Portable Sustainability

Truck farm is the product of two Brooklyn dwellers looking to provide an eye opening experience for others while providing themselves with fresh and local produce in the space they have.  Using many of the techniques that are available for green roof technology, Ian and Curt converted their 1986 Dodge Ram truck into a portable and efficient vegetable and herb garden.  Alive Structures, a Brooklyn based green roof service team, provided the truck farm with rainwater management systems.  These systems helped optimize the growing potential of the truck and convert a seemingly untraditional growing surface into a fully functional garden.


I think the great part of this mini series is the image that is portrayed to us as viewers.  Although I am not sure that they are encouraging all of us to convert all of our untraditional growing spaces into gardens, I think the message they are portraying is that if you have the motivation you can grow fresh produce nearly anywhere.  These gardeners are seemingly normal Brooklynites, not necessarily rich with an agricultural knowledge base.  However, they were inspired to create a sustainable system that people could see, experience, and understand.  This small garden plot could be built nearly anywhere, patios, rooftops, window planters, etc.  Although they keep the cost of converting this space disclosed, the pride and end product of creating a green space in the city is worth the money.

Assignment of the day:

Think of the space you occupy on a daily basis.  How much of this space are you using to its full potential?  How much of this space is wasted? What makes this space important to you? Could a shift in the spaces meaning increase your felt value towards it?


Decisions Decisions

Food media can be presented in numerous forms, making it ever so important to understand how to decipher the purpose behind the media you are being presented with.  I have identified three purposes of food media, all of which have different motives and end results for the viewer.  Identifying the form of a message allows you to decode and act upon the content in an efficient and effective method.

Informative Food Media.  These forms of media present information in a way meant to educate and inform people of a concept, method, item, etc.  Shows such as PBS’ “Food Forward” educate viewers on sustainable food options.  Informative media’s purpose is not necessarily to sell something, but rather make the viewer a more knowledgeable consumer.

Entertaining food media.  This media offers exciting and drama filled interactions where food serves as a prop more than a focus.  These fast pace cook-offs are much like other television challenge shows, but with the setting is in the kitchen.  These forms of media don’t attempt to sell or inform, but rather occupy viewer’s time and keep them hooked.

Persuasive media.  These forms of media intend to sway the viewer’s attention towards a specific product or brand.  Comparing this product to other competitors items, creating a “cool” image for the product, and idealizing the item you see are all ways in which producers attempt to gain your support.  This form of media is how producers create consumers and how brands create loyal customers

Although all these different forms exist and provide different purposes, at the end of the day it is still the viewer’s responsibility to act as they feel necessary on the message presented.  If viewers have the desire to act on the media without considering the end result than that is their own fault.  Companies exist to make a profit, if their persuasive media techniques convince people to act on their product, than they have successfully sold their good.  This is extremely relevant to the ongoing debate on child obesity.  In the article “Childhood Obesity, Junk Food, TV: Who’s Responsible?” Richard Zwolinski discusses a debate occurring in Australia on whether or not to ban junk-food advertising on television.  Our societies ever-growing reliance on technology and television has disintegrated our ability to make reasonable and responsible decisions on our own, and has instead lead people to act on the face value of what they see.  Weight-loss author Michelle Bridge in “Is Junk Food Child Abuse” says “So if we know that parental responsibility for a child’s weight starts even before conception, how can we justify the notion that their responsibility is in any way diminished during a child’s early life?”  I believe that regardless of what attractive images companies are presenting to the youth, the decision on whether or not to act on that product still lies in the parental figures hands.  The money to buy junk food surely isn’t coming on a regular basis from the child consumer, but is instead provided by the parental figure.  If you don’t want your children being unhealthy, don’t buy them unhealthy products.  I stand by Michelle’s stance on the topic.  For every piece of persuasive media that exists, an informative one is there to counter that same message.

Making wise decisions on food requires an educated consumer that can look past the allure that persuasive media portrays.

Guerilla Gardening with Ron Finley

This past week I was introduced to Ron Finley through Facebook and was encouraged to look him up and watch his TED talk.  A self-proclaimed Guerilla Gardener, Ron has led the South Central, CA urban agriculture movement working to provide fresh produce for the neighborhood and the key to change for the people of the city.  “To change the community you have to change the composition of the soil.  We are the soil,” says Ron during his ten minute TED talk.  Unsatisfied with the conditions and the limited food options available to the people within the cities boundaries, Finley took his disappointment to the stretch of grass in-between the street and the sidewalk.  Converting this curbside garden created some controversy within the city politics, but was refuted and accepted as a positive act of defiance.  This was only the first step.  Ron has since increased the size of his garden and spread to many more locations, providing hope through growth around the city.  “See, I’m and artist.  Gardening is my graffiti.  I grow my art.”  Ted is working to not only eliminate the food desert that he and 26.5 million other people in the US live in, but also working to beautify the cityscape and provide opportunity for the members of these communities.

Through this TED talk, Ron works to appeal to those who want to enact change through doing.  He is not interested in sitting down with people and talking about things that need to be changed, he wants people to pick up a shovel and join him in getting their hands dirty.  Although the TED event may not be the best place to find people who are looking to kneel in the dirt, the message he’s trying to get across is an important one.  Talking behind closed doors can only get us so far, putting the ideas to work however, can help us finally begin to fix these places.  Unlike many of urban farming doings I have shared, this one is not asking for serious devotion of time, instead he is presenting an opportunity for nearly anyone.  This is important because it can be understood and acted upon by a much larger population.

I am curious whether or not this movement will really catch on as I hope it will, or whether it will remain an underground movement coming from within the city.

Also check out LA Green Grounds website.  http://lagreengrounds.org/


Deciphering the wwweb

With the internet as easily accepted and relied on as it is, we must be sure to continually operate the web through a series of checks and balances.  Through this method of deciphering the internet we can be sure that we are increasing our chances of reading and understanding reliable and accurate information, rather than adding inaccurate or blatantly incorrect information to our collection of knowledge.  In order to do so, we need to apply a consistent and working checklist of guidelines when using the Internet to obtain information for ourselves and for others.  With these guidelines, we are entering the Internet blindly and potentially collecting falsified information that could potentially harm others or ourselves.  Because of this, I have created a brief list of guidelines that I apply for myself when entering the realm of the World Wide Web.

1)   Who is your source: Anyone can post, create, or publish their opinions on the web.  You must know that the majority of writing that is seen on the web is of opinion-based authorship.  Although reading opinions is not discouraged, you should understand that there exists another site with contradictory opinions.  Take what you read and know that it is probably only half of the argument.

2)   Where are you reading it: Is the article you are reading from a reliable website? Is it a blog? Or is it a Wiki?  All of these forms of the web have different potential outcomes in reliability.  This is important to consider, and probably the easiest to determine.  Who is contributing, is it sponsored by an outside source, can anyone edit it?  Questions like these are extremely important when inquiring about information on the web.  Janet Helm of nutritionunplugged.com helped readers with this by establishing the Nutrition Blog Network.  This network presents all blogs by registered dietitians, allowing people to go to one place to find all their reliable information in one place.

3)   Make your own decision: Just because you read something online does not mean that it is necessarily the best personal choice for you.  Remember that you need to make decisions that are applicable to you.  People that are writing articles on the Internet are commonly devoted to a lifestyle much different than your own.  Although some things may be able to be applied to your daily life, other aspects of the article may be far to bold to fully adopt into your day-to-day activities. Also many times these lifestyle choices are introduced in order to sell a product.  Keep this in mind.  Amelia Winslow of eating-made-easy.com discusses the constant shift in diet trends and trying to keep up with the latest diets is nearly impossible.

If we apply my 3 basic guidelines to this article I found on good.is we can put them to work to read into the article.  Who is your source?  Good.is, according to their site is “a global community of, by, and for pragmatic idealists working towards individual and collective progress.”  Good is a NGO funded publication that presents readers with new and exciting information in the entrepreneurial community.  It consists of collection of authors who write for Good.  Where are you reading it?  Although Good is a collection of authors, the majority of these authors post elsewhere.  It is important to follow links at the end of articles to see what the original source of the piece is like.  Make your own decision.  Ro Kumar writes about transforming your yard into a self sustaining garden to provide for you and your family.  The reality of everyone devoting their time to growing farms in their yard is very low.  Unfortunately not everyone is the economical situation where they can devote their money and resources into home agriculture.  However, parts of his suggestions are very applicable.  Being able to fish out the parts of the article that you can put to work is an important analytical tool.


Quoted article:

Food Literacy from Blogher