Band Touches Earth

“See that storm over yonder It's gonna rain all day But then the sun's gonna shine Through the shadows When I go away” ~ Levon Helm, When I Go Away

I have been listening to a retrospective of Levon Helm’s life and music this morning. He was well loved, and his passing sent waves through my Hudson Valley community where he lived. The Band’s music defined a cavernous slice of my teenage heart. A renewed love for their sound rose up a few years ago when my son played with a band that closed out their performances with “The Weight.”

When I heard Levon Helm’s voice on the radio this morning singing, “When I Go Away,” it reminded me of the time my dad came upstairs to my bedroom just before I left home for college. My room was a teen shrine to the music of the '60's and early '70's. My dad was a musician in his own right, and he appreciated all types of music. He often brought his trumpet up to listen to "my music." That day, I was lying on the shag rug staring at the ceiling, listening to The Band. With instrument in hand, he laid down next to me, and we had a conversation that went something like this:

Dad: What are you listening to on your victrola? My dad always called my record player, a victrola…even though I referred to it as my “stereo.” Me: The Band. Dad: What kind of name is The Band for a band? Me: The perfect name for whatever you are listening to. Dad: Yes, well you won’t forget this dusty sound, they sound like the earth.

Earthy sound. Earthy Day. Keep 'em in your heart.

Credit: Ambera Wellman

Shelter From The Storm

I  was in another lifetime one of toil and blood When blackness was a virtue and the road was full of mud I came in from the wilderness a creature void of form "Come in" she said "I'll give you shelter from the storm"

And if I pass this way again you can rest assured I'll always do my best for her on that I give my word In a world of steel-eyed death and men who are fighting to be warm "Come in" she said "I'll give you shelter from the storm"

Not a word was spoke between us there was little risk involved Everything up to that point had been left unresolved Try imagining a place where it's always safe and warm "Come in" she said "I'll give you shelter from the storm"

I was burned out from exhaustion buried in the hail Poisoned in the bushes and blown out on the trail Hunted like a crocodile ravaged in the corn "Come in" she said "I'll give you shelter from the storm"

Suddenly I turned around and she was standing there With silver bracelets on her wrists and flowers in her hair She walked up to me so gracefully and took my crown of thorns "Come in" she said "I'll give you shelter from the storm"

Now there's a wall between us something there's been lost I took too much for granted got my signals crossed Just to think that it all began on a long-forgotten morn "Come in" she said "I'll give you shelter from the storm"

Well the deputy walks on hard nails and the preacher rides a mount But nothing really matters much it's doom alone that counts And the one-eyed undertaker he blows a flugelhorn "Come in" she said "I'll give you shelter from the storm" I've heard newborn babies wailing like a mourning dove And old men with broken teeth stranded without love Do I understand your question man is it hopeless and forlorn "Come in" she said "I'll give you shelter from the storm"

In a little hilltop village they gambled for my clothes I bargained for salvation and they gave me a lethal dose I offered up my innocence and got repaid with scorn "Come in" she said "I'll give you shelter from the storm"

Well I'm living in a foreign country but I'm bound to cross the line Beauty walks a razor's edge someday I'll make it mine If I could only turn back the clock to when God and her were born "Come in" she said "I'll give you shelter from the storm" ~ Bob Dylan

Irene's coming. Stay safe.

Credit: Ben Scott


Clean Air Design: 5 Cool Picks

Can clean air design change the world? Like most artists, designers create objects for our families that reflect social and environmental issues and trends. To solve a health and environmental problem such as air pollution, designers are doing their part in creating homes, clothing, cars and communities that address the crisis.

The Moms Clean Air Force has been chronicling the hazardous connection between where people live and the environmental factors that expose children to pollutants that cause significant health risks, such as lung disease, asthma, lead poisoning, cancer, reproductive impacts, birth defects, and even heart attacks. Air and water are the primary conveyances of pollutants and toxins, but exposure can also occur through contaminated soil during the fracking process.

“Good air quality is key to promoting respiratory health...The main sources of air pollution are area sources (dry cleaners, lawn mowers, etc.), mobile sources (cars, trucks, off-road equipment), and stationary sources (factories, power plants, etc.). These different sources produce different types of pollutants that can cause problems for respiratory health, cardiovascular health, and cancer treatment. Locating sensitive land uses in close proximity to polluting facilities or major roadways can raise health concerns for sensitive populations. Some pollutants tend to have a greater effect over an entire metropolitan area and others drop off fairly quickly away from the source.” ~ Design For Health

5 Clean Air Designs

1. Car Removes 95% of Ozone Toyota has developed a material that can remove 95% of unreacted ozone or ground-level air pollutants from the air when used in an ozone filter. What does this mean? The future car you drive could clean the air instead of polluting it. Read more about this at Inhabitat.

2. Breathing Walls Plants have the ability to do more than just bring a hint of nature into your home. Plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen during the photosynthetic process. Researchers found many common houseplants absorb benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and other pollutants. Plants can improve indoor air quality. DIRTT Environmental Solutions created the Breathe Living Wall system for health and energy-savings. The wall lessens the load of ventilation systems, and introduces more healthful plants into living spaces. Read more about this at Top 10 Green Building Products.

3. Clean Air Communities Smart Growth designers and planners are designing communities that include plans for driving less. “With over nine million children in the U.S. suffering from asthma and millions more Americans who die each year due to high levels of air pollution, designing communities in ways that reduce traffic and encourage healthy options like walking and bicycling are crucial.” Read more about this at Smart Growth: Healthy Communities, Healthy People.

4. Buildings Eat Smog Buildings account for nearly 40 percent of America's energy use. Much of this energy comes from coal-fired plants and other dirty sources. Alcoa created EcoClean building panels with a titanium dioxide coating that interacts with sunlight and breaks down nitrogen oxide - the smog-causing compound. The process happens naturally when rain washes off a building. Alcoa claims that 10,000 square feet of coated aluminum would have the air-cleaning effects of 80 trees. Read more about this at Good.

5. Catalytic Clothes Purify Polluted Air OK, this one is my favorite. Catalytic Clothing has created a dress that can purify polluted air through a chemical reaction on the surface of the fabric. They claim the dress can reverse the environmental impact of air pollution!

“Exposure to airborne pollutants presents a risk to human health and also has a detrimental effect on ecosystems and vegetation…The widespread introduction of Catalytic Clothing would dramatically reduce the level of airborne pollutants, thereby improving the quality of life for all members of society.”

Check out this video featuring a model wearing an air purifying dress - background track by Radiohead. Read more about this at The Ecologist.

Can “design thinking” imbue a wide spectrum of solutions to help in the air pollution crusade? You bet. Good clean air design can change the world! Want to join designers as they connect the dots between design, the environment and our health? The Moms Clean Air Force is an innovative community of parents devoted to finding creative solutions to keep our children breathing the clean air they deserve. Please help us design a future for our children free of pollution. Thank you!

Credit: Ben Scott

You Are My Sunshine

One of my earliest recollections of my dad was of him playing guitar and singing this song to me: You Are My Sunshine My only sunshine. You make me happy When skies are grey. You'll never know, dear, How much I love you. Please don't take my sunshine away.

I took that picture of him in his studio with his Polaroid camera when I was a teenager – circa 1968ish. He was a designer - I wrote about him in this post: Heirloom Design At Home. This is how I remember him – handsome, inquisitive, introspective and forever cool.

Someone told me at his funeral, "Nobody loves you like your father does." So true.

Dad loved art and music, and I’m sure if YouTube was around before he died, he would have loved this too:

Happy Father's Day!