Thursday, July 21, 2011


The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation just announced a couple of new programs to help address sanitation around the world. The first is a $3M grant to 8 universities across the world to redesign a toilet that would not rely on electricity or piped in water, and that would deal with wastes in a more productive way (composting?) with a target cost of 5 cents per day per person. Also $42M in support for different initiatives and projects for waste conversion to energy and other higher-tech applications.

I'm curious where exactly this $42M is being given to, as well as what the universities will come up with! It really is such an important topic, linked to human health, the environment, and soil fertility.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Religious Freedom

Hilarious! A guy won the right to wear a pasta strainer on his head as a religious garment in a government ID (driver's license) in Austria. He is part of the Pastafarians, a group that started as a joke making fun of intelligent design and the irrational belief of people who believe in creationism (they worship the Flying Spaghetti Monster in the sky).

A guy I know wrote this article about it on Huffington Post:

Monday, May 30, 2011

Composting toilets at the World Trade Center

Elisabeth's mom is visiting this weekend and tonight we checked out the new World Trade Center tower. We started investigating the eco-friendly aspects of its design and construction. I was surprised to find that the construction workers are using composting toilets!! Check it out here:

Thursday, April 21, 2011

All things interfaith

I'm eager to get Samir Selmanovic's book "It's Really All About God: Reflections of a Muslim Atheist Jewish Christian" and particularly enjoyed Brian McLaren's review of it:

“I'm speechless in trying to describe this book. I laughed out loud in places and cried big tears at the end. It's a work of faith, a work of art, and to some, no doubt, it will be a work of damnable heresy. I think this book will change people's lives, and more: it can save lives, in the many senses of that word. All the religious pundits and broadcasters on radio and cable TV had better take notice, because this book threatens our conventional, comfortable categories and familiar black-and-white polarities. Selmanovic has the nerve to imagine our religions becoming, not walls behind which we hide and over which we lob bombs of damnation, but bridges over which we travel to find God in the other.”
—Brian McLaren, Author/Activist

On another note, I wrote Brian McLaren and asked if he would write an endorsement for my book once it's a little further along. He agreed!!! And so I've included that information in all my efforts to convince agents and publishers to take up my project. A couple of rejections from agents so far - I am focusing on them first and then will later approach publishers directly.

Also I sent my full book proposal to Richard Rohr just a few days ago and am hoping to hear from him, if he will endorse it, consider writing a foreword, or even put in a word for me to some of his publishers!

Lastly, I attended a meeting of and became a member of the Religions for Peace North American Interfaith Youth Network (youth really meaning young adult). We had a retreat outside of NYC at an interfaith conference center and got to meet all sorts of neat people. I am sure I will post more on this later!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Excellent News Sources for Events in Haiti

Here are some great websites that cover events in Haiti not usually covered by mainstream media. Many of these are from people with direct ties to Haiti, who live or have lived there and follow current events closely. (The articles written by this particular author, a Haitian human rights lawyer, are all archived on this page)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Awesome bike initiative in London

Check out this article (and great video) about an awesome bike initiative in London!

I love the blue trail of light that whooshes around and builds new bike racks for locking up bikes!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Current Events in Haiti

First off, (on a happy note) a nice video from Nicholas Kristof at the NY Times about SOIL in Haiti. Sasha is the woman in the video, co-founder of SOIL, and an amazing person. I was thrilled every minute I was able to spend with her.

Second: News on Haiti's Elections. News can be found from various sources, but many articles usually need to be read to piece together the full story. I will take a shot at outlining some of the key facts.

There was an election at the end of November 2010 for the Haitian president. The largest political party, Fanmi Lavalas, was not allowed to participate in either legislative (April 19, 2010) or presidential (Nov 28, 2010) elections. This is like barring either Republicans or Democrats from voting in the United States. Forty-five US Senators wrote to Sec. of State Clinton (in Oct 2010) urging her to put pressure on the Haitian Gov't (President Preval) to include Lavalas.

Turnout in the Nov. 28, 2010 presidential elections was something like 20% which is far below that of elections in which Lavalas was able to have candidates (i.e. 1990, 2000). Lavalas urged Haitians to boycott the elections.

Quoting from (Next two paragraphs)

Secretary of State Clinton met with Haitian President Preval on Feb 6, 2010. The day after, Preval announced that Lavalas would not be eligible to run in any elections. Fanmi Lavalas was contacted to meet on March 4, 2009 with a high profile delegation — UN Secretary Ban Ki Moon, [Former] Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter — but the meeting was cancelled. When Moon and Clinton did arrive the following week they avoided any meeting with Fanmi Lavalas with the assistance of the US Embassy staff. Lavalas then called for a boycott of the primary election.

The USA put $17 million into the primary [presidential election - since many parties and candidates can run they have a first election that narrows down the field to two people, then a second election to decide the president] and the UN plastered the Lavalas strongholds with posters warning the pro-democracy supporters that "more hunger and more violence" would be the result if the People of Haiti honored the Fanmi Lavalas boycott. Less than 3% of the electorate participated in the election. The US media spin was that the elections were a resounding "success for democracy."

The US is not pursuing democracy in Haiti. Simple truth. And it is a disastrous one.

I think the discrepancy between the 3% figure and the 20% figure for voting is explained by the difference between registered and unregistered voters. Of registered voters, only 20% participated. Taking into account the entire Haitian population, only 3% voted.