Friday, March 23, 2012

Hip Hip, Hoo-Dutch!

Being of Dutch ancestry—"Kruidenier" means "seller of herbs" or "grocer" in Dutch (kruiden = herbs, kruidenier = seller of herbs; see wagon in this picture) . . .

vd horst kruidenier

. . . I have to give a shout to the lowly Dutch when I can, both of these having crossed my desk this week.

First, a Dutchman who created the first human-powered, wing-based (flying like a bird) flight. He used wireless controllers from a Wii game machine to translate the motion of his flapping arms to the wings. Very nice -- (hit the CC button, then "English", for a translation of his post-flight reaction): Update: I got snookered (along with a lot of other people). This was an elaborate, fictional hoax eight months in the making. Watch the video anyway -- it's cool -- and then watch the ABCNews interview with the "hoaxer" below. (Thanks, Daniel and Liz.)

Second, a "used" cathedral in Maastricht, Holland, has been transformed into the "world's most sacred bookstore." This is not a library—it's a bookstore. I'd say it's a step down from housing the Word of God to the words of men, but a nice job of it nonetheless. Go here for the article and a half-dozen more gorgeous photos (thanks, David KRUIDENIER, for the link):


Hey, William of Orange (take your pick) had nothing on these Dutchmen.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Who and Where

Just received a new (2012) book by Atina Diffley today—a memoir of her and her husband's decades as organic market gardeners on fifth-generation land in Minnesota. I had seen a great review of the book, not only praising the story but the author's beautiful writing.

After cutting the grass I sat down on the front porch and paged through the portfolio of beautiful color photos in the center of the book that tell the story of their farming lives. And then picked a random spot and began reading—about the day Atina delivered their second child, Maize (because his newborn hair looked like corn tassle).

Atina worked in the fields until a couple hours before giving birth, then called the midwife and delivered the baby—just a few minutes after her husband came in off the tractor and showered.

Just hours after being born, Maize was introduced to the farm and has been in the thick of things ever since. I love this portrait of his place in the market stand they run on the farm:

"[Maize] can hear my voice as I move around working the stand, and I can see him from wherever I am. Not only do I know he is safe, but he is right there in the center of our business, surrounded by produce and customers, learning sales and relationships on an intuitive level. He will know what his parents do, how we earn money, and what our values are. He will know where he is from and who he is." (p. 90).

Has whatever good the Industrial Revolution produced been greater than the harm of separating parents from children, sending parents off to jobs "in the city" unrelated to the life of the home? Isn't knowing "where he is from and who he is" more important than almost anything?

I think this will be a great book. (5-9-12 update: Read an in-depth, excellent review of the book here.)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Chick-fil-A: The New Monsanto

Among small farmers across America, there is a one-word answer to the question, "What is the most despised corporation in America?" The answer is, Monsanto. This giant company has bankrupted lots of small farmers by suing them over seed patent infringements that happen by accident when Monsanto's GMO seeds and pollen blow onto a neighboring farm and cross-breed with the non-Monsanto-bred plants on that farm. Monsanto sues, saying the small farmer is using their seed without permission—and wins. It's disgusting.

Now Monsanto has a competitor for biggest bully on the corporate playground: Chick-fil-A. This "Christian"-based company has forced more than 30 companies to stop using the words "Eat more . . ." in their corporate slogans or advertising. Because these are all micro-businesses, they can't afford to fight in court so they cave.

The latest company in Chick-fil-A's gunsights is a T-shirt maker in Burlington, Vermont, who sells a T-shirt that says, "Eat More Kale." Chick-fil-A has sent him a "cease and desist" order -- and the guy is going to fight.

He is using to raise $75,000 to produce a documentary film about Chick-fil-A's heavy-handed tactics. They only have six days left to raise the remaining money. If you're not familiar with, it's a site where venture capital can be raised for bootstrapping projects. You pledge an amount by credit card but your card is not charged unless the funding goal is met. If the goal isn't met, you pay nothing. Here is the page for the Eat More Kale documentary project. I'm going to pledge my support and hope you'll consider supporting the project, too. And I'm going to try to figure out some way to communicate my disgust to Chick-fil-A. Since I haven't been in one of their stores in more than a decade, saying I'm going to boycott them doesn't mean much. But if you eat chicken sandwiches, I hope you'll buy them somewhere else and let them know why. I left a post on the Chick-fil-A Facebook page letting them know I'm supporting the Eat More Kale initiative (which they promptly deleted!).

Here are a couple of videos about the documentary film project: