YERT is WWOOFING! (and we have almost no Internet)

Dear YERTians,

Ben, Erika, and I took a few days in our 48th state– Wyoming– to participate in the age-old tradition of volunteering on a farm for a few days. The farm feeds and houses us, and we provide labor. And it is awesome. We signed up with WWOOF.org to find a farm willing to take us, and find one we did. We’ll be back online by Monday, with plenty of stories to share, but in the meantime we have to apologize for the lack of updates at YERT.com. We have just enough Internet to write this blog entry, but not much more than that.

Tomorrow we help with a cattle drive. We can’t wait…

Back Soon!

Mark

Update from the road…

YERTians,

Just wanted to send a note out to the world to let you all know that we’re still on the road– and we miss Julie’s blogging skills! We’ve got all sorts of blog entries backed up and waiting for the light of day, including…
– Blue Green Alliance interviews in Ohio
– A Subaru plant creating zero landfill waste in Indiana.
– A localvore challenge in Wisconsin, complete with local beer and cheese. And fresh fried cheese curds.
– Eco-innovations, games, foods, and ideas in Minnesota.
– A methane, wind, and solar-powered landfill in North Dakota. And kite surfing on grass.

We’re currently visiting our 46th state (just 4 more to go!), which happens to be North Dakota, and tomorrow we head into South Dakota. Then on to Wyoming, Montana, and then Alaska. Rest assured that we’ll keep at this YERT stuff well after the travels are complete. We still have a zillion videos to edit and we’ll be posting those for months after the trip is done. We’ll be expanding our outreach efforts and work to align ourselves with people and organizations pursuing similar goals. We are also planning to produce “YERT the Movie,” a feature film to share the highlights of the YERT year. And there will be all sorts of fun ways to get more YERTy, like transcribing videos, raising funds, hosting YERT parties, selling YERT ChicoBags, blogging about YERT stories, and, of course, creating a tidal wave of enthusiasm that pushes YERT onto Oprah. Or Letterman. Or Colbert.

We are also planning to have a few YERT finale events around the country. Right now it looks like there will be events in Seattle, WA, San Francisco, CA, and Pittsburgh, PA. We’ll be announcing dates and venues soon.

In the meantime, we’d love to hear from you. During our finale events we’ll be sharing stories from YOU, our faithful YERTians, about all the ways that this has been an environmental year for you. Has the YERT adventure caused you to change a habit? Go a little greener? Or not? Whatever the case may be, we’d love to hear from you about it all. We’ll post the best stories to our blog, and may even include some in our videos and film. Send your stories to team@yert.com. Include a photo of you being extra green if you’re extra motivated. ๐Ÿ™‚

That’s all for tonight. The longer we travel the more challenging it is to stick to the rigors of this road-tripping schedule, so just to keep up we have to sleep a little more. Exercise a little more. Work a little less. Thanks for sticking with us through it all. This is only the beginning…

Cheerio,
Mark

Flashback to Day 291 & 292: Taking a Bite of the Big “Green” Apple – Part Two

Saturday April 19th we had a wonderful “green” baby shower as detailed in the blog post entitled “Showering with 30 friends really can be a clean ย“greenย” experience!”

Sunday also proved to be very fruitful as Mark and I headed out to Times Square to probe the minds of New Yorkers (although, as any New Yorker can tell you, Times Square is mostly tourists). After several colorful encounters and reeling from the multi-sensory stimuli, we sauntered over to Central Park for a little Earth Day Celebration in Central Park. Here we found all manner of planting going on, as well as a concert, numerous activities, and booths offering “green” wares and services of all kinds. We could have stayed for hours, but our YERT party was calling us, so we hopped the subway to Brooklyn.

Our YERT party in Brooklyn was hosted by our good friends Amy and Zach who put on quite the shindig. It was definitely one of the best YERT parties thus far and we managed to hook up with some old friends as well as make a few new ones. One of our new friends, Megan Dietz (sent our way by our new friend Cathy at Columbia), is actually starting a cool new eco web-zine called The Sunny Way. Megan’s a hoot to boot and was nice enough to share some of her environmental insights with our camera. She’s an advocate for the concept of going beyond “doing no harm” or “less bad” and really actively “doing good” for the planet. Inspired. Another friend we made that evening was Tim Murphy, who’s been working on a film about currency, among other things. Having covered a few examples of local currencies ourselves along the road, we eagerly picked his brain which is chock-a-block full of all kinds of insights about the nature of money and how taking control of our own currencies at a very fundamental level is one of the most empowering things humanity can do to become fully actualized and part of a sustainable planet. Tim also helped arrange an interview for us later in the week with Dr. Ari – one of Sri Lanka’s greatest spiritual/social/environmental leaders. Suffice it to say, we had a rockin’ good time.

Day 300: YERT Mama leaving to make her nest…

Yesterday while we were driving around in the car, Ben announced, “Day 300!”

Day 300. Man. When we started this trip, I wasn’t even sure that I would make it past Day 30. The idea of driving non-stop around the country with 2 dudes for a year (one of them my husband), with no home and one pair of shoes apiece (ok i also had flip flops, but they take up almost no room), interviewing strangers to see how America fares in the new and improved effort to live sustainably in a basically disposable culture…well, it seemed a gargantuan task, to say the least. I really had no idea what to expect. One of my brothers believed I would NOT make it, and was surprised every time I called him from the road. Well-meaning friends assured me many times that they would not think less of me if I left the trip before its end. But I didn’t. I couldn’t. And the only reason I’m leaving now is because I have a new mission: motherhood.

It hasn’t always been easy, with 3 of us tightly packed into our little Ford Escape Hybrid, juggling schedules, roadmaps, phone calls, emails, our psycho 10-CD factory-installed Navigational system, not to mention differing ideas about who & what should not be missed in any given state. We have different personalities, we three. Different preferences, patience levels, tolerances, judgments, thoughts about how things should be done, levels of perfectionism, ways of communicating…We haven’t always seen eye to eye. But I will say that this has provided us a pretty cool opportunity to learn how to navigate our own personal roadmaps…

I think we’ve shared from the beginning a sort of blind trust that humanity is basically good and that, given the chance, (the knowledge, the awareness of HOW to change, and what is out there) people will begin to do the right thing, and our children and grandchildren will have the chance to know how connected we are to every living thing on this planet, and there will be something left of beauty to sustain them.

I am so inspired by Mark and Ben, still – to see them work so endlessly, and to still be so driven after 9 1/2 months of solid work. I am so inspired by the people we have met along the way and the hundreds of blogs and websites we have become acquainted with since Your Environmental Road Trip began. I can hardly keep up with it all, there is so much going on out right now in this push to be green and learn to live sustainably. What an amazing wave of waking up! I had no idea when we left how big a wave we would all be riding. In every single state without exception we have found people caring deeply, working hard, thinking creatively, and making changes that are being reflected in government and legislature and even big corporations. Greenwashing does happen, sure it does, but this trip is making me believe that it won’t hold a candle to the real movement that is washing over us, which is Truth, and which will carry us into a brighter, cleaner, healthier future if we let it.

I am leaving the Road part of YERT for the boys to finish but I will continue the journey in Louisville, preparing for a completely different set of challenges. There are many things which have been made somewhat easy on the trip but which will be harder in “real life” (ie: garbage). I am very thankful to the boys for being gentlemen to me since I’ve been pregnant. I am honored to have been part of these last 10 months, and to have now the opportunity to raise a child who will hopefully benefit from everything we’ve learned.

Here we go. Babysteps to a better way of Life. Bon Voyage, boys, be safe! We will keep the green fires burning….and be sure that the waste smoke is being used for something…

Days 289 & 290: Taking a Bite of the Big “Green” Apple – Part 1

This past week YERT headed into the Big Apple for some big-time green fun. Julie had four days of rehearsals at NYU (she absolutely LIVES for performing in their musical theater grad-student theses and we’re all for nourishing one’s soul, so Mark and I were on our own for most of the week).

We started off our time in NYC right by visiting Bob Fox, principal of Cook+Fox, an architecture firm responsible for one of the most groundbreaking environmental buildings ever – the world’s first LEED Platinum skyscraper…the Bank of America Tower at One Bryant Park near Times Square. This building is going to set the standard for skyscrapers – complete with motion-controlled, personally tailored temperature zones to maximize AC and heating efficiency and a giant block of ice made by off-peak solar electricity to help keep the building cool. Cutting edge stuff. Bob also revealed all kinds of green features of the Cook+Fox office (bamboo shelving, innovative daylighting design, Cradle to Cradle carpets, water reclamation, etc.) including a wonderful green roof with one of the best views in Manhattan.

After the interview, Bob was kind enough to “grease the skids” for us at the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) across the street, so we headed on over for a sit-down with the NRDC’s Air and Energy Program Director, Ashok Gupta, and one of the organization’s energy attorneys, Luis Martinez, at the NRDC’s headquarters – a building that not-coincidentally paved the way for green office buildings back in 1989. Needless to say, Mother Nature has quite the crack team of lawyers and environmental policy gurus working for her – and boy does she need it!

By 3pm, we were exhausted and hungry, so we shlepped over to Bonobo’s on 23rd and Madison Ave. It’s an awesome raw-food vegetarian joint that packs a super-nutritious punch. Best of all, they’ve always got some funky nut/date desert ball of goodness near the cash register – delicious. Luckily, the staff totally “got” the no-trash experiment and we totally got fed.

Friday we headed up to the Goddard Institute for Space Studies to speak with Dr. Cynthia Rosenzweig about the effect of climate change on crops and the world’s food supply. This was especially interesting timing given the recent headlines regarding food shortages around the globe. Cynthia said that while increased CO2 may have mixed results initially yielding short-term crop increases in some areas, the long-term prognosis is not good at all, particularly if things continue on as they are. Makes me even more resolute about learning to farm organically once this trip is done.

After her interview, Cynthia sent us over to speak with Nilda Mesa, Columbia University’s first Director of Environmental Stewardship (and knitter extraordinaire). Having not eaten all day, Mark and I were starving by this point and, going way above the call of duty, Nilda and her office bent over backwards to share with us whatever packaging-free food they had lying around – part of a “brick” of cheese, some rice snacks, a banana. Then she took us up onto her office’s green roof and, along with the very knowledgeable Cathy Resler, Manager of Recycling and Greenhouse Gas Reduction Programs, over to the main campus for the dime tour of some of the green stuff going on at Columbia including a cool program developed by a Columbia grad called RecycleBank that pays students (or anyone, really) for recycling by rewarding them with “points” that are redeemable for discounts at stores all over the city (or country). Cathy then gave us the low down on all things recyclable on campus (we even rescued a nearly fully functional camcorder from the electronics recycling bin – Cathy was determined to try to resuscitate it). Finally, we spoke with Hannah Lee (a student delegate to the climate summit in Bali who runs Columbia’s Eco-Representatives program and is one of the university’s brightest eco-stars) to get the student perspective on how the campus is going green. Things sound like they’re heading in the right direction around Columbia…and New York.

Next time NYC Part 2…

Showering with 30 friends really can be a clean “green” experience!

Yesterday, Julie and I enjoyed a wonderful baby shower thrown by our dear friends Erin, Hunter, and Phill. We were truly blown away by how low-impact the event was (way to go Erin and company!) and everyone’s creativity in creating eco-conscious gifts. Among the many wonderful gifts were a wooden chest constructed out of house repair lumber leftovers and filled with all kinds of baby hand-me-downs and used books, a gorgeous homemade quilt, a hand-knit baby blanket and soaker, all manner of used books and baby onesies, and even a spectacular live 3-part a cappella performance of a personally arranged song. It was such a loving experience made that much more personal by the extreme care and inspired creativity of every guest present. If you want a wonderful baby shower, ask the people you love to make it a “clean” and “green” one and you won’t be disappointed. Thank you to everyone involved in the celebration – we love you dearly!

Day 291: NYC: mamablog: Green showers!!

…ahhh…home. the smell of the subway, the roar of the…Nothing like setting foot on the train after being on the road smashed into a car with two boys for 9 months…actually, nothing like it at all. Amazing how fast things seem like you never left them.

Julie here, just checking in, relaying that the female(s) of Your Environmental Road Trip are still kicking and breathing. Singing, actually. Baby is getting her first glimpses of what Mama really does..and she seems to like it pretty well. Can’t blame her as, in my opinion, the vibrations that rock the walls daily of NYU’s Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program on 2nd Avenue are nothing less than delicious, to even the most tested of ears, much less tiny, developing, new ones.

A little backstory: I negotiated with the boys for this week of work, singing in NYC, before we ever left Pittsburgh back in July, and have been looking forward to it fiercely ever since. (side note* this little baby was conceived on the only day on this trip that Ben and I actually sang together, performing a musical reading for a friend in LA back in October. I’m just saying.) Not surprising that everything feels just fine.

The boys have been working their patooties off getting the new website off the ground in flying colors, chasing interviews all over Manhattan, scrambling around the city shooting b-roll, while I sit on the edge of my chair in the rehearsal room with several other singer/actors, learning music and remembering what it feels like to soar. Happy. Free. And yesterday was simply gorgeous, 70’s and breezy… I went window shopping near Union Square just to see what people are wearing these days and i had to laugh bc everything looks maternity! All girls are wearing frocks! hahaha i fit right in. Except for my shoes. ๐Ÿ™ I found a spot on a bench and watched the people for hours…

Today is going to be amazing. My dear friend, Erin Crosby, is throwing us a green baby shower! at her apartment in Brooklyn, and I am told she has gone to many lengths to make this as different as possible from the 9 months we have spent in the car with same clothes, same shoes, same equipment, same each other… We have asked that everyone bring something 2nd hand, rather than something new, NO PLASTIC, Pls! and that it be “wrapped” in something completely reusable, and she has done her best to be sure that people are thinking creatively. I can’t wait to see what people have come up with, and I am so so grateful to her for pulling this off. Plus, I can’t wait to feel like a pretty girl again. Ugggh. For literally the first time in months, I will be wearing something other than dirty sneakers.

In short, I am giddy with anticipation and thanking in advance Erin, all my friends who are meeting us today, NYU, and my YERT boys for letting me have this window where I get to remember the joy of being a girl…greenly…before I leave this tour to learn how to be a green mom. Stay tuned…we’ll let you know how it goes.

Julie showers with 30 people!

Today, Saturday April 19th, will be a momentous occasion as Julie enjoys a shower in Brooklyn with 30 of her closest friends. Baby shower, that is. And we’re trying to make it as environmentally friendly as we can – a “clean” shower. Julie’s requested no packaging of any kind on the gifts; no plastic gifts; all-natural and environmentally friendly products, materials, and ingredients; and free, homemade, or second-hand gifts whenever possible. It’s going to be an interesting time to say the least – we’ll certainly let you know what people come up with. For now, here are three interesting eco-baby shower sites I found online.

All Natural Baby

Eco Parti

Crystal Baby Organics

I sure am glad at least one of us is showering today.

And now, a poem:

When you’re loving the planet
As you grow a little “bean”
Nothing feels better
Than a shower that’s clean

peace,
Ben

Day 280: NY: spending hours in Ithaca…

Gorgeous spring day in the Fingerlakes.
All 3 of us got outside for some good morning exercise in the fresh air before heading in to Ithaca to meet with Steve Burke, President of the Board of Ithaca Hours at his cool little shop, Small World Music. Talked about some of the challenges of using local currency as well as the benefits, and why Ithaca seems to be a hotbed for forward thinking. Steve told us that people in Ithaca, besides being well-educated, generally do NOT watch TV.

Ahhhhhhhhhhh.

We bought some local music from Steve and even used one of our Berkshares (gorgeous local currency from Great Barrington, MA) as part payment, and then Ben, Mark & I shared some killer vegan carrotcake at ABC cafe near Cornell University…bought partially with Ithaca hours…

(Berkshares are very different in their application than are Ithaca Hours. More information on local currencies can be found at the EF Schumacher website. Seems to be still a ways away from becoming mainstream but as the dollar continues to decline, local currencies are an interesting option for keeping communities thriving…) Thoughts?

Day 279: babymama in training, checking in from upstate NY…

Girl is getting tired! Whoo doggy. Pregnancy brain has taken over and I don’t concentrate on anything besides baby names, birthing options, and breastfeeding … kind of funny bc I’m not really to a point to do any of those things yet … and as I am daily getting bigger and bigger… watching my belly burgeoning and counting the days before I can get out of the car, i remember that i am supposed to be blogging about the trip and researching something other than how many kicks are supposed to be felt every hour…

I missed most of DC cause I was in Louisville drinking sweet goo for the prenatal check for getstational diabetes. Highlights were that American Airlines waylaid my luggage (it showed up the next day at Mom’s) and that the nurses forgot me in the waiting area and I had to come back the next day and drink the sticky stuff a second time right before getting on the plane back to DC. Anyway, the only pics I have are of Ben and I on the National Mall on our last day before heading North.

So – today was a day of making phone calls and sending emails, for things in upstate NY and also NYC. No bites yet, but very excited to get an email back from Robin Nagle (an anthropology professor at NYU who has really done some interesting study of garbage in the Big Apple). Unfortunately, it looks like our paths will not cross this time through NYC…Perhaps we will find her again on this journey? Majora Carter also looks to be out of town for the week we are in NYC, and other people we’ve contacted have yet to respond, so we may have to reassess our options. We’ll probably try to get to Ithaca tomorrow and see what we can see, regardless of who calls us back from there. Fingers crossed.

Right now Ben is still working on graphics, Mark has gone to bed and I am still feeling happy for the Kansas Jayhawks’ NCAA victory over Memphis, and super grateful for this tiny kiddo brewing away in-belly…