I don’t have much to say about Thanksgiving in the United States. I find it a rather awkward holiday. So, let’s move on. This is a Nature blog, not a holiday blog after all!
I’m planning to do two posts for the month of December.
Right now, I’m doing some “not so light reading” in preparation for my next high-level post. Its rather depressing, but you know once it passes through me, I’ll make it much more enjoyable for you to read! I’ll also share a funny personal story about how to make ANY job a “Nature-Led” job.
Hello Nature-Led friends! I hope you are having a good day! I’m currently swimming under what’s called an “atmospheric river” (The warm air around the Hawai’i islands blows into the Pacific Northwest cold mountain air and comes down in heavy rain. (Also called a “Pineapple Express” locally.) Oddly enough, I’m allergic to pineapples, so I’m grateful it only drops heavy rain and not actual pineapples. Can you imagine the damage? We’d have to reinforce everything with steel roofs!
This post was inspired by an article I read about a house that was 3D printed using raw earth See link #1). This sparked my imagination. What if we could build in place with minimal noise and additional resources? It seems to me the walls would be stronger and additives could be added giving it a pliability that could help reduce the stress of earthquakes. I’m always thinking about how new building techniques can create safer housing option. Having the ability to make a house rounded or into more organic shapes could help reduce wind resistance in areas with hurricanes and tornados. It also unlocks a whole new level or architectural possibilities! The thick walls provide a higher R-value for insulation and in conjunction with steel beams or careful internal wall placement can create load bearing structures that could house gardens and other times of greenery on top. Sometimes I build out these ideas using video games like Minecraft and Terraria, but then I’m limited by the game’s environment. There are games and applications like Dream by Media Molecule and Blender (blender.org) an open source #D graphic tool to name two. I recently reinstalled an old program called Bryce. I just haven’t been able to convince myself that investing a lot of time learning/relearning these applications is the best use of my time.
Pros of 3D printed houses:
Higher R-value for insulation that reduces heating and cooling costs
Opportunity for new building materials that may be more resistant to environmental disasters
Opportunity for more organic shapes and architectural elements, including rooftop space for gardens, rain catchment systems, and durable platforms for solar panels, residential wind turbines, or other ecological investments to reducing a home’s carbon footprint.
I’m also supportive of factory-built builds. This is where a large portion of the building is done in a factory-controlled setting then trucked to the pre-prepped site location.
The benefits of factory builds include:
Reduction of weather induced delays
Safer working conditions for the workers, framing is a dangerous low wage job
Reduction of noise and disturbances at build site
Reduction of trucks driving raw resources to the build site
Reduction of security issues like theft or vandalism
One of the toughest challenges facing new building techniques are strict building codes. Most building codes are created with the intention of make sure that buildings are built in a safe and responsible manner. However, some codes and laws are written in a way as to use language that favors existing builders and building standards from competitive innovative materials and designs. These manipulations of codes and laws are “business as usual” in most countries and extend beyond just the building sector. What if we had a clear pathway to design, innovate, stress test and implement new building structures?
When we talk about systemic changes for racial justice, we also need to talk about systemic changes for environmental justice. In my mind the two are tightly interwoven. What would the United States have looked like now without the principles of manifest destiny and the colonization dogma of our forefathers? “Business as usual” cannot continue to be the status quo if humanity wants to survive into the next millennia. As I get older I become more resistant to change in some ways. Sometimes the “new way” isn’t really the best way, sometimes its forced upon us so someone else can profit from it. At other times the “new way” is actually a really old way being re-learned by a new group of people.
Working together and respecting where people are in their lives is much more helpful to providing long-term sustainable environments and communities. War is the least sustainable thing any country can do. Every time a missile gets fired to prove combat readiness or military prowess, I think of all the marine life disrupted and destroyed because of it and the people that could have been fed and housed for the cost of creating that missile.
We need opportunities for meaningful work that helps solve problems instead of creating new ones.
So far one of my biggest concerns is the lack of information on how the plumbing and electrical wiring are supposed to be done. They also don’t say much about the after-market opportunities for painting and customizing ones own home. Questions like; Can I still go down to the home improvement store an repaint a room? How do you hang a picture on a wall like that? What if a window breaks? and all the other little things that go into making a house feel like home.
In the U.S. we celebrate Halloween on October 31st every year. Oddly enough, when I searched “Which countries celebrate Halloween?” I found a listing of the “Top 14” countries (Wait, 14? Yep.) and the U.S. wasn’t even included on the list! Well I suppose we can’t be first of everything, all the time. At least IRELAND, the birthplace of All Hallows Eve made the list at number 10. Who made this list? Author unknown. Let’s take this ordered ranking with a pinch of salt because no one saw fit to attach their name or justification for it.
One of these years I would love to visit our neighbors to the south, aka Mexico, to experience Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead.) What a wonderful cultural tradition to feast with the spirits of deceased family members in a day of love and remembrance. Everything about it is visual eye candy from the sugar skulls, painted faces, beautiful dresses and black suits.
Here in the U.S. kids run around in the dark going door to door yelling “Trick or Treat” and receiving candy. We pretty much just ignore the “Trick” part of the equation. If you’re considered mean, or if the kids are just mean, you might get eggs thrown at your house, but that’s not very common. If you don’t want to give out candy just keep your porchlight off and the little gremlins will ignore your house like moths looking for the next porchlight to gather around.
I’ve always enjoyed Halloween, myself. I think its fun to dress up and be something different for a night.
Last year, I was sad to think the kids wouldn’t get to celebrate Halloween as usual and while we did have to do things a little differently, many of us still had a lot of fun. I took my son and many people left candy out, so that it felt more like a scavenger hunt. A few neighbors dressed warmly and tossed candy up and over for the kids to catch like pop-up flyballs at the baseball stadium.
This is what I did: We had our window blinds open and waved at the kids as they came to grab a bag off the line. Normally we get eight or nine trick or treaters with a bunch of candy leftover, but last year we got at least 20! I have no idea what to expect this year.
I’ll be doing this same “Clothesline candy system” again this year.
The vaccine was just approved for children 2-11 years old this week. They’ll be receiving 1/3 of the adult dose. Hopefully many kids can start getting vaccinated by Thanksgiving (November 25th.)
What is Cultural Appropriation? Dressing up to mimic a person of another race in a stereotypical or satirical way. Hollywood was guilty of this for a number of years, often trying to generate comedic value from it. Look no further than Micky Rooney’s character Mr. Yunioshi in Breakfast At Tiffany’s (1961). I don’t think we need to ban everything with offensive content in it. Put a notice on it calling it out for what it is and lets do better to eliminate these prejudices moving forward. Indigenous people’s regalia (headdresses and dress) are not Halloween costumes. They are religious and cultural artifacts. It’s good to admire people of different backgrounds and ethnicities, but don’t attempt to change your skin tone in the name of some misplaced attempt at authenticity. It’s offensive. If you weren’t born Black, don’t put on a “Black face.” When in doubt, go as a tree, or a dog, or some other non-human being. They have no idea what this craziness is all about and aren’t likely to get upset about it. The family dog would love it if you dressed up as soft and fluffy as they are for some couch loafing time.
When I was a kid I alternated between two costumes that I loved from grades 2nd to 6th grade, Generic Princess and the Wicked Witch of the West from Wizard of Oz. My nose kept falling off so I guess I was really just a kid in green face paint. I’ve also been a pirate and Cleopatra. My last “costume” was as a tired mom. It was really cold that year so I threw on my fuzzy bathrobe over my overcoat and walked around with a thermos full of coffee. Somewhere around the eighth house visited I got some Kahlua poured into it. That was nice.
How to make it a Nature-Led Halloween:
Re-use decorations for as long as you can year after year. (Simple is best in my opinion. It takes me 15 minutes to put up/put away Halloween each year and I’ve had these things for at least ten years now.)
Be mindful about the decorations you put outside. Is it secure from the elements like rain and wind? Does it have the potential to trip or tangle up people or animals? Do not use fake spiderwebs or netting outdoors. These have been known to harm and kill owls, bats, and small birds.
Use natural decorations like pumpkins that can last for weeks, often times all the way to Thanksgiving. Then compost them when they get moldy or if its an edible pumpkin or gourd, eat it before it has a chance to go bad.
Use natural elements from around your yard to spruce up a display or flower container. You can use dried leaves on a length of twine to create a banner.
Prices are getting quite high these days for a lot of items. I really wanted some flowers, so I bought the most inexpensive ones I could find and added some fern fronds from the yard to give the arrangement more height and variation. I like how it turned out. What do you think?