A Crack In Fracking

There’s a refrain from an old Leonard Cohen song, "Anthem" that goes like this:

Ring the bells that still can ring Forget your perfect offering There is a crack, a crack in everything That's how the light gets in.”

We can only postulate what Cohen was writing about in the ’60, but right now, cracks are ringing warning bells in the fight against hydraulic gas fracking.

Frack New York?

I won’t get into the nitty-gritty of fracking, as I believe many of my Econesting friends are well-versed on the subject (you can read my post from last year, and this comprehensive natural gas Q&A). I also leave that to my environmental planner husband, Ted. He's working with municipalities up and down the Marcellus Shale helping citizens protect their environmental destinies, rather than accept a poisonous fate that has already inflicted so many people. (If you have any questions about fracking, please leave a comment below--he's happy to answer.)

Because of “cracks” from gas companies and politicians, fracking has crept dangerously close to my beloved home state of New York. Gov. Cuomo will soon make a final decision regarding shale gas fracturing in the Southern Tier of NY State

3 Reasons Not To Frack The Southern Tier of NY

1. This area houses bountiful and clean groundwater. The possibility that a precious water supply will be irreparably harmed seems senseless.

2. This area is more impoverished than other parts of NY, bringing rightful cries of environmental justice:

“Sending a polluting industry into our most economically impoverished communities is a violation of environmental justice…Partitioning our state into frack and no-frack zones based on economic desperation is a shameful idea...The pregnant mother who drinks unfiltered water from a rural well in the Susquehanna River Valley has the same right to environmental protection as the mother in Manhattan who drinks unfiltered water brought to her from the off-limits New York City watershed” ~ Sandra Steingraber, New Yorkers Against Fracking

3. We are hearing very little from our political leaders about clean alternative energy sources as viable options.

“The Governor promised to be ‘guided by science’ when it came to fracking. He has not kept his promises. Instead, he put a climate denier in charge of overseeing the environmental review process for fracking…Introducing new oil and gas drilling into New York will keep us dangerously addicted to fossil fuels as the world warms, and leave a toxic legacy in the Southern Tier counties that most need an economic revival led by green industry.” ~ Phil Aroneanu, 350.org

Mother Love and Loss

As someone who helps lead a powerful group of parents, the Moms Clean Air Force, I’ve come to understand the importance of everyday people working alongside large organizations, and even celebrities, in the fight for our children’s future. I've also lived with artists my whole life, and I know that the natural environment is a source of constant inspiration worth fighting for.

The matter of love and loss is something parents know all too well, and I believe frack activists may have found the crack that lets in the light with two artist celebs who know a thing or two about love and loss, Yoko and Sean:


Didn't that crack you up?

Please join Artists Against Fracking. And while you’re at it, if you haven’t already joined Moms Clean Air Force, you can do so right here. Thank you.

Main image: New Yorkers Against Fracking

Conserve Water With a DIY Rain Chain (with video)

“Sustainability isn’t just about the way we build. It is a state of mind. Good design embodies, there inspires and nurtures that way of thinking and living.” ~ Michelle Kaufmann Last summer, I was sitting enjoying a warm downpour in my garden screened-in porch, when my roof gutter gave way. It was like a dam had broken, and the water started to funnel down like an inverted geyser. I watched, as my usually thirsty plants started to look like drowned rats. The water poured down with no rhyme or reason in a steady gush. It was in that moment that I had a glimmer of recollection about ogling over rain chains that were displayed at a recent design show. These attractively designed rain chains looked something like this, and might just be the solution for the drainage problem.

About Rain Chains According to Harvest H20: “Rain chains (‘Kusari doi’ in Japanese) offer a highly attractive and unique alternative to traditional downspouts. They are hung from the corners of your roof or canal to guide the flow of water into large barrels to catch the water from the roof for household purposes and gardening. They have been used for hundreds of years in Japan, and are a perfect expression of the Japanese knack for combining aesthetics and practicality.” 5 Reasons To Put Up a Rain Chain 1. Rain chains can provide a managed runoff solution that direct water away from the roof alleviating the chance for leaking, soil degradation and erosion. ?2. Along with rain barrels, rain chains are an eco-minded water solution that can aid in collecting water for later household usage. 3. Rain chains provide an enjoyable tranquil water feature that can be used to enhance ponds and gardens. 4. Rain chains are low-maintenance. 5. You can make one yourself!

DIY Rain Chain I’ve followed sustainable building architect, Michelle Kaufmann for years. She is a pioneer in the field of green building. Michelle shares the inspiration from one of her clients who, "...incorporated rain chains to take the rainwater from the roof and direct it down to the reflecting pools and planters, thus conserving water by not using fresh drinking water for irrigation, but rather functionally using rain water. Not only does this help reduce storm water run-off (which is increasingly becoming a problem in many jurisdictions), but it also visually celebrates the water beautifully. This move takes something that is typically seen as a problem or a challenge and makes it into an opportunity for nature as art."

To Toss Or To Shelve?

For those of you who seem to be nearing an age where you are ready to dispose of some of the accumulation of your youth, I ask you, “What do you do about all of your books?”

New books are like precious kittens. We get a new book, we cuddle it, sometimes it lies prominently next to our most comfortable chair. Some books win the prize of becoming our bedside companions. Either way, we read the book, shelve it and move on to the next one that purrs loudly.

My 25 year old daughter and I were perusing a used book store in Hudson, NY, and I marveled at how everything old was new to her. We came home with armfuls of books. Many of the books she chose I had read years ago. Her enthusiasm made me realize that some books have staying power. I also started to  rethink how I would recycle the massive volumes of books we’ve amassed (and still accumulate).

Here is a sampling of some of the non-fiction books she nabbed: The Time/Life Foods Of The World cookbook series from the late 60’s. These books where the first of their kind, as they introduced my parent’s generation to the world of international cooking. The Whole Earth Catalog was the evolutionary mega-manual that taught a whole generation how to tread lightly on the planet. I had a tattered copy that I gave to the local library when she was just a tot and now that I've taken a fresh look at it, it is amazing how far (and not so far) we've come on the environmental front. She grabbed a few of The Foxfire Books. They were one of the first series of DIY books (Boy Scout manuals withstanding) with an environmental backbone. They have the step-by-step instructions for creating everything from tying knots to building outdoor furniture. Lastly, she chose the 1960’s classic, Be Here Now. This is the book that sent so many inspired seekers on their spiritual journeys.

Throughout our dusty adventure, I couldn’t contain myself from mumbling, “Oh, I had that book. It's a classic.” And, she would say, “So, mom should I buy it or can I have it?” Well, some of those books I’ve kept, others went to library sales or were given away years ago.

How do you know whether or not to donate a book away? In a New York Times interview with Francine Prose (a favorite local author), she talks about the way she edits her book collection:

"Two years ago, I re-organized my library, and gave away 20 cartons of books, culled according to the following general principles:"

1. Unless you are an Egyptologist, you only need one, at most two, enormous coffee table books on the Art of the Pharaohs. 2. If a country, like Czechoslovakia, no longer exists, it’s unlikely that you’ll want to take the travel guide along with you when you go. 3. If the reproductions in an art book are so fuzzy and blurred that you can’t tell the work of the Impressionists from that of the Pointillists, or even from the Surrealists, get rid of it. 4. Ask yourself the following hard question and answer honestly: If I live to be 100, will I read this book again?"

When asked whether Prose regretted giving away any of the books, her answer was, “Of all the books I gave away, the only loss I regret (or have even noticed) is the Book of Knowledge, the 25 volumes took up an entire shelf and I had to lose it for the same reason I gave away all those other books: to make room for more books.”

So how do you do it? Which books settle their spines onto your shelves for life and which do you toss?

Photo Credits: Flickr, Cole Haan

Knit...Purl Your Home

This weekend brings to town my favorite knitting event, The New York State Wool and Sheep Festival. I just drove past the fairgrounds and there's a flurry of pre-event activity. The vendors were setting out their wooly wares, the farmers were hauling hay to the sheep stalls, and a stray Border Collie was eagerly looking for work. If you happen to be in the vicinity of the Hudson Valley this weekend, I highly recommend checking out the Sheep and Wool Festival. Just thinking about all that luscious yarn has inspired me to write a knitting post...

Did you know that I love to knit and shower my family and friends with warm and fuzzy handknitted goodies? This post is not about wearable items, it's about a trend that I’ve noticed in the home décor world.

Over the years, I have observed the popularity of knitting go up and down. At the moment, the pendulum seems to be in a full upward swing, and knitted items are showing up in some unexpected and unusual places.

The latest trend in knitting, along with knitting small items (knitted bags, fingerless gloves and cowl neck scarves - the latest rage), and the subversive act of yarn bombing, are knitted chair coverings and functional knitted items for the home. These decorative knitted and felted pieces are bumping up against the soft edges of design with their intricate stitches and contoured shaping. The Wall Street Journal recently covered the Milan Furniture Fair and targeted a designerly group of haute-knitted items for the home in this article, A Gripping Yarn.

So, without further adieu, sit back and enjoy some eco-chic handknitted home décor, and a creative and simple DIY project that will knock the Kitchener Stitches right off your cabled cashmere socks!

Knitted Stools

Knitted Pendant Light

Knitted Poufs

Knitted Slipcover

DIY Sweater Chairs

Eco-crafter and author, Danny Seo recovered his IKEA chairs with cozy cashmere and wool sweaters that he scored at Goodwill.

He explains the simple DIY process: “It was easy: just unscrew the seat cushion, wrap a sweater over the cushion, staple gun into place underneath, trim off excess, screw back on and voila!  Sweater chair.”

Photo Credits: Sweet and Lowdown Lounge Chair, Knitted Stools, Knitted Armchair Slipcover, Knitted Pendent, Knitted Poufs, Sweater Chairs, Knittted Trashcan

What The Sea Left Behind

“In every outthrust headland, sale in every curving beach, mind in every grain of sand there is the story of the earth.” ~ Rachel Carson After boarding the ferry home from Martha’s Vineyard, my head was swimming with beachy DIY ideas. I’m somewhat obsessed with collecting things the sea left behind – sea glass, beach stones and shells. The weathering forces of the salty ocean, with its abrasive pounding and then sun-faded drying, transforms shells, discarded glass and stones into alluring objects.

For years, I kept the rewards of my beachcombing in jars and bowls around the house. Now is the time to dip into those beach treasures and harvest some beauties for DIY projects.

Come back for more econesting posts with projects from what the sea left behind. Let’s start with beach stones…

Beach Stone Closure

Do you need a closure for an outdoor shower or garden gate? This clasp is secure enough to keep peeping Toms out, and easy enough for a child to open. You’ll need an array of beach stones, a drill, hemp twine and this Care2 tutorial to make this simple clasp.

Credit: Remodelista.