Monday, May 23, 2011

Michigan Green Schools Award Ceremony May 25th, 2011

The big day is now just around the corner.  No... it is not the highly publicized "end" that thankfully didn't come.  It is something much more important.   Schools all over Michigan have been working on meeting a standards system designed to meet a criteria of over 20 key points.   These are not MEAP standards... no they are something much more meaningful... at least to me.   They are the Michigan Green Schools standards.

For weeks now  has been promoting AND raising funds for MGS of Oakland County.  I want to give a large and  very special shout out to several key supporters of our initiative.   Let me first thank all the individuals who allowed us to teach them about composting and the composting system we sold as the fundraising tool.   Second... not all of our local suppliers are equal when it comes to embracing grass roots initiatives like this.   Rule of thumb... the bigger they are... the more self centered and difficult to work with.

That being said... let me start out with a big thank you to Western Market of Ferndale.  Not only were the Selvaggio brothers receptive to the idea... but they invited me into the store, introduced me to their key players AND now stock the system as a regular item.  THAT my friends is an example of a Green Certified business.  They have met the standards and can proudly display the certification emblem on their premise.

I need to make a mention of Hollywood Markets for a couple mentions.  One... they invited me into their corporate HQ to talk about and show the system. TWO... they allowed me to do a demo day on Mothers day at their Rochester location.  THREE... they stepped up and created two (to my knowledge) beautiful brand new stores in former Farmer Jack locations that would otherwise probably be empty holes in our community.   We are still in conversation about the possibility of carrying the green products and Green Certification.

On a more local level to me in Oxford Michigan.... let me thank Simply Organic,  Oxford True Value Hardware,  Don Sherman Insurance Agency,  Orion Art Center,  Oxford Down Town Development Authority, Oxford Chamber of Commerce and the Orion Area Chamber of Commerce for helping promote and support the efforts.

I also want to thank these two unique partners in The Michigan Green Team AND for their support in the way of media exposure,  consulting services,  table and location opportunities, and other countless gifts of kind.  These organizations are the back bone of Metro Detroit green initiatives.  

We will proudly stand side by side with the Michigan Green Schools folks in support of the 190 plus Oakland County schools who will be recognized and awarded on Wednesday.  Great Job to all and to those who did not qualify this year.... contact me (866-752-6626) and we will make sure your there next year.

In closing....The one moment that occurred over the past weeks of fund raising that I will call the defining moment was as follows.   On the Sunday of the green living festival....after raining heavily all night and continuing on into the start of the event... I was ready to pack it all in when my helper friend and neighbor Katherine arrived with a spirit of let's do this.  So... with new energy we unrolled a condensed version of our display and began to welcome the hearty souls into the tent.  You have got to give it up for anyone who came out in the unfavorable conditions to see the green vendors.  Our neighbor.... Gina was full of spirit and energy and that helped lift our spirits.  Gina does something very similar and so we became friends instantly.

The magic moment came when Katherine introduced me to a father and two young (6 to 8) year olds who came a long way in the rain to find out answer to a burning question.  The father explained that his daughter was combing over the list of the schools who were Michigan Green Schools.  When she found that her school was not on the list.... she wanted to know why AND more importantly.... what did they need to do to get on the list next year.  SHE IS MY HERO.... and so is her dad for bringing them out on such a unfavorable day.  As we finished our short 10 minute talk about MGS , things that can be done to meet the standards and a list of resources... I tried to drive home a point.  It takes an advocate DAD,  the one person who is willing to stand up and take the lead... DAD,  and speak up to say we need to do this... DAD and he and I connected on that point.   I'm pretty sure they will be on the list and at the award ceremony in 2012.

CONGRATULATIONS to all of the award recipients for your focused efforts to become Michigan Green Schools!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Made from Plastic.... that's fantastic.... back to where it came from.... Really

I received an e mail from a good friend this week.  She know's I am a green advocate and knew this was going to be a real hit with me.  So I have made the decision to pursue this story in detail and report to you what I have found.  It seems that a fellow green advocate from Japan has rolled up his sleeves and created to technology that could save us from the possibility of.... drowning.... well in plastic.

Akinori Ito, CEO of the Japanese company Blest, has figured out how to turn plastic back into where it came from....oil.   If you have a minute to watch the video link  you will discover an amazing yet simple technology in action. 

Using heat and pressure, the machine can take this commingled plastic trash and in a few hours produce unrefined oil, composed of kerosene, diesel, gasoline, and heavy oils. A pipe running from the heating machine to a container of tap water puts the resulting gas through a filter and into the water, which breaks it down into H2O and CO2, so there isn’t really any smell and no release of CO2 into the atmosphere.

  The question begs to be asked.... why aren't these technologies being brought into the center stage?  I'm not sure myself... however I am not waiting around to find out why.  I have jumped into action and am seeking more information on how to order a base line unit for my own experimentation.   If this is as good as advertised it will change the fact of recycling AND legitimize the efforts before our very eyes.  Stay tuned folks for a  conversion system coming soon to a North Oakland County neighborhood near you...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Oak Green Summit May 16th 2011

For those who may not be aware... Oakland County Executive Brooks Patterson is leading the charge in Michigan toward what is known as "Triple-Bottom Line" standards for you, your business and local government. It's a new day in local government with plunging property values comes drop off's in tax revenue.  That means doing more with less and thinking out of the box for combined services and sharing of services with local governments like never before.  
We are not in Kansas anymore.... and the pain and suffering we went through personally over the past few years border line depression will still be making its way through public sector entities near you.  Let's start with the road commission....notice anything about the pot holes of this past winter?  Not being attended to as in the past and my theory is simply less people on staff to fill more potholes.  How about your local school district?  The money being poured into the funnel is less than the past good old days AND that means less coming out of the bottom to each kids!  I remember back in 1988-1990 getting word that I had $250 to work with to run the entire science department for my Junior High School.  Talk about down the trickle down effect!  I literally did my job with smoke and mirrors AND out dated equipment from the last big government effort to support sciences which was the "SPUTNIK" era.  
I recently attended the launch of the new Clean Energy Center at Oakland University in Rochester Michigan.  Oakland has the vision and fore sight to see the future of green energy and is launching a brand new Clean Energy Center out of their Business Incubator located right on Campus.  The day was loaded with examples of cutting edge technology already out in the market place ready to be implemented.   The key note speaker was Gilbert Sperling from the US Department of Energy and his comments rang true to me.  He stated that "This alternative energy game is ours to win or lose..."  AND "This is the current generations "SPUTNIK" moment..."  meaning that this is such a critical battle we are in with China that our future depends on us rising up and taking the ball away from China and running with it.   China is investing at a ratio of almost 10 to 1 in research and development for new energy initiatives compared to the United States.  Once again I will use the smoke and mirrors analogy to make the point of what we are up against relative to the resources available to develop the emerging technologies.  
I will finish this segment with my favorite and most impacting statement I used to share with my middle school students and it can be summed up in three simple words.... Make, Let, Know...

Here is the translation... The world can be divided up into three very simple categories.  There are those in one category who "Make" things happen.  The second group is a very large group of people who "Let" things happen.  And... the last group is also very large and that is the group you really want to stay away from.... and that is the group who "Don't KNOW what happened". 

Kick butt today and Make things happen!      

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Motor City Metal... well plastic too... Born in the D in California...

 Tue. 05/17/11 06:48 AM    My comments to Detroit News Article on lack of Hybrids on the road in California... not the case in LA area. 

Trucks, pickups, no or little Hybrids in California...

Your experience was certainly not like what I experienced on a recent vacation to California. We flew into LAX and headed over to the Hertz rental car located offsite as is how the process works in LAX. We were pleasantly surprised to find that our request for a domestic brand was met. In years past when on vacation we were never able to obtain a domestic brand mini van and settled for what ever was available. This year we were packing up a Chrysler Town N Country for our family of six. The first great feature was the design with the easy loading rear gate. Bags were easily loaded with the near curb height opening. I must admit I was impressed with just about every feature of this vehicle. I am a former owner of 3 mini vans and vowed to never go back to one after moving into the SUV. This was fun to drive AND packed with power to keep up with the fast pace loaded free ways heading out of LA to our destination in New Port Beach. I appreciated the little green leaf button that gave me the Eco option which some how traded off performance for economy. I'll admit that I found it more enjoyable to turn off the economy feature for really one reason. I wanted to sacrifice economy for giving the T & C the ability to take on the competition all round me.
What I found on the highways of LA were a diverse mix of vehicles. I found many Prius owners who seemed to take great joy in maxing out the capabilities of their gas sippers. The Prius drivers seemed over overwhelmingly to be very aggressive drivers who liked to tail gate and pass without signaling pushing the limit to 80-85 when not in stand still traffic. I took this to be kind of like a statement of "Oh look at me... I can get good mileage AND still keep up with your gas guzzler... kind of like a "Performance Envy" condition. This is another example of the "Napoleonic syndrome" I have observed for those that lake size and girth in certain area's.
The fact is that Californians don't seem to have any clear identity when it comes to vehicles. One trend seemed to change as we arrived in the more upscale New Port Beach area... and that was the higher the income levels the more drivers seemed to choose non-domestic brands. Mercedes, Lexus, Lambo, Ferrari ruled the roads. So being from the D I needed to make a social statement that the T & C was not to be out done. Off went the ECO button and we were rolling in "Motor City Metal"...well lot's of plastic too! I had no problem blowing away pretty much every brand off the light. I wonder if I attracted any attention from the local's not accustomed to seeing the T & C in their hood?
I do know one driver who took up my call to support vehicles born in the D. On a beautiful Sunday morning we were cruising along the strip looking for a spot for breakfast when we approached an American classic. It was my "Born in the D" moment... a burnt orange Plymouth Prowler Roadster! As we pulled up next to the 60 something couple... I rolled down my rear window... looked the driver in the eye and yelled out "Born in the D..!" to him. He beamed with pride and with his eastern Boston accent yelled back in delight! They kind of ebbed and flowed with us through the traffic for the next several lights, waiving and smiling at my kids. I figure that is probably the most attention they have gotten in years with their classic ride living in the land of Lambo and Porsche they probably are down some where pretty low on the auto enthusiasts food chain.
We all felt a nice lift in our spirits that day and continue to proclaim our message that we are from the rust belt, we are not from Oakland Township... but born and from the D!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Power Surge 56 minute NOVA look at Energy Demands Now

">OK... If you can spare 56 minutes of your life to see some pretty incredible facts about what is happening with energy... I mean current through the Japan Nuke melt down... very informative.

This really points toward the US "Sputnik Moment" for this generation.  The game is ours to be won or lost with regard to who will supply the world with the energy needs in the future.

If your short on time... jump to minute 24-25 to watch the demonstration on the amount of carbon it takes to make a short drive to the neighborhood store.... and then take that out over the average year it translates into 14 tons of carbon (coal or oil) per year just for your car alone.

Seriously... take a look around you... I was watching a video tape done in our back yard in Oakland Township just 10 years ago and there is a noticeable difference in surroundings around us.  Consider the parallel to say a friend or cousin who is a long distance relative who you only see once every few years.  As a parent you really don't notice the differences day to day in your children since you see them every day.  You do however catch those moment in time where you say.... wow... look at how you've changes since this picture!  That is what I notice about my own yard and the "health" of the surrounding area.   Walk through the forest across the street and what do you see?  More evidence of changes.  Trees that have died off on a mass scale and fallen laying everywhere.  Is that just because of the introduction of the emerald ash borer or something more?   The same can be discovered in the Austrian Pines that were planted in the area... they are also dying off on a mass scale... due to a blight?   I can recall sitting out in the yard and in the spring time the line of blue spruce and pines where thick like a fur coat.   Now they are thin and spindly with mass needle drops all around the area.  Blight?  Change in PH?  Change in soil?  I think it is all of the above.

The point is that something is happened over the past 10 years to create change on a mass scale to our surroundings.  Many of my friends like to stick their heads in the sand and say it is not changing... the world has always changed... it changed with the dinosaurs it will change again in our life time.  All that is true... however it is really an excuse for not wanting to take responsibility for being part of the bigger problem.

I am not a big Al Gore fan... after all... we all joke that he somehow proclaimed he created the Internet... right?  Well... one thing big AL got right is that... this problem of these conditions changing around us... is... well...INCONVENIENT.   Do I really have to give up my gas guzzler, do I really have to put more money into my house that is already decreased in value?  "I'll never get the return on the investment to put in that new  energy savings/creation device."

The answer is... yes you do... and I've heard the greatest generation membership say "Well... as long as I am not being told I have to ....I am ok with it ... and they walk away and continue the same selfish behavior.  How many have I talked with that say "It's not my problem... I'm only going to be here a short while... It's your problem... your kids problem...?  What the F??

Sorry Grandpa.... move over and take a back seat cause I'm taking the wheel.  You've done enough damage feller!

You can't handle the truth! It's getting warm in here...

">Like many things in life.... you either believe it.... or don't believe it... is the amount of carbon contributed by human activity changing the earth?  This NOVA presentation is 56 minutes long and tell's a very science based story.  Ignore AL Gore and celebrate the great Sir Richard....