In the “new concepts” section we spotlight new forms of social issues’ management and new models of ethical entrepreneurship. Topics such as moral banks and sustainability, healthy nutrition, barter economy, traditional farming techniques, and many more are presented and analyzed with a hope to propose trends that might substitute conventional ways of social organization and subsistence; that have already begun to take on, transforming the way we live and manage our everyday life. All these endeavors are the epicenter and the basic guideline of metamatic:taf; this means they are very close to our interests and our values as stated in our profile.
Windowfarms is an imaginative project related to plant cultivation in very limited spaces through the use of innovative techniques; as the name suggests, plants are grown in spots next to windows so they can benefit from the abundance of light while the cultivation methods make extensive use of hydroponics, a technique that instead of soil puts the roots of plants in a mixture of water and organic elements allowing for economy of space. Creator of the project is Britta Riley who wanted to develop her own plants while living in a small apartment in New York.
The web site is basically a network bringing together various groups of planters but also of inventors who develop new techniques related to plant cultivation. It includes information about the materials and fertilizers needed for these “farms”, about the various stages of the plant’s development, about the various kinds of plants that are available, on the expectations planters should have from each “farm” etc.
Children & Nature Network is a movement which, as its name states, attempts to bring children closer to nature so they can learn early on the values of ecology and grow up respecting the environment. Through its web site, Children & Nature Network offers parents, public officials and educators news and researches on this field as well as practical advice that will help them grow up their kids. At the same time, it is a common platform where organizations, foundations and enterprises can promote any relative material they might have.
In the web site we can find a very detailed directory with educational organizations; there is also a separate section with researches and studies related to the matter, educational guides, presentations etc. In the activities section, visitors can see the movement’s achievements through various initiatives and their aims. Together with the main web site, there is also one more, at present in beta stage which attempts to integrate a variety of social networking elements in the project.
Volunteer Match is a non-profit organization that aims to facilitate search for volunteer programs and the strengthening of local communities. Since 1998 that the site started operating, more than 83.000 non-profit businesses have posted in its pages classified ads searching for volunteers.
The search for ads is performed by multiple criteria including city, age group, distance or objective with categories like “art and culture”, “animals”, “senior citizens”, “war veterans” etc. Furthermore, interested parties can see all organizations having published classifieds in a particular city, read analytical profiles for each of them and make a monetary donation. An indication to the wide appeal the volunteerism movement has in the USA is that until now, Volunteermatch has published more than five million classified ads.
According to a very popular belief, the best conversations always happen around a table accompanied by good food and wine; the creators of Epicurious apparently share this belief, giving their site a name that is a combination of the words “epicure” (i.e. someone who likes good food, from the name of the ancient Greek philosopher, Epicurus) and “curious”. The site is the epitome of recipe sites offering an impressive number of them: more than one hundred thousand, and with an emphasis to healthy eating.
The site is structured in four sections: recipes, articles and guides, community and video and every section is split in tens of sub-categories; in recipes, for example, categorization is according to occasion. Epicurious hosts a very active community with members offering their own recipes, articles in the form of blog posts and with discussions in the specialized fora. An indication of the site’s popularity is that it has more than 3,5 million of visitors each month and that on 2011 it received two “Webby” awards, the Internet’s version of the Oscars.
“50 ways to help” is one of those web sites that are almost impossible not to like. It is small (actually just one page), it offers original and useful information and its design is both simple enough to facilitate reading and interesting enough so it won’t go unnoticed. The site’s purpose is to offer simple advice about how to adopt an environmentally friendly way of life though our everyday activities.
The advice offered is simple and practical like changing the light bulbs from the incandescent type to the energy saving one, printing on both sides of a paper, recycling old electric appliances, using matches instead of lighters, avoiding plastic bags etc. The site belongs to a small company selling stamped t-shirts and a percentage of the t-shirts’ sales go to charity causes.
We must admit to a positive bias towards sits with beautiful visuals, and particularly the ones that employ a cartoon approach. Greenhorns is a network of small producers; young people who give up their jobs and decide to turn to cultivating the earth. Even though the network is about American farmers, its topic is such that it can apply to anyone and the organization’s objective is to offer information and help of various kinds to new farmers –this is realized through both the site itself and various seminars that it organizes.
In the site’s pages, visitors can find information about the reasons that led to Greenhorns’ creation as well as excellent guides for various aspects of farming. Furthermore, the organization operates one more site, Farmhack which is designed as a wiki and it contains articles with guidelines about various farm projects (how to build a green house, a small hand plough etc.); all the articles are very detailed and contain all the information about the parts or equipment needed, as well as videos demonstrating the various stages of construction.
Fair trade is a social movement that tries to assist producers in developing countries achieve better trading deals and at the same time, promote sustainability. The movement asks for higher prices to exporters and for higher social and environmental standards and focuses on products like coffee, cocoa, sugar, tea, bananas, honey, cotton, wine, fruit, chocolate, flowers and various handicrafts. Fair trade is one of the most characteristic examples of the so called “ethical business practices”.
WTFO is one of the most important international organizations dealing with fair trade. It was founded in 1989 and it represents 324 organizations from 70 countries with its members being export companies, retail companies, national and local fair trade networks etc. In its web site, the visitor can read about the movement’s philosophy and about the organization’s activities, get information about current events from the news section etc. and also buy products through a specialized web site that operates under the organization’s aegis.
The site, as implied by its name, is focused on sustainable development and small scale agricultural production; in essence, it is about agricultural development in an urban environment, something that involves smaller spaces and novel methods of cultivation and resource management. In other words, it is about how everyone can have their own patch and cultivate it to sustain their family.
Urbansustainableliving, offers a plethora of information classified in two main categories; one is about the choice of the material needed for the creation of our garden and one about the achievement of sustainable development. Thus, in the first category the visitor can find advice for various subjects such as how to choose the kind of fertilizers that can be used, how to build vegetable plots etc. while in the second, he can seek more specific information for subjects such as the utilization of alternative energy sources, the recycling of products etc. As is the case with all self-respecting content sites, a rather small but particularly active community has been created around Urbansustainableliving with its members exchanging views through a specialized forum.
Riverford is a vegetable box scheme company that delivers its products directly to customers. It was founded in the mid ‘80s and now delivers more than 40,000 boxes per week. In the 1970s it was the first farm in the United Kingdom where the public could openly visit, watch and eventually participate in the harvesting and now the company works with organic farms so their products can be of maximum quality. The products are distributed through a privately owned network thus maintaining a personal relationship with customers.
At the web site the visitor can learn about the plethora of products available and their combination in box schemes which are delivered in a daily basis. Besides vegetables and fruit, meat can also be delivered; this meat comes from the farm’s organic feed livestock. There is also a section with recipes and the visitor can book a visit at the farm and see in person the cultivation methods. An exceptional model of ethical entrepreneurship that is slowly starting to spread worldwide.
Local Harvest is an e-marketplace of agricultural products and foods in general that cooperates with small family farms in the USA. The majority of the products available through the site is ecologically cultivated and there is emphasis to the collaboration with farms that promote sustainable development. In the USA, as in other countries, the agricultural products sold in super markets need between four and seven days from harvest to shelf, which results in a dramatic deterioration of their quality; furthermore, only 18% of the retail price goes to the producer.
The site was founded in 1998 and already has 20,000 collaborating farms. The visitor can consult a detailed map for each area or ZIP code and find the closest collaborating farms as well as read information about each of them and reviews from customers who have bought their products. The products themselves come from a wide range that includes fruit and vegetables, drinks, seeds for potential farmers, dairy, soaps, sweets etc. Also provided, is a forum where the participants are mostly producers and hundreds of blogs with posts by the producers themselves.