Tulane City Center

Since Katrina there has been an influx of creative minds and generous donations to the city of New Orleans.  The Tulane School of Architecture has utilized the countries re-kindled love of their hometown to finance several design build projects.  With encouragement and support from the faculty, these projects are led and executed by students at both the graduate and undergraduate level.  Through the City Center and UrbanBuild programs, Tulane School of archtecture has created an impressive portfolio of built works and created a Design+Build culture that applicants and magazines are noticing.

Though the several completed houses are innovative and beautiful, I was particularly enthralled my past visit with the Hollygrove Growers Pavilion.  What started with a raised garden on an abandoned parking lot has developed into a beautiful market and a source of income for the surrounding neighborhood.  The farmers, typically professional during the week and volunteer on the weekend, have managed to produce an wide variety of veggies in the heart of New Orleans.  For only $25 market goers can fill their box or bag brought from home with a weeks worth of in-season, locally grown goods.  The pavilion (pictured above) was designed and built by Tulane architecture students.  Much more than a tool shed, the pavilion serves to educate the community on rain water collection and green design practices.  As of the end of 2009, the market was only open on Saturdays.  Judging by the demand, I’m expecting expanded hours soon!

4 potatos, 2 squash, six oranges, a head of lettuce... so many great local goodies!

happy girl with her veggies!

For hours, events, and location, visit the markets official website.


Jamie Oliver

Jamie Oliver is determined to transform the way we feed our children!  Such a powerful and needed mission, Oliver was recently awarded the TED prize for his work and gave the above presentation of his ‘One Wish to Change the World.’ What is his wish exactly:

“I wish for your help to create a strong, sustainable movement to educate every child about food, inspire families to cook again and empower people everywhere to fight obesity.”

Moving to West Virginia to tackle the problem first-hand, Oliver has generated the perfect case study for change.  In the above video he highlights his work to date.  The accounts are eye-opening though I particularly appreciate the steps he has taken towards solving the problem that seem realistic for any school to incorporate: 2- 1hour sessions in classes, demanding better foods in schools.

Oliver also praises a few ‘angels’ that are already pioneering change.  Though he doesn’t mention them all directly, we have been impressed by a few programs:

The Edible School Yard

Tulane City Center Hollygrove Growers Pavillion and Shade Units

Food Inc. partner Hungry for Change

You can learn more about Jamie Oliver’s wish here.

The Indoor Mini-Garden

I live in an apartment without any yard to speak of (the crawling vines on my building’s fence don’t really count), so there isn’t a place where I can grow my own yummy, organic veggies, even though I want to!  Neither do I possess the green thumb needed to sustain a living plant. Needless to say, when I saw this cool little creation called an Aerogarden, I was pretty stoked.

Touted as the “Foolproof dirt-free indoor garden”, the Aerogarden works by way of oxygen and water.  There is a little pump inside the bottom half of the unit which circulates water into the seed pods, causing them to grow, without the need of a soil base.  The actual science behind this is called aeroponics (similar to hydroponics), which utilizes air and mist to make the growth happen.  The top part houses a special growth light, to make sure the little green guy gets plenty of “sun”.  The Aerogarden is built to house all kinds of edibles and pretty things, from heirloom tomatoes and salad greens, to delicate herbs and flowers.

Though there is no real match to an old-fashion dirt and (real) sun garden, this might be the next best thing!  And you’ll always know exactly where your tomatoes and herbs came from.

TED- “ideas worth spreading”

Lately, I’ve been completely hooked on watching TED videos.  A good TED clip can give me everything I’m looking for when I have a few moments of free time… information, happiness, tears, confusion, awe, amazement, empathy, and more than anything, inspiration.


TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design, the three elements which were the founding premise for this small non-profit back in 1984.  Today TED brings together people from every industry and occupation imaginable, from all over the globe.  It is a platform for individuals to give their story, in 18 minutes or less, about anything, and the topics are all incredible: Biomimicry, water purification, creativity, slowing down in life, happiness, environment, homelessness, intelligence, inventions, ideas, ideas, ideas…. endless, profound ideas.  Not every presenter is poetic, not all presentations are inspiring, but each has something unique and fresh to offer the viewer.

Two of my all time favorite speakers are Jill Bolte Taylor “stroke of insight”, and Elizabeth Gilbert “on nurturing creativity”.  Another fascinating one I just watched tonight, Johnny Lee “demos Wii Remote hacks”.  Check them out, be prepared to open your mind.



Elizabeth Gilbert speaking at TED




The ‘Thank You’ Project


city lights





The optimist in us would like to find something positive in every day.  But as we all know, some days our inner optimist is quite challenged with this task. We’re busy!  We’re working hard!  And sometimes we simply forget to be grateful for the opportunities that create this stress and the goodness that eventually follows.

Meet Julia.  Julia is a passionate, grateful woman on a mission!  A mission to prove to the world that through positive thinking we can achieve whatever our heart desires and needs.  When Julia was faced with several difficult situations and the onset of depression, she did not turn to therapists or pills.  She looked inward and relied on the power of positivity to pull her out.  That’s proof enough for me, but other people were harder to persuade.



In an attempt to practice what she preached and connect with other people, Julia began The ‘Thank You’ Project.  Each day Julia takes a moment to document and share what she is thankful for through her blog.

I asked Julia what inspired her to get this blog started and she had the following to say:  “There are a lot of negative and pessimistic people out there and somehow I seem to come into contact with a lot of them and haven’t always been successful in making them believe that my theory works… And what better way to show and explain something than by your own example? A blog makes it easy for both me and readers – I write, I practice what I preach, and people decide if it’s possible. I belive if I can do it, than everyone can.”


palm trees

Today I am thankful that Julia commented on an Innovate post and led me to discover her wonderfully positive project!  Though I think contributing to one blog is enough to keep me busy for now, I am inspired to start a daily journal of things I am thankful for.  What a wonderful reference and reminder of how lucky we are, especially on the days that simple fact is so easy to forget!



(Each of the images are from an entry of Julia’s that included a photo, click on the images to read why she was thankful for that topic)


ZeeWeed… kind of sounds like an ultra-filtration membrane technology that is revolutionizing the water treatment industry?  That’s exactly what it is!

“The unique design of ZeeWeed® ultrafiltration technology allows it to conserve both energy and precious water resources.”

Brought to you by General Electric, ZeeWeed is a spaghetti like creation that can make even the most germ-ridden water clean and potable.  Made up of a polymer called PVDF, each stringy strand of ZeeWeed contains billions of “nano pores”, tiny holes which filter out bacteria and germs, but allow water to pass through.  The holes are so small (.01 microns in diameter), they can even filter out HIV virus and E.Coli bacteria, with an efficiency of up to “six log removal” (99.9999% effective!)



ZeeWeed is currently being used in large-scale water treatment plants, such as the Kyrene Water Reclamation Facility in Tempe, Arizona, a dry, arid part of the nation where H2O is scarce and recycling water is vital:

“By upgrading to GE’s ecomagination ZeeWeed™ Membrane Bioreactor (MBR) technology, Tempe’s Kyrene Water Reclamation Facility was able to boost its productivity…doubling its water recycling capabilities from 4.5 million to 9 million gallons of water each day.”

ZeeWeed is also much more environmentally friendly than conventional water treatment plants:

” In one instance, a ZeeWeed 1000 water treatment plant used approximately 60 percent less chemicals, 30 percent less land, and produced 35 percent less residual waste compared to a typical conventional potable water treatment plant of the same capacity.”

The future of clean water is looking better.

No Impact Man

“A guilty New York liberal decides to practice what he preaches for one year.  Turns off the electricity, stops making garbage, gives up TV, taxis and take-out and becomes a walking, bicycling, composting, tree hugging, polar bear saving, local food-eating citizen. (All while taking his baby daughter and caffeine loving retail-obsessed television-addicted wife along with him.)”


I couldn’t help but quote the entire tag-line for this incredible film/book/project!

If I had a say in this, the title for Colin Beavan’s noble endeavor would be called “Positive Impact Man”.  Beavan and his family take on life in the Big Apple au natural for a whole year.  That means 12 months of fresh foods (minus refrigerator), hand-washed clothes (minus dryer), and no cars, buses, airplanes, OR electricity!  We’re talking good old fashioned bicycles for transport and reading books by candlelight.

Who needs a car?

Who needs a car?

Beavan’s adventurous and bold undertaking was captured by the sensational 2008 film “No Impact Man”, directed and produced by Laura Gabbert and Justin Schein.

Want to lower your impact and avoid turning on the TV to watch the movie?  Grab the book instead!