Abandoned yet occupied

Here in Reston they recently tore down some low to mid-income apartments, along with the old trees that flanked them. They weren’t beautiful historic houses (there’s only about 3 houses that date back before the 1960s in Reston). They weren’t run down either. But they are now going to become bigger and better, shinny and new and unaffordable to those who lived their earlier. It seems here things aren’t built to last, everything is disposable.

Destruction of good to build bigger and better is scheduled to take place at several apartment complexes across Reston in upcoming months and years, each time chipping away affordable housing. We may be in what is the 2nd richest county in the US, but daily I’m meeting people who are without a home or at risk of loosing their housing.

You wouldn’t drive around Reston and say there’s “abandoned building” yet we have plenty of older office buildings, commercials parks, etc that are unoccupied or only partially occupied.  Sometimes I think, “Why not turn them into affordable housing?” I know it’s not that easy, but we’re also not that desperate (at least yet).

In Detroit on the other hand….

The documentary Detropia won a Sundance Award and features those who live in some of Detroit’s abandoned places. I’m excited to see it.

Or the 300 some Spaniards and African immigrants living in an abandoned factory outside of Barcelona, Spain. 

The economic crisis in Europe is frightening because it’s not hard to see that it could easily happen to us.  How will the Greeks respond? Blame immigrants? Demand government services? Band together or fracture apart?

Should the government continue to spend, spend, spend what it doesn’t have to stimulate the economy? Do we have to continue relying on over consumption and consumerism to improve the economy?

Gus Speth, author of America the Possible: Manifesto for a New Economy, has some innovative and hopeful suggestions. Check out an excerpt from his book here. And I’ll leave you with this quote:

It is time for America to move to a post-growth society, where working life, the natural environment, our communities and families, and the public sector are no longer sacrificed for the sake of mere GDP growth; where the illusory promises of ever-more growth no longer provide an excuse for neglecting our country’s compelling social needs; and where true citizen democracy is no longer held hostage to the growth imperative.



Killer at Large

Convenience and low price may allow us to get a bigger telly and have more time vegging in front of it  (pun intended)… but is it really worth it?


  • Is it comfort or laziness we are seeking?
  • Do we want more nutritious food? Or or just lots of flavor, with no or little regard for nutrition?
  • Are the man-made food-like substances with all the calculated nutrients really matching up to the whole foods that come with no nutrition label?
  • Has food science got a one-up on the nature?

I have an inkling that marketers and the government shun aside morals as they fool us in to thinking that they have it figured out, and they know best. 

Looking at the health of the west (and in particular the US) should we trust what the government (USDA and FDA) is saying about nutrition?

I don’t think so. But at least those lovely pharmaceutical companies have our best interest at heart by providing us with lots of pills to treat all the western diseases (yeah, right!).

I wonder, if we changed our approach to eating, would we need them?

Many cultures that have not been infected with the western diet show us convincing proof that we would not.  Western diseases are absent without the western diet.  Not to mention better individual health and the health of the community.  Meds are a good tool that can be used in treatment of disease, but it seems we could avoid many diseases with preventative methods.  A healthier diet.

It’s true that the west is spending less of their earnings on food, but the lesser known fact is that the money we are saving is going to pay for our medical bills, which often come as a direct result of our poor diet.

Simpler food chain:

Sun → greens → little bit of animal → nutritious food

Complex, and ironically cheaper food chain (due to government subsidies and the power of industrial/intensive agriculture):

Sun+chemicals+antibiotics → corn/soy→ fuel for transport → processing plant → more fuel → breeding lot → fuel → feeding lot → fuel → processing plant → fuel → packaging plant → fuel → super market → food void of nutrition but with very colorful and deceptive health benefit label

Is organic better?

Not necessarily.  Take a look at a possible organic food chain:

Sun→corn/soy→fuel for transport→processing plant→fuel→breeding lot→fuel→feeding lot→fuel→processing plant→fuel→packaging plant→fuel→super market→food void of nutrition but with very colorful and deceptive organic health benefit label

The simpler food chain that goes beyond organic is undeniably better for our health, our communities health and the health of the earth.  I could go on, but I’ll give you a few resources that I have found very helpful (see end).

Better than just filling up with good facts, why not give a simple, sustainable, seasonal and local diet a go?

Will the benefits speak for themselves?

If you are not convinced by the facts, I’m confident you will find the proof of the pudding in the action of eating it (pun intended).

I have spent the last 6 months incessantly researching, reading etc… but I admit I have only had one foot in taking part in the matter.  I am excited to jump in head first to this life style–and watch a steady, holistic transformation.

The farmers markets start next week and I’ve a few locally run eco-friendly grocery stores to try out, up my sleeve.  I would be excited to hear  some stories, tips from others who are taking a step towards a simpler and more eco-friendly lifestyle  or who have been living it for a while.

I know that it will take good planning and  some sacrifices (time, money) to make the change initially.  However, I am confident, that as the change becomes routine the physical, emotional, relational, environmental and spiritual payoff will far outweigh the cost.

Some good resources:


Killer at Large,  Food Inc.,  No Impact Man, Botany of Desire, Life off the Grid, King Korn.


In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan,   Eating Animals by Johnathan Safran-Foyer, The End of Over-Eating by David Kessler, The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan, The Necessary Revolution by Peter Senge, The Last American Man by Elizabeth Gilbert and Five Acres and Independence by M.G. Kains