The Urban Homestead

The urban homestead: your guide to self-sufficient living in the heart of the city, by Kelly Coyne & Erik Knutzen, features a wealth of information for eco-conscious city dwellers looking to do their own food harvesting and preserving and get involved in urban homesteading. Recently released is also a revised and expanded edition of the book that features new projects. For further information, the authors also maintain an excellent blog (The Homegrown Evolution) for those interested in this topic.

The Urban Homestead focuses on how to depend less on big box living and features ways of living a more self-sufficient life by growing your own food, saving energy or producing your own, preserving food, all while living in an urban area with limited land.

No Impact Man, on DVD

New York City resident Colin Beavan and his wife and toddler daughter fight the “consumerism coma” and go a year of having “no impact” on the environment. For them this means, among other things, no Starbucks lattes, no toilet paper, no cars, buying nothing new, and eventually going without electricity. His wife has a hard time at first, but she continues to support her husband’s passion and plans for writing his book, No impact man: the adventures of a guilty liberal who attempts to save the planet. The documentary No Impact Man chronicles their life during this period.

I did cringe at the no refrigerator factor, and the potty training a two year old with no toilet paper, but it is a very interesting look/ reminder at what humans rely on, and the impact some of our consumption has on the world. His blog is an extension of the book and his mission- check it out.

Take an Earth Day Hike @Bird Hills Nature Area

Celebrate Earth Day by taking a spring nature walk, led by the City of Ann Arbor Natural Area Preservation staff. View native plants and trees, and learn about the ecological restoration going on at this site. Keep your eyes open for some spring wildflowers.

Thursday, April 22 | 7-8:30 PM | Bird Hills parking lot off Newport Road, just north of M-14

Bird Hills trailBird Hills trail

Ann Arbor Area Earth Day Festival

Ann Arbor Area Earth Day TreeAnn Arbor Area Earth Day Tree

The Ann Arbor District Library will be at the Ann Arbor Area Earth Day Festival on Sunday, April 25th from noon to 4 p.m. at Washtenaw Community College - Morris Lawrence Building. Visit our booth to make a greeting card using recycled materials.

Check out these great library materials about Earth Day:
Stories To Go: Our Earth
Celebrating Earth Day: A Sourcebook Of Activities And Experiments
The Man From Clear Lake : Earth Day Founder Senator Gaylord Nelson
Every Day is Earth Day

Free e-Waste Recycling

Do you have an computer, monitor, or other type of e-Waste that you want to get rid of but don't know how to? The Office of Campus Sustainability along with Ann Arbor Public Schools are sponsoring a free event to recycle unwanted electronics in a responsible, earth friendly way. This event is a part of U-M's month long celebration of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. On Saturday, April 24 between 9am and 2pm you can bring any unwanted computer systems, A/V equipment, hand held devices, and other types of e-Waste to Pioneer High School for safe and environmentally conscious recycling. e-Waste is the fastest growing waste stream and distributes hazardous chemicals into the environment. By recycling your e-Waste in this way, you will be protecting the environment, conserving natural resources, acting responsibly, and providing raw materials for more products to be made.

There is also an institutional e-Waste event on Thursday April 22 and Friday April 23 between 9am and 2pm at Washtenaw Intermediate School District. Registration is required for this event.

For more information on this event and how to spread the word, visit their website.recyclerecycle

Ponyo - "The Little Mermaid" Reincarnated

Ponyo, a children's animated film released in theaters in 2009, is a great, fresh take on the classic Hans Christian Andersen tale "The Little Mermaid."

In Ponyo, "a young boy named Sosuke rescues a goldfish named Ponyo, and they embark on a fantastic journey of friendship before Ponyo's father forces her to return to the sea. Ponyo's desire to be human upsets the balance of nature and only Ponyo's mother, a beautiful sea goddess, can restore nature's balance and make Ponyo's dreams come true."

With a famous English voice cast, including stars such as Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon, Tina Fey, Liam Neeson, Cloris Leachman, and Lily Tomlin, Ponyo is entertaining and intriguing, though it may be a little slow or long for younger children.

There is also a bit of an environmental theme in the movie, influencing the audience to help keep the oceans clean.

Oddly enough, there are diverse other reworkings of "The Little Mermaid." These include a teen fiction novel, Midnight Pearls, in Debbie Viguié's Once Upon a Time series; an adult fantasy novel entitled The Mermaid's Madness by Jim C. Hines; and of course, the most well-known, the Disney film adaptation of the story.

Our Future Great Lakes Ecosystem

Residents of the Great Lakes region share a devotion to our magnificent freshwater lakes for the many ways they enhance our lives. The lakes are part of a living ecosystem and their health, and that of the organisms that depend on them, is greatly influenced by human activity. James Diana, Director of the Michigan Sea Grant College Program, will review the massive environmental changes since European settlement. He'll look at current issues like Asian carp, round gobies, zebra and quagga mussels, botulism and harmful algal blooms to help us think about the future of this amazing natural resource. Join him at the Downtown Library, Monday, Feb. 15, 7-8:30 pm.

Shoofly? No, Stonefly

huron riverhuron river

The the Huron River Watershed Council needs volunteers on January 30 for their annual Stonefly Search. People congregate at different streams or points along the river to collect insects that live under the ice. Only one person actually goes in the water but everyone examines samples which can tell a lot about the health of the river. Although it's cold, people dress warmly and there are always loads of goodies and hot drinks available at their New Center headquarters on North Main. This is a great family event and a novel way to spend time outdoors. Deadline for sign-up is this coming Monday, January 11.

The Vegetarian Myth

Lierre Keith is passionate about eating in a manner which does not cause suffering to living creatures or the planet. Her answer to that mandate for 20 years was to be a vegan. But after 20 years of feeling tired, cold and hungry all the time, in constant pain from her disintegrating spine, and after learning how the destructive forces of agriculture and eating outside one’s local food base are degrading the planet, she has flip-flopped into a passionate crusader for the moral, political and nutritional imperative of eating grass-fed animals from local farms. This is not a journey she has made lightly or even willingly. The facts she bares in The Vegetarian Myth have led her to her new orientation - facts which are as unsettling as they are convincing. This book adds greatly to our understanding of eating and living well.

Winter Adventures -- Youth Magazine Update


There's no denying it, winter has definitely arrived -- and with snow predicted for some time this week, it's time to plan how to keep yourself entertained when the weather turns icy.

If you're an outdoorsy type, Boy's Life Magazine has all the information you will ever need, with articles on ice fishing, making emergency shelters out of snow, and ice climbing -- on frozen grain silos. (Strange, but true.)

For those of us who prefer to stay indoors with a hot cup of cocoa, Nintendo Power Magazine provides the latest information on the best new games -- like Legend of Zelda Spirit Tracks, the first Legend of Zelda game where Zelda gets to go adventuring herself! My personal favorite, for the name alone, is Zombie Panic in Wonderland in which your favorite fairy tale characters guessed it ...zombies.

Bridging the gap between outdoor adventure and vegging out is National Geographic Kids, with an article on the return of the lynx to Colorado, and a review of upcoming Disney original The Princess and the Frog.Owl Magazine and its sister publication ChickaDee get in on the act with articles on arctic animals, gifts you can make yourself, and, in ChickaDee, an up-close look at Quebec's Hotel de Glace, a hotel made entirely of ice.

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