Sunday, 25 April 2010

Terrace Bay's got a Good Thing Going!

Okay, so it may not be the centre of the universe; in fact, not many people may know where Terrace Bay can be found on the map. But Saturday April 24 was a special day for this town and the surrounding communities on Lake Superior's North shore.

Battered as these small communities have been and still are as a result of the declining forrest industry, they just refuse to roll over and die. On the contrary, many are determined to view this economic crisis as an opportunity to move forward instead of backwards.

Hustle and bustle in the hockey arena

One way to move forwards is by refocussing on the future rather than the past. And of course the one big issue that will very much determine our future for a long time to come is the unfolding environmental crisis, forcing us to re-think much of what we've considered "normal" so far.

Terrace Bay's Green Trade Show, organized by Sean Irwin and his happy, hard working team is a great example of this notion. Somehow, this small town of about 1500 souls manages to get just about anyone who is anyone in the green sector to its hockey arena for this one day in April. It's a great opportunity to meet folks in this isolated stretch of the province, to network, inform, inspire and get inspired.

Nolalu Eco Centre's booth

With 72 exhibitor booths and close to a 1000 visitors it's safe to say this year's (only 2nd!) edition was a resounding success. And because admission was only $1.00 (or a non-perishable item for the local Food Bank), the show was accessible for anyone, making it a community-building event rather than commercial event.

Terrace Bay's got a good thing going; kudos to Sean and his crew for making it happen. We're already looking forward to be back next year!

Sunday, 11 April 2010

A Toast To The Environment

Those who read my Greenwash Of The Red (Wine) Variety rant on this blog may remember I have a low tolerance for eco bulls**t. Too many companies are jumping on the green bandwagon, tauting the many "green" or "eco" qualities of their products. In most of the cases those qualities are dubious at best, and in too many other cases plain & simple fabrication.

So when I noticed this bottle of Fuzion last week, a red Malbec from Argentine, and saw the paper collar claiming "Sustainable By Nature", I gave it a pass at first. Yet another blantant example of greenwash, I thought.

But then I read a bit further and learned that the bottle was designed to be 17.5% lighter in weight (requiring less energy to manufacture and to transport), that this family-run winery invests in social welfare programs and 100% sustainable farming, and plow some of their profits back into their community, I thought: Hmm, even if this only half true, it's still a lot more than most wineries can boast.
That, plus the fact that it was a modest $7.50 (yes, I'm cheap) made me decide to take it home.

Checking out their website I wasn't able to find out much more than what the collar said (parts are stil under construction), so I'm still a bit suspicious as to the extent of their claims. Still, they don't claim to be "eco" just because they didn't kill all the wildlife in their surroundings as a certain other wine does, so the verdict for now is: deserving the benefit of the doubt.

(And in case you were wondering: great value for for its price.)

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Nice Paint Job

It's been 3 seasons now since the Eco Centre got its creamy-yellow exterior pain coat, energetically and cheerfully applied by a gaggle of Ontario Rangers (see our "Yay And Hooray" post). Emerging from this winter, we were curious to see how this experiment had held up with 3 harsh seasons under its belt.

Because a bit of an experiment it was; the paint we used wasn't just any exterior paint: it was a milkpaint, arguably he most environmentally friendly paint in existence. Made entirely out of milk components, with berry and plant extracts added to provide a wide range of gorgeous colours. Non-toxic, non stinky, easy to work with. It comes as a powder, just add water.

Still looking good, after 3 rough seasons

Just 2 caveats: it can only be applied to porous surfaces (e.g. drywall, wood, concrete, etc), and it isn't specifically designed for oudoor use. So our decision to paint the entire Eco Centre's exterior with it was a bit of a calculated risk.

We had already applied milkpaint on our Red Pine ceilings, used as a stain to tone down the prominent knots and provide a protective coat at the same time. On the washroom ceilings we sealed the stain with 2 coats of linseed oil, because of the higher humidity there.

First impressions: the exterior paint has held up pretty good. There are some spots where rain or melt water had been streaming lots, showing in somewhat paler colours.
Also, a few small spots had begun to peel a bit here and there. But generally speaking, about 90% looked just fine.

We happen to like the paler areas, it gives the house an elegantly weathered look (some designers  call it a "distressed look", I believe). As for the limited amount of peeling, we figure this is the result of the paint having been applied a bit too dry last year. It had been a hot day, and the the freshly mixed paint was beginning to thicken as some of its water content was beginning to evaporate. Oh well, live and learn. On the upside, any touch-ups are quick and easy to apply, we'll do those once the weather gets nicer.

A warm thank-you to the friendly folks of Homestead House Paint Co. in Toronto for taking their time to be as helpful as they could be and for making us this lovely colour - and a great product in general.