Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Personal Project Parade (Update 2)

Bloomington COOPerates

Farmer’s Market Booth:
A lot of action since the last report.  The info-booth had to undergo two rounds of modification: (1st) removal of the IYC logo from visibility, as there’s an online application to request public use of it, which has been submitted and we are awaiting response; (2nd) the windy-weather, blowing in the cold, is, predictably, devastating to a paper and foam-board based presentation, so I spent the first hour of last Saturday trying to find more aerodynamic arrangements for the distributional materials and display.  Though the final display is less visually captivating, the organizations we promote were all able to be visually represented (barring the credit unions, the rural energy co-op, and some that haven’t yet submitted any promotional materials).

The website has finally been upgraded to the point of legitimate functionality, with only a few details left to resolve (linking the co-ops’ calendars with the master calendar on the website and adding some of the co-ops only recently brought to attention).  You can find it by Googling “Bloomington COOperates” or by clicking on the link below:
This is also listed on the business card, along with a local phone number and email contact:

Hopefully, tonight, I’ll be able to load some pdfs into the “Resources” link and include some more links to the national and international IYC events and related organizations.

Official Status:
A friend has keyed me in to some resources that will help me get through 501c3 tax-status application as soon as possible, and I’ve by-use trademarked the brand and logo, with an application for that submitted, too
Registered for the Indiana Cooperative Summit and the NASCO conference in Michigan.  Very excited.  Great places to learn and network.

The rest of the business has been time-consuming to the extent that I’ve not yet been able to reach-out to potentially collaborative university staff; however, I’ve begun to circulate the idea, so maybe the ground will be fertile for planting a seed of suggestion by the time I have the time to do so.  Hopefully will pick up some tips-&-tricks for networking and collaboration from the conferences.

Co-op Fair:
The form and function of this aspect of the project is still being developed through a series of conversations with the relevant stakeholders, which is just, I believe, how it should be! Personal-investment in suggestions promotes buy-in, which we all know is critical.  If we can’t get it going by the end of November, we’ll at least have plans nearly finalized.

Compost Collaborative
This has been profoundly more difficult than anticipated.  I underestimated the resources and, more so, the time necessary to complete a personal pilot of the in-apartment composting unit.  Until I’m sure I have it down, it would feel irresponsible to request participation by my neighbors or the BCL.  On the bright side, I’ve collected a lot of good data on the project (mostly observational, of course) and have been trying to document this in pictures, along the way.  Irony of ironies, when I went to add the red-wigglers Laura was kind enough to donate, to my surprise, the organic materials and paper products added to the composting unit had already broken down!  It was going so slow, for so long, and generating no (or imperceptible amounts of) heat, so I was convinced something had gone wrong and that the worms were a necessary bail-out for the original model. 

Now that they’re in there, the composting does progress exponentially faster, to the point where I’m almost afraid that I don’t have enough organic material and paper products to add and keep them feasting and happy.  However, some unexpected developments have occurred, which I did not anticipate: (1) it looks as though some pumpkin seeds found their way into the mix and have decided that the box was a great place to make a living…they’re kindof fun to observe, but I’m betting they’re draining nutrients from the soil and may be threatening the health of the wiggly-jigglies; (2) it seems that some microscopic bugs have made a home there as well, prompting similar concerns.  Having emerged victorious from the prolonged fruit-fly insurgency, I’m wary of the new bugs and mean to consult with someone, with more expertise, about what they are, what they’ll do, and how to deal with them.  Still, there hasn’t been any spillover into my apartment so I am, certainly, happy for that.
Local Food
I’ve only been mildly successful in getting the bulk of my culinary supplies from local sources.  Sometimes I just can’t find an item I need or a reasonable substitute.  I suppose this means that I need to get a bit more creative in my purchasing.  HOWEVER, I’ve been brought-in to an awesome underground network of DIY food processing, specifically fermenting.  A friend has been nice enough to donate a Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast (SCOBY), so that I can kick-start a home-brewing Kombucha project.  It’s awesome because I’ve heard a number of acquaintances mention their own excitement about being gifted a SCOBY by a friend, so I knew it existed and that it was a person-to-person affair.  What’s more, this is totally legal, as it is fermented but only contains a trace concentration of alcohol.

Kombucha is a drink created through a fermentation process, wherein the SCOBY is simply added to a large batch of previously brewed and cooled tea. More on the history and some instructions next time.

After my first batch exceeded my wildest expectations, I got really excited and invested in upgrading my production infrastructure, so that I can be working on new batches continuously and have enough of it to drink every day.  I’ve even acquired a couple of re-usable, flip-top bottles, so that I can refrigerate finished batches and bring a bottle to work or to class.   Right now I’m working on a batch of ginger kombucha and am tossing-in some Yaruba Mate for that energy kick.  Wildly exciting.

1 comment:

  1. Yo Ryan I had pumpkin seeds growing in my bin too!!! HaHa!! Oh and you can borrow my book on vermicomposting if you want to. I'll bring it to class tomorrow for you. It is a quick read and very informative.