Detroit on Two Wheels
Check out the ascendancy of bike culture in the “Car Capital” Detroit. The “Slow Roll” in Detroit is bringing new folks’ connections to bike riding. In cities across the US, government support is now joining with activist and advocacy groups in the investment in biking infrastructure (like designating shared and protected bike lanes) to support the new generations and growing ranks of bike users.

Enjoy this well-made video on Bike Culture in Detroit

Here are local grassroots free-access bike rides that you can get involved in in your city:

Critical Mass- Chicago
Slow Roll- Detroit
Critical Mass- San Francisco
Transportation Alternatives- New York
Pedal Dancer- Boulder

Thanks to NBC News for producing this excellent and well-made video documentary on the Slow Roll and biking culture in Detroit. Here are some stills from the documentary:

Flywheel Bike Shop Owner The Hub WheelBuilding

collecting soot for ink

Turning pollution into new resources completes the cycle in RE-CYCLING. This is especially valuable when a waste product is 1- plentiful, 2-detrimental to the environment, 3- the resulting resource is in high demand. Here is a new idea that meets these three criteria with promising implications:

Printer ink is what companies selling printers make the majority of their profits on. Now MIT graduate Anirudh Sharma has come up with a way to make this ink by “repurposing” pollution. Right now, ink that we buy in printer cartridges is basically just carbon black color mixed with a variety of chemicals, and Sharma has come up with a way to replace the carbon with the soot that pollutes the air in many developed and developing cities.

Sharma has designed the so-called Kaala-printer machine (kaala means black), and he came up with the concept for it during one of his trips to his home in India. Smog and soot is abundant in his home city, which led him to thinking whether this material, which does tend to turn everything black given enough time, could be collected and used to make ink.

the output from a late-model diesel engine is capable of producing enough soot to fill an ink cartridge in about an hour, while a chimney can do so in only about ten minutes…

The prototype printer he built is capable of pulling soot from a burning candle. This soot is accumulated in a modified syringe that is then used to refill an HP inkjet cartridge. The other materials used to make this eco-friendly ink are vodka and olive oil. Once the modified cartridge is integrated with an Arduino ink shield, the resulting ink can be used to print at 96 dpi.

Currently this soot based ink still gives a pretty non-uniform printing result, but Sharma is convinced he could make it even blacker. His eco ink would still need to pass the toxicity tests before being released on the market, but he is confident this will happen and that the soot-based ink he’s producing will be just as good as the currently available ink. It will also be a lot greener and help in the worldwide fight against pollution. According to Sharma’s calculations, the output from a late-model diesel engine is capable of producing enough soot to fill an ink cartridge in about an hour, while a chimney can do so in only about ten minutes.

Here is a VIDEO that shows the entire process Sharma developed.

Article Source: Jetson Green


Over the last month, dozens of bison have made the move to the Midwest to their new homes at the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie and Nachusa Grasslands. It’s all part of a greater effort to restore the prairie, and one that you can directly participate in! This month’s list includes restoration days at Midewin and Nachusa, as well as the Forest Preserves of Cook County. Looking for workdays a little closer to the city? Openlands is hosting a tree planting day in Hayes Park. Check out this month’s opportunities below. – CHICAGO CONSERVATION CORPS

I. Join Openlands to plant trees in Hayes Park! Learn to plant trees and help maintain the urban canopy of Chicago. Groups are welcome! This is a rain or shine event. It all happens on November 14 at 9 a.m. Find out more information, or register, here.

 II. Take part in Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie’s General Restoration Volunteer Day on November 19 from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Activities may include seed harvest, seed processing, planting, invasive removal, seed broadcasting, trail maintenance, and more. To learn more, or to register, click here.

III.  Join the Friends of the Nachusa Grasslands for a workday on November 21st at 9 a.m. Learn more about the workdays, and how to register for them, here, or check out the Friends of the Nachusa Grasslands Facebook page here.

IV.  Be a part of river and forest revitalization by joining an inspiring movement of volunteers gathering to restore this special site along the Chicago River. Learn what it takes to restore diverse wildlife, trees, wildflowers, and health in our forest preserves and our river system on November 28 as part of the FPDCC’s LaBagh Woods/Hernandez Centennial Volunteer Restoration Day. 12-3 p.m. Learn more, or register, here.

Environmentally Yours,
The C3 Team


There is an old and wise saying: There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing choices.

That applies to biking in winter. You don’t need special snow tires, or a rugged mountain bike or a heated bike seat (though lord, I have to believe that someone has invented that already!). All you need is a common sense approach to good layering (of clothing) and the will to presume that winter biking can be a pleasure. There are some other tricks of the trade: (ex: 1- bike fenders or splash guards are wonderful aids for keeping “road spit*” off your bike and off your back / 2- balaclavas are excellent for keeping windburn and frostbite off your face 3-selecting the right route is often more important than the bike or type of gear you select.

BIKE WINTER is a wonderful organization dedicated to aiding bicyclists who want to bike year round: see their website for more resources and advice how to prep for Winter Bike riding:

And I was honored to be invited to design their promotional sticker for 2016: The year of the Narwhal!  The Narwhal naturally being an appropriate Winter mascot as they live year round in the frigid waters of the northernmost arctic seas ( and are the deep sea divers adventuring into the coldest chilling deeps without a concern.

So I urge you to check out the BIKE WINTER website as prelude to the greater goal: that you get your butt (and a bike under it) out into the beautiful chilly Fall and Winter wonderlands that Chicgo’s environs become this time of year. I’ll meet you out on the streets for a joy ride or specific travel to explore somewhere new and fun and educational.

E-mail me if you’d like your very own copy of this sticker to sport on your bike; I’ll be happy to give you one for free.

See you out on the road…laughing with Old Man Winter and enjoying our annual reunion.

-Maestro Jay

* “Road spit” is the fine slushy mush that gets kicked up from your tires in rain or snow. It is totally avoidable.

Ahhh, its nice to come back and see the E.O. blogsite. It was quite a hub of activity from 2009-2011. Life and professional commitments have pulled me in new directions since (see the new blog site I’ve managed since 2011 at but the memories of these amazing field trips and workshops and neighborhood activities is visceral and meaningful to me and many other folks who participated. I will still put up a post from time to time (and I hope putting this out to the weboverse in post will be a catalyst to more action!).

Anyone reading this is again welcome to submit your events or wishes for activities (to and I will post it up onto the E.O. list feed. -Jason, the E.O. Maestro

ReExchangeDIY Furniture? The allure of building home furnishings from reclaimed lumber and recycled hardware: whats not to love!?

These Rebuilding Exchange workshops cover the fun and fertile field of DIY projects including building bookcases, tables, planter boxes, repurposing old mirrors and adding an Arts & Crafts-y woodworking style to then all.

The new fall workshop schedule is now online! They’ve added another section of the ever-popular Woodworking 101 and are offering a few new classes, including Woodworking 102, where you will learn how to make a base for the table or bench top you made in 101.

In addition, check out the fresh crop of DIY lecture-style classes such as Wood Identification and Home Brewing 101!

Dear Friends and Members of the Empirical Opera-

Well, its been a while,…  After taking on a new job and a reorganization of my personal life there wasn’t much time left to keep the E.O. social & community activism blog and event meet-ups active last year. But all good things must come to a…rebirth?! At least we’re going to try it here and now.  You can expect to find some new content posted to the E.O. on a probably less frequent but still hopefully active basis, In that vein, please feel free to submit your own events for E.O. updates or send inquiries  by emailing me,  Jason Greenberg: As maestro of the E.O. I’ll try to post up relevant community events and opportunities as they come across my desk…and hope to see you out in Chicagoland soon at some of these great social and local community events.

Let the grand Opera continue!