Wednesday, December 05, 2012 12:30 PM
A Pair of Pears' guide to DIY gift wrapping.
Whether you’ve been too busy, broke, or lazy to finish (or start)
your holiday shopping, it’s not too late to find or make thoughtful gifts. And
with an emphasis on local, DIY, and green gifting, you can avoid the mall
the internet, your telephone, and a credit card, you can help support your loved
ones’ favorite local spots. Chip in for a visit to that zero-waste locavore
restaurant your sister loves. Treat your mom to an hour with her local
masseuse. Get your stepdad a round of golf (not the greenest, maybe, but better
than another tie). Asking yourself what your loved ones like to do is usually
easier than trying to figure out what they want. Alternatively, consider
sharing some favorite local finds from your area. Whether you choose practical
items (honey, soap) or extravagances (chocolate, wine), you’ll be sharing a
piece of your everyday life.
has a creative streak. Whether your strengths are in the kitchen, the garden,
or the art studio, there’s a gift waiting for you to make it. Here are a few
ideas for getting started. Food
Republic has slightly-sinful holiday treats, from vanilla bourbon to spicy
candied bacon fudge (yes, you read that right). Odessa
May Society’s DIY tulip-and-daffodil-bulb gift basket will bring the
reassurance of spring to friends who get the winter blues. For music and poetry
lovers, ABeautiful Mess shows how to make wall art out of verse. And if you have
paint chip samples secreted away somewhere, How About Orange reveals how to
turn them into magnets
patterned wall art. Love drawing or graphic design? Handmade soaps,
lotions, teas, salves,
perfumes and colognes offer a blank slate for designing labels and packaging
that shows off your style.
a hungry mind with a year’s worth of food-for-thought and support the independent press. Here are some of our favorite
For the environmentalist: Orion
The informed optimist: Yes!
friend who hates consumer culture: Adbusters
The new parents: Brain,
The intellectual cyclist: Boneshaker: A
The practical cyclist: Bicycle Times
The farmer (or wanna-be): Small Farmer’s Journal
The hardcore sustainable do-it-yourselfer: Mother Earth News
left-leaning news junkie: The NationThe open-minded
conservative: American ConservativeThe
feminist: BitchThe empowered girl: New Moon(Or
Reader with a friend!)
seem strange to donate instead of giving a gift, but if you’re buying for the
family activist this will likely supply the desired warm, fuzzy feeling. Talk
to them beforehand about causes they support.
to buy and use less this holiday don’t have to stop at the gift. In case you
thought newspaper and brown paper shopping bags couldn’t look classy, check out
guide to upcycled gift wrapping. A
Pair of Pears and Redesign
Revolution offer more ideas for making DIY and reusable wrapping look
Still freaking out?
For practical advice on paring down and handling holiday stress, see the Mayo
Clinic’s tips for
coping with the holidays.
A Pair of Pears' guide to DIY gift wrapping; Sweet & spicy nuts via SassyRadish, licensed under Creative Commons; Gift for the Gardener by Odessa May Society; November/December 2012 cover of
; Cloth gift wrap from The Merriment Blog (via Redesign Revolution).
Friday, August 31, 2012 9:25 AM
This post originally appeared at Shareable.net.
There used to be a time when, if you wanted money to create public
art, produce your invention, or start a company, you had to appeal to
higher authorities. Big banks, wealthy relatives, local governments--they had the green, and we the humble innovators had to prove we were worthy of it.
Thanks to the internet and the rise of collaborative consumption,
however, this bureaucratic bottle neck need no longer stifle our
entrepreneurial spirit. Ever heard of a little startup by the name of Kickstarter?
This online crowdfunding forum created a place for individuals to
showcase their ideas, and appeal to the masses for financial backing.
Turns out, there are millions of people willing to chip in a few dollars
to help bring fantastic concepts to market. Now Kickstarter is the
world's largest funding platform for creative projects, raising a total
of $327 million dollars and counting.
With this kind of success, it's only natural that different
iterations of Kickstarter would emerge. There have been many imitators,
some successful, some not. What's setting the latest crop of crowdfunding
platforms apart from the rest is a passionate focus on local projects.
Instead of looking for backers in all four corners of the world, these
hyper-local fundraising outlets are helping to connect local
entrepreneurs with their neighbors in an attempt to energize local
economies, and create lasting relationships between innovators and their
Unlike Kickstarter, which launches hundreds of campaigns a day, Lucky Ant
features only one project per week. Also unlike other crowdfunding
platforms, the projects chosen are all already established businesses.
Members list their neighborhood when signing up, and every week Lucky
Ant lets them know about a local business that needs to be funded. The
great part is, you get rewards and perks from the business in which you
invested, creating a lovely little reciprocal loop designed to keep you
coming back for more. Founded last year, Lucky Ant is currently
operating in Downtown New York City with plans to expand to more cities
Founded in the sunny little town of Fort Collins, Colo., this
crowdfunding platform is focused on finding and spotlighting projects in
the community that might otherwise be swept under the carpet. Among
other things, CommunityFunded supporters
recently prevented a two-screen, downtown movie theater from closing,
and helped a local designer realize her dream of having a storefront to
showcase her clothes. If you don't see a project that piques your
interest, there's also an open fund that helps CF provide a boost to
campaigns that need it.
SmallKnot is a
crowdfunding platform designed exclusively for small,
independently-owned businesses. No franchises. No big box
stores. Smallknot aims to help local businesses connect with fans and
gain new customer by offering products or services in return for
providing financial support. For instance, making a small investment in
the Saucey Sauce Co. (actual name) will earn you a 3 pack of their newly
bottled Vietnamese dipping sauces, but a big investment earns you a
private dinner for four. "If you desire a neighborhood full of diverse
and independent businesses," write the SK founders, "you have the power
to step up and ensure your neighborhood stays that way."
Do you know of a hyper-local crowdfunding platform that belongs on this list? Share it in a comment!
Image by Jorge Barrios, in the public domain.
Monday, June 29, 2009 5:26 PM
Tourism is this day and age’s dirty word, with rightful concern for the environmental impact of travel looming over alluring vacation plans. In this line of thinking, spiritual journeys pose a special quandary, writes Philip Carr-Gomm for Resurgence.
“Our desire to visit sacred places has resulted in the creation of yet another industry that is pushing us to the brink of environmental collapse,” Carr-Gomm writes. “And yet doesn’t visiting sacred sites help us to appreciate our world? . . . Isn’t pilgrimage often a key component in many religions and an important spiritual practice in itself? . . . How can we honor these concepts and respect the Earth at the same time?”
Carr-Gomm has done serious thinking about the matter. He is the author of Sacred Places, a book detailing 50 spiritual and religious sites around the world. In the book, he endeavors to include both the ups and downs of any particular location. “Like any relationship, our interaction with sacred sites can either be harmful or beneficial, depending on the awareness brought to the relationship,” he writes.
To foster awareness, Carr-Gomm proposes building our relationships with sacred sites at the “soul level.” Visit them when one must, but focus on “building the bond primarily in the soul world and in consciousness.” Make use of Google Earth, virtual museums, and other rich writing and photography on the Internet—the wealth of information that, in part, is responsible for spurring this unprecedented interest in traveling to spiritual sites in the first place.
And if reinterpreting armchair travel isn’t satisfying spiritual hunger, well, Carr-Gomm has another idea: “We can turn our attention to our own landscapes—take care of a local sacred site, clearing it of rubbish and visiting it often.”
Source: Resurgence (article not yet available online)
Monday, January 05, 2009 4:04 PM
When driving directions aren’t enough, the website EveryBlock.com is a resource for in-depth information on just about every neighborhood in town. The website has begun compiling news, photos, and hard-to-find municipal information for 11 U.S. cities so far, including New York, Chicago, and San Francisco. Depending on the cities, visitors can find crime reports, graffiti cleanup requests, and even restaurant inspection information, to find out how many health-code violations the local burger joint has racked up.
The website, started by former Washingtonpost.com editor Adrian Holovaty, is more aggregation than news and has no editorial voice. Instead, it relies on algorithms to chose the photos and news stories. That lack of personality is the site’s greatest weakness, Rachel Somerstein writes for Next American City. There’s plenty of information on different areas, but the overall personality of the neighborhood doesn’t come through. The site, according to Somerstein, “is kind of like those flowers for sale at the corner deli—beautiful, perhaps, but when you put your nose to petals, there isn’t any smell.”
For improvements, Somerstein suggests looking to WindyCitizen.com, a Chicago-based site with a similar concept that includes more user-suggested news. EveryBlock.com instead is looking more toward becoming a platform for civic activism, where people could petition government agencies using the site.
Image by David Paul Ohmer
, licensed under Creative Commons.
Wednesday, June 04, 2008 10:53 AM
Many green-minded people give lip service to the idea of local produce, but how many of us eat local all winter long? An organic gardener in Vermont is pioneering a new type of greenhouse that might make winter growing more feasible for aspiring locavores by using heated soil.
In its spring issue, Vermont’s Local Banquet magazine pays a visit to Carol Stedman’s greenhouse, where in January “the air temperature inside was only slightly higher than outside … but a thermometer stuck deep in the dirt read a balmy 60 degrees.” Stedman uses tubes to circulate warm water through the soil, a system she calls “radiant dirt heating.” Her can-do attitude and experimental spirit might just get you started on planning and designing your own “cool greenhouse” for next winter.
Tuesday, February 05, 2008 2:50 PM
China’s exporters are increasingly cornering markets on ingredients in prepared foods, some of which will go on to be labeled “local,” reports Wayne Roberts in Toronto’s Now magazine.
Such foods can be deemed local because their packing and packaging costs as much as their ingredients. Customs limitations, however, make it difficult to gauge the quality of Chinese ingredients and the environmental standards under which they were grown.
Chinese ingredients that dominate the prepared foods market, Roberts reports, include apples, apple juice, dried berries, organic frozen broccoli, cinnamon, fish, garlic, honey, vanilla, and xanthum gum.
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