How to Have a ‘Green’ Holiday

Turkey dinnerI know, Thanksgiving doesn’t have much, if anything, to do with green building.  But as our society adopts a more ‘environmentally friendly’ attitude about everything, the holidays and how we celebrate them need to be a part of that.  Here are a few ideas, culled from different sources, on how to make your celebration more sustainable.

  1. Give to those less fortunate than you – When I look around my house at all the ‘stuff’ I’ve accumulated, and think about those living out on the street with only a shopping cart to their name, or those who can’t afford to have a big dinner, I realize exactly how lucky I am.  Why not give some of that bounty to those who are without?  If you know someone who needs help, that would be best, as it gives a face to your generosity.  Otherwise, donate food or money to one of the many wonderful organizations that desperately need help this season.
  2. Downsize – After realizing how much frivolous stuff I have, I am inclined to take things down a notch.  Focus on the reason for the celebration.  Focus on the people, not the things.  Instead of making a large centerpiece, light a solitary candle (soy or beeswax, of course).  Make less food so none goes to waste.
  3. Keep it has a challenge out there: all the food for the meal comes from within 100 miles of your location.  This will be hard for some, easier for others.  What about that trip to Grandma’s?  Instead of a huge gathering at one location, why not have several smaller gatherings so visitors don’t have to travel as far?  If you do travel, purchase carbon offsets, carpool, or use mass transit.
  4. The food– Organic is better.  It tastes better and is usually fresher.  Standard turkeys are unsustainable in so many ways.  Buy free-range, organically fed, and/or heritage breed turkeys.  Go vegetarian and get a tofurky or serve alternative dishes.
  5. Enjoy – Most of all, enjoy the time with friends and family.  Sit back, relax, and connect with each other.  That is what is truly important.

Have a wonderful holiday, no matter how you celebrate!

Obituary: Lucienne Bloch

The Independent (London, England) April 3, 1999 | Nick Caistor BORN IN Switzerland in 1909, living most of her long life in the United States, the artist Lucienne Bloch is best-known internationally for her friendship with a Mexican couple.

The first record of Lucienne is as a small child in her birthplace Geneva, photographed with her brother and sister by her father, the composer Ernst Bloch. Bloch was also a photographer and taught Lucienne how to develop photographs as a child. In 1917, Bloch sailed with his family across the Atlantic to take up a position in New York, and a few years later became director of the Institute of Music in Cleveland and then, from 1925, of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He had a somewhat tempestuous relationship with his wife, who after a few years took her children back to Paris. go to site detroit institute of art

Lucienne studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, and spent a year making glass sculptures in Amsterdam. Returning once more to the United States, it was in 1931 that she both held a one-man show of her glass in New York and first met the formidable Mexican painters Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. In her diary, Bloch recalled that this was at a dinner in Rivera’s honour in New York, where she was seated next to the great man, much to the irritation of the jealous Kahlo, whose first words to the bemused young Swiss woman were: “I hate you.” Soon though, Kahlo became satisfied that Bloch was not infatuated with her husband, and over the next few years, she became Kahlo’s faithful companion, accompanying her during the difficult loss of her child, and the death of her mother, and even travelled to Mexico with her. On one occasion, in August 1932, Bloch wrote in her diary: “We took cold chicken in a little basket and went to Belle Isle dragging Diego with us at the last instant. It did him good to go out. He was so surprised at the beauty of the trees when lying down in the grass. He says trees are ugly and nature is hokum, but he can’t help admiring it when he’s in it.” Bloch herself was a talented sculptor – Frank Lloyd Wright offered her the post of sculpture director at his school in Wisconsin. But she was particularly impressed with the public murals that Diego Rivera was busily creating in Mexico and the United States, and instead became Rivera’s assistant. She also fell in love with his chief plasterer, the Bulgarian Stephen Dimitroff. She helped on Rivera’s most controversial projects, at the Detroit Institute of Art, and on Man at the Crossroads, for the Rockefeller Center in New York. Nelson Rockefeller had commissioned the 1,000sqft work, but the Rockefeller family was horrified when it discovered that Rivera intended to make it a paean in praise of Communism, with Lenin as the great spiritual leader of mankind. Rivera was quickly paid off, and armed guards moved in while the mural was covered with screens. Bloch attempted to defend it, even going so far as to scrawl on the whitewashed windows of the Rockefeller Center: “Workers unite! Help protect Rivera M-” – at which point, she was dragged away. She returned however, on 8 May 1933, with Dimitroff and Kahlo, and while Kahlo distracted the guards, Bloch climbed up on the scaffold and with her camera managed to capture the only images of the mural to survive. Throughout the 1930s, Bloch continued to work as a muralist and sculptor in glass and terracotta. She and Dimitroff married and became an artistic fresco team, he handling the plaster and she the painting on around 50 projects around America. Her photographs of Frida Kahlo were widely shown, but she also took photos for Life magazine, again demonstrating her strong political convictions, as in the series of striking carworkers in late 1930s. Dimitroff became a union organiser until the couple moved to California in the 1960s. Towards the end of her life, there was a renewed interest in Lucienne Bloch’s work. The singer Madonna, researching for a film project about Frida Kahlo, talked with her at length and set up a fund to preserve the best of her murals, The Evolution of Music, in the George Washington High School in New York. From 1965 Bloch lived in Gualala, California, and it was here that the first exhibition of her photographs of Frida Kahlo was recently held. Lucienne Bloch, muralist: born Geneva 1909; married Stephen Dimitroff (died 1996; two sons, one daughter); died Gualala, California 13 March 1999. site detroit institute of art

Nick Caistor

About the Author

has over 15 years experience in the construction industry and is the author of Green Building Design 101, an e-book available from Amazon. She is a LEED AP and Certified Green Building Advisor, and has worked on the LEED Certification of three projects in Salem, Oregon. She is currently a Contract Administrator at Rich Duncan Construction.