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!


Tell Congress to Suspend Bee-Toxic Pesticides

The House “Save America’s Pollinators Act” would suspend the approval of bee-toxic pesticides.

Click here to urge your Representative to support this crucial legislation today!

macro beeRepresentatives John Conyers (D, MI) and Earl Blumenauer (D, OR) have taken a major step to protect pollinators. They have recently introduced the Save America’s Pollinators Act, calling for the suspension of a certain class of systemic pesticides that are killing bees: neonicotinoids (“neonics” for short). Now it’s your turn.

You may have heard of neonics before – neonics are the most widely used insecticides in the world, and exposure to neonics has become a key culprit in bee population losses.

Just last month, 50,000 bumblebees were killed in a parking lot in Oregon by these very chemicals. This past spring, the European Union placed a two year ban on most neonics. We need to take similar swift action by suspending the use of these chemicals until proven safe to our critical pollinators.

Thankfully, the Save America’s Pollinators Act seeks to do precisely that. This bill calls for the suspension of neonics on plants attractive to bees until a full review of scientific evidence indicates they are safe and a field study demonstrates no harmful impacts to pollinators. This much-needed legislation also requires our government agencies to monitor the health of native bee populations, and to identify and publicly report the likely causes of unusual bee kills.

Tell your Representative to support the Save America’s Pollinators Act and protect our bees!

Click the link here to sign the petition

Article Source: Center for Food Safety,

image: Center for Food Safety   contact:



Remember that book / film / musical, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn?

Well now an orchard grows in Logan Square!

(or at least the potential for one, marches toward realization…)

We have blogged about the Chicago Rarities Orchard Project (CROP) before. Its a great opportunity for urban greenspace revitalization. Click here for that introductory post.

Here is the latest development as an announcement from CROP…

Since the last big community meeting in August all us CROPsters have been looking forward to this day:

Chicago’s Department of Housing and Economic Development will host the…

Second-Stage Community Meeting Presenting Proposed
Logan Square Community Orchard Project

Wednesday, April 27th

at the Logan Square Auditorium
2539 N. Kedzie Blvd.

Please join us to see how your ideas and suggestions from the last meeting have been incorporated into the current plan. CROP could never have come as far as we have in the last two years without the support of our community. We need your voices now more than ever.

Let’s end this lot’s four decades as a forgettable patch of gravel and build our own community orchard. This space has the potential to become a haven for biodiversity, a living testament to the local food chain, and an utterly unique classroom. In addition it will provide all the social and economic benefits of programmed public space.

You can make this vision a reality by participating in this meeting. All you have to do is be present and ready to share your thoughtful opinion.

If you have any questions about the project or the meeting, please check out our website at

Thanks for your support thus far, and we look forward to seeing you in April!


Your Neighbors at

The Chicago Rarities Orchard Project

Please come join us as Empirical Opera members present in this conference panel & discussion session at the Family Farmed Expo-

Teaching and Eating in the Garden:

Enabling educators to utilize the school garden in their curriculum and find new models for nutrition education.

Teaching and Eating in the Garden at the
6th Annual CFPAC Summit Food Policy Breakout Session

March 18, 2011 from 11:30am-1:00pm

At the UIC Forum — University of Illinois at Chicago
as a part of the three-day Family Farmed Expo

Location: UIC Forum / 725 West Roosevelt Road, Chicago, IL 60607. Click for directions/map.
Purchase tickets (for single event, full day, or three-day pass) at the Family Farmed Box Office.

Join this Breakout Session panel presentation and community discussion-
Teaching and Eating in the Garden: Enabling educators to utilize the school garden in their curriculum and find new models for nutrition education.

Breakout Session Goals:
Establishing and incorporating gardens into schools’ curriculum is a priority. Nutrition education must embrace a broader understanding of the ecological, personal and social impact of the foods we eat. School gardens provide an unparalleled opportunity for engaging in the food system and illustrating it’s complexity.

    Participants will come away with:

  • Motivation and inspiration to begin growing edible plants as educational
    tools in a way that can scale to their needs, be that small herb plants in
    the classroom or a larger in situ garden.
  • Recognition of the school garden as an opportunity to teach a wide variety
    of subjects and skills including: biology, history, team work, math, writing…
  • Strategies to encourage student, parent, community and teacher
    involvement in the school garden.
  • Ability to instruct students in Taste Education.
    Session goals, discussion issues & possible policy changes:

  • Funding allocated for establishing school gardens.
  • Healthful cooking instruction included in curriculum.
  • Professional development for teachers to learn gardening skills, garden based curriculum and cooking curriculum.
  • Require nutrition education to include instruction on of food systems (ie.where food comes from, environmental impact, social impact, etc.) in addition to personal health issues.

By presenting this session, we hope to establish a community of people with a
commitment to school gardening and nutrition education who can share contact
information (on a voluntary basis). Creating this access to each other’s passion and skills will bolster success in projects inspired by this session. The hope is that this group will then
begin their own educational gardening and cooking projects and share their
experiences and discoveries with each other.

The session will also provide a take-away “tool kit” that will assist participants in moving forward with policy action in their community.

    The tool-kit will include:

  • example curriculum from several teachers and schools
  • planning and growing advice for establishing a school garden
  • classroom ready recipes
  • sources for gardening materials
  • possible funding sources
  • resources for gardening advice
  • resources for curriculum
  • a list of professional development opportunities

Panelists/Discussion Guiders:

Megan Larmer is a board member with Slow Food Chicago and the Chicago Rarities Orchard Project. In 2010 she was selected as a delegate to Slow Food International’s Terra Madre conference. Currently, Megan is training as a Master Gardener. Megan is the facilitator & organizer for this CFPAC breakout session.

Lynn Hyndman on retiring from teaching took on the challenge of starting an edible school garden at her former school. The Dawes Garden of Eatin’ begins its eighth year of operation this spring. At the heart of the program is Taste Education along with helping children understand that their food choices effect not only their health but that of the planet.

Patricia Holdredge is a special subject handwork teacher at the Chicago Waldorf School. She is also the master gardener for the school who was instrumental in developing the Sophia Garden for over 10 years and now maintains the school’s beehives and plots in the Ruby Garden in Schreiber Park. In 1999 and 2000 Mayor Daley presented the Sophia Garden with 1st place awards in the City of Chicago’s Landscape Competition.

Jason Greenberg is parent and staff at the Chicago Waldorf School. He teaches sustainable design. As an activist educator he founded the Empirical Opera, the Spring Green Bike Tour, and has collaborated with Angelic Organics Learning Center, Heifer International, Chicago Rarities Orchard Project (CROP) and other locavoure and slow food advocacy organizations.

Jennifer Sandy became involved with Slow Food Chicago through the preSERVE project, a community garden in North Lawndale.