Dec 09, 2015 — Nicole Caldwell is co-founder of Better Farm, a 60-acre sustainability farm and artists’ colony in Redwood, near the Thousand Islands. Caldwell inherited the farm from her uncle, who organized a commune on the property back in the 1970’s. Left paralyzed after a car accident, Caldwell’s uncle, Steve, moved to the North Country where, with the help of friends and family, he ran a farm, enjoyed the outdoors and taught others about sustainable living. Today, there’s a new generation of residents from around the world.Read More
Originally published by Martha Stewart Living
With just a few basic materials and a roofline, you can collect rainwater for garden irrigation. This gravity-fed system uses no pumps or electricity and can be installed in minutes. Dress up your rain barrel however you like for a real conversation piece!Read More
As featured on WhyWhisper via Alexandra Ostrow
Last week, we interviewed Nicole Caldwell, co-founder and CEO of Better Farm, a 65-acre sustainability campus, organic farm and artists' colony serving as a blueprint for environmentally conscious living. In her interview, Nicole told us about her career path, inspirations, and personal obstacles, and gave us some background on her upcoming book release. This week, we're thrilled to share a chapter of that very book in an early preview for the WhyWhisper community. Read the chapter below and let us know what you think. Have questions? Comment below or reach out via Facebook or Twitter!Read More
Consulting firm WhyWhisper Collective advances the efforts of socially responsible companies and organizations. To move that mission forward, the collective has kicked off a month of "Being Better", a month-long series of weekly posts related to Better Farm-inspired business practices. This week: an interview with Better Farm's executive director and CEO, Nicole Caldwell.Read More
We were visited in September by Jesse and Harper, two women in the midst of making a documentary called Ways of Living about sustainable, communal living. The video is due out in 2015.
The women have completed their travels throughout the east coast and are in the editing phase of their project. They need your help! Click here to check out their Indiegogo campaign and find out how you can show your support.
Here's the film treatment:
In March Jess left the UK to join Harper on a pilgrimage of America's East Coast, stopping off at farms, eco-villages, and intentional communities. We had the aspiration to film a documentary about sustainable, communal living in 2014 - I don't think either of us were sure if communes still even existed before researching this trip, but in the back of our minds we yearned to discover alternative ways of living. We wanted to know about spirituality as a daily life choice, about ways we can reduce our impact on the earth's resources, and how we can teach each other to love more profoundly. Is it easy to live this way in 2014?
All funding goes towards the production costs - travel expenses, video and audio equipment, and editing. Contributors will receive a free copy of the finished film, as well as being kept in the loop with our progress. You are helping raise consciousness and spread awareness of different ways of living in an attempt to make this world a better and more sustainable community!
Thank You Humans
Let's remind the world that it isn't too late to make strong positive change.
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"Look. This is your world! You can't not look. There is no other world. This is your world; it is your feast. You inherited this; you inherited these eyeballs; you inherited this world of colour. Look at the greatness of the whole thing. Look! Don't hesitate - look! Open your eyes. Don't blink, and look, look - look further."
John's visit brought original, new music to the Redwood community in a live concert; offered him the unparalleled experience of a North Country winter; and gave betterArts the opportunity to offer an artist exposure, press, and experience with radio broadcasting, community outreach, interviewing with media outlets, and more.
Here's John's goodbye, in his own words. We wish him all the very best—and expect to see him (and other artists he's connected to) soon...
|In the Tunes 92.5 studio.|
It has been a a little bit over a month since I arrived to Redwood for my Artist Residency, it's been amazing. I'm now heading for NYC for a short amount of time before flying back to Sweden.
The BetterArts crew has not only given me the peace and quiet and inspiration to concentrate on writing songs. They have also worked on getting me in the newspapers and the radio and have given me the exposure that is comparable to what a promotion agency would do, amazing:
I've felt incredibly welcome and accepted by the great people in the little town of Redwood. Check out BetterArts more through this link http://www.betterarts.org/, I highly recommend this place if you're and artist in any way and you would like to get away to concentrate on your creative work.
Thank you all for the laughs, talks, drinks and sing-a-longs. I'm looking forward to come back and see you all again when it's warmer, without all that stupid snow.
To learn more about the betterArts residency program, click here.
|John Dunsö with Timothy Sweeney at Tunes 92.5 studio.|
|Better Farm chickens Kiwi, left, and Rapunzel. Photo/John Dunsö|
|Kobayashi Maru looks out from Better Farm's deck. Photo/John Dunsö|
|Cake by Mollica Bakery.|
|Watertown Daily Times article about John.|
|Nicole Caldwell, left, and John Dunsö.|
|John Dunsö, left, and AmberLee Clement.|
|Carl Frizzell, left, and John Dunsö.|
|Better Farm. Photo/John Dunsö|
|Scott Smith, left, and John Dunsö.|
|John's song-writing space at Better Farm.|
|John Dunsö volunteering at this year's North Country Goes Green Irish Festival.|
|Image from www.shapard.com.|
As the popularity of Better Farm's mission grows, so too do the amount of visitors to our blog. Our DIY sections, educational information, and ever-growing cast of contributing authors have cast a wide net in the sustainability community, and word's leaked out.
So this year I started contributing blogs and homesteading blurbs to Mother Earth News. You can follow those pieces over at www.motherearthnews.com (just plug my name into their search engine).
Last week, I additionally started posting short blurbs about organic food and farming over at JuJu Good News, a new website focused on nutrition and food-centric issues. I'll be doing five short news blurbs a week, as well as one longer, feature piece a week. You can follow my posts at JuJu Good News by clicking here.
And it's not just me—former students in our education program have hit the pavement to contribute education and outreach in their own communities. This summer's Fermentation Master Jacob Firman went home in August, bought a dish rack and some rags so his family could avoid running the dishwasher, and helped his mom hook up a rainwater barrel for irrigation. He also set his family up with a compost tumbler, and is now back at Oberlin where he's going to work with the student body to instate a compost system in the cafeteria and set up aquaponics in some student housing facilities.
And Kathryn Mollica is back in New Jersey finishing up her last semester of school and working at Whole Foods; where she's been asked to teach classes on sustainability based on her work at Better Farm this summer. The list goes on—if you've got an update on how you're spreading the "better word", please get in touch!
Anyone who would like to contribute to our blog with a guest post about sustainability issues or green living can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Oh—and be sure to tell your friends about year-round opportunities to become part of Better Farm's Sustainability Education Program (which, ahem, is now listed by as a premier educational program among major universities like Cornell, Columbia, and Boston!).
|Nicole M. Caldwell of Better Farm, Redwood, cleans up after a worm compost exhibit Saturday at Garden Day in Alexandria Bay. Photo/Justin Sorensen|
Saturday was the library’s fourth annual Garden Day, and it drew dozens looking for free seeds, gardening advice and children’s activities.at Garden Day in Alexandria Bay.
“It’s about educating the community,” said herbalist and library trustee Sue-Ryn Burns.
Several trustees have gardens of their own and dug up sprouting tomatoes to raise money for the library. As a testament to the gardener’s fever possessed by some of the trustees, an herb garden sat
in the building’s back.
“We’re trying to encourage people to grow things,” said Steven L. Burns. “We were all getting asked a lot about gardening.”
Representatives from Better Farm LLC, a sustainability education center and artists' retreat facility in Redwood, demonstrated composting to show how produce that normally lands in the trash could be reused. The business uses produce that would normally be tossed away at local grocery stores such as Big M and The Mustard Seed.
“The end result will be organic compost and organic worm casings, which make an excellent fertilizer,” said Matthew K. Smith, Better Farm agriculturalist.
After a village tree walk led by Cornell Cooperative Extension horticulture educator Susan J. Gwise, children hunted in the grass for clothespin fairies dressed in silk flower petals.
Several packets of donated pumpkin seeds were placed on a table to encourage locals to plant the
squash for the library’s annual Harvest Festival in the fall. Every year, there is a contest for the village’s biggest pumpkin.
“We wanted to see what seeds they have so we can start our garden,” said Alexandria Bay resident Cathy A. Dickhaut. She held seeds for squash, beets and white watermelon. “I’ve never had good luck with lettuce,” she said.
[Originally published Monday, May 14, 2012, for the Watertown Daily Times]
The drones of Occupy Wall Street. Photos from Amazon.
The Occupy Wall Street movement gained an unbelievable amount of ground since its inception; spreading worldwide, gaining international attention, and drawing thousands upon thousands of people into the streets to acknowledge a corrupt system and demand a change. Of course, no movement—especially one with so many far-reaching ideas and, at times, unclear focus, is without its skirmishes. The Occupy movement's relationship with police departments has often seemed strained at best; an "urban guerilla war" at worst.
But this movement is different from the original tea-partiers or civil rights activists—or, really, any past movements—because of how publicized this one can be on an individual level. The advent of cell phone cameras, video cameras, the entire blogosphere, Facebook, and Twitter have allowed individual protesters, movers, and shakers, to report from ground zero of this movement. And the whole world has been watching.
But some argue that airspace is still the home of the biggest disadvantage to members of the movement. News helicopters and ground-based media were evicted from the Zuccotti Park eviction in New York City, while NYPD helicopters flew overhead to cover Occupy Wall Street Activity.
So betterArts artist-in-residence Mike Brown decided to send in the drones.
From his own site:
Politicians and police forces are public servants and must be understood as such. They are meant to serve us and the mandate and money that power their usual authority is supposed to be rooted in the fact that they have been elected or employed to serve and protect by an informed public. This is essential to democracy. If a public is not well-informed it can not even really be said to be voting. In the absence of a clear channel of information regarding the behavior of our public servants we cannot properly govern ourselves. To be deprived of our right to basic information regarding the behavior of public servants is to be deprived of our very democracy. That it is the very servants whose actions we need to observe who are preventing us from doing so is unacceptable. That they may invoke minor laws as rationale for flouting major laws is unacceptable. ("On the Need for Outlaw Journalism")So far, Mike's outfitted people in San Francisco and New York with several drones to capture what's going on at these protests. Check out this footage shot from a civilian drone of a Polish protest (not one of Mike's, but shows you what these things can do):
The media is starting to catch on, from the Village Voice to the New York Times. The Atlantic is calling the machine an Occucopter (we'll see if the name sticks!).
Keep up with Mike and this project at the following links:
Watching the Watchmen
Slippereal on Youtube
Get in touch with Mike via e-mail with any questions.
"The future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; a democratic government derives its power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. Corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known."
—Excerpt of official "Occupy Wall Street" statement
As the "Occupy" movement has gone viral and sprung up worldwide and in United States cities stretching coast to coast, the folks in the North Country figured it was time to get in on the action. Demonstrations in Syracuse and Potsdam were galvanized in recent weeks; and Better Farm yesterday participated in a small "Occupy Watertown" event held in Public Square. News segments about the Occupy Watertown event were featured on Your News Now (YNN), Newz Junky, the North Country Democrat blog, and on WWY TV 7.
Basic talking points as to why people gathered this past Saturday:
- To acknowledge that the current system is corrupt
- To stand in solidarity with other demonstrators and affirm that corporations and banks should not be more powerful than government
- To promote the power of human interest over governmental forces and corporation—which is to say, government should be by and for the people
"Occupy Watertown" featured the first Alchemical Bank and Currency Exchange, the brainchild of artist-in-residence Eric Barry Drasin. That installation, constructed with a 10x10 canopy and various signage advertising "trust services, personal investment, currency exchange, gift certificate deposits, transfers, and exchanges," invited passersby to "deposit" grievances, work with Eric to visualize a more positive reality, and walk away with a gift certificate acknowledging that visualization.
From the bank's website:
The Institute for Applied Metamorphosis is a research institute dedicated to the profound transformation of the individual and society. We investigate public space and consciousness through psychic intervention and narrative restructuring. We retain skepticism toward anything that isn’t made up, with a firm belief in the impossible as a pragmatic approach toward total transformation.Here are a few happy banking customers from the day:
See the full album here.
We were lucky enough last week to have PAPA's Thousand Islands chapter visit us at Better Farm. Corinne had contacted them a while back, and made arrangements for the group's visit. They breezed in last Wednesday on a most perfect autumn day, set up easels, and got to work. Artist-in-residence Brian Purwin spent the afternoon serenading the group on violin, which was the cream cheese frosting on an already lovely day.