Blog : June 2012
Don't miss the final two showings of "The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs," which take place at 4 and 8 p.m. Saturday, June 30, at The Music Hall Loft, 131 Congress St., Portsmouth.
Consumers enamored with technology may think little beyond the convenience, versatility and wonder that is their iPhone. But the back story to how poorly paid and poorly treated workers manufacture these gadgets should give cell phone users pause: The workers pay a steep price for our convenience, one that we don’t necessarily register — until now.
A play debuting in Portsmouth casts a critical, insightful and often funny light on how these devices are produced, and in a larger sense explores what desiring these marvels of modern technology say about us – a high-tech assessment of the human condition, if you will.
Whether donating your time or money to charity, or taking steps to help the environment, doing the right thing creates its own rewards. But when doing the right thing also adds to your bottom line, you receive double rewards.
York, Maine, resident Hilary Clark recently installed a solar electric system, comprising 30 solar electric modules — also known as photovoltaic modules — onto her roof to reduce her use of expensive, wasteful, climate-change-causing fossil fuels, and as a result, will save up to $125 a month on her electric bill.
“I’ve always wanted to be off the grid to produce my own electricity,” Hilary says. “It’s something that I’ve wanted to do since the ‘70s.” She’s still on the grid, but, turning the tables on the traditional producer-consumer relationship, she will be able to sell her excess solar energy back to Central Maine Power.
This type of solar electric system, called “grid-tied,” is significantly less expensive and more robust than battery-based “off-grid” systems. A grid-tied solar array will generate electricity any time the sun is shining, powering electric loads in a home, or, if it produces excess, exporting electricity to the grid and receiving a credit. Credits issued by the utility can be carried up to a year.
Hilary, a member of York’s Energy Steering Committee and the York Land Trust, built her house in 1993, implementing the green practices of the time, almost all experimental, including building in a solar hot water system. She considered putting in photovoltaic cells but balked at installing the requisite bulky bank of batteries. So she waited.
Fast forward almost two decades and we see Hilary attending a lecture by Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org. He is one of the leading advocates for persuading the world community to accurately assess our climate and for spreading the message that we can’t continue to put excess carbon into it because fossil fuels will irrevocably and radically alter our atmosphere.
Eager to expand her growing Orchard Montessori Friends School, in 2000 Alica Johnson-Grafe took over a turn of the century historic grange hall in York, Maine. Rechristening it Brixham Montessori Friends School (BMFS), Alica – with the help of a group of dedicated parents – established the school as a nonprofit in 2001. Five years later, the space now fully outgrown, BMFS purchased and moved the school to a two-story, 9000-plus square foot building in York previously owned by a small software company.
After weeks of wall-tearing and shape-shifting, the space was transformed into what it remains today: A simple yet sense-piquing testament to a career’s work and philosophy, and the educational tradition from whence it sprang. As of this past school year, Johnson-Grafe’s thriving charge boasts 85 students, six classrooms, and a staff of 18 educators dedicated to helping the thriving school continue to serve as a regional model for alternative childhood education.
For those unfamiliar with the movement, Montessori has its roots in the late 19th century, when Maria Montessori first developed her educational model pivoting on ideals of auto-education, independence and responsibility-guided freedom. Instead of bureaucratically regimented classrooms, stock textbooks, and curricula tailored primarily towards test preparation – the big box store model, if you will – Montessori schools, and Brixham in particular, seek to provide more community-oriented, dynamic experience. Such distinctions are apparent as soon as you step inside the school’s front door, where on the other side you can’t help but feel you’re inside a home – a child’s dream home at that – arather than the brick and mortar primary schools of our youths.
Inspired in equal measure by Montessori and the Quaker-inspired Friends movement, Johnson-Grafe – who alsocites her degree in Family Studies and experience attending a quaint, six-grade school in rural New Hampshire as major impetuses for her eventual educational path – says she wants her school to be a beacon of simplicity, equality, community, and peace. While public school systems around the country struggle with the fallout from ever-ballooning class sizes, Brixham’s 7:1 student-to-teacher ratio assures that ever student gets the attention, and the creative encouragement, they deserve.
Conservation Law Foundation, Leading Advocate for Protection of New England’s Environment, Joins Green Alliance
Whether the snow-capped White Mountains, the fiery glow of autumn foliage, or the distinct rocky shores along the coast, New Hampshire’s environment has long been an attraction for tourists and a source of pride for residents. With so much natural beauty to admire, protecting the quality and the integrity of the state’s environment is no small feat. For Conservation Law Foundation (CLF), the challenge is well worth it.
Founded in 1966, CLF has long been a defender of New England’s environmental heritage, helping shape the decisions that lead to a higher quality of life and future for our region. Through its extensive work in law, policy, science, and outreach, CLF has for decades contributed to a healthy, clean future for New England and for New Hampshire.
A leader in environmental initiatives and advocacy, CLF is a non-profit organization committed to advancing solutions that address the challenges of climate change, cleaning up our air and water, protecting the ocean, promoting sustainable agriculture, and wisely managing our natural resources by working with businesses, organizations, and policy-makers to achieve its goal of a thriving New England. CLF established a New Hampshire office in 1997.
The organization’s recent decision to join Green Alliance – a Portsmouth-based “green business union” – reflects CLF’s intention to collaborate with the environmentally conscientious members and businesses within the Green Alliance community. Christophe Courchesne, Staff Attorney for CLF in New Hampshire, in describing his organization’s commitment to fostering local relationships, says “CLF is a regional organization, but we’re interested in engaging people closer to where they live while bringing global and regional issues into local contexts.”
Imagine a world where it is never again necessary to stop at a gas station, yet driving back and forth to work is still possible. It sounds pretty amazing doesn’t it? This is becoming the reality with the help of Revision Energy, a company that specializes in solar energy systems. Located in Portland and Liberty, Maine as well as Exeter, NH, Revision Energy serves Northern New England and provides everything from design to installation and service for homeowners and businesses.
Electric cars have increased in popularity since the Prius has been put on the market and the demand for a greener form of transportation has increased. Maine and New Hampshire have the highest per capita CO2 emissions with 50% of that coming from transportation. With that grim fact in mind Revision Energy is building Maine’s first solar-powered electric vehicle charging station.
The charging station will offer EV drivers the opportunity to charge their electric cars free of cost at the new location in Portland. The station will be comprised of 33 photovoltaic panels, which will produce 10,000 kWh annually, making it possible to power Revision Energy’s Portland office as well as charge electric cars. It only takes 12 solar panels to power an electric vehicle 12,000 miles of driving, so it is clear how much power this station will have.
The new Chevy Volt plugs into the Level II EV Charger and will completely charge in about 4 hours. The full charge will give you about 40 miles until the gas-powered engine kicks in to give you another 350 miles of coverage. The gas-powered engine works to simply re-charge the battery instead of directly running the engine like the Prius. If a commute to work is around 20 miles, the Chevy Volt will be able to do this round-trip twice before having to use a drop of gasoline.
The station will be the first of its kind, offering New Englander’s a chance to get a head start in this carbon-free future that we are entering. The station is powered by solar panels on the roof of the building which means the electricity needed to charge the cars will be provided by the sun, using zero fossil fuels!
There are many government incentives regarding solar energy, making it worthwhile to invest in a solar panel system and electric vehicle. A 30% federal tax credit and a $3,750 rebate for homeowners in New Hampshire makes it worthwhile to invest in this type of system. It is estimated that the cost would equal 2 years of gas for a regular car, where this system would power an electric vehicle for decades and never have to pump a gallon of gas again.
Revision Energy’s charging station will be officially opened to the public with a launch party in which guests will be invited to charge their electric vehicles for free. The event will be Thursday July 26th from 5:00 to 8:00pm at the showroom, 142 Presumpscot St. Portland, ME. For more information about the launch event, click here.
For more information visit www.revisionenergy.com
For a piece of sea-bound land temporarily called home just a few months out of the year, Star Island would seem an unlikely place for “green” to take permanent hold – why with a lone, albeit beautiful hotel, and a smattering of centuries old houses and cottages to its name.
Lately, however, the second largest – and most frequented – of New Hampshire’s Isles of Shoals has sought to prove that improved amenities and sustainability-minded practices need not be mutually exclusive.
Earlier this month the Star Island Family Conference and Retreat Center officially put online the island’s alternative energy cornerstone, in the form of a solar hot water system for the village’s 19th century cottage.
For over a century, cottage guests had to make do by carrying hot water in pitchers to the basins in their rooms. Now, residents will be able to enjoy a warm respite from elements that – even in July and August – don’t always feel summer-like.
Spearheading the installation was Jack Farrell, the Island Facilities Superintendent. Farrell in turn reached out to Jack Bingham, owner of the Seacoast Energy Alternatives (SEA) Solar Store in Dover, to secure the actual system.
Last year, Bingham became the exclusive local dealer for Germany-based Wagner & Co.’s new SECUSOL Smart Drainback Technology System, for years a go-to technology in Europe, where government subsidies and mandates have helped make alternative energy a growing staple.
How does SECUSOL work? Like most solar hot water systems, it starts with roof-mounted panels or collectors. During operation, a “solar liquid” flows from the heat exchanger (located in the tank) through the collectors, while air is transferred to the upper part of the heat exchanger. Once the tank reaches its “energy maximum”, the system shuts off automatically.
“This is going to help make the whole experience of Star Island that much more enjoyable for visitors,” says Jack Bingham, who recently completed a similar project at the Crossroads House in Portsmouth. “And the best part is, they’re not sacrificing energy in order to attain it; they’re actually saving it.”
Spirits are part of our social lives, especially beer in the state of New Hampshire. On Thursday, Smuttynose is releasing a new sub-style of IPA that uses rye malt, and they’re inviting you to be one of the first to try this new style of IPA. I know I will be there!
The new brew uses Smuttynose’s most famous IPA – Finest Kind IPA – as a template for this new beer. A few changes have been made to the recipe, particularly with the addition of rye malt. Smuttynose also changed the recipe by adding 30% rye malt and swapping Aromatic malt for another, known as C-60 (aromatic malt gives the beer a strong malt aroma, as well as a rich color, whereas C-60 tends to add some sweetness).
On top of adding the rye malt, Smuttynose lowered the mash temperature by a few degrees, giving the beer “less body and more drinkability.” Also, the dry hopping was raised to four times the level of their big seller, Finest Kind. When the hopping is raised, a great, hoppy aroma is present.
During this release, Smuttynose will be pouring free samples, meaning you’ll be able to try before you buy. They only ask that, when you arrive, you park in back of the building and enter via the tour entrance.
The Rye IPA comes in a 750 ml cork finished champagne bottle, sold at $15 each, and is only available at Smuttynose while supplies last. Hopefully we’ll see you there!
The Great Bay Discovery Center’s popular summer events are a great way to engage your children and family in the wonders of the Great Bay. The Great Bay Discovery Center is a conservation-educational facility owned by the Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve located in Greenland, NH. There are a slew of summer programs offered for the entire family, including grandma and grandpa!
Join the crew at the discovery center for Bayventures, a series of events for children ages 7-11. Taking place in July and August, this environmental education series includes events that will connect your children with the outdoors and get them learning about the amazing Great Bay ecosystem. Sessions run two hours in length and there is a nominal charge that helps with materials and supplies. Pre-registration is required for all programs. For more information and to pre-register call (603)-778-0015.
Another amazing series from the Great Bay Discover Center for a slightly younger age group is the Once Upon an Estuary series. For children ages 4-6, accompanied by an adult, there will be story-telling, games and an opportunity for craft making! Most of these will take place outside, so dress appropriately. A small fee is required for materials and pre-registration is required for all programs. For more information and to pre-register call (603)-778-0015.
Bayviews is a series for adults at the Great Bay Discovery Center which include speakers talking about the importance of the Great Bay Estuary and issues that it is facing. Presentations are FREE and open to the public. Call (603)-778-0015 for more information.
Water, Water Everywhere! is an awesome workshop put on by Green Alliance’s very own Tricia. This educational event will take place at the Great Bay Discovery Center and will focus on how the Great Bay works as an ecosystem and tips on how to keep it clean. This event will take place Wednesday July 18th from 12:30 to 2:30pm and cost is $5 per child. (Recommended for children ages 7-11) Come and shower yourself with great activities, games—and even a chance to GET WET! To register call (603)-778-0015.
For more information about the awesome summer programs at the Great Bay Discovery Center, click here.
Greetings Green Alliance readers! I am honored to be joining the GA family and ready to help sustainable businesses grow. I was raised in a frugal household, learning how to cut energy costs, eat healthy on a budget, and the importance of making sure local businesses continue to thrive.
There are many things on my bucket list, and one of the most important is bringing local businesses back on top; making sure they win the battle against the big monopolies. There are many things we can do as a major factor on this planet to assure there is still something left for future generations, even on a budget. To that end, my plan in working with the GA is to help businesses with their struggle between sustainability and frugality.
In May of 2012, I graduated from the University of New Hampshire with my B.Sc. in Environmental and Resource Economics, a major that prepared me for sustainable business management. While I’m currently taking a little break from school, I plan on starting my M.Sc. in Sustainable Management in October of this year.
Aside from school and working, I enjoy hiking, concerts, spending time with friends and family, reading, writing, cooking, and many other activities. Most of my friends would describe me as loyal, friendly, dependable, and funny. I hope you enjoy my future posts!
By Kimberlie Birks
The Water Tank Project
Rarely have New Yorkers lost sleep worrying about water. From the moment we step into our morning shower until we brush our teeth at the end of the day, we take for granted that abundant clean water is just a tap turn away.
All of that is about to change.
“As oil defined the 20th century,” warns Alex Prud’homme in his 2011 book The Ripple Effect, “water will determine the course of the 21st century.”
As Prud’homme explains, “we no longer have the luxury of ignorance.” We must value fresh water as the precious resource that it is and understand how our actions impact the Earth’s limited supply. “After all,” Prud’homme concludes, “we can live without oil, but not without water.”
In the summer of 2013 The Water Tank Project will transform the New York City skyline and—hopefully—the way we view and value our most important resource. Using art for advocacy’s sake, The Water Tank Project will tap the talents of some of today’s most celebrated artists to create water-themed work that will wrap over 100 of the City’s iconic water tanks across all five boroughs. Art overhead will be grounded in a commitment to meaningful change.
Educational partnerships with local schools, a planned symposium on global water issues and numerous ways to become virtually immersed—via the project’s website, blog, Facebook, Twitter and interactive App by design dynamo and Fuseproject founder, Yves Behar—will engage a global community in critical conversation about a broad spectrum of water issues, from climate change and energy policies, agriculture and food security, to sanitation and the negative impact of plastic waste.
“Art has this tremendous power to transcend and transform,” explains the project’s creative director Mary Jordan, who hopes that this artful approach to activism will not only heighten senses but also awareness.
“The art serves as a visual dialog to inspire other dialogs,” she affirms. “Ultimately I hope that its effect trickles into every corner of society, from personal routine to public policy.”
With artists like Andy Goldsworthy, Ed Ruscha, Jay-Z and Jeff Koons and organizations like One Drop, the Columbia Water Center, and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute already on board, the initiative is poised to make waves. With enough wind at its back, the project hopes to sail to other global cities, including Mumbai, Rio, Mexico City, and Sydney, demonstrating the potential for the world’s major cities to become leading stewards of sustainability.
Help launch this visionary initiative by supporting The Water Tank Project’s Kickstarter campaign!
The past decade has seen an explosion in both the production and use of green cleaning products. As a result, brands like Seventh Generation and Simple Green have assumed a household notoriety on par with – and arguably exceeding – their old-fashioned, chemical-laden counterparts.
But what about the offices and hospitals, hotels and restaurants, stores and schools – the proverbial homes away from home where we spend almost as much time as our own abodes? In places like this, where various health codes demand more rigorous and regular cleaning regimens, are we being forced to betray our eco-friendly instincts for the sake of sterile surroundings?
No longer, says Tara Phillips, President of Rye-based GaiaClean. Launched last fall under the parent company DBL Values, GaiaClean – which boasts a satellite office in California – manufactures green cleaning products for commercial, government and institutional applications. With an international client list that includes myriad entities public and private, GaiaClean aims to show how large-scale operations can learn to clean green – and do so without breaking the bank or skimping on performance.
The company’s inventory features nine cutting-edge products, each of which touts its own unique, earth-friendly features. From disinfectants that kill 99.9% of germs without jeopardizing human health, to plant-based all purpose cleaners and a unique slip-resistant floor solution that prevents slip and fall accidents, GaiaClean is well on their way to realizing their goal of eliminating the use of poisonous chemical cleaners and creating a healthier and safer workplace.
“We often take for granted how much exposure we have to these harmful chemicals, and it’s not something that people tend to think about,” explains Phillips. “But if you had a choice between two products, where one is just as effective as the other and poses far fewer health risks, which would you chose?
The question may be a rhetorical one, but for Phillips the question is as crucial as the answer is clear. To date, two of GaiaClean’s products have been certified plant-based by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, with the others set to come on board by the end of this year.
Guest blog from Jean Eno, Director of Winnicut River Watershed Coalition and Peter Wellenberger, Great Bay-Piscataqua Waterkeeper for Conservation Law Foundation
The Great Bay estuary is in decline. As one of the most studied estuaries in the world, the evidence is clear – unless we take immediate action, the estuary could reach a tipping point, leading to a collapse of its ecosystem and the loss of a natural treasure at the heart of what makes the Seacoast region such a remarkable place to live, work, and play.
Unfortunately, during a time when it’s politically expedient in certain D.C. circles to attack science and the agencies charged with protecting the health of our communities and natural resources, some would rather undermine EPA’s efforts to clean up our estuary than support real, constructive solutions. By sowing the seeds of doubt and confusion about the science of water pollution, and without the benefit of the science EPA and the N.H. Department of Environmental Services have developed over the course of several years, they are trying to scare people into thinking EPA is out to bankrupt their communities.
The June 4 Congressional hearing in Exeter, entitled “EPA Overreach and the Impact on New Hampshire Communities,” was a missed opportunity. There, Congressmen Darrell Issa (of California) and Frank Guinta conducted a hearing in which, despite a packed room, only five witnesses were permitted to testify: four representatives of the Municipal Coalition – a small group of vocal municipalities doing everything in their power to delay EPA’s permitting process – and EPA Regional Administrator Curt Spalding.
Despite numerous claims by the Municipal Coalition that the science is flawed, not a single scientist was asked to testify about the real pollution threats to the Great Bay estuary. Instead of focusing on the legitimate need to upgrade outdated and inadequate sewage treatment plants, the Congressmen heard the Municipal Coalition’s consultant from Washington, D.C., whose only apparent objective was to blast the agencies with expertise in the water pollution challenges facing our estuary – the N.H. Department of Environmental Services and EPA. A more balanced panel might have shed light on what is really happening in the estuary and how we can fix it.
In the end, the only real outcome from the Congressional hearing was a desperate attempt to delay action instead of proceeding with real solutions required to restore the Great Bay estuary. Enough is enough. It’s time for the Municipal Coalition to stop wasting scarce financial resources on D.C. consultants and their tactics of fear and delay, and to start investing in real solutions. We all benefit from a clean, healthy Great Bay estuary. Now is the time to protect our future.
Working to enrich the relationship between local, independent businesses and their food, the Seacoast Local program ReRootEd is proud to announce the Field & Spoon dinners. Accompanied by live music, these decadent, four course meals take place on farms along the Seacoast, and are prepared by two executive chefs of local restaurants.
The chefs create a menu with food purchased from the hosting farm. The overall goal of the dinners are to create bonds between the chefs, farms, and diners, and of course to have an enjoyable and educational evening.
The ReRootEd program works all year toward a more resilient and local economy that promotes safe and healthy food for all. In addition to their value as an enjoyable and educational experience, Field & Spoon dinners serve as a fundraiser to help support new research identifying upcoming challenges and opportunities for our local food system.
Make your early bird reservations now! Group reservations available, Save $240 when you book an early bird table by July 4! For more booking and payment information, visit the Seacoast Local website.
Few relics of summer are more beloved or imbued with nostalgia than an evening around an outdoor fire – why with the stories, songs, and S’mores infusing the crisp evening air as bountifully as the embers themselves.
Typically, the centerpiece of this seasonal rite is no more complex than a hand-dug hole or a shallow metal bowl – a rustic venue for a rustic ritual.
But what if you’re looking for a little bit of luxury to help temper the always-fickle New England elements? The Donahues found themselves in just this position when, in the summer of 2011, they first looked into adding an outdoor fireplace to their newly renovated stone patio.
“We love our property, and we love large group gatherings – that was our original motivation,” says Marilyn Donahue, recalling when she and husband Jim first considered augmenting their North Hampton property. “As much as we love fire pits, there’s nothing quite like the ambiance of a fireplace.”
Enter Adam Bennett, owner of the Windham-based Colonial Stoneworks. After years working in the automotive and landscaping sectors, in 2010 Bennett launched Colonial with the aim of emphasizing “green hard-scaping,” specifically the use of New England granite in everything from mailboxes to property walls to walkways and staircases.
Up until last summer, Bennett had conducted dozens of projects of varying sizes for properties throughout Southern New Hampshire – many of them involving stones and boulders found right on the customer’s property. One thing he hadn’t attempted, however, was an outdoor patio fireplace.
“I’d done a handful of fire pits before, but nothing that was too complicated,” says Bennett of his first large-scale outdoor fireplace. “This was a different animal entirely. Let’s just say it took a little longer.”
The result is a majestically Spartan nine-by-six fireplace with 15 and 20 foot seating walls on each side, respectively – perfect for gatherings large and small alike. In so doing, Bennett extended the house’s patio to create an airy outdoor living space, with thick woodlands beyond and the open air making for a truly New England arena.
What better way to learn from and connect with fellow local business owners than through Seacoast Local’s New Local Economy workshop series? Held at Seacoast local headquarters, the workshops are designed by, and for locally owned and independent businesses along the Seacoast. This three part series spans the summer with an excess of experts in the field, excited to provide valuable information for members and non-members alike, to promote the “New Local Economy”.
The first seminar, “Building a Local Web Presence” will be on Thursday, June 28th from 7:30am to 9:30am. Presenter Josh Cyr, owner of Alpha Loft, with panelists Rad Nichols, executive director of COAST, and Bridget Sprague, owner of Be Good Branding and Green Alliance director of marketing and branding, will share their expertize on using the web as a tool to further enhance their local customer base in the age of social media.
Taking place on Thursday, July 19th, from 7:30am to 9:30am, the second seminar “How Employees Embrace Your Mission”, will be presented by owner of Blue Moon Evolution kath Gallant. She will be joined by panelists Bob Breneman, owner of G. Willikers!, and Chuck Cressy, owner of Durham Marketplace to share ideas on how to further facilitate employee “buy-in”, in order to create organizational agents who then spread the word about your business.