Sustainability Today

  • Hatch Community Innovation Lab Holds Open House During DWPDX
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    Hatch Community Innovation Lab hosts an open house Wednesday, Oct. 8, as part of Design Week Portland happening at various locations throughout the city.
    Hatch opened its doors in January 2014 at NE 24th and Sandy Boulevard and offers co-work space for local and social enterprises. At night time it transforms into an event space.
    An announcement for the open house invites people to attend and engage with creative people and entrepreneurs who design with purpose. Topics slated for discussion include how to design responsibly.

    Hatch also plays host this week to a lecture on bio-mimicry held Monday evening and a workshop offered in the morning or evening on Tuesday, Oct 7. Biomimicry is about learning from nature to create innovative design. More information about the concept can be found at

    The workshop cost $30 to attend and a description from is below.

    Participants will be introduced to "Bio-aligned Design Thinking" with a brief overview of the process of designing and working in harmony with nature. Part education, part problem-solving, part discussion, part production -- this will be a fully engaging & enriching workshop for everyone involved.

    Written on Tuesday, 07 October 2014 04:28 in In The Community Read 87 times
  • Celebrate Sustainable Living at Green Neighborhoods Festival on Saturday near Peninsula Park
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    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 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.

    Example of Solar Oven

    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, 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

    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.

    Written on Thursday, 14 August 2014 23:01 in In The Community Read 217 times
  • Encouraging Homeowners to Try Solar Energy
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    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.

    Solar Panels

    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.

    Written on Monday, 11 August 2014 22:38 in In The Community Read 227 times
  • Rain Gardens Help Fight Pollutants
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    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.

    Sign at district office shows elements of rain gardenBirds, 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."
    Kathy Shearin Stands Outside the Office of East Multonomah Soil and Water Conservation District


    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.

    Written on Friday, 25 July 2014 19:46 in In The Community Read 257 times
  • The Intertwine Regional Trails Fair
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    The Intertwine Regional Trails Fair

    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.



    Written on Friday, 25 July 2014 19:26 in In The Community Read 233 times
  • Totes Made of Feed Bags Help Home for Rescued Horses
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    Totes Made of Feed Bags Help Home for Rescued Horses

    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











    Written on Thursday, 24 April 2014 00:59 in In The Community Read 690 times

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Greener Good Blog


Sustainable Living blog and video.
  • Greener Good visits the 2014 Regional Livability Summit in Portland Oregon. We chat with Monica Cuneo of Portland State University Institute for Sustainable Solutions​ about the Food is Health Food is Hope Coalition. The summit is produced by the Coalition for a Livable Future.

  • One of the weird tall bikes of Portland. The one is customized with a trailer to stabilize it which makes it like a tricycle. It features wire bike baskets, a cup holder and shade umbrellas. Click to open image! Click to open image! Click to open image! Click to open image! Click to open image! Click to open image! Click to open image! Click to open image! Click to open image! Click to open image!  

  • Alan DeLaTorre of the Institute For Aging at PSU talks about the Age Friendly Cities program at the 2014 Livability Summit. The summit is produced by Coalition for a Livable Future.

  • The Wall Street Journal says that the housing market is trending to the large end of the scale, with builders following demand for McMansions, and a glut of large foreclosed homes hitting the market. At the opposite end, people are clamoring for environmental responsibility, and acknowledging the pressure of maintaining a huge I’ve been entertaining the idea of building (or buying) a tiny house, giving myself the opportunity to both own a home and not feel overwhelmed with the responsibility of furnishing it. The first question I’m always asked is, ‘what about all of your stuff?’ I’ve been doing some research to answer that question, trying to find innovative storage solutions for my stuff, without creating room for clutter.  Here’s some of those ideas: Toe Kick Drawers These are perfect for storing cookie sheets, serving platters, or even utensils. For extra convenience when you’re searching for the right thing, you can add a ‘push to open’ latch. Storage Bed I love storage beds. Where else would you want to store all those extra sheet sets, duvet covers, and pillows? Some of these have hydraulics, some require a bit more effort. You can also do something similar with drawers. Stacking Shelves Shelves are great. They’re even better when you can use the space above and below them. These baskets are perfect for a tiny pantry, allowing you to get a lot more use out of those shelves. Wall Mounted Desk Use the wall space! I cannot emphasis that enough. Mounting things like desks on the wall allows you to tuck things up and out of the way when not in use. Put something pretty on the bottom of the desk, so that when you do close it up, you’ve something nice to look at! (Although this desk is quite gorgeous.) Back of the Door Cabinet You may not have room for bathroom shelves, or a large medicine cabinet, but if you’ve got a door, you’ve got the space! Use this for all those toiletries that usually clutter a bathroom, and keep them out of the way. Staircase Drawers I have a lot of shoes. I mean, a lot. The best place to store them without taking up a whole room? These drawers. Depending on your staircase layout, you can either use the steps as drawers, or have them on the side, using the wall space. Even better, this is a great DIY! Click to open image! Click to open image! Click to open image! Click to open image! Click to open image! Click to open image! Click to open image! Click to open image! Click to open image! Click to open image! Click to open image! Click to open image!  

  • The For The Greener Good crew visits the justice Begins With Seeds Conference in Portland Oregon 2014. The conference is produced by The Biosafety Alliance.

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