Saturday, October 25, 2008

Last Day at St. George's School

Today is the last day of the show at St. George's School.

The Newport Mercury carried a nice review of the show. A bit of which I will excerpt here:

In a media-consumed culture where one alarmist sound bite is generally followed by one or two more, “Partly Sunny — Designs to Change the Forecast,” a showcase of innovative ideas, projects and policies by the Rhode Island School of Design, is an exercise in glass half-full optimism that sheds light on what is being done [now].

photo: Jacqueline Marque

FOOD: Community Gardens: Growing Gardens

In Britain, local governments and independent groups provide allotment gardens to individuals who wish to produce their own food. Many community gardening associations in the United States provide resources and space to those who wish to grow their own food. This provides fresh food to families and spares the expense of materials and fuel used in processing and transporting products grown elsewhere.


In Boulder, Colorado the non-profit Growing Gardens manages 1,128 community gardeners yearly on over 400 individual plots covering nine acres of land. The Community Garden Program supplies gardeners with water, mulch, tools, compost and training. In exchange, gardeners pay a modest fee, maintain their sites and agree to plant organically.

Participants in the Community Garden Program use a variety of gardening techniques including permaculture, biodynamics and traditional growing methods from Laos, Cambodia and Mexico. Plants used in the Community Garden Program include a variety of vegetables, herbs and flowers.


Growing Gardens defines itself as a human services and youth development organization that uses sustainable gardening practices to assist immigrants, seniors, at-risk youth, people with disabilities and families.

+ Educates new gardeners
+ Provides garden space
+ Engages youth

FOOD: Large-scale Farming: Martens Farm

Organic farming is frequently associated with small-scale production. But growing food on a large-scale need not call for environmentally damaging practices. With careful management growers can expand their operations without compromising sustainable ethics.


Klaas and Mary-Howell Martens have been sustainably farming 1,300 acres of organic fresh vegetables and grain in Pen Yann, NY since 1991. To control weeds and improve the fertility of their land they employ practices such as diverse long-term crop rotation, under-seeding and actively increasing soil organic matter. By using these practices they have substantially reduced their reliance on oil-dependant fertilizers common on conventional factory farms.

The Martenses produce much of their grain for Lakeview Organic Grain, a company they founded, which distributes feed to organic dairy and chicken farms throughout the Northeast. Various local and national distributors buy their fresh vegetables and they also sell seed stock for Certified Organic oats and wheat.

In 2008 the Martens won the Patrick Madden Award for innovation, leadership and good stewardship from Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education, a program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.


The Martenses prove that organic practices can be done at a large scale. Their careful management establishes the long-term productivity and sustainability of their farm while protecting the local environment and bolstering the local economy.
+ increases soil health and quality
+ eliminates chemical run-off
+ produces high-quality food

FOOD: Production Facilities: Farmer's Diner

For regional food economies to grow and mature, local food must become more affordable. Some of the costs associated with local food are a product of the regulations that govern the processing of meats, dairy products and other farm goods.


Founded in 1999, the Farmers Diner spends 65 percent of its food budget within 70 miles of the restaurant. It is not a high-end restaurant, but a reasonably priced establishment committed to making locally sourced meals affordable by combining time-tested restaurant-chain basics with environmentally responsible operations. Having proven the model the Farmers Diner is in the process of adding two more restaurants in Vermont.

The next step will be to establish a regional, government-inspected commissary that serves a group of local restaurants. The commissary will spare restaurants from the demand of selecting fresh, local vegetables and meats from a network of regional farms. Centralizing processes eases the regulatory burdens that would otherwise be assumed by the farm.


The Farmers Diner business model pays small farmers more than they would normally receive for their goods. By sourcing food locally it creates a real demand for more local organic farming operations while reducing the overall carbon footprint of the meals it produces.

+ Simplifies local food purchasing
+ Centralizes local food processing
+ Invests money in the regional community

FOOD: Urban Agriculture: City Farm

Urban Agriculture, or growing food in cities, reconnects city residents with where their food is grown. It also shortens the distance food has to travel, reduces transportation costs and increases the amount of green space in urban areas.


Many urban food projects are small-scale neighborhood programs that convert vacant lots into private gardens. City Farm operates on a much larger scale. The sustainable, organic farm uses large, vacant properties to grow vegetables and make compost. The farm produces 20 varieties of tomatoes as well as other fruits and vegetables that are sold to local restaurants and the public.

In addition to growing fresh food, The Resource Center operates City Farm to create jobs. Ken Dunn, founder of the Center, notes, “We found that by planning and planting carefully, you can create a job for an individual on about 10,000 square feet, or about four lots.” In Chicago, that could mean 20,000 jobs to revitalize and farm 80,000 vacant lots across the city.


City Farm is a community-sustained operation that provides highly nutritious food to people living in underserved neighborhoods. It turns empty lots into vibrant and productive green spaces.

+ Reclaims derelict land
+ Creates green collar jobs
+ Revitalizes neighborhoods

FOOD: Distribution Systems: Beeline

In the United States our food travels between 1,500 and 2,500 miles from farm to plate. Local food offers many benefits: cost, freshness, security and the preservation of open land. But merely localizing food production does not guarantee efficient delivery or the profitability of small farms. Many farmers often make less than ten cents on every dollar spent on their produce.


Beeline is a virtual marketplace and distribution system for fresh produce in the Pacific Northwest that was designed to support local farms by reducing the cost of transporting produce to retailers.

An online system connects retailers and restaurateurs to growers. As orders are placed, Beeline automatically plans transportation routes with a robust Global Positioning System and radio-frequency identification tags to “pool” pickups and deliveries. The system saves individual farmers from having to deliver their own product.

A version of Beeline is currently being tested in Portland, Oregon by Ecotrust’s Food Hub initiative.


Not only does Beeline’s system save time and reduce driving miles, it also provides small farmers with greater access to the marketplaces that keep them in business. By aggregating products from a number of farms, Beeline helps small farms stay competitive without having to resort to single-crop monoculture.

+ Maximizes transportation efficiency
+ Reduces costs to individual farmers
+ Helps local farmers compete

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

RISD Solar House installed at Portsmouth Abbey

Today was the grand opening of the RISD Solar House's permanent installation at Portsmouth Abbey, a private shool in Newport Rhode Island. The house, one of the featured buildings in Partly Sunny, wil serve as facutly housing.

For more information about the new installation and how Portsmouth Abbey is at the forefront of a number f green intiatives see the article in today's RI East Bay.

Next week we'll add our profile of the soalr house as the first of the building projects that we will highlight here on the blog through December.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Creativity Helps Rochester's Transit System Turn a Profit

Although its been more than a month since this article first appeard in the New York Tmes but my thoughts keep returning to it.

It describes an aggressive effort on the part of Rochester to make its bus system pay for itself. Like many transit systems around the United States, the collection of bus fares doesn't cover operational costs. What makes Rochester different, according to the article, is that they have found other ways to subsidize service.

"It has, for instance, reached agreements with the local public school district, colleges and private businesses to help subsidize its operations, warning in some cases that certain routes might be cut if ridership did not increase or a local business did not help cover the cost. In recent years, income from these agreements has equaled or exceeded the income from regular passenger fares.

All the while, ridership has increased by 7.4 percent over the last two years in an area where the population has remained stable. And while only about 1 out of 6 customers pays the single-ride fare (the majority use daily, weekly or monthly passes), the transit service expects further ridership gains now with the fare cut in place."

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Manifest Hope, Or How Shepard Fairey Became Cool Again

Almost two months have passed since we first presented our work at Dialog:City, and there are oddly two reoccurring conversations that I keep having with random people. One of them, the predictable topic of discussion, deals with the incessant candidate bickering; the other, more unusual and pleasant, deals with the work of Shepard Fairey. I attribute this to a) the election, and b) the fact that a particular faculty whose class I am taking also taught Fairey when he was a student at RISD. I was amazed to see so much of his work in Denver, especially coming from Providence, where the novelty of finding hidden stickers wears of after a couple of years.  

During the Convention, the Andenken Gallery housed Manifest Hope Gallery, which showcased the efforts of artists nationwide that carried the identity created by the grassroots movement of the Obama campaign. There was really great work being displayed at a location removed from the convoluted downtown. For once, it was refreshing to walk among hipsters and 'scenesters' , as opposed to conventioneers and journalists. The art was contemporary, the theme was political and the mood was uplifting, which is probably why the majority of us made the long walk there, if only to check it out. That, or maybe Fairey's Obama-Hope posters they were giving out for free. 

I am not quite sure who the guy being interviewed is. I am almost certain that the guy depicted in the artwork is Obama, but I could be wrong. 

Go to Manifest Hope for more information.  


Friday, October 17, 2008

FOOD: Farmer in Chief

In his Open Letter to the next President this past Sunday, Michael Pollan offers a cogent policy position for the next President to enact that would change the way food is grown, processed and delivered in this country. Pollan positions this shift in policy as a way of addressing three pressing national challenges: health care, rising fuel prices and global warming. As he notes in the article:

"...most of the problems our food system faces today are the because of its reliance on fossil fuels, and to the extent that our policies wring oil out of the system and replace it with the energy of the sun, those policies will simultaneously improve the state of our health, our environment, and our security."

Pollan, the author of In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto, makes clear and broad reaching recomendations for how to "solarize" and "regionalize" the national food system. It is an important article, one that offers much to the debate that we should be having this election cycle.

Of the recommendations that he makes in the article, a number have are visually represented in food projects collected in the Partly Sunny exhibition. They include: 1. Four season farmer's markets, 2. Local abbattoirs, 3. Regionalizing food procurement, 4. Victory gardens, 5. Regional distribution systems, 6. Increasing urban and suburban farming.

Over the next weeks we will be posting more information about these projects as possible design solutions to the policy initiatives outlined in the letter.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Spinnaker Turbine - Bret Barker

Bret Barker’s Spinnaker Turbine uses a sail to catch and funnel wind through a small turbine to create electricity. Although small enough to pack into a haul bag for easy transport, the sail increases the velocity of the wind moving through the turbine.

The Spinnaker Turbine is one of the RISD student projects featured in Partly Sunny@St. George's.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Postcards travel by post

To my surprise, I received a postcard in the mail. How the senders got my new address is a mystery. Why it arrived two months after the first exhibit in Denver; I'm puzzled.

Has it really been two months?

Yes this is the postcard, but its odd to have just one, when, yes two months ago, I was on the streets of Denver handing hundreds, maybe even hundred and hundred, of these colorful cards. A couple of us would sit in the hot sun, sometimes behind protests and down the stair from our exhibit with these cards at one of the tables mentioned in the previous post. But it worked! The best part was that they don't stop here.

Inside the exhibit there was a wall full of these postcards with individual pledges toward reducing the effects of climate change. These included taking shorter showers to save water, carpooling to cut down on pollution and fixing windows to reduce a heating bill. All small and doable but significant steps when looking at it from a community point of view. The best part was that they don't stop here.

When I got the card in the mail it reminded me about my pledge to carpool to work. This was before I knew where I was going to live post-risd and how it was all going to work out with this 9-5 deal. And you know, I did not keep that pledge. Yes NOT. Gasp- but Emily you were apart of the exhibition, how could you? Hey crowd, you know, what I did do was chose to live close to work to reduce my driving and its adverse effects.

Its about flexibility and the ability to adapt to keep up with these positive intentions. Because as we know, the best part is that they don't stop here.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Aurora's Chair-Mark Nicholson

Mark Nicholson’s loveseat, entitled Aurora’s Chair is made entirely of recycled or recyclable materials: felt, steel for the interior structure, locally sourced walnut for the legs, plant-based finish and buckwheat hulls for stuffing. Local construction and small-scale production contribute to the sustainability of the work.

Aurora's Chair is one of the RISD student projects featured in Partly Sunny@St. George's.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Around the Table

It's been really exciting to see what we all have been working on for the past year finally doing what it was all meant to do:  Encourage people to think and talk about what they can do in their own lives, to promote action for a broader good.  For me the most exciting thing has been to see people coming together around the table- asking questions, reading books, filling out postcards, engaging in conversation.  The Green Constitutional Congress has been the apex of all this so far in Denver and it has been really inspiring and stimulating to see all of these people who have all created innovative solutions to problems within their areas of expertise sit down and have a conversation together at a table and in a context that we have been working to create for so long.

It is also exciting to begin to imagine where this could all lead in the future.  A series of lectures or events or dinners, bringing the conversation back to Providence, or other communities. Hosting the events at this table or perhaps creating new "tables" or venues for these ideas,  specifically related to the context they are in.
What ever comes next it is exciting to be able to see the extent of the possibilities that are out there.  This experience has been one that more than anything else has demonstrated to me what I am capable of as an individual and when working as a team.  It has encouraged and motivated me to think of myself and my actions in a global context and to imagine with no limitations.  And that has been what I have found most exhilarating about this process.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Soft Planting System-Gretchen Hooker

The planters in Gretchen Hooker’s Soft Planting System are made of technical fabrics that allow them to be easily disassembled or moved. The system permits city dwellers to grow their own food regardless of whether or not they have a yard.

The Soft Planting System is one of the RISD student projects featured in Partly Sunny@St. George's.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Recycled Rover - Danny Kim

Approximately 25% of all the energy a car uses over its lifetime is used in production. Danny Kim preserved the embodied energy in his Recycled Rover by rebuilding a worn out truck and machining its worn out parts for other uses. The low weight of the vehicle makes its bio-diesel engine that much more efficient.

The Recycled Rover is one of the RISD student projects that is featured at Partly Sunny @ St. George's.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Partly Sunny Reception at St George's School

Last night was the Opening Reception for Partly Sunny, featuring selected work from RISD students curated with Respond|Design. The Show, at St. George's School in Middletown Rhode Island, will be up and opne to the public until Oct 25. The Gallery is open weekdays from 9:00 to 4:00.

Over the next few weeks we'll profile some of the student projects here on the blog.

Thanks to Lisa Hansel - Director of the Hunter Gallery, Pat Moss - Dean of Academic Affairs, and Bret Barker from RISD.

Dialog:Denver closes

Dialog:Denver, the show of Dialog:City and Denver-based artists at the Robischon Gallery came down today.

I hadn't seem this review while we were in Colorado but the Denver Post described the show this way:

“The ambitious show, titled ‘Dialog:Denver,’ is the latest in a recent string of edgy, international-level offerings that have established a new high-water mark for the Robischon Gallery and significantly enhanced its standing locally and in the broader art world.”

The show was great fun. Thanks to Jim & Jennifer and all the folks at the Gallery for putting it on.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Installing at St George's

The show went up this past Saturday. Special thanks to Lisa & Mike Hansel and Bret Barker.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Partly Sunny @ St George's School

Come join us at St. George's School (click for directions) in Middletown RI. Partly Sunny will be on display at the Grosvenor Center for the Arts from September 15 through October 25th. In addition, the show includes design work of RISD students curated through the RISD student organization Respond|Design. The opening is Friday, September 19th.

Saturday, August 30, 2008


Denver is done. We've struck the set, boxed the parts and are preparing them for freight.
It does feel like a little death. Long live Partly Sunny

Friday, August 29, 2008

Minsuk Cho's Pavilion

We had an absolutely great time tonight at the funky fresh dance partly under the pavilion. Minsuk and his crew turned a dark park in the center of Denver into a magical wonderland for all the artist and locals to just relax and funk it down. It was the perfect event to see the 2 weeks coming to an end. 

Air Forest

We went to the DJ party tonight at Minsuk Cho's Pavilion. It was a Seussian wonder. A strange, cloud-like vision when glimpsed from across the park, revealed itself some kind of polka dotted, elephant legged, wonder land.

Majora Carter & James Chace Stop In

Majora Carter & James Chace, formerly of Sustainable South Bronx, came by the space on Friday. Majora's work as the Founder and Executive Director of Sustainable South Bronx has long been inspirational, and we were pleased to include their green roof project in the show and to have her participate in the Green Constitutional Congress.

James, disputing the opening statement for the energy projects pointed out that he thought the ear of cheap and plentiful energy was not over, but in fact just about to begin. I hope he is right.

We're all looking forward to what Majora and James will be doing in their new ventures.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Hindsight Is Always 20/20

42 president: Bill Clinton

Today a bunch of us finally made it over to see Luke Dubois instillation. Besides the elegant display of graphic design it was pretty amazing to see the root ideals of each and every president and the eras from with they represented or country.  As we got excited from the words on each piece and laughed about like 5 year olds, Luke himself approached us seemingly from no where and proceeded to break it all down for us. This exact experience was happening the whole time in Denver; the people we look up to and respect just kept popping up around each corner. 

learn more:

Busy Day in Denver

Today was the acceptance speech, and the change over the city was palpable. Where the streets were packed over the past few days, today more than 80,000 people spent hours in line to get into Invesco Stadium to see Barack accept the nomination. It was a relatively quiet day downtown. One of our team made it into the stadium, and the rest of us watched it from home. Although the experience was a mediated as talking to Lynn Hershman's DINA, it felt more immediate for knowing it was just a few miles away and being able to hear the boom out the window of the fireworks we were watching on TV.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Sharon Hayes' Performance

Revolutionary Love, happened today just outside our site. It was an incredible performance.

Check out news about it at Creative Time.

315 people came to the exhibit today!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Partly Sunny on 16th Street

Partly Sunny visits Polaris at Ebert Elementary

Yes putting up an exhibit in less then 6 months about reducing carbon emissions was challenging. But getting kids excited about big, hairy subjects that they might have not even heard of like hybrid cars or Xeriscaping was even a greater challenge! That was the conquest Charlie and I were presented with that day when going to Polaris at Ebert Elementary during the DNC. Imagine, going into a class room full of six year olds full of energy after a lunch break on the play ground, and bearing the strength to get there attention to talk about global warming. The amazing part was that they listened! Any recognition from one of the students that they understood that our planet Earth is vital to us and should be taken care of was gratifying.

But we shouldn’t think that these youngsters wouldn’t understand it when so many politicians don’t understand it either. Kids probably understand even more because at that age anything seems possible: sure cars that run on water or electricity why not? Or going to school everyday on my bike instead of by car that’s awesome! I want to do that! Once Charlie explained what Partly Sunny was all about, we went around to each group at the different tables. The students were interested in learning about these new inventions and wanted to know more about how it worked. Then it was their turn to explain what we had just taught them about from the sample projects from the exhibit. I must say we were quite impressed as to how much information they retained and how excited each group was to present their topic. And what better then postcards from all the colors of the rainbow as a party treat! :)

School Visits

Today was the day of school visits. We had two different schools come to the site, to use the exhibition as part of their curriculum this semester. DialogCity provided packages to teachers and schools throughout Denver. During the visit we invited students to make a pledge about what they would change in their own lives. It was our hope that teachers would use the "hint" boards in the salon space to help drive students back into the show to see how each of the projects offered a particlar way to to make these changes.

Three of us also went to visit the Denver School for the Arts to talk about art and design schools and invite them to come downtown and see the exhibition.

Monday, August 25, 2008

the exhibition is open!

after an entire week of construction, i must thank pete's coffee for supplying me with the best french vanilla-hazelnut ice'd coffee (aka) the 'van halen'. we thank you for your exceptional service and your enthusiastic curiosity. i can't describe how rewarding it is to see the partly sunny exhibition transform 'buck-wild' into a vibrant educational experience. located at the denver pavilions mall between the 'gap' and 'express', its wonderful to see a design exhibit juxtaposed next to two of the largest retail store companies. on over several occasions, visitors have entered the partly sunny space only to realize that there is nothing for sale. after welcoming these visitors and introducing them to partly sunny, it's amazing to see how magnetized people become. considering the overload of text and information throughout the space the average visitor will read almost entirely every project board. we could not have asked for a better location for partly sunny. the idea that people exit partly sunny with information and not with tangible items is good, especially when we are located within the largest shopping district in denver. people are interested in sustainable living, but first we must develop a common language that all people can understand. special thanks to the entire graphic design team at partly sunny. :O

Green Constitutional Congress

Monday night was the Green Constitutional Congress. It was quite amazing to see it emerge from Partly Sunny’s initial conversation with the Presidential Climate Action Project. Anne Hamilton’s chorus sung the audience into the Buell theater. Bruce Mau moderated the discussion, asking each of the panelists to imagine a new, more sustainable America. The panelists included: DJ Spooky, Bill Becker of the Presidential Climate Action Project, David Orr from Oberlin College, Jonathan Greenblatt founder of Good Magazine and Ethos Water, Majora Carter founder of the Sustainable South Bronx and Charlie Cannon, Partly Sunny. Following the presentation, each of the panelists was escorted out into the Lobby where audience members could engage them more directly. These post-panel discussions were produced by CO-LAB at Denver University.

(Photo courtesy of CO-LAB)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

DJ Spooky

Bruce Mau Stops By

Bruce Mau and his team visited us in the space today to discuss the agenda for tomorrow’s Green Constitutional Congress. After walking through the exhibit he remarked that the BMD and Institute without Borders had spent almost three years organizing Massive Change and was amazed at what we created over these past 7 months.

Image courtesy of Bruce Mau Design

We're Open!

The show is up and we're officially open for visitors. It was a late night and we even hung the entry banners at the last minute this morning. But everything looks great and we've already had our first visitors -- a delegation from our home state of Rhode Island.

Opening Morning

After a late night, we opened to a beautiful sunny day. Many of the delegations are arriving today and you can feel the difference across the city. !6th street, the main pedestrian artery downtown, is packed and the security presence has increased at least 5 fold since yesterday alone.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Elevator doors are complete!

We are very excited to see our graphics on the elevator doors! The elevators are part of the indoor/outdoor mall we are in and they travel between three floors and the parking garage. Hopefully mall-goers will see them and be intrigued enough to visit the space!


About half of the Partly Sunny team has the pleasure of staying (the rest of us are staying with very nice Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design students). Cableland is like a living museum, full of period furnishings, art and collectibles. It is technically the official residence of the Mayor of Denver. The city of Denver website says, "Cableland is located in Denver's hilltop neighborhood. This beautiful home was donated to the city by cable TV mogul Bill Daniels, and is available for use by non-profit organizations for fundraising efforts." Check out these pictures!

Making the title wall

We applied two sets of vinyl lettering to the large Tyvek that will function as the title wall tonight. Taylor measured, cut and hemmed the Tyvek, and had many hands assisting her in the application of the letters after carefully measuring out where they should be applied. The whole process took about six hours!! But it was worth it... the title wall looks great. It took almost all of the Partly Sunny team to hang this morning.

Hanging the topic "wallpaper"

After the Tyvek was attached to the framing, we have a big blank white space to start installing. The first exhibition graphics to go up were the large topic area bio banners. There are six topic areas for Partly Sunny with corresponding colors: food (red), land (green), energy (yellow), mobility (pink), water (blue), and buildings (purple). The space really looks like it is starting to come together with these banners installed!