in central Helsinki.

I gave a presentation in the early afternoon titled Powerformance which was in the festival’s track, Do It With Others (D.I.W.O.)  In my talk, I talked about the potential that interactive performance has to generate awareness and promote social change.  I made a special stretchable Euro paycheck –which we stretched at the end of my presentation.

The weekend was amazing.  I met so many interesting people and talked to others about art, technology, hope for the future, and other topics. I met others from Sweden, France, Latvia, Estonia, Germany, Finland, Portugal and England at the event.

Some of the main speakers and facilitators of the conference tracks included Marc Garrett, (, London), Pedro Soler (, Barcelona) Jennifer Gabrys, (Goldsmiths University, London) and  Owen Kelly  (Arcadia University of Applied Sciences, Helsinki) and members of the Bio Art Society of Finland.

The dialogue and presentations were engaging and exciting.  I will be posting for probably several weeks about the people, projects, and presentations that I met, experienced, and saw.     I am currently unpacking, doing laundry, and preparing my receipts.  Tomorrow I will start typing up my notes, compiling the information I got, and also connecting with others that I met at the conference.  Get ready to hear more about Camp Pixelache in future posts!

Image Source:
Pixelache website


Camp Pixelache Website

Pixelache website

Camp Pixelache Video:






Go Green Forever Stamps :   Step by Step

Go Green Forever Stamps : Step by Step

I recently went to the Post Office for stamps, and purchased the USPS Go Green Forever stamps that were released last year for Earth Day. The stamps feature simple things that anyone can  that can have a positive impact on the environment.  Each of the fifteen stamps features a way to reduce our environmental footprint.  Buy local produce, reuse bags, fix water leaks, share rides, recycle more ride a bike, plant trees, and other everyday actions are featured on the stamps.  Since the stamps are forever stamps, each stamp has the word forever on it.  “Reuse bags… forever,”  “Buy local produce…forever,”  is how the stamps read.

The stamps are made from materials that re biodegradable and recyclable and is part of the Post Office’s Go Green sustainability initiative.  The stamps are intended to help promote the idea that doing daily things can make a difference.  Examples are that recycling one aluminum can save enough energy to run a computer by three hours, or inflating your car tires properly will improve gas mileage by three percent.

The U.S. post office has been working to reduce its impact on the environment for some time.  For over 100 years, the post office has owned electric vehicles.   The USPS was the first federal agency to publicly report greenhouse gas emissions, and has eco-friendly mailing materials that meet the Cradle to Cradle Certification, which is earned by conserving natural resources.

I haven’t used any of my stamps yet.   It’s hard to say what using the stamps will do to promote these ideas, but I can’t wait to use the “Ride a bike… forever” stamp on a letter.



Animation of GoGreen Stamps

USPS sustainability initiatives and the Go Green Forever stamps


Green and  Sustainability – What does the word green mean?

Green and Sustainability – What does the word green mean?

Where did the word green come from?   The word’s earliest roots are with the Proto-Indo-Europeans, a loose collection of tribes that were the earliest agricultural communities. They used the word gro to mean grow.  In Northern Europe, the West Germanic people used the word gronj for the color green.  In the Dark Ages, when the Saxons (who were groups of German tribes) invaded England, the word changed to grene.  The Old English verb growan means “to grow.”

The word has many associations including growth, sickness, death, inexperience, youth, envy, and jealousy.  It also often it refers to nature, plants. regeneration, fertility and rebirth

The association of the word green with environmentalism emerged from the translation of the German word Grün, which was coined by die Grünen, an early formation of the Green party in Germany in the late 1970s which was a political ecology group, the Green Party.

Today the word seems to be associated with the environment, especially when used on products and in advertisements – but it is unclear exactly what green means. Green is often used to describe a product or service that possesses a lower carbon footprint, promotes recycling or pollution reduction, or something that is better for our natural environment that another product or choice.

Today there are over 300 eco-labels or green stickers that are labeling systems for consumer products and food.  On the website, there are over 430 labels that are used across the world.  Of these, I counted 36 that use the word green.  Some of these labels were GreenTag Certified, Green Table, GreenSure, Green Seal, Greenstar, Greenmark, and many more.

The New York Times has a Green blog which states it is about energy and the environment.  The U.S. Green Party has in its mission that it is,”committed to ecology, social justice grassroots democracy and nonviolence.”  The cleaning product Simple Green has a quote on its website, “A great day to be green!” As the word green as well as the word sustainable are being used more and more,  it is getting increasingly more confusing to determine what exactly these words mean.

One day our consumer products will be made from healthy and safe materials that, at the end of their life, will be taken apart and turned into raw materials for new products or returned to the earth as compost. These products will be manufactured using renewable energy and marketed with socially responsible strategies.  I’m not sure what they will be called, but if you know, let me know.

Image Source:
Google Image Search: Green

Ecolabel Index


The Sustainability Diet : Peter McDermott at CMNH

The Sustainability Diet : Peter McDermott at CMNH

Last weekend I attended a workshop entitled The Sustainability Diet given by Peter McDermott at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.  McDermott is an urban farmer, a “network weaver” at E4S(Entrepeneurs for Sustainability) and the founder of Local Food Cleveland.

The first part of the workshop McDermott focused on, “How did we get here?” – or a brief history of how we got to our present day food system. He reviewed key events in history which included the development of the refrigerated railroad car, the process of making nitrogen out of oil, and the use of phosphorous and farming.

All three of these events have led to us having food that is shipped from far away, relies on petroleum as part of the process, and makes our food easy and fast to get.  Today for every 1 calorie of food that we eat, there are 9-10 calories of energy that were used to produce the food.  On the road today – 1/3 of trucks that we see are carrying food.

In 1915, Fritz Haber created a process where nitrogen, which is used as a fertilizer,  could be made from oil. This process helped support our modern farming practices.  One other additive that we use in farming is phosphorous, and we do not put it back into the soil.  Currently the industry mines for phosphorus, and there are predictions that in the next 50 years we will be not be able to continue to get a supply of this.

The outcome of these practices is that the current industrial system of food production treats soil and animals as materials, and we have gotten used to food being cheap, easy, and convenient. In the last 5 years, there has been a shift of people starting to move to local food.  This is being caused due to the current personal health and fitness movement,  interest in the environment that is increasing, and discussions about healthy food access, and discussions about the social justice of food economy.   Other challenges to our system is the national security threat that exists due to a food system that relies heavily on transportation for food supplies.

Besides these challenges of resources, there is a move to local foods due to the rise in “foodie” interest the economic potential of local food production, and neighborhood revitalization.

There is a growing movement to support the local food movement in Northeast Ohio.  McDermott went on to report that there are over 200 community gardens, and over 40 local farms in the area.  Cleveland is one of the leaders in policy and food systems.  Laws that support new zoning to support community gardens, individuals being allowed to have bees and chickens in their backyards, and a new law where catering companies need to use 10% of local food in their work have been positive changes to support food policy.

So how much has support of local food changed?  There has been a 13% growth in Farmers Markets, and sales of Ball jars for canning has increased in recent years.

McDermott reported that there has been lots of media coverage about local food only 1% of food is local.  The media coverage almost makes it seem as if the issue has greatly improved – but there is lots of change to happen.

Two current challenges that exist to changing our food system is the scale changing from an industrial to a local food system.  Most local farms farm on average 2 acres, with a couple of farmers and part-time help working the farm.  To make a change to local food, we will need many more farmers, and larger local farms.

Food equity and use of local food is another issue.  Generally it is upper and middle class individuals who buy local food, attend farmer markets, etc.

The second part of the McDermott’s presentation reviewed ten key questions that face the local food movement, and what we can do as individuals to support change.

10 Key Questions that the Local Food Movement is Facing:

1. How will we train and mobilize 50 million new farmers in the coming decades?
Support local farmers
Become a farmer
Start or join a community garden
Expand your backyard garden

2. How do we feed ourselves locally year round?
Learn to preserve food
Build a root cellar to store potatoes, carrots, squash, etc.
Garden year round – (grow crops under plastic)

3. How can we begin to provide a complete local diet with the production of staple crops? (beans, grains are not grown locally usually, due to the specialized equipment needed)
Get regional equipment for farms to use

4. How to finance and rebuild food infrastructure? (ex: there are few small dairy farms)
Need facilities for processing
Invest in local food enterprises (check out the Slow Money site)

5. Can the market for local food grow and support an expansion in production?
Shop at the farmers market
Join a CSA
Support restaurants and retailers who support local food

6. How can local food be accessible and affordable for all?
Check out a local food guide for your area
Support initiatives and non-profits that are working on food equity issues

7. How will we get local food into schools and institutions?
(note : one challenge – Cleveland  and other schools have $1 per child budget for the day)
The supply of local food is not here yet to support these changes

8. How will we create a culture of conscious cooking and eating?
Invite family and friends – and cook and share about local food
Cook with children – and teach others to cook

9. What policies must we enact at the federal, state, and local levels to make this happen?
Look into the work of The Cleveland Cuyahoga County Food Coalition

10. How will we accomplish this work amidst peak oil, climate change, and the end of growth?
Support policy to make changes

At the end of the presentation, McDermott recommended some books to learn more about growing your own food which included:  How to Grow More Vegetables, Gaia’s Garden, and The One Straw.  He also showed the Local Food Cleveland website – and reviewed the resources on the site which include events, guides to local markets, and other information.


Local Food Cleveland

E4S (Entrepreneurs For Sustainability)

The History of Refrigeration