good to know gifts that give

somewhere in between those joyous, gauzy memories of perfect Christmas mornings, and the check-out wrought with anxious people there is a place of peace.  i am looking for it.

like the Grinch learned in Whoville, those things we exchange as tokens of love and friendship are not the main point.  but they are nice, and giving feels good.

i love local, and i love giving things that people will like, use, and hopefully will be a bit symbolic of our relationship.  and hopefully won’t leave an unnecessarily big footprint on the planet or humankind.

hits of Christmas past include stuff like wreaths, Clean Don’t Kill non-toxic cleaner, truffles, custom calendars, and boiled wool mitts. (here have been flops too.  unnecessary to detail.)

there is a lot out there.  every day the tiniest little poke around or walk downtown reveals something new.  for the next little while will share Good To Know gifts that give (#g2kgtg), and places to get ’em.






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needs must ~ notes of hope from #NLDark

‘Needs must’ is an old phrase is not heard so often any more, but it fits perfectly with the #NLDark situation, and sustainability.

Puzzle completed by the glow of the snow

Puzzle completed by the glow of the snow

On those days early in 2014 there was not enough electricity being generated in Newfoundland to meet the demand.  Everyone was affected.  The house was heated by the fireplace and my family was entertained by a Yellow Submarine puzzle, completed by snowglow.

The environmentalists, the green people, the Al Gores and David Suzukis and so many more have been talking about conservation for decades.  #NLDark proved that we can conserve when ‘needs must’.  

Our power grid is a closed system.   The planet is a closed system.  We can change what we’re doing so that it – the power and the planet – keeps going along.  We saw that in action through #NLDark.  Yes yes yes there were challenges, but this is not about that.  This is about the hope that came out of it.  Co-operation, support, and conservation.  (There was also a very hearty showing of innovation and consideration, but that can be a different post.)

I  know where I was when the rotating power outages started – heading up Torbay Road to pick up a pizza for a Christmas holidays sleepover party.  No power on one side of Torbay Road, full blast on the other.  Eerie.   I didn’t know what was going on. 

Then Good Thing #1:  People co-operated.  At the Torbay Road Newfoundland Drive intersection (six lanes heading toward Torbay), the collective ‘we’ figured out the 24-lane-stop-intersection fast, and got it going with grace.  If someone went astray (not waiting for their right turn), the collective we picked it up and resumed the accepted pattern.  Nice eye contacts between drivers in parallel lanes.  Ten points for us!

Then Good Thing #2:  People supported.  Just a little further up the road Peter’s Pizza pick-up was like a kitchen party.  The guy behind the counter seemed new, but was very friendly and upfront:  there is a backlog.  When he came out with a pizza he’d kind of announce it.  One man was reading out the twitter feed to the rest.  Another came in to pick-up a pizza ordered pre-outage.  We welcomed him.  He went to pay and was walking away from the counter when the Peter’s Pizza guy called him back and asked quietly (but we could all hear)…. “Did you mean to leave a $20 tip?”.  “Yes.” said the late-comer.  We all looked up!  “It’s going to be awhile.”  said Peter’s Pizza guy.  “Maybe I’ll get mine first,”  said the new-comer.  All laughed (and he did not get his pizza first.).  Gold stars!

Then Good Thing #3:  People conserved.   Arrived home to a powered-house, but little was on in the way of electricity.  Our kids – the same kids who are unable to turn off a screen or a light – were on it.  Turn off the Christmas Lights, don’t run the dishwasher, conserve conserve conserve was all over facebook.  And it went on from there.  People conserved.  Hallelujah!

What we waste is the difference between what we need and what we use.  #NLDark showed that we have what it takes to do better when needs must.   And that can be cozy.

the cat wasn't worried

the cat wasn’t worried

The Yard Sale – Conclusion


The sun shone and they came!   The yarn was cut at 9:30, and over the next few hours so many people dropped by, browsed, tried to barter and bought.  The kids helped – a lot, learned a lot, and had a great time.

About $130 came in, and most if it is in a jar to meet the “I need $7 for a field trip… I need 55 cents for milk…. I need $2 for the school fundraiser…”  That will save a lot of stress in the mornings.  Some has gone to the Humane Soceity, courtesy of the 14-year-old and the proceeds from her sales.

The deals were good, but not quite enough for those who like to ‘yard sale’ as a vocation.  I had a knife sharpener, $20 retail, priced at 50 cents.  The customer wanted it for 25 cents.  Neither of us would budge.  Funny really.  But we both had our stands and we stuck to them.  Hat’s off sir.  Thank you for making me smile.  

Meeting people is half the fun.  A woman wanted a CD to work out to, and in an effort to inspire her I sang a few bars from ‘too many fish in the sea’, ‘The Committments’ CD.  She dropped it fast!  Sad that my singing totally undermined the music, I gave it to her.   She accepted, and promised to give it a try.  I hope it worked.

Most importantly, good stuff has gone on to a new home, and there is more room in ours.  The kids learned to let go a bit (and so did I).  And the little snowman magnets featured in the last post were purchased by someone who really liked them:  joy, sustainable.


where to go for green ideas?

green ain’t new.  in fact it’s old.  as old as how it was when if you had something it was because you grew it or made it or invented it.  and it wasn’t that long ago.

we, however, are a species that adapts quickly.  while we were progressing and downloading or uploading the newest, latest and greatest, we forgot much of what we needed to know to survive.  oops.

not to worry.  many are on  it.  and, in a very cool kind-of-serendipitous way, we can use the newest latest and greatest to re-learn what we forgot.

this is one – david suzuki’s friend.   check it out!

made right here beef, lettuce, cupcakes, upcycled clothes and more!

YES!  the farmers market!  carrots, pickles, handmade paper, books and so much more  at the St. John’s Farmers’ Market.   the people who grew it, made it/make it,  or farmed it sell it live and in person!

the Farmers’ Market is one of the best ways to buy close to home for food, gifts, and treats!

in the summer of 2011 Green Team did a bit of hangin’, shoppin’ and talkin’ at the Market.  great stories of sustainable choices were easy to find ~  check it out!

and check out the site it opens in june at the Lion’s Club on Bonaventure Avenue, just behind the ReMax Centre (Curling Club)


where did that come from? sourcing ethically

downtown st. john’s is the place to buy wonderful stuff, and Green Team put some serious thought into just how does that stuff gets wonderful.  they found out that businesspeople – like kim winsor of rocket, johnny ruth, and living planet – put a lot of thought into where what they sell comes from.

this video is now of the vintage variety with its great shots of the old johnny ruth from summer 11.  in mid-December the fashion superette – an integration of Johnny Ruth and Living Planet opened downtown, and all the good practices just keep on going!

Habitat for Humanity ReStore

On the one hand, some families in and around St. John’s are packed to the house rafters with too much great stuff.  On the other hand, some working families can’t qualify for a conventional mortgage.  The Habitat for Humanity ReStore helps both!  The ReStore is a place to donate good quality building materials, home decor and other goods (avoiding the landfill), and the proceeds from their sale supports Habitat for Humanity builds.  Habitat partner families contribute 500 hours of sweat equity, and pay back an interest-free mortgage at fair market value.  Good all the way around!

(This vid was created in  July just when the ReStore opened.  It’s changed since then!  Christmas stuff just in!)

our greenest strengths – about habits for your habitat

Through the summer of 2011, a Conservation Corps Green Team of four excellent videographers – Anna Westin, Mike Fardy, Kathy Oke, and Devin Shears – took to the streets, shops, swimming holes, gardens and markets out and about St. John’s in search of greener practices.  They found much.

Each week a new installment of what they found, our ‘greenest strengths’, will be released here.   To get started, thegreenrock principal kim todd gives a big picture look at what is all about.  Check it out, please and share by any and all means!