Friday, April 04, 2008

Surveillance Sign Put Under Notice

walking down High Street in the Short North this afternoon, I noticed this sign placed above a set of boards where a new development is set to be built... oh, one of these days. Somebody's appropriated the message of this sign and put it to use to express an altogether different message, one that I like much better.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Composting Supplies in Columbus

Part of the difficulty of living in a large city (Columbus is the 15th largest in the nation, just below San Francisco) is that the ecological freedoms possible in rural life are much more limited. To the extent that houses, doubles and apartments in the Short North have backyards at all, they are very small and much more tightly packed together than in either the country or the suburban wastes of Upper Arlington and Westerville. This means that composting must occur in a very small and confined space, not in a free-spirited pile.

Two options present themselves: Worm Composting (Vermiculture) or Bin Composting. Worm composting can be carried out indoors in any space fitting a tote bag. The downside is that if worm composting gets out of control (odors and fruit flies being the two serious contenders), you're going to have an unpleasant time of it. Bin composting requires at least a little bit of yard space, but if you've got it, all the decomposition goes on outside, leaving your interior without the grungies and whatever yard you've got rich and organic.

If you're looking for a worm compost startup unit, I recommend Urban Gardener, 940 N. High Street. They've got a multitiered set of stacking bins for separating "castings" (come on, it's worm poo) from your vegetables, a drain for "compost tea" (come on, it's worm piss), coconut bedding to give the worms an initial home, and an inside deal with some on-demand harvesters of red wigglers in nearby Zanesville, which is a much better option than getting your worms shipped half-dead from Texas.

If, on the other hand, you're looking for that stylish, understated and much easier-to-handle composting bin, try Backyard Experience at 3515 North High Street in Clintonville. They've got two fairly large black bins and a tumbler unit for sale at a reasonable price, along with some unnecessary "compost bio-starter kit." Unless you're composting on a concrete slab in a brownfield, the little buggies and germies that will do your composting will come along on their own.

These places are not your uncle's Agway. Most of Urban Gardener's stock tends toward the frou-frou, with mystic fairy windchimes and stepping stones with empowering 19th century feminist literary quotes. Backyard Experience offers the Ohio State University Buckeye Garden Gnome. But when it comes to composting supplies for small spaces, together they do the job pretty well... and they're small locally-owned businesses to boot, which will give you that crunchy, whole-grain, ethical kind of feeling when you head out the door with your goodies.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Central Ohioans for Peace -- August Agenda

Central Ohioans for Peace -- online at -- is an organization with a long history of opposing the all-too-frequent policy of American warmaking. The organization meets every Monday at 7pm in the Columbus Mennonite Church, 35 Oakland Park Avenue (one block east of High Street in Clintonville). Central Ohioans for Peace is an activist organization, and so its meetings are working meetings dedicated to the planning of actions as well as the spreading of information. Here are a few items from C.O.P.'s meeting agenda for August:

Monday, August 14, 7 pm: Janet McLaughlin: Pax Christi & the U.S. Department of Peace; Walk for Peace

Monday, August 21, 7 pm: David Stutzman: Military Counseling Network, Germany.

Monday, August 28, 7 pm: Activism Planning: Walk for Peace, International Day of Peace

The Walk for Peace that you see as an agenda item is planned for September 11, and will commemorate the 100th anniversary of Mohandas K. Gandhi's first non-violent action, held way back in 1906. As the event comes closer and details emerge, I'll let you know more about it.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Hiroshima-Nagasaki Commemoration in Downtown Columbus on Sunday August 6

61 Years Later and the Horrors Continue

Commemoration, Reflection and Mourning

Sunday, August 6th
7:30 pm to 9:30 pm

25 Marconi Boulevard
Downtown Columbus

Directions: take High Street south or Front Street north to downtown. Hang west on Broad to Marconi boulevard and look for the Santa Maria reconstruction hanging out on the east bank of the Scioto river. This is Battelle Memorial Riverfront Park, where the commemoration will take place.

This event is planned as a simple, artful event with poetry and music augmenting speeches to mark the dropping of two atomic bombs by the United States 61 years ago. Yes, it can happen. No, it never should happen again.

Stand up for a peaceful future by standing in remembrance at this event.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Now Is No Time to Play Possum

(crossposted from Irregular Times)

This morning, as I let my dog roam back and forth on that wisp of grass and shrub that passes for a lawn in the Short North of Columbus, I heard her yelp and then watched a scruffy little mammal work its way through the underbrush, up to the base of a bush, and onto a little stub of a branch. A rat? A vole? A shrew? Nope, a possum. In the month I’ve been here, I’ve been amazed at the fauna that manages to keep a toehold here in pavement central.

Opossum playing possum in Columbus, Ohio, July 2006Once it made it up onto its perch, it looked around and locked eyes with me. Once we made eye contact, it didn’t move. I came closer and it froze. Even after I pulled out my camera and took a variety of snaps, some even with a smidgeon of flash, this possum held tightly to its position. Even as its breath quickened to a scary pace, it stayed stock still. Before I gave this possum a break and left it to move on, I was within two inches of it. I could have easily killed it. And still it clung to the branch, hoping wildly in its pretense.

I’ve heard it said that the possum will take this act to extremes, even rolling over and playing dead in the hope that a predator will get wigged out and just move on. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but the stunning display of wishful thinking by this little furry mammal got me to thinking about similar displays of wishful thinking by larger, not so furry, mammals.

Here’s the score in the human world: The forces of intolerance and ignorance are on the attack. They’ve stunted medical research. They’ve censored scientific reports. they’ve put Jesus in the classroom and rubbed evolution out. They’ve sifted through your phone records. They know what you’re reading. Chances are, they’re watching you in some way right now. They’ve placed themselves above the law. They’ve placed themselves above investigation. they say the U.S. constitution is just a scrap of paper. They say your freedom is negotiable.

What does a person do in the face of this assault? It’s tempting to roll over, play dead, and hope the threat will just go away. It’s hard not to play possum. Even if we put our all into the defense of liberty, the forces of intolerance and ignorance might still prevail. But they will certainly prevail if we do nothing but hide our faces and pretend not to exist. As Mohandas Gandhi put it long ago, “Whatever you do may seem insignificant to you, but it is most important that you do it.” Be the embodiment of hope. Take a public stand.

Just don’t play possum.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Spaghetti Warehouse: Expensive and Completely Forgettable

Last night, I tried out the Short North's Cafe Courier service (at, which delivers restaurant food straight to your home. I ordered mozzarella sticks, a house salad, chicken fettucine alfredo and tiramisu. All of these were bland -- the mozzarella sticks cost $7 but were of the $2 supermarket variety. The house salad contained iceberg lettuce. The chicken fettucine alfredo was quite bland, and it was clear the chicken was prepared separately and "grilled" with pre-made coloring. The tiramisu for dessert was entirely forgettable, lacking all the subtlety of a real tiramisu. Really, it was just cake with some chocolate sauce dribbled over it. I didn't hate any of the food, but none of it stood out. I just can't imagine why I'd head back for that sort of food again.

The Cafe Courier service, it should be said, was excellent. I was able to order online, it was very clear which restaurants would deliver to my house and when, there was only a minimal service charge and the nice delivery guy even came by a few minutes early. While I don't recommend the Spaghetti Warehouse to you, perhaps some of the other restaurants using Cafe Courier might be worth a shot.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Defend the Role Principled Dissent: Rally in Support of Dixie Chicks 7/23 5:30 pm in Columbus

For the simple act of saying, "Just so you know, we're ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas," the Dixie Chicks were tossed off the radio. Children were lined up by parents to burn their records as their parents held signs calling for the Dixie Chicks' music to be banned from the air. Some said the Dixie Chicks should be arrested. Others -- too many -- threatened to kill the Dixie Chicks for the act of disagreeing with George W. Bush.

Censorship and death threats for disagreeing with the president? Is this your vision of America? What happened to America's constitutional rights? What happened to a culture that supports dissent and disagreement?

Those of us living in Columbus have an opportunity to reassert and invigorate the essential American tradition of free political expression on Sunday, July 23 at 5:30 pm at the Schottenstein Center on Lane Avenue, just by the Olentangy River. There, as the Dixie Chicks get ready to perfom in concert, we can make a visual statement to the gathered media: Columbus supports free speech, dissent and vital disagreement with the Republican powers that be.

If you're interested and have questions, contact organizer Steve Vargo at or 614-274-3147.