So often I’m studying science, technology, or some other such subject like organic gardening and earthbag building, that I forget about creativity. Ripples isn’t just living without a car and making vegan dinners, it’s also about admiring the rainbows reflected in a prism catching the afternoon light from our window, and playing with the swirls of white “fire” after pouring coconut cream into a cup of black tea. And, yes, it’s about dreaming of rainbow lollipop trees, with rippling branches and spreading roots. This logo was sketched on paper with copic markers and ink, but later converted into a digital representation of what we’re trying to express. Organic. Social Justice. Deep roots. Ripples of change. And before you think, “Wait, nature doesn’t make rainbow trees!” Think again: I had the enormous pleasure of seeing in person a park full of “Rainbow Eucalyptus” trees when I visited Costa Rica.
I need to remember that our homestead without an artistic spirit is really just a building. It’s our creativity and personalities which make it come to life with a new message for sustainability-seekers: this is fun. This is creative. This is going to make people happy.
We’re continuing with our redesign of Ripples, to include more hand-drawn art in the margins, header, and background of the site. Expect more changes in the months to come, and please give us feedback on how these changes affect you and touch your experience of Ripples. We want it to be fun to read about conservation. We’d like you to laugh when you read about capturing rainwater. So let us know how we’re doing in the comments below our posts or on our Facebook Page.
What do you think of the new logo?
So far, about 50 people have seen it without commenting or clicking “like”, so I’m beginning to wonder if they’re just busy this week or if I’ve created some socially-taboo tree or something…
Valentine’s Day is a great time to share your care; here are ways to do so without hurting anyone or anything.
I love Valentine’s Day and spreading little notes and treats around. Although I’m not perfect at it, trying to spread the love without spreading injustice and destruction is a top priority for me. This week’s issue of The Free Weekly is out today, and contains great articles on Comprehensive Sex Education, loving meat-producing animals, and the latest Making Ripples column about creating a Valentine’s Day gift box from a toilet paper roll! Here are some reminders for how to love your sweetie without harming the planet and other people:
Buy local. Shipping things from far away adds to our climate change problem.
Be fair. Chocolate isn’t harmless if children were enslaved to produce the sugar and the farmers don’t get paid fairly, so purchase fair trade chocolate.
Know your ingredients. Even if a product doesn’t have a certified stamp on it, chances are, it could be harmless – research the ingredients if possible.
Reuse before recycling. Turn something old into something new, and help reduce the waste stream.
Roses have more than thorns. Make sure yours are produced sustainably.
Just like Peter Pan, we can fly with happy thoughts in our daily life!
Introducing the NEW Happy Thoughts box!
NEW on Ripples – located at the bottom right-hand side of every page on Ripples’ blog, you will find a new feature called our “Happy Thoughts” box. Right now, you can see this box is filled with one happy thought from Ryan, and one from me, Amanda. Every day around 6:30 in the evening, before cooking dinner together, we sit underneath a rainbow umbrella and tell each other what thoughts we’ve had that day which make us feel the happiest about our future dream of living off-grid. Maybe it was a good day, or a challenging day, or sometimes even a day of despair and great physical or emotional pain, but no matter what happens, we always take turns sharing one happy thought. View full article »
Bringing you fuzzy tidings on colorful wings and wet noses this holiday season!
Yes, the bluejay is as big as the raccoon because it’s a baby raccoon named Pancake, the son of Waffles. Amanda drew this with the cheapest markers and black ink, using a mechanical pencil for the first sketch, then inking and coloring it in. This drawing is the first in Ripples’ 2013 art, using circles and themes from our blog posts to illustrate the importance of sustainability and social justice.
A bit of trivia from Science 2.0: the first artificial trees were basically really tall toilet brushes, manufactured by a toilet brush company! Read what I’ve learned about artificial and real Christmas trees, the pros and the cons of each, in the latest column of Making Ripples in The Free Weekly that came out yesterday when I was so busy working on concept art for Ripples 2013 that I totally forgot to post a link! Sorry folks. But the art is coming along, and next week there will be a holiday surprise from Ripples to all of you! Check out The Free Weekly online to learn about how you can recycle your live trees in Bella Vista this year to help little fishies have lake habitat.
Ryan & I are decorating our wildlife “tree” soon and will be posting photos here next week once we do. Cross your fingers that we get a deer or some cute squirrels!
This is what it looks like while the glitter puff paint is drying, once dry, the once faded design looks bold and beautiful!
I couldn’t part with these old Winnie-the-Pooh pajama pants that I’d worn since childhood. After paying a couple times for seamstresses to sew them back together, only to find more holes appearing everywhere, I knew I couldn’t wear them as pants again. So I decided to use them as a pillowcase for one of my stained pillows, and also to make two new Christmas stockings out of the legs. Ok, so bear in mind these stockings are not feet-shaped because I hate sewing and this was quick and easy. They are square-ish, all the better for stuffing goodies into! View full article »
How to make vegan chocolates with Christmas foil colors.
Wrap your own chocolates in recycled candy foil instead of throwing it away!
This was the most fun I’ve ever had in a kitchen, and really quick too. You could choose to melt your own block or bar of vegan chocolate, or use shaped vegan or close to vegan dark chocolates that already come in shapes. I’ve done both, but I don’t yet own any holiday-themed candy molds. So I used Divine dark chocolate Christmas trees, and had my husband Ryan eat some Hershey kisses wrapped in colorful holiday foil. We saved the wrappers from the kisses, brushed off any chocolate crumbs inside the wrappers, flattened them a bit, and then I used them to wrap these little Christmas trees!
Hint: after you wrap your shaped chocolates, use your fingernail to press into any grooves or designs on the chocolates, so they look less like blobs and more like the shape they’re supposed to be.
I find it really hard to write about Ripples as an entity, with measurable effects on the world. Of course, things are measurable: number of NGO’s helped, number of blog posts receiving readers, number of comments, number of columns written about sustainability…but are they visual? Not nearly enough. This video, shared with me by my friend Teresa, illustrates the way I see Ripples. I guess technically Ripples is just Ryan & I, and you could argue Ripples includes projects with our partner organizations, and the growing list of volunteers wanting to build with earthbags. But when I picture what Ripples actually does, well it looks more like this video.
So I invite you to watch this video and enjoy these scenes, then watch it again and replace them with scenes from the past year at Ripples. Notice in the video that the love flows both ways Same with Ripples. Here are our real life “scenes” painted with words so you can see them better as you watch the video (I’ve tried to keep identities anonymous just like the video). Ripples’ scenes are about gardening, websites, compost toilets, sharing information, and little acts of kindness. Someday I would love to actually put together a video with photos and live scenes from Ripples! For now just try to imagine it:
A toilet built with locally harvested bamboo in Kathmandu, Nepal, inspires a girl in the United States to use local bamboo to build a solar shower with a 5-gallon bag.
Better publicity makes sponsorships grow for a trail maintenance organization, encouraging more people to enjoy and protect our parks after the re-development of their website allows the web developer to learn more about web development for helping non-profits in the future.
235 youth in Cameroon are trained in fundraising after a local leader learns about capacity building via the internet, sparking more support for free access to the internet.
Writing about raising baby chicks inspires people in other locations to consider urban farming.
A child with food allergies is able to enjoy eating a totally safe cookie, so his mother helps pay for a solar platform for Ripples’ blog.
An Armenian organization supporting people with disabilities creates a Facebook page after receiving training in the importance of online communication.
A woman with experience in gardening helps a youth learn to grow herbs, and the resulting cilantro and basil are given as gifts to neighbors.
One girl receives training in non-profit management and contacts an international organization to provide curriculum materials for an online class taken by students in 34 countries who then pass the materials to their organizations, improving them with their own ideas.
After learning in workshops about native species and their needs, native habitat is created and publicized on Ripples’ blog, helping a city become the first in its state to receive certification due to the whole community working together.
A trip to a sustainably built retreat center inspires us to use cob for sculpting shelves in the walls at Ripples’ future homestead, and our post on sustainable building inspires a family to get in touch with us to learn more about how they can do it, too.
Our baggy bunnies are still overpopulating our house, but their hold on the kitchen is loosening.
The latest issue of The Free Weekly is out today, and my column Making Ripples talks about reducing plastic use in the kitchen from bulk aisle food purchases. (I’ve noticed the formatting and punctuation is off on the online version of the column, so I’m sorry if that makes it harder to read – I don’t post them myself so I can’t fix it.) Some of you may remember this is a challenge area for us, because we don’t own a car and those mason jars add up in weight! But carpooling makes things much easier, and less wasteful. We also tend to re-use the same baggy, let’s say for example almonds, and then pour the almonds into the glass jar so the baggy can go back & forth to the store. This isn’t the greatest method because if you have 100 food items then you may end up with 100+ plastic baggies, especially if you occasionally forget the baggy labeled “curry powder” and need to get a new one. View full article »
Here are the Dalai Lama quote cards I’ll be using as tiles for Ripples’ homestead, pictured here laid out upon a beautiful Tibetan rug from Himalayan Mountain Shop!
His Holiness the Dalai Lama sure has his share of peaceful, inspirational quotes. This is no doubt putting the cart before the horse, but today I began organizing my thoughts for a crafty project for Ripples’ eventual earthbag homestead. These beautiful cards each contain a quote from the Dalai Lama, with different Tibetan Buddhist symbols on the back. Maybe someday I can learn what each one means! Fun challenge. I was considering using these tiles for the bathroom tile, but not the floor. Probably the wall, or a border, or perhaps glued to the surface of something we refurbish so that I can see them daily and be reminded to stay compassionate and centered throughout my life.
“Change only takes place through action. Not through prayer or meditation, but through action.” – H. H. the Dalai Lama