Monday, February 15, 2010

Museums Cont'd: Peace Museums

As a starting point, here are some of the institutions in this world that are uniquely dedicated to peace
(source: International Network of Museums for Peace)

AFRICOM International Council of African Museums
Albert Schweitzer House
Antikriegshaus Sieverhausen
Anti-Kriegs Museum
Battambang Peace Museum (project) in Cambodia
BOCS Foundation
Article 9 Society
Centre for Peace and Reconciliation Studies Coventry University
Centro Documentazione Manifesto Pacifista Internaz
Center for Peace Museum, Seoul Korea
Centre Mondial de la Paix (World Center for Peace)
Comenius Museum
Dayton International Peace Museum
Display House of the Fifth Lucky Dragon
Envision Peace Museum (planned opening 2013)
Europäisches Museum für Frieden
First Austrian Peace Museum
Flanders Fields
Franz Jägerstätter Haus (Franz Jägerstätter House)
Friedensbibliothek - Antikriegmuseum
Friedensbibliothek-Antikriegsmuseum ( Berlin , Germany )
Friedenshistorisches Museum (Peace History Museum)
Friedensraeume Lindau
Friedensmuseum Meeder
Friedensmuseum Nürnberg
Friedensmuseum Remagen
Friends of Peace
Gandhi Durshan Gandhi Smitri
Gandhi Memorial Museum
Gandhi Smarak Sangrahalaya
GandhiServe Foundation
Gernika Gogoratuz
Gernika Peace Museum Foundation
Ghent University
Global Peace Pioneers
Grassroots House
Green Island Human Rights Memorial Park
Gustavus Adolphus College, Peace Studies Program
Halabja Monument and Peace Museum
The Herbert
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
Historical Museum of Japanese Military Sexual Slavery
The Children’s Museum for Peace and Human Rights
Imperial War Museum
Indian Institute for Peace
Interfaith Peace Museum of Pakistan
International Exhibition Centre

International Museum of Peace and Solidarity
International Red Cross & Red Crescent Museum
Kochi University Peace Studies
Kurdistan, Save the Children Fund
Kyoto Museum for World Peace
Kyoto University of Education
La Paix Herb Farm Interactive Museum
Le Mémorial de Caen
The Lion and Lamb Peace Arts Center of Bluffton University
Lucerne Initiative for Peace and Security
Maria Stein Heritage Museum and the National Marian Shrine of the Holy Relics
Missing Peace Art Space
Musée Albert Schweitzer à Kaysersberg
Museum Haus am Checkpoint Charlie
Museo della Pace Piccoli Martiri di Gorla
Museum de la Paz (Museum for Peace)

Monday, February 08, 2010


There is a long history to humans creating shrines and displays - special ways to store, protect, fetisize, contextualize (or re-contextualize) objects. From the paintings at Lascaux to African reliquaries to European wunderkammer to Native American burial mounds to Egyptian mummies and pyramids... perhaps this is painting with too broad of a stroke... (more here)
Today, however, there are countless museums dedicated to all sorts of research, narratives, and types of objects. These "institutions" celebrate art and ideas as much as they write and re-write our history, knowledge, and perception. Here is one example: The Museum of Phallology in Iceland
More to come as the research continues...

Sunday, February 07, 2010

symbol-using beings

According to theorist and writer Kenneth Burke, humans are "the symbol using, making, and mis-using animal, inventor of the negative, separated from his natural condition by instruments of his own making, goaded by the spirit of hierarchy, and rotten with perfection." 

Some more (superficial, but exciting) tidbits from Burke... (more here)
The rhetorical function of language as "a symbolic means of inducing cooperation in beings that by nature respond to symbols." For Burke, some of the most significant problems in human behavior resulted from instances of symbols using human beings rather than human beings using symbols. Another key concept for Burke is the terministic screen - a set of symbols that becomes a kind of screen or grid of intelligibility through which the world makes sense to us. Language, according to Burke, doesn't simply "reflect" reality; it also helps select reality as well as deflect reality. In his book Language as Symbolic Action (1966), Burke defined humankind as a "symbol using animal" so that our "reality" has actually "been built up for us through nothing but our symbol system". What we call "reality," Burke stated, is actually a "clutter of symbols about the past combined with whatever things we know mainly through maps, magazines, newspapers, and the like about the present . . . a construct of our symbol systems".

(But then, I sometimes go outside and stick my hands in the cold mud and breastfeed my child and feel otherwise... or at least try to...)

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The cost of non-organic cotton

While considering the higher price tag on organic cotton materials, I try to keep in mind the invisible costs of non-organic cotton - the costs that are externalized, such as chemical pollution (and associated health risks), environmental degradation (poisoned air, water, soil, and food), greater dependence on bio-tech companies, and more toxic exposure for flora and fauna. 

Cotton is considered the world's 'dirtiest' crop due to its heavy use of insecticides, the most hazardous pesticide to human and animal health. Cotton covers 2.5% of the world's cultivated land yet uses 16% of the world's insecticides, more than any other single major crop. (Source: The deadly chemicals in cotton. Environmental Justice Foundation in collaboration with Pesticide Action Network UK: London, UK. ISBN No. 1-904523-10-2). The Environmental Protection Agency considers seven of the top 15 pesticides used on cotton in 2000 in the United States as "possible," "likely," "probable," or "known" human carcinogens (acephate, dichloropropene, diuron, fluometuron, pendimethalin, tribufos, and trifluralin). (EPA) 

Here are some more reasons why organic cotton production is important (follow link or read below):

Aldicarb, parathion, and methamidopho, three of the most acutely hazardous insecticides to human health as determined by the World Health Organization, rank in the top ten most commonly used in cotton production. All but one of the remaining seven most commonly used are classified as moderately to highly hazardous (1). 

Aldicarb, cotton's second best selling insecticide and most acutely poisonous to humans, can kill a man with just one drop absorbed through the skin, yet it is still used in 25 countries and the US, where 16 states have reported it in their groundwater (1).

Insecticide use has decreased in the last 10 years with the introduction of Biotechnology (BT), the fastest adapted yet most controversial new technology in the history of agriculture. As of 2007, Bt cotton already commands 34% of total cotton cropland and 45% of world cotton production. In Bt cotton, the insecticide is always present in the plant rather than applied in periodic spraying sessions which will lead to rapid rates of pest immunities and possibly produce superpests (3). 

It can take almost a 1/3 pound of synthetic fertilizers to grow one pound of raw cotton in the US, and it takes just under one pound of raw cotton to make one t-shirt (4).

Nitrogen synthetic fertilizers are considered the most detrimental to the environment, causing leaching and runoff that freshwater habitats and wells (5).

Nitrogen synthetic fertilizers are a major contributor to increased N2O emissions, which are 300 times more potent than CO2 as greenhouse gas (5), which is ominous for global warming as synthetic fertilizer use is forecasted to increase roughly 2.5 times by mid-century (6). 

Organic farming methods use natural fertilizers, like compost and animal manure, that recycles the nitrogen already in the soil rather than adding more, which reduces both pollution and N2O emissions (5).

The cottonseed hull, where many pesticide residues have been detected, is a secondary crop sold as a food commodity. It is estimated that as much as 65% of cotton production ends up in our food chain, whether directly through food oil or indirectly through the milk and meat of animals (1).

Cottonseed and field trash is usually sold for animal feed. Studies in Brazil and Nicaragua have show traces of common cotton pesticides in cow milk, fueling concerns about chemical residues on the cottonseed (1). 

The developing world is home to 99% of all cotton farmers and produces 75% of the world's total cotton, so it bears the brunt of cotton's environmental and health concerns (1).

Rural farmers lack the necessary safety equipment, protective clothing, and training for handling hazardous pesticides. In India, one in ten pesticide applications results in three or more reported health symptoms related to pesticide exposure (1).

Surveys show that rural cotton farmers often store pesticides in their bedrooms or in close proximity to their food and some even reuse pesticide containers for drinking water. These farmers and their families are at highest risk for acute pesticide poisoning as well as chronic effects (1)

US cotton subsidies artificially lower cotton prices while production costs for Biotech (Bt) seeds and pesticides are rising, causing financial stress in the rest of the world's cotton-producing areas. India's once prestigious cotton belt is now referred to as the "suicide belt" due to farmers unable to accept growing debts. Since 2003, the suicide rate has averaged one every eight hours in Vidarba, India (7). 

During the conversion of cotton into conventional clothing, many hazardous materials are used and added to the product, including silicone waxes, harsh petroleum scours, softeners, heavy metals, flame and soil retardants, ammonia, and formaldehyde-just to name a few (8).

Many processing stages result in large amounts of toxic wastewater that carry away residues from chemical cleaning, dyeing, and finishing. This waste depletes the oxygen out of the water, killing aquatic animals and disrupting aquatic ecosystems (8). 

Cotton uses approximately 25% of the world's insecticides and more than 10% of the pesticides (including herbicides, insecticides, and defoliants.). (Allan Woodburn)

Approximately 10% of all pesticides sold for use in U. S. agriculture were applied to cotton in 1997, the most recent year for which such data is publicly available. (ACPA)

Fifty-five million pounds of pesticides were sprayed on the 12.8 million acres of conventional cotton grown in the U.S. in 2003 (4.3 pounds/ acre), ranking cotton third behind corn and soybeans in total amount of pesticides sprayed. (USDA)

Over 2.03 billion pounds of synthetic fertilizers were applied to conventional cotton in 2000 (142 pounds/acre), making cotton the fourth most heavily fertilized crop behind corn, winter wheat, and soybeans. (USDA)

1) EJF. (2007). The deadly chemicals in cotton. Environmental Justice Foundation in collaboration with Pesticide Action Network UK: London, UK. ISBN No. 1-904523-10-2.
(2) Whitford, F., Pike, D., Burroughs, F., Hanger, G. Johnson, B., & Brassard, D. (2006). The pesticide marketplace: Discovering and developing new products. Purdue University Extension, report # PPP-71.
(3) Chaudhry, M.R., (2007, March 6-8). Biotech applications in cotton: Concerns and challenges. Paper presented at the Regional Consultation on Biotech Cotton for Risk Assessment and Opportunities for Small Scale Cotton Growers (CFC/ICAC 34FT), Faisalabad, Pakistan.
(4) Lauresn, S. E., Hansen, J., Knudsen, H. H., Wenzel, H., Larsen, H. F., & Kristensen, F. M. (2007). EDIPTEX: Environmental assessment of textiles. Danish Environmental Protection Agency, working report 24.
(5) Kramer, S. B., Reganold, J. P., Glover, J. D., Bohannan, B. J. M., & Mooney, H. A. (2006). Reduced nitrate leaching and enhanced denitrifier activity and efficiency in organically fertilized soils. PNAS, 103 (12), 4522-4527.
(6) Tilman, D., Cassman, K., Matson, P., Naylor, R., & Polasky, S. (2002). Nature (418), 71-677.
(7) de Sam Lazaro, F. (2007). The dying fields: India's forgotten farmers [Television series episode]. In WNET (producer), Wide Angle. New York: Public Broadcasting Station.
(8) Kadolph, S. J., & Langford, A. L. (2002). Textiles (9th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. 
OTA's "2006 U.S. Organic Production & Marketing Trends" report.
Allen Woodburn Associates Ltd./Managing Resources Ltd., "Cotton: The Crop and its Agrochemicals Market," 1995.
American Crop Protection Association, "1997 Total U. S. Sales by Crop Protection Product Type and Market," 1998 ACPA Industry Profile.
California Department of Pesticide Regulation, "DPR Releases Data on 1999 Pesticide Injuries," 2001.
U. S. Department of Agriculture, "Agricultural Chemical Usage: 2003 Field Crop Summary."
U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, "List of Chemicals Evaluated for Carcinogenic Potential," 2001.
©2009, Organic Trade Association

Monday, February 01, 2010

Restaurant Supported Agriculture

I've been thinking about how restaurants can work to support local farms and buy local... Here is one example, Braise RSA, who are doing it using the CSA (community supported agriculture) model. Read more here.

The effort is modeled after popular community supported agriculture programs – now numbering in the thousands – in which families buy shares of local farmers’ harvests in advance, then get weekly deliveries of produce during the growing season.

And this too is procrastination...

And it feels so good.

Found on Spike Jonze's very nice blog.