All Things Renewable....

All things renewable....

Packaging, cardboard and string of course.

Energy, increasingly.

Hope, always.

May the spirit of the season be with you!

Warmly and looking forward,

Planet First Aid
Way to Save!


I’m thrilled that my brother and sister-in-law have come up with a product designed for just such times! Enter Durango, Colorado-based Planet First Aid (PFA) and its line of Energy Gift Baskets – each packed with information and items -- from compact flourescent bulbs to retractable clotheslines -- that save time, money, energy, water and the environment.

And like anything Gregg, Gretchen and their friend John would do…it’s got a lot of personality and some romance, too. Wild flower seeds are included. And in addition to CFL bulbs, there are beeswax candles encouraging us to sometimes turn off the lights altogether and go with the glow!

A Call to Open Farms!


I could not be more excited about what's in the works!

As but one call-to-action from The Renewables: Thinkable is Doable!, we are planning and building A Call to Open Farms.

A Call to Open Farms will couple the tactility of my first non-profit -- FarmHands-CityHands, formed 22 years ago to link farm and city for the social, cultural, economic and environmental enrichment of both -- with the immediacy and reach of today’s technology.

A Call to Open Farms will encourage and enable folks from all walks of life to visit as many area farms, farmers' markets, country and county fairs, stores and restaurants that support local agriculture as possible.

Beginning with the Spring 2009 Growing Season, A Call to Open Farms will:

* Educate people about the importance of local food and farming, and about the opportunities for farm-city links.

* Guide participants to area markets, farms, wineries, breweries, distilleries, fairs, festivals, stores and restaurants that support local agriculture, including ways and means of getting there.

* Give them the tools to provide creative and profuse Proof of Presence (PoP) -- allowing them to post a vibrant array of videos, photos, stories, songs, performances, poems, recipes and more at and

* Reward them for their involvement -- from the intrinsic pleasures of digging in, helping out, making friends and being the farm-city link to prizes like FarmStay getaways, flower bouquets, private wine tastings, meet-the-chef meals, and more….

* Celebrate the results with exciting events like Eaters' Appreciation Day, Giving of Thanks Soiree, and more.

We're making plans for in-city FarmFests, biodiesel bus tours, up-country FarmDays, and for a program that we think will herald a delicious and propitious bonding of people, call to nature and use of technology.

We'll of course keep you posted!

A Call to Open Farms will be a wonderful ride. And we want you with us on it!

As importantly, since we're already planting seeds, we hope you will begin now in visiting and supporting all the local farms and markets that you can!

Warmly and looking forward,
Wendy Dubit, aka Biodiesel Babe

World Science Fair:
Why I’m Here!


Recently, I realized and articulated why I’d moved to New York so many years ago: THIS is the place and pace of accelerated learning, creation and connection that I long for and love.

I was tickled when a recent Smithsonian article claimed the same, with Joan Acocella proposing that New Yorkers are a highly involved (bordering on intrusive) species of peeps pre-selected for higher energy and ambition.

I’d argue that even the wildlife here is that way:

I’ve seen Pale Male eating in public. (He drools!) I’ve communed with raccoons. (I had one as a next door neighbor until they took the scaffolding down.)

But now, can I just effuse a bit about the World Science Festival?!

This week, I was IN HEAVEN thanks to physicist Brian Greene, producer Tracy Day, actor and author Alan Alda, friend Sunny Bates and all the others whose brilliance, warmth, humor and magic formed a float of math, science and humanities such as I’d never known!

The city was at its Nobel~est….

I savored every second of Mayor Bloomberg's "NY Loves Science" speech and Leon Lederman's cosmic jokes.

I watched in anticipation and appreciation as the inaugural Kavli Prize recipients in astrophysics, neuroscience and nanoscience were announced, and was thrilled to meet founder Fred Kavli and laureates Louis E. Brus and Thomas Jessell afterwards.

There were compelling cases for vertical farms and a balanced renewable energy policy; rousing discussions about regenerative medicine and thorny bioethics issues; and impressive displays of neuroscientific fireworks -- monkeys who can manipulate mechanical third arms with their minds and minimally conscious men coming back to life.

I drilled down deep with NIH' Eric Wasserman, whose enviable title is Chief, Brain Stimulation Unit, and shared fresh ideas with Vivavi founder Josh Dorfman, who, though he calls himself the Lazy Environmentalist, is anything but lazy.

I heard Jim Gates, Lucy Hawking and others tell self-deprecating tales of science experiments gone wrong.

I was there when TPP’s own Jack Chiarello and hundreds of others came alive with wonder.

I was moved to tears by Mathemagician Arthur Benjamin’s speed and accuracy and by William Phillips’ "absolute zero" (or as close as it gets) ballooon tricks.

I had my picture taken with Ms. Frizzle of Scholastic’s Magic School Bus.

I learned from Saul Griffith how and why to shave a few thousand watts off my energy consumption and from Dan Nocera how to think and live more like a leaf.

And I went wild with joy, as we all did, when Andy Revkin (pictured above) ended a Powering the Planet town hall meeting with an accoustic guitar original about unsequestered CO2 (or was it liberated carbon?).

At dinner, I traded life stories with Eben Bayer, whose Ecovative Design centers around a fungi-based foam that will someday allow us to grow our own homes!

I don’t think I’ve ever been happier.

So when World Science Fest officially ended last night -- with a Science of Longevity session about how "the 90s are and new 50s" and with Alan Alda performing Dear Albert, which he wrote based on letters to and from Einstein -- I knew that, for me, and for so many, WSF would live on.

INSPIRED, The Producers' Project will enable K - 12 students and staff to make and share even more math and science-oriented media (music, film, television, blogs, games) than before.

I’ve bought a slew of related domain names that range from Infinitesimal to Infinite and Smallest to Allest to Adult Math.

I vow to launch a “Love Letters to Darwin” campaign someday.

And I feel as if I've value-added to my DNA....

I woke up this morning knowing....I’m going to learn a lot today!

Warmly and looking forward,

Wendy Dubit
The Renewables: Thinkable is Doable

Those Who Prey Together....

“Those who prey together stay together!”

So claims Green Chimneys, one of my favorite organizations.

And they should know! For 60 years, Green Chimneys (GC) has been a leader in animal-assisted therapy.

As part of their residential flourishment program, youth sent to Green Chimneys by New York City and State enjoy a hands-on brand of education where, among other things, they grow and sell organic produce, have a robust culinary arts program, tend rare breeds of barnyard animals and rehabilitate injured wildlife.

On Sunday, June 1, Green Chimneys students will help host a full day’s Birds of Prey festivities that will culminate with the freeing of a rehabilitated red-tailed hawk back to the wild.

If you can, please get yourself up Brewster way for Birds of Prey Day. And please join me in supporting GC at their 60th Anniversary Celebration on June 5 in NYC.

Meantime, a shout out to the magical Josephine Monter, whose eagle eyes are pictured above. She will be hosting mask-making workshops at Omega on July 13 - 18 and August 10 - 15.

THANKS to Green Chimneys, Josephine…and to all of you…for working wonders and for playing with us when you can.

Warmly and looking forward,
Wendy Dubit, aka Biodiesel Babe

Spring Giddiness

Spring Giddiness

By Rumi, as translated by Coleman Barks

Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and frightened. Don't open the door to the study
and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.
Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

Spring Is....

"Spring is in the cock's crow, in the smell of freshly turned earth. It is no longer wise for the nature lover to procrastinate."

So says a favorite, unattributed quote that I found in the early days of FarmHands-CityHands.

And now, you don't have to wait!

Soon, our "Call to Open Farms" will give you hundreds of ways and means of going back to and giving to the land.

Stay tuned.

Meantime, here's hoping you ENJOY the Full Pink Moon and will make the most of EarthDay!

Warmly and looking forward,
Wendy Dubit aka Biodiesel Babe.

Water Ways....

In case it hadn't occurred to you already: We are the water!

And it's up to us to preserve and protect this increasingly rare, at-risk resource in all the educated, vigilant and enjoyable ways we can.

To learn the latest on a subject we know and love, Amelia Amon and I treated ourselves to info-packed World Water Day at the American Museum of Natural History, where pamphlets and panels abounded about The International Year of Sanitation.

Earlier that week, a few of us from The Producers' Project had been struck by Andy Revkin's New York Times piece:
2.6 Billion With No Place to Go (to the Toilet).

We'd interviewed Andy for The Evolving Ecology of New York -- a documentary that explored how much we had evolved and devolved since the days of cholera epidemics and dead horses contaminating our drinking water...and that emphasized education as key to caring about, co-existing with, preserving and stewarding our natural resources.

Another TPP documentary, Living with the River found students examining The Hudson River’s environmental health as well as its economic and social importance. Students determined the health of the Hudson through water quality testing, experimentations and identification of plant and animal species; studied and documented the river’s past, present, present and future; made environmental observations and recommendations; and interviewed experts from the Department of Environmental Protection, the Coalition for a Livable West Side, Clearwater, the Hudson River Project and more.

We became increasingly aware of, involved with, responsible for and happy about what was happening in our own home waterways. But we were horrified to learn that an estimated 700,000 children a year die from preventable diseases and ailments because they lack clean water and adequate facilities.

Time spent studying our local waterways, flora, fauna, landscape and humanscape and interviewing experts from The American Museum of Natural History, The New York Historical Society, The New York Botanic Gardens and the The New York Times had led to a sense of our inter-connectedness -- personal and collective, local and global, environmental, economic and more.

"Even more so than we are what we eat," said one TPP participant, "We are water. (Blood is 83% water.) And we are the world."

What are we doing to and for our water...and for the billions of people around the world who lack adequate access to it?

We're learning more, making plans, taking action, speaking out, doing what we can...and hoping you will join us!

Wendy Dubit
The Renewables: Thinkable is Doable and
The Producers'Project: A New Lens on Learning



I am fresh back from the SXSW music fest in Austin, Texas. And I am rejuvenated, inspired, impressed!

I was there thanks to the exquisite Heidi Richman, Program Director of Wente's Discover the Wine, Discover the Music campaign.

Founded in 1883 by C. H. Wente, Wente Vineyards is California's oldest family owned and continuously operated winery.

For more than twenty years, the Wente Family Concert Series has hosted headliner artists ranging from Ray Charles to Buena Vista Social Club at their stunning Livermore Valley ranch.

Discover the Wine, Discover the Music puts a new spin on the Wente Family's passion:

Spearheaded by Karl Wente -- fifth generation winemaker, fine musician and exceptionally evolved human -- the program pairs Wente's 100% estate-grown wines with breaking new artists in innovative ways. For example, neck tags on participating Wente wines include codes for free music downloads and info on how songs like Under the Influence of Giant's joyous "In the Clouds" pair with the crisp and honeysuckled notes of Wente's Riverbank Riesling; how Jesse Dayton & Brennen Leigh's
"We Hung the Moon" mesh with Wente's appley, oaky Morning Fog Chardonnay.

It's a program that sings to me in every sense. And I wanted to be part of Heidi's high-profile promoting of it, built on her years of experience and success, at SXSW.

After all, I impressed upon her, I can pop, open, pour, have been talking and writing about wine since long before it was legal for me to drink, and have not ceased from exploration. And somewhere in the midst of it all, I entered the music industry....

And so, happily, I was invited along for what has proved one of the most pleasurable rides of my life.

While I savored Wente's ripe, luscious Riva Ranch Chardonnay and their long, smooth Southern Hills Cabernet on the front porch of a gracious Garden Street home, Karl and fellow Front Porch singer/songwriter Megan Bradford played covers of my favorite songs (John Prine, Bob Dylan, Counting Crows, Tom Petty), introduced me to new ones (Brothers Lekas, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tally Hall, John Gorka) and knocked my socks off with their own work.

On March 13, at The Moonshine Veranda, Wente treated musicians, industry execs, lifestyle and entertainment press to one of the most intoxicating blends of standout wines, spicy food and mellow tunes that it has ever been my privilege to experience.

And then, it was time to get on the bus!

The Wine Bus, that is -- festooned with Karl's image and his “Discover the Wine, Discover the Music” tag outside, and offering up a cool, acoustically correct, wine-laden lair within.

Karl, Megan, Simi Sernaker of Suffrajett and Jason Russo of Hopewell played music while we made our way to the hottest (and I’m talking 95 degrees that day) venues. At stops that ranged from the swank Whole Foods Lamar St. parking lot to the controlled chaos of Maria’s Taco Xpress, festival goers, fellow musicians and VIP press would get on board to play music, drink wine, conduct interviews and such. I popped, poured, talked about the wines that I had come to know and love, and held my own (that particular time).

Then my official "tour of duty" was over!

I was free to soak up all the strangeness and beauty that is SXSW (1500 bands, 400 films and an embarrassment of parties) in Austin, Texas (a town I love so much I could live there) in Spring (redbud, wisteria, birdsong, splendiferous beyond words).

Mostly, I hung out on the Garden Street front porch and imbibed all the Simi, Karl and Megan music I could.

I bought running shoes and cowboy boots, but spent my time barefoot.

It felt SO GOOD!

Flying home, I read an endnote that Kevin Smokler had written for Austin Chronicle:

“How Your South-By High Can Last Through the Rest of the Year:

Was it a dream? Where do I go from here? What’s this business card stuck to my toothbrush?

Where, in little changes or giant swings, can you draw on SXSW as the start of something new instead of just letting what happens in Austin stay in Austin?”

I think I know....

In significant (and not unSchrodingerlike) ways, I’m still on the bus, inside the music, drinking enough Wente for all of us.

And if they'll have me, I hope my Livermore friends will keep their corkscrews handy:

When next I can, I’ll wend my way West for more of their wine, music, kind.

Meantime, from my perch to their porch, I send admiration, appreciation, LOVE.

For me, this party is so not over! In fact, it’s just begun....

Schools, Food, Community


I encourage you to join our group of practitioners, parents and advocates for Schools, Food and Community -- an inspiration and action-packed day and a half of panels, workshops, resources, entertainment and networking.

The program -- produced by Baum Forum and the Nutrition Program of Teachers College -- takes place on April ll and 12th at Teachers College of Columbia University, Broadway between 120 and 121st St.

It will focus on strengthening the resolve and ability of children to eat nutritious, fresh foods by:

* Connecting holistic food and nutrition messaging in our classrooms, cafeterias, after-school programs, homes, and neighborhoods

* Fostering relationships among children and their communities that focus on food, cooking, and gardening

* Exploring the nuts and bolts of cross-sector (i.e. health, education, food service, and agriculture) public and private collaborations

* Committing to actions we can take.

Last year's program sold out. So here's hoping you will register soon and looking forward to seeing you there!


Leap Year!

Whatever you do with this year's LEAP DAY, may it hold leaps of faith, love, learning and life for you. And maybe a little wine, too?!

Renewable Returns!

As all of the domain names coming up for renewal reminds me, TODAY is the birthday of of Biodiesel Babes and The Renewables!

This day last year I fell in love with and almost "bought the farm" for to build and run a renewable dude ranch where folks like us could build solar sheds, brew biodiesel, tend vines, make wine, grow food, cook and dine together, see stars, work hard, sleep well.

EVERYTHING had its intended use -- the fields, pond, creek, stone walls, build lot, old house, smokehouse, artist's studio, historic barn. But what was that "Ponies Only" section out back? And what could it become? Perhaps it would be where kids make gimp lanyards while parents drink local whiskey and shoot skeet? Or better yet, where little ones generate electricity, learn about food chains, plant seeds and the like? Hmmmn....

Several reality checks and one big banking crisis later, I remain without land. But I've got lots of intellectual property and what I hope turns out to be a virally good idea.

In the realms of renewable energy, agriculture and life, we plan to host a series of Renewable Challenges -- contests that will:

* Educate about issues
* Spotlight solutions
* Give people the impetus and tools they'll use to be part of the solutions
* Encourage them to be juicy, creative and collaborative in their sharing of ideas and actions
* Showcase and celebrate the results

For example, how many farms and farmers' markets can we visit, and how vibrantly and profusely can we prove it -- online and in the real world, through video, photos, assorted artworks, recipes, poems, stories, songs? Where does our energy come from, and how can we make more it while using less? How can one man's trash become another's treasure? Which TV show or network most successfully campaigns against climate change?

Of course The Renewable Challenge we will start small and stay fresh.

But with your help, The Renewables: Thinkable is Doable can grow in all sorts of meaningful, wonderful ways.

For every good reason, we'd love your insight and could use your energy!

Meantime, I'm still wondering what "Ponies Only" means.

Warmly and looking forward,

Still There!

Yesterday, I arrived in Ireland forJohn O'Donohue's memorial service. Lindaa and I drove from the airport to Co. Clare through snow so fresh that our tracks were the first. Later, we learned that Feb. 1 is also the first day of Irish Spring.

It found me remembering a favorite quote from Diana Kappel-Smith's Wintering:

"In the winter, everything out of doors seems to be gone. But...we know that nothing is gone, and that all the rich life of a June morning is out there on a January morning."

The Space Between Us?
Blessings To, For, From John

In Tribute to Poet, Philosopher, Friend John O’ Donohue….
Jan. 1 1956 – Jan. 4 2008

Our last e-mail, on Jan. 1, was just Happy: Happy New Year! Happy New Book! Happy Birthday! Happy Everything!

I know he went Happy.

But all of us in his circles -- intimate, expanding, infinite -- are bereft.

On Jan. 4, we lost our beloved John O’Donohue.

Or have we? Because as John always said, “Nothing is ever lost or forgotten.”

And he gave us more to remember, think about, hope for and grow towards than anyone I know.

I had the privilege of working with him last year.

Amongst phone calls, e-mails, meetings, we had fun thinking, talking, laughing, drinking, challenging each others’ beliefs and expanding each others’ horizons.

John is a spiritual mystic, Irish philosopher, prolific writer, part-time farmer and former Catholic priest.

I am an urban, agnostic entrepreneur.

In the birthing of his latest book -- Benedictus (to be published as To Bless the Space Between Us in the U.S. this March) -- we talked a lot about love, life, death, and everything before, after and in between.

“The dead,” he would say, “are nearer than they seem.”

I could grasp this in the same way that my Dad lives on in me through DNA and jokes we well as from a particle physics perspective: “We are in the universe. And the universe is in us. Isn’t that enough?” (Neil DeGrasse Tyson)

But anything beyond that would have to seen to be believed....

“You’ll see," he would say, "In the Celtic landscape and all over. Someday....”

Who knew how soon someday would come?

I don’t usually ask for signs. Or see them when they're there, but....

On the night of Jan. 3, in a rare effort to clear clutter, I came upon obituaries, eulogies and wills from one branch of my family tree. I was moved beyond words...into that reverent space where the sadness of loss balances perfectly with the appreciation of presence.

I can’t put my finger on why, but on a train ride north, I read poems from Linda Pastan’s An Early Afterlife, and was struck by these lines:

“Why don’t we say good-bye right now
In the fallacy of perfect health
Before whatever is going to happen

Hours later, I received the devastating, unexpected news: John had died peacefully in his sleep while on holiday in the South of France. No further details were available.

Immediately, hearts all over the world went out from his group of friends, fans and colleagues...all of us to each other, and most of all to his family and Kristine. Sadness, memories, stories, love and consolation were shared in unbelievable concentration and constellations via e-mail, on the Internet, over the phone. Tributes went up…on and elsewhere, from friends and colleagues like David Whyte, Gareth Higgins, Jesse Kornbluth and from venues he appeared at often, like Miriam's Well and Kripalu. We were able to hear his voice on NPR, BBC and elsewhere.

Those who could gathered in Ireland, where he was laid to rest. I took solace in the thought that two soul friends, Linda and Loretta, might be bookends that would bring true a line from John’s “Blessing for Death” from Anam Cara: “May your going be sheltered and your welcome assured.”

Me? I drank whiskey in his honor, and prayed as best I could at the time...including for a sign.

Bizarrely (though I’m sure it wouldn’t have seemed so to him), a lovingly inscribed copy of Benedictus: A Book of Blessings, arrived on the day of his funeral: He had sent and meant it to be there by Christmas. But it had gone to a wrong zip...sitting at that post office for a bit before finding me at just the right time.

It was one more way for John to say: “You are never alone” -- a proof point of the paradox, merriment, bedevilment, fulfillment, embodiment, humor, joy and generosity that is John....

Almost all the words I can find to express my sadness and hope are in that book and his others.

If you haven’t already, I hope you will go to the sources to hear, read, share the soul-satisfying stuff he is made of.

Here, I’ll simply end with Stars, a poem that I hope brings comfort and that perfectly expresses what I've come to know and believe about the universe, those that we love in it, and the way they live on....


By Hannah Senesh

There are stars whose radiance is
visible on earth
though they have
long been extinct.

There are people whose brilliance
continues to light the world
though they are no
longer among us.

These lights are particularly
bright when the night is dark.

They light the way
for human kind.