2009/02/27

Teach your friend to eat the (metaphorical) prickly pear

Firstly, read this.

From Afrigadget. The short and sweet of it is that some arid areas of Africa are susceptible to invasion by the Prickly Pear Cactus (aka nopales). Cattle stay away from it because of the spines, so it can grow and spread without any limits.

In an especially lean time, a farmer taught his cow to eat prickly pear as a last-ditch sustenance measure, after burning off the spines with another invasive plant. He and his cow now travel around, teaching other farmers and cattle how to use PPC as fodder, thus reducing the economic and environmental disruption that it causes, as well as providing free cattle food.

What do you know that you can teach your community? What do you want to learn? What is your prickly pear cactus, and where is your cow?

2009/02/05

Terra Preta

RESUME TRANSMISSION>>>>

This has reminded me that I have a blog, and it needs posting.

The basics- we are all cooked. Too much CO2 in the atmo, and it's unbelievably unrealistic to think we can mediate it by running our cars on corn.

So what do we do? Lovelock says we need to alter our agricultural practices- WORLDWIDE. So not likely either, but wait for it--- if all farmers were to pyrolyze (cook in a low O2 environment) their agricultural wastes (stalks, hulls, husks, cobs, corms, culms, leaves, etc) and make charcoal, and then BURY THE CHARCOAL IN THEIR FIELDS (which is a _totally_ obvious step to take, right?), global CO2 emissions would immediately fall to pre-industrial levels.

Something that nobody's covered (AFAICT), though, (at least in this recent burst of stories sparked by the New Scientist's interview) is that charcoal burial is totally helpful in the agricultural environment. You see: Charcoal, being the nearly pure carbon remains of plant matter, has a very high surface area. (all the squishy bits leave little channels and trails when they burn away). When charcoal is buried, this surface area becomes proper habitat for "critters"- bacteria, tardigrades (WATER BEARS) actinomycetes, mycorrhizia. Just like sinking a mothballed destroyer to start coral reefs.

THUSLY, we have Terra Preta. Miracle soil of the Aztecs. Rediscovered for the 21st century. Get onboard, bury some charcoal, make it happen.


PS, it just so happens that a byproduct of pyrolysis is long-chain hydrocarbons.

2008/06/24

The Julian Street Inn

You may have noticed that I love Christopher Alexander. The nearest built structure of his that I can find is the Julian Street Inn, a halfway house/recovery center type place. There's only sketchy info out there about it, even in CA's books, which focus more on the design and detailing of the structure.

One of the only photos online of it is this one, from the official website:


Which makes it look like your general run of the mill concrete blockitecture.

But look around at it in Street View:

View Larger Map

What an amazing dodge to publicize that specific photo of it! A decidedly non-humdrum structure made completely banal! Look at that entrance plaza! Look at how it relates to the street!

But that's when the REAL disappointment set in for me. Not because of the structure itself, but the context of the structure.

I hadn't realized that the JSI is directly across the street from the HP Pavilion parking lot. What a tragedy that such a well-designed building, with an explicit focus on re-integrating individuals into public life, has nothing to relate to in the public realm but five traffic lanes and an ocean of asphalt.

Take a ride around the block that the Inn sits on (either in Street View or in Real Life if you are close enough). Look at the other buildings that haven't yet been destroyed by the influence of the Pavilion - a gorgeously rusted Quonset hut, some fantastic old Victorians, a couple ramshackle businesses. A rough mix of styles and uses.

Our legacy of public amenities has been replaced by parking lots. Imagine how much more lovely neighborhoods like this would be if they didn't have to contend with entities like the HPP.

2008/03/06

the PLAN

We could make a co-op.

Squatter gardens in the vacant lot right here:

View Larger Map

Ride bikes to the secret meeting place, disperse throughout the town, and unauthorizedly apply the Pattern Language to any and all landscapes.

Build a loom in the garage, host weaving festivals every alternate sunday. You shear the sheep, I'll cook the babaganoush.

Write the pattern language in machine code, compile it for self-organizing nanites, and prepare for Utopia.

2007/11/10

infrastrukt

infrastrukt can be interpreted as:

"the infrastructure that takes place in the far reaches of society/government/etc"
"the destruction of infrastructure"
"a reference to both infrared wavelength and the k/t boundary"
"a veiled reference to heteroblancopatriarchal culture in which the consonant K connotes fascism or oppression, i.e. Amerika; via the invocation of both russian and kkk ideology or grammatical failing"

or
"I wasn't able to buy infrastruct.com or .org, which would have been more aesthetically and emotionally pleasing to both you and the author. When I am able to buy such a domain I will do so. Donations accepted."

2007/11/09

Urban Guerilla Greening Series- Table of Contents

A series of upcoming articles concerning my currently unproven ideas regarding a possible system of efficient introduction of productive plants to disturbed environments such as vacant lots, abandoned fields, roadsides; and anywhere that you do not have constant access. Guerilla Gardening, reshaping the urban landscape, subversive ecology. Let the seeds fall where they may.

1. Seedballs
2. Three Sisters
3. Terra Preta
4. Arbuscular Mycorrhizae
5. Distribution
6. The Harvest

2007/10/30

the basics: pruitt-igoe

copyrights be damned:



This represents a large part of what I'm trying to accomplish here, so let's see how long it can stay up.

2007/08/22

Origin/Establishment

I've been lurking too long, I'm jumping into the fray.

A place for inspiration and communication. See where it goes.