Archive for the ‘uncategorized’ Category


Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

June 17th-23rd is National pollinator week. Here are a few tips to attract these helpful feathered friends to your garden today!

1. Keep your feeder fresh.

Offer sugar water in a hummingbird feeder by mixing one part sugar to four parts boiling water. Change the water frequently since the “nectar” can spoil quickly, sending a hummer away no matter how hungry it is. Replace the solution every five to seven days during the cooler months, and as often as every two days in the summer.





2. Make sure your flowers are a favorite.

Plant annuals and perennials with different blooming periods to have a steady supply of flowers from early spring until fall to attract hummingbirds and keep them there. Red and tubular flowers are a favorite, but also consider native honeysuckles, most varieties of sages or salvia, and many types of columbine.


3. Leaving some insects can be beneficial.

While many people think hummingbirds feed only on nectar, the birds feed their young a diet made up almost entirely of small insects. In addition, adult birds need regular doses of protein from mosquitoes, spiders, thrips, gnats and other arthropods.


4. Don’t forget water.

If you have a birdbath, place a couple of flat rocks in it to give the tiny birds a chance to bathe. Running water seems to be a magnet to hummers—they will even fly through the spray of a sprinkler. Or, if you have a large clamshell handy, they make excellent birdbaths. Don’t forget to rinse them out often and replenish with fresh water and you will be rewarded with many beautiful feathered visitors!



Happy First Year Little Free Library!

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

One year ago this month, I installed a Little Free Library outside my house. I had no idea how it was going to work out. Was anyone going to use it? Could I manage looking after it? How was my neighborhood going to react to it?

From day one, it’s been a hit. My neighbors discovered it as they walked their dogs, strolled with their children or power-walked in the mornings. Coming home, I’ve often seen clusters of people looking into the library, making me think of a Normal Rockwell moment. It’s little door fell off after six months from over-use, appearing in the arms of a neighbor who brought it to my gate for mending.

I’ve stocked the library with books and art auction catalogs from my own library, and books donated by friends or dropped off by neighbors. The Little Free Library works as a neighborhood lending library, where the community is welcome day or night, to peruse the selection of books, borrow one or more and return them once they have been read or contribute some of their own.  It works on an honor system, where you take a book and return a book.

Sometimes we take for granted the community we live in, and it is true that no one person can solve all the world’s problems, but what is possible is to make that little corner of the world where you live just a little better.

If you would like to install a Little Free Library in your neighborhood:

Holiday Decorations 2013

Saturday, November 30th, 2013


I love the holiday season and especially beautiful decorations. These are some of the favorites I came across this past year. Naturally, the ones that I really love are made using natural or recycled materials.

painted tangerines197

Use acrylic paints, to first paint a base coat. Let it dry and then paint another color over it. Use a sharpie pen to draw the finer designs.


xmas cards210

I found this in an old Martha Stewart magazine. Nice idea for displaying cards.


xmas branch208

This may be one of my favorite kinds of decorations. All you need is a found branch, some red and white ribbons and any decorations you love. You also need to be able to hang the branch up as well!


paper trees192

Recycle, Reuse, Repurpose bits of white paper into small paper trees. Add a metal stick into a base made from air drying clay, for example. Carefully push the squared bits of paper onto the metal, starting with larger pieces and finishing with the smallest ones. Top it off with a little star!

white paper tree195

This is so charming but I don’t think I’m up to making one.


russian gifts196

Stunning wrapping paper. Inspired by these, I’m going paint my own version, using plain wrapping paper (recycled kraft paper) and acrylic paints.













Wooden cave for reindeer watchers, at the Wild Reindeer Center, Norway. This is an organic hut built in the heartland of Europe’s last surviving wild caribou. This pavilion is open to the public every day of the year and is used to observe reindeer.

joyeux noel198


Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

See you in 2014!



Dr.Ian Player

Sunday, September 29th, 2013


Wilderness and the Human Soul

Ian Player

Founder, World Wilderness Congress

(This presentation by Dr Ian Player, founder of the World Wilderness Congress and
The WILD Foundation, was presented in October, 2005, in Anchorage, Alaska, to the
assembled international delegates and media at the 8th World Wilderness Congress.
Herewith re-printed with permission of Dr Player and The WILD Foundation,, from Wilderness Wildlands and People - The 8th World Wilderness
Congress, Fulcrum Publishing, in press, 2007)

A recent flight from South Africa took me over the Drakensberg Mountains,
Ukuhlamba of the Zulu people. I looked down and pondered; saw the red grass
glowing luminously in the afternoon sun. These mountains were the last refuge of the
San or Bushmen people who painted their exquisite art on cave walls and recorded the
history of our country, the coming of the Nguni people, the Boers on their horses and
English soldiers and the vast array of wild animals. By 1870 there were no San
people left they were shot and killed without mercy and with then went vast tomes of
wisdom and knowledge.
A man named Richard Nelson said: “The abandonment of ethically and spiritually
based relationship with nature by our western ancestors was one of the greatest and
perilous transformations of the western mind” Today nearly all of modern man’s ills
spring from this abandonment and this is way wilderness has become so important
because it reconnects us to that ancient world .
We South Africans can be proud that our country was the first in Africa to proclaim a
game reserve and the first wilderness area. Imfolozi Game Reserve in KwaZulu-
Natal has that double distinction.
The World Wilderness Congress has come a long way on torturous paths and having
to overcome what at times seemed insuperable odds. It has now become a critically
important forum which provides a platform for many divergent views. It is important
I believe that we look at the history of The World Wilderness Congress. Vance
Martin, President of The WILD Foundation, tells me it has now become the longest
running, public, international environmental forum. This Congress was born in South
Africa in 1976 in the small wilderness area of Imfolozi Game Reserve in KwaZulu. It 
was a suggestion of my great friend and mentor Magqubu Ntombela who had lead
many treks into the wilderness with me. He said that we needed a big Indaba to bring
together everyone who had trekked so that we could share experiences. He was a man
who could neither read nor write, but he was the wisest, most gracious and bravest
man I have ever known. The African people have a word for it: ubuntu.
It is fitting too that The World Wilderness Congress began in Africa. It is the cradle
of mankind. All of us here have our origin from that mighty continent, as DNA has
proved. C G Jung said, “We do not come into the world tabula rasa.” Three million
years of Africa is imprinted on the human psyche. I know from taking many
hundreds of people in small groups from all over the world on foot treks into the
wilderness of Imfolozi and Lake St Lucia how they are gripped by the spirit of Africa
and at night as they sleep on the red earth, dream their dreams, and hear the animals
and birds. There is a connection that is evoked from the depths of the collective
unconscious: the rasping cough of the leopard, the howl of hyena and the scream of
the elephant. It is an experience that has awakened thousands of people to the value
of the African wilderness, and the understanding that this was once their home, and
this inspires them to protect it. As Shakespeare says in Othello, “It is the cause, it is
the cause my soul.” And so it has become for many of us, world wide.
In 1977 South Africa was a Pariah nation, and organising that first Congress in
Johannesburg in October of that year was a nightmare, but the congress was an
undeniable success where for the first time a black field ranger—Magqubu
Ntombela—took his rightful place amongst leading international scientists,
politicians, writers and artists Bushmen - Kalahari.
It established the importance of wilderness in breaking down racial barriers in South
Africa, and the wilderness trails in Imfolozi Game Reserve were a leading example.
Magqubu used to tell the mixed groups as we sat around the fire at night, “If we are
charged by rhino or lion and blood flows, it will be the same colour blood for
everyone, even though our skins may be a different colour.”
The Congresses that followed in Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States and
Norway were also beset with political problems because the Congress had originated
in South Africa, and because I am a South African. I will always be grateful to those
American and international conservationists who stood by us, and ensured that the
Congresses became a forum for everything associated with wilderness. Vance Martin
knows this, because he was at the coal face from 1983.
Today, thanks to Nelson Mandela and the peaceful elections on 1994, South Africa is
the brightest light on the continent of Africa and stands poised to be a wilderness and
conservation example for all of emerging Africa. But we in the world wilderness
movement are under no illusions about the difficulties that lie ahead. The struggle for
political freedom is over in South Africa, but not in all the African states. The new
struggle is an environmental one for all our people to make wise use of the natural
In 2001 the World Wilderness Congress returned to South Africa, to a transformed
country, and thanks to Adrian Gardiner, Andrew Muir and the Eastern Cape
government, it was a phenomenal success. South Africa has proved what can be
The same is not true for other parts of Africa. I do not want to enlarge on a litany of
woes facing conservation in Africa, but the problems range from the desperate
situation of the last remaining Northern White Rhino in the Democratic Republic of
the Congo to some Parks where the game scouts do not have boots.

At the recent G8 Summit in Britain there was a focus on Africa. One can only hope
that the environment will receive proper attention because in previous aid to Africa it
did not. The G8 now has a chance to rectify it.
Whereas it is correct that the birth of the World Wilderness Congress was in Africa,
the honour for the establishment of National Parks and wilderness areas belongs to the
United States of America. It was Americans who articulated the wilderness concept
and set aside wilderness areas against what at times seemed overwhelming odds. But
the spirit of one of the greatest American Presidents, Theodore Roosevelt, was always
with them. Not for nothing did he say, “The greatest sport the world affords is
aggressive fighting for the right”. Yet we must remember that Frederick Courtney
Selous, the great Nimrod, was his guide in Uganda, and the African wilderness made
a deep impression on Theodore Roosevelt, and it affected his thinking.
In my library is a book with the prosaic title of S.1176 Hearings before the Committee
on Interior and Insular Affairs of the United States Senate. The pages are worn thin
and underlined everywhere. The cover is tattered from constant use. It has been in
my possession since 1958. A most treasured book sent to me by Howard Zahniser,
the then Secretary of the Wilderness Society. In it I have written, “This has been the
bible of the wilderness movement in South Africa.” The Americans showed us the
way. It is a phenomenal story of the past, the present and the future.
One of the witnesses quoted in S.1176 was Sigurd Olsen. He said:
“In days to come, the wilderness concept must be clear and shining enough to
capture imaginations. It must take its place as a cultural force with all
expressions of man’s deepest yearnings and his noblest achievements in the
realm of the mind. It must be powerful enough to withstand everywhere in the
world, the coming and enormous pressures of industry and population.”
Talk about intimations of the future: this is it.
In S.1176 is the gripping story of the blood and guts fight for the conservation soul of
America. You realize too, that what it is expressing is the depth of the impact that the
Native Americans made on the psyche of Anglo-America. Constantly there are
echoes, and one senses their spirit in the extraordinarily eloquent pleas from some of
the most eminent Americans of their day.
I first came to America in 1964 as a guest of Metro Goldwyn Meyer, and through Ira
Gabrielson. I met Stuart Udall, Secretary of the Interior, and a man proud of his
Native American blood; he became a speaker at the first World Wilderness Congress.
Ten minutes in his company gave me a deep and emotionally moving insight into the
soul of American conservation. He reiterated that America had to be an example to
the world.
The men and women who testified for wilderness in S.1176 were heroic people, many
times going against the grain and knowing that they were up against it. They warned
against roads, lodges, hotels, restaurants in the National Parks. They knew they were
setting an example for the world and it had to be the right one. They were unafraid to
talk, determined that the Wilderness Leadership School I initiated in 1957 would
emphasize that the wilderness experience was a spiritual journey. Another witness,
Edwin Way Teale said that wilderness areas are “storehouses of wildness, and
wildness will become an ever-increasing spiritual need in the crowded tomorrow”.
We are now in the crowded tomorrow, with a vengeance. Try a Los Angeles Freeway
on what they call a quiet day.
I love America. It has always been good and inspirational for me. But I have to tell
you that an article in the New York Times of August the 29th, 2005 has caused me
much stress. It is entitled Destroying the National Parks. It refers to a document that
calls for the rewriting of National Park rules by one of the Assistant Secretaries,
which has been met with profound dismay in professional National Park circles. This
must be stopped.
Many millions of people regard national parks, forestry and wilderness areas as
sacrosanct, what difference is government to nature and human desires fit
accordingly. The Unites States started the National Park movement, and became a
leader in ethics, policy and action. It must remain so.
The wilderness work America articulated and the rest of the world has followed is
practical, political, philosophical, psychological and scientific, but at the deepest
levels there are still too few people who understand it is the work of the soul. The
lines of the psalm say it best: “Be still and know that I am God.” And it is in the
wilderness that the stillness can be found.
We have to face the fact that rampant materialism is creating havoc in our world and
wilderness areas are under threat everywhere. This has not been helped by Judaeo-
Christianity; Edward Whitmont puts it succinctly: “For several centuries traditional
theology has tended to create an absolute gulf between man and nature.” Yet the
world seems to continue as though there were no tomorrow. We have forgotten those
wonderful images in the gospels that describe John the Baptist coming out of the
wilderness “clothed with camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate
locusts and wild honey”.
For too long there has been a cataclysmic clash between western and indigenous
cultures, with the latter being the bigger loser. Sense of place and spirit of place have
been destroyed.
There is terrible potential destruction to birds, landscapes and silence in the Highlands
of Scotland and other wild country in Britain with the proposed wind farms. The
Wilderness Foundation United Kingdom is vigorously fighting this danger. As C.G.
Jung said, “We have lost a world that once breathed with our breath and pulsed with
our blood. Did the wind use to cry and the hills shout forth praise?” A cry of
helplessness from indigenous people as a once known world is swept away.
Marie – Louise von Franz, a great depth psychologist, said:

“Western civilisation is in danger of building a wall of rationality in its
society, which feeling cannot penetrate. Everything has to be rational and
emotion is frowned upon.”
This makes the poets critically important to our cause. Wilfred Owen, a First World
War poet, said that all a poet can do is to warn, and that is why true poets must be
truthful. Poets warn us and they inspire us. Think of W. H. Auden’s words as a
reflection of ecological doomsday:
“The stars are not wanted now, put out every one.
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun. Pour away the ocean and
sweep up the wood. For nothing now can ever come to any good”.
Compare this to the inspiration of Herman Hesse:
“Sometimes, when a bird cries out,
Or when the wind sweeps through a tree
Or a dog howls in a far off farm
I hold still and listen a long time.
My soul turns and goes back to the place
Where, a thousand forgotten years ago,
The bird and the blowing wind
Were like me, and were my brothers”.
Fraser Darling the great Scottish biologist, said:
“To deprive the world of physical wilderness, would be to inflict a grievous
wound on our own kind”.
My great friend the late John Aspinall, the most famous gambler in Britain who
became a conservationist and who, even when devastated by cancer of the jaw,
continued to campaign and poured millions into the saving of the gorilla and other
conservation causes, said:

“I believe that wilderness is the earth’s greatest treasure. Wilderness is the
bank on which all cheques are drawn. I believe our debt to nature is total. I
believe that unless we recognise this debt and re-negotiate it—we write our
own epitaph. I believe that there is an outside chance to save the earth—and
most of its tenants. This outside chance must be grasped with gamblers’
hands. I believe that terrible risks must be taken and terrible passions roused
before these ends can be accomplished.”
We are all engaged in a momentous struggle and we owe it to the early pioneers to
honour their vision and their achievements.
This is our task in the 21st century. We need something that will stir our psychic
depths and touch the images of the soul. It has to surpass creeds and instantly be
recognised. We must learn a new language to convey the feelings of beauty, hope,
inspiration and sacredness for humanity and all other life. We need to remember the
first principle of ecology: that “everything is connected to everything else.” 
And the wilderness experience is the spiritual spark that ignites the understanding.

-Dr.Ian Player




Friday, August 30th, 2013


I recently took a culinary workshop at The Getty Center in Los Angeles called “From Garden to Table: Dining in the Renaissance.” It was fascinating to learn how gardens and food evolved during that period!

One of the art forms to undergo a big transformation during the renaissance (circa 1400-1600) was garden design. The renaissance garden was designed to be a place of beauty and relaxation and promote physical health. Studies of ancient botanical, and medical writings underscored the importance of diet to a person’s well being, so the culinary arts were suddenly deemed worthy of examination and reinterpretation. A food revolution was happening in Italy, and simply prepared dishes of local, fresh and seasonal ingredients were gaining popularity over the heavily spiced meals so common elsewhere in Europe.


Four o’Clock, Brown Hairstreak, Herb Robert, and Chanterelle-1591-by Joris Hoefnagel


Great teachers of that time were monks who lived in monasteries, where they tended to their gardens daily and planted them with medicinal herbs used in the healing of illnesses. Over time, they became so educated in medicinal herbs that the first medics studied under them. In Padua, Italy, in the 16th century, a University Medical School was established to study plants, and a large medicinal plant garden was created, enclosed by a large wall, to prevent thieves from getting in and stealing the precious herbs.

Italian cooks started sharing their recipes in books, and the first cookbooks came out of Italy during the renaissance period, and became very popular in Europe, where people were learning about eating salad and vegetables.


Speckled Wood, Talewort, Garden Pea, and Lantern Plant-1591-ny Joris Hoefnagel


Following is an authentic recipe dating to that period from Maestro Martino:


Asparagus Frittata


Asparagus have been a delicacy throughout the Mediterranean area since ancient times, where they were a sign of elegance and had been recognized for their medicinal properties, for being ” cleansing and healing.”




1 bunch of green asparagus

1 small bunch of Italian parsley

1 small bunch of marjoram

1 small bunch of mint

2 tablespoons of olive oil

6 eggs beaten

½ cup of milk

¼ cup of Parmesan

salt & pepper to taste




1-Trim the tough ends of the asparagus so that each spear is 4″ long. Blanch the asparagus by boiling them in salted water for a few minutes, until barely soft; then plunge them into ice water and dry on an absorbent towel.

2-Finely chop the parsley, marjoram and mint. Mix the eggs with milk, Parmesan cheese in a large bowel and add the chopped herbs.

3-Heat the olive oil in a wide frying pan until quite hot, making sure the oil is spread out over the entire surface. Pour the egg mixture evenly into the pan. Arrange the asparagus spears on top of the frittata like spokes of a wheel with the delicate tips facing the outer edge of the pan and the ends touching in the center.

4-Set the heat to medium/low. Cover the pan to allow the eggs to cook completely through. Check often to make sure it’s not burning or sticking.

5-When set, slide the frittata onto a large round serving platter and cut into wedges, one asparagus spear per slice.


Serves 6.



The second recipe is from physician and botanist Costanzo Felici:

Insalata Mista Di Erbe E Fiori (Herb and Flower salad)


The Italian word insalata literally translates as “salted” and refers to “every raw green or mixture of raw greens or something else dressed with oil and salt,” as proudly defined by Costanzo Felici. Northern Europeans were wary of raw vegetables and fruit, warning those who traveled south to take care to avoid these potentially dangerous foods. The English Boke of Kervynge of 1500 even advised court chefs to “beware of green salletts and raw fruytes for they wyll make your soverayne seke.” But Italian botanical and medical research was insisting otherwise, and the inclusion of such simple, earthy dishes in Renaissance banquets is proof. They also learned to wash all salads, vegetables and fruit before eating them, to wash off any bacteria, just as we still do now.




1 head of romaine lettuce

1 head of radicchio

¼ pound of fresh spinach

¼ pound arugula leaves

¼ cup each chopped herbs: parsley, mint, marjoram, thyme)

½ cup of rose petals

1 cup of mixed edible flowers (violets, marigolds, nasturtiums, calendula)

¾ cup of olive oil

¼ cup of wine vinegar

salt & pepper to taste



1-Wash the romaine, radicchio, spinach and arugula leaves well, and dry in a salad spinner. Cut into bite sized pieces and place in a large salad bowl.

2-Coarsely chop the parsley, mint, marjoram and thyme; add this to the salad bowl.

3-Add the rose petals and edible flowers

4-Add the olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper to taste. Toss well to mix all the flavors and serve at once.

Serves 6-8



* I shared from notes I took during my culinary workshop, and also from from a helpful and very informative handout that was given, which included the recipes as well. Many thanks to the wonderful instructor Robin Trento.


To find out about other culinary workshops: The Getty Center Culinary workshops:

Straw Bale Vegetable Garden

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013





Hay Bale by Jamie Wyeth


When I was little, and spending my summers in Maine, I used to play hide and seek amongst the bales of hay in the hayloft in a big old barn on my family’s farm.

I’ve since learned that Straw bales can be turned into wonderful vegetable beds for anyone who has a concrete yard, patio or deck. It’s inexpensive and works very well for growing all sorts of vegetables and herbs like tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, or basil, and annuals like pretty, colorful and edible nasturtiums.

Use a Straw Bale instead of a Hay bale, as Hay has too many grass seeds, though the heat may kill the grass seeds so you could be fine. I used a Straw Bale, and put it down in a spot that gets plenty of sun.



Water the bale the first day, giving it a good soak. On the second day, sprinkle the surface with ½ a box of Blood Meal, which is an organic nitrogen, and soak it again, allowing the blood meal to seep into the straw bale, creating the ideal growing environment for what you plant. Repeat the following day, until the box is empty and blood meal is soaked all the way into the bale.

Every day, over the next 10 days, water the top so the straw will soften up.



On the 10th day, using a serrated knife cut 4 – 4″ x 4″ holes, along the middle and sprinkle each hole with a little organic potting soil. I planted tomato plants and made a simple growing frame out of bamboo poles.



Since I started my plants late in the season, they have just started producing the sweetest tomatoes.

The straw bale will start to naturally biodegrade and once the tomato plants are done, I’ll spread the straw throughout my vegetable garden and add a bit as well to my Valentina composter. Nothing will get wasted.






Armand and Augustine-The Tale of Two Swallow Tail Butterfly Caterpillars

Friday, May 31st, 2013


Every May, The Natural History Museum in Los Angeles hosts an Insect Fair. This year, I came home with 2 Swallowtail caterpillars, which I named Armand (the larger one) and Augustine.




Back at home, I gently placed them on anise (fennel) from my garden, which stayed fresh in a small vase of water that I placed on my windowsill, out of direct sunlight. Caterpillars have powerful jaws that are ideal for biting through tough plant material. Armand and Augustine fed nonstop and put on weight quickly.




They ate their way through the anise until Augustine had enough and bound herself to a plant stem with silk that she produced. She shed her skin and spun a cocoon, another step towards her final transformation into an adult butterfly, which can take up to two weeks. Augustine is going through her transformation in a large netted bag suspended in the shade outside my kitchen. She is expected to emerge from her cocoon around June 7th. As soon as she does, I will release her.













While Augustine’s was busy making her cocoon, Armand went missing. I searched the entire area where he was last seen and I couldn’t find him. Then, 2 days later, he was spotted:



Armand had decided that he didn’t want to spin a cocoon on the anise like Augustine but preferred a wood shelf from Ikea instead. Armand has suspended himself among my Moroccan tagines dishes and wood bowls. As soon as he is ready to emerge, I will keep all the doors and windows open so he can safely fly out into my garden to look for Augustine.




Armand and Augustine will have to make the most of their time together as it will be a brief 3-4 weeks, during which they will have to mate and Augustine will lay her single sphere shaped egg, hopefully on the anise in the garden.

To attract butterflies to your garden, plant their favorite flowers:

Lantana (Lantana camara and hybrids), Butterfly bushes (Buddleia’s), Marigolds (tagetes species), Zinnias (Zinnia elegans), Cape Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata), Wild Buckwheats (Eriogonum species), Milkweeds (Asclepias series), Glossy Abelia (Abelia grandiflora) and Anise (Fennel).

Next month, I hope to share photos of Armand and Augustine! Stay tuned.

Worldwide March Against Monsanto and GMO’s

Friday, May 31st, 2013


This past May 25th, millions of protesters marched against Monsanto in over 4oo cities around the world. This was the first protest March Against Monsanto and the dangers of GMO’s. To learn more about GMO’s: and also:


Following are images from the march in Venice Beach, California

























My friend and Gamechanger for the month of June Almanac, Ed Begley jr. at a March Against Monsanto in Los Angeles:





Milken Institute’s Global Conference May 2013

Thursday, May 30th, 2013



Early in May, I attended my first Milken Institute’s Global Conference held in Beverly Hills, California, where some of the world’s leading thinkers come together for a few intensive days of highly focused interactions. Possible solutions are explored to today’s most pressing challenges in business, health, government and education. Even though this event wasn’t all about the environment, or the importance of organic gardening, or how to reduce waste, I enjoyed listening to these following discussions:

One of the sessions I attended was Crowdfunding for Start-ups and Small Businesses, and the panelists were the co-founder of Indiegogo, Danae Ringelmann; AngelList’s Babak Nivi; Benjamin Miller of Fundrise and Candace Klein of SoMoLend. Together they discussed how the JOBS Act might open up new avenues for job-creating startups and small businesses. I picked up a few tips from each of them: The Go Go factor on Indiegogo happens when the harder you work at raising funds, the higher rank you get, which in turn brings you the most attention on Indiegogo. Fundrise talked about how the investors are helping developers make their projects happen faster if that same project benefits the investor. Angellist mentioned that if you are a start-up, you can bring a co-investor to find other investors.


To learn more:


The Session on Building a Global Community to Drive Social Change was moderated by my dear friend Jesse Dylan, and featured Ben Goldhirsh of GOOD, Shawn Amos of Freshwire, Michelle Byrd of Games for Change and Alden Stoner of Participant Media. The discussion focused on the importance of designing a game for your business and how that format is very successful at driving traffic to your site.


To learn more: ttp://


Global overview session panelists were Nouriel Roubini, Geraldine Sundstrom, Scott Minerd and Pierre Beaudoin of Bombardier Inc. This was a very intense discussion. Each panelist shared their predictions for the future world economy.

According to this panel, in 2030-2050, China and India will have 1/2 of the world’s GDP and that emerged economies such as Brazil, China and India have staying power, as do Chili, Uruguay and Peru.


To learn more:


Can retailers thrive in a digital world was the topic that was discussed by Silas Chou of Novel Holdings Group, Jim Fielding of Claire’s Stores, David E. Simon of Simon Property Group, Inc and John Danhaki of Leonard Green & Partners, LP. E-commerce is rising and they also discussed the benefits of having a game installed on your store’s website to drive traffic.

To learn more:


The session Climate change: Hope for the best, Prepare for the worst   was about how do we adapt to climate change in the most cost effective manner. We need to build a climate-resistant infrastructure not only in our own country but also in poor countries, which are in danger from storm surges and flooding to the desertification of the ever spreading desert, putting agriculture at risk. It has been difficult for us to adapt global predictions to local adaptations. Did you know that 70% of USA citizens live in a high risk area? We all need to grow food that is adapted to where we each live.

To learn more:


Investing in our future: Best cities for Successful Aging was attended by Henry Cisneros of CityView, Marc Freedman of, Nancy Leamond of AARP, Joseph Coughlin of Agelab and Lauta Cartsensen of Stanford Center on longevity. I learned about, a website for those looking to reinvent themselves. Also, how cities need to adapt to the aging Baby Boomer population and what services should be offered. This session wasn’t filmed. However, many of the ones I couldn’t attend were.

For all other videos of the sessions:


Wednesday, May 1st, 2013


Over the past 7 years, I have attended many Green Festivals in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and more recently, New York City. I love going to shows, festivals, events that focus on sustainable, mindful and less wasteful living. There are always new things to learn and wonderful likeminded people to meet and teach you new sustainable practices.


In New York City, I stopped by the Green Festival that was held there last month and since I am particularly fond of recycling, repurposing and reusing in order to reduce waste, and also innovative ideas thrill me, I was excited about these businesses in particular. One is a small business and the other, an established iconic company that is making changes in the materials they use, putting them at the forefront of sustainable car design.



Ford Motors has redesigned the doors of their Fusion Energi, Focus Electric and C-Max Hybrid cars, outfitting them with eco materials such as wheat straw, for the door panel:




Soy was used to make the upper armrest panel




Corn was used to make the armrest handle



Sweet potato was used to make the map product



Sugar cane was used to make the crash block



And even more surprising is the use of… dandelions.  The perennial weed, the bane of so many gardeners, can be used to make rubber! Regular rubber is synthetic and petroleum based which isn’t a sustainable resource. This is the kind of story I love where a big corporation like Ford, has the resources to finance the research into something that we can all benefit from, including our planet. Dandelions are easily grown and the plan is  they will serve as a natural alternative to synthetic rubber in Ford products.

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The small business I discovered is called ReFleece, They create products from recycled fleece jackets, sweaters and fleece scraps, which are manufactured locally using low energy processes to build Ipad and Kindle sleeves, giving fleece a new form and a new life. ReFleece was founded by the nicest couple, Sam Palmer and his wife Jennifer Feller who met when they both worked at Patagonia, a company that prides itself on being environmentally responsible. ReFleece reduces the amount of waste going out to our overfilled landfills. You can even send your old fleece jacket to ReFleece and they will make you an Ipad case from it! Watch their Kickstarter campaign:

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* Coincidentally, my Person of the Month in my May almanac is the founder of Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard!