Weighing in at 1,810.5 pounds, this giant record-breaking pumpkin, grown by Chris Stevens of New Richmond, Wisconsin, is sitting pretty as the season's heaviest contender at the New York Botanical Garden. Though weight is the more important factor in this pumpkin contest (last year's winner weighed 1,725 pounds), the pumpkin measures more than 15 feet wide, which must make for a pretty fun climb for kids. It won't sit for long though. Noted giant pumpkin carver Scott Cully will have a go at breaking his 2007 record by carving a face and a smile.

Did you know that pumpkin carving was an Irish tradition that began with turnips and a story involving a man named Jack and the devil? When they came to the US, the Irish found the larger and more readily available pumpkin to be easier to carve. Read the story that originated "Jack O' Lantern" hereNJ.com has some other fun pumpkin facts here.

For your own pumpkin fun, here are simple instructions and templates for carving one.

Have a safe and fun Halloween weekend!

Image from NJ.com.

Photo courtesy of Dornob.

Many revolutionary thinkers today are literally building us a greener future. Cut to the world’s first hemp and paper-walled home, or rather 'hempcrete' home. The structure of the house is based on a fully recycled cardboard-like material with an insulation layer, made of hemp, lime and water-this combination of renewable resources absorbs CO2, filters particulates from the air, and helps to regulate the temperature of the interior space. Construction was both cost and time efficient and did not require the use of any toxic materials.

We hope that it holds up in the rain! Check back for an updated report.


Citing the immense success of WWII posters at mobilizing change, Green Patriot Posters is a compilation of posters centered around environmental issues, whether general or specific, aiming to hopefully mobilize our generation to work towards a more sustainable future. The messages from almost 70 years ago are eerily similar to the ones we spread today!

The almost 2" thick book is filled with work by upcoming and established artists, including Shepard Fairey, Michael Bierut, and more. In striving to spread the word on sustainability through powerful visuals, the book was printed on 100% recycled paper with vegetable dye (which give the art this vintage quality) in the US, and the publisher purchased wind energy REC's to offset the paper and book production. 

Well, they threw a party atop The Standard Hotel at Le Bain last night in celebration of the launch and we had a chance to leaf through the book. And let us say, it is super cool. At $30, it'll make for a great gift and conversation starter, but even more, each poster's on a perforated page, so they can be detached and framed for your wall!

Artist-DJ Jon Santos of Common Space provided the beats 
and artwork ("Washington Monument", pictured below) for the book.

Some of our favorites:

Strong visuals can often be affective tools in getting individuals to make changes for the better. Now we just need some Top 40 hits with a green message! Take a look at the digital versions of the posters and other works here.

--- Viv

British contemporary artist Dominic Wilcox, known for turning everyday things into remarkable objects, embarked on a 30 day journey (Sept. 1 to 30th) to execute an idea everyday and blogging each one along the way. Though not everything went as planned, the result is inventive and humorous like his main art pieces that have been featured at stores like MOSS in NYC and Selfridges in London. 

Each day of creation inspires us to create something ourselves. We especially liked this Footy Smoothie project on Day 15!

See the Speed Creating Project from Day 1 through Day 30 here. Wilcox's main art projects here.

--- Viv

This is more than a mere coffee table book.

Photographer Hans Silvester discloses the jaw-dropping style sense of young men and women of the Surma and Mursi tribes in the Oma Valley of eastern Africa in "Natural Fashion: Tribal Decoration from Africa".

This is one of the last remaining cultures to withstand the influence of western culture and fashion. Without the western luxuries of sewing machines, a limitless supply of materials, or even mirrors until recent times, this tribal culture seems to have surpassed anything on the pages of the trendiest blogs and magazines in resourcefulness and innovation. And, better yet, all the materials are natural and derived from local resources.

Photos courtesy of Daily Mail.

The book is currently on sale on Amazon.
---- Annie

Photo courtesy of Storm King.

Storm King Art Center, one of the world’s most highly regarded sculpture parks, is a sprawling 500 acres of natural and artistic beauty (about an hour outside of Manhattan). This expansive selection of predominantly large-scale welded steel sculptures, dating back to the 1940s, is nestled amid rolling hills, bubbling brooks, and turning leaves. Each piece is carefully sited in communication with the immediate natural surrounding as well as the faraway landscape. Visitors have the option of freely wandering around the property on their own (bike rentals are available on site), partaking in the daily 2pm guided tour or picking up an audio tour at the Visitor's Center. While there is a modest gift shop on the premises, there is no cafe, so we recommend packing a picnic and a blanket to snuggle up on.

Photo courtesy of Storm King.

The park is only open until November 15th, so catch a Coach USA bus from Port Authority, running Wednesday to Sunday, before it's too late! Roundtrip transportation and admission to the park is about $44 for adults and $22 for kids.

--- Annie
A welcome visual and sound distraction from local all-female band Open Ocean directed by their own Sarah Frances Kuhn. They're quite a multi-talented bunch: Jill Bradshaw of the much-missed I Heart boutique and new fashion art zine Magazine Party on bass and vocals, Eviana Hartman of Bodkin on drums, Susan Domelsmith of Dirty Librarian Chains jewelry on keys, Sarah Frances Kuhn, the Accessories Editor at Teen Vogue, on guitar and vox. Talk about awesome day and night jobs - enjoy!

--- Viv

There might not be a better place to celebrate this week of ghosts and ghouls leading up to Halloween than at a former casket factory serving up all kinds of spirits. Opened by vegan rockers, the newly opened Pine Box Rock Shop features vegan snacks, 16 reasonably priced beers (for NYC anyway), and quite a few creative cocktails (the Suffering Bastard is a good one both in name and taste). The vast space was put together by the owners and their friends using salvaged shipping pallets and repurposed materials to cut down costs. The long bar stretching from the front to the back gives patrons more elbow room, and the back area acts as a venue for local bands to play. A great bar to drop by if you live in the Williamsburg-to-Buschwick area - they have trivia every Wednesday night and other weekly neighborhood-y events. This week in the spirit of spirits, there will be a sing-along to classic Burton film A Nightmare Before Christmas, a costume contest party, and a premiere viewing of new Zombie series "The Walking Dead".

Via Gothamist, Buschwick BK, and Pine Box Rock Shop.

--- Viv

NRDC has updated their site, including a new local seasonal produce and farmer's market search tool! Beets are in season, it seems, in 13 states, and they sure tasted great in our office salad on Monday. We like to chop them up, mix with fresh greens and fennel, and toss with a miso-oil-vinegar dressing (the CSA goods came with locally made miso).

Our COO is a part of her local CSA and whenever there's more than her family can consume, the whole office benefits. Sharing is caring!


Photo by Ready Set DC.

For a weekend brimming with artistic performances, environmental speakers the likes of Ralph Nader and Amy Goodman, sustainable shopping, organic nibbles, and eco fashion shows, stop by DC for the annual Green Festival. The event, which is the largest sustainability event in the world, will take place at the Washington Convention Center this Saturday and Sunday, followed by one held in San Francisco, November 6th-7th. Check out the greening of past festivals-Last year the festival diverted 94% of its waste from ending up in a landfill!

Photo by Green America.

Buy your ticket online and get "GF Bucks" to spend at the event or donate to one of the organizations (discounts for cyclists). Consult offManhattan's transportation guide for easy ways to get to DC without a car.

--- Annie
Photo courtesy of AAA.

Sick of having to squint past the street lamps and car headlights to gaze up at the sky and peacefully contemplate our world as we know it? Miss those long arguments over which constellation is which and where the little dipper is actually located (without consulting the iPhone app that can actually tell you)? Luckily, a group of star-enthusiasts of the AAA of New York (no, not AA, rather the Amateur Astronomer’s Association), have your stargazing interests in mind and offer info on the darkest stargazing spots in the city, lessons on the best binocular and telescope techniques, as well as monthly lectures at NYU to view the extraterrestrial orbit at its full luminosity.

Photo courtesy of AAA.

This year’s Urban Starfest in the Sheap Medow of Central Park took place on October 16th, but make sure to catch it next year! The event draws a potpourri of individuals of all ages, from curious kids to avid astronomers, for a night of stargazing and appreciation of what lies beyond. Join the AAA of New York for an insider’s scoop on our universe.

--- Annie

Photo by Urban75.

The contamination of the Hudson River has been an increasingly important topic in recent times, thanks to the growing population of greenies in the city. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), known to be carcinogenic, have been recorded at unhealthy levels along a 200-mile stretch of the river, from Hudson Falls in eastern NY to Battery in NYC, due to a 30-year span of General Electric dumping an estimated 1.3 million tons of PCBs from its plants upstream!

Photos by EPA

Wishing you hadn’t jumped in the river that one summer night? Not to worry, there is good news and safe swimming in our future! GE, with the guidance of the EPA (and with its tail between its legs), has completed a grueling Phase 1 of the six-year cleanup project, which entailed a 5-month dredge of 6 miles of the river. The estimated 293,000 cy of PCB-contaminated sediment that was removed and shipped by rail to a PCB-approved landfill, was only 10 percent of the cleanup-Phase 2 is expected to begin in 2011. There is a shimmering future on the horizon for our NY waterways!

Check out the EPA video about the dredging process.

Photo by NY Kayak Co.

While we wouldn’t recommend eating any fish from the Hudson for the time being, there are many ways to enjoy this aquatic luxury. New York Kayak Co. and Manhattan Kayak Companyoffer kayak and paddle board rentals and courses throughout the chilly months, so don a wetsuit and set out to see the beauty of nature.

--- Annie

Deep underneath Mexico's Chihuahua Desert (1000 ft approximately) lay a giant cave filled with hidden gems - razor sharp naturally formed crystals. Known as the Crystal Cave of Giants, this chamber lies in the Naica Mine and was discovered by two brothers drilling in the mine for, of course, crystals.

The largest crystal on record is 55 tons and measures 36 feet long! Incredibly beautiful, the cave is also extremely dangerous due not only to the large sharp-edged crystals everywhere, but also to the temperature at a constant 112F. The tremendous humidity require whoever enters to wear special suits and masks with cooled air in backpacks to survive. Reason #1,670,093,904 why nature is so incredible.

Images via Planet Oddity.

Working in fashion production, new jewelry designer Emily Abate took note of all the discarded scraps of fabric, leather, and even chains on the cutting floors. She gathered the pieces and started putting them together into necklaces and cuffs that are simple yet refined. Loomstate.org is now featuring two pieces from her line that might be your new wardrobe staple - a gold chain and bar necklace, and a more delicate silver version. Each one is handmade by the designer in NYC!

Here in NYC, it's getting a bit cold and windy out, reminding us of a Windy City project we came across this summer at Crisp Green. The Greenway Self Park is not just a rendering - it has been open for business for months in downtown Chicago, using wind turbines to generate energy, offering relatively more energy conscious options like Zipcar and I-Go car sharing vehicles, and other eco-conscious tidbits. It may be a marketing strategy, but it's downtown Chicago - commuters will park wherever is most convenient regardless if it's green or not. So we'll just say it - it's cool that a large parking structure, not a specialized eco building or storefront, in a central location in a large city chose to try its hand at going green.

If you commute to downtown Chicago by car, this may be a spot to check out!

Image from Greenway Self Park.

The idea of reclaimed wood furniture is nothing new, but the design and craftsmanship in these pieces by London design studio Hendzel+Hunt set them apart. Using traditional furniture woodworking techniques and scraps found on the streets and yards of South London area Pekham, the project aptly named "Made in Pekham" features chairs, stools, and tables fit together using only its parts (read: no metal fixtures) with its original scrap characteristics kept in tact.

We love that they chose to keep imperfect pieces as they were with stripped paint stains and marks, hinting at their previous lives and telling a believable story.

Images from Hendzel+Hunt. Via CoolHunting.