From Vacants to Vegetables: How do I build a garden?

As reported in my last post, I obtained rights to build a community garden on a vacant lot from the City of Baltimore. But I have never actually gardened, and had no idea how to build a garden from scratch. After doing my homework, and looking into examples of urban gardens online and around the city, I had a better idea of where to start. So this is what I had to start with (see above). Not so great in the natural light department, but at least there wasn’t any trash to clean up!

The lot. 414 E 26th …read more

Deeper Than Fracking

UNspOILed has covered fracking–otherwise known as hydraulic fracturing twice in the last six months and this week’s post will make a third. The initial post is titled “Maryland’s Choice: Renewable Energy of Fracking?” and it explained many of the ways fracking would hurt rather than help the state of Maryland. The following month’s posting, titled “Who Gives A Frack?!” examined the process and attempted to give an unbiased explanation of its benefits and consequences.

This month, however, is about how and why those consequences manifest.

According to Reuters, “seismologist Austin Holland of the Oklahoma Geological Survey said …read more

UN Climate Panel: Poor Will Suffer More from Climate Change

bangladesh flooding 1 (Photo credit: Peter Casier)

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a UN panel, met in Japan earlier this week and released the second of three parts of a report to be published this year on the effects of climate change. The report attempts to discover the affects of climate change on human society in the coming decades. After September’s section of the report found climate change to be “the greatest challenge of our time,” what additional findings would the second part of the report offer?

The report found that unless we act to reduce carbon emissions …read more

Raising Awareness of Climate Change Through Art

Château des Ducs – Isaac Cordal (Photo credit: Objectif Nantes)

Climate change has long been one of our recurring topics here at UNspOILed – no surprise given its importance to the future of the environment. However, because it is such a frequent topic, it can be easy to ignore yet another article discussing it. With this kind of awareness fatigue, it becomes imperative to craft new and innovative ways of presenting the issue.

One innovative way is through art. An excellent example of this is the work of Isaac Cordal, an artist who constructs small but powerful scenes around …read more

From Vacants to Vegetables: You Got Your Garden Plot, Now What?

414 E 26th Street, Baltimore, MD. Here is the vacant property I adopted. Not too big, but a good amount of space to get started.

So I got my plot, pictured right, exactly one month after applying. Now what do I do? How do I go about turning a vacant city lot into a vegetable garden? Let’s start off with what I can’t do, and what I have to do.

According to the license agreement with the city, I can’t install “permanent landscaping,” such as an orchard or a tree farm. This is due to the fact that at …read more

No Clean Water? Suck It Up!

TECHNICIAN HOLDS SAMPLES OF “DIRTY” AND “CLEAN” WATER AFTER TREATMENT – NARA – 543808 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Suck it up!” may be the words residents of developing nations begin to hear more and more when in search for clean drinking water. Well, at least that’s what social entrepreneurs from companies like Life Straw are hoping the 780 million people that lack access to clean water will do. Like more than half a dozen water purification for-profit ventures that actively participate currently, Life Straw recognizes that clean water is a global concern.

Water.org morosely reports that 3.4 million …read more

The City Energy Project: Better Buildings, Better Cities

Chicago City Hall Green Roof

Earlier this year, 10 mayors of large American cities announced a partnership with the NRDC (National Resources Defense Council) and the Institute for Market Transformation in the new City Energy Project. The goal of the project is to improve large public and private-sector building energy efficiency to reduce energy use, and thus decrease city pollution and save residents and businesses money. If the project succeeds, the savings could reach $1 billion nationwide, and the hope is that these cities will act as a model for communities across the nation and the world.

But what …read more

From Research to Change: The importance of communicating effectively

In a recent interview in The New York Times, the actor Alan Alda discusses how he combined his career in acting and interest in science to help start The Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science, located at Stony Brook University. He notes the importance of scientists learning how to effectively talk about their work:

Image of Alan Alda taken at the World Science Festival launch press conference (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“[...] Scientists often don’t speak to the rest of us the way they would if we were standing there full of curiosity. They sometimes spray information at us without …read more

From Vacants to Vegetables: So You Want to Garden in the City?

Urban blight turned into gardens (Photo credit: Bob Elderberry)

Almost one year ago, I moved from rural New Hampshire to urban, post-industrial Baltimore. I had lived in cities for most of my life, but always felt a visceral connection to the “great outdoors”. I also love to cook and am a big fan of anything DIY. This past summer I bought several herbs and vegetables for my apartment to cook with. Window space quickly disappeared, but my desire to grow did not. It became clear that I needed more space; I needed an urban garden.

But, how does one …read more

Oh Goody, More Garbage!

Trash bags and cardboard boxes (Photo credit: www.mnn.com)

Nothing says “Spring is right around the corner” quite like receiving multiple baby shower, wedding, and housewarming invitations in the mail. So far, in 2014 I have a housewarming and a 1-year old’s birthday party this month, a wedding in April, a baby shower in May, and two more weddings in September and November. Apparently, I may be an adult.

Besides feeling relatively old, feelings of guilt started to creep in when thinking about the mountain of wasted wrapping paper, cardboard boxes, and of course over-priced and under-used gifts these …read more