Contaminants enter the water supply via human drug waste in sewage, medicines flushed down toilets, agricultural runoff and the wide use of pesticides, flame retardants and plastic-related compounds like phthalates and BPA.Read More
Why Bees Are So Important to Our Planet, and Our Gardens in Minnesota
Bees are some of the most industrious life forms on Earth, and we owe much gratitude to this amazing yet often under appreciated insect due to their unbelievably hard work.
They are responsible for pollenating up to 20% of our planet's flowering plants, and over 400 agricultural plant varieties. So they're important to our food supply, which makes them an extremely significant factor in local, national, and global ecosystems.
Bees and Your Minnesota Garden
Here are a few things you can do in your garden to help your local bees:
Plant bee-friendly plants and flowers - Here are a few examples of good plant varieties: Spring – lilacs, penstemon, lavender, sage, verbena, and wisteria. Summer – Mint, cosmos, squash, tomatoes, pumpkins, sunflowers, oregano, rosemary, poppies, black-eyed Susan, passion flower vine, honeysuckle. Fall – Fuschia, mint, bush sunflower, sage, verbena, toadflax.
Don't user chemicals or pesticides in your garden or lawn - Though they can help make your lawn look fantastic, they are actually doing the opposite in terms of damage to life in the biosphere - especially if plants are flowering.
Weeds Can be Good - Consider allowing dandelions and other wildflowers (weeds) to bloom and flower before cutting them back or pulling. Bees love them.
Buy Local, Raw Honey - Send a message!
here is an article that covers some of the great research being done at The Bee and Pollinator Research Lab at the University of Minnesota St. Paul Campus:
Grow with KARE: Bee and pollinator lab
ST. PAUL - Our native bees and honey bees across North America are in trouble, and for many years, researchers have been trying to determine what is causing their populations to decline. All of this research in Minnesota is now happening under one roof
"This building brings together about 8 different locations that we used to have on campus into one location." said Becky Masterman, Bee Squad.
The Bee and Pollinator Research Lab at the University of Minnesota St. Paul Campus opened last fall and is the first research center in the region to combine native bee and honey bee research. According to the Minnesota DNR there are more than 400 types of bees in Minnesota and while I was there they were continuing to expand their collection of bees and pollinators in their collections.
The technical lab is the place where most of our bee research is taking place, and today they are trying to analyze the DNA one one of our native bees.
"Bee research is important because we've seen our honeybees decline for the last 10 years in health and we lose one-third of them every year." said Masterman.
They also have the Mann Lake Extraction room where surplus honey is extracted from the hives.
Outside the lab, the building will be surrounded by flowers that provide nectar and pollen, the food needed for bees, also a place for them to live.
This sandstone sculpture, outside the bee and pollinator lab is not just designed to be pretty, but also is a home for our native bees.
We are just really trying to keep bees healthy. Bee health has been in decline and we are worried about our honey bee health, and we are also worried about our wild native bee species in Minnesota and throughout the country. We are trying to support all bees here." said Masterman.
Research will continue to see how we can improve bee health in the future.
© 2017 KARE-TV
We've all heard of the wonders of 3D printers. They have the capability to help us solve really challenging design problems on a scaled down level, partially because of the amount of time saved creating architectural models.
The benefits of 3D printing for architect and designers are many, including the ability to quickly edit and reproduce 3D designs, and digitally storing them for future production.
So, Can You Print a House Using a 3D Printer?
We asked, and then we found Apis Cor.
They are the first company to develop a mobile construction 3D printer that is capable of printing whole buildings completely on-site.
Also they are people. Engineers, managers, builders and inventors sharing one common idea – to change the construction industry so that millions of people will have an opportunity to improve their living conditions.
Today we have Apis Cor's 3D printing technology, new building materials and a mobile 3D printer to build affordable, eco-friendly houses within a single day, capable of lasting up to 175 years.
Discover more about how Apis Cor strives to create access to housing for all the people of the world:
Can a house be printed using a 3D printer?
Yes, of course, nowadays it’s quite possible. Construction 3D printers use the same principle as most 3D printers — they create objects by producing horizontal layers of material. Construction ordinarily uses concrete mixture as a material. Using a construction 3D printer it’s possible to print internal and external walls and other vertical wall constructions, foundation formwork, prefabricated monolithic slabs, as well as a variety of different structures and small architectural forms, such as columns. The difference remains only in the printing approach.
So to date, most building 3D printers have been utilizing a portal design and worked in rectangular coordinate systems. Printers of this design are not mobile, print individual sections of walls and buildings, which are then delivered to the construction site and put together like a traditional block building.
Russian engineers have designed the «Apis Cor» mobile construction 3D printer that is easy to transport and which prints the «box» of a house completely on site and is not any different in general characteristics from any other house built according to the traditional technology of construction. After the layered print process is done, the walls are so smooth that they are ready for finishing works right away.
Therefore, building a house can be fast, environmentally friendly and affordable, if we entrust all the difficult work to smart machines and introduce new technologies. A single printer replaces an entire brigade of builders, reduces the time and cost of construction without loss of quality. For this reason, construction 3D printing is a very promising development direction for high technologies.
Visit the Apis Cor blog for the original post:
At The Corduroy Studio, our approach to landscape design overlaps with our ideas about work, health, and nature. It is gratifying to see national attention being paid to topics that Corduroy has been pursuing since 1980.
Silicon Valley author, lecturer and consultant Alex Soojung-Kim Pang is making the business case for rest, arguing that it not only is essential to people’s health and happiness but also makes them more productive.
His new book, Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less (Basic Books, 2016), draws on scientific evidence and the habits of famous artists, business trailblazers and global leaders to argue that we can be more successful in all areas of our lives by working fewer hours and pursuing “deliberate rest”—time set aside for exercise or hobbies so that we can recharge and be ready to focus when it really matters.
See the full NY Times Review of Books article by Arianna Huffington below.
Learn more about Pang's theories here: https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/news/hr-magazine/1216/pages/rest-is-underrated-alex-soojung-kim-pang.aspx
By ARIANNA HUFFINGTON
DECEMBER 12, 2016
Why You Get More Done When You Work Less
By Alex Soojung-Kim Pang
310 pp. Basic Books. $27.50.
We hear a lot about the many things that are disrupting the American workplace: the decline of manufacturing, demographics, globalization, automation and, especially, technology. And it’s true — all of those are roiling the world of work, not just in America but worldwide.
But there’s another force transforming the way we work, and that is: nonwork. Or, more specifically, what we’re doing in those few hours when we’re not working. With “Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less,” Alex Soojung-Kim Pang superbly illuminates this phenomenon and helps push it along.
What’s being disrupted is our collective delusion that burnout is simply the price we must pay for success. It’s a myth that, as Pang notes, goes back to the Industrial Revolution. That’s when the Cartesian notion of home and work as separate — and opposing — spheres took hold. Home, Pang writes, was “the place where a man could relax and recover from work.” When there was time, that is. Because soon leisure time and nighttime became commodities to monetize. Over the next decades, starting with demands from labor reformers, work hours were pushed back, mostly for safety reasons. But even today, the conversation focuses on “work-life balance,” which implicitly accepts the notion of work and life as Manichaean opposites — perpetually in conflict.
That’s why “Rest” is such a valuable book. If work is our national religion, Pang is the philosopher reintegrating our bifurcated selves. As he adeptly shows, not only are work and rest not in opposition, they’re inextricably bound, each enhancing the other. “Work and rest aren’t opposites like black and white or good and evil,” Pang writes. “They’re more like different points on life’s wave.”
His central thesis is that rest not only makes us more productive and more creative, but also makes our lives “richer and more fulfilling.” But not all rest is created equal — it’s not just about not-working. The most productive kind of rest, according to Pang, is also active and deliberate. And as such, that means rest is a skill. “Rest turns out to be like sex or singing or running,” Pang writes. “Everyone basically knows how to do it, but with a little work and understanding, you can learn to do it a lot better.” Though he’s obviously never heard me sing, I take his point.
And he illustrates it well, showing how the secret behind many of history’s most creative authors, scientists, thinkers and politicians was that they were very serious and disciplined about rest. “Creativity doesn’t drive the work; the work drives creativity,” Pang writes. “A routine creates a landing place for the muse.”
And as Pang notes, modern science has now validated what the ancients knew: Work “provided the means to live,” while rest “gave meaning to life.” Thousands of years later, we have the science to prove it. “In the last couple decades,” he writes, “discoveries in sleep research, psychology, neuroscience, organizational behavior, sports medicine, sociology and other fields have given us a wealth of insight into the unsung but critical role that rest plays in strengthening the brain, enhancing learning, enabling inspiration, and making innovation sustainable.”
We can’t declare victory quite yet. To experience the kind of rest that fuels creativity and productivity, we need to detach from work. But in our technology-obsessed reality, we carry our entire work world with us wherever we go, right in our pockets. It’s not enough to leave the office, when the office goes to dinner or to a game or home with you. And it’s not enough just to put our devices on vibrate or refrain from checking them. As Sherry Turkle noted in her book “Reclaiming Conversation,” the mere presence of a smartphone or device, even when not being used, alters our inner world. So achieving the kind of detachment we need for productive rest can’t really be done without detaching physically from our devices.
And even though the science has come in, still standing in the way is our ingrained workplace culture that valorizes burnout. “With a few notable exceptions,” Pang writes, “today’s leaders treat stress and overwork as a badge of honor, brag about how little they sleep and how few vacation days they take, and have their reputations as workaholics carefully tended by publicists and corporate P.R. firms.”
Turning that around will require a lot of work. And rest. The path of least resistance — accepting the habits of our current busyness culture and the technology that envelops us and keeps us perpetually connected — won’t make us more productive or more fulfilled. Instead of searching life hacks to make us more efficient and creative, we can avail ourselves of the life hack that’s been around as long as we have: rest. But we have to be as deliberate about it as we are about work. “Rest is not something that the world gives us,” Pang writes. “It’s never been a gift. It’s never been something you do when you’ve finished everything else. If you want rest, you have to take it. You have to resist the lure of busyness, make time for rest, take it seriously, and protect it from a world that is intent on stealing it.”
And you can start by putting down your phone — better yet, put it in another room — and picking up this much-needed book.
Arianna Huffington is the founder and chief executive of Thrive Global and the author of “The Sleep Revolution.”
Arnold Schwarzenegger, long-time eco activist, Picks His Next FightRead More
By Rachel Attias
It's no secret that nature has an incredible healing power. Just think about the rejuvenated feeling you get after a hike, a bike ride, a relaxing walk in the woods or even just spending some time sitting outside and observing your surroundings. We often turn to nature when we feel stressed or anxious, and it never fails to lighten our spirits.
A desire for a strong connection with nature is innate in all humans. The American biologist and writer E.O. Wilson created the term Biophilia. He defined this idea as “the connections that human beings subconsciously seek with the rest of life.” We are connected to all living things, and strengthening these connections by cultivating our natural environment also allows us to strengthen ourselves.
The Science Behind the Nature & Wellbeing Connection
There is plenty of scientific evidence out there about the long and short term health benefits of engaging with nature, and in fact specific plants can be used to target all sorts of different ailments or needs. For example, a person suffering from asthma can find almost instant relief when surrounded by trees that help to clean the air.
Heart disease, which is the number one cause of death in adults in the United States, can be greatly alleviated through spending time in nature. Studies show that exercising outdoors, as opposed to inside or in an urban location, have markedly more beneficial effects for people with heart disease or respiratory issues. People who regularly engage in green exercise have lower blood pressure, higher self esteem, and a lighter mood than their counterparts who exercise indoors.
A relationship with nature can also help children diagnosed with ADD/ADHD or are on the Autism Spectrum. Children with ADD/ADHD often concentrate better and stay focused for longer when they work outside. Studies also show that playing outdoors can significantly alleviate the symptoms of children with autism. Spending time outdoors, in beautiful natural spaces is beneficial for both our physical and mental wellbeing.
Harnessing the Power of Nature Through Landscape Design
Through the art of landscape design we can not only harness the healing powers of nature, but we can also create visually stunning spaces that calm the mind, heal the body, and please the senses. The Corduroy Studio is committed to bringing the healing powers of nature to your yard and daily life through conscientious and holistic landscape design.
The Corduroy Studio founder, landscape designer Adam Newton, creates designs that transform your yard into a Micro Estate®. Newton's Micro Estates® and Proud Gardens are visually stunning landscapes that work with the natural blueprint presented by your particular yard, and also take into account your health and wellbeing to create a space that works for both your mind and your body. The Corduroy Studio understands that we are complex beings, and our bodies and minds work together and are often ground down by daily life. With this in mind, we design and implement landscapes that work holistically, enhancing your well-being and decreasing your stress with every breath of fresh air.
Micro Estates® redefine our way of living by allowing us to truly live comfortably and in unison with nature. With an elegantly designed landscape in your yard, you can walk out your front door and be transported to a stunning natural world that is also healing you holistically with every moment you enjoy it. Bring a book, a cup of tea, or your yoga mat outside, watch your children play among the flowers, trees and plants, and relax into the knowledge that your Micro Estate® is bringing the healing energies of nature to your home.
Adam Newton, The Corduroy Studio founder, firmly understands the connecting healing power of nature, and uses design to bring that beneficial force into clients' yards and daily lives. As landscape designers we also strive to minimize negative impacts on our environment, which include our yards and public green spaces. In that vein, we present an article from Modern Farmer that discusses the environmental impact of traditional burials and offers innovative ways to honor loved ones' by turning their cremains into a tree.
See the original article at the link below & read on:
From the Ashes: 3 Companies That’ll Turn Cremains into a Tree
By Andrew Amelinckx on April 29, 2016
What we now consider traditional burials (but are, in fact, a little more than 100 years old) are pretty unfriendly to the environment. Embalming fluid is nasty stuff: it contains formaldehyde, which is a carcinogen. More than 4.8 million gallons of embalming fluid are buried each year in the U.S. alone. Additionally, metal caskets don’t biodegrade, concrete vaults use up natural resources to manufacture, and some cemeteries use herbicides to keep their lawns looking tidy.
If you or your loved ones want to be environmentally friendly, even in death, you have a few options and considerations: Green burials—the practice of “returning a person to the earth” by burying in a biodegradable casket, without embalming fluid or a concrete vault—is legal in all 50 states but saddled with rules and regulations governing how and where you can bury. Not all cemeteries allow green burials (but you can find one near you here). And when deciding between burial versus cremation, consider the issue of dwindling cemetery space: It’s estimated that between 2024 and 2042, about 76 million Americans will reach the average life expectancy of 78 years; when they pass on, they’ll require burial space roughly the size of Las Vegas.
For people who choose cremation, several companies have created biodegradable urns that, when combined with specific soil mixtures, use cremains to help grow a tree. In a way, these products hark back to a time before the creation of the “traditional” burial system—when our ancestors’ remains went straight into the ground and provided sustenance for all sorts of plant life— but in a 21st century, space-saving, environmentally-friendly manner. Here are three companies that have their own particular products to help you continue the cycle of life.
Bios Urn and Incube
Bios, a Spanish company who wants to “convert cemeteries into forests,” recently raised more than €73,000 (about $82,800) through a Kickstarter campaign for their new product, the Bios Incube. This gadget pairs with the company’s existing biodegradable urn and tree-growing kit to allow you to grow a seedling in your home, rather than find a burial spot. Incube is smart: It tracks your plant’s temperature, electrical conductivity, solar irradiance, and soil humidity; using that data, it automatically waters. Roger Moliné, the COO and co-founder, tells Modern Farmer in an email says he came up with the idea after receiving requests from a number of customers who complained of limited cemetery space or having no place to plant their biodegradable urn.
The Incube can water the tree for up to 20 days before you need to refill it, and connects to your smartphone or tablet through an app to keep you alerted to what’s happening with your seedling.
Bios will begin taking pre-orders next month on their website and expects to start shipping the Incube to their Kickstarter funders by the end of the year, with a general release tentatively scheduled for sometime in 2018. The company is also working on creating Bios Incube centers where people can have their trees incubated for them.
“We really believe it can help people who live in big cities with limited space for burials, and for those who want to take on an active role in growing something from just a seed,” says Moliné. “We decided it was okay to bring the process of death and dying up to speed with 21st-century demands and requests. We also wanted to create something that was environmentally friendly, and could encourage even those who don’t garden or aren’t used to growing plants or trees, to take on a new activity and find peace in a different practice.”
Bios Urn: $145 (choice of a five types of trees, including maple, pine, ash, gingko, and beech)
Bios Incube: Tentatively priced at $550 (includes a free Bios Urn)
The Living Urn
Based in Colorado, The Living Urn’s system includes a biodegradable urn packaged in a handmade bamboo container, with a seedling, wood chips, a proprietary soil mix, and an ash-neutralizing agent that helps counteract the chemical properties of cremated remains to produce a balanced growing environment. According to co-founder Mark Brewer, the company provides seedlings—with a wide range of between 15 and 20 choices of tree types based on the customer’s growing zone—instead of seeds, which helps ensure you’ll actually be able to grow the tree, as seed germination can be tricky for amateurs.
Founded by three life-long friends, the idea for the product was initially conceived by another of the company’s partners, Brandon Patty, following the death of a friend. Patty wanted to honor his memory by planting a tree using his cremains. A few years later the three entrepreneurs, who all had an environmentalist bent, began working on the idea, with the help of arborists, soil scientists, and eco-friendly manufacturers. After about a year-and-a-half, the trio created to The Living Urn. They have also added a version for pets.
“We feel lucky to have such a great product and are excited to get the word out and have more and more families be made aware of this uplifting option that’s available to them,” says Brewer in an email.
The Living Urn: $135 (with choice of tree) or $119 without seedling
Pet version: $119 (with choice of tree) or $99 without seedling
EterniTrees Biodegradable Urn
EterniTrees, which is based in Oregon, uses a proprietary growing medium that helps release beneficial plant nutrients found in cremated ashes. (On their own, cremains aren’t actually plant friendly.) The urn holds about a cup of ashes so there’s the option of planting several trees using the cremains, scattering some of the ashes, or memorializing them in some other way. The company offers a choice of around 15 tree types based on your growing area, as well as a “Personal Choice” urn that allows you to locally source the seeds you choose to germinate.
If the seed doesn’t grow or an animal destroys the seedling, the company will send you more seeds and growing medium, or an actual seedling if seasonable available, for free.
Eternitrees Biodegradable Urn: $98 (includes choice of tree type)
Pet Version: $98 (includes choice of tree type)
Here is an informative and eye-opening article about the American peoples' preference for renewable energy over fossil fuels. Read the full article below or click to the original article:
Two-Thirds Of American Public Want Clean Energy Instead Of Fossil Fuels
By Robin Andrews - Jan. 26, 2017
Renewable energy – particularly wind and solar – has never been as cheap or as accessible as it is today. As the rest of the world takes a hint, the new Trump administration seems set on opening up oil pipelines and curiously digging up coal.
Yes, Trump’s in the White House and Congress is dominated by Republicans, so they might think they have a mandate to go fossil fuel crazy. However, apart from losing the popular vote by a considerable margin, the newly minted President should also note that most Americans – including many Republicans – do not agree with him on this issue.
Earlier this month, Pew Research conducted a survey of around 1,500 Americans from a range of demographics and with a variety of political affiliations.
When asked about what the nation’s priorities should be when it comes to investing in specific energy supplies, 65 percent said that alternative sources of energy, including wind and solar, should take the top spot. This is a jump up from the 60 percent of Americans who thought the same back in December 2014.
The new survey reveals that just 27 percent of the American public want the fossil fuel sector to expand. Even back in 2014, this value was just one point higher at 28 percent, down from 39 percent in late-2012. It seems, then, that support for coal, oil, and natural gas as a form of energy generation has been perhaps surprisingly low for several years now.
The same survey also notes that 81 percent of those that are registered Democrats or independents that lean towards the Democratic Party support the expansion of clean energy sources. Registered Republicans or Republican-leaning independents come in far lower in supporting this view, at 45 percent.
In fact, this survey reveals that a person’s position on the American political spectrum is a clear indicator of alternative energy support. The more liberal a person is, regardless of their party affiliation, the more likely they are to support it, whereas the opposite is true for conservative voters.
It should also come as no surprise then that the more liberal a person is, the more likely they are to accept that contemporary climate change is real, that it is man-made, and that it is a dire threat.
Age is also a factor here – 73 percent of respondents aged 18 to 49 want alternative energy to be a priority, a value that falls to 55 percent for those aged 50 and above.
Above all else, the take home message here is that the vast majority of the American public want the country to eschew fossil fuels for clean energy. Experts agree that it makes clear environmental and economic sense to do so too.
January 20th 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again.
Are you listening, Mr President?
For most people, spending time outdoors in well-designed public spaces is one of the highlights to city life. Why, then, do we spend comparatively little time and money on designing them? In this article, originally posted on Metropolis magazine as "Designing Outdoor Public Spaces is Vital to the Future of our Cities" Kirt Martin, the vice-president of design and marketing at outdoor furniture designer Landscape Forms, makes the case that landscape architects and industrial designers working in the public realm are key for our cities' health and happiness.
All of us treasure our time in outdoor spaces. So why do we devote so little of our attention to their design?
As a designer in the site-furniture industry, I am always curious about the value people place on the outdoors. I like to ask people I meet to describe a great city like New York, Chicago, or Paris and what they most remember about being there. Or I ask them, if they won $25,000 to spend on a dream vacation, where they would go and what they would do. Their fond memories of a celebrated city or an escape into the wild often have little in common, except for one thing: Their most memorable and meaningful experiences almost always revolve around the outdoors.
We have studies showing that people tend to be healthier and happier, and can enjoy longer lives, in areas where they have access to nature, including green urban spaces. Outdoor spaces are some of the least expensive to create and can pay some of the highest returns on investment—in terms of community life, health and wellness, and the generation of economic activity in surrounding areas. As more people—from young professionals to retirees—move back into cities, green public spaces and vibrant streetscapes are often cited as key factors for attracting residents and businesses.
Despite this, we do not give outdoor spaces the same value and financial support that we give to buildings and interiors. We calculate the square-foot dollar value of buildings and interiors but don’t do the same for a square foot outdoors. We have not made a strong business case for designed outdoor spaces—we can and should be making this case. I also believe that design and innovation in public and privately owned outdoor space is lagging—and the first step to address that challenge is to better leverage the skills and talents of landscape architects, the professionals best prepared to design them.
This is a time in human history when landscape architecture has something really important to say. We should listen. Landscape architects practice a discipline rooted in holistic thinking. They understand the natural environment, the built environment, and the interface between them. And they are ideally prepared to take leadership in shaping outdoor spaces and framing public awareness about them.
Recent high-profile projects such as the High Line and Millennium Park have achieved place-making of the highest order, and the star landscape architects responsible for them have captured public attention. But there is a whole legion of talented, inspired landscape architects out there who should also be at the center of envisioning and designing outdoor space.
This is also a time when industry can play a constructive role. Those of us who provide the site elements that help shape and activate these spaces need to do our part, and I’m excited about taking on that challenge, researching methods to make the case for the return on investment for well-designed outdoor spaces measured in terms of community, identity, well-being, environment, and dollars spent. I am focused on driving innovation with new types of scalable solutions that go beyond the standard litter bin, bike rack, and bench, to help people enjoy great outdoor experiences. The outdoors starts only a half-inch outside the door, so we need new ideas for spaces adjacent to buildings. We also need to integrate technology in public spaces, but in ways that respect the special qualities of the environment.
I am excited by the work and believe that, in collaboration with landscape architects and other design professionals, all of us in the site-furniture industry can elevate awareness and promote greater investment in outdoor spaces that create memory and meaning. We can make a real difference in the urban landscape that is our future.
Kirt Martin is the vice president of design and marketing at Landscape Forms, leading the company’s creative teams for product development, marketing, and marketing communications. Martin is an award-winning industrial designer, and previously directed design activities at Turnstone, a division of Steelcase.