Friday, October 29, 2010

CEES goes hyper-localvorous

Today I happened to see graduate student Conor Gately in our departmental hallway, and asked him how his homegrown chickens were doing. To make a long story short, I said he should sell his surplus eggs; he said, as a matter of fact, they are available in the fridge next to his office; I picked up half a dozen for home.

From the NY Times: "In August 2010, more than 500 million eggs were recalled after health officials traced salmonella bacteria that sickened over 1,500 people to two large egg producers. It was the largest egg recall in history."

Nice to know where your eggs come from!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Human Powered Transportation

One of my fantasies is an elevated bikeway smack in the middle of the Massachusetts Turnpike, with streams of bicycle commuters going into and out of Boston, sometimes making better time than the auto traffic. Here is something that approaches that vision: a track-based recumbent bike mass transit system for cities. It (called "shweeb") is a difficult sell, because there is always plain old biking, which affords great flexibility to its commuting users, and is cheap. However, shweeb has the advantage of safety: a bike-only route with no chance of getting doored or run over. Where could this be implemented? Maybe the Mass Pike. But perhaps a better, smaller scale pilot could be along the BU campus along Commonwealth Avenue, a linear 2 mile stretch from Kenmore Square to Packard's Corner that already has a central transit corridor along its median strip.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Special GLACIER People

We have a bamboo bike maker. A rapper-percussionist in The Big Drift. A bona fide urban homesteader, with chickens in the garage and fruit trees in the yard.
Each of the GLACIER fellows, like all of us, have unique hobbies, interests, and personal projects. And they all can connect to issues of sustainability and climate change. Where does bamboo grow; how is its growth affected by increased co2? What is the carbon footprint of a bamboo bike vs. a carbon fibre one? How much co2 is saved from riding the bike instead of driving a car? Or chickens: where do our eggs come from? What was up with that egg contamination scare a few weeks ago? What is industrial agriculture? Food miles and carbon footprint. Etc.

Our challenge in GLACIER, and education more broadly, is how to work the things that really motivate us - the things we do on our own for no pay, and not because anyone is trying to 'get us' to do something, and bring that into the classroom. Can we work the volume equation of a bamboo pole into a lesson that fulfills an MCAS requirement to learn geometry? Like Jessica Seinfeld's book Deceptively Delicious, wherein the spinach is furtively integrated into the brownies, can we deliver the education while simply having fun with what already fills us with joy and creativity?