Collaborative cooking ventures known as underground or secret supper clubs are a fairly  recent phenomenon. I am not sure if there are any in Australia.

You book online, and are sent a confirmation email with address. You dine with maybe six to twenty guests and, at the end, pay a contribution for your food and wine.

The meal is served in a private establishment, probably someone’s house, but what you eat is restaurant quality.

While I am sure the food and the experience for the guests is outstanding, it seem to me that the experience for the chefs is what prompted the movement in the first place.

From this article in the Atlantic:

But it’s my time in the kitchen that had stuck with me. I can’t imagine living with three roommates, let alone operating a business together to boot. And yet on Saturday I saw none of the shouting and contretemps that propel reality cooking shows and bedevil professional kitchens. Bonhomie may be amateurism’s greatest virtue.

The writer is excited by the casual and playful atmosphere that this form of collaborative cooking creates. Another article in the NY Times says:

They are not in it for the money or for Buddha Bar-size crowds; instead, they say, they are in it for the community and the creative freedom. It’s hard to imagine even the most adventurous legitimate restaurant encouraging customers to hack the hindquarters off a boar’s carcass. And underground restaurants have found their niche. Stringing together the farm-to-table movement and a bloggy kind of interactivity, they have gained a following among food lovers, mostly in their 20s and 30s, who have an opinion on local versus organic, prefer intimate and casual to grand and ceremonial, and are open to meeting people and building connections in new ways.

Wouldn’t this be most people’s preferred environment for creativity? Pat Kane, author of The Play Ethic, talks about work as play. He asks:

What would organisations be like which encouraged creativity, open-ended learning and experiment – the essence of play – as preferred characteristics for their employees or colleagues? What kinds of products, services and actions would these “players” generate?

Since reading his book a few years ago, I’ve been on the lookout for organisations who have the values of play as a foundation of their operation.

Underground supper clubs seem to be one example of this. People are interested in working in playful collaborative environments. If they can’t play in their workplaces, then they create their own spaces, in their own time, out of virtually nothing, for some serious after-hours fun.

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One should never mix them, probably.

Here’s a photograph of one of my cheeses next to Billy (Billy is the yellow one), a hard goat’s cheese from Tongola.

A wonderfully stinky cheese, Bill is aged for six weeks and has his rind smeared daily, according to his maker.  Its a pity we don’t have smellovision though!

I enjoyed Billy very much. Hard cheeses will my next experiments in cheese-making over winter, when its cooler here.

Meanwhile, we have a caretaker government in Tassie. Everyone’s waiting anxiously to find out if the Greens have won a fifth seat. It’s predicted that it will be Labor 10, Liberal 10, Greens 5, but Andrew Wilkie could be the spoiler. For a better analysis for what’s going on than I could ever attempt, read the Tasmanian Times.

For truly sustainable cities the former mayor of Curitiba says first you must get rid of your car.

Living without a car doesn’t have to be a total drag. While I have at times found it difficult to do without one, it certainly saves me money!

For the most part you can easily adapt to life without a car if you live in a city or large town that has good public transport. You will never miss your car, and the cost of bus tickets will be quickly off-set by the money you save by not having to pay for parking!

To continue to live without a car it is essential when moving house to live as near to trains, trams and buses as possible. The rent may be slightly higher, but just remember you are not paying to run a car.

The only times I miss having a car is when doing the weekly shopping (for instance, when it is raining, not so much fun!), picking up big loads, or to take a trip out of town on the weekend.

If you want to try living without owning a car try these strategies:

  • Join a car-sharing company (In Australia I use one called Flexicar)
  • Try a car-pooling site
  • Alternatively you could set up your own car-sharing arrangement, (It works best if you car-share with your neighbours, or someone living very close by)
  • Buy a bicycle with a trailer attachment (or panniers)
  • Take a taxi (even one trip a week will be cheaper than running a car!)
  • Rent a car (especially good for weekend trips out of town, and even a few trips a year is cheaper than owning your own car)

Some simple tips for going green

Many of us are doing what we can in our own homes to reduce our footprints and be sustainable. What about the workplace?

Turning off lights, reducing paper-use, recycling office consumables and using public transport or car-sharing are all easily implementable options.

I love Friends of the Earth’s approach, but unfortunately the suggestions are UK based. Here’s some Australian links:

ecobuy

econatural

Flexicar

Carpool

CarbonMarket

REAP ecopaper guide

For more practical suggestions to go green at your workplace try these links:

Planet Green

Sierra Club

Read more here: Science of 350350 Science

350 parts per million is what many scientists, climate experts, and progressive national governments are now saying is the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere.

Accelerating arctic warming and other early climate impacts have led scientists to conclude that we are already above the safe zone at our current 390ppm, and that unless we are able to rapidly return to 350 ppm this century, we risk reaching tipping points and irreversible impacts such as the melting of the Greenland ice sheet and major methane releases from increased permafrost melt.

There are three numbers you need to really understand global warming, 275, 390, and 350.

For all of human history until about 200 years ago, our atmosphere contained 275 parts per million of carbon dioxide. Parts per million is simply a way of measuring the concentration of different gases, and means the ratio of the number of carbon dioxide molecules per million other molecules in the atmosphere. 275 ppm CO2 is a useful amount—without some CO2 and other greenhouse gases that trap heat in our atmosphere, our planet would be too cold for humans to inhabit.

So we need some carbon in the atmosphere, but the question is how much?

Beginning in the 18th century, humans began to burn coal and gas and oil to produce energy and goods. The amount of carbon in the atmosphere began to rise, at first slowly and now more quickly. Many of the activities we do every day like turning the lights on, cooking food, or heating or cooling our homes rely on energy sources like coal and oil that emit carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere. We’re taking millions of years worth of carbon, stored beneath the earth as fossil fuels, and releasing it into the atmosphere. By now—and this is the second number—the planet has 390 parts per million CO2 – and this number is rising by about 2 parts per million every year.

Scientists are now saying that’s too much – that number is higher than any time seen in the recorded history of our planet – and we’re already beginning to see disastrous impacts on people and places all over the world. Glaciers everywhere are melting and disappearing fast—and they are a source of drinking water for hundreds of millions of people. Mosquitoes, who like a warmer world, are spreading into lots of new places, and bringing malaria and dengue fever with them. Drought is becoming much more common, making food harder to grow in many places. Sea levels have begun to rise, and scientists warn that they could go up as much as several meters this century. If that happens, many of the world’s cities, island nations, and farmland will be underwater. The oceans are growing more acidic because of the CO2 they are absorbing, which makes it harder for animals like corals and clams to build and maintain their shells and skeletons. Coral reefs could start dissolving at an atmospheric CO2 concentration of 450-500 ppm. These impacts are combining to exacerbate conflicts and security issues in already resource-strapped regions.

(Text from the 350 website)

Cascade brewery From the top of the ridge separating the Brewery and the South Hobart Tip, I look down from above, and think of expansion and growth, and capitalism.

The Cascade brewery building is one of Hobart’s iconic buildings. From above, the Cascade Brewery is a different place to the one that is shown in the glossy tour brochures. A material symbol of the company, it has been expanded as the Brewery has grown, and eventually it has become a big messy group of highly functional, but pretty ugly, warehouses.

I had thought that a rubbish tip located almost in the middle of a city was a terrible bit of planning (of course, the city has expanded somewhat). The smell of the rubbish apparently wafts down the valley on a warm summer’s evening, into the houses of South Hobart. I see the tip birds flying overhead when I look out my window. Flocks of crows and seagulls fly to and fro from the tip. These birds are the carrion-eaters, the birds we instinctively recoil from. They are not cute birds.

On this particular walk I change my mind. For the tip is us. All of the objects we have discarded, our refuse, goes there. Perhaps we need to see it,  deal with it. For if it is out of sight, it is out of mind. That pile of rubbish is us. The tip birds, as they fly over in flocks heading towards or away from the tip are simply symbolic pointers to our bloat. We feed them with our waste, the increasing excess from our drive to grow and expand. The rubbish tip feeds these birds. We feed them.

So I suppose this rather rambling post is about change and expansion, and wondering if growth is always smarter. Sometimes the most elegant and beautiful solution may involve re-use, renewal and regeneration.

For some discussions about some new ways of living in cities check out ‘smart growth’ and ‘new urbanism’, (new terms to me!):

New Urbanism Org

Smart Growth Org

Celsias