Sunday, 23 November 2014

Backyard Composting!

Hey everyone,

As you may know I am now serving the city of Red Deer as a member of the Environmental Advisory Committee. I attended my first meeting last week and one of the things we talked about was the successes of Red Deer's composting pilot project held over the last few years. It is really exciting to be able to work with so many great minds on this committee!

I completely missed the boat on this project. I didn't sign up in time to get my free composter bin and didnt get to attend the seminar about how to compost. But rather than letting myself become discouraged I built a wooden composter bin and watched youtube videos until I learned what to do!

I used to wonder what was the BIG DEAL about composting. What does it matter if I throw a banana peel into a compost bucket or into the landfill. There are a few reasons but the biggest for me is this:

When organic material breaks down not in the presence of oxygen (ie. trapped under layers of landfill) rather than CO2 being produced, methane is produced and methane is a 20% more potent greenhouse gas than CO2!

By throwing a banana peel into a hermetically sealed landfill you are doing 20% more damage to the climate than by letting it break down in a compost heap on the ground. The methane produced from anaerobic decomposition will release over time and adversely effect the climate. As a side note: by bagging dog poop in plastic we are sealing the fate of the dog poop to become methane instead of CO2 as well.

That was the main reason but here are all the reasons I compost:

1. Produces CO2 instead of CH4.
2. Free way to fertilize garden and grow cheap, healthy food.
3. Nutrients get cycled back into fertile systems instead of becoming locked in toxic landfills for THOUSANDS of years.
4. Extends life of the landfill by diverting organic materials and saves the city money.

These are reasons good enough for me. What reasons good enough for you?

I've now been composting for about a year. My household went from about 5 bags/week of garbage to 2-3. My household produces about 1 bag of compostable material and about 1 bag of recycleable stuff per week. Around the same time we started composting we started recycling as well.

The blue bin provided by the city wasn't big enough.
Am I supposed to remove labels from cans?
I am glad to hear that the city received a donation of $10,000 to in part fund this! The donation came from Shell Fuelling Change an initiative supporting projects that improve and restore Canada's environment. This is in line with my politically moderate view that we should embrace the oil wealth of our country and use it to diversify and move towards more sustainable systems. Our country and our province can afford to lead the way. The technology to truly be sustainable is coming online! But we need vision to see beyond the paradigms of the past that will not serve us in the future.

Nobody understands the environmental impact of the oil and gas industry more than those who have worked in the front lines. For 10 years I drilled and serviced oil and gas wells. Over the years I saw environmental catastrophes and I saw responsible efforts made to clean them up. I know first hand from my experience as an oilfield worker where improvements must be made. But I digress.

Ideally, everyone would compost at home and then use that compost to build up a sustainable permaculture system, a.k.a A GARDEN. There are many benefits, from reducing green house gasses produced in landfills to localizing a percent of our food source and enhancing our diet with highly nutritious food. However I know that one size doesn't fit all. Composting and permaculture aren't for everyone. A multifaceted problem requires a multifaceted solution. Most Red Deerian's will benefit from the planned enhancements to the waste collection system coming in the near future.

I am excited to understand that enhancements to Red Deer's waste management system are in the works. There are visionary leaders in our city working to remove barriers and design more sustainable systems. In the future Red Deer will collect organic waste separately and compost the material. The resulting compost resource will pay for itself in several ways.

1. A smaller impact on the landfill. (Estimated potential 40% waste diversion.)
2. Fewer green house gasses and leachate produced. (Leachate is also costly to dispose of.)
3. Nutrients being cycled back into the earth.

Last but not least...

4. The sale of high quality compost, a valuable commodity in high demand which may offset costs of the program.

Curbside pickup of organic waste will be a much needed improvement to Red Deer's waste management strategy. I would like to see further enhancements to recycling and sewage treatment; and public transit and homeFULLness for that matter, but its one step at a time I suppose.

A friend of mine shared the following link with me and now I am very jealous of the city of Edmonton! I hear they have the largest by volume and size composting facility in North America! Its encouraging to learn this because that means that we here in little ol' Red Deer dont have to reinvint the wheel. The systems are already designed and functioning and the economics are understood and scale-able. All we have to do is copy a system that has already been proven to work! 

With all this said there is still so much to learn! As I write this I am having a twitter conversation about vermicomposting. This is something I have heard of but not yet tried or even considered. But I do like the idea of growing my own fish bait! Just gotta check with the boss if she'll let me farm worms in the basement!

Shoutout to @ClairesOwner and @hezzie7 for the twitter conversation today! Cheers!

Do you have any ideas how to make Red Deer a more sustainable city?


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Sunday, 16 November 2014


Hey everyone,

I am finally writing again. It has been a while. My last blog was way back in March. Much has happened since then. To get started blogging again I will make this post more like a second introduction. I will leave my previous posts up, but consider this post a strategic pivot. From here on in I have much more resolve and much more focus.

This blog post has 3 parts and I promise my loyal readers that I will weave them all together in the grander tapestry of future blog posts. While this blog is very much about myself; it is also about my family, my friends and my community. This post is just a teaser of what is to come; I have made extensive notes about the things I have learned over the last year and I have SO much to blog about!

Part One: Stories

Krystal and I have been busy getting our safety training business up and running. We have been on a steep learning curve and we are rising everyday to the challenge!

My macbook, which I fixed 3 times and boasted about in a previous post, was stolen; it was taken right out of my classroom by a student of mine! So I have went the last 4-5 months without a computer. Instead of buying macbook again I bought a chromebook. I will update you on how that more in the future.

I finally fenced my back yard in so my dog can now run free! Not a minute too late either! The day I put up the last fence post was the first snow day this winter! I was outside screwing on boards in -20C!

I fell off the bandwagon with fitness, I need inspiration to get back on! HELP!

Stay tuned this summer I have grand plans for my front and back yard and I will be blogging/youtubing about it! One word "Permaculture". OK perhaps another two words as well, "Urban Farming". Call me crazy...

Part Two: Mindfulness

This blog is a tool. It is an innovation pipeline so to speak. It helps me connect people to ideas. If you know me then you know that I am about handshakes and collaboration. In this blog I will write about topics that I am passionate about. Such as increasing homeFULLness in our community. Such as sustainability through urban design. Such as "tribal leadership" and inspiring ways to make life a story worth telling.

When it comes to increasing homeFULLness in our community my goal is to be part of a solution that humanizes street involved people and builds relationships. The real wealth of our community isn't just our dollars and our stuff but our PEOPLE!

When it comes to sustainability, both economic and environmental, my goal is to reduce controversy and increase collaboration. We need everyone at the table. Sustainability not just a moral dilemma or a political dilemma or a philanthropic cause but it is an innovation and design challenge.

When it comes to "tribal leadership" concepts that are relevant to me are being grateful and dreaming BIG. If you think something good about someone, TELL THEM! If your dreams don't scare you then they're not BIG enough!

Part 3: Myself

There are 3 words that I choose to describe myself with.

Curious - I am insatiably curious and this leads to a constant effort to broaden my perspective and be in a constant state of learning.

Personal - I am about handshakes and collaboration. As a family man I strive to be a better parent and spouse. As a friend I seek to give more than I take. As a businessman I seek to be fair to all concerned and enhance value as much as possible.

BOLD - I am motivated to bring about the best in others. I am authentic. I welcome criticism. I don't require permission to think differently.

When it comes to the narrow scope of the traditional political spectrum, I am confused where I fit on it. I have been accused of being a liberal and of being a libertarian. What do you call someone who takes the best from all sides of the argument? Whatever that is call me that! 

This blog IS political. I am VERY interested in municipal politics. I was a candidate for city council in the last election. It was a time of personal growth and expanding mindfulness for me. A question which focuses my thoughts on the issues is "how can we prepare the city for the next 50 years not just the next election?" I will continue in that regard.

Thank you,

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"Leadership is about finding the seeds of hope and nurturing them into something bigger." - Ban Ki Moon