Archives for March 2016
Global Gardening Trend Aims To Make Food Free
Imagine your neighborhood has just had a makeover. Instead of manicured lawns, neighborhood streets and community spaces are lined with bountiful gardens full of fresh fruits, veggies and herbs. Not only is this beautiful rainbow of fresh produce abundant, but it is free for the picking! Your neighbors pick from your garden and you pick from theirs. There is so much organic produce growing on your block that you rarely need to visit the fruit and veggie isles at the grocery store. Your garden grows food indefinitely and all you have to do is water it every other week. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal right? Thanks to a passionate group of gardening heroes, hundreds of communities around the world have made this vision a reality.
Meet The Food Is Free Project
The Food is Free Project is a non-profit organization that is changing the world one front yard at a time. By lining streets with community gardens, this movement provides neighborhoods with an abundance of free food while encouraging neighbors to interact and create stronger, healthier and more sustainable communities. Another important side effect of growing your own food is that you become more self sufficient. John VanDeusen Edwards, founder of The Food is Free Project, points out that, “So many people today are living paycheck to paycheck, working jobs that they hate, and they feel trapped. If food, water and shelter [needs] are met then all of a sudden so many of our problems go away.” By building systems where food is free we become less dependent on our wavering economy and more reliant on ourselves and our community.
Discover How It ‘Sprouted’
Launched in January of 2012, in Austin, TX, the Food Is Free Project (FIF) began when Edwards planted a community garden in his front yard. In less than 3 months, the majority of Edward’s neighbors also hosted front yard community gardens. Like wildflowers in spring time, FIF projects starting sprouting up all over Austin and eventually all over the world! Now nearly 200 cities and 26 countries have established gardens through the project’s outreach, including Egypt, New Zealand, Thailand and Tunisia. Not only has FIF transformed neighborhood blocks, but they have also installed community gardens at schools, art spaces, farmer’s markets and small businesses.
Learn How It Works
FIF volunteers build food boxes using recycled and salvaged materials such as wooden pallets, scrap wood and pvc pipes. Once the garden beds are assembled they are donated to communities and schools around the city. Edward’s knew that for his idea to catch on quickly it had to be easy for anyone to pick up and maintain. By using drought-tolerant, wicking beds, he discovered a way to create gardens that only need to be watered every 2-4 weeks! These low maintenance gardens introduce people to a very easy method of growing organic food. Check out this video from the Daily Texan to see FIF in action:
Transform Your Neighborhood
What started as a single front yard community garden has spiraled into a global trend that is strengthening neighborhood communities and feeding people around the world. Join the #foodisfree movement by planting a community garden in your front yard or simply sharing food with your neighbors. Follow this simple guide written by FIF that teaches you the basics of How to Start a Food is Free Project. By planting front yard gardens and sharing harvests with our neighbors, we can create flourishing communities where food is clean, abundant and best of all, free.
The legal system limits our freedom to what it deems morally acceptable but history has proven that this isn’t always in humanity’s best interest. There was once a time when slavery was legal and accepted, a time when women could not vote and most recently a time when homosexuals weren’t allowed to marry. It is common for people to equate morality with legality. However, because we all have different beliefs, the law often differs from our personal moral stances. The problem is that instead of being free to live how we choose, we are forced to obey a system that often lags far behind our moral evolution.
There is an idea gaining popularity with forward thinkers around the globe who feel it is necessary to re-imagine our concept of freedom. Voluntaryism is the libertarian philosophy that all forms of human association should be of mutual consent and, most importantly, never forced. There are two principles fundamental to Voluntaryism by which the ethical nature of all human interaction is determined: self-ownership and the Non-Aggression principle. Voluntaryists believe that all individuals own themselves. This idea of self ownership implies that no person or group can legitimately exercise control over, or place restraints on, the actions of others. In order to uphold this notion of self ownership everyone must abide by the Non-Aggression Principle, which is the ethical stance that violence or aggression should only be used in the case self defense and never to coerce or control another.
Here is a real world example of how Voluntaryism works. Let’s say you want to volunteer your time at a non-profit organization. You make a mutual agreement to follow this organizations rules and in turn you receive whatever benefits this organization has to offer. Of course you are only obligated to work here as long as you want. If you do not agree with the rules of this organization or you simply find an organization that better suits your interests, you are free to leave and forgo the benefits you were receiving. All is fair.
Government on the other hand, works completely different. Without choice, you are born into a certain government. If you do not agree with its rules, there is no way to opt out, but instead you are forced to obey. You have the option to leave but only to join another government that operates by the same principles. All forms of government, of both past and present, can be boiled down to one definition: the territorial monopoly on control, maintained by the use of violent coercion. This opposes the true meaning of freedom.
Voluntaryism offers us the chance to live by our unique personal beliefs without the threat of being forced to live another way. If you are ready to contribute to creating a more free society, I encourage you to learn more about Voluntaryism and share this article with your friends. It is time for us to imagine a higher code of freedom.
Many beginners find themselves awestruck by the thousands of plugins available for WordPress. With all the shiny five-star options, it’s easy to slip into the trap of installing too many plugins in an attempt to bolster your website’s functionality. It is absolutely critical to understand that each plugin you add represents another moving part, which makes your site more fragile, complex, and bloated.
As such, minimizing your plugin count is one of the best routes to a fast and stable site. With that necessary preface behind us, here are some warning signs you can check for to ensure that the plugins you do chose to install are the cream of the crop.
A Quick First Glance
When shopping for new themes and plugins, you’ll, of course, want to start by checking the theme or plugins reviews. Large amounts of positive ratings are a great sign but do not necessarily guarantee a theme or plugin is actually going to be great, especially for your unique needs.
While investigating, take a look at the changelog and make sure the theme or plugin is frequently updated. This is a great indication that the developers are quick to respond to issues and keep up with WordPress updates. If a plugin in the WordPress repository hasn’t been updated in two years, avoid it at all cost. Outdated plugins are one of the biggest threats to WordPress’s stability and security.
Look for plugins and themes that have recently had new features added. The themes and plugins that will give you the most bang for your buck are by developers that also regularly add new features, rather than just fixing bugs. If these first three qualifiers check out, take a deeper look at what the community has to say.
Listen To The Community
Reviews and comments not only serve the obvious purpose of seeing how the community rates the theme or plugin but allow you to learn about any specific downfalls from current users. A theme or plugin can be highly rated but still have broken or missing functionality that is mission critical for your individual needs.
While reading the comments, also pay attention to the responsiveness of the developer. It can be a frustrating experience to find a bug or issue with a theme or plugin only to find out the developer is slow to respond to such issues. This progress halting back and forth with a developer can drag out your development process.
Even worse, many themes or plugins may have great reviews early on but have since been completely abandoned by the developer leaving the community with unresolved issues. Comments and reviews are a great insight into the workings of a theme or plugin, but they won’t always tell you everything you need to know. Sometimes you’ll have to just learn for yourself.
Test It Like You Would Test A Car Or Risk Downloading A Lemon
Thankfully, most themes and plugins have live demos these days. Use them. Don’t give way to the exciting daydreams of what you can do with all of the fancy bells and whistles, but your due diligence and extensively test those demos. Use all of the demo’s functionality on multiple devices and browsers.
I have personally purchased a top selling theme with a nearly five-star rating that actually turned out to have broken mobile menus. My lack of thorough testing led to a waste of time and money. Learn from my pain.
While theme shopping, be sure to test the theme’s load times onWebpagetest,Pingdom, or one of the many other online performance testers. Many themes these days are sold as ‘do-it-all’ solutions and as a result, are unnecessarily bloated and slow. While a good host and some performance fine tuning can help, it’s best to set yourself up for success by purchasing a theme built for enterprise level performance.
In your search for a theme, be wary of proprietary page builders. This isn’t necessarily a no-go but understand that by using a theme with a proprietary page builder, a lot of your work and design will not be possible to carry over if you should decide to change themes. Universal page builders such as Visual Composer tend to be more flexible options because they don’t tie you to one theme. However, even those should be chosen with caution.
As for plugins, there are also entire groups of plugins which simply should not be purchased or used at all. Related post plugins are the most notable of these because they are extremely database intensive and will turtle your sites performance. Yes, I just used turtle as a verb. Overload Mysql and you’ll see there is no better way to explain your sites load times. There is an exception to this related post plugin rule, however. The plugin ‘Related posts by Zemanta’ offers related posts to your viewers in a way that doesn’t punish your database.
- Check for high ratings
- Be sure the theme or plugin has been recently updated
- Check the changelog for evidence of frequent updates and new features
- Test extensively to ensure mission critical functionality is intact on all devices
- Read comments and determine the responsiveness of the developers
- Test for objectively great performance
- Beware of proprietary page builders and related post plugins
Good luck in your theme and plugin search. Be discerning and it will pay off in peace of mind.