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Remember the Good This 9/11

For many people, the images of 9/11 – the twin towers, the smoke, the flyers of missing loved ones hanging all over the city in the aftermath, the memorial flowers and candles – are forever fixed in our brains. They can be hard images to shake, even 13 Septembers later. But there are other images to remember. Like of people lining up at hospitals to donate blood. Or of first responders putting aside their personal safety and rushing to the scene, or everyday people finding small but significant ways to help and comfort one another.

While it is important to remember 9/11 in its entirety, each year, we have the opportunity to remember the good – to keep in our hearts and elevate the beautiful and overwhelming outpourings of kindness that followed the tragedy. To privilege the memory of good that rose amidst deep pain.

Check out the video below to find out how people are choosing to remember the good this 9/11. How will you? Share your plans and good wishes on the 9/11 Day of Service website.

Read Repair the World’s previous 9/11 coverage, including interviews with first responders:

Butch Brandes & Peter Archer, Jewish First Responders on 9/11

Rabbi Stephen Roberts on Providing Spiritual Service After 9/11

Rabbi Simkha Weintraub On Ongoing Healing After 9/11

Let Interfaith Service Outshine Intolerance and Bigotry

Repair Inspiration: Turning Swimming Pools Into Backyard Farms

With Labor Day come and gone, summer might be past it’s peak, but our minds are still on swimming – or swimming pools, rather! We’re particularly intrigued by this story on Co.Exist about how some folks are transforming their backyard swimming pools into super-productive gardens filled with vegetables, a chicken coop, and even a tilapia fish farm!

Check out the excerpt below, then get the full scoop – and check out the truly awe-inspiring video – over at Co.Exist’s website:

“In the hot summer months, it might be a shame to use a swimming pool for anything other than splashing around in. But then turning your pool into a highly productive growing system is more practical. It’s also cheaper, overall.
Dennis and Danielle McClung pioneered the Growing Pool–a solar-powered aquaponic greenhouse–back in 2009, shortly after buying a foreclosed home in Mesa, Arizona. They didn’t want to spend time and money doing up the eyesore in the backlot. And, besides, they’d always wanted to be more self-sufficient.

Since then, a host of imitators have come up with their own Garden Pools, based onhow-to instructions the McClungs have posted online. Actually, it doesn’t seem that difficult. First, you surround the perimeter with a metal frame and add poles to support a plastic covering. Then, you mount some solar panels to run the water pumps. Then, you put in a chicken coop, tilapia fish (in the deep end) and some plants.

The idea is that chicken waste falls into the tank, which feeds the fish. The fish provide nutrient-rich water, which is pumped to the plants, which grow and feed the McClungs. The whole system uses a fraction of the water employed for soil-based growing–one of the main attractions of aquaponics.”

Read the full story…

Host a Rosh Hashanah Seder With the Schusterman Family Foundation

Got plans for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year? Whether you love apples and honey, thrill at the sound of the shofar, or love that extra sense of sacredness floating through the air this time of year, now is the time to make sure you start the high holiday season on, well, a high note.

This year, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation has created the perfect opportunity to do just that. They are offering micro grants of up to $300 for people to host Rosh Hashanah seders in their homes.

So what’s a Rosh Hashanah seder? It is a lesser known fact that just like Passover, Rosh Hashanah has its own seder tradition. This seder (or ritual meal) is centered around symbolic foods that represent important themes of the High Holiday and blessings for the year ahead. Together, these symbolic foods and their corresponding blessings are called simanim.

The Rosh Hashanah seder provides a platform to learn about a unique Jewish tradition. At the same time, everyone has the opportunity to claim it as their own by thinking of their own hopes for the upcoming year and voicing them through simanim blessings in an individualized, modern and sometimes humorous spin.

Sound like your kind of holiday celebration? Find out more details and submit an application before September 5.

Repair Inspiration: Refrigerators That Don’t Need Electricity

Refrigerators – those blessed, buzzing boxes that keep our ice cubes frozen, our milk unspoiled, and our vegetables crisp – are serious energy hogs. In most homes, they use up more energy than any other appliance, and lead to unintended food waste. Meanwhile, in countries where energy is scarce, the lack of refrigeration can also lead to food waste.

According to an article (and awesome slideshow) on Co.Exist, it doesn’t have to be that way. Check out the excerpt below about a clay fridge by a company called MittiCool that does not require electricity, and read the whole thing on Co.Exist’s website:

Clay Fridges That Keep Food Cool Without Electricity
By: Ben Schiller

According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, the world wastes an astonishing 1.4 billion tons of food a year. This while plenty of people are still starving, and while many countries spend large percentages of their income to feed themselves.

Reasons for food waste differ from developed to developing worlds. In rich countries, it’s usually the food consumers who are responsible–i.e. people just throwing away excess food that they haven’t eaten or that spoiled before they could. In poorer nations, the problem tends to be in the supply chain. Because of poor refrigeration, food rots during transport or spoils at market stalls because it’s not sold quickly enough.

Made from clay and not needing any power to run, it keeps vegetables fresh for up to a week and can even store dairy, according to Mansukhbhai Prajapati, its Indian inventor.

The fridge is made of a porous type of clay from Gujarat, the region in India where Prajapati has his workshop. You feed water into a 5 gallon holding tank at the top and it gradually drips down through the material. On a warm day, the water evaporates, cooling the clay and leaving the contents inside relatively cold. Prajapati says the fridge is eight degrees Celsius less warm than room temperature.

“The fridge is not harmful for our health. It’s totally eco-friendly. And there is no maintenance like other refrigerators,” Prajapati points out. It’s also relatively cheap. Models cost about $50.

Read more…

6 Water Organizations Making a Splash (And a Difference)

When summer really heats up, one thing is on everyone’s mind: water. From swimming in pools or the ocean, to sweating (lots), and drinking tons of extra H20, there is no other season where water’s importance feels so obvious.

For those of us who think of water as something that comes cleanly and safely out of the tap, it can be all too easy to take it for granted. Unfortunately today, 1 out 10 people in the world live without access to sanitary drinking water. But there are lots of organizations out there working to change that! Like these great non-profits below. Each of them understands the primal and primary importance water plays in all of our lives, and work to ensure that all people have access to it. Find out more and support their great work!

Charity: Water One of the best known water orgs, the good folks at Charity: Water work to bring clean drinking water to people in developing nations. So far, it has funded more than 6,000 projects in 20 countries worldwide.

Water.org: In 1990, an organization called WaterPartners International began its efforts to bring sanitary, safe water to communities in Africa, South Asia, and Central America. In 2009, they merged with H20 Africa (founded by Matt Damon), and continue to work with local partners to make the biggest impact possible.

Miya Water: Founded by Shari Aronson, an Israeli businesswoman and philanthropist, Miya helps ensure the “abundance of fresh water through efficient management of our cities’ existing fresh water resources.” They partner with utility companies to design technological solutions to help up water efficiency.

WaterAid America: This internationally-focused non profit works to improve access to safe water, hygiene, and toilets in the world’s poorest communities. Their current #girlstrong campaign is helping to unlock the potential of 5,000 girls to make a difference.

Water is Life: This organization focuses on providing both clean drinking water and hygiene education programs to schools and villages in need. They also created the Water is Life straw, an ingeniously small and portable drinking straw with a built in filtration system that renders any water it is immersed in clean.

Water Without Borders: This organization was “created from the understanding that lack of safe drinking water is the leading cause of disease, civil strife, hunger, and birth defects in the world.” To date, they have worked with communities in South Dakota, Africa, Haiti, and Honduras to enable the creation of sustainable sources of safe drinking water.

Do you know of another great water organization? Let us know in the comments or by tweeting @repairtheworld.

Repair Interview: Sabrina Malach on Shoresh

Over the last two decades, the Jewish environmental movement has grown from a fringe afterthought, to an important aspect of the mainstream Jewish community. Organizations like Hazon and programs like the Jewish Farm School, Teva, and Adamah have made a big impact in the States. Now, an awesome organization called Shoresh, founded in 2009 in Toronto, is helping to expand this awareness to the Canadian Jewish community. Repair the World recently spoke with Director of Community Outreach, Sabrina Malach, about Shoresh’s programming, gardening across the generations, and realizing the dream of land-based Judaism in Canada.

What was the inspiration behind starting Shoresh?
Both the founder, Risa Alyson Cooper, and I are from Canada but lived and participated in programs at The Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center in Falls Village, Connecticut. We were fellows in Adamah, the Jewish farming fellowship, and Risa was also a Jewish environmental educator with Teva. We talked a lot about what it would be like if we could bring programs like that to Toronto.

When Risa came back to Canada, she had the great idea of starting a community garden in the suburbs, and that was the beginning of Kavannah Garden. At the same time, there was a huge new Jewish community center in development in the northern part of the city, and she had the foresight to approach them about starting the garden there. Most of our other programs stem from there – overall, Shoresh’s success has centered on offering the right programs at the right time.

What types of programs do you run?
Kavannah Garden is our flagship program. Each spring and fall, dozens of day school groups come to visit. Shoresh developed a curriculum for kids from kindergarten to grade 5. It weaves in Jewish and ecological teachings, but is based on Ontario’s curriculum, so it allows teachers to justify field trips. One program example is, we have this bike-powered blender that the kids love. They’ll go and harvest edible weeds and herbs, then go on the bike and turn them into pesto. So it teaches them about plants and nutrition, and helps them learn to see a world where food is everywhere and everything is valuable. It also draws from the Talmudic teaching that it is forbidden to live in a city where there is no vegetable garden.

In addition to the school groups, we have have a family farm drop-in program, and a CSA running out of the garden. It has been so restorative to build this ecological place deep in the heart of the Toronto suburbs. Our hope is that people take the ideas they learn and that they ripple out into their backyards and neighborhoods.

Do you have educational programs outside of Kavannah Garden as well?
Yes, definitely – we work with participants from kindergarten age to people in their 90s. We partnered with the Baycrest geriatric center to develop three gardens. We’ve trained the staff their and also go in every other week to work with clients. It is amazing to sit with bubbes and zaydes there, many of whom have Alzheimer’s or other forms of Dementia, and talk about growing food. We do a lot of sensory workshops with them, like having them smell herbs. Working with them is a reminder that a lot of the work we do with gardening and food is not new, and that we have a lot of wisdom to glean from our elders.

We also started a new program at the Kensington Market called Maxie’s garden. Kensington was once the center of Jewish food and communal life in Toronto – it was where all the kosher butchers and bakers were located. That is mostly gone now, but there is a man in his 90s who has been living in this house there since 1927. His backyard has some of the best soil I’ve ever seen! We partnered with Toronto’s Jewish Family & Child Services to create a program in his backyard where women working below the poverty line come and grow food. It is amazing to help revive some Jewish food culture in Kensington, while actively bringing social justice into our programming.

What do you have planned for the future?
Our next big project is the creation of Bela Farm, a 114-acre rural center for land-based Judaism, education, and farming in Ontario. Expanding from a quarter-acre garden to a huge farm an hour outside of Toronto is a big jump, so we have spent the last three years visioning with our creative team to think about what we want, and how to make it our own instead of just replicating other farm projects. We hope to fully launch in 2016, but have already started an apiary there, started a small orchard of 17 fruit trees, and planted 300 garlic cloves (originally from Adamah!), which we hope to double this year. We are taking it slow and weaving permaculture and Jewish values like shmita into the design of the space.

How has working with Shoresh impacted you personally?
Personally, it has been so amazing to be able to work with a small organization that does so much amazing work. My own personal interests have been nurtured, and I have had the space to learn and explore while making a difference.

Learn more about Shoresh, Kavannah Garden, and Bela Farm – and see lots of great farm and garden pics! – at Shoresh’s website and Facebook page.