Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Eco-Film Night: Freedom Ahead

As an unfortunate consequence of having quit my job, I'm being forced to leave the country!  Luckily, as a fortunate consequence of being forced to leave the country, I'm embarking on a 2-month-ish tour of Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Korea, and Japan (no typos, ask in person for details.)  This means that this film will be my last, at least until sometime in May. 

Please join me on Sunday, March 25th for this very special documentary, filmed in part at Sadhana Forest, a volunteer reforestation and water conservation project where I spent four months back in late 2009-early 2010 learning about community, permaculture, and the good life, and without which there would likely be no Daegu Green Living!  Swing by Buy the Book and enjoy drinks, snacks, or dinner at your leisure.  We'll start watching the movie around 6:30. 

From the official website,

Never before in known history have so many people relied on so few for the basic essentials of life. In our present-day democracies, freedom is slowly being commodified. We have been giving our democratic governments more and more freedom while they have been busy restricting ours. In the name of democracy and global progress laws are drafted that will outlaw simple activities that empower man, like growing our own food. By taking our freedom for granted we could be on the verge of losing it. Are we still free when we can't grow our own food anymore or when peoples livelihood depends heavily on how we interact with the money-hungry machine democracy has become? We need to be governed less and become less dependent on a system that is simply not sustainable. An empty system that will offer no reward, when we feel it is time to start enjoying life. It is not democracy that will offer true freedom, it is reclaiming the spaces that were taken away by democracy.

Set against the backdrop of the most celebrated democracy in the world -India- we learn how governments are pushing the democratic dream, while stealing and selling peoples land to foreign corporations on consumerists behalf. In the documentary film Freedom Ahead we visit the people who are the conscience in a world which is losing its moral principles. These people regain control over their lives by being independent and living self sufficiently. By doing so they obtain the highest valued asset of all times: real freedom. This collection of committed individuals does not constitute a movement. It is dispersed and fiercely independent. It is taking shape in universities, elementary schools, farms, communities and many other places. It is experimentally emerging as a global humanitarian movement rising from the bottom up. Freedom Ahead colorfully captures this almost instinctive response, the largest social movement in all of human history through lucid footage, inspirational stories and an evocative soundscape.

What   Eco-film night: Freedom Ahead
When  Sunday, March 25th, 6:30PM
Where Buy the Book, Downtown Daegu, 
(Rodeo Street, Mr. Pizza Building, 4th Floor)
Who  Anyone and everyone
How Much  Free!
Korean Subtitles?  Yes!


불행히도 제가 일을 그만두게 되어 저는 한국을 떠나야 합니다. 하지만 제가 떠나야 된다는 것의 행복한 결과로 저는 약 2달 동안 대만과 일본으로 여행을 갈 거예요! 그래서 이번 달의 2째 에코필름은 당분간 저의 마지막 에코필름이 될 것입니다.

3 월 25일 일요일에 저에겐 아주 소중한 이 에코필름을 보러 나오시길 바랍니다. 이 필름은 제가 2009-2010년 겨울에 약 4개월 동안 살았던 물절약과 살림 공동체인 사다나포레스트, 그리고 그와 비슷한 지속가능 공동체들에서 촬영했습니다. 이런 공동체에 방문할 기회가 없었더라면 저는 아마도 대구녹색살이를 설립할 생각도 안 했을 거예요!

무엇 에코필름: Freedom Ahead (자유로의 길)
언제  3월25일 일요일 오후 6:30
어디 Buy the Book, 대구 시내
(로데오 거리,미스터피자 빌딩, 4층)
누구  아무나, 모두 다
얼마  무료입장
한글 자막?  팀과 함께 정성껏 만들어 드렸습니다! 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Eco-Film Night: Blood in the Mobile

With this film, DGL will be taking on new territory: consumer electronics, and, in particular, cell phones.

SYNOPSIS (From the website, )

Phones are financing war in DR Congo

We love our cell phones and the selection between different models has never been bigger. But the production of phones has a dark, bloody side.

The main part of minerals used to produce cell phones are coming from the mines in the Eastern DR Congo. The Western World is buying these so-called conflict minerals and thereby finances a civil war that, according to human rights organisations, has been the bloodiest conflict since World War II: During the last 15 years the conflict has cost the lives of more than 5 million people and 300.000 women have been raped. The war will continue as long as armed groups can finance their warfare by selling minerals.

If you ask the phone companies where their suppliers get minerals from, none of them can guarantee that they aren’t buying conflict minerals from the Congo.

The Documentary Blood in the Mobile shows the connection between our phones and the civil war in the Congo. Director Frank Poulsen travels to DR Congo to see the illegal mine industry with his own eyes. He gets access to Congo’s largest tin-mine, which is being controlled by different armed groups, and where children work for days in narrow mine tunnels to dig out the minerals that end up in our phones.

After visiting the mine Frank Poulsen struggles to get to talk to Nokia, the Worlds largest phone company. Frank Poulsen wants them to guarantee that they are not buying conflict minerals and thereby is financing the war in the Congo. Nokia cannot give him that guarantee.

Blood in Mobile is a film about our responsibility for the conflict in the Congo and about corporate social responsibility.


In addition to the documentary, we'll be launching a new project at Buy the Book to help us stop contributing to the situation Poulsen details:   the Phone Fund!  Please: if you have any old-but-still-functioning cell phones at home that you're willing to donate, bring them in, together with chargers, batteries, accessories, and so on. We'll collect them, sort them by company, and set them out, so that newcomers to Daegu or careless veterans (such as myself) can enjoy being (re)connected without being constrained to buy new phones. Don't  you love it when saving money and saving the environment turn out to be the same thing?

What: "Blood in the Mobile" & Phone Fund Drive
Where:  Buy the Book, Downtown Daegu, 
(Mr. Pizza Building, 4th Floor)
When: Sunday,  March 11, 7PM
Who:  Everyone!
How much: Free!

*Dinner plans are in the works, check back soon!*
*저녁 식사 계획을 짜는 중이니까, 좀 이따가 확인 하시길 바랍니다*
**This time, English subtitles will be available, but no Korean ones.**
**이번 상영에 영어 자막이 있는데 한글 자막이 없습니다.  죄송합니다.**. 

In case you can't wait until Sunday to get started learning about the story of your phone, have a look at "The Story of Electronics," which is available free and in-full online. 

Update: Dinner at the Barley Bibimbap Buffet beforehand! Stuff your face with awesome vegetables before the movie - rendezvous between 5:00 and 5:30PM at Jungangno Station, exit 4.
업데이트: 다큐를 보기 전에 식사를 같이 합시다! 장터한식보리밥뷔페에서 폭식하잔 말입니다. 일요일 5시와 5시반사이에 중앙로역 4번출구에서 만납시다.


 Can you spot five soy foods here?

Soy is a somewhat contentious food.  Some say that it’s extremely good for you, some say that it borders on poisonous, and some say that it’s just a measly bean.  I have no idea where the truth lies, but what I do know is that Koreans have been consuming soy in various guises for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.  Here’s a definitely-not-definitive guide to several of the soy products you’ll find here in Korea:

1)      Soy beans (대두/흰콩)  - These come in several  verities and colors, but are generally thought of as ingredients or resources, rather than as a food.  Some say that the harmful chemicals within are only broken down after the beans have been fermented, but, then again, fresh steamed Edamame are big in Japan.

Dried soy beans

and fresh ones

2)      Soy blocks (메주) – When I first saw one of these, I mistook it for an exceptionally hearty loaf of multigrain bread.  Upon closer inspection, I found it to be a giant block of soy beans that have been steamed, smushed, formed into a brick, and left suspended in the air to dry and ferment – a culinary disappointment surpassed only by all the times I’ve expect something to be filled with chocolate and instead found it stuffed with red bean paste.  

Looks a bit like bread, no?

...not anymore

3)      Soy sauce (간장) / Soybean paste (된장)–  add saltwater to the 메주 and let them steep together.  After about a month, separate the solids and liquids, both of which you can continue to ferment separately to your heart’s content.  The former becomes soybean paste,  which can be used to season salads (된장무침) or as a base for soup (된장찌개), while the latter, once boiled, becomes soy sauce,  into which many varieties of savory pancake are meant to be dunked.

Three types of soy sauce 

Some soybean paste

And stew.

4)      Cheonggukjang (청국장) – lighter in color and deeper in stench than soybean paste.  Cheongukjang is made by boiling the beans for ten to twenty hours then setting them out to ferment immediately.  As it isn’t combined with salt until later in the fermentation process, it doesn’t keep quite as long.  It’s primarily made into a thick, stinky stew (청국장찌개), which is guaranteed to scrub your intestines clean.  

 The puck

...more stew

5)      Tofu (두부) – everyone’s favorite floppy flavorless food.  Made by soaking the beans, grinding them, boiling them, straining them through a cheese cloth, and then leaving the resulting mixture to settle.  Comes in several varities :순두부,  the runny version that goes into spicy soups,; 찌개용두부, the more formidable version that goes in your soybean paste soup; 생식용두부, which is in the middle of the floppy spectrum and eaten straight as a side dish; and 부침용두부, which is best suited for stir-fries.  

The runny one a stew

A slightly stronger version, pan-friend and seasoned

And raw, salad style

6)      Tofu remnants (콩비지) – in dire need of renaming, these are the grainy parts left over from the process of making tofu.  They are often used in thick soups (콩비지찌개) and in pancakes (콩비비전).   Or to feed the pigs or supplement the compost pile. a stew

 Tofu remains pancake!

7)      Soy oil (콩기름/대두유/대두기름 / 식용유) – this is the stuff that’s used to deep- or stir-fry just about everything on the cheap and dirty.  Probably best to avoid ingesting this as much as possible. 

8)      Soy milk  (두유) – Remember that bean-infused water that got strained out of the tofu?  Mix it with some sweeteners and maybe some preservatives and you’ve got something drinkable. 

Three of about a million kinds.  Plain, sesame, and black bean. 

9)      Soy chips (두부 과자)- these are made to look kind of like little ribbons, with a cute, bright, white and green package that makes you feel like you’re eating something healthy.  Don’t be fooled, these things are about 90% flour and oil, with a little plant matter thrown in for image’s sake. 

 Looks like a health food...

 ...but is most definitely not a health food.

Look at all the ingenious things that can be done with one humble bean!  Whether you’re a hippy, a health-food freak, or a plain old ajumma, soy can surely be used to make something to your liking. 

* This article will appear in an upcoming addition of inDaegu.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Living in a Green House

This is not your average Korean apartment. One resident is in her forties, one is just on the verge of thirty, two have yet to turn twenty, and nobody is related to anyone else. None of the old, weathered, donated appliances bear that glossy flower pattern. Posted next to the door of each bedroom is description of its inhabitant, complete with a Polaroid photo. The calendar is marked with days on which trash has been disposed of: exactly once so far in 2012. There are two boxes of worms on the living room floor. Welcome to Green Home 2012, or as I like to call it, the GreenHouse. 

 Used appliances, all donated by friends and supporters

            The GreenHouse is a community living project loosely associated with the Daegu Green Consumers Network. The four residents – Myeong-hee, Gyeong-won, Da-mo, and Do-yeon – spend their workdays trying to make Daegu a greener place in their own way, but also wanted to incorporate their values into their lives at a fundamental level; they decided to do so by pooling their energy and resources and moving in together. I recently had the chance to interview Gyeong-won and Do-yeon about the project. Here’s what they had to say:

How is the green house different from other houses? 
Gyeong-won: Before moving into the GreenHouse, people agree to follow three rules:
1)    Avoid eating all animal products
2)    Reduce non-recyclable trash to zero.
3)    Not watch TV.

Do-yeon: In other houses, people are related by blood, but here, four strangers have come together to form a community under the banner of “Eco-friendly City Living.” 

 Vegan Bibimbap Buffet line at the housewarming party

And on the plate

What aspects of living in the GreenHouse have you been enjoying?  Is there anything that’s tough or unpleasant?
Gyeong-won:  I like being able to live my own life. Living with my parents was comfortable, but you always have to try to read their mind. On the other hand, we’re living as a group, so I can’t just eat what I want when I want. Instead, we all stick to a certain time and eat together, cooking when it’s your turn. Of course, you don’t have to eat then, you can eat on your own if you’d like.
Do-yeon:  It’s fun trying to conserve as much as possible and reduce our negative influences, and I like living inside an experiment. The city’s dreary, I like enjoying myself with people, eating and cleaning and doing the laundry together. Surprisingly enough, there’s nothing I don’t like about the project. 

How to have fun without a TV

Are there similar projects elsewhere in Korea?
There are many forms of eco-friendly living. If you go looking, you’ll find tons of communities, groups, and schools doing it!

What can others learn from the Greenhouse?  Do you think you can help others to make their houses greener?
Gyeong-won:  I hope we give people the confidence to realize that they can live this way, too. It’s hard to do on your own, but I hope that some people will be able to find the courage after seeing us.
Do-yeon:  That would be great. Even if it’s just minor things like unplugging electronics, reducing trash, walking, and wearing long underwear, I hope we can have some sort of influence.


I’d also like to live a little greener. What should I do?  Where should I start?
Gyeong-won:  I think it’s best to start by reducing your meat consumption. If you’re interested in talking about the effects eating meat has on the environment and on your health, stop by the DGCN.
Do-yeon:  [Answers with a proverb:] The oil lamp doesn’t shine under its own base. Don’t go looking for something far away, start with stuff in your own life.

Home vermiculture!

Have you thought about the future of the GreenHouse? 
Gyeong-won:  I hope that a few other people go ahead and make another GreenHouse somewhere else in the city. I plan to keep on living here in the original one.
I hope that it stays experimental. Not just stick to one way, but to try this and that, always with the goal of being eco-friendly.

Vermiculture closeup!  For an even more detailed shot, email me. 

Can you give me three word that describe the Green House?
Gyeong-won:  Simple, Candid, Fun
Do-yeon: (In English) Amazing, fantastic, unbelievable, revolution.

If you’d like to know more about the GreenHouse, visit their blog at 

Clockwise from 12o'clock:  Lucy (Myeong-hee), Do-yeon, Damo, and Ryan (Gyeong-won)

*This article will appear in an upcoming issue of Daegu Compass