Archive for February, 2010

Week Three: Stuff

Hello Fellow Radical February-ers!

Sorry for the drought in posts (get it?) We had a fascinating week down at the ol’ homestead with an ol’ fashioned shower competiton, in effort to save that most precious resource: h2o! We even tried washing our hair in snow–but it was a little too gravelly despite our boiling efforts. All told, we had a great week.

We’re on to week three: stuff. We’re taking time this week to think about our consumption of all kinds: the paper we use, clothes we buy, the every-day material clutter of life and how it all fits into social and environmental justice. I promise to update more frequently! Come to our Chattin for dinner and conversation on Wednesday at 6:15!!

Cause of hell week and general busyness, we’re having a “stuff” and “food” event next week: wednesday the 24th join us for a stuff swap and a seitan-makin’ how-to! bring stuff you don’t need or want and find some new treasures. we’ll donate the leftovers!

happy week!

Water, water, everywhere!

SO we’re on to week two of our challenge and our focus this week is: water! Our global population is growing and our water supply is shrinking. It’s that simple. An article from MSNBC summarizes some of the issues with our water supply in the U.S, and cites the oft-quoted statistic that by 2050, up to 2 billion people could be facing severe water shortages. There are a ton of ways to reduce your water use, even as a student in a dorm. Showering less frequently, and for a fewer number of minutes each time is one way. Over at Batten House, one way we can definitely save water is by using just one glass or mug each day to drink from, saving our dishwasher and faucet from multiple needless uses. Washing your clothes only when you have a full load, and using cold water, saves both water and energy! One of the best ways to conserve water on a larger scale is a continued theme from last week: eat less meat. We use a lot of our crops to feed animals, and growing those crops takes irrigation. Less animals=less crops=less water use!

Anyways, happy conservation! Dig out your bandannas, french braid those locks, and get ready to radically conserve! Check in with us throughout the week and come to our Water Chattin’ on Wednesday at 6:15!!!!!!

the ultimate challenge

hi all!

Today we went to a diner. An adorable little dinner in Narberth. The kind of place where you want the coffee even if it’s steeped in the blood of hundreds. The kind of place where the pancakes are fluffy, the eggs are light and that americana on the wall is not ironic. I was jonesing hard for the usual bottomless coffee in a perfect-sized mug with the insane pleasure of unpeeling those little plastic tubs of half and half. but i resisted, in an ode to the month of radical living. sated with oatmeal and potatoes, the coffee beast whimpered to a hush and i passed the ultimate challenge.

happy friday!

laura b


yesterday, i decided to go for a run without my headphones/ipod. it might seem like a lame, small step toward radicalism, and i’ll spare you the subsequent musings on the affirmations found in the sound of my breath and the thump of rubber on pavement. i did, however, run by that cemetery near bryn mawr. there were these wiry bushes lined between the road and the gravestones and as I passed, i heard a distinct rustling. Well, more of a harsh rustle, a schurring sound. I crossed the street to get a closer look. The sound was these tiny robins digging (for worms? for infrastructure?) in the icy ground. I don’t think I would have heard their schurrs with my headphones planted in. And I think that’s as good a reason as any for unplugging.

happy wednesday of food-week!

laura b

It’s a typical night in Batten House. We’ve just had our second meeting of the year, with the usual planning and plotting, laughter and sighing, dirty-pot talking and guest-warnings. This time, however, it’s February. And we’re trying out a month of radical action to re-up our commitment to environmental and social justice ideals. Kathy and I gave up coffee. Eva is eating totally local–including condiments and oils, that crazy woman. Most of us are attempting more vegan-centric or local-centric meals. It’s a nice little buzz to be able to chill in the kitchen talking about what each of us are doing…and to speak for myself, it’s making me even more excited for the next three weeks, respectively dedicated to water, stuff, and electricity.

It’s funny how for granted even the “environmental co-op” takes things…last night I was all excited to make some popcorn for meeting, and Eva gently reminded me that the corn we buy to pop comes from….indiana. It made me think how much easier “going vegan” or eating more radically would be with some prior planning. I instantly conjured images of corn fields behind batten house, all of us cheerfully husking the ears to save for popping in the winter. Blame it on early childhood inoculation to Laura Ingalls Wilder and her little houses, but it’s totally thrilling me that this week of being focused on food is bringing me a little closer to those frontier ideals of “keep yer paws off my field, big business.” 

One part of unMake your Mark that I think will prove challenging to us all is how we interpret and discuss these radical steps with those we love. My boyfriend is a firm believer in the nutritional power of milk and meat. (As a ten year old, he built a bookcase and painted milk cartons lifting weights on it…) It can be hard to explain these choices, especially if you’re like me and prefer to constantly flirt with all sides of the movement, gleefully flitting from bemoaning animal rights, reminiscing about the summer you spent tending adorable pigs to drunkenly eating pepperoni pizza from domino’s (not this month, i promise). 

For me, and I’m a little shame-faced to say it, the challenge I’ve set of cutting out coffee has been the hardest. I read this article today that suggests the top five things to look for if you want to procure sustainable, “fair” coffee, and it also acts as a primer on what kind of issues coffee consumption brings up, if anyone’s interested. now excuse me, while i take my second nap of the day…

love and solidarity,
laura b

un Make your Mark

Hello fellow Radical February-doers!

Today is the first day of our radical livin’ month. Our focus this week is food. A lot of us here in the house spent last night finishing up our errant eggs and milk (and some particularly delicious/weird free yoplait delights) and getting ready for the challenge ahead!

Below, find a few links to some sites that might help you in your week of radical food consumption, and don’t forget you are all always welcome for dinner at 6:15!! Later on in the week, check back for more specific tips, ideas, and reasons to go vegan or local for the month of february.

My favorite reason is the school yard rationale of you can’t knock it til you try it.

Hope to see you at dinner!

Laura Boyle, battenik