Com-POO-sting

Dear Poopers, Thank you to all who made it out last week for our conversation on Technology for Green Communities. I hope you'll join us for the final event in the Fall Speaker Series this Tuesday, Nov. 1 all about COMPOST!

Join me for presentations and a panel discussion with special guests:

Daniel Tainow, all around green guru, "Compost Dan" is Education Director at the Lower East Side Ecology Center and a good friend of The POOP Project.

Jennifer Blackwell, a self-described composting fanatic, is also an objectively-described expert and manager of the The NYC Compost Project in partnership with the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens.

David Hurd is Director of the Office of Recycling Outreach & Education with GrowNYC, going block by block to help New Yorkers recycle more and use less.

Tuesday, November 1 6:30-8:30pm Visitor Center at Newtown Creek in Greenpoint, Brooklyn (Click here for directions.)

Looking forward to seeing you there, and peaceful pooping.

Shawn “The Puru” Shafner

Excremen-tainment!

Dearest Poopers, There are big things in the works--POOP Project events in NYC on Sept. 10, 15, and also Oct. 1 and 19th. More info coming PRONTO!

But a little teaser for the day: are you a woman in New York interested in asking Dr. Oz about your pee or poo, Tuesday the 30th? Allow me to explain...

This past week I was visiting my folks in Denver (even a Puru's got to have parents!), away from Brooklyn just long enough to miss Aunt Irene. In truth, I was a little glad to be away but more sorry not to be standing with my city--especially in what New York Magazine warned might be a literal shitstorm from combined sewer outfalls (CSOs) in the Gowanus Canal and Newtown Creek. Based on the pictures in one local blog, it doesn't appear to be much of an issue, and the worst my block got was a big fallen branch. She IS a big one though!

So Friday, I'm at the Denver Zoo with the first family of feces (j/k Mom and Dad!). Like all zoos, they love poop. They sell their poo to gardeners in a can, have an online game where you can guess Whose Poo?!, and they're soon to open Asian Tropics, a multi-million dollar exhibit powered by biogas--utilizing 2,700 pounds of animal poo and 4,200 pounds of their visitor's trash EVERY DAY. I am impressed.

So I'm eating an ice cream alongside a free range peacock, and I look down at my phancy phone to phind (too phar?) an email from Dr. Oz.

That's right. The guru of positive poop talk himself. THE Dr Oz.

...or a Production Assistant from his show whose name was Sheena. It was hard to tell. But we all know that down deep he loves The POOP Project.

Anyway, my understanding is that they're taping a show Tuesday, Aug. 30th from 1-5pm about poo and pee. Any New York ladies out there who:

a) have been diagnosed with something because of/related to poo or pee and wanna sit in the audience and represent?

b) wanna ask a question that pertains to what the shape or color of poo means, why their pee is colored/smells a certain way or what the quantity of the pee signifies?

If you're ready for your 15 minutes of fecal fame, email me at shawn@thePOOPproject.org and I'll give you the low down.

That's all for now, poopers. Wishing you inphamous phoeces and peaceful pooping.

Shawn

Getting Gassy and All Fueled Up!

Dearest Poopers,

In nature, there is no such thing as waste. To have an ecosystem means that all the organisms present are balancing each other out, providing for one another so that every problem has an equal and opposite solution.

There's a gallon of rotting cabbage on my kitchen counter right now--a little delicacy called Sauerkraut. Guided by Sandor Ellix Katz' Wild Fermentation, I bravely chopped up a mess of cabbage, green onion, carrots and their tops, added water and salt, shoved the whole thing in a crock with a another one on top. That was last Monday night.

Click the pic for a Scientific American article about the dangers of antibiotics and bacterial extinction.

Now I've got a little ecosystem going in my kitchen, thriving with healthy bacteria that are predigesting the cabbage for me, freeing up nutrients my body couldn't otherwise access. The healthy Lactobacilli that came from somewhere in my kitchen will become a part of my body, an ecosystem (officially called the human microbiome) that already contains approximately 100 trillion bacteria living symbiotically with my 10 trillion cells--that's a 10:1 bacteria to human ratio. The approximately 500 species in my gut are so helpful in the digestive process that, according to a nicely footnoted Wikipedia article, "the metabolic activity performed by these bacteria is equal to that of a virtual organ, leading to gut bacteria being termed a forgotten' organ.[24]"

For more information check out this great Science Daily article about how decoding the microbiome might play a role in health and illness. You can also read the latest news from The Human Microbiome Project, a federal initiative to map the microbiome.

These ecosystems just go to show that for every problem there's an equal and opposite solution. To that end, I am pleased to announce two news items in this fashion!

PROBLEM A

New York's Riverkeeper released an important report yesterday revealing that, though the Hudson is getting healthier, there's still has a long way to go. In the words of Riverkeeper Boat Captain John Lipscomb, "We still have a significant problem with sewage contamination. The recent 200+ million gallon sewage spill in New York City is only a minor part of widespread contamination that regularly occurs in the Hudson.” I encourage you to check out the Riverkeeper website to read more about this eye-opening report, or listen to the audio explanation.

      SOLUTION A

The ultimate solution will mean that what goes down NYC's pipes during a rainstorm doesn't flow back unchecked into the river. In the meantime, it might be nice for swimmers, kayakers and river walkers to at least know when it's happening. You can help make this so! Sign this petition to join Riverkeeper, New York State Senator Adriano Espaillat and New York State Assemblyman Thomas Abinanti in calling for a Sewage Right to Know Law for New York so that the public can be  properly informed about where and when it is safe to get in the water.

PROBLEM B

I've recently been going to protests and meetings about the dangers of hyrdraulic fracturing, or "fracking." While there's tons of natural gas lying underneath the ground, current fracking technology is unsafe, requires millions of gallons of water that must be dumped after, and has the potential to contaminate the water we depend on for drinking (and flushing, but that wasteful practice is a whole other post). When I go to these events, I've been struck by the inherent dilemma--yes, fracking is a bad way to get energy and, yes, our energy consumption is out of control. So if we're going to say "No!" to fracking, but can we say "Yes!" to?

SOLUTION B

Sunday, 8/14, at 2pm The MORE Project presents a FREE screening of Josh Fox's Gasland, an expose on fracking, followed  at 4pm by Fuel the Film, all about exciting new possibilities for energy. A discussion with The Puru will follow and the beer will surely flow over at Pour George on 8th btwn 5th and 6th Aves, because there's nothing like alcohol and documentary films! Full details just below.

Now I've gotta go. It's sauerkraut hour.

Peaceful pooping,

Shawn "The Puru" Shafner

2 Great FREE films – Sunday 14-Aug-2011 at 2 PM in NYC

The M.O.R.E. project is proud to present a ‘fair use’ screening of TWO outstanding films on Sunday 14-Aug-2011. There is NO admission fee! A ‘fair use’ screening must be FREE!

The two award winning films are “Gasland” at 2 PM, and “Fuel” around 4 PM. They will be shown in the back room of a great bar in Greenwich Village called “Pour George” at 35 West 8th St, New York, NY 10011 / (212) 253-2999. That's just East of 6th Ave.  Take the N/R to 8th Street, the 6 to Astor Place, or the A/C/E to West 4th St.

“Gasland” by Josh Fox explores the truly deadly consequences of extracting natural gas by the process called hydraulic fracturing aka “fracking”. This process has reportedly already contaminated drinking water in 34 states and unless we block it, fracking will soon start in areas whose water feeds New York City.

People are being sickened and killed by fracking all over the country, but the laws that are supposed to protect us have been bypassed by Halliburton and other large companies.

Josh F’s courageous film digs deep into what fracking is, what it does, how it kills, and who profits from (literally) ‘making a killing’…

“Fuel” is the story of Josh Tickell, filmmaker and eco-evangelist, who spent eleven years exploring real-world energy alternatives to oil, coal, and natural gas. He put his findings into his film along with his brave spirit (as did Josh Fox).

Josh T found that there ARE real ways to create power that do not poison the Earth and all the living beings who share it.  In his film, he explores energy creation from wind, solar, tidal and biofuel power sources.  He also makes a fantastic case for biodiesel fuel created by algae from sewage and industrial waste. 

If you are coming to the event, please RSVP, John Hechtman at jhecht410@gmail.com. You don’t have to do this – as long as we have space to seat you, no one will be turned away. But Pour George is not a large place – it would be very helpful to have a rough idea of how many people are coming.  For more info call  212 586 4633.

Rally Against NYC Sewage Dumping TOMORROW

Dearest Poopers, If you live in New York City, you've probably heard by now of Wednesday's explosion and fire at the North River Wastewater Treatment Plant. Oh, you know! The one that was spewing untreated sewage out into the Hudson until Friday evening (around 120 million gallons)? If this is news to you, check out this New York Times article. Perhaps most concerning is the discrepancy between tests conducted by the DEP and Riverkeeper, an independent watchdog for water safety and health. They were looking to see whether bacteria that normally live in our intestines (that little cutie down below) had moved en masse to riverfront property. And the answer was yes. Yes it had. From the Times:

On Saturday, Riverkeeper said that Thursday’s samples at 6 of 16 test locations in the Hudson, from the Tappan Zee Bridge down to New York City’s Battery, had unsafe counts ranging from 132 to 104,620 per 100 milliliters. “The concentrations near the discharge points were much higher than usual, comparable to the Gowanus Canal and Newtown Creek,” Dr. O’Mullan [of Riverkeeper] said.

Gowanus and Newtown, among the most contaminated bodies of water in the nation, were both declared federal Superfund sites last year and are to undergo decade-long cleanups.

The city’s own sampling Thursday showed much lower concentrations because the testing is done at beaches and in the center of the river, Mr. Sklerov [of the Environmental Protection Department] said.

Here's the problem (well, one problem): beachcombers are not the only ones who need to be told to stay ashore when sewage has been released into NYC water. There are boathouses up and down NYC's waterways. There are fishermen who live off of what they catch every day. There are even brave folk who swim in these waters without ever stepping foot on a public beach. And there are 2 billion gallons of effluent (washed down by 25 more billion gallons of wastewater--normally rain or snowmelt) coming out of large pipes around the city every year in what's called a Combined Sewer Overflow, or CSO. (You can find tons more information on this from the SWIM Coalition--and be sure to check out this swell factsheet.)

Eventually, the city needs to figure out an alternative to dumping untreated sewage into the river every time it rains or snows too much and the city's wastewater treatment plants can't handle the capacity. Until then, an effective notification system would at least help to mitigate the danger. Plenty of other cities have them (see this compendium, again from SWIM), so why not the Big Apple?

To that effect...

I look forward to seeing you there!  And till then, peaceful pooping.

Shawn "The Puru" Shafner

POOPing on City of Water Day TOMORROW

Dearest Poopers, I do so hope to see you tomorrow, Saturday 7/16, for the City of Water Day Festival on Governor's Island. It's a free all-day affair (10am-4pm) celebrating the potential of our NYC/NJ waterfront and full of entertainment, education & adventure--including a POOP table manned by The Puru himself.

But first, a pew pictures from BOB the Pavilion that I snagged on Wednesday night, before/after PERFORMANCY FORUM XIV. If you didn't know, BOB is a composting toilet and inflated platform for performance and more located on the Columbia campus and supported by a grant from Columbia University School of the Arts (SOA) and Graduate School of Architecture, Preservation, and Planning (GSAPP).

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A night and day shot of the toilet, as taken from my rather pixelated camera phone. The two tube-ish things you see above it contain the air that actually inflates the platform. According to a source I spoke with at the event, the idea is to reference the gases that come from the toilet itself and its users as being the material that inflates the overhanging white cloud.

Unfortunately, the toilet--while being a functioning composting toilet--is not to be used, as indicated by the plastic sheet covering its opening. Hence the reflection of the camera flash in the picture on the right below.

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Though the toilet is unusable, there is something very exciting about approaching this toilet that is exposed on two sides and thinking about using it. To do so in reality will have to be a part of the next project.

For now, perhaps the most effective part is the stage itself, flanked by a Greco-style well type structure, as seen in the picture below with the beautiful and amazingly talented Gelsey Bell in the corner.

 

 

And now, or something completely different...

July 16: City of Water Day Festival in NY & NJ From the upper Hudson to Raritan Bay, we are a City of Water. Spread the word and come to the waterfront on July 16, City of Water Day! On this day, the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance gathers many partners to showcase the potential of the New York/New Jersey Harbor. Come, enjoy, and help us revitalize the waterfront with this annual, one-of-a-kind festival for the entire family!

This year, festivities will take place at Governors Island and Liberty State Park. Free ferries will get you to Governors Island from Manhattan and Brooklyn (click here for the schedules) and to Liberty State Park. (Click here for the schedule of free transportation between Governors Island and Liberty State Park, and here for information about other ways to get to Liberty State Park.)

FESTIVAL HIGHLIGHTS

  • FREE boat tours for thousands on historic and educational vessels. Click here for more information
  • FREE kayaking, rowing and fishing opportunities
  • Dozens of FREE arts, crafts, games and activities for kids
  • FREE ferries between Governors Island & Liberty State Park
  • An amazing range of demonstrations, hands-on projects, free merchandise and water-related literature at the Waterfront Activity Fair--INCLUDING THE POOP PROJECT TABLE!
  • Car-free waterfront bicycling
  • Delicious food from award-winning vendors
  • Live music, and much more!!!

If you can't make it to Liberty State Park or Governors Island on July 16, enjoy City of Water Day festivities at other waterfronts around the metropolitan region, including Harlem River Park, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Staten Island, Bronx River Park, Battery Park City and Hudson River Park. Click here for information about City of Water Day in Your Neighborhood.

Hope to see you there and, as always, peaceful pooping.

Shawn "The Puru" Shafner

A Sustainable Future TONIGHT!

Dearest Poopers, I've just arrived back from exploring the deep, dark Northwoods of Wisconsin. While technically not a poop-themed trip, I did come across an fascinating artifact while sifting through a local thrift shop. I believe it is none other than Mary Poppins' plunger!

I hope that, in between your Merry Poopin', you'll have a chance to check out tonight's panel conversation, "A Sustainable Future: Green Innovations" hosted by the Visitor Center at Newtown Creek. I'm incredibly excited to pick the brilliant brains of permaculture expert Andrew Faust (Center for Bioregional Living), green designer Paul S. Mankiewicz, Ph.D. (The Gaia Institute) and ecologist Kaled Alamarie (Bureau of Environmental Planning and Analysis, DEP--filling in for John McLaughlin). Seriously folks, this is top caliber talent. If you don't believe me, check out their bios following the poster below.

Looking forward to seeing you there, and peaceful pooping.

Shawn "The Puru" Shafner

Click the picture above to see the full flyer, or click HERE to get complete directions to the Visitor Center at Newtown Creek.

Kaled Alamarie, graduated from Hunter College in 1997 a degree in Geology and a duel masters in both urban studies and Geology from Queens College. Kaled has been working for the NYCDEP for 11 years. During his tenure with the DEP he worked on the ecological restoration of Pennsylvania & Fountain Avenue landfill, Alley Creek wetland/upland restoration, Thrusby Basin Restoration, and most recently he is supervising the design and construction of the Jamaica Bay Watershed Green Infrastructure pilot studies.

Andrew Faust is one of the premier Permaculture teachers and designers in North America with nearly two decades of experience in the field. His passionate and visionary presentation and curriculum has been inspiring and motivating students since his days as an alternative school teacher at Upattinas in Glenmoore, PA. Andrew lived off the grid in West Virginia for 8 years where he designed and built a Permaculture inspired homestead including a 1600 sq ft strawbale house. He moved to Brooklyn in 2007 and has been applying his knowledge to the urban landscape culminating in a Permaculture Design Certification course many consider life changing. He is developing The Center for Bioregional Living in Ellenville, NY with his partner Adriana Magaña as a pilot campus for his students, clients and baby daughter Juniper.

Dr. Paul S. Mankiewicz, Executive Director of the Gaia Institute, received his Ph.D. from the City University of New York/New York Botanical Garden Joint Program in Plant Sciences. He holds patents on a modular, in-vessel composting system, an ultralightweight green roof plant growth medium, and a biogeochemical reactor to breakdown dioxins and PCBs. Past president of the Torrey Botanical Society & board member of the NYC Soil & Water Conservation District, he is also a past member of the Citywide Recyling Advisory Board and formerly chair of the Solid Waste Advisory Board of the Bronx. Dr. Mankiewicz has designed and built natural landscapes to provide ecosystems services including ecological filters to treat water, capture carbon, and lower energy costs in urban centers. A number of working models have been constructed, including the first green roof in the Bronx, the first industrial-scale stormwater treatment meadow and green wall on a six acre truck-to-barge material handling site at SIMS recycling facility on the Bronx River, and the first process water/greywater treatment green roof on the Linda Tool Corporation in Red Hook, Brooklyn, and the first ten of the Mayors PlaNYC 2030 enhanced tree pits for street-side storm water capture.

Discover A Sustainable Future, July 12!

Dearest Poopers, Please forgive my delay in updating the site of late. I've been deep in the Northwoods of Wisconsin traveling, camping, and pooping in holes. Meanwhile, there's so much excitement happening back in New York, with two POOP events coming up next week, and one special event I know you'll enjoy.

The POOPs!

1. Tues, 7/12, 6:30pm, "A Sustainable Future: Green Innovations." A panel conversation with Andrew Faust (Center for Bioregional Living), Paul S. Mankiewicz, Ph.D. (The Gaia Institute) and John McLaughlin (Bureau of Environmental Planning and Analysis, DEP). Hosted by the Visitor Center at Newtown Creek, and moderated by The Puru.

2. Sat, 7/16, 10am-4pm, City of Water Day Festival. Stop by the POOP table during this FREE day of entertainment, education & adventure on Governor's Island celebrating the potential of our NYC/NJ waterfront!

The Special Event!

3. Wed, 7/13, 7-10pm, Panoply Performancy Forum XIV at BOB the Pavilion.  Featuring theatre, music and dance at a composting toilet and inflated platform on the Columbia University campus.

DETAILS!!

1.

Click the picture above to see the full flyer, or click HERE to get complete directions to the Visitor Center at Newtown Creek.

2.

July 16: City of Water Day Festival in NY & NJ From the upper Hudson to Raritan Bay, we are a City of Water. Spread the word and come to the waterfront on July 16, City of Water Day! On this day, the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance gathers many partners to showcase the potential of the New York/New Jersey Harbor. Come, enjoy, and help us revitalize the waterfront with this annual, one-of-a-kind festival for the entire family!

This year, festivities will take place at Governors Island and Liberty State Park. Free ferries will get you to Governors Island from Manhattan and Brooklyn (click here for the schedules) and to Liberty State Park. (Click here for the schedule of free transportation between Governors Island and Liberty State Park, and here for information about other ways to get to Liberty State Park.)

FESTIVAL HIGHLIGHTS

  • FREE boat tours for thousands on historic and educational vessels. Click here for more information
  • FREE kayaking, rowing and fishing opportunities
  • Dozens of FREE arts, crafts, games and activities for kids
  • FREE ferries between Governors Island & Liberty State Park
  • An amazing range of demonstrations, hands-on projects, free merchandise and water-related literature at the Waterfront Activity Fair--INCLUDING THE POOP PROJECT TABLE!
  • Car-free waterfront bicycling
  • Delicious food from award-winning vendors
  • Live music, and much more!!!

If you can't make it to Liberty State Park or Governors Island on July 16, enjoy City of Water Day festivities at other waterfronts around the metropolitan region, including Harlem River Park, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Staten Island, Bronx River Park, Battery Park City and Hudson River Park. Click here for information about City of Water Day in Your Neighborhood.

3.

PERFORMANCY FORUM XIV organized by PPL AT BOB THE PAVILION

Wednesday, July 13, 7-10:00 PM

TESS DWORMAN performing an intimate, solo dance piece

PAUL PINTO AND JEFFREY YOUNG (OF THINGNY) performing a mini opera tentatively entitled Jeffrey Young and Paul Pinto Run for Office with the Help of Paul Pinto as his Wingman.

ANYA LIFTIG * performance art * performance art *

BEN SPATZ/MAXIMILIAN BALDUZZI/URBAN RESEARCH THEATER 

MATTHEW STEPHEN SMITH an excerpt from A Gathering of Very Articulate Individuals 

CHRISTY WALSH performing her I had a dream of an endless string of beautiful days in the desert, a dance/video work

and

PPL composer BRIAN MCCORKLE, performing an excerpt from the work-in-progress Institute_Institut concert-style with MEGAN COOPER, GREG LOEWER JR, DANIELLA FISCHETTI, AND MATTHEW STEPHEN SMITH

Bob the Pavilion is a composting toilet and inflated platform for performance and more http://www.bobthepavilion.com/

Bob The Pavilion was supported by a grant from Columbia University School of the Arts (SOA) and Graduate School of Architecture, Preservation, and Planning (GSAPP).

--

Very much looking forward to seeing everyone there and wishing you, as always, peaceful pooping.

Shawn "The Puru" Shafner

A Day for Pee-On-Earth

Dearest Poopers, While we normally extol the virtues of that brown stuff from behind, today we're turning around to wish you a very happy Pee-On-Earth Day!

But, please, hold it for just one more minute, and mark your calendars for Newtown Creek: Past, Present, and Future, a panel conversation happening this Thursday, June 23, from 6:30-8:30 pm at the Visitor Center at Newtown Creek, and moderated by The Puru.  Join experts Michael Heimbinder (HabitatMap), Kate Zidar (SWIM Coalition, Newtown Creek Alliance) and Paul Parkhill (Place in History) for an enlightening and engaging conversation about one of New York's most polluted water bodies--and what we can do about it.

And now...

It's always been good to be Number 1, but did you know that the yellow stuff flowing out of your urethra is actually liquid GOLD?  That's right!  Your very own urine is brimming with the nitrogen and phosphorous that plants crave to make them green and healthy. And today is the day to start spreading the love. (Unless you started last year like The Puru...)

Carol Steinfeld, wastewater expert and founder of the holiday, tells you how to do it:

PEECYCLE either directly or by depositing your contribution in a container you take outside and apply to: - Soil, wood chips or the forest floor (not pavement) - Your composter or compost pile (makes brown leaves and woodchips compost faster)

Or dilute it with 9 parts water to 1 part urine, and pour around plants! (Dilute or distribute widely: Lots of urine deposited in one spot on your lawn can result in nitrogen burn!)

She's even created this delightful decal to help you remember:

Now go out there and spread the love!!

Wishing you purposeful peeing and, as always, peaceful pooping.

Shawn "The Puru" Shafner

Bob is Coming...

Happy Friday everyone! First off, a big thank you to our friends over at Superhero Clubhouse, and congratulations on last night's work-in-progress reading of URANUS (a play about waste).  Be sure to check out the full production this June 10-12 at the Figment Festival on Governor's Island.

But what are you going to do until then?  Why not spend some time with Bob?

So, wait...what?

It turns out, Bob is part of an end-of-year project by students of Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture Planning and Preservation (GSAPP) and School of the Arts (SoA). Starting tomorrow, May 14, the pubic is welcome to check out a whole pavilion's worth of interesting projects.  But the real star, I'm sure, will be Bob.

Bob's press release states:

The pavilion will be open from May 14th until July 25th, and features a centralized public restroom with a composting toilet, a projection wall, twelve student-designed double seats and a bar flanked by an inflatable canopy. The inclusion of a composting restroom facility is integral to the concept of the installation, and emerged from the studio mantra concept that “a society that does not provide public restrooms does not deserve public art.” The single-occupancy bathroom intentionally forces a correlation between public space and a societal responsibility to provide and ensure basic necessities. The canopy will serve as temporary rain cover and shading throughout the summer months. The projection wall, a shared wall between the bathroom and open public space, will regularly feature evening film series.

There's an opening party tomorrow from 5-7pm, and you know the Puru will be in attendance.  I hope you'll join me!

Wishing you peaceful (and possibly public) pooping.

Shawn "The Puru" Shafner

Food+water=poop

It's a simple fact of life: put food and water together, mix it inside the human stomach for 12-72 hours, and voila!  Poop. As a Puru, I spend much of my time on the product, but this week I'm heading to a few cool NYC events that highlight the process.  This Thursday, April 14, I'll be at Cooper Union's Great Hall from 7-9pm for the Service to Sustainability Awards, and the launch of Water-Aid, USA: "a new initiative to ensure the purity of America's waters."   It's like two events for the price of one!  There'll be celebrities like Yoko Ono, Olympia Dukakis and Sabrina Artel of Trailer Talk, plus a lot of important people whose names we don't know!

Then, Saturday evening, I'm headed to Brooklyn for Sowing the Seeds, an event held in partnership with Food & Water Watch to get people involved in the upcoming Farm Bill .  We're going to be sprouting and fermenting with Barry Schwartz, learning 'bout the Bill (see Simple, Good and Tasty's primer here), and feeling ironic as we eat popcorn and watch King Corn, a documentary film about how corn has come to be the cream of all our crops.

Wishing you all the best of food and water, and may you enjoy peaceful pooping.

Shawn "The Puru" Shafner

Eight Festive Flushes

The Puru has begun making house calls.  The house (that is) of the Lord. Last night, I found myself at Congregation Beth Elohim in Brooklyn, eating latkes and eggplant parmesan alongside two dozen too-cool-for-religious school 7th and 8th graders. Following dinner, they lit the candles and sang Chanukkah songs while I drank ginger ale and worried about how this crowd would react to what I had to say.  And then I was on.

Most Jewish occasions are consecrated over food, which is itself consecrated by a blessing. Religious schools teach these blessings, well, religiously, and these kids knew them by heart.  None of them knew, however, that there's also a blessing for the other side of the food equation, called the Asher Yatzar.

I love this blessing. The basic translation is "Dear God, Thank you for making a body with many holes and openings.  Should any of them ever come open when they shouldn't, or close up when they shouldn't, I would really be in trouble.  Seriously, thanks."

Earlier that day, I had taken myself to the doctor after feeling for two weeks like I was in danger of wetting myself inopportunely.  (Ironic, I know, for the poop guy to suddenly have pee-pee problems, but the world works in mysterious ways...) After a flirtation with adult diapers (more on that soon) and two days on antibiotics, I not only have a renewed respect for modern medicine, but also for the importance of a working urinary and digestive tract.  You might say it's the best holiday gift one could receive.

But that would be corny.  So instead, and in honor of the last night of Chanukkah, the impending Christmas, solstice, Kwanzaa, etc., I give you:

EIGHT FESTIVE NY FECAL FIELD TRIPS

1. After that afternoon coffee, make a pit stop at the Bryant Park public facilities, which were nominated for a 2010 Best Restroom Award.  Feel free to stop and smell the fresh cut flowers on your way in.

2. For a few years now, the Charmin toilet paper company has taken advantage of the holidays to provide a Times Square home for all those tourist tushes out there. It's all part of their "Enjoy the Go" campaign, and this year's offerings include the ability to poop in all 50 states.

3. For the technologically interested, WIRED has opened up a kinky-cool space on Broadway and 4th Street showcasing all sorts of gadgets and doo-hickeys, including the Envirolet FlushSmart Composting Toilet System.  Don't get caught with your pants down--the store is only open Wed-Sun until Dec. 26, and the composting commode is only for viewing.

4. Give yourself the gift of a well-washed rear, and try a Toto Washlet at a restaurant near you. (For more info, refer to prior post Wade in the Washlet.)

5. Head on out Dec. 15 for the free launch party of the new essay collection Toilets: Public Restrooms and the Politics of Sharing edited by Harvey Molotch and Laura Noren. 5:30-8, FREE + wine & cheese, but you gotta RSVP.

Mr. Hankey, the South Park masterpiece

6. Let the internet help you put the reason back into the season.  Click here to watch the episode that started it all: Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo.

7. Consider giving the gift that's both green and a little gross.  There are a few companies making beautiful stationary, picture frames and more out of all sorts of recycled poop.  Check out Haathi Chaap for paper primarily made from elephant poo, options of elephant, cow, horse, and panda PooPooPaper or even Sheep Poo Paper.  Just think: if you move to Wales then it could be YOUR job to pick up all those pellets!

8. Join The POOP Project on Monday, Dec. 27 at 7:00pm for a hilariously highfalutin reading of Jonathan Swift's 18th century scatological poetry.  Hosted by Swift's Hibernian Lounge.

Wishing you a very happy holiday season and, as always, peaceful pooping!

Shawn "The Puru" Shafner

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