Bring To Orlando: Permanent Local Market

Having recently visited Philadelphia and the Epic Reading Terminal Market, just a few days later I received the Winter Park Harvest Festival newsletter, featuring a video with fest organizer John Rife and Gabby Lothrop, who runs the Audobon Park Community Market. They are posting from a very similar place in Seattle called Melrose Market.

They seem to be insinuating that there is a project afoot to create a 6/7-day-a-week market in Orlando. With all the food trucks, local markets and “food entrepreneurs” (as John calls them) springing up in town, something like this would make total sense.

Then they point to a blog with exactly one post (what a tease!). I hope to see more soon from the Orlando East End Market.

Orlando actually has quite a few indoor Flea Markets, but those are normally the kind with $10-for-10 t-shirts and other cheapo stuff. In this case, we are talking serious food and other local goods. There are lots of hollowed out grocery stores, and the Church Street Exchange wouldn’t be a bad place to put something like this either. I have no idea where they will really put it, but the “East End” moniker makes me wonder if it is not somewhere… Waterford-ish. To my knowledge nobody calls any part of Orlando the “east end” right now. What could it mean?

Improve your brain and your attitude with movement

At TEDxOrlando last week, I was very inspired by a woman who measured the affects of regular aerobic exercise on the brain – it actually improves your long-term memory. The line from her bio reads: “Wendy Suzuki holds a faculty position in the Center for Neural Science at New York University, where she also runs an active research lab.” So there.

The workout she did was called IntenSati. A little bit like spinning without the bike or zumba with a lot more yelling. Look it up.

Then I saw this post by Jessica Earley about Dance Therapy:

When I saw both of these, I was also reminded of a reference in a Daniel Pink book to Laughing Clubs or Laughter Yoga. It works. Don’t believe me?

Clinical research on Laughter Yoga methods, conducted at the University of Graz in Austria; Bangalore, India; and in the United States has proved that Laughter lowers the level of stress hormones (epinephrine, cortisol, etc) in the blood. It fosters a positive and hopeful attitude. It is less likely for a person to succumb to stress and feelings of depression and helplessness, if one is able to laugh away the troubles.

Slave-picked Tomatoes?

A cover story ran in our local alt-weekly last month about a shocking state of affairs – the tomatoes supplied to much of the eastern United States, and the dark pit that is the Tomato-growing industry in Florida.

The article is an interview with Barry Eastbrook, the author of a book on the subject called Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit.

Here are some choice quotes from “Strange Fruit: An interview with Barry Eastbrook on the high cost of cheap tomatoes” by Megan Peck, Orlando Weekly, July 28:

they inject methyl bromide, which is a fumigant which kills every living organism in the soil – every germ, every bug, every bacteria. […] After a couple of weeks, when the soil is sterile – dead – they then poke holes in the plastic and put seedlings in.

There is also a fair deal about the immigration status, living conditions, and low wages of the workers who pick the fruit, at one point claiming that “it’s abject slavery”:

Our governor, Rick Scott, ran on a hard-line anti-immigration stance. He’s since taken heat for backing down. Might this have anything to do with agriculture companies and migrant workers?

He may have taken a look across the border at what’s happening in Georgia. Florida’s agricultural sector is huge. [In Georgia] you have a situation where they had enacted one of these crazy laws, and right now there’s $300 million lost so far, with crops rotting in the fields because the workers simply – well, they are nothing if not migrant.

Is there anything we can do to get around this evil?

The closer your tomato is raised to your kitchen counter, the better it’s going to be. It’s not as easy in Florida, but there are small farms … [or] grow your own tomatoes. When fresh, good tomatoes are available, make pasta sauces and freeze them.

For more information, read the full interview, or pick up a copy of Barry’s book.

Small Spaces means a Small Footprint

  • A 78 square foot apartment in the heart of Manhattan

    The best part by far is the bed – storage, a couch, a chalkboard and visually appealing as well.
  • A Hong Kong apartment with movable walls and 24 unique configurations

    I’m sure this space cost a lot more to build out than the one in Manhattan, but it really leaves nothing out as far as I could tell.
  • A house that can fit on a flat bed trailer. Now for sale!

    See also: The Small House Book by Jay Shafer, the man who designs and builds these tiny houses.
  • I also want to mention Jenine Alexander’s Tiny House Blog which is more focused on found materials and salvaged parts.
  • Resource Furniture kicks out some awesome multi-use “transformer” furniture.

    My favorite is the table, called the Goliath.
  • Here is a TEDx video from Portland with Dee Williams, who lives in a tiny house, and gives us some great reasons why one might want to do the same.
  • Venture into the land of prefabricated houses with this retro number:
  • Then it just gets a little ridiculous

Have you got better ideas? Better links? Better videos? Books? Let me know.

Thanks to *faircompanies, who made many of these awesome and inspirational videos.

What about composters in my garden?

I am getting ready to do some yard renovation – moving my fence to make some room in the backyard for a Shed. We realized at one point that it was going to create a little pocket behind the shed that would be a perfect place for a compost heap. Now the question is: how to go about it? Do I buy a composter, build one, or just bury stuff? I learned there is a bit of a recipe you should follow, and there are several shapes and sizes you may look at.

YouTube is a wealth of resources, here are a few:

  • A good explanation of why you might want to compost. Here is an example of the Kitchen Compost Keeper she mentions in the video.
  • A good in-depth discussion about making compost
  • 100% Recycled Composter
  • Repurposed Wine Barrel with skateboard wheel platform
  • Repurposed 50 Gallon Drum
  • Composting for Dummies

Fire – DIY, Repurposed, Flammable Accessories

Here are a couple of neat fire-related YouTube videos I stumbled upon these neat ways to start fires, all homemade:

  1. Newspaper, wood and string, suitable for starting a woodburning stove or fireplace.
  2. Char cloth, for the rustic campers – I first saw this made by a crazy man in a top hat, and he was using old underwear as the fabric.
  3. pine cones dipped in wax, not a bad idea for something more crafty and decorative, in this case fitting a holiday / winter theme.
  4. Last but not least, something to put out your fire, a fire extinguisher made from vinegar, water and baking soda in a repurposed soda bottle.

Install a power meter monitor yourself

Aaron Fechter, Orlando resident and inventor of the Rockafire Explosion has created a power meter monitor you can attach to the box outside your house. You then get to see how much your power bill would cost (I’m assuming there is some way to program the current rates).

The Blue Line PowerCost Monitor can save you money on electricity and save the Rock-afire Explosion from extinction! As the distributor of these monitors, I am using the proceeds of the sales of these monitors to finance the creation of new shows. Those who buy one of these from Creative Engineering, Inc. will also be given access to a private website showing lots of behind the scenes footage never before seen as well as other benefits. If saving money on electricity and saving the Rock-afire Explosion are worthy of your interest, please give me a call or send a note to me at

Potential impact of the oil lost in the Gulf

Who doesn’t love statistics? To rephrase that, who is the kind of person reading a blog like this that doesn’t love statistics? Here is an excellent video explaining what was lost in the BP oil spill last year, simply by looking at what the oil would have been used for.

I wonder if much/any of it was salvageable – this video doesn’t mention that at all.

Oil’d from Chris Harmon on Vimeo.

A year ago, a massive oil spill began in the Gulf. The entire country was glued to the news until the well was capped, and then we forgot about it.

As the year anniversary was fast approaching I became curious, just how much oil was that exactly? Where would it have gone? What I found was shocking.

So in an effort to further our discussion on oil dependency I created this short animation. I’ve spent all of my free time in the last month putting this together to help illustrate just how dependent we truly are on oil.

Designed, animated and written by Chris Harmon

Voice Talent: Kim Estes

Music: Billy Perez & Todd Stambaugh

Special Thanks to Daye Rogers and Christy Kurtz


Environmental Protection Agency

U.S. Energy Information Administration

Rubber Manufacturers Association

Bill Bellevilles: Salvaging the Real Florida

The latest Orlando Weekly featured a piece on a local author’s collection of essays called Salvaging the Real Florida: Lost and Found in the State of Dreams. No matter how many times one might complain about such a thing, newspaper websites never seem to include links in their articles… but I digress.

I’m glad to see a book whose mission is conservation that is not a hippie call-to-action rag – that would only be read by one kind of audience. With any luck, the late emphasis on “buy local”, and “slow money” will end up getting books like this – made in Florida, about Florida – some much needed attention and have the after-effect of opening some minds in the process.

According to the Weekly’s Katie Westfall in her article “Nature’s Edge”:

“At some point, every reasonable adult has to ask that question: How do we keep these things functioning the way they were always meant to function?” Belleville asks during a phone interview. In “What if the Shaman is a Snail,” he examines how the tiny mollusks are a barometer for water health. He tells us there are some snail species that congregate around certain springs in Florida that aren’t found anywhere else in the world. Belleville has his own collection of goldenhorn marissa snails that he’s found during his travels, and he watches them in his home aquarium to see what they do. By the end of the essay, we learn that the little guys have a tough time outrunning the pollution that spills out of storm drains or the pesticides and fertilizers that seep into their domain. We’re told that “future Floridians will pay for the contemporary sins of our water-sucking developers and their political toadies.”

Yes. More of that. Floridians need to learn when to “eat their vegetables” like good little citizens of Earth.

I guess Belleville has been at this longer than me, because he (correctly) points out that my hope of people gainins new perspective is not a one-step process:

“Regardless of how well a person writes or describes a place, I don’t think that in itself ­- that narrative, that ability to describe a place – is not going to change a person’s mind,” Bellville says. “I think what it can do, in the best of worlds, is to have that person want to go outside and want to have ?an experience.”

I have been on a nighttime bio-luminescent kayak tour in Titusville, one of the places mentioned in the Weekly article. It is one of the most breathtaking things I have ever seen in Florida, and I tell as many people as I can about it. It’s difficult to put into words, and even more difficult to capture on film or video, so I’m glad I can now refer them to this book.