Farming Chicago's rooftops: The Urban Canopy

Article: Farming Chicago's rooftops: The Urban Canopy

Back in August when I wrote about The Plant, a former meatpacking warehouse turned urban farm in Chicago, I made only the briefest of mentions of the business incubation plans the founding organization envisioned for the space. The brewery planned for the space has received the most attention thus far, but if you head up to the rooftop of the building, you’ll find another sustainable business at work: The Urban Canopy. As you might imagine, they’re in the rooftop farming business, though they’re taking a quite different approach from most with their rooftop hydroponics system.

Urban beekeeping on two wheels: Bike-a-Bee

Article: Urban beekeeping on two wheels: Bike-a-Bee

Bike·a·Bee from Jana Kinsman on Vimeo.

Start a beekeeping business in the city? Seems like a bit of a pipe dream, doesn’t it? After all, you need space for lots of beehives, and that means you need a big piece of land. Doesn’t it?

Green tech finds: Architects to the rescue!

Article: Green tech finds: Architects to the rescue!

Can good design save the world? Well, maybe the Great Lakes, anyway. That, plus community-based solar, clothing recycling, and more: your green tech finds for the week.

The DIY bike seat: Ever wanted a second seat on your bicycle, without investing in a tandem? Or just carrying space without a trailer? Israeli designer Yael Livneh has you covered with his concept made from a used plastic milk crate. He’s entered the concept in Designboom’s Seoul Cycle Design competition. (via Unconsumption and @dothegreenthing)

Occupy the sun: We generally think of solar power as something that individual home and building owners do, but Francesca Rheannon at CSRWire takes a look at community-based efforts to adopt solar technology.

Now arriving at Chicago's O'Hare Airport: garden fresh food

Article: Now arriving at Chicago's O'Hare Airport: garden fresh food

Airport food is generally only memorable for the high prices we pay for such lackluster fare. We don’t expect much more than this, and we’re happy if we can get it quickly enough to make our connection. That’s been the standard for as long as I can remember, but it turns out that as of mid-September, you can now add “fresh” and “nutritious” to the options at one US airport. Chicago’s O’Hare now has four restaurants that buy local produce for their menus, and, in these cases, “local” means “grown at the airport.” The airport has opened the world’s first “aeroponic” garden in Terminal 2, which grows “44 different types of organic herbs and vegetables” for use at Tortas Frontera, Wicker Park Seafood and Sushi, Blackhawks Restaurant and Tuscany.

The Plant: Chicago meatpacking facility turned vertical farm

Article: The Plant: Chicago meatpacking facility turned vertical farm

What’s the Hog Butcher of the World to do when it’s no longer butchering hogs? How about grow vegetables? That’s the concept behind The Plant, a planned vertical farm in Chicago’s Back of the Yard neighborhood (which is also home to Testa Produce’s new – and very green – distribution center). When complete, the 93,500 square foot facility will house aquaponic growing facilities, and even help sprout numerous sustainable food businesses.

New Chicago green building brings lighter footprint to food distribution

Article: New Chicago green building brings lighter footprint to food distribution

While I don’t have numbers at my fingertips, I’d be willing to bet that most new LEED certified commercial buildings fall into the office space category: corporate headquarters or other buildings in which lots of people work behind desks. There’s nothing wrong with that; These structures certainly use plenty of energy and water, and elements of green building such as the focus on daylighting and air quality make for more pleasant and productive workplaces.

But what about those buildings where products are manufactured, processed and/or distributed? In many cases, these are the real resource hogs sorely in need of, at the very least, a good green retrofitting. And new structures built around resource efficiency can be real cost savers for their owners.

The Best Street Photographer You've Never Heard Of

Article: The Best Street Photographer You've Never Heard Of

As an enormous fan of candid street photography (discovering Cartier-Bresson and Weegee née Arthur Fellig years ago was a revelation for me), I was blown away by both the background story and photographs of Vivian Maier or as Mother Jones described her: “the best street photographer you’ve never heard of.” Maier lived a relatively obscure and anonymous life as a nanny in New York City and then Chicago from the 1950s through 1990s. Never married, her constant companion through her life was her Rolleiflex camera which she used frequently, but apparently she never shared her work with others. It wasn’t until 2007 when John Maloof, 26, purchased a box of Maier’s negatives at an auction house that they came to light. Taken with the quality, he sought out others and ended up collecting more than 100,000 negatives as well as a few thousand rolls of film.

Graffiti cocktail shaker

Article: Graffiti cocktail shaker

This spray can shaped cocktail shaker from the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago combines two of my interests: well-mixed cocktails and street art.

Green tech finds (5/12/11)

Article: Green tech finds (5/12/11)

Car parts made from dandelions, “flying” trains, and power-producing toilets… this week’s green tech finds.

A field guide for tree species… on your phone: The new Leafsnap app allows you to identify species of trees simply by taking a picture of a leaf. Users can also share images and locations, making for potentially useful data on tree species. (via Grist and The Guardian)
Car parts made from dandelions: The “milky-white substance that seeps from dandelion roots” may work as a sustainable source of “rubber” for car parts such as cup holders and floor mats. Ford and The Ohio State University are experimenting…

What women should know about furniture.

Article: What women should know about furniture.

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love furniture. I’ve worked for several furniture brands throughout my career and I am an avid collector of all things mid-century. I’ve also blogged for over a decade. This, and Facebook, has allowed me to collect friends via the Internet from all over the globe.

Sometimes people I don’t know too well send me gifts. I do the same. This happened last week when a friend names Rob sent me a book called “What Every Woman Should Know About FURNITURE.” Written by Jeanne Judson in 1940, the book is mostly pictures of furniture styles of the day. And while half of the fun is the book’s camp title, there are some wonderful quotes I feel need to be shared like:
A house without books is a monstrosity. There should be at least one well-filled bookcase in the most lived-in room.
60 years later and I agree with Ms. Judson.

Creative re-use: the Dominican University cistern

Article: Creative re-use: the Dominican University cistern

For 90 years, a 60,000 gallon cistern at River Forest, Illinois’ Dominican University has done its job of collecting rainwater from 1920s-era buildings. That’s great… the problem is that everyone kind of forgot about it. Dan Bulow, the school’s director of building and grounds, told Trib Local’s Patrick Rollens “We knew [the cistern] was there,…

Green music festivals throw parties with a purpose

Article: Green music festivals throw parties with a purpose

What’s the environmental footprint of the average music festival? Add up the following factors:

Transportation energy: all of those fans, bands and vendors have to get there.
On-site energy: from stage lights to refrigeration, many elements of a festival require electricity… sometimes a lot of it.
Trash: just feeding hundreds, or thousands, of people can send literally tons of waste to the landfill
Water: Lots of people generally means lots of toilets flushing… and hands being washed… and thirsts being quenched.

OK, we don’t have exact numbers, but you can see that 2-4 days of music and fun can create quite an impact. A number of festivals around the world have decided to address that impact; others have built their events around ecological awareness. In both cases, organizers are addressing resource use and efficiency, and trying lighten the load of these events on the planet.

Chicago gets Carrotmobbed

Article: Chicago gets Carrotmobbed

Carrotmobbed? WTF?

If you haven’t heard of it yet, Carrotmobbing is one of the newest forms of green activism. Rather than boycotting or protesting companies doing bad things, Carrotmobs offer (you guessed it) a “carrot” to businesses for doing the right thing. Local businesses commit to greening themselves in order to receive a mob of customers on a particular day and time. So far, the concept’s worked well in San Francisco, Kansas City, and Brooklyn.