Thursday, April 10, 2014

Happy Anniversary!
Almost a year since I posted here. No jokes about snail's pace, I've been involved in the ocean work of Living Sea Sculptures and allowing this blog to go fallow. BUT, yesterday Celeste Weber sent this to me and it felt like such a perfect spring email to share:

Greetings, Colleen! I hope all is well and exciting with your world in NYC!

I've had success in breeding some snails and am wanting to move forward in eating them. Can you remind me of the precise process to purge them? I have soil, lettuce, corn meal and shells in their aquariums. I'm sort-of wanting to make sure there's none of the soil in their systems (I've seen mites).

Would you suggest just putting the ones I'm going to eat into a clean cage with only corn meal? Or maybe no food? For how long? And then, when I'm ready, I just boil them for a few minutes and then rinse with white vinegar, right?

Thanks so much. My best to you, Celeste
photo courtesy Celeste Weber

I know Celeste from Portland, OR. Right before moving east, we got together to talk snails and now in a little over a year, she is farming!

For purging, I'd recommend putting them in a container with no soil for a couple days and mist them in the evening so they excrete any stuff in their guts. You could put a little bowl of water with them in case they are thirsty. And then let them have a dry night to stay sealed up in their shells.

For boiling. I light a candle to thank them for feeding me. I'm just new agey old agey like that. Once water is boiling, I give snails a quick rinse in a strainer if they have any crap on their shells to remove, but not necessary. One swift tilt of the strainer into 4 minutes at a rolling boil. In a bowl or glass container with mostly water and small splash to 1/4 cup white vinegar, I add the snails once I've plucked them from their shells with a needle or pin.

Place the pin point into the foot and with a curling pull to mimic the curve of the spiral, they slip nicely from their homes. If you have intact shells and aren't using them for your garden or a project, I could make escarglows®, perhaps escargrows, from them.  Fond of the little candles and tiny tiny planters.

Please let me know what culinary creation you make and how it turns out. Would be fun to share your recipe, and if you take a photo, here on MSP's blog.

Happy trails~ MSP

Monday, April 15, 2013

giant snail invasion

Image via Wag Malawi

I got an email yesterday: "I came across this article and thought it might be an interesting opportunity for Miss Snail Pail."   Thanks, Dave!

Florida Battles Slimy Invasion by Giant Snails

Next thing I know, I'm writing to Denise Feiber, the spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to offer help with a solution.  Collection has already been very successful according to this document, Officials Praise Public for Helping Battle... , "Tens of thousands of giant African land snails have been captured since the massive mollusk was discovered in Miami-Dade County on September 8 and Florida agricultural officials credit public vigilance for the bulk of the captures."  Great news that everyone is working together. What happens to the snails once they are collected?  Are they being eaten?

People from Africa to Europe to the US recognize that snails are a nutritious food source. Destroying them is a waste of life and protein rich harvest.  If the goal in Florida is to eradicate a stucco-eating, plant devouring invasive land mollusk, then poisoning them with crustacean and bee-killing toxins (poisons don't discriminate), will effectively poison ourselves and all organisms indefinitely and with unknown consequences. People are hungry and eat all kinds of weird crap. Go to a fast food chain or look down your grocery aisles. So many processed items and chemicals on display, we forget that an infestation like this is an opportunity to do something sane and proven: hunt and eat this micro-livestock into "local extinction" like humans are known to do all over the world.

The article, perhaps unconsciously, demonizes the snail as though it is a disease ridden monster victimizing the hapless human community.  Surely other species have some things they'd like to say about our habits and microbes if they could get their words on the page. Florida is facing a real problem and I WISH I had been at the symposium last week where they were trying to determine the plan of action. I'd like to be hired to lead the GAS (giant african snail) Task Force: a consortium of homeowners, restaurateurs, snail expeditioners... to organize a system to bring the environment into balance in a bountiful way.  If it took 10 years to eradicate the last infestation of 1966, I think by bringing them onto the table, we can reduce that time frame.

Oysters are endangered because of human consumption and pollution, so with that as proof of concept, seems hungry people can get a handle on this misnomered delicacy. And about the parasites, wear gloves and cook them. Cows and chickens have parasites too, and people know better than to eat raw coq au vin. If you're interested in launching some snailing expeditions and organizing an event to celebrate that a prolific, valuable species is offering its life as a resource, contact me.

The hypocrisy of letting people starve or be malnourished while deeming the arrival of a massive mollusk a disaster illustrates how far removed many humans are from the food chain and creating environmental balance with available resources. I'm anti-extinction, unless we're talking about polio, malaria, West Nile Virus (I have some bias), and interpret this infestation as a migration of herds of shelled cattle across the seas.

It all boils down to respecting and honoring life cycles. The snails are not the enemy.

The Giant African Snail found in a Brisbane container yard. Photo: Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. Read more.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

I voted!!! I always do. And I hope you did too. "Peace is warmth around your skull and softness in your touch. It is not a societal status quo and it is not achieved by militaristic overthrow" - wise woman. August 27, 2002.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Living Sea Sculpture Deploys

There's a sculpture in Cancun, Mexico, that we made this past summer.  It will become a Living Sea Sculpture coral refuge to support biodiverse marine organisms and help the economy embrace new forms of ecotourism that are more environmentally holistic and encompassing in their approach to business.


Inspired by DNA, the 15'x9'x6' steel sculpture is ready to be deployed into the underwater museum in the National Marine Park.  It will be the first Biorock® sculpture to join the museum, MUSA, known for its cement castings by underwater sculptor, Jason deCaires Taylor.  The intention of the museum is to give neighboring natural reefs a break from tourists and to inspire links between art, environmental science, and local economies.

Biorock® is unique in its ability to electrolytically raise the pH and precipitate Calcium Carbonate and Magnesium Hydroxide (limestone) depositions onto metal, amplifying exoskeleton resources for corals suffering from environmental stressors such as climate change, pollution and ocean acidification. 

Once again we have turned to crowd-sourcing through kickstarter to raise awareness and fund the deployment of LSS:
From the Shore to the Seafloor: Living Sea Sculpture deploys
Thanks to a successful campaign last year, we were able to create this bioremediative artwork. Due to a contract hitch that stopped installation in July, we are now regrouping to return this May.   WE HAVE TO GET IT INTO THE WATER!  (it rusts on land, it thrives in the sea:)

We have 30 days to meet our $35,000 goal.  I am reaching out to share this project and ask you to help us return to complete our coral refuge by spreading the word and/or making a pledge.  Thanks to our non-profit partners, The Global Coral Reef Alliance, all donations are tax-deductible. 

There is a Living Sea Sculpture Facebook page with updates on the LSS project, coral, and related creative art/sci/action intersections. 
Most of you know, but for those of you who do not, the simple act of "liking" our page is a hugely  valuable social media contribution. Thank you for your "likes" and posts.

If you tweet, you can follow @livingseasculpt.  Your tweets and RT's are very helpful.

People from all over have reached out to say they care and wish to help this work succeed.  We even have a song written for and inspired by this project as one of our rewards for supporting LSS. Julie and Aaron are waiting to release "Cancun Kiss" until our campaign is over on March 14th.
There are lots of creative rewards; as a maker, it feels good to be able to offer something hand-made and tangible in exchange for donations.  One person asked me the other day, "Isn't helping coral reward enough?"  Up to the backers! I'm happy either way. 
We will be thrilled to be able to install this life supporting habitat and watch it grow! 

Colleen, Amphitrite, and the LSS Team

Posted via email from TED Fellows

Sunday, November 27, 2011

[tedfellows] TED Fellows go old school for new ideas

On Nov 27, 2011, at 9:02 AM, TED Fellows wrote:

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TED Fellows go old school for new ideas

Posted by  eric berlow to TED Fellows
In the spirit of the TED Fellows program mission to help “trailblazers spread world-changing ideas”, the second annual "Think Weird Go Big" workshop hosted 7 TED fellows to turn their creative visions into big realities. In an era of social media and a preponderance of virtual interaction, the Think Weird Go Big (TWGB) workshops, organized by and for TED Fellows, focus on the unique value of real human interaction for interdisciplinary cross-pollination. Set at the Swall Institute near Yosemite National Park, the workshop blends focused round-table discussions, group cooking, and kinetic dialogue during hiking sessions along the pristine landscape of the Sierra Nevada. The intimacy, play, and traditional face-to-face discourse fosters collaborations and deeper understandings that would otherwise be impossible.  Below is a summary of the group’s diverse visions for the future:
2011 Attendees 

In "Talk Derby to Me" a scientist and two filmmakers will look at what the human microbiome can teach us about being human. Through the film, a roller derby team will take us from the macro to the micro, into worlds that have rarely, if ever been seen before. What unites us and evens our collective playing field may be the smallest, and most unexpected elements living in and on our bodies.

A new scientific field is emerging that has the potential to radically shift our perception of humanity.  Our bodies contain 10 times more microbial cells than human cells, and 100 times more microbial genes than human genes.  We are thus a complex system comprised of multiple organisms - a 'supraorganism' - and the interactions among our human and microbial components is crucial to our health and well being.  Despite the importance of our microbiota, it is commonly assumed that sharing microbes through human contact is bad.  We will address misunderstandings about the human microbiome by telling a story centered on human connections that the audience feels.  We will take a visceral, emotional approach to illuminate a timely and peculiar issue which has a global impact. Roller derby is the fastest growing sport in the U.S. and a radical platform for capturing public attention on issues surrounding human contact and the human microbiome.

When I was 15, I was almost sold into marriage for 200 sheep in remote Uzbekistan. If I were sold, I'd be living in the mountains of Tien Shain. I'd be making cheese and knitting wool sweaters. I'd be reading a lot of Russian literature and riding a dirt bike. But my father didn't know how to fit 200 sheep in the airplane. Now I live all over the world with my husband Adam and our little son Tian. Sometimes we eat cheese and I don't like wool sweaters. We make films, tell stories and once rode a Yamaha RX135 in North-West India but it broke down after a while.

With a keen attention to detail and deep-rooted passion for finding out what is true, I work to pinpoint the essence of contemporary issues using the most effective means of storytelling to present my vision in compelling ways that maximize understanding by connecting with the emotional while engaging the intellectual. I have covered assignments for The New York Times since 2006 and my photographic work has been exhibited around the world in venues which include Le Centre Pompidou (Paris), La Triennale di Milano, and the Shanghai Art Museum. I also trained as a competitive figure skater for over a decade.

As Director of the Biology and Built Environment Center and Professor at the University of Oregon and the Santa Fe Institute, I have explored microbial biodiversity across the surface of the Earth - from buildings to oceans to forests. I skated for three years on the Emerald City Roller Girls and have long envisioned using roller derby as a tool to convey ideas about microbial science.

We want to help people map and visualize the structure  of complex problems to find powerful leverage points for social and environmental good. As an Ecologist/Complexity Scientist and Designer/Data Artist we are developing an open source platform that maps expert knowledge and perception to view the hidden influence structure underlying problems from climate change to middle eastern conflict.

We are just beginning to recognize the depth of our interconnectedness – and the degree to which solutions to the world’s problems are complex and tightly interwoven. At this critical juncture, now more than ever, we need tools that enable collective problem solving and allow cross-cutting solutions to emerge from a sea of data.

I am an Ecologist, Complexity Scientist and founder of TRU NORTH Labs. For the past 20 years I have been investigating the order underlying nature’s complexity. I apply ecological thinking and complexity theory to help find leverage points in complex problems for social and environmental good.

I am a Designer, Artist, and co-founder of Brainvise: a team of Artists, Designers, Programmers and Strategists. Brainvise delivers elegant solutions to complex visual problems, from Apps to Art. Brainvise's mission is to help people create resonant, creative expressions for their world-changing visions.

"Lyrics For Literacy" is a project that creates a bridge of awareness to encourage the preservation of the Esan language - an endangered native dialect of the Edo State in Nigeria - through storytelling, proverbs and music. 

The curriculum works to energize and promote language history through folk song preservation. The purpose of this music and language integration is to develop an appreciation for Esan history, philosophy, and their relationship to the present day natural sciences, while fostering a deeper understanding of the past and present generations of Edo Speaking people.

"When Women Were Drummers" is the featured presentation and audience-interactive performance, delivering native folk songs, proverbs and wisdom from Esan elders, weaving a diverse tapestry of African and Western language with songs and modern poetry.

In the area of language preservation there is a wide range of research to be done. Lyrics for Literacy is born from a need to promote opportunities for alternative methods of learning and exploring oral languages, as well as to further develop the skills of underprivileged communities in standard English with aid from music lyrics.

Words of wisdom from Esan historian Dr. Okogie C. G. states that language is not only a vehicle through which a people's culture can be expressed, but also a medium of ones imagination, creativity, aspirations and sacred capacity. There is a global interconnecting current responding to our needs to communicate with one another.

My name is Iyeoka. I was named after my grandmother. The native Esan oral translation of my name is, "I am not a female to be insulted. I am one to be fully honored."  In the Yoruba oral translation, my name means "mother who speaks the word." I am fascinated by the subtle influence of the spoken language and our potential access to the bounty of translation and meaning. My name and my journey synergistically encourages me to share the story of the Esan people. 

A network of self-sustained, locally built, and energy autonomous, centers set up in diverse communities of the globe that participate in the development and standardization of novel scientific methodologies in each community. These ¨nodes¨ will act as observatory platforms that track indicators of global changes, while focusing on community empowerment through the generation of knowledge at the local level. They will also serve as cultural and artistic shelters for exchanges and performances.

As a global snapshot, only a very few clusters in the world are considered to be participating in modern knowledge generation and technological development. This means that most societies (particularly those in developing regions) are only applying and not generating scientific knowledge. However, global challenges are culminating and necessitate a paradigm shift on the role of experts. Participatory and community-based initiatives for knowledge generation is a way to understand (and take action) on most of global challenges because not only does it provide billions of eyes and potential new ideas, but it opens new ground for democracy.

I'm a biochemist, an engineer, a filmmaker and an urban art gallerist. After working for 7 years in institutionalized research academia, I currently live a nomadic life with projects that relate to the demystification of science and art. My projects are based in the Basque Country, West Africa, Philippines, Solomons Islands and Chile. I usually work on projects and give lectures about molecular biology, critical views of technological transfer, urban and public art, and participative innovation and co-creation.

Special Thanks to our supporters: 
* Peggy Bauhaus and Raymond Neutra
* Robert Atlee

Posterous Spaces is the place to post everything. Just email us.

Posted via email from TED Fellows

Friday, July 22, 2011

Living Sea Sculpture- MUSA Cancun, Mexico

Pablo Pantoja located the site with me and was my local liaison/daily ally. (Better not begin listing all the huge support of the people in Mexico, never get through!! special thanks are at the bottom:)
Wendy Thompson and Terra Nyssa did a fish survey to observe environmental impact of the project; will fish and others quickly populate the sculpture once it is in place? Lots of rain and murky waters almost prevented them from snorkeling the site, but luckily the sun and ocean gave them one bright calm day. 

Mike Gerzevitz captured some great interviews and footage of the making (as well as participated in the making). Here's a little timelapse for you:

Thomas Sarkisian helped immensely with forming the metal by hand, body and foot; and with Tom Goreau, prepared the power supply for phase 2--deploy. Will have to bring Thomas back over from Thailand to calibrate and install his BOLPS (Biorock On Land Power Supply prototype 3). Hope to return for phase 2 very soon! Hurricane season is stirring up, so we aim to process the paperwork and see what the weather holds.
Below is a photo tour of phase 1: making the DNA helices


the working model (12:1 scale)      {photo by Clay Connally}


assessing the first workshop

setting up "open air studio" locating supplies and team...

at least 15 iguanas were studying the process.  


we moved to Todo Inoxidable (stainless steel factory)


a roof to protect from the erratic downpours and intense sun.


access to tools and metalworkers.

see that smooth floor?? priceless!               Mike's cutting away extra steel...


placing the expanded mesh, spot welding and cutting away the excess.


Joel Lopez is a master electrode welder.  Fredy Ulloa de la Rosa is watching


Pablo protects his eyes with a common welder's mask--the hand.  


Thomas and the team truly muscled that metal with grace and grimaces

we thought we were going to install the next day, alas...


the ship is there, but we have a contract to clear.


imagine corals and fish coming to bring this to life


in the waters of Punta Nizuc's tropical AquaFresh blue--that is the future 15 feet down. 

(photos by Mike Gerzevitz
and Colleen Flanigan

For more from Dr. Tom Goreau about Biorock® and his take on Climate Change:

And Sylvia Earle about the Coral Reefs--Rainforests of the Sea:

special thanks to Marcia de La Pena and Leif, Pablo Pantoja, Fredy Ulloa de La Rosa, Joel Lopez, Jason deCaires Taylor, Roberto Diaz, Mario and Enrique Chacon, Jaime Gonzales, Alain Ibanes, Todo Inoxidable - Guillermo, Suzie, and Jose Luis, Diego Gioseffi, Jorge Luis, Fernando, Lorenzo Guerrero, Kevin Watt, Karen Salinas, Rodrigo, Salvador, the staff of Aquaworld and Marenter, and of course, MUSA!...the long list continues of people who have offered creativity, skill, friendship, strength, and resources in Mexico.

Posted via email from TED Fellows

Monday, May 9, 2011

black ones

This morning I went for a run in Forest Park. I came upon a snail with a beautiful orangey hue in its body. The rust-like color was permeating its shell. It reminded me of a sunset. I plucked it and set it in the grass to the side of the trail. I wanted to keep it as a pet. i know, why?? but sometimes the uniqueness catches my eye; just as the birds keep pulling at all the wire on this snail above that sits on my front porch trying to find the "shiny" for their nests, I am easily mesmerized by unusual snails.
While in SF in December, snails with white shells and black bodies were up in Bernal Heights. New variety to me. Not sure I want to eat them..would need to speak with a mallacologist to make sure they are edible. Happy they appeared.
If you find yourself reading this, thank you and have a day filled with whatever you love.

photo by Nancy Peach. steel snail by me. wire woven by the kids at the Discovery Museum in San Jose, CA.