Saturday Linkages: Rude and Stinky

The very stinky Dracunculus vulgaris on the Garden Professors’ Blog

Stacking metal lunchbox made from tuna cans: 

Grow Something Rude and Smelly-Dracunculus vulgaris:

Moss Tiles – a rally bad idea:

Life Magazine 1948: Chicago Family’s Mutant Bikes via @bikejuju

Geodesic Hub Connectors –  

Hiplok Wearable Bike Lock Review  via @urbanvelo 

Hot air hand dryers not as good as paper towels:  

Follow the Root Simple twitter feed for more linkages.  

A Mason Jar Camping Lantern

Okay, so this isn’t going to win any awards for ingenuity (or craftsmanship!) but its easy and it works. I use this little jar and ones like it when we car camp. Barring high winds or rain, the tea light never goes out. The handle allows you to carry it around or hang it. Headlamps are all very convenient, but little candles make a campsite feel like home. And yep, it works well in the backyard too.

 There’s nothing to it, but just in case the picture makes it look more complicated than it is, all I do is wrap a piece of scrap wire around the mouth of the jar, twisting it closed. The ridges at the top of the jar hold it in place. Then I make a handle by twisting a second piece of wire around the first.

Composting at the NATO Protests in Chicago

Have you ever gone to a concert or a convention or some other large event and marveled at the staggering amounts of waste generated? I’ve been particularly wishing more of that waste was composted. And what do you know? Just as I was thinking about this, guest Root Simple blogger Nancy Klehm happened to send me a post on this very subject. If only every event had a compost tsar! Here’s Nancy:

I am obsessed with urban soil health, so when I got a phone call in mid May from Steven of the Seeds of Peace Collective, I realized a soil ship had floated in. Seeds of Peace is a collective of accomplished cooks and trained street medics, based in Missoula, who provide delicious home cooked food in support of non-violent social movements. They were in Chicago to set up a free community kitchen to serve thousands of NATO conference protestors. Steven said they needed my assistance with their food waste as they had already overwhelmed a small urban garden’s compost bin.

It was late, so I waited until morning and drove my pickup to their site – a parking lot between a community center and an auto parts store. The scene was impressive: a maroon biodiesel school bus with windows dressed in curtains screen printed with frying pans and butcher knives and the largest wok and cast iron pan I have ever seen. A purple tent stretched from the bus into the lot overhanging a to-code outdoor kitchen with multiple burner stoves, wash sinks, prepping area and boxes of produce, mostly organic. At least 12 people stood prepping food for the day. Gallons and gallons of salad and stir fry ingredients were being tossed and mixed in 30 gallon coolers with small wooden oars.

Every day for a week, I picked up the 100 or so gallons of food waste a day and provided them with extra large garbage cans to pour their waste into. Their kitchen was three miles from the rallying area. Once the food was prepared, they would pack a flat bed with it and a few tables and trundle off to the park to serve their healthy, delicious food free of charge.

One pick up was an entire garbage can of delicious looking chickpea and sweet potato curry that had fermented in the sun due to the police blocking their passage to the Park. It made me cry to compost that delicious looking curry. I had to use a couple of bales of straw and dumpstered cardboard from my carbon stockpile to take care of so much nitrogenous waste. Over the past month, the pile, well integrated and covered with a thick layer of straw reached thermophilic temperatures and now is in its mesophilic stage. Most of the food is just residual moisture now and the pile has dropped in volume by at least 20% due to composting and evaporation. So much future soil!

Thanks Steven, Sarah, Patrick and the rest of you of the Seeds of Peace Collective. May you meet with strong hearts and hands on the road.

The Good Stuff at Dwell on Design

Joey Roth Planter.

Yesterday I ranted about techno-utopianism. Today we’ll get back down to earth and take a look at three elegant and simple design interventions I found at this past weekend’s Dwell on Design convention.

Joey Roth Planter

How Roth’s planter works.

Joey Roth has a very clever take on a very old idea: a pot with a built in olla he calls simply Planter which is avaliable on his website for $45. Ollas are ceramic jars buried in the ground to deliver a slow drip of water to plants. Roth’s design is elegant, simple and effective–take an olla and make it integral with a pot. Particularly on a hot day, conventional ceramic pots dry out quickly and Roth’s planter would be great on a hot balcony or porch. His teapot is also an object of great beauty.

Scout Regalia

SR Raised Garden Kit

Scout Regalia’s design team, architects Benjamin Luddy and Makoto Mizutani, had two nice items at the convention. Their “SR Raised Garden Kit” is a set of metal brackets that turn lumber you provide into an atractive raised bed. At $95 it’s a bit over my price range, but it does look a lot better than Simpson ties.

The Scout Regalia bicycle is smart looking and practical. They describe it as a combo of an “English/Dutch town bike, a cycle truck, and a mountain bike.” Looks like the perfect whip for LA’s potholed streets.


The U-Socket is a standard outlet with usb charging ports. What more is there to say other than they’ll probably become ubiquitous in the next few years. Clever idea.

Design Like You Give a Damn [2]

Unlike the reams of purely theoretical CAD renderings that a lot of architects churn out, some designers are actually getting off their duff and building things. Design Like You Give a Damn [2]: Building Change from the Ground Up catalogs efforts by a non-profit, Architecture for Humanity, to “bring design, construction and development services where they are most critically needed.” There’s some really nice projects documented in this book which also functions as a how-to for anyone interested in humanitarian design.