art, Nature, New England, New Green Economy, Science, Uncategorized

Glass Flora: A Very Harvard Natural History

Glass flora in Cambridge, Mass

A wonderful blog post about iced flora inspired this post about glass flora — glass flowers that is — in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

This is a permanent collection at the Harvard Natural History Museum.  It’s housed in one of those rare coordinates where art, craft, nature, beauty and research flourish together.

In the image to the right, the flowers shown are each made of glass, mostly blown glass.  It makes sense when you think about it:  what else could capture the luminosity of a live plant?  Ingenious.

The flowers were made to be botanically correct.  There are thousands of glass plants and flowers on display.  The specimens took over 50 years to complete: one glass bit at a time.

It really is mind blowing.  In a pleasant sort of way.

The models were made from 1887 through 1936. The Blaschkas’ studio was located in Hosterwitz, near Dresden, Germany.   Professor George Lincoln Goodale, founder of the Botanical Museum, wanted life-like representatives of the plant kingdom for teaching botany.  At the time only crude papier-mâché or wax models were available.  These glass flowers are elegant, understated (but revelatory for it).  They can only happen once in the arc of the human race: exquisitely unique to this time and place.

photo by kmhurley,  http://www.kmhurley.com

Environmental Regulations, EPA, Nature, Saving the World

The $50 Million Dollar Man-agement of Gulf Ecosystem

On December 5, the final strategy for reversing deterioration of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem was announced.  News:  USDA has allotted $50 million financial assistance for restoration projects as Task Force efforts shift into action.

Key priorities of the strategy include:

1) Stopping the Loss of Critical Wetlands, Sand Barriers and Beaches
The strategy recommends placing ecosystem restoration on an equal footing with historic uses such as navigation and flood damage reduction by approaching water resource management decisions in a far more comprehensive manner that will bypass harm to wetlands, barrier islands and beaches. The strategy also recommends implementation of several congressionally authorized projects in the Gulf that are intended to reverse the trend of wetlands loss.

2) Reducing the Flow of Excess Nutrients into the Gulf
The strategy calls for working in the Gulf and upstream in the Mississippi watershed to reduce the flow of excess nutrients into the Gulf by supporting state nutrient reduction frameworks, new nutrient reduction approaches, and targeted watershed work to reduce agricultural and urban sources of excess nutrients.

3) Enhancing Resiliency among Coastal Communities
The strategy calls for enhancing the quality of life of Gulf residents by working in partnership with the Gulf with coastal communities. The strategy specifically recommends working with each of the States to build the integrated capacity needed through effective coastal improvement plans to better secure the future of their coastal communities and to implement existing efforts underway.

To review the final strategy: http://www.epa.gov/gulfcoasttaskforce

taking care of business
The business of cleanup.
FEMA, Maybe Saving the World, Nature, Saving the World

Have an Emergency Pet Plan

During Tropical Storm Irene, says FEMA, and the recent New England storm of Oct.29-30 that resulted in extended power outages, some residents chose not to evacuate from their homes fearing they would be separated from their pets. The Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) emphasize that during emergency evacuations, leaving pets should be an absolute last resort and encourage owners of pets and livestock to learn about which shelters allow animals during emergencies.

Prepare for pets
Because your dog is the best dog in the world.

“It’s critical to have an emergency plan in place that includes a fully-stocked animal emergency kit. In the long run it will help bring families some peace of mind as they begin the process of recovery,” said FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Stephen M. De Blasio Sr.

The following information was developed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in consultation with: American Kennel Club, The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), and The Humane Society of the U.S.

Useful steps in planning for animal evacuation:

  1.     If you must leave your residence, have a plan for your family pets
  2.     Go online and locate several “pet-friendly” hotels in and out of your area
  3.     Identify friends or relatives outside your area where you and your pets can stay
  4.     If there is a disaster pending, evacuate early with your pets, working animals and livestock; don’t wait for a mandatory evacuation order
  5.     Animals should have leg bands or tattoos, microchips or identification tags with their name as well as your address and phone number

Putting together an animal emergency kit:

  1.     Seven days worth of water and food stored with a can opener in a waterproof container
  2.     Toys, treats and bedding because familiar items may reduce stress for your pet
  3.     Medications, medical records and your veterinarian’s name and telephone number
  4.     Current photos of you with your family pets
  5.     Sturdy leashes, harnesses, and/or carriers to move pets safely and securely
  6.     Litter, litter box, newspapers, paper towels, plastic trash bags and household chlorine bleach for sanitation
  7.     First aid supplies such as cotton bandage rolls, tape, scissors, antibiotic ointment, flea/tick prevention, latex gloves, alcohol, saline solution as well as a pet first aid reference book

Planning for safe animal transportation:

  1.     Get family pets used to being placed in a carrier or crate
  2.     Prepare to move birds, snakes, lizards, ferrets and “pocket pets” like hamsters and gerbils in secure cages or carriers
  3.     Prepare for extreme weather conditions. Include blankets, ice packs, heating pads and a water mister in your kit

Detailed plans for family pets, working animals and livestock owners are available online at http://www.Ready.Gov or by calling 1-800-BE READY (1-800-237-3239).

Safe dogs are happy dogs.
Safe dogs are happy dogs.
Green Reviews, Green Tips, Maybe Saving the World, Nature, New Green Economy, Saving the World

Green Cleaning Products That Work

So which green cleaning products actually work?  Straight from a friend in San Francisco, who’s had a housecleaning business for over 10 years and has extensively field-tested them all, here are the best green cleaning products for cleaning your house, toxic-chemical-free:

Mrs-Meyers-dishwasher-soap
Mrs. Meyers' dishwashing detergent

Method shower cleaner

Mrs Meyers basil all purpose

Bona hardwood floor cleaner & mop

Hope’s perfect glass

I found most of these at the local supermarket.

I bought Mrs. Meyer’s countertop cleaner (lavendar) and it works great.  Also bought the dish washing liquid (basil), it also works great.

But the real revelation was Mrs. Meyer’s dishwasher detergent.

Mrs. Meyer’s automatic dishwasher detergent consists of little packets the size of two thumbs, full of white powder.  (They look illegal.)  You put one in the dishwasher compartment.  It works as well as — if not better than — Cascade with all the rinse chemical-fixins.

I did not expect that:  never thought something “green” could actually work.  It’s brilliant.  It’s all I use now.

More choices for green cleaning products For other green cleaning products, here’s a great link from outside of Seattle containing a list of non-toxic versions of everything from air fresheners to upholstery cleaners to pipe-unclogger to slug stopper (?! really).  Only thing is, “non-toxic” doesn’t necessarily mean chemical-free, so while these lists are helpful, they don’t absolve any of us from research and label-reading.

Still, a helpful place to start:

Non-toxic alternatives (City of Tacoma, Washington)

If you have favorite ‘greeners’ that are time tested and you really believe in them, please post them below.  I’ll try anything, especially if it won’t kill my new, young, growing ash tree that lives near the “outgoing” drainage pipe at my place.  (Also, my dog eats things off surfaces she shouldn’t, so I’d like to keep it real for her too.)  Green cheers to all.

Environmental Regulations, EPA, Nature, New England, New Green Economy, Saving the World

Green Communications Manager Job: New England

Occasionally these job descriptions & opportunities appear in my email inbox (via www.Indeed.com, the best web site for job seekers).  Job opps also pop up on LinkedIn automatically when a job opportunity more or less matches your current job title and experience.  This particular opportunity appeared today and may be of interest to readers of this blog.

The employer is asking quite a lot.  Salary is likely under-served, which is the first thing to find out – always – when approaching a non-profit.  It could be priceless experience — but only if you’re the type of person who doesn’t get resentful over a salary at about 1/2 of market rate.  (I am not one of those people, but have heard of them.)  If you’re very passionate about green initiatives, the environment, related legal pursuits and non-profits, run up to the net and see what they’re offering.

Even if you’re not in the market, this is a strong (if slightly over-served) job description for the role and the field.  Reading these things keeps your eye on the ball.

Senior Communications Manager – Conservation Law Foundation – Greater Boston Area
Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) is seeking a talented communications practitioner with a journalist’s eye for a good story, a storyteller’s knack for engaging an audience, an editor’s fine point and a publicist’s rolodex. Reporting directly to the director of communications, the senior communications manager will have 5-7 years of communications experience, with solid writing, editing, messaging and pitching skills. You will be able to develop and implement strategic and tactical communications plans that advance the organization’s mission and build awareness through promotion of its core programs and priorities, special campaigns and positions on key issues. Your thirst for knowledge and continual education about environmental issues, including climate change, clean energy, clean air, clean water, ocean conservation, transportation and environmental justice allow you to see creative possibilities for generating media interest around CLF’s people, positions and success stories. Your background will include experience in the nonprofit sector, preferably in the area of environmental issues/advocacy. Current knowledge of and experience with communicating in the digital age a must, with strong media relationships in the Boston area/New England region a plus.

Your responsibilities will include:
• Working with program heads, state directors and staff advocates to develop strategic messaging that flows through the organization’s communications to its various stakeholders
• Developing and editing content for the organization’s website, blog, social media sites and print publications
• Working with outside designers and printers to produce publications and communications materials, including CLF’s quarterly publication, Conservation Matters
• Pro-active and reactive media relations that generate regular, strategic, high-quality media coverage of Conservation Law Foundation and its work
• Developing strategic and tactical outreach plans that advance the organization’s advocacy goals
• Writing press releases and press statements, op-ed pieces, letters to the editor
• Working collaboratively with development, marketing and membership teams to ensure consistency of communications across the organization
• Planning and implementation of press events
• Developing metrics for success, monitoring and reporting for executives, staff and boards
• Public speaking and media training
• Monitoring of editorial calendars
• Development and maintenance of media lists
• Mentor and lead team members responsible for website and marketing administration

Desired Skills & Experience
• Demonstrated ability to distill complex issues and legal language into accessible and compelling stories for a variety of audiences and stakeholders
• Highly-collaborative creative thinker with a minimum of 5 years experience with messaging, public relations, and editing
• Ability to multi-task on different projects with different deadlines and work on multiple initiatives in parallel
• Excellent writing, editing, and proofreading skills
• Confident pitchman/woman with ability to develop and nurture strong media relationships
• Passion for environmental issues and continuous learning
• Boundless energy and intellectual curiosity
• Can-do attitude
• Bachelor’s degree required, preferably with an emphasis in communications or journalism
• 2-4 years of experience working in environmental field
• Experience with WordPress, Convio, Photoshop and InDesign strongly desired
• Knowledge of fundraising techniques and strategies
• Strong commitment to CLF’s mission

Interested candidates are required to send a cover letter and resume to: Human Resources at careers@clf.org or mail to: 62 Summer Street, Boston, MA 02110.

Application materials must be received no later than September 14th. Candidates of color are strongly encouraged to apply.

Company Description
Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) protects New England’s environment for the benefit of all people. A non-profit, member-supported organization, CLF uses the law, science and the market to solve the region’s most challenging environmental problems from climate change to ocean conservation to transportation. Every day, CLF advocates stand up for New Englanders—in state houses, court houses and board rooms, regulatory hearings and community gatherings—to forge innovative paths to environmental progress and economic prosperity for our region.

Founded in 1966, CLF is recognized nationwide for taking on complex issues, sticking with them and getting results that make New England a better place to live, visit and do business, including: cleaning up Boston Harbor, restoring New England’s cod population, blocking oil and gas drilling on Georges Bank, preserving wilderness areas in Vermont and New Hampshire, reducing emissions from cars and trucks, laying the groundwork for widespread implementation of renewable energy, and winning some of the country’s strongest protections for clean air and clean water. CLF is headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts with offices in Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Health, Nature, New England, Snow, Winter

Hurricane Preparedness 2011: Smartphone Up!

The smartest thing you can get for hurricane preparedness is an off-grid charger for your cell phone.  A cell phone — particularly a smartphone — can serve as “find me” whistle, flashlight, information channel, family finder, and so much more.  Remember that smartphones especially have a short battery life.  This cannot be over-emphasized.  Nokero’s solar charger is good, see details here.  Or go to your nearest Sprint store or Whatever store or go to Best Buy and see what they have.

A serious hurricane in New England?  My father sat through a hurricane in 1938 that took down almost all the trees around Lake Sunapee, New Hampshire — where the family had a summer house.

new england hurricane 38 new hampshire
1938 hurricane in NH - photo by Peter Roome http://www.flickr.com/photos/roome/

EMERGENCY KIT  From experience, then, the Sensible Yankee hurricane emergency kit includes basics.  You can get through just about anything with:

  1. two gallons of water (supermarket)
  2. your eyeglasses/contact lenses/sunglasses/reading glasses
  3. your meds
  4. a sleeping bag or blanket or warm winter coat, pillows are nice
  5. non-perishable food (eg, canned food with can opener, Twinkies, Powerbars)
  6. extra flashlights and batteries
  7. Swiss Army Knife

Online, it appears the government preparedness instructions haven’t changed much since 1938.

FEMA has you storing up “moist towelettes” (?), a dust mask (?), a NOAA Weather Radio (no one under 40 knows what that is) and traveler’s checks (what?).

Suggestion: start with phone and off-grid charger and our Sensible Yankee list, above.  Then add stuff from their list if you have an encyclopedia, historical reference guide, and a lot of time to identify dated items and shop at 12 different stores and wait in line at a bank for traveler’s checks (again, what?).

OVERNIGHT BAG  Pack, because you may need to evacuate or you may not be able to find your stuff under stress.  Pretend you’re going camping for 3 days and pack accordingly.  Include toothpaste, toothbrush, medications, vitamins, clothes; all the things you normally need.

If you’ve never been camping, pack as if you’re going to the wrong side of Detroit for three days and staying in a half-star motel with no fridge or running water.  Bring your own blankets, sheets & pillow.  Leave your strappy high-heeled sandals behind.

CHILDREN  If you have small children, and it’s not possible to travel to a safe place, then collect your gear and put it all in one place:  a safe, windowless room, as if you’re about the load the car for a 3 day camping trip.  Now you’re ready to evacuate if you need to, and you know where all your stuff is either way: your clothes, water, food, cookstove, candles or lanterns, etc. are all in one place.

Treat it like a fun camping-trip sort of adventure — kids often react to these things the same way you do.  For details and (you guessed it) a more extensive list of obscure stuff, see http://www.ready.org.

FLYING GLASS  Most injuries in a serious storm come from flying glass and debris, usually puncture wounds.  This is one of those incredibly obvious things we don’t think of.  So:  during the actual storm, keep away from windows and exterior doors.  This is for real.  The basement or closet or bathroom is likely safest, e.g., rooms with fewest portals to the outside.

PETS  Put pet food, leash, an extra gallon of water, their favorite blanket, and their favorite chew toy in a plastic garbage bag — put it in the trunk of the car — with their crate — now or as close to now as you can.  We emphasize now because pet care is the easiest to ignore in an urgent situation and as a result causes the most heartache.  Don’t even flirt with it.  Here’s more from FEMA on pets — but we didn’t have time to read all that.

UTILITIES   If a serious hurricane is coming your way and you own your home or are responsible for your home, shut off your utilities.  Here’s how.

If you’re like most people under 40 who only read 40 words of any given web page and never read the manual:  get a neighbor to come over and show you how to shut off utilities.  People like to show off what they know and you get a custom lesson — you also get to find out what a monkey wrench actually is, and how to use one, which is kind of fun.

Junk in the trunk  On a preparedness note, if you’re not a New England native, you may not know this:  in northern winter months from September –> May it’s imperative to always have in your car anyway:

  1. a blanket or sleeping bag
  2. old but still functional hat, mittens, gloves
  3. old wool sweater, just in case
  4. an old (super-warm) coat you wouldn’t wear unless you had to
  5. at least one flashlight, loaded with good batteries, preferably two flashlights
  6. Swiss Army Knife (canopener, screwdriver, knife)
  7. water bottle (you may need to fill it)
  8. off-grid smartphone charger

Believe me, you’ll feel better having these things.

Here’s FEMA’s take: http://www.fema.gov/help/widgets/prepared_hurricane.html

The truth is that if you have a cell phone and an off-grid charger, you can just call for help, company, or pizza delivery.

Environmental Regulations, EPA, Health, Nature, Saving the World, Science

DuPont Herbicide Halted By EPA

DuPont says it’s implementing “broad scientific and stewardship reviews” after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) pulled DuPont’s herbicide called Imprelis off the market Thursday.

In EPA’s “Stop Sale, Use, or Removal Order,” the EPA said that DuPont had test data that showed its herbicide Imprelis was harmful to Norway spruce, balsam fir and other trees when it was given EPA approval last August.

(So why was it allowed to market in the first place…?)

DuPont, in the meantime, has posted a job opening for Product Stewardship at DuPont at corporate headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware.  Smart.

DuPont is the registrant of  Imprelis Herbicide (EPA Registration No. 352-793) with the active ingredient aminocyclopyrachlor (CASRN 858956-35-1).  Beginning in June 2011, EPA says it began receiving complaints from state pesticide agencies regarding evergreen damage related to the use of Imprelis.

To its credit, DuPont has been cooperating.  As of August 2011, DuPont has submitted to the Agency over 7,000 adverse incident reports involving damage (including death) to non-target trees – primarily Norway spruce (considered by many to be an invasive plant) and white pine (considered by some to be a pain in the butt, due to sticky pitch or sap, falling branches, abundant shedding of needles, shallow root system and great height which lend to tipping over).  The damage to nearby trees and plants has been observed to be related to the application of Imprelis.

Test data from DuPont has confirmed certain coniferous trees, including Norway spruce and balsam fir, as susceptible to being damaged or killed by the application of Imprelis.  EPA continues to collect information from DuPont, state agency investigations, inspections and data analyses. The Agency continues to investigate possible causes of the evergreen damage.

Based on death of “non-target” trees and other observations, EPA feels it has reason to believe Imprelis Herbicide is in violation of FIFRA based on DuPont’s own test data and information gathered during EPA and state investigations.

If this affects you or your work and you want to know more, go to this EPA page for DuPont Imprelis that provides more information.