A Call to Open Farms!

Friends,

I could not be more excited about what’s in the works!

As but one call-to-action from The Renewables: Thinkable is Doable!, we are planning and building A Call to Open Farms.

A Call to Open Farms will couple the tactility of my first non-profit — FarmHands-CityHands, formed 28 years ago to link farm and city for the social, cultural, economic and environmental enrichment of both — with the immediacy and reach of today’s technology.

A Call to Open Farms will encourage and enable folks from all walks of life to visit as many area farms, farmers’ markets, country and county fairs, stores and restaurants that support local culture and agriculture as possible…and to prove it in juicy ways, online and off.

On an ongoing basis spiced with seasonal variations, A Call to Open Farms will:

* Educate people about the importance of local food and farming, and about the opportunities for farm-city links.

* Guide participants to area markets, farms, wineries, breweries, distilleries, fairs, festivals, stores and restaurants that support local agriculture, including ways and means of getting there.

* Give them the tools to provide creative and profuse Proof of Presence (PoP) — allowing them to post a vibrant array of videos, photos, stories, songs, performances, poems, recipes and more at www.TheRenewables.net and www.FarmHands.org.

* Reward them for their involvement — from the intrinsic pleasures of digging in, helping out, making friends and being the farm-city link to prizes like FarmStay getaways, flower bouquets, private wine tastings, meet-the-chef meals, and more….

* Celebrate the results with exciting events like Eaters’ Appreciation Day, Giving of Thanks Soiree, and more.

We’re making plans for in-city FarmFests, biodiesel bus tours, up-country FarmDays, and for a program that we think will herald a delicious and propitious bonding of people, call to nature and use of technology.

We’ll of course keep you posted!

A Call to Open Farms will be a wonderful ride. And we want you with us on it!

As importantly, since we’re already planting seeds, we hope you will begin now in visiting and supporting all the local farms and markets that you can!

Warmly and looking forward,
Wendy Dubit, aka Biodiesel Babe

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Welcome to The Renewables: Thinkable is Doable!


Welcome to all things lean, clean, green from The Renewables: Thinkable is Doable.

In case you haven’t been here before, or haven’t been back in a while, The Renewables: Thinkable is Doable is the brainchild of brand builder Wendy Dubit (aka Biodiesel Babe) and the first effort out of the Renewable Media gate.

Through compelling content and concrete calls to action, The Renewables educates about and celebrates all that is renewable in energy, agriculture and life…and gives people and places the impetus and tools it takes to make their ideas and ideals real.

Here you can:

1) Learn about how people who create change do it – from Gregor Mendel (making peas) to Mahatma Ghandi (making peace) and Helen Keller (seeing possibilities), to Thomas Edison, Rudolph Diesel, Henry Ford, Marie Curie, Martin Luther King, Steven Jobs, Al Gore, Bette Midler and more.

2) Get Renewable Tools that kids, teens, families, schools, organizations, corporations and towns can use to:

3) Make Renewable Ideas and Ideals Real — from the agricultural cooperative that makes its own energy to the inner-city community center that saves it; from the sisters who repurpose a neighborhood’s toys, to the boy who writes a renewable song that rocks the world….You make it real. We’ll make it known. Using the best of social networking tools and the power and generosity of our partners, The Renewables will help you to…

4) Be Seen. Be Heard. Create Change. Reap Renewable Rewards!

Educate, Create, Celebrate, Reward, Replicate….

Well that’s our plan, anyway. Like all things, The Renewables: Thinkable is Doable will happen bigger, better and faster to the extent that we can work and play together.

Please stay tuned for A Call to Open Farms, which will encourage folks to visit and support as many local farms, fairs and markets as possible and to share the results in all the vibrant and viral real-world and online ways they can.

It’s going to be a wonderful ride!

And for every good reason, we hope you will join us on it….

Warmly and looking forward,

Wendy Dubit and the Biodiesel Babes

Pictured above: Renewable Kitchen from Cornell University’s Silo House at the Solar Decathlon

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Return to Roots…

Friends,

I invite you to join me at a delicious and propitious time and place:

Over the next few months, I hope to be “buying the farm!”

I mean that in only the best senses of the words – “buying the farm” as an investment in, showcase for and shared experience of all things renewable…energy, agriculture, work, life and play.

It feels like a long-awaited homecoming and a well-timed springing forth.

Twenty five years ago, I founded FarmHands-CityHands to link farm and city for the social, cultural, environmental and economic enrichment of both. Through it, tens of thousands of New Yorkers visited area farms to get their hands dirty and their minds clean; to learn first-hand what does and doesn’t grow on trees.

Our tag line was “New York: Love it and Leave It.”

FarmHands-CityHands was about building bridges between producer and consumer – enriching and cross-stitching rural and urban people and fabrics and proving that, in truth, we feed each other.

For many country-hungry city dwellers, FarmHands was a dream come true.

For me, it was the fruition of a dream I’d been living for a long time.

When I was five, my family moved to a Maryland subdivision that could easily be considered “cookie-cutter.” But not for us: Our street backed onto a farm that had once encompassed much of the county, but that year-by-year was carved away to make way for more homes. I went down to the farm whenever possible – always eager to learn more and help out. By the time I was twelve, the farm gave me a shack that served as a clubhouse. Some days, friends prevailed, and we went to the strip mall at the other end of our street. More often, we were on the farm, playing and working at what we would later become – journalists, entrepreneurs, farmhands.

It was a thread that I would hold to tight and work with always.

At college, I found myself writing about energy and agriculture and delving into Cajun culture – trawling the bayou, frying up every kind of creature, baking biscuits with the best of them.

In France, a series of hands-on food and farming articles found me fishing for eel, force-feeding geese, making Camembert and Calvados and fostering new forms of agri-tourism.

Fast forward a few career incarnations in food, wine, farming, media and technology. Add an increased urgency for conservation, preservation and education. Bring it all together, and we have….

The Renewable Ranch – a paragon of renewable energy, agriculture and lifestyle and a “green” resort where folks from all walks of life can brew biodiesel, grow food, tend vines, make wine, herd sheep, eat well, see stars, sleep sound…and so much more.

Like Spring, The Renewable Ranch could be coming sooner or later! And it begs your involvement. So please stay tuned!

Warmly and looking forward,
Wendy Dubit, Vergant

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Renewable Returns!


As all of the domain names coming up for renewal reminds me, TODAY is the birthday of of Biodiesel Babes and The Renewables: Thinkable is Doable!

This day a few years back I fell in love with and almost “bought the farm” for to build and run a renewable dude ranch where folks like us could build solar sheds, brew biodiesel, tend vines, make wine, grow food, cook and dine together, see stars, work hard, sleep well.

EVERYTHING had its intended use — the fields, pond, creek, stone walls, build lot, old house, smokehouse, artist’s studio, historic barn. But what was that “Ponies Only” section out back? And what could it become? Perhaps it would be where kids make gimp lanyards while parents drink local whiskey and shoot skeet? Or better yet, where little ones generate electricity, learn about food chains, plant seeds and the like? Hmmmn….

Several reality checks and a few big banking crises later, I remain without land. But I’ve got lots of intellectual property and what I hope turns out to be a virally good idea.

In the realms of renewable energy, agriculture and life, we plan to host a series of Renewable Challenges — contests that will:

* Educate about issues
* Spotlight solutions
* Give people the impetus and tools they’ll use to be part of the solutions
* Encourage them to be juicy, creative and collaborative in their sharing of ideas and actions
* Showcase and celebrate the results

For example, how many farms and farmers’ markets can we visit, and how vibrantly and profusely can we prove it — online and in the real world, through video, photos, assorted artworks, recipes, poems, stories, songs? Where does our energy come from, and how can we make more it while using less? How can one man’s trash become another’s treasure? Which TV show or network most successfully campaigns against climate change?

Of course The Renewable Challenge we will start small and stay fresh.

But with your help, The Renewables: Thinkable is Doable can grow in all sorts of meaningful, wonderful ways.

For every good reason, we’d love your insight and could use your energy!

Meantime, I’m still wondering what “Ponies Only” means.

Any insights?

Warmly and looking forward,
Wendy

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Greetings…From the Verge!

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Secrets of Sustainable Scandinavia

My renewable friends know that I’ve sometimes had a hard time in the suburbs:  Too many people seem to live their lives in cars and traffic, to talk about traffic and cars, to get too little sun on account of going from home garage to office garage to supermarket / shopping mall garage to….

Well, that’s been changing!  Changing for me because of the local markets — Garrett Park, Grosvenor, Whole Foods Rockville — that I walk to, buy fresh food at and meet friends in frequently.

Because of my involvement in Bethesda Green, which incubates, educates, initiates and CELEBRATES all things sustainable.

Because of a “Natural Capital” series by Doo Consulting — a firm that creates programs and workshops that guide clients toward meaningful integration of sustainable business practices.

I was INSPIRED by a recent Natural Capital working breakfast called “Secrets of Scandinavian City Planning.”  During it, Maryland-based city Planner Chris Jakubiak shared findings from a fact-finding tour of Malmo, Sweden and Copenhagen, Denmark — two cities and countries connected by a bridge and, increasingly, by connected cultures, economies and commitments to community and conservation.

Chris’ presentation portrayed development plans and initiatives of Malmo, Cophenhagen and its Orestad suburb over time…both from an eagle’s eye and ground-up view.  His excellent photography captured a diversity of areas from the old town centers to industrial re-use, from wide open spaces to high-density developments — images augmented by Jakubiak’s insights and descriptions of how the Scandinavians plan cities to be sustainable, resilient, energy efficient and synergistic.

I was amazed to learn that what these cities had lost by way of the shipbuilding and manufacturing of yore, they had more than made up for in current employment and thriving educational institutions.

These are “cycling cities” that have reduced car dependency through ubiquitous bikeways and walkways, reliable bus and train service and preservation of open spaces — which in Orestad wedge out like green fingers between areas of carefully considered mixed-use development. The architecture and landscaping, use of water and water filtration, prevalence of green roofs and green spaces was striking.

But what struck me more was the lifestyle and THE LIFE — open town centers where parents can enjoy themselves at outdoor cafes while their children play and skateboard in adjoining spaces not a stone’s throw away.  Apartment complexes — like 8 Tallen — a green roofed oasis in Orestad where residents can bike door-to-door between home and their worlds…as you can see from the following:

In the Q & A and networking that followed Doo Consulting’s Natural Capital event, there was discussion and exchange of best practices in sustainable planning and building…with the promise of more to follow.

On the way from Bethesda Green to the Metro, I walked with Ola Goransson, the new Counselor for Energy and Environment in the Office of Science and Innovation at the Embassy of Sweden, and a great contributor to discussions earlier.  His bike would be waiting for him at the Dupont Circle stop so that he could ride back to his offices in the beautiful House of Sweden, on the Potomac waterfront in Georgetown.

We talked of how biking had become more popular here — perhaps a happy, healthy import from Europe.  We talked of environmental efforts in both countries, about the February 17 Climate Change rally in Washington, about whether Keystone Pipeline legislation would likely pass, about highlights of the Environmental Film Festival. And we made plans to walk and talk again and to introduce each other to like-minded organizations, events, colleagues and friends.

It had been a glorious morning of learning and exchange.  And I plan to attend these Natural Capital gatherings again when I can!

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Why We LOVE GHD!

For nearly 25 years — all of FarmHands-CityHands’ life — founder Wendy Dubit has seized Groundhog Day for herself and for the sake of all she cares about most.

She is happy to share the spotlight with Punksutawney Phil, who this morning DID NOT SEE HIS SHADOW — portending the swift arrival of Spring (even as severe Winter storms cripple the Northeast).

She is equally happy that here is one holiday Hallmark has not cashed in on (yet)… and that she and her friends, family, companies and causes can have huge, meaningful fun with.

Wendy uses Groundhog Day to remind us all that:

* Not only is Spring right around the corner…but that it is already happening inside of us…has been built in all along.

* It’s never too soon to start thinking of and planning for Spring — plotting your garden, ordering seeds, enjoying longer days and more birdsong, thinking about what you want to make manifest.

* As Diana Kappel-Smith writes in Wintering: “In the winter, everything out of doors seems to be gone. But…we know that nothing is gone, and that all the rich life of a June morning is out there on a January morning.”

* As our dear friend John O’Donohue says, ““Nothing is ever lost or forgotten.”

* Drinking Groundhog Day Cuvee (which Wendy made lots of in her heyday, and will again soon) is a good thing!

Warmly and looking forward,

Wendy (or is that GH)?

P.S.  To read Wendy’s first published poem about Groundhog, written yesterday, keep scrolling! Also, please check out two new additions to our blog family — WonderWorks Productions and Poetry Bee.

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Ode to Our Groundhog

To Groundhog, dear….
Who looks up at earth
While sleeping below it,
Who sun smiles down on
(Though you might not yet know it)!
Who emerges tomorrow
To portend SPRING.
Oh, Groundhog, our sign of
All HOPEFUL things!
Oh Groundhog,
We LOVE YOU,
Shadows or not.
For YOU are propitious,
You show us our lot:
That Spring, no matter
How near or far it may be,
Is felt in our bones
Long before we can see.
It rises like sap.
It flows, sweet, fresh free.
It is tender, but strong.
It is here, within me.
And today, though it ices,
Though it freezes and snows….
SPRING, it is COMING.
And YOU let us know!

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Ha Ha Happy Hanukkah!


Ha Ha Happy Hanukkah All!

And HUGE THANKS to Chabad, which has helped me to more deeply embrace and celebrate so many Jewish holidays over the years.

Hanukkah, in particular, is a holiday of renewal….

According to Zalman Shmotkin of the Chabad-Lubavitch News Service, inherent in Hannukah is the message: “Spread Light! A little light dispels much darkness.”

The menorah I light this year is from Chabad — one of more than four million such kits they have distributed to people from all walks of life around the globe — as gifted to us at their annual dinner for journalists in NYC.

Much more about the “Festival of the Lights” is available here.

May you ENJOY this and every holiday.

And may it kindle something wonderful in and for you.

Warmly and looking forward,

Wendy Dubit and the Biodiesel Babes

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From Hopenhagen….


HOORAY for Hopenhagen and 350.org.

HUGE THANKS to homegrown heroes like Pete Seeger, who recently told us he was more hopeful than ever; Anna and Frances Lappé, whose Small Planet Fund makes a world of difference, locally and globally; Margaret Lydecker of Green Drinks who brings us all together in ways that are meaningful, fresh and fun.

A SHOUT OUT to my brother and sister-in-law, whose Planet First Aid is helping us save energy, time and money.

GRATITUDE for the days that I used a little less power, and for times when nature came to me even before I came to it.

And HAPPY HOLIDAYS to you and yours.

Warmly and looking forward,

Wendy Dubit and the Biodiesel Babes

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