Who’s the greenest of them all?

Trick question—it’s me! Well, I’m the Greene-est, I guess.

But I’ve had the pleasure of making acquaintance with some other super-green folks lately: Eric Duchon and Akanksha Sharma, two of too-many-to-count members of the Urban Green Council, the New York chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council.

A building in NYC’s meatpacking district, ripe for an environmental retrofit! (courtesy Professor Bop, Flickr)

I started writing for Urban Green this past June and have been having a particularly good time with the member-profiling assignments.

Why? Because Urban Green members say the greenest, most interesting things!

“I’m always bumping into people on the street—not because I’m looking at my phone, but because I’m looking at buildings. ‘Are they doing a window replacement up there?’ I think to myself. Or, ‘Why are there so many halogen MR16s in this restaurant? Don’t they know there are incentives for LED bulbs that could save them so much energy?’ ”


“Initially, sustainability is not the smoothest path in terms of career stability! It’s not like other career paths that go by the book. But there is a lot of room to innovate, and it’s engaging and rewarding because you have to drive yourself. You have to constantly recalibrate your approach so you’re attuned to what’s out there now.”

If I weren’t already happy with my job as a writer—and if I believed I had even a whit of the ingenuity, agility, and skill required—I’d consider endeavoring to join Eric and Akanksha’s esteemed ranks as city- and world-bettering Sustainability People.

As it is, I’ll just enjoy writing about them.

Cops, doughnuts, and the evolving streets of L.A.

If you haven’t watched Locavesting founder Amy Cortese’s 2012 TEDxMaui talk, you might want to check it out. Amy is a longtime and award-winning journalist, book author, public speaker, and all-around very cool person, these days mostly focused on the topics of crowdfunding and community.


In 2011, she published Locavesting: The Revolution In Local Investing And How To Profit From It, which chronicles the local investing movement and explains how even small investment shifts away from multinational companies and toward locally-owned enterprises could reap enormous economic and social benefits for individuals, their communities, and the country.

Oh, and at around the five-minute mark of her TED talk, Amy tells the story of “the cops in Clare, Michigan that saved their town’s 111-year-old bakery—and revitalized their downtown in the process.” I’ll let her deliver most of the rich details, but can’t help letting you know that these guys renamed the place “Cops & Doughnuts” and started selling “Don’t Glaze Me, Bro!” t-shirts!

All of the above made me feel honored to write a story for the Locavesting website recently, about how Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is partnering with national nonprofits like ioby and local orgs like the Ride On! Bike Coop to plan and fabricate L.A.’s next generation of more human-friendly city streets, using a fiscally-viable, community-led process. It’s inspiring stuff!

I invite you to read up, watch at your leisure, and invest locally. See you at the doughnut shop!

Cops and Donuts

What Trisha Brown calls the “bees going into your face” part

In June, I had the pleasure of writing for one of my clients about BEEcosystem, a modular honeybee hive made for today’s urban lifestyles. It sits inside your apartment!! You let the bees out to frolic and pollinate through a tube. You have to see it; it’s great.


BEEcosystems at work in State College, PA

I interviewed the invention’s founders, awesome Pennsylvania dudes Mike Zaengle and Dustin Betz (I really do love Pennsylvania), and they had lots of interesting and important things to say about reestablishing our connection to the origins of our food, Colony Collapse Disorder, and how one in every three bites we eat was probably produced by a pollinator.

But what’s stuck in my mind most since then was Mike saying, “I had thought being outside in the yard with the BEEcosystem tube coming through the window might make me nervous, but after I worked with honeybees for a while, I realized they’re much friendlier than I thought. You can definitely walk around doing yard work all afternoon and they won’t bother you!”

Hot damn.

BEEcosystem is in the midst of a Kickstarter campaign to get this shizz off the ground. Throw a little dough their way, honey, and help grow the buzz!

Oh, and what was that about Trisha Brown at the beginning? It’s an all-but-unrelated quote (especially now that Mike’s weighed in about the bees not going into your face) from a wonderful interview with her by the inimitable M.J. Thompson—titled “Dancing? ‘It’s Awesome’ “—in one of my erstwhile stomping grounds, The Brooklyn Rail. I read it in 2009 and haven’t forgotten it. An excerpt:

Bob [Rauschenberg] and I were very close. I had the best dialogues with him. Bob had a fix on me like no one else. He called me at least once a week, especially when he was in New York, and said, “I’ve got an idea for you.” And I’d say, “Wait, I’m already working on the piece. Write it down, save it for me. And if you have another urge to talk to me call my office, it’s four in the morning.” He had a sterling vision [Thinking for a moment, then demonstrating: hands and arms cutting downwards quickly, away from her face]. Do you remember that part? What I call the “bees going into your face” part? I was working the edges of what was acceptable but at the same time the piece was a study in structuralism and scale and bees going into face.


Love you, Trisha! (photo from artsalive.ca)