Friday, February 22, 2008

Project BudBurst

From USGS Press Release

Volunteers across the Nation to Track Climate Clues in Spring Flowers

Starting this week, citizen-scientist volunteers will be able to help track climate change by observing and recording the timing of flowers and foliage.

Project BudBurst, operated by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) and a team of partners including the U.S. Geological Survey's USA National Phenology Network, allows U.S. students, gardeners, and other citizens to enter their observations into an online database that, over time, will give researchers a more detailed picture of global climate change.

The project, which will be launched on Feb. 15, will operate year-round so that early- and late-blooming species in different parts of the country can be monitored throughout their life cycles. Project BudBurst ( builds on a pilot program carried out last spring, when a thousand participants recorded the timing of the leafing and flowering of hundreds of plant species in 26 states.

The Chicago Botanic Garden, University of Montana, and the USA National Phenology Network (USA-NPN) are collaborators on Project BudBurst, which was funded in part with a grant from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The project is also supported by the National Science Foundation and Windows to the Universe (, a UCAR-based Web site that will host the project online as part of its citizen science efforts.

"Climate change may be affecting our backyards and communities in ways that we don't even notice," says project coordinator Sandra Henderson of UCAR's Office of Education and Outreach. "Project BudBurst is designed to help both adults and children understand the changing relationship among climate, seasons, and plants, while giving the participants the tools to communicate their observations to others. Based on the success of last year's pilot program, this project is capturing the public's imagination in a way we never expected."

Project Budburst is one of the citizen-science partnerships of the newly created USA-NPN (, which is managed by the U.S. Geological Survey, and includes partners such as the National Science Foundation, the University of Arizona, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and many other agencies. The goal of the USA-NPN is to engage governmental agencies, environmental networks and field stations, educational institutions, and mass participation by citizen scientists in collecting phenological information on plants and animals.

Phenology is the study of periodic plant and animal life cycle events and how these are influenced by seasonal and interannual variations in climate, said Dr. Jake Weltzin, executive director of the USA-NPN. Examples of phenological events include the timing of leafing and flowering, agricultural crop stages, insect emergence, and animal migration.

"By observing these cycles through time, researchers can better understand and predict global climate change, and monitor drought conditions, wildfire risk, invasive species, and the spread of infectious diseases," said Weltzin. "In the long-term -- and with enough data -- such information can help us better understand, mitigate and adapt to ongoing and future climate change."

The USA-NPN will begin enlisting the help of working professional scientists and training citizen volunteers for more intensive plant-phenology monitoring later this spring. In addition, Weltzin said USA-NPN is closely collaborating with other already-existing networks – such as Project Budburst – to maximize the data collected.

How Project Budburst Works

As described on the Project BudBurst webpage, each participant selects one or more plants to observe. Participants begin checking their plants at least a week before the average date of budburst -- the point when the buds have opened and leaves are visible. After budburst, participants continue to observe the tree or flower for later events, such as the first leaf, first flower and, eventually, seed dispersal. When participants submit their records online, they can view maps of these phenological events across the United States.

Along with the partners noted above, Project BudBurst collaborators include the Plant Conservation Alliance and the universities of Arizona; California, Santa Barbara; Wisconsin-Milwaukee; and Wisconsin-Madison.

[From the Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment]
Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment (ACE) Spring Clean Up in East Falls Church

When - Saturday, February 23, 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.

Where - Meet at Bear Rock Cafe, 2200 N. Westmoreland Street, Arlington to clean up the neighborhood and streets where Arlington and Falls Church come together.

Details - Please bring work gloves and dress for the weather. Refreshments provided. In case of inclement weather call 703-228-6406 after 11 a.m. for cancellation information.
Eco-friendly Map of D.C.

Gridskipper, part of the Gawker media family, has a brief map and write up about environmentally friendly businesses in D.C. Worth checking out, but a little shallow.

Eco-friendly in D.C. [Gridskipper]
Ever Feel Guilty about that coffee sleeve Cozy?

Our friends over at Etsy always have the coolest stuff. This morning I found a seller Rooty Toots (a Virginian, ahem). She has a collection of cat themed recycled wool felt coffee cozy for your morning coffee fix.

Plus, if you spill coffee on it you can refashion it as a cat toy.

$9.99 at Etsy

[picture courtesy of Rooty Toots at Etsy]

Rooty Toots at Etsy

Monday, February 18, 2008

All Hail the DemoCat!

Look what I found. DemoCat T-shirts.

$19.99 at DogsforDemocrats

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Muffins, oh yeah.


The Dry

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup white sugar (organic)
  • 1/4 cup oat bran
  • 1/4 cup quick oats or granola
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (I like pecans)
The Wet
  • 1 banana, mashed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • OR
  • 1 cup of light coconut milk
  • 1 tbls of coconut oil

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 12 cup muffin pan, or line with paper muffin cups.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the The Dry [all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, sugar, oat bran, quick-cooking oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Gently stir in the blueberries and nuts]
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the Wet [mashed banana, buttermilk, egg, oil and vanilla]
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and mix just until blended. Spoon into muffin cups, filling all the way to the top.
  5. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes in the preheated oven or until the tops of the muffins spring back when lightly touched.

New Adventures of The Green House Cat

Last summer, The Green House Cat went west for a friend's wedding in Santa Fe, NM. Passing through the Texas panhandle, we saw a forest of great beautiful windmills! Oh, and they also have the "world's largest cross", but windmills way cooler!

Are you ready to Rock Green People?

Guster guitarist/vocalist Adam Gardner and his wife Lauren Sullivan statrted a non-profit group which both encourages bands to find ways to make their tours more eco-friendly and gives other green business and non-profits a chance to get their messages out to college students.

Look for them at a college near you.

In 1980, the year I was born, the EPA started the Superfund program. The goal of the program was to create a pool of money to help clean up some of the most toxic sites in the United States. Unfortunately, twenty eight years later these sites still exist.
Artist, Brooke Singer created a website of her journey across America visiting each of the Superfund sites and chronicling them on her website in hopes of raising awareness about the program and the problems that still exist.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Ugh, Dog Stuff, I hates the dogs....

Ok, no really, but my co-editor Toby does (kitten-hood trauma you understand).

Never the less, Treehugger has featured called Harry Barker, a company making practical, colorful and organic dog stuff. Luckily they have a page of cute organic stuff for us cats too, so we'll let them live.

Finding that Great Green Home

So you want an ecologically sensitive home, but you don't want to have to do a messy remodel or go out to the middle of nowhere and build things out of clay of straw. Well, maybe an "Ecobroker" is for you. is a real estate industry web site devoted to listing green homes and promoting the products of ecologically friendly home products manufactures.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Your New Greenwashed Government

According to two different articles from today's Treehugger, both the U.S. Capitol and the CIA Headquarters are trying to be more environmentally friendly.

Now speaking as someone who had to work at the Capitol (a few years ago) the move towards sustainability was way overdue. I mean, where do I start?

  • Every staffer gets takeout from the cafeteria in plastic containers (no. 7 or No. 4..if I remember correctly)- All non-recyclable.
  • The lighting fixtures date from the 1930s to the 1970s when the last significant building and renovations were done.
  • Oh, yeah and the mini-power plant that generates power for the Hill (including the Library of Congress and the the Supreme Court) is a coal fire system thanks to the lasting political power of Sen. Byrd (D-WV).
Well now the Pelosi led congress is trying to do something about it, which is great and they seem to be off to a good start. But the CAO (which is in charge of the project) needs to remember that there are a lot of deep changes to the system to be made up there, both in terms of infrastructure and human behavior (including breaking a habit of waste).

Now in terms of the CIA, I really don't know much about their system or their culture. But it seems like a pretty unambitious plan.


Cats' Eating Junk Food

The nice people over at Discovery Channel's Planet Green

have an article on additives in cat food. According to Discovery, most commercial supermarket pet foods are largely made from fillers and waste products from the commercial meat industry.
"In fact, the animals used to make many pet foods are classified as “4-D,” which is really a polite way of saying “Dead, Dying, Diseased, or Down (Disabled)” when they line up at the slaughterhouse. Unless that can of Chicken ‘N Liver Delite explicitly states that it contains FDA-certified, food-grade meat, you should know that its contents are considered unfit for human consumption—but apparently good enough for your cat or pooch."
Not surprising that given last year's pet food additives scare many more people are switching to organically certified pet foods.

BTW: Toby our editor in chief eats Innova feline diet*

*when not enjoying the occasional stolen goldfish cracker

Thursday, January 31, 2008

In Exile

"Oklahoma, where the wind goes whipping down the plane....."

Unfortunately, I have been in exile here in Oklahoma since May. I've been busy, what can I say.

Let's see "green wise" I've:
  • Started a compost bin in the back yard
  • Tuned a barren front yard into a verdant paradise of lawny goodness (organic, 'natch)
  • Planted flowers
  • Gathered seeds for a local Oklahoma wildflower garden
  • Got started on next year's vegetable garden
  • Strung a clothesline--and used it (well until the weather got cold)
  • Uprooted the large patch of Ivy under the trees in front garden to plant next year's wildflower garden and took out all the black landscaping plastic underneath it.
  • Joined a local food co-op
So yeah, lots of stuff. Oh, and also:

  • Applied to law school (and got rejected)
  • Started studying for the LSAT (again)
  • Helped boyfriend with boyfriend stuff
  • Lots and lots of research (on Green-stuff)
So sorry, blog for neglecting you. I promise to take better care of you in the future.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Here in Oklahoma there is a yearly film festival called the Dead Center Film Festival. The festival featured a film called, Gimmie Green, about the American love affair with the lawn.

Here in Oklahoma, it is hot, shade-less and dry in the summertime, yet everybody seems to aspire to golf course style lawns. Seeing all those people sodding and mowing and sweating in the blazing heat seems like the entire state is suffering from some grass seed induced mass psychosis.

Gimmie Green attempts to answer some of the questions I have about this phenomenon. I seriously think that it needs to be included in the schedule of the next Greefestival.

More information:

"Gimmie Green", DeadCenter Film Festival
Ok so i've been away for a while. I spend every summer in Oklahoma with my boyfriend so I have been busy, busy, busy working on his house and garden. OMG! So much work. I've started a compost pile but it's going...err.. rather badly. I'll keep you abreast of any new developments.