Two Dozen Long Stem Roses


Today I lugged two boxes of a dozen organic long stem roses and a vase from my office to my home. It took a little maneuvering in the subway, but I managed pretty well. I unwrapped them all carefully, so as not to prick a finger or break a flower. Now that I sit across from them, I must admit that I very much appreciate the little things people do for one another--like the time and thought it takes for someone to send these along.

It's time for me to slow down...just a little bit...and just think and enjoy. As a matter of fact, I've been feeling very satisfied (though not satiated) as of late. I'm just very happy where I'm at and what I'm doing and the good people that are around me. It's taken some time to sit back, take it all in, and reflect, but it feels really good to do just that.

breathe deeply....


I had a chance this past April to swing by the Cornell Textiles & Fashion School and give a talk on sustainable fashion. Students are a good gauge as to how information is being dispersed and what effect it is having because they are more informed than the average person, but the information is obtained in drastically different ways.

How did they read sustainability in the press?

Answer: As a trend.

It wasn't clear for the majority of them that "sustainability" was something that would be here season-to-season. They commented that how it is written about in the press makes it "feel" like a trend, more than something that is here to stay.

There you have it journalists: Now you got to start addressing the fact that this is a valid movement in the textiles and apparel industry.

For the fashionistas: I'm wearing AOI, which is a recycled kimono double-cuff jacket with an organic cotton "LOVE" tee by Katharine Hamnett.

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Behind-the-scenes at LOHAS


These are some pix provided by our friends over at Elephant Magazine.

It was during our interview with them and right before our panel. Let me fill you in on what is happening in the pictures: Way is doing the interviewing and pretending to listen to what we're all saying (You know I love you Way, but it's so true!).

And for all you fashion freaks out there, I'm wearing an organic cotton dress by Sublet Clothing; shoes by Charmone; a sustainably-harvested African blackwood bracelet by a.d. schwarz; a horn ring made by a cooperative of women in Colombia and purchased at a local sustainable jewelry shop (Lisa Linhardt designs). Sorry, I don't know what all the boys are wearing, but I think Way exclusively wears vintage duds. Bryan was flaunting some tailored suit. Graham was wearing the same damn jacket as Danny, which was pretty funny.

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From Jake, The Bleeder:

"You are really making me laugh. You have to be the hottest invertebrate interior decorator going right now. While all the other designers were concentrating on rotting fruit and leaf cover, you were all over the coconut hut trend. Don't hate girl, innovate, i love it! keep the updates coming." - jake

Summer Rayne's Insect Urban Planning Tip of the Day:

Make sure your bodies of water are highly oxygenated. Stagnant water can attract mosquitoes. However, if you are a mosquito lover, I suggest setting up the "Blood Donor Facility" on the outskirts of the insect city surrounded by shrubbery, so as not to disturb the local residents.

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Do you remember the article on my bug fetish, "What's Bugging Summer Rayne," I wrote years ago for SASS Magazine, as per Sean's request?

Well, I just got a whole new troupe of arthropods in today, which is cause for great excitement. My friend, Jake and I were preparing the terrariums all weekend. There were a few mishaps along the way. Jake fell off the ladder while hanging up some plants and put a foot straight through one of the glass cases. He cut himself up pretty badly and we had to go get peroxide and bandages because he was a bleeder. Right after that, we had to go back to the pet store to get another terrarium.

Then this morning, UPS never delivered the blasted insect package because the plane had been delayed. Finally, UPS came back, but only on a whim because the shipper misspelled my street name. Thank goodness they found me--otherwise I would have had a box of fried cockroaches!

Right now I have two terrariums: Forest terrain and desert terrain--to accommodate the different habitat preferences of the species. I'm in agreement with Jake: The desert terrain is pretty damn sweet. I have a number of succulents and a coconut hut, the latter which has been the hotbed of insect activity. I think the Madagascar hissing cockroach (who is more suitable in the forest terrain, but had to separate him from the female roaches for obvious reasons) is shacking up right now with a desert millipede in the hut. That inspires me to actually create a new terrarium with little coconut huts with signs like, "The Roach Motel," "The Bug Bar," "Centipede Shoe Shine" know, the usual hang-out joints for beasts like these.

I have a lot of new insects that I haven't raised before, like the red-backed darkling beetles and common darkling beetles. I was actually surprised that they do headstands as a defensive mechanism, which is pretty cool. They're related to the blue death-feigning beetles, (which I have raised before), and who actually roll over and play dead. Well, at least I know they are pretty agile--maybe I should start a coconut hut-gymnasium.

Another newcomer is the absolutely stunning show-stopper of a bug: A female Hercules beetle. She has not removed herself from the organic banana and kiwi slices, but graciously shares them with the Black African millipedes (my favorite) and the red-backed darklings. This will provide endless hours of enjoyment for me...Just wait until I start walking them in Bryant Park... ;o)

The desert terrarium with just two death-feigning beetles from a previous upbringing

The desert terrarium with it's residents. Millipede in transit; blue death-feigning female and darkling beetle chowing down on a banana and strawberry; and desert millipede in the background sucking on a kiwi.
A female blue death-feigning beetle on a succulent

Residents eating outside the coconut house

The forest habitat with a Madagascar hissing roach and Black African millipede in the back

The opulent Hercules beetle (female). Females are sexually-dimorphic, which means they look drastically different from the males, who have large horns protruding from their head. Hercules beetles are the strongest animals in the world, capable of lifting objects 850 times their weight. I didn't get a male. They can get pretty angry during mating season.

Lady Hercules gets her fill of fresh organic fruits.

A red-backed darkling beetle in the forest habitat.

Another red-backed exploring the wood-chip terrain

A Black African millipede chows down on my plants. They are known to have a pretty voracious appetite and will often go after my plants.

Total insect collection count:
- 2 Black African Millipedes
- 3 Desert Millipedes
- 1 Hercules Beetle
- 6 Blue Death-Feigning Beetles
- 4 Red-backed Darkling Beetles
- 2 Common Darkling Beetles
- 3 Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches

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This past week I was at the LOHAS Conference in Boulder to talk on a Planet Green panel and catch up and connect with so many of the cool people within this space. Shout out to Way, Ted, Tommy, Jack, Andreas, Olivier, Linda, Denise, Gerald, and everyone else that I'm leaving out because there are just too many names to mention.

On the plane ride back to New York, I noticed the guy next to me was flipping through the latest copy of Men's Health. There is a great greening section in there with the ever-popular Mike Rowe (from Dirty Jobs). They gave me a nice feature on the inside. Just as I was craning my neck over to see, he turned and said, "Hey, that's you, isn't it?" All I can say is: Thank goodness they didn't put my whole interview in there. I remember it being a tad risqué.

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My local paper, The Times Tribune, gave me a sweet write-up. It was great to hear back from all my PA peeps and have yet to read and write back to everyone. This is just a holler out to everyone, "A big thank you," and can't wait to come back July and organize some great programs back home.

(image is from shooting the "G Word" on a farm that captures methane from cows to power 2,500 homes)

Here's the article below:

Former Montdale resident, model and activist becomes environmental reporter for new Discovery channel


Summer Rayne Oakes’ criteria for being an environmentalist is pretty broad.

“If you drink the water and breath the air, you’re an environmentalist,” the former Montdale resident said.

“It’s those of us worried about putting food on their plates. It’s those of us worried about getting their kids to school and putting gas in their tanks.”

Ms. Oakes worries about all of those things, and then some. And she just got a bigger platform for airing her views.

A few weeks ago, the environmental activist and model devoted exclusively to sustainable, eco-friendly fashion, began her tenure as an on-air personality, or “resident expert,” on Discovery Planet Green, a new cable channel devoted completely to environmentally conscious programming.

Right now, Ms. Oakes, 24, can be found serving as a correspondent on “G Word,” a magazine show geared toward environmental trends. Early episodes will find her getting down and dirty on a methane recapture farm, climbing windmills and swimming in the Pacific Trash Vortex, a swirling cauldron of plastic and other debris that’s twice the size of Texas.

“I’m kind of like the Mike Rowe of Planet Green,” she said with a laugh, referring to the host of the popular Discovery Channel program, “Dirty Jobs.”

Then, in August, she’ll be featured on “Battleground Earth,” an irreverent reality show that will pit rocker Tommy Lee against rapper Ludacris in a competition to find out who’s the greenest.

“It’s just off-the-wall funny,” said Ms. Oakes, admitting she at first had some reservations about doing the show.

Other duties

It doesn’t end there. Her duties also require her to file eco-related reports on “Access Hollywood,” write on fashion and beauty tips on the channel’s Web site and maintain a blog on the political Web site Huffington Post, which will be similar to the one she does for the popular eco blog, Tree Hugger.

“I’m just having an awesome time,” Ms. Oakes said. “It’s great, because I’m just using my knowledge and my passion and my sense of humor.

“I think it’s really going to be a hit,” she said of the channel. “I think they’ve got some great talent and great people to build some buzz.”

On top of that, she believes her presence on the channel will go a long way toward “enabling and enhancing my platform.”

Ms. Oakes’ eco-conciousness first surfaced during her early years, trudging through the fields and forests of Scott Township. She was one of those kids whose idea of fun was lugging a gallon jug of caterpillars to school or growing mold in the refrigerator.

“I was probably always the most environmental kid in the bunch when it came to school,” she said. “It was always just a source of inspiration for me. I was always a curious kid. And I wanted to get into things.”

By her teenage years, she was actively involved in community environmental affairs. At Lakeland High School, she was a member of the school’s award-winning environmental club. She helped coordinate Scott Township’s recycling program and established a newsletter called Buzzworm. And she checked the water quality of area streams and worked on the Grassy Island Mine Reclamation project for the Lackawanna County Conservation District.

“Having a leadership position at a young age, for any kid, that’s a lot of positive reinforcement,” she said. “Kids want to be involved. They just need a little more direction.”

Studied bugs

It was at Cornell University, where she majored in natural resources and entomology (the study of bugs), that she first came upon the notion of using fashion and media to communicate her environmental passions.

By her second semester there, Ms. Oakes had already gotten published in a science journal. Still, she quickly came to the realization that “no one reads those things.” And she wasn’t getting through to her friends at all.

“They’d make fun of me. ‘You’re a park ranger,’ they’d say. They didn’t get the environment,” she said.

Frustrated, she started to think of other approaches, eventually landing upon the rather unconventional idea of using her All-American good looks for green purposes. She began taking trips into New York City, and in little time was landing jobs modeling eco-friendly clothing. What she came to realize was, though superficial in many ways, fashion “uses the media brilliantly.”

To this day, Ms. Oakes has been exclusively devoted to designers and companies that emphasize sustainable and organic fabrics and fair- trade agreements.

Her niche approach has resulted in a fair bit of press, including a two-page photo spread in Vanity Fair magazine last year. She’s come to be known as “the eco model,” a term she at first thought was somewhat “goofy” but has since come to embrace.

“There’s really no one else at this nexus,” said Ms. Oakes, whose everyday wardrobe tends toward organic-blend cotton shirts and vegan shoes.

The modeling has allowed Ms. Oakes to promote and write about the myriad environmental issues near and dear to her heart, including the concept of green jobs, a subject she wrote about in a recent op-ed column that ran in The Times-Tribune. In the piece, she discusses the impact “green-collar” jobs like installing solar panels, reclaiming mine sites and retrofitting buildings for energy efficiency can have on Northeastern Pennsylvania’s economy.

“I think there’s a real opportunity for Scranton and the other areas to be leaders,” she said. “I love the idea of green jobs ... green jobs reinvigorating people in other areas. We know this is a viable business.”

Speaking of NEPA, Ms. Oakes said she gets back to the area “a fair amount.” She plans to be home for a few days in July to visit her father, Robert, of Dunmore, and grandparents, Erwin “Smitty” and Lilian Schmitt, of Olyphant. Her mother, Diane Oakes, now lives outside Cleveland.

“Pennsylania’s such a beatiful state, and summer’s a good time to come back,” she said.

So what do her parents make of her career?

“I think they dig it. I don’t think they completely get what I do,” Ms. Oakes said with a laugh.

Which is fine. So long as she can keep promoting the gospel of green, she’ll be content.

“This is a real national movement that’s underway. It’s about connecting people and strengthening them,” Ms. Oakes said. “Once people start getting involved, you can’t stop. It enhances your life. It gives you a sense of purpose.”

Learn more about Summer Rayne Oakes

Age: 24

RESIDENCE: A former resident of the Montdale section of Scott Township, she now lives in New York City

FAMILY: She is the daughter of Diane Oakes, Lakewood, Ohio, and Robert Oakes, Dunmore. She has a brother, Travis, Philadelphia. She is the granddaughter of Erwin “Smitty” and Lilian Schmitt, Olyphant; and Walter Oakes, Florida; and the late Jessie Oakes.

EDUCATION: A Lakeland High School graduate, she has a bachelor’s degree in natural resources and entomology.

OCCUPATION: A model specializing in sustainable, eco-friendly fashion, she is an on-air personality and resident expert on the new cable channel, Discovery Planet Green, which is devoted entirely to environmentally conscious programming. She currently appears on the show “G Word,” and in August will be featured on the reality show, “Battleground Earth.” She also files eco-themed reports for “Access Hollywood” and writes blogs for the Web sites The Huffington Post and Tree Hugger.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Visit her Web site, For more on Planet Green, visit: http://planetgreen.

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Thanks for making such a nice comp and write-up.

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Damn Earth First. Thanks for the #1 Position . I love my bugs. See who the rest of the 25 gals are: (#1-5); (#6-10); (#11-15); (#16-20); (#21-25). And thanks for thinking my work is the hottest part. And it's WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY TODAY so let's celebrate.

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When Grizzlies Attack!


Okay, so not really, but close! This is a cool clip we did for and Planet Green for the Outdoors Lover. It covers Great Bear National Rainforest and my amazing run with the salmon. Okay, so I know Nau went out of business (sniffles), but the Great Bear stuff is tre cool and good news: they continue to raise money for this unique ecosystem-based management program. Check it out here or below. And want to find out how to get involved? Visit Greenpeace Canada here. » Gifts for the Outdoors Lover with Summer Rayne Oakes from on Vimeo.

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You may have seen this video go viral with over 6,000,000 views on Youtube. This is a brilliant organization that is focused on elephant rehabilitation and conservation. Way to go Elephant Art! Elephant bamboo/organic cotton shirt by MIKA available at Watch elephants paint here or below. It really is mind-blowing...And get prepared: Because Elephant Art is coming to NYC in a big way THIS FALL! » Gifts for the Animal Lover with Summer Rayne Oakes from on Vimeo.

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This is a playful little behind-the-scenes to the gift guides. George! I can't believe you filmed that - you were getting all up in there! What a compromising position. A dirty little secret: I even had to take my underwear off because they were causing panty lines..(I was sooo afraid to sit on the bike seat). I can't image juicing my juice this way...that was until...Check out the fun video here or below. » Bike-Powered Bender in Action Summer Rayne Oakes Behind the Scenes from on Vimeo.

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What to get for Daddy


State Must Don Green Collar


One of the most rewarding parts of my week: Writing for my local paper, The Times Tribune.

Check it out here entitled, "State Must Don Green Collar."

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Here is a sneak peak of one. Hindu Kush's poignant Blood for Oil music video.
Check out my other picks of the month over at Huffington Post Green

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Green-Collar Jobs or Rust-Belt Future?


This is a feature I wrote for based off an op-ed that I wrote for my local Pennsylvania paper.

This week the US Senate will begin debate on the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act of 2007 and a new bill called Investing in Climate Action and Protection Act (iCAP). I gather Representative Ed Markey, Chair of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, who is introducing the latter bill, will no doubt receive opposition.

The bill goes much further than Lieberman-Warner in addressing the rising climate, low- and middle-income communities, and green-collar jobs. It borrows language and ideas from the Green Jobs Act of 2007, which is part of the current Energy Bill . All this being said, I think it is high time we had a bill that addresses our true needs. I encourage everyone who feels inspired to get on the horn to their Senators and tell them you support it.

While the Lieberman-Warner Bill is far from perfect and an important attempt to build consensus and address global warming—the Department of Energy estimates the Lieberman-Warner Act will save $180 billion on foreign oil expenditures by 2030—it needs to be strengthened and the billions of dollars of subsidies for nuclear energy be removed (uranium is not a clean renewable energy—just talk to the indigenous peoples whose land it is mined). Both these bills, however, actually hold part of the key to much-needed job growth in ailing job markets throughout America.

Today, much of our country is suffering from stagnant wages, increasing income gaps, a shortage of new industries and potential drivers of job growth. Plus, with the never-ending rise of gas and food prices, real wages have eroded by 1.2 percent according to the USDA’s chief economist. Worse yet, food prices are forecast to rise another 3 to 4 percent this year.

So how would a bill like iCAP create jobs?

Simple, it would create the jobs of the future, new local jobs, jobs that cannot be outsourced—in other words, Green Jobs. And these jobs span the gamut, yet with one important thing in common. From installing solar panels and constructing transit lines to retrofitting buildings for energy-efficiency, reclaiming mine sites, and refining vegetable waste oil into biodiesel, all these jobs benefit the economy and improve our environment.

Moreover, the rise of “green-collar” jobs is a growing national movement. Witness this past March’s National Green Jobs Conference held in Pittsburgh and April’s Dream Reborn Green Jobs Conference in Memphis—an important recognition that Green Jobs are a real opportunity for cities and states struggling to find new paths to job growth.

As a child, I learned first-hand what struggling families go through, growing up in a single-parent household in Northeastern Pennsylvania. For the latter part of my childhood, I was raised by my mom, who armed with no more than a high school degree had to take two jobs and maintain a 14-16 hour workday. We lived paycheck to paycheck and without a refrigerator, phone, or television for quite some time—not by choice, but by necessity. Finally, before I even turned 15, to find a better job that could sustain us and my dream of a college education, she had to make a choice—leave Pennsylvania for greener pastures.

It shouldn’t have to be that way. Pennsylvania and other struggling areas should be a land of opportunity. Much of the U.S. workforce is ideally suited to green-collar work—many are middle-skill jobs that are well within reach for low income workers if they have access to effective training programs and support. Whether it’s learning the new skills needed to become a renewable energy technician or retraining workers for a clean energy economy, i.e., fixing an electric engine, our universities, technical schools, businesses and governments need to lead the way.

But they won’t do so unless we lead first. That’s why it’s essential for us as citizens of the United States to make our voice heard in the green debate taking place nationwide. If a bill like the Green Jobs Act passes, it will provide 125 million dollars every year for green jobs training—that is 30,000-35,000 people being trained for good, sustainable jobs that cannot be outsourced. Additionally 20 percent of those dollars will be set aside for the most marginalized to help build green pathways out of poverty.

iCAP is slated to go even further. It will return over half of pollution allowance auction proceeds to low- and middle-income households to help compensate for any increase in energy costs as a result of climate legislation. It also proposes to invest the remaining auction proceeds to further reduce the costs of climate policy, through green job growth and training, clean energy technologies, and incentives for foresters and farmers to reduce their carbon footprint. It basically says that even though we are going to cut emissions drastically, those in low- and middle-income communities—those of us that have the most to lose—will not be left behind.

To repeat, green jobs are starting to pop up nationwide. And there is no excuse why cities and states across America cannot be a leader in this area. We have everything to gain and so much to lose. But it can only happen if we take this opportunity to speak up at town hall meetings, write letters and set up meetings with your Senators, Representatives, and Governors, and even start green job coalitions in your area. I suggest visiting and NWF’s fun site “It’s So Easy a Raccoon can do it!” to get started.

Now is the time to move beyond the challenges of our rust belt past and invest in the potential of a “green collar” future—a path to a cleaner, healthier environment and a more prosperous America.

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