LOCAL HEROES

Leonard Stern, Ottawa Citizen – Henry and Vera Jones, as the Citizen reported this week, outed themselves as social radicals by publicly rejecting the ideal of a manicured lawn.

The couple have a big backyard in Constance Bay and some months ago decided to hell with watering, fertilizing, cutting and weeding. Henry is a former Fisheries and Oceans scientist who has some understanding of ecology, so he and Vera decided to create a natural green space in lieu of a lawn. They would let the grass grow, plant an assortment of butterfly-friendly plants and allow a mini-meadow to emerge.

The neighbors were not impressed. Someone complained to the city’s bylaw officials, who then sent the Joneses a letter threatening to come down there and cut the grass if the couple didn’t do it themselves. Unmowed lawns in Constance Bay will not be tolerated. The resistance must be put down. Order will be re-established.

The neighbors deny that this is about anyone’s refusal to conform. They say the Jones garden is attracting too many insects and critters to the area and thus diminishing the ability of others to enjoy their own properties. Still, it’s clear that the Joneses are in equal trouble for breaching a strict code of suburban etiquette. “It looks just awful,” said one disapproving neighbor.

The central irony of suburbia is that we give the streets names like Meadow Grove and Orchard Drive while ensuring that all traces of meadows and orchards are erased. The appearance of an actual meadow is an act of rebellion.

More than a decade ago, the Canadian cultural critic Robert Fulford observed that the suburban lawn had become an instrument of public shaming and social control.

“[A] dandelion’s appearance on a lawn indicates that Sloth has taken up residence in paradise and is about to spread evil in every direction,” he wrote. Weeds demonstrate a “weakness of the soul,” announcing to the world that “the owner of the house refuses to respect the neighborhood’s right to peace, order and good government.”. . .

They say that clothes express the man, but in fact it’s the lawn that does. A large expanse of flat, weedless grass in front of your house conveys a bunch of social messages. It suggests discipline, an ability to tame the natural world. As Fulford says, lawns express an “imperialist personality.”

Lawns are examples of conspicuous consumption, and like other such symbols have status attached to them. The more wasteful your lifestyle, the more money you are seen to have.

Maintaining a large velvety front lawn is not as excessive as keeping a private jet or killing an elephant for its tusks, but it is a symbol of waste nonetheless. . .

The need to build denser and more efficient communities could spell the end of the road for the big green lawn. The environmentalist impulse behind denser communities and smart living has already interfered with lawn culture, in the form of pesticide bans. Without chemicals, the effort required to maintain the equivalent of a putting green on your property becomes much harder. . .

Right now the Joneses are being derided as non-conformist troublemakers. Someday, they might be hailed as trendsetters.

Is the world ready for ORMAJI™ !?

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With all of the talk about ORMUS surfacing lately in the Raw and Natural Foods Communities, I have my attention on an amazing gift from Nature that is being brought to the world by a company out of Nevada called Highest Good Inc. with a name like that, you know the stuff must be good… get it at http://www.ormaji.info

SAN FRANCISCO REQUIRES THAT EVERYONE COMPOST

Sacramento Bee – San Francisco, renowned for its civic will to save the planet, is now ordering residents and businesses to compost food scraps and biodegradables, or risk fines for not properly sorting their garbage.

That’s welcome news for Jepson Prairie Organics, a Dixon-based composting firm that already accepts delivery of 400 tons a day in plate scrapings, greasy cardboard and other sweet-stinking waste from San Francisco eateries and homes.. . .

For some 200 Northern California vineyards that use it, there is something about San Francisco compost and its unique, urban blend of crab shells from Fisherman’s Wharf, pasta from North Beach, pupusas from the Mission District and dim sum from Chinatown that nourishes the soil like little else.

Yet the question for San Francisco is whether the new city composting law signed by Mayor Gavin Newsom last month will nourish the city’s ecological soul or merely irritate the populace.

The new law gives the city authority to fine residents and small businesses $100   and impose penalties up to $1,000 on big firms and apartment owners   if they refuse to segregate leftover fish bones, watermelon rinds and watercress salad into compost bins.

Even in liberal San Francisco, which boasts of recycling 72 percent of its 2.1 million tons of waste a year, a few residents wonder if the law is a case of big compost meets Big Brother. . .

The city, which has had a composting program since the mid-1990s, has achieved voluntary participation from 50 percent of restaurants, 40 percent of single-family homes and 20 percent of apartments.

But the new law, designed to boost those rates by using the threat of citations, is drawing national media attention. . .

“All of a sudden, the headlines were ‘Garbage Police: They’re coming,’ ” Newsom mused in a signing ceremony for the law passed on a 9-2 vote by the Board of Supervisors. . .

Dr. Bronner’s Ups Ante in Lawsuit Against ‘Organic’ Personal Care Cheaters

shampooDr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps filed its Second Amended Complaint today in San Francisco Superior Court against falsely labeled “organic” personal care companies that use non-organic pesticide-intensive agricultural and/or petrochemical material to make the main cleansing and moisturizing ingredients in their products. Defendants include, among others: Hain-Celestial (Jason “Pure, Natural & Organic; Avalon “Organics”); Levlad (Nature’s Gate “Organics”); Kiss My Face “Organic”; YSL Beaute Inc (Stella McCartney’s “100% Organic Active Ingredients”), Country Life (Desert Essence “Organics”); Giovanni “Organic Cosmetics”; and the certifiers Ecocert and OASIS.

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California: Marijuana Smoke Added To State’s List Of Carcinogens

Sacramento, CA: The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) and the California Environmental Protection Agency have added marijuana smoke to the state’s list of official carcinogens, pursuant to Title27, California Code of Regulations, section 25305(a)(1).

Under state law, the Governor’s office is required to publish an annual list of chemicals that possess potential carcinogenic properties and/or are associated with reproductive toxicity, such as arsenic, lead, and tobacco smoke. Products containing such chemicals are required to carry warning labels. Business establishments with ten employees or more are also are mandated to post signs indicating whether there is a likelihood that an individual may be exposed to such chemicals while on the premises.

State environmental regulators determined that there is “limited” evidence “suggestive” that marijuana smoke exposure may be associated with an increased cancer risk in humans. Their review added, “[T]he similarities in chemical composition and in toxicological activity between marijuana smoke and tobacco smoke, and the presence of numerous carcinogens in marijuana (and tobacco) smoke, provide additional evidence of carcinogenicity.”

Presently, over 300 separate chemicals – including aspirin and alcoholic beverages – are designated as carcinogens under California law.

Labeling requirements for marijuana smoke will not take effect until June 2010. Neither marijuana nor edible products containing marijuana will be designated as carcinogens under state law.

Regulators made no official determination regarding the status of cannabis vapor, which does not contain combustion gases and has been determined to be a “safe and effective vehicle” for cannabis delivery in clinical trials.

Authors of the review did note that the largest population case-control study ever to assess the use of marijuana and lung cancer risk did not find a positive association between long-term cannabis smoking and cancer.

California NORML Coordinator Dale Geiringer said that the ruling did not come as a surprise because it has been well known for years that cannabis smoke contains known carcinogenic chemicals. However, he noted that the intake of these noxious chemicals “can be completely eliminated by vaporization or by consuming marijuana orally.”

NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said that it remains unclear what effect, if any, these new regulations will have on the dispensing of medical marijuana in California. “Since it is marijuana smoke, not marijuana per se, that is at issue here, it is not clear that legally operating medicinal cannabis dispensaries will have to alter their actions to comply with Prop. 65,” he said – noting that few such facilities allow patients to smoke cannabis on the premises. “Liquor stores are not required to post warnings on the premises just because they dispense alcohol, so why would medical cannabis dispensaries be treated any differently?”

The Gift of the Native Americans-America and the hidden future

A major aspect of its shadow that America must confront is its historically bad  treatment of people of color, including Native Americans — the first Americans. Four hundred years ago, the Hopi Indians had an ancient legend that they were to look to the East for the return of their “lost white brother” who had “gone to the East to develop, record and invent things”.  This lost white brother would bring the “missing stone tablet” to compliment the one the Hopis already had. The two complimentary halves of the stone tablet symbolize the head and the heart. The white culture developed a technological culture and the Native Americans developed a compassionate relationship to the earth.  The white culture developed the head and the Natives developed the heart, and these must be reunited if America is to fulfill her true spiritual destiny.

But the white man didn’t recognize his red brother when he first came to America, and he killed them and pushed them off the land they lived on.  This has created a heavy karma which is part of the national shadow that must be redeemed. Since Native Americans hold the power of nature in balance through their sacred ceremonies and dances, it is essential that we create right relationship with the original inhabitants of this land and protect the earth from pollution.  If we continue to mistreat the Native Peoples and their land, there will be karmic reaction from the forces within the earth to which they are deeply related.

But there was also something very important that was brought to America by the white race who came here several hundred years ago. They anchored the idea of freedom of religion to grow on this soil and spread to the world.  And most significantly, they brought the sacred sparks from the living flame of the Ageless Wisdom tradition–the hidden, initiate teachings at the core of the major religions. Our Founding Fathers (and Mothers) brought a profound metaphysical tradition with them that indicated a spiritual destiny for this nation.  This can unfold in the future if America grows into a wise and compassionate member of the community of nations, rather than being a selfish nation that dominates other nations through her superior power.

George Washington had a vision of an angel who showed him three great crises of the Republic.  But each time the Union triumphed against her enemies.  (This was reported in The National Tribune by Anthony Sherman who was with Washington at Valley Forge).

Tesla Motors’ Musk: Let Me Run Detroit

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Elon Musk has tackled electric cars, space ships and modular renewable energy stations. Now he wants a real challenge: running Detroit.

“When the mess gets sorted out, I’d like to have a conversation with whoever’s in charge at the time — the car czar or whoever — and say ‘I’d like to run your plants, if you don’t mind,’” Musk said, starting that conversation Monday at Wired’s first-ever business conference, Disruptive by Design in Manhattan.

What would he do? Hint: he doesn’t think much of namby-pamby hybrids. In the future, Musk said, only electric cars will make sense.

He characterized cars like the Toyota Prius as “splitting the baby” in the style of King Solomon — a compromise that delivers neither the perfect gas-driven or electric-driven experience, due to the duplicate equipment required to harness dual energy sources.

“[The electric car] is an inevitable thing,” Musk said in a conversation with Wired editor-in-Chief Chris Anderson. “The reason I’m putting so much time and effort into helping create Tesla is because I’m hoping we can accelerate that transformation.”

The Paypal co-founder, who made nearly $200 million when eBay acquired that company in 2002, now focuses his energy on three quasar-hot topics: electric cars (at Tesla, the only company that currently sells one), space exploration (at Space-X, which won the contract to replace the Space Shuttle), and new energy technologies (at Solar City, which builds solar power systems for single-family homes and corporations).

Gossip mongers hoping for dirt in the ongoing lawsuit between Musk and Tesla founder Martin Eberhard will have to look elsewhere — with one possible exception.

Part of the problem with Detroit, he says, is the union system. “It’s not out of the question to have unions, but if there’s going to be a union, they’d better understand that they’re on the same side as the company,” he added. “I’m against having a two-class system where you’ve got the workers and then the managers, sort of like nobles and peasants…

“Most of our experienced factory workers come from unionized environments, and we asked them what benefit did they see in unions,” he added. “They said, ‘Well, if their boss was an asshole, they had recourse.’

“I said, ‘Let’s make a rule: There will be no assholes.’ I fired someone for being an asshole. And I only had to do that once, actually.”

Pictured: Chris Anderson (l) and Elon Musk (r). Photo by James Moran

Full coverage of Wired’s Disruptive by Design Conference

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