Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Update on Cape Wind Project!

Today is a great day! I received a message from my friend, James Burns, telling me to check out the latest news about the Cape Wind Project which I was following very closely back in the fall, 2008.

Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar announced today that the Cape Wind Project is approved by the Obama administration. This is BIG news considering the project was proposed TEN years ago...and more than 25 million dollars has been spent trying to get it built. On the other side, 25 million was spent trying to prevent it from being built. Check out the video of it being approved on Youtube:

I researched and wrote about this project for my natural resource policy and social conflict course - I uploaded it for anyone who is interested in reading about the project's background:

Below is an article taken from Reuters talking about the approval. You'll be able to find lots of other links about this in the coming days. This puts a big smile on my face and is a really big step for clean renewable energy in the U.S.

Cape Wind, first U.S. offshore wind farm, approved

A power-generating windmill turbine operates in a wind farm on Backbone Mountain near Thomas, West Virginia August 28, 2006. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

A power-generating windmill turbine operates in a wind farm on Backbone Mountain near Thomas, West Virginia August 28, 2006.

Credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

BOSTON (Reuters) - The first U.S. offshore wind farm, a giant project 5 miles/8 km off the Massachusetts coast, was approved on Wednesday after years of opposition involving everyone from local Indian tribes to the Kennedy family.

U.S. | Green Business | COP15

U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar gave the green light for the historic 130-turbine, 420-megawatt Cape Wind project in Horseshoe Shoal, Nantucket Sound, in what supporters considered a huge step forward for renewable energy in the United States.

"This project fits with the tradition of sustainable development in the area," Salazar said in Boston.

Although small in terms of its production -- the facility would produce enough electricity to power 400,000 houses -- its approval was encouraging to other offshore wind projects already proposed for the East Coast and Great Lakes.

The turbines, more than 400 feet high, will dot an area of about 24 square miles (62 square km), larger than Manhattan, and be visible low on the horizon from parts of Cape Cod. The site is tucked between the mainland of the cape and the islands of Martha's Vineyard, an exclusive celebrity vacation destination, and Nantucket.

German conglomerate Siemens AG will provide the turbines. Construction is expected to begin before the end of the year, said Jim Gordon, president of Cape Wind Associates. Power generation could begin by 2012.

The decision to approve Cape Wind, subject to certain conditions designed to protect offshore waters from damage and reduce visibility, is expected to face legal challenges, but Salazar said he was confident the approval would stand.

Supporters say wind farms represent a giant push for renewable energy efforts and reducing dependence on foreign oil, and fit well with the Obama administration's strategy.

"Greenpeace has been campaigning to get the Cape Wind project built for nearly a decade, and today's victory is worth celebrating. It is long overdue," said Kert Davies, research director at the environmental group.


Cape Wind was subject to years of environmental review and political maneuvering, including adamant opposition from the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy, whose six-acre (2.4 hectare) family compound in Hyannis Port overlooks Nantucket Sound.

A final ruling was near in 2009, but delayed again after two Wampanoag Indian tribes complained that the giant turbines would disturb spiritual sun greetings and possibly ancestral artifacts and burial grounds on the seabed.

Opponents have deemed the project an eyesore, and raised issues ranging from a detrimental effect on property values in the popular vacation area south of Boston, to possible damage to birds, whales, fishing, aviation, and historic sites.

U.S. Senator Scott Brown, the Republican elected this year to fill Kennedy's seat, criticized Wednesday's decision and said the project was a threat to regional tourism and fishing.

The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, a federal agency in charge of safeguarding historic landmarks, recommended this month that the project be rejected.

The governors of six eastern U.S. states shot back in a letter to Salazar, arguing that other offshore projects will likely be abandoned if the Cape Wind project was rejected.

Salazar cited that letter as part of his decision. "We believe there is huge potential for offshore wind along the Atlantic. We don't want to be second to anyone," he said.

U.S. wind generation increased by 27 percent last year, accounting for 2 percent of total electricity supplies, according to the Energy Department. Wind power supports about 85,000 American jobs.

"Renewable energy projects like these not only help fight climate change, they can create jobs and play a central role in our economic recovery," said Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Several countries have achieved much higher levels of wind power generation, often with large government subsidies, including Denmark, Spain and Portugal.

Less than 2 percent of wind energy is offshore, but turbine makers see it as an area of huge growth potential.

Siemens rival General Electric Co expects to increase its offshore business to generate $3 billion to $5 billion a year over the next few years, chief executive Jeff Immelt said at the company's annual meeting in Houston on Wednesday.

Tom King, president of the power company National Grid US, said talks with Cape Wind about purchasing its output are continuing.

Local PDC Course May 10-21 (All-Star Lineup!)

G'evening y'all,

I just received notice that there will be a permaculture design certificate (PDC) course taught at Hampshire College from May 10-21. It is being taught by local permaculture instructors Mai Frank and Ned Phillips-Jones (with guest instructors including Dave Jacke, Jono Neiger, and Eric Toensmeier). That's an All-Star lineup for those of you who aren't familiar with the names.

This is an awesome opportunity to gain your PDC and it probably the least expensive PDC course I have ever seen. I highly recommend making an inquiry if you are at all interested in permaculture. The last I heard about half the spots were filled.

Check out the flyer and e-mail for more info. Also, please pass this e-mail along to anyone you think might be interested.

Hope everyone is doing well and your end of the semesters aren't too overwhelming. Good luck - the semester's almost over!


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Work-Day at 3 Willow Lane this Saturday, 4/24!

Hey y'all,

This is a rather impersonal message since I'm trying to send it out to many people and not spend all day on the computer! This Saturday I'm inviting lot's of folks over to help with the project I've been working on for the last 6+ months - turning my yard into an edible forest garden - a yarden. Here's the e-mail I've been sending around.


I'm writing to inform everyone about a project that I'm currently working on and incredibly passionate about. I'm in the process of converting my single-family home in Amherst, MA into a model residence for ecological living. A large portion of the project entails transforming the entire grass front yard into an edible forest garden. This project was started back in September, 2009 and there is almost no grass left! Perennial fruits, vegetables, berries and roots have already begun growing and we are trying to make this project as inspiring as possible, in hopes that others will want to do this to their yards!

We'll be having an informal work-day with tours this Saturday, April 24, starting at 8:30am and lasting until 5:00pm. Some food will be provided but please bring a lunch if you plan on coming early and staying throughout the day. Please bring any of the mentioned tools if you have them (more pitch forks, digging forks, shovels, rakes and hammers will be needed if lot's of people show up!)

The main goal of this project is to save energy and this Saturday we will be setting up a clothes line made from all recycled materials (minimize dryer use), an outdoor compost bin (less trash to landfills) a trellis or two for our vegetables, and we will be sheet mulching some pathways and inoculating certain areas of wood chips with white clover (to fix nitrogen, minimize the work that is lawn mowing, and improve soil health.) Maybe some planting, too.

It is expected to be another gorgeous day this Saturday, so please come help us out at 3 Willow Lane, in Amherst, MA. Call or e-mail Ryan Harb if you have questions / for directions. (978) 314-1176.

I hope to see some of you on Saturday!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Permaculture Design Course in Peru

Happy spring, y'all. Below is an e-mail I received from my friend Cynthia, who is co-teaching a permaculture design course in Peru! This sounds like a fantastic opportunity and I wish I could go! Two friends of mine from Growing Power will be heading south to stay in Peru for a year or so... if you do decide to go on this please let me know as I'll be wanting to hear all about it!


Permaculture Design Certificate Course
in the Peruvian Amazon
Healing the Land & Healing our Bodies
through Permaculture & Shamanism
Bilingual: English and Spanish
June 22nd – July 6th 2010

Planet People Passion is thrilled to offer a very special opportunity to partake in our inaugural Permaculture Design Certificate Course at The Amazonian Institute for the Preservation of the Rainforest & Indigenous Traditions.

The objective of the project is to establish a Permaculture education and information base that will empower the community and provide models for sustainable agriculture alternatives to slash and burn practices, soil remediation, reforestation, effective use of water resources, recycling and waste management.

Guided by lead instructor Andrew Jones, and assistant instructors Shenaqua Sookhoo-Jones and Cynthia Robinson, students in this intensive two week Design Certificate Course will have an opportunity to play a hands on role in the real life design planning and implementation of this Permaculture site located on 40 acres of previously clear cut forest in the Peruvian Amazon 60 kilometer from Iquitos, Peru.

In the course we will be studying a holistic approach to Permaculture incorporating:
• Multiple meetings with many local villages and tribes in order to learn of the history, culture, resources, and current challenges these indigenous communities face. It is important that we truly understand the problems in order to design relevant solutions.
• Explore the symbiotic relationship between nurturing the land and nurturing our own bodies.
• Work with indigenous Shamans in order to explore the medicinal and sacred plants of this incredibly bio-diverse and magical region.

For more information visit
To learn more about Permaculture and the specific topics covered visit HERE

$2000 regular
$1800 early bird registration (by April 21st)
$1600 student (early registration discount does not apply)

Price includes room, instruction, meals, activities and transportation once in Iquitos (everything except airfare).

Questions, contact Cynthia Robinson:

In Gratitude,

The PPP Team
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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Green Building and Sustainable Design - Summer Course

Greetings all,

Do you want to know more about green building? Are you feeling the need to gain some hands-on natural building experience this summer?

My name is Ryan Harb. For those of you who don't know me, I'm a finishing graduate student from UMass and in May I will become the first person in the country to receive a MS in Green Building. I have a strong interest in ecological design and for 4 years I have been transforming my single-family home in Amherst, a college rental property, into a model sustainable residence. One project I'm working on now is a front yard transformation – creating a 5000s.f. highly productive, food producing, permaculture garden at my home. Designing sustainable (food and other) systems is one of many aspects of green building.

This summer I will be co-teaching a 3-week Sustainable Design and Construction course at Sirius Community - a model educational and sustainable ecovillage in scenic western Massachusetts. This is one of the few opportunities in the country to receive college credit while learning experientially about sustainable design and construction. All students will receive natural building certification upon completion of this course.

The spots to this class are filling up fast and we would love to see more representation from UMass. This course takes place literally 20 minutes down the road in Shutesbury, MA

Course Topics:

What is Green Building?
We will take you on an ecological journey through the entire green building process: from site selection and laying the foundation to selecting appropriate materials and conducting a life cycle analysis.

Green Structures: Simple to Complex
Green building at its simplest form: primitive shelter building, site analysis, passive solar architecture, patterning for energy efficiency, renewable energy technologies.

Natural Building:
Exploration of natural building materials, their properties and their 'roles' as structural components. Students gain experience in timber frame, straw bale and cob construction.

Community Strategies:
Eco-village and community design; master plans and how they evolve over time. Group design project and presentation.

Course Dates: June 21 – July 11

Apply before April 15th! The deadline is soon approaching.
Contact Living Routes today:

I hope to see some of you this summer.

Happy Spring,
Ryan Harb

Please pass this e-mail along to others who may be interested in this great opportunity.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Donate to Big Brothers Big Sisters Organization!

Hi Everyone,

I hope you are enjoying this beautiful weather! Life is extremely hectic right now and because of that I haven't gotten to post on the blog very much recently. I'm in the process of transforming my yard into a garden (or a 'yarden'), finishing up graduate school, and doing numerous other outside of academia activities. I will write again when life calms down some!

Next Sunday (April 11) I will be bowling for the Big Brothers Big Sisters Organization with Sam, my little brother of 2 years! Last year we were the number 2 fundraising team in Hampshire County - totaling around $1250! This year I've been away for most of the fundraising-season and because of that I'm getting a VERY late start!

Many of you donated last year and I thank you so much for that. This year our goal this year is $500 and we are going to try and do that in a week! Here's how you can help:

Go to the following link:
Donate to our team: A couple of "Sirs"!

Or if that link doesn't bring you directly to our page: do the following
Clink the link on the right that says "more" (it's underneath "Team Rank")
Our team name is the top one - A Couple of "Sirs" - with me listed as the captain.

If you are willing/able to donate, I ask that you do it sometime this week, as the event starts on Saturday and we will be bowling on Sunday. Thank you SO much for your help - this is truly a great cause and everything you pitch in will help the organization make future big/little matches and hold other fun events like this.

Be well, everyone!