Items tagged with 'sustainability'

Startup contest update: The Radix Center

The Radix Center 2012

A lot can happen in a year.

That's something we were reminded of recently when we paid another visit to The Radix Center.

You might remember that the urban sustainability center won the AOA/Sunmark Startup contest in 2011. They used the $1,500 prize toward building an aquaculture system, in which they raise fish, watercress, and water lettuce.

Scott Kellogg and Stacy Pettigrew created the The Radix Center as an educational tool, to show people how to create a more sustainable urban environment by doing things like collecting rainwater, composting, reclaiming soil, and even operating their own greenhouses or aquacultures.

Last year we saw how things were just starting out in their 40 foot greenhouse in Albany's South End. This past Friday we stopped by again and -- well -- we'll let the pictures tell the story.

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What's growing in Albany's South End

radix center greenhouse

Veggies and plants growing at The Radix Center

By Noah Sheetz

soapbox badgeDrive through the South End and the DelSo neighborhoods and you can't help but notice change. An empty storefront at 540 Delaware is now the home of All Good Bakers. The demolition of a group Morton Avenue row houses has become part of an ongoing urban revitalization project. Pastor Charlie's Victory Church has turned a huge industrial space into a youth center with a youth-run thrift store and a refurbished trolley car emblazoned with the word "enough". Perry Jones, director of the Capital City Rescue Mission, is turning a former shirt factory building at the corner of Trinity Place and Arch Street into beautiful apartments for the needy and those who are recovering from substance abuse and are working to rebuild their lives.

And then there are the many changes that revolve around food, gardens, and local sustainability.

The local interest in, and prevalence of, youth agriculture programs here is fairly progressive -- even when you compare it to New York City. There's a lot going on in here, if you know where to look.

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Fashion for the People

Fashion for the People - Poster.jpgTomorrow night Urban Guerilla Theater is hosting a sort of anti-fashion industry fashion show at The Linda. Fashion for the People is focused on "exmplifying the local creativity and passion surrounding our 3rd basic need; clothing."

The show features clothing from local artists, designers and small local retailers and also handmade fair trade clothing from other areas. It's a fundraiser for the Albany Social Justice Center.

About half of the clothes in the show were made by regional designers and artists like Rana Woolens, Albany/Brooklyn designer Cinderloop and Elissa Halloran. The rest come from small local stores such as Perception's in Arbor Hill and Seasons Skate Shop on Lark.

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Sunmark Start-up update: The Radix Center

The Radix Center: Albany's Urban farm

This past spring Scott Kellogg and Stacy Pettigrew at The Radix Center for Ecological Sustainability took home $1,500 in the AOA/Sunmark StartUp Contest. Their plan: to use the money to build an aquaculture system in which they could raise fish and watercress in their downtown Albany greenhouse, as well as educate students.

The entire Radix project has seen a lot of change this year. They've completed their two story-greenhouse and built the aquaculture system. They've got composting and vermiculture projects underway, they're growing plants and preparing to bring in small animals. Now comes the first winter-- and a whole lot of experimenting to see what works and what needs to change.

Scott, Stacy and their daughter Violet gave us a tour of the operation.

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Capital Region cloth diaper services

baby diaper butt

No pins required: Diaper covers make cloth diapers easy.

By Akum Norder

Cloth or paper? Which one would you prefer cradling your butt?

On second thought, don't answer that. I'll just jump right in to talking about diapers.

With my first baby, I chose cloth. It was soft. I liked that it "breathed" better than disposables. And I liked the fact that we weren't sending extra crap (ahem) to the landfill. But washing diapers at home was not an option: We were renting; the landlord had shut off the hot-water line to the washing machine, and you can't wash diapers in cold.

So we contracted with a diaper service. Easy: They provided the diapers. We just tossed the used ones into a bin, set them out once a week, and fresh clean diapers would magically appear the next morning.

But by the time our second daughter came around, the diaper service we'd used had gone out of business. We went with disposables. Yeah, she got diaper rash more often. Yeah, we threw out a lot of trash. But whether we deserved the eco-guilt we felt isn't completely clear: When you take the laundering into account, reusables aren't exactly guilt-free, either. Studies comparing the environmental impact of cloth and disposables have shown mixed results, and even the Natural Resources Defense Council has reported that "environmentalists from various organizations declared a draw, suggesting we all move on to issues where the costs and benefits were more clear-cut."

Me, my heart's still with cloth; but whatever your feelings, it's nice that parents have options. There are now several diapering businesses in the Capital Region, and they make it as easy as could be to go cloth with your baby.

Read on to learn more about three of the area's cloth diaper services.

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Compost pickup service offered in Albany

flikr compost worms

With their help, trash becomes treasure.

Your orange peels and coffee grounds can make Albany a better place.

If you like the idea of composting but don't have the space, time or inclination to do it on your own property, the Radix Ecological Sustainability Center is offering Albany residents a pickup service. You place your food scraps in a container fitted with an odor-filtering lid and set it out once a week for collection.

The Radix Center, an educational organization that looks to teach city dwellers how to grow their own food, will use the resulting compost to remediate the soil of their Mansion Neighborhood site. They're building a greenhouse in a vacant lot at Grand and Warren streets.

So far, says Radix's Scott Kellogg, they've gotten a "pretty positive response" to the compost pickup program.

There is a monthly fee, but you'll be keeping more stuff out of the landfill and assist in the development of an urban sustainability project. And you'll make a lot of red wigglers really happy.

Previously on AOA: The Radix Ecological Sustainability Center

Photo: Flikr user crabchick

Pecking at the Albany backyard chicken issue

Michael Guidice

Michael Guidice making his case for backyard chickens in Albany.

The proposal to allow backyard chickens in Albany is moving on to a vote before the full Common Council.

The council's law, buildings and code enforcement committee voted 3-1 Thursday night to pass along the ordinance to the full council without a recommendation. "[The result] was better than we expected," said Michael Guidice, who's been leading the backyard chicken effort with his wife Jen Pursley (remember, it was their backyard coop that got this issue buzzing).

The vote came after some spirited clucking back and forth on the issue.

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