Mama We're All Crazy Now - Urban Chickens: Richmond's First Coop Tour!
For the past few Green Drinks in Richmond we have toured some great examples of environmentally friendly, LEED accredited architecture: a zero energy business and a refab home project utilizing many green touches, including geothermal energy.
Board of Supervisors and City Council Members everywhere should take note: people want chickens.
Just as it is my job to keep abreast of national emerging trends and the latest news in my green building profession, if you are a B.O.S. or city council member you should notice by now that it is *beneficial* to your community to embrace sustainability, and that does not just include LEED accreditation. This is your job, and to excel in it (which your citizens expect you to do), if you have failed to miss the articles on urban chickens and bees and food production that then reduce waste and household's strains on your already-stretched municipal services... well, I just don't get how you could fail to see this topic, honeychile, it's been in Time, and Newsweek, and the Wall Street Journal... and... (this list goes on)
Residential culture is shifting from Chem Lawns to food production, and that includes eggs and meat.
Mama, we're all crazy now.
Lawz, chile, where IS this neighborhood goin'? To the birds, honeychile, to the birds.
Here's some notes I'd like to make about urban chickunz:
(from what we observed touring these home owner's back yard, urban coops)
1. Chicken rotation: Think of chicken rotation just like crop rotation in your garden- you don't want to plant tomatoes in the same spot every year, otherwise they'll become weak and diseased, why would you not move your chickens to fresh pasture every few months? This keeps your yard, and chickens, healthy and happy.
2. Plastic watering jugs, feed stations etc. aren't worth the savings you think you're getting - buy metal versus the cheaper, will-certainly-crack-or-not-screw-together-correctly versions.
3. Before getting chickens: Consider: laying hens only lay really well the 1st year, and for many breeds, not in the winter. What next? Are you prepared for that? If so, and you live in Richmond, check out upcoming poultry workshops at The Center For Rural Culture.
4. Amount of yard: (Wow they do eat the weeds!)
I personally think chickens are happiest when they are free range (within a residential home's fence) with grass and shrubs. If your yard is what you consider to be an average residential back yard, you should have plenty of space. Just make sure that if you have a food garden that it is separate from the chickens.
5. Going away tips: If you have a garage, you can drag the coop within so that your chickens are free range yet protected while you're away for a weekend - leave plenty of fresh food, water, and a large bin of grass clippings, and they will be happy yet safe from predators. Consider your plan of action for away time. Neighbors are helpful during longer periods away; ask avid gardeners- they often are enthusiastic and enjoy the fresh eggs and quiet contemplation in the garden as they relax and watch the chickens, well, be chickens.
6. Pasture: Chickens like a mixture of shrubs (provides shade from the summer heat, and is a good place for dust baths and to find grubs and worms) and open yard.
7. URBAN PLANNING:Why this relates to architecture: Because your home should be a part of your community, and your community should be healthy and sustainable. Any good business person can see that when households reduce waste, it helps your city budget's bottom line.
Stack 'em against each other:
1. Homes that work (passive solar architecture + a food garden + chickens) vs. 2. Chem Lawn? No contest: biodiversity, reducing waste, enriching soil and producing food within your community is a good thing and improves the quality of life for your city.
Chickens are one more way to create community in a neighborhood - at each coop we toured, it was clear the neighbors adored them - the first coop even lets their chickens be seen from their front yard, not even trying to be discreet about it, and neighbors walk by and linger at the fence, enjoying the view.
Say yes to urban chickens, to your community sustainability! Urban chickens for everyone!!!! : )
"The Lantern In The Middle Rather Imelda Marcos Meets Holiday Inn But The Others Are Stunning ... Like The Spring Blossoms Of Magnolia Stellata ..."
I also liked Link and Saturnia, in all heights.
Wobble Bowls by Speechless Studios were fun, but not just a gimmick. The colors were fresh, and they were a nice, solid weight without being too heavy, and I could picture them as perfect during a groggy morning latte or cereal while chaos swirls...
Why am I not going cuckoo over Cocoon's fireplaces with adjustable heights?
Because it's not sealed, which you need in a SIPs prefab house kit.
So nope, no Cocoon for me.
I also understand that cool, it runs on bio-fuel, but the reality of the majority of our prefab house kit clients is that they can usually harvest already-fallen, renewable wood from their home site so really, shipping in a bunch o' ethanol is not a practical solution for us.
Speaking of cocoons, I always love seeing the latest cocoon lamps from Ango, made of real, silk cocoons, yet I don't know if they'd pass my "five year" rule - wonder what they look like after five years of dust attraction...
Regardless, their stainless steel chair "Garden boy" was also nice.
Now I realize the products shown at ICFF might not fit everyone's price point. But you can be inspired by beauty, to keep an eye out when hunting for your own treasures for your prefab green home!
P.s. Speaking of beyond price point, remember when I was talking about my zero waste traveling strategy?
I always think I'm pretty smooth - for not contributing to the overflowing garbage cans along well traveled roads or trains, but also because refusing to succumb to paper or plastic is not only environmentally friendly, honeychile, it's stylin'!
What if I showed up on Amtrak with this:
One can dream...
While I've been whoopin' it up in NYC, my Maytag wringer washer arrived for the prefab zero energy house kit! It's huge! It's cool. It even came with that coolio tub thingy mah chillunz are sitting in! Who wants to come over and wash some clothes fer me? It will be a new guest party game. Right?
Well, honeychiles, back to New York: What was the theme of ICFF 2010?
There was no predominant color scheme. There were natural materials everywhere, almost always with bits of color - apple green, slate blue... I also am seeing a return of darker wood, especially walnut, with an oil finish.
Animals, especially antlers, were another note to notice... although I'm not crazy about many of the applications, often they were used in a way that was too obvious or awkwardly functioning. Honestly I did not see one successful deer's mounted antlers attempt, and there were several.
Overall, the vendors showed more clean lines, which you know I love, (versus prior years where you could walk half-an-aisle thinking, "Did they not get that this was the International *Contemporary* Furniture Fair?") honeychile, with an emphasis on local craftsmanship.
Note: If you see a photograph in the above slideshows that seems not quite typical of me there's a good chance I took the picture because I was going, "Really?!? What were they *thinking*?!?"
Christian Woo is a good example to show you of trends at ICFF 2010 - clean lines, natural materials, the smaller trend of walnut, and a slice of color: in this case, green or slate:
Almost hidden away at the end of an aisle in a dark space, I stumbled upon Lot 61. www.lot-61.com
Good golly that's gorgeous furniture. Note the sharp edges yet rounded at critical points:
In my mind this line is an instant classic.
Arper put out an amazing collection of environmentally-minded gorgeous design. Check it *all* out, honeys, on their website, because I did not take proper pictures. I liked the Catifa 70 lounge, chairs, the Dizzie table, and the Leaf chairs and lounges especially. http://www.arper.com/index.php?lang=en
Iannone put out another pretty collection, with their signature trees and birds but I really also liked their pixelated take on a butterfly:
Embodying functional, clean lines with craftsmanship, this Liffey bed by SHIMNA looks much nicer than my photo, and the quilt, not so garish. He teetered on the southwestern edge but pulls it back enough to remain modern. Note the drawer space underneath, and even smaller drawers in the headboard, perfect for a watch and rings, yet it maintains a clean line and craftsman finish and weight.
Normally I would not talk about toys but how can I *NOT* mention this passive solar, prefab DOLL HOUSE with SOLAR PANELS by brinca dada?!?
For children, I thought this bookcase by designArtist Soh was a creative, lovely way to add storage to a room... Sure it might be a little hard for your cutie to reach up into, but sometimes... isn't that the point?!? Oh yes, those branches will stay neat and organized, despite your pipsqueak's efforts! (It also screws into the wall, protecting your precious one from achieving, "Tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiim-ber!")
Again, like many at ICFF, Peter Sandback's tables combined natural with clean and color in their line...
I loved, loved, loved the clean lines with a touch of curve at Kalon Studios. He really did a great job of combining the clean, strong design of the chair with a bit of delicate embellishment on the backs that it perfectly subtle, does not lose the lines and draws you in with its detail.
Check out his sweet Ioline baby changing trunk, and Isometric chair and table at www.kalonstudios.com.
In outdoor furniture, I appreciated loll designs 100% recycled, recyclable and weatherproof furniture - traditional forms you grew up with with a more modern, lightweight edge.
I had to stop when I found FunQuilts. Oh, yes, quilts can be modern. What a great way to add clean, crisp lines to your bed? Really, honeychile, it's not always about a big fluffy duvet. Plus I had been *gingerly* sleeping under P.'s GRANDMOTHER's quilt during my trip, hoping not to ruin it, so I had a close appreciation for the detail and craftsmanship and longetivity such an investment can achieve. If you ask me, (you did, didn't you?) quilts are BACK.
dform has gorgeous, flat packed lighting that pops and hooks together so light emanates from beautiful textural-yet-dustable forms. I just wish they could tweak their materials to be a bit more environmentally friendly. Yes it's wood but it's laminated to a polymer core... wonder if there would be a better alternative. Their wall screens are aluminum with 15% post-consumer and 45% post-industrial content.
Sadly, this UK designer used fiberglass for these lamps, otherwise I'd be all over their nod to Arabian Nights and botanical detail:
Now after all this stompin' around ICFF, I was getting a bit frayed at the edges... but I really wanted to see the model citizens show.
"Community-based Model Citizens encourages talented designers to explore, share and market creative innovation to generate viable economic solutions. Our events are intended to highlight the designers that generate original ideas as well as the skilled individuals that produce them. We recognize that without diversity or risk there is no innovation, without a cooperative spirit no new relationships can be made, and without a commitment to new approaches to design practices we create nothing.
Made up of independent designers as well as design related business partners, Model Citizens includes all of the individuals who, together, represent a sustained model of productivity within the design industries. ─ Whether it means a designer learning from a new technology, a small manufacturer energizing their business with fresh thinking, or potential buyers discovering something outrageous, Model Citizens is dedicated to unleashing the excitement that occurs when inspired individuals come together to create the extraordinary."
"Project H Design connects the power of design to the people who need it most, and the places where it can make a real and lasting difference.
We are a team of designers and builders engaging locally to improve the quality of life for the socially overlooked. Our five-tenet design process (There is no design without (critical) action; We design WITH, not FOR; We document, share and measure; We start locally and scale globally, We design systems, not stuff) results in simple and effective design solutions for those without access to creative capital.
Our long-term initiatives focus on improving environments, products, and experiences for K-12 education institutions in the US through systems- level design thinking and deep community engagements."
And, of course, Build It Green NYC:
You know, there was some gimmicky-but-doesn't-really-work-in-real-life products... but Slow Life Designs stood out... if correctly placed in a well lit area, I could see myself having some fun with that soil area in the center!
Oh, the gimmicky and non functional?
Well, I must have spent too much time with my beloved fashionista old room mate, who has a heart of gold, who is one of the kindest girls I know, but, after being in fashion for so many years, and whose job is to critique fashion decisions and design...I now have her voice talking in my head as I saunter down the street...
Now, thanks to P., this voice, a running commentary, is mentally critiquing every outfit I pass (I used to be such a nice girl!), so I am going to say it:
These.... well, these, below, did not wow me. Ok fine I won't add them, you can go through the slide shows and see which products fit the following categories to see why they flummoxed me with their, in my mind, baaaaaad design:
Honeychile, That Would Never Work In Real Life
Gilded For Tha' Helluv It
Overstuffed / Too Blocky (always a crime!)
Use of Distracting Color That Would Detract From What You Are Trying To Present To Someone Who Could Be Paying For Your Services
[By the way, Miss I Only Catch And Release Fish And Am Trying To Sell Consumers Fish Knuckes (yes, fish knuckles): You may be a strict vegetarian who can certainly unleash your disdain towards me and tell me I'm horrible for my archery and fishing to eat. I get it, I was vegetarian for years.
But when I catch you two minutes later dragging deep breaths on your cigarette, I can't help but imagine what YOU are doing to wildlife:]
Oh, but enough Mean Girl.
I'm headin' back to Virginia, already missing my New York friends, but happy to throw myself back into my family's arms and back to progress on the zero energy, off grid prefab house kit!!!!
There is nothing like running towards loved ones in New York. I entered Penn Station dragging about 300 pounds of STUFF for my loved ones - I brought bird houses, I brought home made cheese, I brought HAM BISCUITS, honeychile, oh I did, I did, I did.
I walked, lugging that weight, straining up to 39th street where my old room mate is now some hooty-hoo insert-important-title-here at Vera Wang. : ) I felt very bridal and feminine, y'know, with the sweat and leaden limbs of trudging, balancing wobbling boxes and suitcases and laptops over curbs and sidewalks.
And suddenly here I was in a design studio, with bolts of precious fabric standing waaaaaay too close to my Virginia clay-laden boots...
I could see Vera working at her desk and lowered my voice...
I met P's coworkers and offered them cheese.
"Hi, I'm Copeland, would you like some cheese?"
It breaks the ice.
They were on deadline for Vogue so I left them quickly, which was probably a good thing as P. promptly began telling all kinds of stories about me - about how I used to roller skate around our apartment, how I would fix my shoes with a hammer (like I can sew)...
Revenge? I am now talking about YOU, P. ; ) (Don't worry, NO ONE reads this!!!!)
We filled up on Murray's bagels, then headed to ICFF.
I explained my criteria of what interests me:
gorgeous, compelling, modern design
use of environmentally-friendly materials
PRACTICAL, honeychile, it needs to stand up to wear and tear!
So it might be gorgeous, it might reuse materials, but when I look at something I picture it four years later: will it have dust and dirt engrained in it? I avoid felt for that reason, I avoid wall paper with texture for that reason (much less wallpaper made up of thousands of jig saw puzzles at all heights like I saw last year; I took one look at that and thought, "Oh, imagine the dust...")
Can you wipe it? Can you clean it? Because that makes your life EASIER, more simple.
And finally, one thing I do *not* like in design? Whimsy. Overtly whimsical, ha-ha-I-get-that-you're-overly-colorful-and-curvy-baroque-gone-bad-modern. Really, chile, work on your wit, don't just buy furniture to imply you're witty.
And that's how I feel about that.
P. and I headed out the door to ICFF.
We did not anticipate the blocks-long STOOP SALES on 22nd!!!! Before we'd walked a block, I had bought three dresses for $7 apiece to reuse, and P. found two, perfect condition mid-century asian rosewood chairs with the original, perfect condition cushions - $160 for the pair!!!!
So we dragged our treasures back to P.'s... Wait, aren't I here for ICFF?
We began our second attempt to walk past the stoop sales without stopping...and succeeded!
So what have I liked at ICFF so far?
As always, the Material ConneXion booth was full of new, cool materials.
As always, I really liked DesignBoom's pick & choose offerings, especially the little egg & wheatgrass vase...
Graypants recycled cardboard lamp shades, good price point, locally sourced cardboard and craftspeople involved with these 3 sweet architects: www.graypants.com
"Each scrap light proudly tells the story of its journey from being a dull, discarded cardboard box to a stunning, unique light fixture."
Pratt Institute's collaboration with Herman Miller: Sara McBeen's Aata bench, celebrating family and sharing - you sit in the middle and use the ends as a table, she explained it came from her experiences of a generous family in the middle east who welcomed her, the giving and warmth and sharing...