01/22/15

Irwin Quagmire Wart, Frog Book Author for Children

Irwin Quagmire Wart - frog author for childrenPlease introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your mission and goals.

I’m a frog so I’ve always been interested in our health and welfare. I have a baby brother and young cousins so I want to see our habitats preserved for them and for all future generations.

What is your educational background and what lead to sharing “The Land of of Lily Pad?”

I’m sorry to admit it, I have no formal education, but I’m loaded with street smarts… swamp smarts, if you prefer. Even though my name is Irwin Quagmire, lots of people know me by my initials, IQ because I am a very smart frog. I began writing books in 2011, after my first trip to France. Since then, I have written three other books, including a book on environmental stewardship for kids. After all, who knows more about being green than a frog!

Do you travel to exotic places and if yes, tell us about some of them.

The most exotic place I’ve been to is my home… Land of Lily Pad. It’s the most fabulous frog pond on earth… where humans are not allowed. So it’s still a beautiful, healthy, safe environment. Otherwise, I’ve only traveled a little in the US and Europe.

Irwin Quagmire's lily pad home

Please share your books and/or publications?

I have written, as I said before, four books:
Irwin Quagmire Wart Travels to Paris, France… a kid’s guide to the City of Lights
Irwin Quagmire Wart Travels Back in Time… a kid’s guide to life in Pioneer America
Green is Good… a kid’s guide to environmental stewardship
Perfectly Perfect – a rhyming book for young children that embraces the idea of self-acceptance and self-love no matter what you look like

What are some challenges you have faced and how did you deal with them?

I’m luckier than a lot of frogs. My family and friends have a clean, safe home. My biggest challenge is where to find the juiciest flies… all kidding aside, I am trying really, really hard to get my message out to the world and to get my books published. But it’s hard and very competitive.

What can people do to help? Donate, and contribute to your cause?

It would be helpful if my message and my website got promoted more. And it would be a dream to find a real publisher or literary agent… but I’m not holding my breath.

“Ask not what your swamp can do for you but what you can do for your swamp”… Irwin Quagmire Wart (and maybe John F. Kennedy). I believe this whole-heartedly and want to help your organization as much as I am able. I am planning on including a link to your website on mine: on the page, Irwin’s Favorite Things. If there’s more I can do, please let me know. My amanuensis can write pretty well and is very willing to contribute whatever she/we can.

Lily Pad environment of Irwin Q. Wart

How do you reach your targeted audience?
Is it through your website, advertising or social media or another route? Which is most effective and why?

I have a Facebook page: Irwin Quagmire Wart
A website: http://www.irwinquagmirewart.com/
Twitter account: @IrwinQWart
So far, none of them are effective but I am hoping that through Twitter, and reaching out to other frogs and frog-related people, I can drive more traffic to my website… and eventually, my books.

How do you keep the audience engaged over time?

I update my website often and try to include subjects that will be of interest to kids and adults, but are also near and dear to my heart; the environment is my big passion.

Tell us about your events around the world and some of the campaigns you have started.

None yet, but I have big plans…

What is in the works for the future? What haven’t you yet tackled, but will want to do soon?

My goal is to write a series of travel books for kids, focusing on unique world locations, both large and small. I believe that through travel, both children and frogs can learn that differences in appearance and culture are both good and interesting. By helping children to “see the world” (through a frog’s eyes) as a beautiful, non-scary place filled with interesting people, beautiful art, and amazing things to see and do, I hope to make the world seem a little smaller and certainly a place that needs protecting.
Land of Lily Pads

10/9/14

Robin Moore, Conservationist, Photographer and Author of In Search of Lost Frogs

Exclusive!

Tune in tomorrow, October 10, 2014 at 3pm EST and meet…

Robin Moore, conservationist, photographer and author of “In Search of Lost Frogs.”

*** Now Replaying *** The podcast interview is here:
Webcast: Robin Moore interviewed by Susan Newman

Follow the event and comment on Facebook:

Robin Moore Interview on Facebook with Susan Newman (aka Suzy Brandtastic)

Robin Moore, Conservationist, Photographer, and Author of In Search of Lost Frogs

About Robin Moore:

Robin Moore is a conservationist, photographer and the author of In Search of Lost Frogs (In Search of Lost Frogs).

Since gaining a PhD in biodiversity conservation, Robin has been a powerful voice for amphibian conservation.

He is a Conservation Officer with Rainforest Trust, Global Wildlife Conservation and the Amphibian Survival Alliance, the largest global partnership for amphibian conservation.

He is a proud Senior Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers (www.ilcp.com), represented by National Geographic Creative, and recently Co-Founded Frame of Mind (www.frameofmind.org), an initiative that empowers youth around the world to connect with their natural and cultural worlds through photography and visual.

_____________________________________

About Suzy Brandtastic interviews:

Susan Newman, an environmentalist and brand visibility designer knows how important it is to tell your “why.” Susan hosts a podcast series, live action video series and a written interview series, all featuring environmentalists, innovators, creatives and small business owners.

08/22/14

Recycling: Why Is It So Hard for Some?

Recycle graphic from psdgraphicsYesterday I had an argument with someone I know. She was mixing all the trash into one bag to put out on the street. No matter what I said, she refused to separate the trash. Why is it so hard for some people to follow the rules (the law)… not just because the city tells us to, but because it’s right for our community and our planet.

My community has a trash problem, city wide actually. The street cleaners (physical people) are currently at a minimum. I see someone maybe once a week and that’s not enough to pick up after citizens who believe there is someone walking directly behind them ready and waiting for their chip bag, pizza plate or empty soda can. What kind of parent doesn’t teach their children to respect others, our community, and has those same bad habits? Store owners don’t bother to come outside and pick up the trash right outside their door.

And… we’ve got another problem (worse than regular trash, if you know what I mean) with the homeless who are living on the streets, and don’t get me started on the dog poop.

Lately, the Riverview Neighborhood Association has pushed back against this with their own “clean-up” project, one street at a time. A very impressive initiative, which more neighborhood associations need to implement.

The City of Jersey City and Sustainable JC have hosted conferences in City Hall such as the Zero-Waste Conference, but of course the people who attend (like me) already care about this issue, so how can we reach the people we need to?

Anyway, in case you’re not sure what the “Trash/Recycling” law is, here in Hudson County, here are some details via the Hudson County Improvement Authority — http://hcia.org Visit their website, because there is a lot more information including what you cannot recycle!

Solid Waste Management
Each and every day, Hudson County residents generate more than 1,500 tons of solid waste! Much of this can be harmful to our environment if disposed of improperly. Making certain that this trash is disposed of in an environmentally sound and cost-effective manner is the highest priority for the HCIA and its Division of Solid Waste.

Recycling
In Hudson County, recycling has become an important method of waste management. Materials that were once thought to be unrecyclable are now being commonly recycled. However, there are still some materials that can not be recycled and those that can be need to be prepared correctly for recycling so that they can be reprocessed into new products.

Paper

Paper and paper products comprise approximately 32% of the waste stream in Hudson County. There are many different types of paper:

* Corrugated Cardboard
* Chipboard & Paperboard
* Mixed Paper
* Phone Books
* Hi-Grade Office & Computer Paper

Plastics
Plastics can be very mysterious because each type is made up of different chemical components. Therefore, it is essential that only similar types get recycled together.

For Better Recycling
Sorting different types of plastic is essential to producing high quality recycled products. Check with your local recycling coordinator as to which types of plastics are collected by your municipality.

Glass
Recycle only glass bottles and jars from food, beverages and medicine. Do not recycle light bulbs, glassware, ceramics and window glass, which are each made of different ingredients, and by different processes.

Aluminum, Tin and Steel Cans
Typically, the only kind of aluminum your town wants set out for curbside collection is aluminum beverage cans. You can test if a can is aluminum or steel by using a magnet: a magnet won’t stick to aluminum. Unless indicated differently, glass, aluminum, steel and tin cans can be commingled for collection.

07/9/14

Eco-Interview: Allison Green, Painting Nature – Jersey City Artist

Frogs Are Green founder, Susan Newman interviews Allison Green about her large-scale, exquisite paintings of nature. Here’s what Allison shares with us:

Allison Green, Jersey City Fine Artist in her Studio

It’s hard to say exactly why I paint nature – but I am sure that it roots from my childhood life in Pennsylvania, where I grew up in a house on the perimeter of a lush forest. Memories of a childhood which revolved around nature are deep within me, especially today, as I have been living in the city for the last 20 years. Sometimes I wonder if I paint nature because I long for those lush forests of my childhood, or if it is the stories in those trees which still resonate so deep with in that I feel the need to let them out. Or, maybe it’s a combination of both.

April Roses, 2013 - Oil on Canvas, 48" x 48"

April Roses, 2013 – Oil on Canvas, 48″ x 48″

These days, while I still love exploring vast forest and other pristine terrain, I have become most inspired  by urban nature – from cultivated gardens like the High Line and the New York Botanical Garden, to the wildest of plant life that seems to sprout everywhere throughout the city and streets.

My inspiration often comes from the smallest details of a plant, such as the complex anatomy of a tiny, overlooked weed, the gnarled bark on an old, giant tree in the park, or those resilient vines growing up the sides of buildings in the summertime.

Eve, 2010 - Oil on Canvas, 30" x 24"

Eve, 2010 – Oil on Canvas, 30″ x 24″

In my most recent paintings, I’ve also become fascinated with the delicate and complex reproductive relationships between plants and insects. A swarm of bees pollinating a pair of desirable lotus flowers, while mating snails hide within an ever-evolving rose bush are examples of new imagery in which I seek to capture the magical and surreal natural world.

In addition, I’ve become fascinated by the way all life forms change, evolve and become something very different along the way. “Everything Changes”, my latest series, documents different phases in a plant’s life cycle, along with depicting insect/plant relationships.

Pollinate Me (lotus flowers with pollinating bees) 2014, Oil on Canvas, 60"x72"

Pollinate Me (lotus flowers with pollinating bees) 2014, Oil on Canvas, 60″x72″

Nature is such an amazing, endless source of inspiration. And as humans are putting it in jeopardy in so many different ways, it has become an even more important subject in my mind. Whether it be to find beauty in a simple weed, cherish a neighborhood tree, or to realize the perfection of most common little bug,  I hope that my work can inspire someone to look at plant life and all of nature in a new way every day.

— Allison Green, Jersey City Artist

 

Lovers, 2010 - Oil on Canvas, 60" x 48"

Lovers, 2010 – Oil on Canvas, 60″ x 48″

Currently Allison resides and works in downtown Jersey City, where she creates large-scale oil paintings. Her first solo exhibition, “Deeply Rooted”, opened in March 2011 at Susan Eley Fine Art in New York City. A second solo show at SEFA, “Entwined”, opened in September 2012 and features a fully illustrated catalog with an essay by Lilly Wei. Green’s work is now included in the Brooklyn Museum Elizabeth Sackler Feminist Art Base, and her paintings were recently exhibited at PULSE NY in spring 2013.

Green holds a BA from the University of Maryland with a concentration in Fine Art and Women’s Studies. She also studied at Studio Art Centers International (SACI) in Florence, Italy in 1995.

Sienna Thicket (Thicket #4) 2011, - Oil on Canvas, 48" x 48"

Sienna Thicket (Thicket #4) 2011, – Oil on Canvas, 48″ x 48″

 

06/27/14

Learning About Zero Waste in Jersey City

Did you know that each person produces 4.4 lbs of waste per day? Can Jersey City move towards “Zero Waste?”

Yesterday, I attended the “Jersey City Moving Towards Zero Waste Conference” in City Hall and I have to say it was an eye-opening experience. The speakers and panel discussions were informative and I learned about what some of my fellow citizens are doing right here in Jersey City, as well as what is being done elsewhere.

Mayor Steven Fulop started off the conference by talking about how important this topic is and his commitment to doing what he can and I will say that the food and beverages provided for the event were accompanied by a composting bucket and two separate clearly marked waste barrels.

The Mayor introduced Judith Enck, the Regional Administrator of Region 2 of the U.S. EPA, and we learned about initiatives around the country and the world in comparison to what we aren’t yet doing here. I know that the trash is a problem across this city and something has to be done to change people’s behavior. It’s not enough for a few people to care, but we have to change the way people think about trashing their own neighborhoods, as if there’s someone behind them ready to pick it up. There isn’t.

Did you know that the Jersey City trash is picked up and shipped out of state by rail cars? What a waste of time, effort and fuel.

Here’s a current tv commercial playing about recycling from the “Keep America Beautiful” campaign:


 

Maybe we need a “Keep Jersey City Beautiful” or “Jersey City Proud” brand campaign?

The speakers were: Debra Italiano, Founder and Chair of SustainableJC; PJ Wasinger, Upcycle Jersey City Artist; April Buther Wennestrom, Director, Affiliate Services, Keep America Beautiful; Dennis Whittinghill, Urban Farm Expert, and DamagedWear; Albe Zakes, VP of Communications, TerraCycle; Eric Silverman, Principle, Silverman; Aaron Klein, CEO, Greener Corners; Dale J. Carpenter, Chief Sustainable Materials Management, EPA Section 2; Gary Sondermeyer, VP of Operations, Bayshore Recycling Corp.; Sondra Flite, Environmental Specialist III, Bureau of Recycling and Planning, Division of Solid and Hazardous Waste; and Norman M. Guerra, CEO, Hudson County Improvement Authority.

The big topics of the day were recycling (what and how), what some of these companies are doing to spread awareness and get people involved, and composting.

Until yesterday, I had never heard of “Black Soldier Flies.” It’s not the flies themselves that eat the waste, but the larvae. Pretty interesting!

From Wikipedia:

Black Soldier Fly Larvae Composting

320px-Hermetia_illucens_Black_soldier_fly_edit1BSFL composting quickly converts manure or kitchen waste into an organic compost. In a compost bin, it can take only twenty days to start to compost. The resulting compost can be used for soil and fertilizers. After the conclusion of the compost process, the larvae can also be harvested as feed for poultry, chickens, and possibly dogs. On average a household will produce a little under a kg of food waste per day. This food waste can be composted at home using black soldier fly larvae much much faster than worms can do it. The BSFL will eat kilograms of scrap food a night in small composting units, eliminating your food waste before it can even begin to rot. This is probably the fastest composting technique. BSFL often appear naturally in worm bins, composting toilets, or compost bins. They can also be bought online. Without much added cost, these devices could be designed to also harvest BSFL.

About Composting from Wikipedia:

Compost is organic matter that has been decomposed and recycled as a fertilizer and soil amendment. Compost is a key ingredient in organic farming. At the simplest level, the process of composting simply requires making a heap of wetted organic matter known as green waste (leaves, food waste) and waiting for the materials to break down into humus after a period of weeks or months. Modern, methodical composting is a multi-step, closely monitored process with measured inputs of water, air, and carbon- and nitrogen-rich materials. The decomposition process is aided by shredding the plant matter, adding water and ensuring proper aeration by regularly turning the mixture. Worms and fungi further break up the material. Aerobic bacteria and fungi manage the chemical process by converting the inputs into heat, carbon dioxide and ammonium. The ammonium is the form of nitrogen (NH4) used by plants. When available ammonium is not used by plants it is further converted by bacteria into nitrates (NO3) through the process of nitrification.

Compost can be rich in nutrients. It is used in gardens, landscaping, horticulture, and agriculture. The compost itself is beneficial for the land in many ways, including as a soil conditioner, a fertilizer, addition of vital humus or humic acids, and as a natural pesticide for soil. In ecosystems, compost is useful for erosion control, land and stream reclamation, wetland construction, and as landfill cover (see compost uses). Organic ingredients intended for composting can alternatively be used to generate biogas through anaerobic digestion. Anaerobic digestion is fast overtaking composting in some parts of the world (especially central Europe) as a primary means of downcycling waste organic matter.

— Susan Newman, founder, Frogs Are Green

Are you recycling and composting? Please share what you are doing to keep your neighborhood beautiful.

06/12/14

Eco-Interview: Rosa Da Silva, Author of Jabujicaba, The Heart of Brazil

When was your organization founded? Please tell us a bit about its mission, goals…

Jabujicaba the book was published as an e-book at the end of April 2014. The paperback version is coming out this month. Behind it is an idea. Literally a ‘novel’ campaign.

On June 2nd 2014 the not-for-profit company Voices for Nature Limited was incorporated. This takes the campaign forward beyond the life-span of the book.

The people working on this creative project are young and green and Indie… but the ideas behind all this are long in the tooth.

 Jabujicaba by Rosa da Silva

What is your educational background and what led to creating this organization?

I am half German and half English. I grew up always on the move. I have lived in many different countries, including the US where both of my children were born. I speak lots of different languages. I would say I grew up with strong feelings for nature and none for national affiliations.

I studied Modern and Medieval Languages at Cambridge University (Spanish and German). It helps to explain my love for magic realism – Garcia Marques, Isabel Allende – Latin American authors – and German writers like Kafka and Brecht and socialist political art eg: George Grosz and Kaethe Kollwitz.

I worked in the environmental area for many years, with a professional background in policy, communications and campaigning. I was involved in the early days when social/human rights, economic and environmental agendas were merged into ‘sustainability’ – an unimaginative word. I have worked in many countries including Brazil and Africa.

Politically, I believe in intervention in the markets for the good of others. I think a civilized society needs to ensure fair and equal outcomes, not just opportunities (which we know not everybody is able to take advantage of). I believe people must always be intellectually curious and be free to question. I believe in activism and not turning a blind eye or the other cheek. I believe in courage. In the separation of church, judiciary and state.

Over the decades there has been no real progress on climate change or conservation. Climate change continues on the up and so does species extinction. Something is clearly not right about how we are trying to tackle these problems – we know so many facts, we can measure the path we are on and predict where we are going. As a species, human beings need to reconnect with all living creatures and realise our inter-dependence.

I think we can find the right path by re-engaging people emotionally so they feel part (and not in charge) of the natural world.

That is the impulse behind Jabujicaba the book and setting up Voices for Nature. But it is not just a feeling, it is a process of political engagement (with a small ‘p’).

 

What are some challenges you have faced and how did you deal with them?

Pursuing fairness is a huge and continual challenge in everything I have done in my varied professional career. I was always standing up and arguing with ‘authority’ whether it was with a teacher at school or bosses at work.

Being heard in all the noise of a global market place, which is a Babel, is a big challenge.

The only way forward is to keep repeating yourself and remembering core values and the goal ahead. But you can’t get to where you are going alone in life. You need the help of others. You need to inspire and lead and to do that you need to be empathetic and kind.

 white-nose coati from Jabujicaba

What can people do to help? Donate, and contribute to your cause? Other ideas?

I don’t want the interview to be about selling an idea or a project. It is for people listening to ask their own questions and maybe find some of their answers are aligned with mine. Then they might want to find more about what we are doing and help. They could maybe read the book. It has had good reviews.

 

How do you reach your targeted audience? Is it through your website, advertising or social media or another route? Which is most effective and why?

All possible routes are tried and taken, although we are trying to work bottom-up, Indie in everything. We wouldn’t say ‘no’ though if Harrison Ford stepped in to help our ambitions for a green Indiana Jones film! Sometimes ‘top down’ or celebrity endorsement can help you to get where you are going (although it is not without its dangers). Certainly we are using social media and word of mouth.

 

How do you keep the audience engaged over time?

By being happy, having fun, with lots of variety. Everything we do also has to ring an inner chord with the target audience of what really matters, the meaning of our existence, not just our individual life. Jabujicaba is not about simply ‘entertainment.’ Through our website we hope to engage people in other areas of their life – to campaign or to study or volunteer – or even just to take their children to the zoo but with a changed heart.

 

Tell us about your events around the world and some of the campaigns you have started.

When we made Jabujicaba the book available as a free download to test the audience, we found there was interest all over the world. About 700 copies were downloaded in 5 weeks.Take up is a lot less now, it costs a couple of dollars… We are still at the beginning of our journey.

Our campaigns, if you can call them such, involve around engaging with the books various stakeholders through interviews which explore the relationship between fact and fiction in the book. For instance, in the area of anthropology, with an anthropologist from Oxford University. Or in politics, with a green politician who did a ‘prequel’ meeting one of the characters in my book as a young man. Marco, who is the president of Brazil.

The focus of these interviews has been local and in the UK. We have tried to engage a little in the US, so far without success. It is hard not being there and time constraints mean you stay close to home.

Also the book is in English at the moment which restricts its target audience.

 rainforest in Brazil

What is in the works for the future? What haven’t you yet tackled, but will want to do soon?

We are working on Jabujicaba the film and progressing step by step. Jabujicaba as a ‘novel’ campaign is timed to coincide with the World Cup and Olympics in Brazil. After that, we plan Voices for Nature to kick in with our film initiative. Through film we will reach a much larger audience with our messages.

Longer term, we would like to fund and reward young people’s creative projects for rainforest conservation, using royalties from the book/film – a bit like Sophie’s World – and grow to a forest (metaphorically and literally).

 

Bonus!

Jabujicaba is about diversity in our own societies too – and social justice. We need to tackle these issues too.

All on www.jabujicaba.net – but also @ArchieAiredale (my dog!)