If you’ve never heard of aquaponics, well then join the crowd heading to the free Green Neighborhoods Festival this weekend right next door to Peninsula Park where you can learn all about it.
The festival features several workshops related to sustainable living, including one that focuses on the technique of growing vegetables with fish, also known as aquaponics. The process blends excrement from the fish into water that then is pumped to plant beds. The workshop will be presented by Kate Wildrick and Aaron Imhof from Ingenuity Innovations.
Cader Olive from learnnatureskills.com conducts an enlightening workshop about creating your own solar oven. “You will learn how you can build your own simple but efficient solar oven and solar food dryer from used and recycled materials,” he explained.
The basic passive solar design is an insulated box with a clear lid that traps the sun's heat. In his workshop Cader demonstrates how to adapt this simple design to various situations and materials to heat a home, food, or water, as well as to grow and dry food.
The warmth from the sun can be used for various heating tasks in an affordable way with minimal environmental impact, says Cader.
Other presentations include Bamboo Splitting & Japanese Basket Weaving with Steve Jensen from www.bamboooita.blogspot.com, and a yoga class for participants at all levels led by Celeste Arnold from The Yoga Space.
There are also fun and educational activities planned for kids, such as a scavenger hunt, planting party, art projects and a special 2 p.m. presentation by storyteller Patrick Gannon from the Portland Storytellers Guild.
Festival goers can keep the beat with musical talents Soul Minor, The Executives, Jawbone Flats, Town and the Writ, and Sockeye Sawtooth. The bands offer a variety of song styles and are slated for on-stage appearances throughout the day.
What's a festival without food? Unthinkable! That’s why the lineup features good eating offered by vendors such as Fuego's delicious chicken and vegetable burritos and bowls. Plus, the Honduran Tamale Factory brings the aroma and taste of organic Honduran coffee and sweet tamales while the Mizz’ipi Sistah Chefs will sell the catering company’s delicious desserts and lemonade.
The Green Neighborhoods Festival organized by The Center for a Sustainable Today will be held Saturday Aug. 16 next to Peninsula Park at Rosa Parks Way and N. Kirby Avenue. For information on more workshops, appearances, activities and a list of vendors participating in the festival, visit the web site greenneighborhoodsfestival.org.
To encourage green clean transportation The eBike Store at 809 N Rosa Parks Way has graciously offered parking racks for people who ride bicycles to the the festival. Public transportation is another option as the park is a few blocks from the Rosa Parks Max yellow line stop. Check also bus lines 4 and 44 that go to the park, while 6 and 8 have stops a few blocks east and bus 72, a few blocks south.
Sun lovers planning to attend the Green Neighborhoods Festival can find out how to use solar energy right in their own homes. A representative of Solar City, a festival sponsor, will be there to talk about use of solar panels and answer questions for home owners considering installing them as an alternative energy source.
Two years ago, the panels were installed on the home of Tom Hopkins, producer of the Sustainable Today TV program.
"They provide all the power I need to run my house and then some," said Tom, who explained that excess energy is sold back to the local power company at a special rate.
Solar City asserts that it is transforming the way Americans use energy and has worked hard to make the transition affordable for the average user. The company owns the solar panels that it leases to customers through various programs to encourage people to switch to clean solar power while reducing and stabilizing their electric bill.
The Green Neighborhoods Festival is Saturday Aug. 16 next to Peninsula Park in North Portland. You can click here for more information about the company, SolarCity.
How your garden grows can often depend on water. And sometimes when it rains, it pours. A rain garden could be the answer to what to do with all that extra water spilling from the sky during stormy weather. Rain gardens capture excess storm water that might otherwise stream down littered sidewalks and dirty pavement and into public water drains headed for local streams. They are created on a sunken bed of land and filled in with native perennial plants that are hardy, easy to maintain and can filter pollutants found in storm water.
Birds, butterflies and useful insects also benefit from properly designed and maintained rain gardens. Planting one might be easier than you think.
The East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District, located at 5211 N. Williams Ave, in Portland, lends technical and educational support to landowners who want to establish or improve upon conservation soil and water habitats on their properties.
Every spring and fall, district workers hold free workshops to teach people about rain gardens. The next series of workshops are slated to begin in October, according to Kathy Shearin, Urban Lands Program supervisor.
One of the first steps to creating a rain garden is to take a lay of the land and discover the most suitable spot, explains Shearin.
"Before we dig at all we would dig a little hole about a foot deep," she said. "Fill it with water. Let the water go away and then fill it up with water again and calculate how fast it drains.
You don't want to put a rain garden in a soggy part of your yard."
The district provides a list of plants that work well in rain gardens, says Shearin. They are typically plants with characteristically "wet feet," meaning their roots can handle heavy water loads in the winter while also withstanding summertime drought-like conditions. Examples include Slough Sedge and Pacific Rush.
"The idea of planting plants is so that you can soak that water up quicker and you have a really nice landscape...that utilizes that water instead of just letting it flow off the property."
This conservation group, funded with taxpayer dollars, promotes sustainability in various ways, including incorporating practices within the building where it is housed and on its surrounding property. The photo to the right shows Shearin standing in front of a downspout planter dubbed the "Bucket Brigade." Perched on the building's north side, the sculpture of planters absorbs water runoff from the roof above.
The district also helps fund other programs that advocate conservation. The Center for a Sustainable Today recently received a Small Projects and Community Events Program grant from the district for our Green Neighborhoods Festival that will be held in Peninsula Park on Saturday Aug. 16.
Watch this blog for more news about Green Neighborhoods Festival sponsors, vendors, workshops and other participants.
A great way to learn about trail projects, plans, grants and initiatives. Go to The Intertwine's Regional Trails Fair on Wednesday July 30, 2014 1pm to 4pm at Metro Regional Center Apotheker Plaza.
Bright and colorful totes decorate the booth where two women who love horses stand at the ready to sell re-imagined and reformed livestock feed bags at a recent sustainability expo in Portland.
The totes were born out of Suzi Cloutier's frustration from learning that her empty feed bags could no longer be recycled. One day she drove to a recycle station with a load of used bags that were turned away because feed makers had switched to a bag constructed of woven plastic that are not recyclable in her area.
"Because we are a sustainable organization, that wasn't going to do," Cloutier said. "So I started hoarding them without an idea of what I was going to do."
Cloutier runs Zeb's Wish Equine Sanctuary that cares for ailing, aging and disabled horses, donkeys and mules that might otherwise be put down. Based in Sandy Oregon, the home for horses was started at the turn of this century, 14 years ago, with the rescue of Zebediah, a blind and starving mule.
Cloutier and Victoria Kress, a volunteer, attended the expo to sell the totes, which help fund the sanctuary, a place that Cloutier says has rescued 34 horses and mules from various nightmares of abuse, starvation, abandonment and slaughter.
As the mountain of empty feed bags piled higher, Cloutier tried to think of what to do with them that would harmonize with the sanctuary's ethic of sustainability and care for the earth's resources. The perfect up-cycle solution came to light when her friend Zona took a single bag home and had soon fashioned a tote out of it.
"She gave it back and said 'Now, go start raising money for the horses with these'," Cloutier recalled.
With a little perseverance, Cloutier with her friends discovered a way to keep the recycle loop in motion. The way Cloutier sees it, the sanctuary recycles horses and the feed bags that allow them to live new and longer lives.
The totes are sold online and at various recycle art events in Oregon and Vancouver, WA. As their popularity spreads so do donations from other people not quite sure what to do with their own feed bags.
"I'll come home and I'll have a mountain of feed bags laying there from some mystery person," chuckled Cloutier. "Cat food, dog food, chicken food, you name it, goats, sheep, cattle pigs, it all comes (packaged) in this stuff so we can upcycle all of it now."
The totes cost about $13 each. More information about them, the horse in the photo below, and the equine sanctuary can be found at www.zebswish.org.
The imagined future of sustainable living is one of the highlights featured at the Better Living Show that kicks off Saturday, March 29, for a free two-day event at the Portland Expo Center.
About 175 vendors are expected to display their goods, which include a variety of products centered on sustainability, said Nikki Clifton, an event organizer.
A display called The Home of the Future and sponsored by General Electric showcases energy efficient appliances and composting. Elsewhere, entertain alternative living spaces with a look at homes made by Pacific Domes, an Oregonian company, that was one of the first to commercialize its style of dome-shaped homes. The company plans to display three types of dome products that will include a green house, floating bed and a climbing gym that kids can try out, said company representative Benjamin Frederick.
Children can participate in other ecofriendly activities that include games and prizes, Clifton said. One game involves making choices such as reduce, reuse and recycle. It is meant to inspire and raise consciousness about protecting and preserving our natural environment, she said.
Both days will be filled with opportunities to learn more through guest speakers and more than 100 lectures held at three onsite classrooms.
Other attractions include a Vegan Village and Eco-Fashion show and food, lots of food at an organic food truck roundup from at least 5 vendors, Clifton said.
The event is held Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m at the Portland Expo Center, 2060 Marine Drive. Admission is Free.
More information is available at betterlivingshow.org
Photos provided by Pacific Domes.