Five distractions to start your weekend

A morning rave for fitness, yes please. Source: Leeds – Morning Gloryville

Too funny. Examining Drake’s “Hotline Bling” via a sprawl lens

Bamboo barriers to block noise and air pollution

CicLAvia is FIVE years old and the largest US open street movement

Great Scott! Back to the Future, a reminder we still have much to do


A video and 5 links to start your weekend

It’s all about the bass or how hip hop can fight forest fires

An Ohio highway CLOSED down to host a town hall dinner

I’ve only just heard about Vo Trong Nghia’s Farming Kindergarten

Imagine this textile installation by Suzan Drummen in the public sphere

The best rated apps for healthy living

“Just want to help”

How many times have I heard those four words from anklebitter 1? And how many times have I been given the puppy-dog stare after utterance of such sentiment with some type of mess lurking in the vicinity? Scenarios all too common for parents and I leave it to you to reminisce. But I bring you these four words today to introduce this week’s book, Bee & Me by Elle J. McGuinness and Heather Brown.

In a rhyming cadence with gorgeous 2 page spreads, the story is about the importance of honeybees. A startled bee flees into a house and invokes fear in a young boy. With no shoe in sight, the boy, hides behind the door until the bee starts to speak. The bee then educates the boy beyond honey production and focuses on the contribution of pollination.

“There’d be no more apples, no flowers to smell. Still, you humans decide you don’t like us that well.” And then from her eye came a big, shiny tear. “We just want to help but you all run in fear.”

With newfound knowledge, the boy promises to respect the bee. The book includes points of interest about bees (e.g. bees can’t fly in the rain) and ways to help bees (e.g. bees are attracted to blue and purple flowers).

Honeybees are cool. “They wiggle, they waggle, they jiggle and jive” to communicate flower locations to other bees. Their wing strokes (200 beats per second) create their characteristic hum. One bee collects half her weight in pollen from 50 to 100 flowers in a single trip.  The most astonishing fact, for me, is that honeybees help grow one-third of the food we eat. That almond in your cherubic hand? Thank a bee. But them bees have it hard (honeybee colony collapse disorder, anyone?).

Somehow, our urban jungle, however, has allowed the bee to proliferate (but not without hiccups). Thus, I like the book because it reminds me that urban apiaries or urban beekeeping is a community pollination service to all the fruit and vegetable gardens in the neighbourhood. It helps me connect the dots for the boys about local food, eating with the seasons as well as the bigger issues of human-induced devastation of the bee population. Anklebitter 1 enjoys the book because not only does it have several Animotion moving pictures (“The boy is waving bye bye”) but he also knows some rooftop honey and toast are never too far behind.

(Photo by Vivian Romero from the book Bee & Me, Elle J. McGuinness with Heather Brown)

420 trees for each person on the planet

Yale University researchers using satellite data estimated that the Earth has about 3 trillion trees (say that with your pinky finger at the corner of your mouth).

3,040,000,000,000 trees

Initially, that looks like a sufficiently infinite amount of trees. But we need trees more than they need us. Trees provide shelter, food, the whole climate change contribution, a place for play. You don’t have to like trees to accrue the benefits. It’s been said that just passing by trees can lift your spirits. An additional ten trees on the nature strip/footpath/sidewalk/street equate to a 1% increase in how healthy nearby residents felt. One percent you say? Well the authors somehow calculated that that very 1% calculates to being 7 years younger or receiving a $10K salary bonus. Beauty cream? Pthwww, a walk to the park please.

As urban dwellers, we have Ebenezer Howard to thank for the verdancy. Back in 1898, Ebenezer was discontented with the squalor existing in large metropolitan areas: crowded living conditions, air pollution and inadequate water supply. He envisioned The Garden City, a layout which amalgamated the advantages of urban and country life. “Human-society and the beauty of nature are meant to be enjoyed together.” Among other things, his vision planted the seeds of trees in the urban environment: the greenbelt, parklands, street trees, focal gardens. The Garden City stressed the importance of residents having daily and significant exposure to nature. Of the three trillion trees on this planet, I’m not sure how many are in urban cores. But I’m sure glad that they’re there.

The title of this post should really be, what have you done for a tree lately? We should be a steward for at least 420 trees. Go out and hug one, now. And bring some water…

(Photo by Vivian Romero)