May 10, 2012
           
by Ryan Brock   |   0 COMMENTS
Photo May 06 4 17 13 PM

Last Sunday, the Earth House played host to Food Independence Day, an afternoon of dialogue and celebration centering on the steps local Hoosiers are taking to get their food culture under control. I had little frame of reference for my expectations as I strolled over to the event, and I was asking a lot of questions in my mind. Is "food independence" economy or ecology? Am I going to be meeting farmers today, or is this for the people who live just down the street in a crowded urban neighborhood? Where am I supposed to grow my own food, the bathroom of my downtown apartment?

The answer to all of these questions, I would come to find, was an entirely complicated, yet beautifully simple, "Yes."

The Bathroom as Farmland
When the neighborhood grocery store nearest Laura Fisher's Woodruff Place residence closed down, she was faced with a very real problem that many urban citizens deal with on a daily basis: Where does the food come from now? As someone who was raised in urban environments, Fisher saw a huge disconnect between the hallmarks of city life - walking to get what you need, taking public transportation for longer trips, getting to know the neighborhood markets - and what she was living.

"I grew up eating my vegetables," remarked Fisher with a smirk on her face, "and I need something fresh." I can't live on canned goods, and riding the bus can take forever. It's three hours round trip from my neighborhood to get to a store with good produce, and when you ride the bus, you can only take home what you can carry."

She first looked to her backyard for the possibility of gardening, but quickly found that it's hard to teach city-dwelling critters what's garbage and what's not. The lighting inside her home gets dim in the warmer months as the trees outside bloom, and her options, like many who live in the city, were looking pretty slim.

"I wanted to figure out a way to have fresh vegetables year round. I wanted to be independent, to be able to produce my own food, and I wanted this to be affordable and easy enough for others in my situation to do the same."

In that spirit, she leveraged a variety of resources at her disposal to become the world's first Bathroom Farmer. She got dirt and seeds from the dollar store, supplemented those with some peat moss and specialized light bulbs she bought on Amazon (which, by the way, she payed with by filling out marketing surveys for Amazon credit), built her food garden in her bathroom, and began blogging her experiences for the world to see. Nearly two years and 7,000 Twitter followers later, she's making splash in the local food movement and encouraging others to take food matters into their own hands.

Shifting the Food Industry Balance
In addition to the Bathroom Farmer, the event featured representatives of other groups looking to lead the shift in the local food economy. I spoke with Janet Monroe of FarmersMarket.com, an Indy startup with a vision for promoting farmer's market culture throughout the United States. The company is hard at work building tools to help market organizers around the country better manage their markets, build relationships with farmers, and serve shoppers looking for something fresh and local.

"We're trying to get consumers more aware of the industry," Monroe said as we stood over her festive table. "We want to get them to try to shop more locally. Farmers are small businesses. They are doing what they do because they care about the food they grow. If we can help them sell their products, the food they grow or breed or create, to local shoppers, then we are helping people support the local economy and eat food that's just more healthful than some of the other stuff you'll find out there."

And while I didn't get a chance to speak with him directly, I was able to hear Andrew Blake, the founder of Nap Town Chickens, talk about how the rewarding (if not somewhat intimidating) act of keeping your own chicken coop for the eggs you need can make you more self-sufficient and eco-friendly. It's small steps like these, says Earth House director Jordan Updike, that can add up to make a big change for Indianapolis and beyond.

"If you and I start urban gardening, that's great for us, but it doesn't have a really huge impact. If 10,000 people or 100,000 people started sourcing their food locally, it would drastically change not only the local economy, but also the food system we've created. "

But that, as they say, is a story for another time. Next week, I'll give you a look at the new plans for the Earth House's grounds and garden expansion, and share their plan for effecting huge change by setting an example of true food independence in downtown Indianapolis. For now, go read up on everyone who shared at Food Independence Day and think about how you can make even a small effort to take control of the money you spend and the food you eat every day.

April 9, 2012
           
by Ryan Brock   |   1 COMMENT
djlogicweb 2

You do a Google search for DJ Logic, and one of the first results to pop up is a YouTube video titled "Billie Holiday - Glad to Be Unhappy." You hop over to the video, and you hear Billie's froggy voice spill out of your speakers. Strings and horns lift her up, and you lose yourself in the soulful jazz. Then DJ Logic slips in to knock you off your feet about a minute in and proves to you that even the airiest of jazz classics can be the perfect canvas for a splash of something novel. As the bass kicks up, you hear the old colliding with the new, the classic with the cool, the yesterday with the here and now.

Maybe that's why we think the old sanctuary of the Earth House Collective is the perfect place to hear DJ Logic's unique blend of soul jazz and hip hop beats. On April 14 at 7:00 pm, we're hosting DJ Logic as part of Upland Brewing Company's Infinite Wisdom Tripel Release Show. We caught up with Logic to talk to him about the show, and he's excited to meet up with his fans in Indy.

"I'm looking forward to playing in Indianapolis and bringing some good times and some good music," said Logic. "Every night is something different, so unique, engaging with the fans and meeting new fans who might not have heard of me. I love performing in new places because it's always a special thing."

DJ Logic's current tour is taking him throughout Alabama, out to Vale, Colorado, to the Earth House in Indy, and then on to New York City and beyond. On such a whirlwind schedule, we had to ask Logic what made his stop in Indy stand out. In so few words? The chance to play at a live music venue like the Earth House, where his classic style will feel right at home.

"I try to catch the old and the young in my collaborations… I love that. You learn from the old as you learn from the new, and you just put it in your own way. That's how I look at it, and I'm looking forward to the show. It's going to be great."

Don't miss your chance to see DJ Logic live at the Earth House on April 14. Check out our Facebook event for more information, and go buy your tickets right this instant.

November 8, 2011
           
by Jordan Updike   |   0 COMMENTS

The number of close calls to serious injury I've had in the last 2 months would make my mother shudder. No, I haven't started a career as a firefighter.

 

I've become a commuting cyclist.

 

It might be a little crazy, but I recently moved downtown and sold my car to leave my traveling capacity dependent on our woefully-underfunded transit system and the act of deftly balancing my weight on two wheels whilst trusting the 2-ton machine-drivers behind me are paying enough attention so as not to turn me into human roadkill (Place paper down. Type "vlogbrothers biking rant" into youtube. Laugh. Empathize. Return to article.).

 

My first motorless day I was riding on the New York Street bike lane when a driver cut into the bike lane, slammed on its brakes, changed his mind and drove across the bike lane again for good measure, almost hitting me. Twice. When I caught up to the guy, he was both painfully unaware and mortified he'd nearly caused human damage.

 

Death by gormless plonker [read: clueless idiot] is one thing, but scarier still is the intentionally homicidal driver.

 

A few weeks ago I paused at the stop sign in Lockerbie Square - perhaps one of the quietest, most genteel neighborhoods downtown - when this guy zoomed up behind me and - without stopping himself - swerved towards my bike, his middle finger in the air. I caught up to him a block later and start discussing the intricacies of Indiana cycling laws.

 

"YOU DON'T OWN THE ROAD" he yells, as if that completely validates his behavior.

I loudly disagree with his moral choice to be intentionally and illegally dangerous.

"I USED TO BE A CYCLIST," he says.

"APPARENTLY NOT A VERY GOOD ONE," I say.

He zooms away, finger in the air.

 

These folks are more prevalent than any Midwest city should boast.

It's hard to feel the Hoosier Hospitality I know we possess when this is my almost daily cycling experience. You can't print the things I hear shouted at legally riding cyclists nearly every day.

 

Don't get me wrong, this isn't all on automobile drivers. We've all seen the delivery guy flying around the blind corner, or the hapless low rider riding the wrong way down a one-way biking lane. More than one cyclist has told me stories of being targeted by officers for some of the more archaic biking laws on the Indiana books. I often have to remind myself of the importance of following ALL traffic law on a bicycle, even when it seems impractical to do so.  If I am riding my bicycle illegally, I am putting myself and others at great risk.

 

Yes, thank you Mayor Ballard and Andy Lutz for great work putting in the bike lanes.

 

But it's not enough to build lanes and hubs… if we're going to be a bicycle-friendly city on par with Minneapolis, Portland, Boulder or New York, we have GOT to change the culture of this city. That's not an easy task, but no matter who serves as our next mayor, it's absolutely essential that we have a city-wide push to educate cyclists, police and drivers on the art of co-existing.

 

My life depends on it.

September 27, 2011
           
by Jordan Updike   |   0 COMMENTS

We love the Indy Food Swap at Earth House! 

If you didn't get a chance to attend the first one, you check out out more here:

www.indyfoodswappers.com/ - Registration opens September 28!

or watch the video:

Yum.

Check out the original post here: http://www.indyfoodswappers.com/2011/09/20/90-seconds-inside-the-indy-food-swap-2/

September 14, 2011
           
by Jordan Updike   |   3 COMMENTS
New Blog-innings

First off, I promise to stay away from terrible puns as titles in the future... but it's 6am and everything is funny right now.

There's a mixture of excitement and exhaustion and goofiness (did I mention exhaustion?) in the air in the Earth House Cafe this morning.  The brilliant Smallbox team is still building modules, creating content and coding the dawn away, and I'm just trying to keep up!

As we pass the 3/4 mark, I can't help but think of the magic that's happening in this room.  Think about it.  These two budding nonprofits find themselves in that position of doing great work but not having enough resources to do it as effectively as they could...and tonight Smallbox is sharing the best of its resources and talent, no strings attached. It's life-changing stuff for both organizations.  We're both growing up - quite literally - overnight.

It's that giving attitude that makes this community great.  It's what makes this city great.

With the new tools we're gaining today, you should be able to participate in the Earth House experience even if you can't make it through our doors.  We'll be able to publish show reviews and previews, videos and all kinds of creative content about the stuff that happens here. We're so excited to be able to share!

So join us!  If you haven't been to a show lately, come check one out.  Are you writer? Photographer?  Join our content teams to cover the local art that's being created and performed right here.  Earth House, after all is YOU.

...and please, thank the great folks @smallbox for their great work.  The change they're making for @earthhouse and @indycog is helping each of us continue making the change we work on every day.

Jordan

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