Friday, 31 July 2009

Heroes Are Hard to Find These Days...

... or are they? Not if it's up to us! We know from experience that heroes are just about everywhere. Just don't look for muscular characters with silly capes, secret identities and impractical "super powers" saving the planet. Instead look at your friends, neighbours, relatives, colleagues. I bet they're up to something "heroic" like, well... saving the planet. Only no capes involved this time, and definitely no super powers.

Yes, I'm talking about people doing their bit in helping our battered environment. By recycling, commuting by bike or public transit, composting, insulating their homes, installing low-flow toilets, changing to CFL lights, buying locally, driving less, you name it. The kind of stuff that stays under the radar but is important nonetheless.
How important? Well for one thing, without them we wouldn't have a livable planet Earth much longer. Important enough for modern-day heroes like Canadian astronaut Dr. Roberta Bondard and Juno Award winning singer-songwriter Susan Aglukark to support this initiative. They want to see it happen and you can make it happen.
Those who live around here you may have heard about it on CBC Radio One's "Voyage North", seen the posters or picked up a brochure. If you haven't and want to know more, simply go to our website and click on the Eco Hero button, top left.
Now go find your heroes and let us know about it!

I Love My Chain Saw!

I never was much into doing guy things. I don't care about cars (or trucks, if you live in NW Ontario), I like classical and folk music, don't fish or hunt, am not particularly fond of working the BBQ, don't -dare I say it?- follow sports, and even less guy-like: I have no problem talking about feelings.

But something happened about 3 weeks ago: our grumpy old chain saw officially became a serious safety hazard. The big bloody gash in my upper leg told me loud and clear: don't use this tool ever again if you hope to live to a ripe old age. Or live, period.

New chain saws are expensive, though, until friends of ours told us about their Echo saw they picked up at Roslyn's Hardware Store. I now am the proud owner of a brand new saw, and I love it (thank you, Wendy & Kevin!).
Now I'm looking for excuses to fire her up and cut down stuff. I dream of felling trees, making them drop with uncanny precision. No more ear drum-piercing whining, no more foul smells, no more guzzling of gas & oil, no more struggling to get 'er goin', no more parts falling off, no more fretting if we have enough firewood for this winter, and especially: no more worries about safety and reliability. Ahhh...! Yup, life is all about balance.

Disclaimer: no live trees are being harmed in the process, only dead, sick or blown over ones. And for bucking, we're using a solar-powered electric chain saw. Hey, we're an Eco Centre!

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Jay And Hooray!

Finally, the Eco Centre got the paint job it (she?) needed! We'd been putting it off for about 2 years now and were all set to ignore it for another year, when presto: help emerged in the form of 24 girls from the Ontario Rangers program. They simply called us to see if there was anything they could help us with for a full day. Well, we said, the house needs painting... No problem, was their response, just provide the paint, we'll bring our own brushes and lunches.
And they weren't kidding. That morning 2 big vans pulled up, and out of them piled the 24 able-bodied girls, roaring to go. After a fun house tour and something to drink we started mixing the paint, and off they went.
It was probably the best crew we ever had: focussed, cheerful, fun and hard working. At 3:00 pm the house was all done - except the garage's gable ends over our solar hot water collectors, a very tricky spot that we did the next day (as the picture below shows).
The paint we used was a Milk Paint, by the way. Made from, yup: milk; with specific plants and/or berry elements added for a wide range of colours. It comes as a powder and has to be mixed with water (1 part milk paint powder to 9 parts water for a milk paint wash or stain. Three parts powder to 1 part water for an opaque (house) paint). It's absolutely environmentally safe, doesn't off-gas, leftovers can be safely dumped in the sink and is easy to work with. Just keep it away from your cats who may want to drink it (ours was constipated for about 2 days). And it's probably the only paint you'll have to put in the fridge at the end of the day :-)
It's a regionally manufactured products; we got ours at the Homestead House Paint Co., a small & friendly family-run business in Toronto.

So here's a big shout-out to the Ontario Ranger girls for a wonderful job and for being a blast having around. The Eco Centre looks even better now!
Also a big hug for our dear friend Jane Oldale who not only helped out but also baked solar chocolate chip cookies in her solar oven right here on the spot.

Blog's On!

Blog's on!
The Nolalu Eco Centre has a blog - and not just any ol' blog! This is the place you want to go to to read about all the things we do here to show that it is possible to live a comfortable life style that's more in harmony with our environment. No boring lectures or long-winded articles, just accessible and practical bits and pieces. Simple stuff that works great and not-so-simple stuff that may not work as well. Check back often to see what's going on - and believe me, there's always something going on!