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A buzzing business

May 29, 2013

Middletown, R.I. — Jeff Mello was in his second year of beekeeping when he was stung for the first time in his life. He swelled up and quickly realized he was deathly allergic to the bees he would soon center his career around. Nearly twenty years later, Mello is the owner and operator of the growing honey and hive business Aquidneck Honey. “It didn’t stop me. There are a lot worse things, if you know what I mean…they are just honeybees,” he says.

Mello’s company Aquidneck Honey, a one-man operation, is based on Aquidneck Island, hidden off a backroad in Middletown. Stepping into his seemingly unassuming warehouse, you enter  a maze of small rooms cluttered with gadgets, boxes, and vats of honey. However, nearly every day Mello is on the road servicing his 1200 hives on 73 farms and other properties throughout southern New England. Only one hive is in his own yard. It’s time-consuming to do it all himself, he says, but he “loves to drive.” Read more…


Atlas in wonderland: Running the RISD Nature Lab

May 24, 2013

Rachel Atlas never imagined that she would end up pinning bugs, resuscitating half-frozen fish, and lending animal skeletons to students at one of the premier art and design schools in the country. And yet, there she is – the curator of thousands of incredible specimens at the Rhode Island School of Design Nature Lab.

A graphic designer and painter by training, Atlas moved to Providence more than a decade ago and immediately signed up for a continuing education course at RISD. As she wandered into 13 Waterman Street, Atlas noticed a doorway – a slight detour on her way to the studio.

“Knowing nothing about it [the Nature Lab], I walked in and thought that I’d entered my personal heaven,” she remembered with a faint smile. “I’ve collected and catalogued and organized and displayed things that I’ve found in nature since as long as I can remember. My first thought when I walked in the room was ‘I have to be here a lot.’” Read more…

GOP ex-congressman puts a conservative spin on action to slow climate change

May 20, 2013


When Bob Inglis was first elected congressman from South Carolina in 1998, Inglis laughed at climate change as a figment of Al Gore’s imagination.  But six years later, Inglis’ eldest son turned 18 and refused to vote for him—unless Inglis changed his mind.

“Dad, you gotta clean up your act on the environment.”

Delighted by his son’s pluck, Inglis shared the story on conservative radio stations. “The problem was I shared it with everyone,” says Inglis ruefully.  The backlash was swift and personal.  “They said, ‘That’s your first mistake, Inglis—listening to your kids!’”  

Inglis’ wife, Mary Anne, agreed with their son and four daughters.  As his campaign picked up momentum and family pressure mounted, Inglis’ team developed a radio spot highlighting his new interest in conservation.  Inglis says, “I was signaling that Inglis 2.0, the new and improved version, was going to be much different than Inglis 1.0.” Read more…

RI food suppliers call for local labeling

May 18, 2013

Providence, R.I.—Producers and farmers market owners decided to point consumers to local food by labeling it more clearly, when they met for a panel discussion at the annual RI Food Forum on February 6.

Around 230 farmers, representatives of agricultural organizations and interested people from across southern New England met in Andrews Dining Hall at Brown University and talked about local food and its importance for local farmers and the environment of Rhode Island.

“Buying local, sustainable food does not only supports farmers financially; it also helps to keep Rhode Island green,” said Patrick McNiff, farmer of Pat’s Pastured, and one of the panel’s speakers. Read more…

Wildness and the preservation of the self

May 16, 2013

Eight and a half hours.  That’s how long I’ve spent in front of my computer screen over the last 24 hours.  That’s longer than I’ve spent socializing, sleeping, or doing any other one activity in the same period.  It’s certainly longer than the amount of time I’ve spent outside, which clocks in at around 55 minutes.

Sadly, my experience is hardly unique.  According to a 2009 New York Times article, my eight and a half hours is the average daily screen time for American adults.  In a world where interactions of all kinds—from socializing to grocery shopping—are increasingly facilitated by cables and keyboards, spending time outside is less and less a part of our daily lives.  As a society, we are suffering from what Richard Louv, in his book Last Child in the Woods, calls “nature-deficit disorder.”

Despite my recent lack of sunlight and fresh air, I spent a lot of time outside growing up.  The experiences I had camping and hiking with my family, backpacking during college, and playing on the street as a kid played a large role in developing my sense of the world and of myself.  The lessons I learned in nature remain more vivid than anything I’ve gotten from TV or a book. Read more…

Enjoying life without heaps of trash

May 14, 2013

Two years ago, Colleen Doyle took out her trash for the last time.

A few months later, she gave away her garbage can. Now, all the trash Doyle produces in a month fits in the palm of her hand.

In a country where 250 million tons of trash are generated in a year – that’s 4.5 pounds per person per day – all that Doyle sends to the landfill on garbage collection day is a coin-sized stack of produce stickers.

Read the rest of Alison Kirsch’s article on the website of ecoRI, Rhode Island’s environmental news source.

My home, the sea

May 11, 2013


The sea is a constant in my life. A constant means of directional reference, always on the west. A constant place in my memories, always waves rushing from sea to shore and back again. No matter how far away I travel, it will always be there, an essential fixture of what it means to be home.


The earth is estimated to be about 4.6 billion years old, formed in a long process of gravitational fusion, where gas and dust particles collided and merged into what eventually became the planets.

Life first appeared in the form of single-celled organisms about 3 billion years ago. Two billion years later, these organisms suddenly began to evolve into multicellular organisms. They first inhabited the sea, but evolved to dwell on land as they became increasingly complex.


To reimagine my childhood without the sea would be impossible. Read more…