Tag Archive for 'California'

California – The Cornucopia of the World!

“Room for Millions of Immigrants! Railroad and Private Land for a Million Farmers! A Climate for Health and Wealth!”

Amazing poster from 1876 encouraging immigration to California.

Via the wikipedia entry for propaganda.

US and South Africa Moving Toward Giant Solar Projects!

Hey SuperForest

It’s a good news week for solar energy!

First up, California:  the U.S. Department of the Interior approved yesterday the 1GW Blythe Solar Power Project to be situated on 28.4 square kilometers of desert managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) west of Blythe, California – the largest solar energy project ever to be built on U.S. public lands (factsheet available here). According to the DoI, when constructed, the Blythe Solar Power Project will produce enough electricity to power 300,000 – 750,000 homes.  Negotiations continue with the US Department of Energy to secure federal loan guarantees, but the company is confident that the project will begin before the end of 2010 – and if the political will is there, then I’d anticipate that the guarantees will follow.

The project will use parabolic trough technology, where long rows of curved mirrors concentrate sunlight onto a fluid in a central receiver, which is then used to heat water vapor, which in turns drives a turbine (diagram!).

A project of this size will clearly have an impact on the local habitat – to mitigate this the project has been subject to extensive environmental review and BLM is requiring the developers to provide funding for more than 8,000 acres of desert tortoise, western burrowing owl, bighorn sheep and Mojave fringe-toed lizard habitat.

This announcement comes on the heels of the approval earlier this month of the first five renewable energy projects ever on public lands – Imperial Valley Solar Project, Chevron Lucerne Valley Solar Project, Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System and the Calico Solar Project, all in California; and the Silver State North Solar Project in Nevada.  As BLM Director Bob Abbey says:

“With the approval of the Blythe project, the solar projects approved on BLM public lands in the last few weeks have the potential to generate up to 2800 megawatts of renewable energy. That’s enough to power up to 2 million homes … We have truly arrived at America’s new energy frontier.”

And! in more good news, the Guardian reports that South Africa is to unveil plans this week for what it claims will be the world’s biggest solar power plant – a 5GW project using giant mirrors and solar panels across an initial 9,000 hectares of state-owned land in the Northern Cape province.  The project would aim by the end of its first decade to achieve an annual output of 5GW of electricity – currently one-tenth of South Africa’s energy needs.  In a country which is currently dependent on coal-fired stations for most of its power, and one in six people still lacks electricity, this is a huge deal!

An estimated 200 foreign and domestic investors will meet this week in Upington, Northern Cape, with a view to funding the hugely ambitious solar project. A master plan will be set out by the US engineering and construction group Fluor. This follows a viability study by the Clinton Climate Initiative, which described South Africa’s “solar resource” as among the best in the world.

One of the sunniest 3% of regions in the world, the Northern Cape is South Africa’s largest province – and one of the poorest – but the hope is that the solar park would create a “solar hub”, regenerating the local economy.

We’ve seen the eye-opening infographic showing the surface area required to power the world via solar power alone. As Jonathan de Vries, the project manager and a special adviser to South Africa’s energy minister, said:

Solar power isn’t a panacea that will cure all but it’s a part of the solution, and a very important part.

State projects on a large scale are surely an important step toward that solution. And a little friendly international competition to invest the most in solar energy? That’s something I could get behind.



Proposition 8 Overturned

Today, a victory.

A federal judge in California has ruled that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage violates the Constitution’s guarantee of equal rights for all Americans.

The opinion, issued Wednesday afternoon by U.S. District Court Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker, scuttles the state’s “Proposition 8,” a state Constitutional amendment barring such unions. The so-called “Prop 8” was approved by California voters in 2008, just months after state legislators legalized same-sex marriage – prompting more than 18,000 couples to converge on city halls across the state to marry.

And Vaughn, who was appointed by President George H. W. Bush, drew on history in defending the right of same-sex couples to legalize their committed relationships: Such relationships, he said, “are consistent with the core of the history, tradition and practice of marriage in the United States.”

Super. Thank you, President Bush, for appointing Hon. Vaughn! This isn’t the end of the road, though. The United States Supreme court is expected to hear this issue, but for now we can appreciate this small triumph.


SuperForest Street Snaps: Wood Chalk Face


In an alleyway in Venice, CA. Artist unknown.

Weekly ReNEWSables – Incentives to Adopt Solar Energy, Investment in Wave and Tide Tech

Good Day SuperForest!

I hope you are all having awesome weekends! At some point I’ll probably resist the compulsion to attempt to pun on the inclusion of the word “news” in “renewables” but until then I can offer you only a sheepish apology.  I like to follow developments in the renewable energy sector and wanted to offer a small selection of bitesize treats for you – a balanced meal of things we can do in the first person in our own homes with our own resources and a side order of larger scale industry-wide investments:


California to Subsidize Your Solar Water Heaters:

California regulators have approved a $350 million program to subsidize the installation of solar water heaters to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  The program will allocate $250 million for the replacement of hot water heaters fueled by natural gas and $100.8 million for those powered by electricity with solar water heaters (a nifty storage tank and solar array using the sunny sun to warm the water) and “customers of California’s three big investor-owned utilities will receive rebates of up to $1,500, or about 30 percent of the cost of replacing a residential natural-gas hot water heater with a solar system”.

UK Government Announces “Feed in Tariffs” for Your Investment in Home Renewable Energy:

The UK government has announced its plan to provide financial incentives (“Feed in Tariffs”) for small scale adoption of solar power!  The Guardian breaks it down here but, in short, “the government has finally agreed to reward households and businesses installing electricity-generating measures with enough of a return to make it a serious financial, as well as an environmental, investment. If you’ve got the money (which is a big “if”) and, crucially, a sunny, south-facing roof, you can earn a 7%-10% tax-free return, an income that will rise in line with inflation. At the same time, you get to do more than your fair share in reducing the UK’s carbon­ emissions.” The government has also said that it will be giving feed-in tariffs to households installing solar water heaters (like in California!), from April 2011.

Inevitably there’s argument as to whether the plans are too timid, but if want to suggest it to your parents, your landlord, or if you’re a homeowner yourself then now is a great time.


(pretty pics from the Carbon Trust)

UK Carbon Trust Announces £22m Funding to Develop Marine Energy Technologies:

The UK Carbon Trust (a not-for-profit company with the mission to accelerate the move to a low carbon economy by providing specialist support to help business and the public sector cut carbon emissions, save energy and commercialise low carbon technologies) announced this week plans for its Marine Proving Fund to provide £22 million (US$35m) funding (money from the Department of Energy and Climate Change) for what it considers to be the six most promising marine (ie wave and tidal) energy technologies under development in the UK.  They’ve selected 6 companies to receive the grants to help move from prototypes to commercial projects. This is exciting as research by the Carbon Trust shows that 25% of the world’s wave and tidal technologies are being developed in the UK, but that financial constraints have frequently inhibited progress because they’re not yet considered commercially viable – but if we only ever invested in the technologies that are already successful businesses we’d never move forward.

nom nom nom


Jackson’s Journal (12/2/09) Opportunities A’plenty!

picture-1(lovely image by Matt Sewell)

Goood morning SuperForest!

Phew! It felt so good to write that confessional post. Like a big ol’ balloon of fear has been released! I highly recommend starting a blog, simply so that you can use it to say what you’re afraid of, and thus defuse the fear. Everyone should start a blog. For serious.

Here is the new situation SFJ has lucked into…

After living in NYC for three years, I have returned to Los Angeles, the city I was born in. I’m now living in my boyhood home, with my brother, my father, SuperForester Kate, and Baloo, the non-wonder dog. We five now find ourselves in a very interesting situation: Can we all share a house and live more sustainably together AND still all feel good and get along? Like, how far can you take the SuperForesting?

I realize that to be an effective an non-hypocritical SFJ, I must practice exactly what I preach and make my home The Environment. When I lived in New York, I lived alone, and was free to recycle and compost and build wild and crazy inventions, and make a mess, and not be in anyone’s way. Now there are other people to consider and so I’ve tried to move slowly and step lightly, making sure to clean a lot and do a lot of dishes. (When it comes to “saving the environment,” I cannot overstress the importance of cleaning and doing dishes. It may seem silly, but it’s vital. Start with the environment you see right in front of you, AKA your house/room/tent. Once you’ve finished that, move on to your block, then the entire neighborhood, in an ever-expanding circle of awesomeness.)

Now that I’m back home, in a house, with a yard, and sunlight, and nice weather, I’d very much like to explore a possibility: I’d very much like to see if I can take the SuperForesting to a higher level. I’d like to see if I and SuperForester Kate, and my brother, and father, and mother, and sister, (when they are in town) can transform our little house  from one that consumes a great deal of energy to one that EXPORTS energy, or is at least self-sustaining. I want to see if we can LIVE SuperForest.


(living SuperForest involves a lot of leaping :) Image via thetravellerslounge)

I see so many ways that we could subtly alter how we are living that would allow us to live with a lighter footprint on the Earth. Since I arrived from New York, I’ve been overseeing the houses recycling, and started us composting, switched to non-petro cleaners, washing the laundry on cold, that sort of thing. (Must start hang drying!) I’ve been waking up early and seeing where the sunlight hits our yard makes me think that some raised bed gardens could be perfect and easy to set up. I’d love to turn off the sprinkler system and get rid of the lawns. Where can this house save water? How can it catch and hold water when it rains? What could we do to increase the houses energy efficiency? Would solar heaters work for us? Solar power? Better insulation?

So many questions!

But the biggest one is: How could all this be done with a minimum of expense. Buying as little as possible, preferably none. Using reclaimed and upcycled materials whenever possible. How could we all live beautiful, happy, healthy low energy lives? How much material could we save from getting tossed out, and instead use it to improve the quality of our lives?


Gardens would keep us outdoors more, and the exercise and fresh food would save us money and gas and help us live longer. I’ve been raking the leaves in the yard, and instead of putting them in the can for the city to deal with, I’ve just been piling them up as mulch at the base of the plants. This helps the plants by keeping water from evaporating out of the surrounding dirt, and the leaves break down into compost. Right now, we’ve got a gardener who comes and leaf blowers all of those leaves into a corner of the yard, then he cans them up, and gets them gone. But those leaves are valuable biomass (aka: dirt), or they would be, if given the opportunity. Right now, the soil in our yard is hard clay. I cannot help but think what the soil would be like if instead of leaf blowering all of those years of leaves away, the leaves had simply lain there, broken down naturally, and allowed the process nature has perfected to run its simple course.


We’d have dirt like an biodynamic farm on Maui! Mountainous piles of rich, black, earthy loam! Crawling with earthworms and beneficial bacteria! That would be dirt you could grow tomatoes in…

I’ve found myself in an incredible opportunity.

I live in this beautiful house with wonderful people, in an extraordinarily lucky situation. I want to serve this place and see if we can all transform this property, and by extension our very lives, together. And I want to share that journey with you. I want to garden my home myself, and clean it, and repair it, and work to keep it well. I want to see if love can transform this home into an oasis of peace and sustainability. And why not? The fixes are minute. Behavioral mostly. It’s amazing how simply one can save energy, when one is in the mindset of energy saving.

Let us explore together, and see if one home like many others can begin taking the baby steps of the life SuperForest.

Now, to ask Mummy if it’s okay…


Love to All,


“Fuel” Premiers in Los Angeles This Friday! 2/13/09 Ride Your Bike and Get in Free!


Good Morning SuperForest!

We’ve got a special announcement for all of our Californian SuperForesters!

Josh Tickell’s new film, Fuel is premiering this Friday in Los Angeles and he has got a special message for us all:

“Hello SuperForest!

This is filmmaker Josh Tickell inviting all SuperForesters in the Los Angeles area to please come to the premier of my new film FUEL, which opens on Friday, February 13th in Los Angeles.

FUEL opens at AMC Lowes Broadway 4 in Santa Monica (TICKETS) and at the Laemmle Sunset 5 in Hollywood (TICKETS)

Tell your friends, bring your family, take your Valentine, and spread the word.

President Obama wants us all to take part in change – here’s your chance!



Thank you, Josh!

Here’s the trailer:

For added fun, the first 100 folks who show up on bikes get free tickets. How cool is that?



Here is the invite:

Join the alternative car and bike parade to L.A.’s February 13 Opening Night Show. Free tickets for the first 100 riders! Mount your trusty two-wheeler or rev up that biodiesel. Put your pedal to the metal to show LA what FUEL is taking about!

Alternative Car and Bike Parade – 6 PM PST, February 13, 2009


* Gather at 6 PM PST
* Meet at the top of the Santa Monica Pier by the cannon in Palisades Park
at the corner of Ocean and Colorado
* RSVP to Jon Luskin — jonluskin@gmail.com
* Parade will lead to 7 pm opening night showing of FUEL at the AMC Lowes Laemmle Sunset 5 on 3rd Street in Santa Monica.
* Everyone in the parade gets a glow necklace to wear since it will be nightfall.

Well, that sounds fun. I wish I could be there. I love a good bike ride.

Hope everyone has a good time. And a big thank you to Josh for the message and to SuperForester Julia for hooking up the info.

Love to All,


SuperForester Laura Hanna Presents Two Solution-tastic Films: “Commons” & “A City Made of Waste”

Good Morning SuperForest!

We just got an email in from filmmaker and video artist, Miss Laura Hanna! She has just released two very cool films.

In the first, “Commons” Laura and Co. explore a system that reinforces the collective good and ways to support it.

“A commons arises whenever a given community decides that it wishes to manage a resource in a collective manner, with a special regard for equitable access, use, and sustainability…”

David Bollier

Ooooo! We like that.

Next is a great little piece, “A City Made of Waste”, which explores the new housing synergism evolving along the California/Mexico border. Recycled materials from San Diego are shipped South to become walls and houses in Tijuana, and the opportunities for growth and collaboration are ripe and rampant.

Check it:

Laura created “A City Made of Waste for NY MOMA’s exhibition: Home Delivery: Fabricating the Modern Dwelling

After watching these two extraordinary pieces, I jumped on the phone and rang up Miss Hanna, who agreed to grant us a little interview. That will be this coming Tuesday, so the interview and profile should be up later next week.


Laura Hanna is amazing. We can’t wait to see what she does next!

“Prop 8 – The Musical” Starring Jack Black, John C. Reilly, and Many More

Carla just sent word of this:

This is marvelous.
Thanks funnyordie!

The Trash Collector

I just found this on newsreview.com, and it takes recycling to a whole new level:

Emmy Winning Los Angeles cameraman Dave Chameides (or “Sustainable Dave”, as he’s deemed himself) decided last year to reduce his environmental footprint by keeping his garbage for a year… in his basement! Dave’s goal, in his own words: “

“I came to the realization that if we were all accountable for our waste, if we couldn’t simply make it disappear, we’d have to deal with some pretty ugly truths about the way we live. And in so doing, it would cause us to start making better decisions about what we buy, where we buy, and what’s left over.”

It’s a very simple, but powerful idea, literally putting yourself face-to-face with your own waste and impact on the planet. And while Dave’s may seem a radical statement or lifestyle, imagine if everyone in the world were forced to be fully responsible for their own waste. How would the visual and tactile realities of our own self-landfills, change the way we interact with our world? I know just looking at my overflowing plastic bin is tremendous personal motivation to both get off my lazy bum and recycle, as well as to reuse or reduce my waste.

So way to go Dave, raising sustainabilty awareness by boldly going where few other humans (or even eco-activists), dare to go!

And check out his blog: 365daysoftrash for great ideas and solutions for how to lower your own waste footprint. Dave started Dec 31st, 2007 and is currently on Day 274 (for the record, that’s not Dave in the picture)

Great Picture.

Good morning All,

SuperForester Rebecca just sent us this beautiful photo and a message:

Pepperdine (University) did something cool with that gorgeous water hogging lawn of theirs! Surprising and moving.

A flag for every American soldier killed in the war. There were lots and lots and lots. If you’re in the area, reroute for a drive by.

peace! peace! peace!


A big thank you to Rebecca.

It’s so important to remember that Peace and patriotism can dance hand in hand down the road of life.

Dig it, I love my country, AND I love Peace!
I also love the free-market economy, capitalism, growth, domestic jobs and security.


Not on your life, Buster Brown.

Love to All,

Jackson and Team SuperForest


Morning All!

Here’s what we’re digging on this Thursday.


Futurefarmers is an art and design collective out in California, and they are doing some very cool things:

Sundial watch! Comes in Summer only, or year-round models!

Lunchbox laboratory allows young scientists to participate in screening different strains of algae. This will in turn help the scientists who are developing algael-biofuels. Minty!
The powers of collective effort cannot be underestimated.

Pogo-shovel! Bounce around the field breaking up dirt clogs and burning away flab! Win/win!

Futurefarmers has an artist in residence (AIR) program that provides assistance to artists working on sustainably themed works.

Futurefarmers AIR program.

So if you are or know of an artist currently working to improve the human environment, apply for a grant through Futurefarmers.

Nice work, y’all!

Smarter Solar Panels

Nanosolar in Palo Alto, CA has invented a method of printing thin, flexible, solar panels!

Instead of thick, bulky panels, these panels are as thin as a supermodel, and produce far more electricity!

Check out this short!

Nanosolar, Inc.
5521 Hellyer Avenue
San Jose, CA 95138
Fax: 408.365.5965
Email: info@nanosolar.com