Being Green – Taking Responsibility

Hi Folks:

Responsibility is kind of a dirty word in our society today.  It brings to mind image of blame and finger pointing, and I think we associate the idea of responsibility with the transition from the freedom of childhood to the daily grind of being an adult. Still, is being responsible really a bad thing? If you look up the word ‘responsibility’ in the dictionary you’ll encounter words like duty, obligation, accountability, consequence… but you’ll also find other ways of defining responsibility – like trust, worth, or more simply, ‘able to respond’.

Elaine Cohen is an e-friend of mine (@elainecohen for all you Twitter users) who runs a business dealing with corporate social and environmental responsibility.  It’s definitely a growing field, at least partly because the people who run those corporations are waking up to the fact that being responsible is good for the company, good for the planet, and good for business.  I’m old enough to remember a time when ‘corporate America’ (not to pick on any one nation, but it was and is a common term) meant groups of companies that put their profit above all else, and some multi-national corporations not only had a larger footprint than some countries, they were also bound to the laws of no country in particular.  If things got too ‘hot’ or too expensive to operate somewhere, they’d simply close down and move somewhere else.  Such companies still exist of course, but they’re becoming the dinosaurs of this new age.  CSRs (corporate responsibility reports) are showing up on websites all over the world, with varying degrees of success.  Still, I think all of their efforts should be applauded.  As has been said, a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Continue Reading →

Poetry Corner – Etymology: The Origin of Words

Hello Dear Ones!

As both a poet and a writer, the origin of words is a fascinating topic. The knowledge and application of words is an essential tool for the poet. Comprehending the meaning is vital. Add to that the quality of understanding its root source, and you have an edge that enhances the gift of gab and the very presentation of form and function. Put it all together and you add a richness and a depth, to your work. Continue Reading →

Marcia’s Meanderings – Freedom to Be

Hello Dear Ones!

In a mere 24 hours I’ve been immersed in two contrasting aspects of life and living. Both had lessons to teach me.

Eight adults doting upon one soon-to-be two year old child was an incredible and delightful sight to behold. When not dancing around like children themselves, the adults would pick up items with which to make music – a squeaky toy or hands slapping on thighs or a wooden spoon on a pot lid – all to ensure the continued antics of this non-stop child who adores music and motion. Where mere moments before some adult was complaining of aches and pains or a headache, they too were up on the floor wiggling in tune to the beat, the child carried in their arms as a dance partner. There was awe and laughter and adoration – adults for the child, and child with each of the adults. Precious!

Then I arrive home to an e-mail announcement that my father is downsizing his apartment and would each of us, as his kids, care to lighten his load of personal belongings by selecting from those items he no longer has room for or requires. Ah, to have an item of my father’s would please me immensely! Some of the choices are wood carvings he crafted himself. Others are unique and exquisite memorabilia from places as exotic as Greece and Egypt. Yes, Dad, thank you!

Both encounters triggered within me a dichotomy of emotions. From the joy of unlimited and boundless energy and expression, to the contrast of release and perceived limitation. From having need for nothing and enjoying life unfettered, to having much and then finding the need to give it all away.

Where do I fit into the picture, being somewhere in the middle of both scenarios and yet closer to the older end of the spectrum rather than the beginnings of life? Believe it or not, I feel closer to the beginnings of life. My body may be attempting – with my obvious yet resistant consent – to rebel against life’s physical challenges. Yet my heart and my soul are closer to the innocence of youth and the desire to be unfettered and to revel in the freedom to just be. Maybe that is where my Dad is as well – wanting to relieve himself of life’s burdens and to set himself free just to be once again. Is that really such a bad thing? In the moment I think not.

Just me, meandering …

In Light and Laughter,


He Says, She Says…

Hello, Dear Reader!

Well, as we mentioned last Sunday, our new grandson made his way into the world a little over a week ago.  He has an older sibling so this is our second grandchild, but we also have a great-nephew.  His mother is Mike’s niece, but she’s more like a daughter to him.  That got us thinking about family and what it means to be a family, so that’s the topic for our post this week.

Have a great week!

M&M (Grandy and Gandalf – Have you seen our picture?)

Follow these links to read what He Says/She Says: Marcia’s View / Mike’s View.

Being Green – Green Walls

Hello, Dear Reader!

A few weeks back I did a post on roofing materials; one strategy for a roof is a ‘green roof’ or a vegetated roof. Green roofs have many advantages, but one need not stop there. Vegetated walls are also an option. Sometimes called living walls or biowalls, green walls can be used inside or outside a building. Used outside, green walls can help to control stormwater runoff and to cool the building. Used inside, a living wall can help cool the building, purify the air, lower energy costs, and improve people’s health and morale. I recently watched a TED talk by Kamal Meattle on ‘How to Grow Fresh Air‘. The first such ‘natural air purifier’ I heard about is at the University of Guelph-Humber in Toronto, ON. Their living wall was designed into the structure, completed in 2002. Another living wall in Toronto is located at The Robertson Building, and there’s also a green wall at the Integrated Learning Centre at Queen’s University in Kingston, ON and at the Faculty of Environment, University of Waterloo in Waterloo, ON. In Madrid, the CaixaForum gallery space has a very large outdoor living wall, and in Paris, the office wing of the Quai Branly Museum has an outdoor green wall as well. Both of these walls were designed by Patrick Franc of Paris. Also in Paris, the Pershing Hall Hotel has a large green wall in the patio area of their dining room.

Speaking of dining, one possibility for an indoor green wall is to grow food plants. At Pizzeria Mozza in Los Angeles, a green wall installed by Tournesol Siteworks is used to grow rosemary, lettuce, etc. Going beyond that is the idea of a ‘Vertical Farm’, which is basically a multi-storey greenhouse. More information on that may be found at ‘The Vertical Farm Project‘. In a similar vein, there’s a plan in the works to convert some Detroit neighbourhoods into urban farms, but that’s getting away from green walls per se.

More information on green walls can be found here:

Okay, other news and information I’ve come across this week includes:

Okay, that’s it for today. Have a great week, and if you have any links to add, feel free to leave us a comment!

Take care,

P.S. Since I’ve been talking about living walls ‘n’ things, I came across an interesting article in National Geographic on ‘Terra Preta‘. Terra preta is a Portugese term for ‘black earth’; basically, it’s an ancient technique that was practiced in the Amazon basin, adding charcoal, bone and organic matter to the rainforest’s relatively infertile soils. It’s a practice that built up the soil over generations. Some of the terra preta soils discovered are 2 metres deep. Scientists today are trying to tease apart this puzzle, in part because the process sequesters much more CO2 than the slash and burn agriculture practiced today in much of the Amazon.

Poetry Corner – Harry Chapin

Hello Dear Ones!

My poet choice for this week is one of my favourite singer/songwriters – Harry Chapin.  Many of you may know him best for his song “Cats in the Cradle”.  However, did you know the song was written originally as a poem by his wife, Sandy? A popular version was also sung by Cat Stevens. Of all the music Harry wrote, this was his only number one hit.

Harry was more than a singer, songwriter and musician, he was also an author and playwright. And Harry was known to be quite the humanitarian – his band did a lot of work for World Hunger. One year they raised almost $800,000 for that worthy cause.

Harry died back on July 16, 1981. Yet his music lives on today. Harry was even inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame on October 15, 2006. Continue Reading →

Marcia’s Meanderings – Quandaries and Solutions

Hello Dear Ones!

Why is it when situations outside of our apparent control are out of control – having gone wacky and wonky in our esteemed estimation – we take them in and focus on the negativity of them as though the fuss and worry could help find the solution?

Why is it when we are so selective about so many facets of our life – our cars, clothes, home, the people with whom we interact – we are not at all selective in the thoughts we allow to run rampant in our heads?

What then is a person to do?

Why, keep our minds very, very busy – occupied on other things. Here are a few suggestions that work for me:

1.) Tell yourselves a different story. Begin with “Once upon a time…” and end with “…happily ever after.” And in the middle put all the wonderful, fun, joyous, adventurous, playful, creative, positive, inspirational ideas you can think of into what you want to see as outcomes for those what-seem-like-not-so-nice scenarios. Make them delicious and tantalizing! Lush them up! Lavish them with love!

Then let them go. Send all negativity away – even what you ‘believe’ to be happening around you.

2.) Go for a walk. Look at things as a child would see them. Watch the clouds. Find their forms. What do they look like? Dragons? Bunnies? Elephants? Stick your nose near a snow bank (if it’s still winter out your way … snow smells incredible and oh, so fresh!) Or place that smeller of yours into a flower decorating the section of sidewalk you are skipping upon in the moment. If it’s raining, jump in a puddle! Done once, do it again! The precipitation in your area is still snow? Then make a snow angel!

3.) Write. Journal. Not the negative, though. I spent years grumbling my dissatisfaction into journals when I first started the process. All it did was add fuel to the fire of my perceived discontent. Now I write about the blessings in my life! The lady who let me go ahead of her in the grocery line because I had only one item to her cart-load. The little girl with the crazy red hair and braids who had the most amazing giggle! The street woman who smiled right from her toes for me when I gave her a nod and a smile of greeting. Watching two servers give each other a hug simply because they enjoyed working together! And there’s always the gazillion blessings within my own life – my marvelous husband (he’s worth way more than half of those gazillion blessings!); my wonderful, visionary sons; my talented daughter-in-law and the precious grandsons she has gifted both us and this world; this computer expanding my ability to connect with others; the pink Converse runners adorning my feet …

What are the blessings in your life?

Whatever they are, find them. Focus on them. Savour them. Let them nourish your mind and your soul. Focus on the positive and ask your mind to find you more and more reasons to be grateful, to uncover the joyous in your life. Your mind will be glad of something to do. It needs directive. Provide it the directive that will make you feel good. Focusing on the positive will have you feeling better.  And the better you feel, the better you’ll feel!

In Light and Laughter,


He Says, She Says…

Hello Dear Reader:

Well, Sunday is upon us once again, and we have news to share!  The newest member of our family, a grandson, arrived in the world early yesterday morning.  He has ten fingers, ten toes, and everything else is exactly where it should be.   He’s beautiful! (but we may be slightly biased)  He also has good lungs and a powerful set of vocal chords.  An orator perhaps?

Having said that, we’re off to celebrate.


Being Green – Certifications

Hi Folks:

Friday once again. Having for the last two weeks lamented the swift passage of time, I’m loathe to do so again! In a previous blog post I wrote about the many differing and sometimes conflicting standards and certifications there are out there when it comes to green building – LEED, BuiltGreen, Green-E, FSC, Cerflor, SCS, BREEAM, Energy Star, BOMA BESt, Cradle to Cradle, Living Building Challenge, GreenGuard, IICRC, Environments for Living, Green Seal, EOCP (BC), NARI CGP, NAHB CGP, GreenPlumbers, ASHRAE, Cal IAQ – and that’s far from a complete list. Some are national, some are by province or state or other jurisdiction. Some relate to entire buildings, some to components, materials or systems. I must admit I find it baffling, and I doubt anyone can accurately say they understand them all. I haven’t included certification for green real estate agents, certifications for green lodging and travel companies, organic certifications, etc. They do all have one thing in common, which is that they all seek to make our stay on this planet a little better. Their various merits, strengths and weaknesses I leave to others to debate, although one article I came across today is, “Need for re-look at Green Building Rating Systems“.

The reason I mention this here is largely because of an article I read this week on Cradle to Cradle (CtoC) certification. I don’t mean to isolate them, but I, like possibly many others, was curious when it was announced that Dow had achieved CtoC certification for five of their insulation products, two at the Silver level and the other three at the Basic level. I was under the (mistaken) impression that CtoC was only bestowed on those products that contained no hazardous or toxic materials. That’s not the case. As outlined in the article “Fixing the Perception Problem with Cradle to Cradle Certification“, the CtoC Basic and Silver certifications do not mean that the product is free of toxic materials. They do require and provide an avenue for the company involved to work with MBDC and related groups to find new, more sustainable solutions, and are an expression of commitment toward this goal. Therein lies the perception problem. From the article:

“Here’s the problem: for designers—even those at the leading edge of green building—any level of Cradle to Cradle Certification creates a perception that the certified product is green. We call on MBDC to fix this problem, and we offer the following suggestion for doing so: at the Gold and Platinum levels, continue to refer to Cradle to Cradle Certification as a product certification. At these levels, a product must pass muster with a robust set of filters ensuring that it is safe for humans and imparts minimal damage to the environment; designers can be fairly confident that such products are indeed green…”

Of course, such problems occur on other levels as well. In a two-part series by James D. Qualk, LEED AP in Environmental Design + Construction magazine, he asked the question, “Does LEED Have a Problem?” The articles may be read here: Part I, Part II. The articles focus on two main areas. One is a perception that buildings certified by programs such as LEED are performing no better than their non-certified counterparts.  An article by James Qualk is: “Buildings Shall Be Capable Of…“, which suggests that a part of the problem with LEED-certified building performance is making the building’s occupants aware of best practices.  There’s no point in building a super-efficient building if one leaves the door open.

The other issue is that there have been a few cases where such failures have lead to lawsuits. One article, also on ED+C magazine’s site, written by Kamy Molavi is “Avoiding Potential Green Building Liability”.  Another article by Barbara Quinn is “Green Connections: Keeping Green Claims Accurate“.  On the site there’s an article entitled, “Lawyers anticipate LEED-liability suits“.  On Green Building Law Update there’s an article titled “GSA’s Green Building Role in the Federal Government“.  Finally, on the podcast site there’s an interview on on “Managing Client Expectations and the Green Lease“. Not specifically related but also on the podcast site is another interview on “LEED, the Living Building Challenge and the Future of Green Building“.

You’d think a species as intelligent as us would be capable of achieving a simpler way of reaching the same goal. Just saying, is all.

Okay, the links for this week include:

That’s it for this week.  See you next Friday, and if you have anything to add, please leave us a comment!


P.S.  The 2010 Geneva Auto Show is currently under way, and there have been a number of new ‘green’ introductions, including some completely electric vehicles.  Hyundai has announced a diesel-electric hybrid sports car, the i-Flow, and even Ferrari announced a new hybrid vehicle.  The car that I find most intriguing is the new Porsche 218 Spyder plug-in hybrid.  It’s a prototype, but Porsche suggest a fuel consumption of 3 litres/ 100 km, which works out (assuming I can still do math), to nearly 94 miles/(Imperial) gallon, and lower CO2 emissions than a Toyota Prius.  There’s an interesting article here on hybrid cars as well.

And finally, speaking of motors, the Sturman Industries site is worth checking out.  There’s also an interesting .pdf available, called “An Alternative to Alternative Cars“.

Poetry Corner – Science as Poetry

Hello Dear Ones!

Mike and I are very much into innovation and inspiration. Anything fun, informative and uplifting nurtures us. As a result we find ourselves watching TED and other web videos rather than the television these days. When I saw the following YouTube video – attached here for your viewing pleasure – I had to use it for my Poetry Corner this week. Once you’ve seen it, you’ll understand why!

As a preamble first, though, if you are like me you would not likely have thought you’d ever see the words ‘science’ and ‘poetry’ in the same paragraph, let alone paired together. But it will become clear and logical once you’ve viewed the video. Enjoy!

The Poetry of Science

The Poetry of Science

In Light and Laughter,