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Posts Tagged ‘environment’

Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

I know that today’s post isn’t necessarily about arts and entertainment, but I find this far too important not to post for you to see. While roaming around facebook, a friend of mine sent me this video, which I found to be amazing. A few Southern farmers have worked out a very simple solution to help clean up some of the oil that is currently killing the gulf. Watch it for yourself:

Hay! This is absolutely ingenius! Just think about all the hay we’ve got all around the country. If we simply put more man power on doing this, who knows how much oil could be averted away from the marine creatures and the coast, too?

This idea is also better because it is completely green. The chemicals the government has been pumping into our ocean to ‘help’ clean up the oil may be doing more harm than good. With this simple solution, there are no added chemicals and less chance of hurting more animals.

Think about it.

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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

Those of you who know me know that I strive to do things that will help out the environment. That being said, it makes me glad that there are other like-minded people out there, too. I just finished Vanessa Farquharson’s book, called Sleeping Naked is Green, and I must say that it has put some things into perspective for me, as well as added some more ideas for green changes I can make.

The book is about Farquharson’s own green challenge — making one change every day and sticking with it for one year (in this case, it’s 366 days because it just so happened to be a leap year). Aside from the usual green changes that are easy to drum up, like taking reusable bags to the grocery store or using less plastic bottles, it isn’t easy to think of a green change for every day. Some of her more hardcore environmentalist changes happened to be selling her car, unplugging her fridge, not using toilet paper (for number one only), and drastically altering the way she ate.

Nonetheless, this book is an excellent way for us to evaluate what we can do to help the environment and then see which ideas are doable on a daily basis and which ones are not so great for us. Farquharson, of course, is our guinea pig, testing out all the ways to green your life.

Each chapter is a month in her life, and the beginning of each of those chapters describes the changes she makes daily. There is also a story here, which gives the book more of a human quality to it. The good thing about this book is that it never comes off preachy, just honest and to the point.

Farquharson is an arts reporter for the National Post and during her green challenge, kept a blog for each day’s change. Check out her blog, Green as a Thistle, and read all the posts about her green changes. The book serves more as an overview of the challenge, but the blog goes more in depth, as there is a post for each day.

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 Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

Everyone likes going to the zoo. It’s a chance to see exotic animals that you might not run into in your every day life. It’s also a chance to raise awareness for these special animals, especially those that are endangered.

The Philadelphia Zoo has recently opened a special exhibit called ‘Creatures of Habitat: A Gazillion-Piece Animal Adventure.’ Instead of having real animals in their habitats, the zoo is featuring 10 habitats with animals made out of legos instead, including penguins, polar bears, and tamarins. All the lego work has been done by Sean Kenney, a certified lego professional.

The zoo hopes that by presenting this kind of exhibit, it will give people more of a focus on just how fragile our environment is and bring awareness to the fact that we need to protect out Earth.

From the Philadelphia Zoo website: “Creatures of Habitat extends and expands upon our important conservation work that has gained focus and impact through our 150th anniversary celebration.” says Vikram H. Dewan, President and CEO of the Philadelphia Zoo. “Every child – and adult for that matter – can relate to the universal desire to protect our planet, this place we all call home. A key principle of this exhibit is to show how our world fits together and we all connect with it. Our goal remains simple: ensure we never see the day when a child’s only connection to these species is through history books.”

If you can’t make it down to the zoo, you can take a peek at the exhibit over the internet. All you have to do is log onto to philadelphiazoo.org and complete a Personal Sustainability Plan, which will guide you through what you can do to protect our most precious wildlife. 

The exhibit will be featured until October 31 of 2010. To see more pictures of the exhibit, visit treehugger.com.

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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

Well, gee. I didn’t know Willie Nelson had his own Sirius satellite radio station. The old timer’s radio spot is called Willie’s Place and you can find all of his favorite music, including his own.

Help Willie Nelson in his campaign to save farms. Photo from 1019rxp.com.

Help Willie Nelson in his campaign to save farms. Photo from 1019rxp.com.

Tomorrow, Willie will be playing all of Farm Aid 2009 in its entirety on the station. The event will kick off at 2 pm, so make sure you’re near your satellite radio (or your friend’s or family member’s). Some of the featured performances will be from Willie himself, along with Neil Young, John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews, and Wilco.

So what is Farm Aid, you may ask. The concert is put on every year to promote awareness for farming communities and local farms. Too many farmers are forced to sell their land or cannot farm during hard times, especially like the hard times we have experienced this year. 

This will be the twenty-fourth concert since the idea was first brought to light in 1985. The concert was originally started by Willie, Neil Young, and John Mellencamp.

Willie Nelson also has his own thoughts on Farm Aid. Give his Farm Aid letter a read.

The Farm Aid website (linked above as “Farm Aid 2009”) also has information on how you can donate, if you’re so inclined to do so. What these musicians are doing is a great thing to help give back to a community that needs help. Without farms, where would we get our delicious fruits and veggies, milk and cheese, hamburgers and hot dogs? (OK, I’m going a little overboard, but you get the point.)

Tune in to Willie’s Place tomorrow at 2pm for a great bunch of performances. It’s all for a good cause!

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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

As an avid reader of Carl Hiaasen books, I can say that none of his books have ever let me down. I’ve read five of his great eco-friendly novels now, but for some reason, the sixth one just isn’t catching me.

Not the greatest Hiaasen book, but still worth a read. Photo from filedby.com.

Not the greatest Hiaasen book, but still worth a read. Photo from filedby.com.

Double Whammy takes place, as always, in sunny Florida. Well, mostly. (This novel switches a bit to Louisiana, too.) The plot thickens when a famous local bass fisherman is suspected of cheating to win bass tournaments throughout the state. Private investigator Decker is hired to take on the case, but the events in this case go way beyond his usual assignments.

When the famous fisherman is discovered murdered days before a big tournament, someone tries to frame Decker for the crime. All the while, he is still in love with his ex-wife, is seduced by the real killer’s sister, and must try to pull off escaping from the cops long enough to prove his innocence.

The characters in this book are colorful, to say the least. Most of Hiaasen’s characters are. However, there is one in particular that keeps coming back in many of the novels — ex-Florida governor Clinton Tyree, who nows goes by either the name Skink or Captain. He is a crazed environmentalist who eats fresh roadkill, shoots a gun at airplanes, and badly punishes anyone who dares to get caught hurting nature.

In the case of this book, I think Skink may be one of the only reasons I’m still intrigued. I am always curious to see what he’ll do next. Perhaps it’s the fact that the story is about a bass tournament that has turned me off. I’m just having a hard time grasping this story.

But hey, it’s all about opinion. If you like Carl Hiaasen, by all means, read this book. You might love the fishy story!

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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

Today I would like to spend some time talking about one of my favorite authors — Bill Bryson. He is the king of hilarious, witty travel writing that always holds your attention, whether you want to go to his travel spot or not.

This book serves as a great little getaway to Australia without actually going!

This book serves as a great little getaway to Australia without actually going!

Recently, I have been reading In a Sunburned Country, an older novel (written in 2000) but still lovely to wrap your thoughts around. In this story, Bryson sets loose on the sunny, unbearably hot continent of Australia, tackling its dangerous animals, friendly people, and of course, its pubs.

The great thing about this book is that it is a mixture of facts and pleasurable storytelling. All of it is nonfiction, but the way in which Bryson writes it really makes it come alive. He puts himself in the action and then relates facts about which part of Australia he is in. And the factoid parts never get boring — he often throws in his own little witticisms on the subjects, which are most always very funny.

Perhaps some of my favorite parts in this book occur when the travel writer finds himself at odds with one of Australia’s deadly creatures. There are plenty of them! Right from the beginning of the book, he is swimming in Portuguese man-o-war infested waters. He also purchases various books with great subjects like crocodile encounters and killer creatures to read on his trip.

At the end of each day, you can usually count on Bryson retiring in some small pub, observing the Australians around him with great interest. Some of the people he meets during his travels are quite entertaining characters, to say the least.

The storytelling done here is most pleasant because Bryson does it with such ease. You really feel like you’re getting a good look (even though it’s only an overview) of the entire continent. The same can be said for his other books. There is definitely no one else out there quite like Bill Bryson.

Where will he take us next?

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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

It’s been a long, difficult, and epic journey reading Barbara Kingsolver’s “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.” I usually don’t review books until I’m finished reading them, but it’s been about two months since I started this book. In a world where avid readers, including myself, can finish a book in a week’s time, that says a lot.

It’s not that I’m not enjoying what Kingsolver writes about…that’s not it at all. Her book focuses on the importance of locally grown, organic food and how people need to integrate it into their lives to help save the environment, and even provide better living conditions for the animals they eat.

Kingsolver's book requires an open mind, patience, and at times, tolerance to dullness.

Kingsolver's book requires an open mind, patience, and at times, tolerance to dullness.

Kingsolver, besides giving factual information about growing crops, recounts the story of how she moved her family from Tucson, AZ to the rolling country hills of southwestern Virginia. It was there that her family decided to spend an entire year eating only food that they could grow themselves or buy from local farmers (usually within a few miles).

Here’s where the drooling begins…

She tells her narrative wonderfully, but then goes off on a tangent about growing crops, how people need to rely less on the corporate world for food, or how to increase our sustainability. Don’t get me wrong, these are all important topics for her book and could be interesting, but the way she explains things leaves me falling asleep after reading only five pages.

Not only that, but she repeats herself. A lot. A few times throughout my reading, I thought I had accidentally lost my place and skipped backwards. Nope, it was just the same old song and dance about how food travels from California and uses unnecessary amounts of gasoline in transport, polluting the earth even more.

At some points I even felt that Kingsolver was talking down to me, the reader. She poins out some very obvious things and makes it seem like people are complete idiots when it comes to the food they eat. Perhaps some people are, but those that choose to read this book might have a little more experience. It might have served her well to figure out her reader demographic before she wrote this book.

Nonetheless, I don’t want to bash this book because it’s not all bad. I am finding parts of it very intriguing. Reading about cheesemaking and how her youngest daughter copes with buying turkeys for slaughter is often good for a good chuckle. It would be beneficial if there were more anecdotes like that. It would definitely hold my interest a lot longer.

Hell, I probably would have finished this book in a week.

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