Wednesday, December 31, 2008

MMIX - 2009

Good morning SuperForesters,

When I tumbled out of my bed this morning I walked downstairs, squeezed some juice out of two oranges, baked an egg and put some bread on a plate. Breakfast, nothing out of the ordinary. But when I opened my newspaper (it's Dutch) there was a two page long story concerning 2008 and 2009. To paraphrase, it said that it was only a matter of a few hours before the worst year in human history was about to begin, but apparently no one realized this. The writer even compared today with 12-31-1938, in '39 the Second World War began, but on the last day of '38 no one realized that the next year was going to be horrible.

The argument that was used to defend the thesis of 2009 being the worst is that there's a credit crunch going on and that the world economy is running straight into a recession.I don't think that a big part of the SuperForest readers read the story, simply because our analytics page says that the vast majority of our readers speaks English. But I can imagine a few people walking around with negative thoughts about tomorrow, about the coming year, about what the future holds.

One of the only reasons to be afraid of duemilanove (Italian for twothousandandnine) is that you have less money to spend. Everyone must reckon that a decrease in budget isn't something you wish for, but in my humble opinion there are worse things that can occur to you. War, viral pandemic, natural disaster or nationwide corruption, all worse in my eyes.

And by the way, it's a fact that the economic growth goes according to a wave movement. Seven years of increasing growth, seven years of declining growth; that's probably Economics 101. So here are four rules concerning positivity, think about them when it's not going that well with your bank account.
  1. Hope for the best outcome
  2. Go for the best outcome
  3. Expect the best outcome
  4. Be happy with whatever the outcome is
In other words, do whatever you can in order to reach something. So that when you achieve your goal and it isn't fully satisfactionary you can say: "I've done everything I can".That's how I would try to cope with financial trouble, anyway.

But lets focus on something other than money, money isn't the thing that keeps the world together, is it? (Though it is the impression the media gave me for the past half year, every newspaper contained at least one article on the stock markets). I'm not saying that money isn't important, in the Western World living without money gets very difficult but it can also be very interesting, have you seen the excellent movie Into The Wild for example. It's about a brilliant student that gives up all he has and then starts to travel to Alaska. Where he plans to live in the wilderness.

The film delivers a very good job at showing the things that are important in life (excluding possesions of course). Love, family, nature, relationships, passion, friends, dreams and ideals are sometimes forgotten in a world that spins around quotes and interest rates. But fortunately that's where SuperForest comes in. For the time I've worked here I felt nothing but positivity, love, passion and dreams coming true. Whenever I get a bit gloomy about the things happening around me, about things that happen in the world I live in, I visit this page on the internet. A page that makes me realize that if you look hard enough, you'll find more good than bad stuff.

All this wouldn't be possible in the first place without ten excellent authors, of which I'm a proud part. SuperForest wouldn't be possible without Jackson, the creator and driving force behind all our productions. You're all awesome and I figured that the end of the year would be a good time to drop a digital 'thank you' note.

And then there's you, the reader. Thank you for such an awesome year packed full with comments, positive critique, awesome letters and radical tips.

While the successor of 2008 is almost knocking on our front-door the only thing that lasts me to do is wish you an extremely happy, bright, healthy, sustainable, beautiful, loveable and SuperForesty 2009.

SuperForester Julius

Transformer Owl!

Ladies and Gentlemen, you've waited patiently. At long last your prayers have been answered:

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Living Legend

SuperForester Maya and I just did a bit of research and have discovered the profound significance of the image displayed on the T-Shirt Julius posted earlier today. According to Islamic tradition, a “Buraq” is a miraculous steed that descends from the heavens to transport prophets. It is said that the biblical patriarch Abraham was carried from Syria to Mecca to visit his concubine Hagar and his son Ishmael. Later on, the Buraq also appeared to take Muhammad on his legendary night journey. During this journey, he traveled from Mecca to the “farthest mosque” in Jerusalem to pray. After this, he was carried up to the heavens where he met Allah and was given instructions on how to follow the Islamic faith. Today, the Buraq is seen as a mythological creature of great significance. So much so, that in countries such as Turkey, the name “Burak” or “Barack” is a common name given to male children.

Initially, we interpreted the T-Shirt Julius shared as a fantastical symbol of the mythological proportions that society has idealized Obama to be. He is depicted as a knight in a shining suit with a snazzy tie leading the country toward a brighter future.

Yes, Barack Obama may be the embodiment of a heroic knight, but we can propose that he is also the carrier (or the Buraq) of the legend itself. President-Elect Barack Obama has always made sure to give credit to his supporters for helping him achieve what some people believed would never happen in their lifetimes. He has even referred to them as “the wind beneath [his] wings” fitting!

Dale Chihuly: Glass Artist Extraordinaire!

Lately I've been very interested in glass artists and their process. The delicacy that must be given to such a medium is intimidating and inspiring.  The artist must be patient and confident. It is such intricate and potentially harmful work, I cannot help but have profound respect for someone that can create this beautiful stuff from those conditions.

Dale Chihuly is one of these artists. He has work in museums all over the world. His sculptures reflect colorful scenes in nature. They interact with their surroundings by bringing life to any room they're in and and harmony to any natural setting. I would love to see one of these works in person.

The following is one installment at the Victoria and Albert Museum:

You can also check out a video about his work HERE (sorry, I can't embed this one)

Are there any SuperForester glass artists out there?  We'd love to be linked to your work!

Awesome Streetart

Today I came across two awesome pieces of street art that aren't related in anyway. I just wanted to share them with you. Here's number one.

It was found in Newcastle (that's in England folks) and it shows to people watering a rose. And that's it. Pieces like those raise certain questions in my head, such as: "What was there first? The flower, the people or the garden hoses?" It's a bit vague to see, but if you imagine that the hoses aren't there for a second the figures could be holding guns (especially the right one). And if that would be true this would be an excellent way to remove violence from a piece of graffiti.

Street art is awesome when it gets you thinking about it's origination. By the way, this piece was created (or altered) by the obscure street artist Mobster.

And here is number two, a phone box.

This one was created by Washington D.C. based Mark Jenkins. (Washington is indeed very far away from Newcastle).
I have a fascination for turning (almost) redundant objects into a piece of street art. A few months ago I shared another phone box where the phone was replaced by a paper cup, but that's another story.
Here the phone is replaced by an enormous aliminium-like phone. The message almost is: "I'm here too! Use me!" (Phone boxes aren't used anymore because everyone has his or her own cellphone, but you already knew that of course).

There you have it. Two nice pieces of street art to liven up your Tuesday.

(Thanks to wooster collective for the awesome pieces of art.)

Obama And The Unicorn

When I read Carla's post yesterday on Abe being the coolest president ever I just had to agree with her. A boombox in his era? Awesome! Or "Abe in Escape From LA": awrrsome!

For one second I started to wonder if Obama could exceed Lincoln's coolness. Fortunately enough the doubt was taken away in a few seconds when I saw this t-shirt.

Exactly. Obama and the Unicorn. I wonder if there will be a unicorn walking on the grass in front of the White House after the inaugration. Or would it get it's own stable? They would have to hire staff that worked solely for the unicorn. Too bad unicorns don't exist.

Anyway, as long as they exist in the mind of Christ Bishop, the bright designer behind the t-shirt we can buy cool garments. The shirts are available for both men and women through his website.

Monday, December 29, 2008

SuperForest Comics: "Youtuber"

This is what I turn into when I go on vacation.



Abraham Lincoln: Coolest President Ever?

The days before inauguration day are winding down (22 days!) and as the anticipation grows, people are increasingly talking about what President-Elect Obama will bring to the White House. Yes, we expect him to bring his wisdom, visions and plans for a better tomorrow, and his practical leadership skills, but we also expect him to bring that deep sense of “coolness” that we saw throughout the campaign season; a pervading sense of calmness that has deemed him the title of being a smooth operator.

Which brings up a simple question, surely President Obama cannot be the only cool president we’ve ever had…can he?

I went back a few years scoping the 43 presidents we’ve had so far and then I saw him…Abraham Lincoln! I’ve always considered Abraham Lincoln to be one of my favorite Presidents for many reasons but I never exactly thought of him as a cool person…that is, until I saw these…

As you can see, throughout his younger years, Abe rocked edgy long hair and a leather jacket before donning the top hat and a suit.

Also, Abraham Lincoln loved to crank some tunes.

President-Elect Obama, it looks like you’ve got some big shoes to fill. I can’t wait to see how your candidacy will “out-cool” Lincoln’s.

Have a Happy Monday!

(If anyone knows the original geniuses that conjured up these images, let us know because those people deserve mad props.)

Nina Simone - "Ne Me Quitte Pas"

This is my favorite song for this time of year.
And Nina Simone is absolutely the best.

Much love to everybody.


Willard Wigan - Micro Sculptor

"You have to control the whole nervous system,
you have to work between the heartbeat -
the pulse of your finger can destroy the work."

Here is Mr. Wigan's site.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

DIY: Magic Rose Cube

In spirit of preparing to improve my SuperForest-ness in 2009, I decided to hand craft my mom’s birthday gifts this year. And a part of those gifts included one of these…

A Magic Rose Cube

Now I know what you’re thinking, “What’s so magical about it?” It’s a fair question, at a glance, this may look like an ordinary flower created out of paper but what makes this rose box special is the fact that it transforms!

Here are a couple videos that will help you make on of your own!

Gotta love that accent. Here are two friendly suggestions that will make your lives much easier if you decide to try this out.

1.) Make sure your folds and creases are perfect. I guess this is a given with any sort of origami art but for any beginners out there, it will definitely save you from possible problems.
2.) Don’t use construction paper like I did. The thick paper makes it difficult to fold toward the end.

And there you have it, a magical rose cube. Now, it took me a while and a whole lot of patience (being my first origami creation ever) but I was finally able to complete mine and if I can do it, you can definitely make one too.

(Here’s where you can find the videos and other how to guides that can kick start your own SuperForesty 2009)

Love to All,

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Passive Solar Homes Go SuperNova!

Folks is talking about Passive houses!

Using a mix of excellent insulation, high efficiency appliances, and an ingenious heat exchange system, passive solar homes use a fraction of the energy their normal counterparts use, and there is no sacrifice made in the looks department.

Thermogram of a Passivhaus building, with traditional building in background.

Here's a marvelously dry video tour of the Sustain-O-Casa of David and Harriet Borton.
The Borton's charming Troy, New York abode has been built with a number of design elements that keep its energy use in the ultra-low category.

Firstly, their house has huge windows on the southern facing side, allowing sunlight to heat the interior, while the northern side has very few tiny windows and is more heavily insulated.

As Mr. Borton helpfully explains, the 250 square feet of windows on the south side of his house generate approximately 60 million btus of heat, which is the equivalent of 500 gallons of heating oil. All for free, from the sun, just because he pointed his house in one direction. Amazing.

The Borton house is so efficient that the morning sunlight that comes through a window turns dishes on a rack into a radiator for the kitchen.

The video also includes a quick rundown of the Borton's three solar arrays, including a tiny little 25 year old chip of a panel that kept the family with a working fridge, telephones, and lights/t.v. at night when a snowstorm in the mid 1980's knocked out power for a week.

Here's the Passive house wiki.
Here's a US Passive house site.
A Passive house post from greenlineblog.
A wonderful piece in the Times about Passive houses around the world.

Thank you to David and Harriet Borton for allowing us the informative peek into their situation. The Grieco Brothers Christian and Christian for shooting the viddy, and to the Green Buildings Open House, for hiring the Grieco Brothers to shoot the viddy of the Bortons.

Here's the Green Buildings Open House affiliate site.

Sustainability can be fun!

Pacific Island Beach Walk

A few years back my family decided to stop exchanging gifts. That's not to say that we don't give each other presents when we get together for the holidays, it simply means that there is no expectation, and the items that are given are usually quite small and useful.

So, instead of presents, what we do is meet up with a group of friends and walk the beach, handing out candy canes to everyone who has been nice that year. Which is everyone.

Here are a few snaps from this years walk.

Love to All,


Toyota - "Human Touch"

(click here)

A very touching ad.

Osamu Tezuka - Mermaid (1964)

"This is the story of a boy in a distant country who loved to daydream..."

This is the first I've heard of Osamu Tezuka, but according to his wiki, he's wicked famous.

He designed this tasty Phoenix clock:

"Kuuucccaaaawwww!!" says the clock.

Johnny Kelly's "The Seed"

An excerpt from “The Book of Changes and the Unchanging Truth” by Hua-Ching Ni:

“Long ago, before teachers of any cultural heritage existed, people relied on their own simple minds to develop a system of knowledge and solve the problems in their lives. Living close to nature provided them with their first teacher, great Nature herself. They learned that she provides for, supports and instructs all beings.”

When it comes to studying the laws of nature, you can’t get much more basic than a seed; the topic of Johnny Kelly’s latest animated short in which we follow the magical journey of a single seed. Take a look at the combination of both drawn and paper stop animation!

And if one amazing John Kelly animation wasn't enough for you, here’s another one of his videos titled “Procrastination”.

Amazing videos!! If you are interested in finding more information on the previously mentioned mind altering book, click here!

(videos found via BOOOOOOOM!)

Friday, December 26, 2008

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Three Easy SuperForest Actions for 2009

Good Morning SuperForest!

And a happy holiday season to all!

As 2008 winds to a close and we begin to plan our 2009's, we'd like to offer three ways to improve your "SuperForest-ness" this coming year.

While this list is not perfect, much thought has gone into it and we hope that it serves as a starting point for a longer conversation about three simple ways one can improve ones sustainability.

Here they are, in reverse order:

1.) Hack Your Toilet.

As zany as it sounds, the simple act of putting a brick into your toilet tank can have hugely positive repercussions.

Here's how you do it, via an SF post from last year:

Hello and Good Morning!

Just to start things off, I want to say thank you to whoever is reading this.
Thank you for taking the time to read my zany little blog. I hope you enjoy it.

That said, I think a lot about the toilet.

I work in an office in Chelsea, and me and my fellow co-workers all share this one bathroom. Since I try to drink lots of water (hydrate before you dehydrate), I end up using the bathroom several times a day. I'd say, roughly four times during the course of a work day.

Let's do some math:

Four toilet flushes @ 1.6 gallons per flush = 6.4 gallons of clean water, (now mixed with my "contributions") down into the sewer system.

Just to put this number in perspective, the average African gets by on guess how many gallons of water a day?


So, before I've factored in showers and hand washing and assorted other water uses throughout the day, I'm already using more than six times the amount an African would use in a day, (and they'd probably use it for drinking.)

My point is that every little action can promote a positive reaction.

So here are two very simple things you can do to help minimize the amount of clean water you use.

1.) Don't flush pee alone. It makes pee sad to be flushed down by itself. Admittedly, in an office setting, this may prove to be counter to what your co-workers find acceptable. Fair enough, do it at home.

If you pee three times for every flush, (and if you are hydrated enough, your pee shouldn't smell or look that bad.) you've saved 3.2 gallons of water. Nearly an Arrowhead bottle. Good stuff.

And number 2.) (Ha!) Hack your toilet!

Do it like this:

Firstly, you'll need a specially constructed, non-deliquescing, adamantine, water displacement device, (or, n.d.a.w.d.d.)

If you can't find one of those, a brick will work just fine.

Like this:

Give 'ol Mr. Brick a good scrub to remove particulates, and then...

Open your toilet tank. Just take the top off. Simple.

Position your brick above the toilet tank. (Important note! Do not let go! Porcelain is easily chipped.)

Insert brick into toilet tank. Not the bowl! The tank. Don't worry, tank water is clean. (In fact, in case of zombie attack, a nice commercial building with lots of toilets can provide fresh water for a little while. Really, in case of zombie attack, you should leave the cities and heavily populated areas, favoring mountain peaks and glaciers. I digress...)

Now that the brick is in the tank, position it so that it does not interfere with the movement of your float arm. (That's the little rod with the plastic bulb on the end.)
In this photo, the brick is a little too far to the right. I scooted it over to the left so the float wouldn't hit it.

Pop the lid back on. (Just like when you took it off, but in reverse.)

And don't forget to do this!:

You've not really touched anything supernasty, but better safe than stomach bug.

And you're done! The brick will displace volume that would have otherwise been occupied by clean water, so your toilet will use less each time it refills.

Here's the staggering thing:

Doing this simple thing will save you approximately 11,000 gallons of water a year.

That's the size of a pretty good sized swimming pool. You now have 11,000 gallons of clean water that instead of having peed or pooped in, you could use to, say, fill up a swimming pool.

Or, really do the planet a favor and buy a composting toilet.

Love to all,

-Clean Hands McGirk

p.s. I just tried it out, and things are working beautifully!

Remember, if you aren't having fun, you might not be doing it right!

2.) Compost.

If you have a backyard, slap a compost bin in a corner of it. By diverting your kitchen scraps into the bin, you will be significantly reducing how much of your ex-swag gets trapped in a landfill.

Composting is so very simple. It requires very little energy on your part, and you'll be amazed at how, once you cut food scraps out of your out-going trash stream, all you end up throwing out is plastic.

And, once the composting has been accomplished, you'll have on your hands some of the best organic fertilizer you could hope for.

Okay, but what about if you live in an apartment? Or you don't have a backyard?

Ready for this?: Freeze your food scraps.

An answer so magically simple! SuperForester Maia gave us this amazing tip:

If you cannot run your own compost bin, simply keep a plastic bag in your freezer and throw your kitchen scraps into it as needed.

Then, once a week, or whenever you like, you can walk over to your local farmer's or green market and drop it off! So easy. And since the scraps that you will be freezing are fresh food, you will never have to deal with stinky, bugs, anything.

Freezing scraps makes it so easy! Frozen food scraps means that you can drop them off anytime you like, or until you run out of space in your freezer. Unless you lose power, you'll be sitting pretty and contributing significantly to your own personal sustainability.

In short, composting is easy, nearly effortless, and a massive step towards a more sustainable life equation.

Here's the composting wiki and a few more sites that explain composting further:

Compost wiki.

3.) Make Things.

At the heart of these three tips is the underlying idea of taking a step back, and looking with objectivity at how much you consume versus how much you produce.

An easy and fun way to balance out that equation is to make things.
Best yet, if you can find ways to make things out of the materials that you would have thrown out anyways, you've found a huge win/win.

That doesn't mean we should all be giving each other dolls made of old socks and lint as presents this year. But you would be pleasantly surprised at how many wonderful and useful things can be made out of humble materials like cardboard.

Got a bit of tape and some excess cardboard on your hands?

Make someone special a custom laptop case!

Got an old rice sack?

Make a "Little Rice Sack that Could" drawstring bag!

Got a big pile of plastic bags?

Turn 'em into plasti-yarn and get to weaving!
With plasti-yarn weaving, the only limit is your own imagination.

Everyone has to deal with the endless supply of cardboard, plastic, and packaging. Instead of looking at those materials as trash, see them for what they really are: materials!

You may not need a laptop case, or a drawstring bag, or any indestructo-yarn, but we guarantee you that someone you know would love one.

Make 2009 the year that you really look at the abundance all around you. See the massive supply of art materials and making-supplies that we currently mis-label "trash."

Learning how to use your hands to make things for the people around you out of "trash" is the single coolest and most rebellious act you can undertake.


Making more will help you consume less.

The gravest insult anyone can call you is Consumer.
The method for winning back your independence is by becoming a Maker.

Here are two of our favorite Makin' sites:


Massive love and thanks to all the makers, tinkerers, doers, thinkers, and dreamers out in SuperForest.

Thank you for a fantastic 2008, and here's to further growth and fun in 2009.

When we stick together, there's nothing we cannot accomplish.

Love to All,


p.s. As always, if you have questions or comments, simply email us: superforestnyc(at)gmail(dot)com.