Greetings from Sustainable Brands 2013!

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The following post is by Katie Peige, Herban Lifestyle’s Sustainability Associate.

This year, I was most fortunate to be a volunteer again at the Sustainable Brands Conference from June 3-6. I cannot begin to articulate how excited I was to spend four days amongst the leaders of the Sustainable Business and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) movement.

SB is held in San Diego at Paradise Point which is an island resort. Last year, I stayed nearby and had my first Airbnb experience, which was wonderful, but this time I stayed on the island with a fellow SB volunteer alum, so I did not miss a second of action! The conference is a four-day, packed-to-the-gills extravaganza that included over 180 speakers on panels, workshops, and TED-esque presentations, an expo that included over 80 vendors, and what seemed to be an infinite amount of networking opportunities and side events, including a yoga paddleboard session!

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This year, I was so excited to see that William McDonough was a speaker and was signing his book, The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability- Designing for Abundance. McDonough is the father of the cradle to cradle concept, and one of my all time heroes. I was also in line to get Hunter Lovins’ signature for her new book, The Way Out- Kick-starting Capitalism to Save our Economic Ass.

Last year I was blown away by the keynotes from Chipotle, Coca-Cola, the Shelton Group, and many more. You can watch videos of the plenary sessions online. You can also check out @SustainBrands or myself @theKatiePages on Twitter for info on the conference. I will be back with a full report of my experience!

airbnb enables a new class of tourism: the anti-tourist!

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The following post is by Katie Peige, Herban Lifestyle’s Sustainability Associate.

With each New Year comes a list of goals and resolutions that we hope to cross off our annual bucket list. My list and vision board for 2013 definitely includes travel. If yours does too, Airbnb is a great option to try if you are looking for a cool place to stay with a limited amount of funds, thanks to the joys of the sharing economy and our interconnected online social world.

Never heard of Airbnb? Don’t feel too bad I hadn’t either before last year (when they were named Inc Magazine’s runner up for Company of the Year 2012). Having lived as a poor student traveling around Europe and various corners of the United States, I considered myself to be quite the green and savvy traveler with a shoe string budget reputation. The number one way I managed to get around without breaking the bank was relying on my vast network of friends who have offered me their spare beds, couches, futons, and floors, so I could avoid the expensive and not-as-much-fun experience of staying at a hotel.

While planning a trip to San Diego for a conference, my plan to stay with a friend fell through. Since my California network was non-existent, I needed to consider other options. After all, I needed to make my journey to the Sustainable Brands Conference in a financially sustainable way. So I looked into three options: the first was to find a roomshare with another conference attendee; the second was to finally use my membership with couchsurfing.com; and the final was a newly suggested option of Airbnb.

I had seen Airbnb mentioned in the Sustainable Brands program – Christopher Lukezic, their Director of Communications, was one of the speakers – and decided to check it out. Airbnb is short form for “Air Bed and Breakfast” and allows people with a spare room to put that room up for rent on a per diem basis. Some people rent out their entire flat, airstream, tree house, train, and so on. In Christopher’s presentation he mentioned how one couple rented out their now grown children’s tree house and were able to retire early and use Airbnb to pay their mortgage. So if you have some spare space, you might want to give hosting a try.

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Airbnb’s website and app are both very cool and user friendly. You need to create a profile so that other users can rate you as a guest or host. This allows hosts and travelers to get a sense of whether they will be a good fit. You can connect your account to your Facebook account, which allows you to see if you know people who know a person you are considering hosting or visiting. My favorite part of the website is that it gives you a map of the different listings for each city. This feature is one of the big reasons why I choose Airbnb over other sites.

For my San Diego trip, I was able to use Airbnb to find an apartment that was just one mile from the conference. It was a perfect scenario. My host was actually traveling in Europe, and her friend Ale was on sabbatical and was traveling for a year before her return back to Italy. Unfortunately I did not have a lot of time to spend with Ale, since I was at the conference starting really early each  morning to rather late each night. But when I did see her, we had great conversations and I learned a little Italian. I had my own room, closet space, and was provided towels to shower. I got all of this for half of the price of sharing a room at the resort where the conference was held. Very sweet deal!

Airbnb’s app and website are really fun to poke around even if you are not planning to travel anytime soon. They have a “popular” section that lists the coolest listings and you feel like you have traveled around the world after spending a few minutes browsing. Check it out for yourself and have fun traveling or hosting and contributing to the sharing economy. It might make 2013 one of your most memorable years.

Join Us at Handmade Arcade in Pittsburgh, PA!

HA_2012_600x320The following post is by Katie Perugini, Herban Lifestyle’s Creative Communications Strategist.

As the holiday season falls upon us we hope you will join us this weekend in for a handmade holiday shopping experience in a beautiful city – The Handmade Arcade in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Now in it’s 9th year, the Handmade Arcade is Pittsburgh’s first and largest independent craft fair. This weekend, it returns to downtown Pittsburgh at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center on December 8 from 11am to 7pm with free admission.

Herban Lifestyle is excited to be a vendor in The Handmade Arcade for a second time and first time in the Holiday show. If you’re in the area or making the trip, please stop by and say hello! We will be at booth #91.

Remember to visit the shopper info page to get all the information you need to maximize your Handmade Arcade shopping experience!

I also compiled a short list of cool things in Pittsburgh. This is by no means an exhaustive list, just a few of my favorites. See you there!

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens- Founded in 1893, the conservatory currently has thirteen rooms with different themed gardens featuring various exotic plants. I visited the gardens a little over a year ago was impressed by the commitment to sustainability, environmental education for the community and stunning photo ops.

Mount Washington -The view of the Pittsburgh skyline is as breathtaking as seen in the pictures. I had the opportunity to view it for the first time while sitting on a bench on top of Mount Washington in addition to riding on the Duquesne and Monongahela Inclines–which are the oldest continuous inclines in the world. Although it is definitely a “cliché” Pittsburgh activity—the experience is definitely worth it.

The Cathedral of Learning – Despite being a Penn Stater, I couldn’t help but stand in awe next to the University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning. Not only is it 42 stories and the second tallest university building in the world, the inside looks like something straight out of a Harry Potter movie. It’s so beautiful you wish you had the opportunity to study in this building.

The BridgesPittsburgh has an incredible amount of character and its bridges are undeniably a big part of that. Pittsburgh has hundreds of bridges within the city limits, practically begging you to get out of your car and take pictures every where you go.

Meet Us at The Mother Earth News Fair this Weekend!

The following post is by Katie Peige, Herban Lifestyle’s Sustainability Associate.

This weekend, Herban Lifestyle will be exhibiting at the Mother Earth News Fair in Seven Springs, Pennsylvania.

This fun-filled family festival is a three-day event held at the Seven Springs Mountain Resort starting at 12:00 pm on Friday and going until 6:00 pm on Sunday. The event is like a state fair, but better, because it’s all about rocking the sustainable lifestyle. So it’s like a Sustainability State Fair (as this Rogers and Hammerstein geek starts to sing, “Our State Fair, is a great State fair, don’t miss it don’t even be late!”)

Back to the fair… When you go, you’ll find a slew of activities to partake in to boost your sustainable expertise. First off, there are the workshops (with very entertaining titles), featuring hands-on experiences on topics ranging from modern homesteading to composting to DIY solar panels. Then there are the animal husbandry workshops with a variety of animal workshops on chicks, and ducks and sheep (oh wait, that’s another R&H musical) and llamas, alpacas, horses, and so on. I am torn between whether I would get a bigger kick out of “Hare-Raising Possibilities with Heritage Rabbits” or “Everybody Duck! The basics of raising ducks.” For those who are not as amused with word play as I am, there are also classes like “Pastured Pork Basics” and “Incubation 101.”

So where does Herban Lifestyle come into this mix? Well, we will be exhibiting in good company with an array of vendors including Affordable Barn Co., The Apothecary’s Daughter, Featherman Equipment, Flying Fibers, Gita Naguri Yoga Farm and Grandma Whimsy’s Cupboard. And I really like the name, Love at First Sit, which happens to be “portable, fair trade, ergonomic back support systems made of organic cotton and hemp.”

Tickets are $35 at the gate for a three-day pass or $20 for one day. By using this coupon, you can get $10 off those prices. Sounds like we are going to have a blast. I hope you can join us this weekend to get your State-Fair-Fix-with-a-twist. Mmmm pass the raw cultured veggies and vegan goodies this way!

Food, Fun and Funk: Smithsonian Folklife Festival Celebrates Its 46th Year!

I have attended the Smithsonian Folklife Festival every year since moving to the DC area. And I am a big fan of this event on the National Mall that features art, dance, food, storytelling and other exhibits that highlight various American and international cultures. So when I was asked to supply huge amounts of my soaps and such for sale at the Folklife Marketplace, I was thrilled!

At the end of last week, I dropped off a rented SUV-full of boxes of products for the Marketplace volunteers to do their magic. And yesterday a friend called to tell me that my products were prominently displayed in the Marketplace tent, so I headed down to take some photos. When I entered the Marketplace, I found that the first three tables were filled with my soaps, men’s products, and Herban Crafts kits!

And the Marketplace is just one of the many features of the Festival. This year’s themes are Campus and Community, Citified, and Creativity and Crisis. I took some photos while I was there, and look forward to really exploring the exhibits when I have more time.

The Festival kicked off last night with a free concert on the Mall featuring George Clinton and other funk legends. The was the first of many free concerts being offered during the course of the Festival.

Citified celebrates the art, music, food and community of the area of DC that sits east of the Anacostia river. As the Folklife Festival website explains, “Citified alludes to the fact that many African American residents living east of the Anacostia River have parents or grandparents who migrated from the rural South, particularly North and South Carolina, and who continue to maintain connections with their southern (although often no longer rural) heritage.”

image copyright Washington Post

Campus and Community features exhibits from several land grant colleges and the USDA, both of which are celebrating their 150th anniversary this year. Several of the colleges have exhibits focusing on the theme of sustainability, such as UC Davis’ exhibit on the ubiquitous problem of plastic bags and the University of Tennessee’s Solar House.

And Creativity and Crisis features the AIDS Quilt, now celebrating its 25th anniversary. In 1987, The NAMES Project Foundation offered hands-on quilt panel-making sessions that allowed individuals and communities to commemorate loved ones, find support and engage in dialogues about how to address the crisis. Today, The Quilt contains nearly 48,000 panels, a portion of which are on display on the Mall.

For those visitors who want to have a hand in adding to The Quilt, participants of all ages will have the opportunity to learn quilting techniques, make panels, and share stories from their own experiences.

The Festival is being held from June 27–July 1 and July 4–8, and is open from 11:00am to 5:30pm.

George Nakashima: The Art of Gaman and Beyond

Office showroom at Nakashima Woodworker, New Hope, PA. Image copyright George Nakashima Woodworker, SA

In February, my in-laws took us to see an incredible museum and woodworking shop in New Hope, PA. Among the large, wooded residential plots of land sits the homestead of George Nakashima (1905-1990), who is considered to be one of the world’s greatest woodworkers. During his lifetime, Nakashima came to be known as the “Elder Statesman of the American Craft Movement.”

During our visit, we had the great pleasure of speaking with Kevin Nakashima, George’s son, about his father’s work. We found that not only was George Nakashima a master woodworker, he had started out as an architect and was sought after for his talent in integrating building design into the aesthetics of the natural surroundings. Kevin showed us photographs of the construction of a Benedictine Abbey, called Christ in the Desert, for which his father was the original architect in the 1960s. Last month, I had an opportunity to visit the abbey while on a trip to Santa Fe. More on that in another post…

Image copyright Christ in Desert Abbey

We were given tours of most of the buildings on the homestead. Nakashima’s love for nature was evident in the structures, which were all built to take advantage of natural light and passive heating and cooling. And his furniture is all built from fallen wood – no trees are cut to make his pieces. I found out that George Nakashima Woodworker, SA is a member of the Sustainable Furnishings Council (SFC). Members of the SFC pledge to: eliminate unrecyclable content and primary materials from unsustainable sources; endorse Life Cycle Assessment as the best method for analyzing the environmental impact of their products, and a verifiable chain of custody as the only acceptable method for tracking wood flow; and support the trip bottom line of People-Planet-Profits and promote awareness of best practices throughout supply chains.

Inside the Nakashima Showroom. Image copyright Apartment Therapy.

What Kevin didn’t tell us was that his father had learned the art of traditional Japanese woodworking and the use of found materials while interned at Camp Minidoka in Hunt, Idaho during World War II. It was not surprising that Kevin did not want to talk about this painful period in his father’s life. It was also not surprising that Nakashima had developed a new level of artistic skill while in the camp. In 2010, I was able to view an exhibit at the Renwich Gallery entitled The Art of Gaman.

Gaman means to bear the seemingly unbearable with patience and dignity,” “to grin and bear it,” accoriding to Delphine Hirasuna who curated the exhibit. (Actor George Takei defines gaman as, “To endure with fortitude and dignity,” and he is currently working on creating a Broadway musical, Allegiance, based on his experience in an interment camp as a child). It was during this time that Nakashima perfected the discipline of patiently working with the natural grain and contours of the materials to achieve perfection in form.

While in the camp, Nakashima learned woodworking from Gentaro Hikogawa using found materials (since they were not allowed to bring anything with them, the detainees used materials that came from garbage found in the camps as well as from the natural environment). Hikogawa taught him how to use traditional Japanese hand tools and joinery techniques.

In 1943, Antonin Raymond, an American architect who had collaborated with Frank Lloyd Wright on the Imperial Hotel (and with whom Nakashima had worked before his internment) sponsored Nakashima’s release from the internment camp and invited him to stay at his farm in New Hope, Pennsylvania. In 1973, Nelson Rockefeller commissioned Nakashima to design and build 200 pieces for his house in Pocantico Hills, New York. Nakashima went on to build a reputation as one of the best 20th century American Art furniture designers.

Image copyright George Nakashima Woodworker, SA

He also went on to become a dedicated advocate for peace. As part of his Foundation for Peace, Nakashima’s magnificent Peace Tables, made from huge slabs of wood, reside in Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, Russian Academy of Art in Moscow, Unity Pavilion in India, and one is being created for the Desmond Tutu Peace Centre in Capetown. On June 3, at 3:00pm, they are holding a concert, “Mostly Motets for Peace” to benefit the Nakashima Peace Foundation.

Nakashima peace table in India, image copyright PhillyBurbs.com

George Nakashima Woodworker, SA is open to the public on Saturdays from 1:00p to 4:30pm, and is located at 1847 Aquetong Road, New Hope, PA 18938.

And for an album of gorgeous photos of George Nakashima Woodworker, SA as well as several of his signature pieces, I highly recommend this wonderful feature article on  his daughter, Mira Nakashima-Yarnall, in Apartment Therapy.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Art Alley, Rapid Falls, SD

I came across this street art sculpture in Art Alley, in Rapid City, SD. Every inch of the alley is filled with paintings, drawings, and sculptures. Anyway, because I view art as creation, and creation as an expression of love, I wanted to share this image with you.

I’d also like to share my recipe for heart-shaped onigiri (Japanese rice balls). It’s perfect if you are looking for a simple, not-your-typical Valentine idea.

Happy Valentine’s Day!