Tag Archive for 'smart solutions to modern problems'

Los Angeles Gets Solar Powered Parking Meters

And they take credit cards.

You as smart as you is lovely, City of Angels.

Sent in by the unstoppable SuperForester Alex.

Seen anything else get solar-paneled recently? Snap a pic and email it to superforestnyc@gmail.com. Yes, please do!

MonkeyLectric: LED Light System for Bikes!


boingboing has this great piece up right now about how to turn your bike into a super street safe psychedelic wonder-machine with the MonkeyLectric!.

“The MonkeyLectric m132s is a revolutionary bike light that keeps you visible – and in style. Its ruggedized all-weather design is perfect for daily commuters, urban cyclists, casual evening riders, BMX, festivals – anyone that wants to be visible after dark and not feel like a second class citizen.

The m132s creates full color graphics on your spinning bike wheel, and it provides outstanding visibility. The lighting effects and colors can be easily customized anytime to fit your style – mellow to extreme.

The m132s sets a new standard for bike lighting with brightness, visual quality, effects sophistication, user control and durability that far exceed what has previously been available. It installs in minutes on Road, City, Cruiser, Mountain and BMX bikes.”

Rats! Out of Stock!
No matter, we’ll just put our names on the list and wait patiently for awesomeness.

The MonkeyLectric system is $65.00 per wheel, but what cost total night visibility?
What cost supreme awesomeness really? Are they saying that supreme awesomeness can be yours for merely $130.00? That’s it?

You heard it. $65 for one tire awesomeness, $130 to rule the school.


Solar Having a Really Good Year!

Peak Oil! Doom and Gloom! Petro Sadness! War of the Wells!

So much noise.

Meanwhile, in a quiet antechamber off away from the main stage, the solar power movement has grown massively in scale, all the while increasing in efficiency and decreasing in price.

It seems that everywhere one turns these days, there’s great and encouraging news about solar power. Solar power breakthroughs and milestones are had and overcome with such regularity, that keeping on top of it has become a bit daunting.

And what a wonderful predicament to be in!

So much good news it’s hard to keep track of it all!

Look at all of this wonderfulness:

Treehugger: Solar Industry Growth Prediction: US Largest Market by 2011

CNN: Unique business aims to spread solar power

MarketWatch: SolarCity Offers San Francisco Residents Solar Power for Less than Their Electricity Bills

Wall Street Journal: GT Solar a Bellwether for ‘Green’ IPOs

Seattle Times: Local schools shining light on solar panels

Reuters: Solar panels get aesthetic designs

Energy Exec: Record growth in renewable energy systems

And here’s the crazy thing, all of these news items are six hours old or less.

Every single day brings a tidal wave of encouraging news just like this.

It’s simply impossible not to be excited and optimistic.

Love to all,

Team SuperForest

Birkiland – Cutting Table No. 1

Look at this beautiful flat-pack cardboard cutting table!

From Birkiland = $349.00 + S&H
Picking up some clean cardboard off the street and making one yourself = $0.00 + (time)

Whichever you prefer.

SR109 is
a transportable aeroplane-friendly modular cutting-table
for designers and students alike.

“this, is a cardboard table:
The core of many design projects is the design table,
without such proper costumes are limited to being cut on low desks or floors.

The last few years of constant travel and guerilla studio set-ups were impeded by this one lacking thing – no good clean surface on which to stand by and cut it up. Back aching, fabric soiled and head swelling… productivity was continually slowed. Similarly, during university, fellow students were oft discussing the limitations of cutting on bedroom carpet floors, tiled kitchen surfaces and low tables.

Thus, this light and sturdy corrugated structure was developed to meet the requirements of both the travelling designer and space limited student… or the travelling student and space limited designer, needing an ergonomic sturdy plane on which to cut, fold, draft, design or dine. The affordable biodegradable alternative is easily packed down at the end of your day to regain precious real estate.

Cutting Table No. 1 – 1500mm x 1200mm x 930mm

Has thus far been employed as a cutting table, meeting table, dinner table, baby changing table, RPG table, and a bed. She comes with 3 collapsable drawers, Jute strap moving/storing box, laminated white surface top, and all replaceable parts.”

NY Times: No Impact Man (& Fam!)

Morning All,

Just blundered onto a great piece in the Times about Colin Beavan, NYC’s own No Impact Man.
For last year Colin and his family have been living under a rule set that would make most of us shudder, but this rule set is designed to help the family live with… you guessed it, almost no impact on the world around them.

Of course, the words “no impact” are used here with a fair amount of irony, as Colin’s blog, a journal of his year and life during the experiment, has communicated to a huge amount of people just how little one actually has to give up in order to live sustainably.

We suppose him calling it “Massive Impact Man” might rub folks the wrong way.

But hey…

Here’s the No Impact Man blog.
Here’s an Op-Ed piece Colin wrote for the Times about his home worm composting bin.
Here’s the No Impact Man piece in the NY Times.
And here’s a picture of a mouse riding on a toad’s back!

Love to all,

Team SuperForest

Solar and Wind Powered Billboard in Times Square!


SuperForester Justin just sent this in. It was originally posted on engadget.

“Ever walk through Times Square and wonder how much electricity all those flashy billboards are soaking up? No? Well, Ricoh has, and now they’re doing something about it. Ricoh Company Ltd. of Tokyo is erecting a 47 x 126-foot billboard at Seventh Avenue and 42nd Street that will be completely powered by the sun and wind. Fueled by 45 solar panels and four wind turbines, the billboard won’t even need a backup electric generator. On days that the sun and wind aren’t enough to power it, it will simply go dark. In the end, the billboard is said to reduce carbon dioxide usage by 18 tons a year. The billboard will go live in December, or just in time for the sun to go dark.”

That’s triple awesome. One billboard down, many to go.

Little by little, the world shifts and adjusts to the new responsibility.

Full story on engadget.

Plastic’s Fantastic: Delivery Bike-Mods!

Hello All,

As we’ve previously posted, plastic is a great thing. When it’s used well, that is.

All around town you’ll see that bicycle delivery cats are modding up their bike with plastic accoutrements, so as to make them more functional and convenient. And the plastic components will last and last and last, and if they break, well, there’s certainly not going to be any shortage of available plastic in the near future.

Check it:

Here we see two bikes, each modded with plastic bag/seat covers and corrugated plastic box/rear tire mud guards.

A strip of plastic box attached to the rear basket rest keeps mud and water from leaving a big, brown stripe up your back. Smart.

Here you see the Push Extreme clip on rear mud guard, with a list price of £17.98 (approximately $35.77 US) And that’s before shipping and handling.

Here you see the Chunk of Plastic Taped to the Back of My Bike, with a list price of .30¢ which includes shipping and handling, plus labor.

Both products keep mud off of your back. One is 119 times more expensive than the other.

Here’s a guy who rode past us, but we managed a quick snap. The photo doesn’t really show it, but he had used a slice of bucket as his rear mud guard. You could still faintly read the print of whatever the bucket had contained.

There are great examples of “plasti-engineering” all over town, and we resolve to document them and bring them to your attention. ‘Cause they’re rad and ingenious.

Necessity truly is the mother of invention.

Love to all,

Team SuperForest

Fuller Was Right!

“You may want to ask me how we are going to resolve the ever-accelerating dangerous impasse of world-opposed politicians and ideological dogmas…

I answer, it will be resolved by the computer.”

Buckminster Fuller

How right those words have proved to be!

The internet, this wonderful internet of ours, is nothing more than a gigantic digital conversation between billions of humans.

Humans communicating leads to greater and greater levels of inter-human understanding.

Understanding leads to compassion.

Compassion leads one to ask: “How can I, as an aware and compassionate individual, not do something to help my brothers and sisters worldwide?”

To regard the teeming billions of other humans as family, (and they are,) leads one to the idea that to hurt or enslave one another is an outdated concept. You’d never force a family member to live a life of hopeless poverty, let alone kill them.

So inter-human violence becomes a taboo.

For the first time in our history as a species, pacificism has become de rigueur.

The question in the forefront of the zeitgeist shifts from: “How can we kill as many enemies as possible, so as to access their commodities and ensure the safety of our own offspring?”

To: “How can we help our brothers and sisters live long, prosperous, and healthy lives, that we may all benefit as one species.”


That is an incredible shift.

Furthermore, the internet, as a vast collection of information, has changed the way we feel about the ownership of “things.”

We don’t want stacks of newspapers, we want the information in those papers. The internet provides the information, so the physical paper becomes unnecessary.

Books, magazines, cd’s, dvd’s, devices, charge cords, packaging, batteries.
All of the above are going to have to rethink their places in the contemporary World-hood.

So, the shift in consciousness becomes less: How can we sell the most stuff/How much stuff can we acquire?

And becomes more: How can we package and sell amazing experiences/How many incredible experiences can we have before we shuffle off of this mortal coil?

The makers of stuff are in for a hard time, unless that stuff happens to be high-quality, long lasting, and intensely useful. The change from “stuff” to “heirloom-quality items”

Your grandfather’s watch, shaving-razor, bowler hat, steamer trunk, handed from father to son, father to son, becoming worn out, being repaired, but never ending up anywhere near a landfill.

This is both the old way, and the new way.

To distill:

More communication, less violence. More quality, long-lasting goods, less stuff.
Experiences over accumulation. Long, full lives. Human exploration of all known areas.
The World-hood.

All of these ideas, this shift in attitude, all owe something to the computer.

Fuller was right!

If we dream it, we can have it.
It seems that many in the world-hood are dreaming together.

Love to all,

Team SuperForest

p.s. this post was inspired greatly by the New Yorker article: “Dymaxion Man” – by Elizabeth Kolbert.

Read it online, save a tree.

Plasco Energy and the End of Trash!

Morning All!

I read Niki’s post about NYC’s recycling plan with interest, because trash and our methods of dealing with it have been in the forefront of my mind ever since I saw an amazing piece on Korean television about a Canadian company called Plasco Energy.

Plasco just may have got this whole “trash” thing figured out.

Using a technique called Plasma Gasification, they’ve devised a way to reduce landfill content by 99.9 percent. You heard that right: Ninety-nine point nine percent.

Here’s how their system works:

Municipal solid waste arrives at the Plasco facility where it is shredded.
Recyclables are sifted and sorted out.

What’s left is run through past electric plasma torches in high heat, but almost zero oxygen. This results in decomposition, not combustion. So no smoke is produced, just usable gases. These gases are refined into fuel gas and used to power Plasco’s operation. Meaning, once the system is started, it is self-sustaining, needing only more trash to keep running.

Furthermore, the gases produced are also used to run a series of generators which create electric power. This power is then sold to the grid.

All material left over is then run past the plasma torches a second time, turning decomposed ash into a crystalline, glass-like material which is non-toxic, non-leaching, and can be used as roadbed aggregate, in construction materials, even polished and set to create jewelry. It looks a bit like obsidian, and personally, I think it would make some very cool black brick.

Any water that comes out of the process is perfectly clean and can be used for irrigation purposes.

So, just to recap:

Trash in.
Recyclables, power, fuel, salt, sulfur, clean water, and black glass-like material out.

What’s left? .1 percent heavy metals from improperly disposed trash; things like batteries and paints.

And it gets better. Plasco’s operation, besides being self-sustaining and extremely productive, is very quiet, modular so it can be scaled to whatever size you need, and doesn’t stink up the neighborhood.

New York currently has to pay $90 per ton of trash in hauling and disposal fees.
With a Plasco system in place, NY could be making $15 a ton.

Think what this technology means to the future of NYC.
Instead of looking at trash as a problem, we realize that it is a huge asset.

Fresh Kills Landfill becomes Fresh Kills Mine. Plasma gasification quietly and efficiently turns countless tons of our trash into wonderful usable products like gas and electricity while making our city money!

How nice is that? A landfill is just a mine in reverse!

And you don’t even have to sort your trash anymore.

(Personally, I’ve never understood why the onus of dealing with municipal waste fell on the private citizen. Isn’t the whole point of a state and federal government to deal with that issue, among others? Isn’t the point of those institutions existing to let us live our lives happily, cleanly, and productively? Shouldn’t we be free of the worry that our trash is going to harm our environment?)

Really, what are you and I supposed to do with an aluminum can? A dirty diaper? Our take-out containers?

Plasma gasification, that’s what.

Waste = Food!
Waste = Energy!
Waste = $$$!

What do you think? Should we start a “polite declaration of intention” and ask Mayor Bloomberg to invite Plasco to set up shop in NYC?

It would eliminate 99.9 percent of my concerns about the future of NYC’s trash.

Love to all,


Here’s Plasco’s website: Plasco Energy
And here’s Plasco’s wiki

Oh My Kindle!

Hello All,

Before I left the States, my father gave me a Kindle, which is Amazon’s extraodinary take on the eBook.

I am hooked, hooked, hooked!

I’m usually wary of eBooks because:
1: They get hot and uncomfortable to hold.
2: They are heavy.
3: The screens are hard to read and cause eyestrain.
4: Not many titles to download.

Amazon has solved ALL of these problems.

The Kindle is revolutionary because it uses ePaper, which is like bi-colored beads sandwiched between two pieces of plastic. Run a charge through the plastic and the beads align themselve either face up or face down. One side is black, the other neutral. The result: it’s just like reading a piece of paper. You can tilt it in any direction and still be able to read the screen.

And, like paper, you can read it outside in full sunlight, with no problem.

It doesn’t get hot either. I don’t know why, it just don’t. Read it for hours and it will still feel the same.

It weighs 10 ounces. Not as much as a box of Kleenex.

As far as available titles go, well, you pretty much have all of Amazon to download, and they are putting new titles up with the quickness. Plus you can get the Times, Wired, boingboing, any newspaper, magazine, or blog you wish.

The battery lasts forever. I’ve had it for the better part of a week and am just charging it now. It wasn’t even dead, I just couldn’t stand the thought of not reading Snow Crash on the plane ride back to Seoul.

Now, it has it’s problems, but for a V.1 product, it is a dream of convenience, elegance, and fun.

I want this device to take pictures, open my front door, call my friends, load Google maps, and be my laptop. It doesn’t yet, but by V.10, be assured that it will.

In short, the Kindle is the must have device for Internet 2.0.
The best and most essential new widget to date.

Buy yourself a Kindle, throw it into your D.I.Y. messenger bag, hop on your Strida and pedal yourself to Central Park. I’ll see you there and we can kibbitz.

Bezos, you’re a genius.

Love to all,


Wreck A Movie!

Just found this great site dedicated to collaborative film making.
Makes sense, making movies isn’t cheap or easy. This is mostly because for every person you see in a movie, chances are there are ten people just standing around waiting to do their jobs.

Eliminate the stand-arounds, (not really, just limit their size) and farm the production out to various folks, and you’ve got Wreck A Movie.

Here’s the best thing: Join a movie crew, help them get a movie made, and then you get to start a production of your very own!

Why toil away in isolation? Join forces with other creatives! Many hands make great movies! Or so one would hope.

Check it out: Wreck A Movie

And you simply must see this trailer for the upcoming W.A.M. production called “Iron Sky”
If you like it, why not join the crew?

Space Nazis! Ewwwwwww.

Just a Spoonful of Sugar…

Helps the medicine go down.

Cripes, what a spoonful!

Not really one for the kids, but stays pretty tame.


This viddy came from: Oily Cassandra

designboom: Recycled Jewelry

SuperForester Meg just sent us this great link!

Over at designboom, they’ve got a beautiful multi-page spread of jewelry from around the world made of tantalizing recycled materials.

The pages are ordered roughly according to the materials used, so there’s one page for glass & ceramic, one for paper, one for metals, all very beautiful and with links to the artist should you decide you wanty.

Check it:

Check out poor jewelry @ designboom

Special thanks to SuperForester Meg!