Sustainability & Resilience
Location: Bayou Savauge, New Orleans, Louisiana
Featuring: Peter Gerica
In 2005, a Gulf Coast fisherman named Peter Gerica lost everything to Hurricane Katrina. The storm surge destroyed his property and left Peter in a tree with only the clothes on his back. He rebuilt the house — this time on stilts — and got new boats in time to experience the BP oil spill in 2010. For Peter, sustainability means survivability as well, but it’s a also a tribute to his indomitable spirit.
Sustainability is any species, (including Gulf Coast Fisherman and Louisiana Blue Crabs) that withstands the impacts of all user groups upon it, while maintaining equilibrium throughout its life cycle.
When I ask Peter Gerica how his crab business survived both Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill, he says, “You have to just keep moving forward.” A third generation fisherman, Peter was completely wiped out after Katrina. “My house blew apart with us in it. We lost everything. Both my main boat and processing facility were destroyed. Rebuilding has been one step at a time. Repairing my most salvageable small boat first, working my way to buying a larger boat in late 2008. I am still in recovery mode today. Then there was the BP oil spill. The image of Lousiana seafood is something we are still fighting to restore today.”
Information Artwork: Resilience
Location: Richard Heinberg’s Backyard, Santa Rosa, CA
Featuring: Richard Heinberg
Resilience is the ability to keep going even when things around you are going wrong.
Richard and his wife have created their own food + energy sources that are less dependent on fossil fuels and other unsustainable inputs, and more integrated with seasonal flows of sunlight and water. They’re not completely disconnected from supermarkets and power grids, but gardening keeps them literally in touch with the earth. They know where much of their food comes from and what it takes from the earth to produce what they eat. Gardening is good exercise and keeps them aware of what’s happening in their environment — they notice, for example, when bee and bird populations fluctuate.
In Richard’s backyard, a solar water heater, vegetable garden, solar power grids, and rainwater harvesting barrels can be found.
Location: Funke Essential Oils, Coburg, Oregon
Essential Oil: Separating the "essentials" from the crude material of an aromatic plant
In 1927 Alfred Funke took his knowledge of steam (from his former job of running a dry cleaning business) and constructed his first distillery. Then he made peppermint oil. After producing peppermint oil for several years, his son Leon helped him plant dill. Their business grew through the 60s as Oregon became one of the largest dill oil producers in the U.S. By the 70s most dill oil production had moved to Washington where the climate was more ideal, so Richard’s father explored other crops including parsley, tarragon, clary sage, caraway, coriander, fennel, anise and wormwood. What began with a one acre plot in the Mid-Seventies is now a family business cultivating over 100 acres annually.
1 acre of chamomile = 6 lbs of pure oil + 13 tons of plant material (returned to field to increase soil fertility)
How to create an essential oil (steam distillation is inexpensive, safe, and yields highly aromatic results):
1. Plant material is placed in a mobile container injected with steam
2. Steam distillation turns plant’s oil into vapor
3. Both oil and water vapor exit; they are then captured in a second container
4. They transform into liquid: oil, with a lower specific gravity than water, floats to the top
5. After further cooling it is filtered and placed into airtight containers.
Some uses for chamomile oil: aromatherapy, shampoo, perfume, tea, flavoring, beauty products
(The Funkes also distill clary sage, parsley, tarragon, caraway, dill, peppermint and fennel.)