Green Living Project to feature global/local short films at San Francisco Film Premiere

The Green Living Project will be showcasing a new lineup of local and global short films at the 2nd annual San Francisco Film Premiere. The event will take place on October 22, 2011, from 6PM-9PM at Hub SoMa.

The Green Living Project has created over 60 films from 17 countries across Latin America, North America, and Africa. This event will feature their most popular projects dealing with topics of sustainability, such as wildlife conservation, community development, sustainable travel, and more. Not only is this event a great way to educate yourself and experience new places, it’s also a chance to network and socialize with like-minded individuals and learn ways that you can personally get involved in the Green Living Project’s cause.

Tickets cost $12 at the door ($10 if you have a student ID) with a portion of all the proceeds going to one of the featured films at the event (to be voted on by attendees).

Can’t make the San Francisco Film Premiere? You’ll have another chance to see the project showcase on December 8, 2011, in Los Angeles, California.

12 historic sites in danger of disappearing

The Global Heritage Fund has released a new report that lists 200 World Heritage Sites around the globe that are in danger from a variety of threats, turning the spotlight on 12 in particular that could disappear altogether due to a lack of funds, neglect, and mismanagement.

The 12 sites listed in the report include Palestine’s Hisham’s Palace, Turkey’s Ani, and Iraq’s Nineveh. Hisham’s Palace, the remains of a royal winter retreat built in 747 AD and the ancient city of Nineveh are both under threat from encroaching urban development, while Ani, an 11th century city on Turkey’s border with Armenia, finds many of it’s ancient structures literally falling apart on their foundations.

Other Heritage Sites that make the list of “most threatened” include Mahansrhangarh, the oldest archeological site in all of Bangladesh and Mirador in Guatemala, which is a pre-Columbian Mayan ruin which sits in a remote jungle location. Haiti’s Sans Souci Palace suffered damage during the recent earthquakes that hit the country, while the Maluti Temples in India suffer from years of neglect. Kenya’s Lamu Village, Famagusta, located in Cyprus, Pakistan’s Taxila, Intramuros and Fort Santiago in the Philippines, and Chersonesos in the Ukraine round out the list.

The GHF’s report recommends that the countries in which these historic sites are located invest in restoring and preserving the ancient places. While those repairs could cost millions of dollars to complete, the sites could potentially generate that income back through tourist dollars, although UNESCO representatives say that caution should be taken when going down that road, as sustainable tourism is not always an easy thing to accomplish and there are a lot of factors to consider before proceeding.

One thing that everyone agrees on however is that these amazing sites need to be preserved for future generations to visit and explore. Just how that will be accomplished remains to be seen.

[Photo credit: Christian Koehn via WikiMedia]

New visitor center opens at Yellowstone’s Old Faithful

On August 24th, the National Park Service opened a new $27 million dollar visitor center near Old Faithful in Yellowstone. The high tech and environmentally friendly building replaces an older visitor center that originally opened in 1972 and struggled to keep up with traffic in recent years, which have seen record numbers of visitors to the park.

Officially dubbed the Old Faithful Visitor Education Center, the new building was built in conjunction with the Yellowstone Park Foundation, a non-profit organization that raised more than $15 million to help fund the project. The OFVEC is expected to host 2.6 million annual visitors, who will be treated to a host of interactive displays including one that demonstrates the hydrothermal process that leads to the eventual eruption of a geyser. That one is particularly helpful while you’re waiting for the real Old Faithful to erupt just a hundred yards away.

The new building follows a number of strict guidelines for sustainability and energy efficiency, including the use of mostly recycled and bio-based materials. Additionally, the visitor center uses approximately 1/3 less energy than other buildings of its size, while sitting on a shallow foundation designed to protect the hydrothermal systems at play underneath. Furthermore, over 99% of the construction waste from the old building was crushed on site and used as backfill, aiding the carbon footprint even further. As a result, the OFVEC has earned a Gold level rating on the LEED scale, the first structure in the park to gain this distinction.

In addition to the interactive displays housed inside the “Young Scientist” exhibit area, the new visitor center also boasts a comfortable theater, a classroom for use by local schools and other organizations, a library, gift shop, and a resource room. The spacious lobby also features an information and orientation desk, and a nearby sign keeps everyone aware of when the next eruption of Old Faithful will occur. They geyser erupts every 90 minutes, give or take a few, and the new visitor center will give you something to do while you wait for that next spectacular display.

I visited the new center a few weeks back, and found it educational and fascinating. The new science displays are aimed at kids, but are also informative and interesting for us big kids too. You’ll definitely want to checkout the artificial geyser that “erupts” every 7 or 8 minutes, showing you how the entire process works both above and below the ground. I also applaud the efforts by the Park Service to take a more environmentally friendly approach, as the building looks spectacular and is good for the planet too.

Sierra Club Outings offer envrionmentally responsible adventures

The Sierra Club is an outdoor institution in the United States. Founded in 1892, the club has grown to include more than 1.3 members, and has evolved into the environmental grassroots organization that is the model for all others to follow. Each year, the club organizes events and works with legislators on a national, state, and local level to safe guard wild places and promote environmental important environmental causes.

But what most people don’t know is that each year the club organizes a number of outstanding wilderness adventures known as Sierra Club Outings. These outings take place all around the globe, offering activities for just about everyone, including individuals, families, beginners, seniors, women, and more. On these adventurous trips you’ll find yourself backpacking, kayaking, and biking your way through some of the most outstanding wildernesses in the U.S., Canada, and beyond.

Each year over 4000 people elect to travel with the Sierra Club, and with more than 350 itineraries in their catalog, there are plenty of adventures to choose from. Options include excursions to 34 states and more than 27 countries around the globe. Better still, these adventures are easy on the pocketbook too, with more than half of them priced at under $1000.

Some of the exciting options to choose from include backpacking through Escalante National Park in Utah, rafting the Owyhee River in Oregon, or catching the Summer Solstice in the Brooks Range of Alaska. And for those looking to add a new stamp to their passport, there are a host of international adventures as well, such as cruising the Galapagos Islands or spending a month trekking through the Upper Dolpo region of Nepal. Additionally, the Sierra Club volunteer vacations give travelers a chance to enjoy the great outdoors, while giving a little something back in the process.
While the Sierra Club Outings are amongst the best outdoor adventures around, the organization has some other great options available as well. For instance, each year the club sends more than 14,000 urban youth and adults out into natural environments as part of their Inner City Outings program. They also have a number of great lodges and huts, including the famous Clair Trappaan Lodge, located in the Sierra Nevada, available for members to use. And for those who can’t get away for one of the bigger adventures, check out your local chapter for outings in your own backyard.

For 109 years the Sierra Club has led the way in the area of promoting outdoor activities and environmental responsibility. Their outings uphold that same agenda, offering affordable adventures that are safe, sustainable in nature, and fun for the entire family.

Rainforest Alliance announces second annual “sustainability” photo contest

“Sustainability” has been quite the buzzword over the past few years and has been interpreted in many ways across a number of different industries. Now, the Rainforest Alliance wants to see what your interpretation of the word is in the form of a photo, as they launch their second “Photo Sustainability” contest.

The contest is co-sponsored with Fujifilm and is open to U.S. residents only, but offers up some great prizes, including a Grand Prize of a five day trip for two to Costa Rica that includes a stay at the Pacuare Jungle Lodge and a whitewater rafting expedition. The winner will also be awarded a new digital camera from Fujifilm.

In addition to the Grand Prize winner, four other winners will be named in the following categories:

  • Wildlife on farms, forests or other natural habitats
  • Landscapes (forests, waterways, flowers and plants, beaches, wetlands)
  • Sustainable tourism (hiking, bird watching, mountain biking, and other land-based nature activities; surfing, scuba, kayaking, snorkeling and other coastal or marine activities; other ecotourism-related subjects)
  • Conservation (people working to protect natural resources, including water, flora and fauna)

Each individual winner will also receive a new Fujifilm digitial camera as well as an honorary one-year membership to the Rainforest Alliance.

Up to five submissions in each category will be selected by Rainforest Alliance staff, who will then post them on their website where the public will be able to vote on them, helping to determine the category winners. The Grand Prize will be awarded by noted outdoor photographer Art Woolfe, who will be looking for “overall composition, creativity, artistic merit and relevance to the Rainforest Alliance mission.”

All submissions will be added to the Alliance’s library of photographs to be used on their website and other publications as they pursue their goal of raising awareness about conservation issues and the general theme of sustainability. To enter the contest go to between now and November 1st. Register online and upload your best photos. Winners will be announced on the Rainforest Alliance website on December 15, 2009.

Good luck everyone!