Tamara J Gordy

Facilitating sustainable environmental and social impact

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Natural Skincare – the start of an obsession

Lately I find myself more and more turned off by mainstream drugstore products for skin, hair, and home. One look at an ingredient label is enough to know that rubbing that stuff all over yourself does not sound like a bright idea. Even many products marketed as natural and organic have ingredients that are known or suspected toxins. I want to find out if we can do better.

By making my own, I get to experiment with some of the best things nature has to offer, like essential oils, Shea Butter, Kukui Nut Oil, Coconut Oil, and Sweet Almond oil. These are rich luxurious cold-pressed unrefined natural oils, filled with naturally-occurring nutrients, interesting aromas, and healthy fatty acids.

I’d like to invite you to join me so we can learn about natural, small-batch DIY care for face, hair, body and home together. So far I’ve learned that there is a wealth of information and experience that we can tap. I also learned that, just like with cooking,  just because someone publishes a recipe on the internet or in a book, does not mean that it is a good recipe, and that things like the quality of ingredients and technique make a huge difference in the awesomeness of the final product.

I’m in my happy place. Learning, researching, experimenting, and playing in the kitchen.  And my skin has never felt so soft.

What are your experiences making and using natural products for skin and home?




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Tamara’s Blogging weekend

This weekend is the Biannual Blogathon Bash. The bash is basically a motivational blogging challenge. It asks for as much blogging as you are willing to do over a 3-day period. There are mini-challenges and prizes. 

My goal is to make at least one post per day. With my son visiting from out of town and a BBQ on the other side of the water, I don’t want to over-commit. My main reasons for joining the blogathon is to inspire more learning about online tools and to keep writing.

If you decide to join the Blogathon Bash too, let me know in the comment section so I can come and visit.


Hello world!

Welcome to TamaraJGordy.WordPress.com!

This is my latest blog-adventure. I migrated some previous material from Blogger after finding out that many topics I wanted to share and discuss were beyond energy efficiency.

I’m passionate about helping people and companies find ways to live well without wasting resources, so energy efficiency will continue to be a topic.  I’d also love to talk about exploring strengthening culture and community, green business, corporate social responsibility, telling powerful stories, and more.  My hope is for this new forum to open the door to more interesting learning and conversations, without limiting the topics that you and I want to hear about.

Please bear with me  as I will be learning WordPress and other online tools (right here with you watching and, hopefully, sharing advice).


Reinventing Fire: A Book Review

Sustainable Industries just posted a review of Amory Lovins new book, Reinventing Fire by Jay Ogilvy, co-founder of the Global Business Network and former dean and chief academic officer at the Presidio Graduate School.

Ogilvy introduces the book by saying:

Many know Amory Lovins as what Isaiah Berlin would call a hedgehog rather than a fox: a thinker with one big idea rather than a lot of little ones. In Lovins’ case, the one big idea would be conservation though efficiency, an idea he made elegantly famous by favoring “negawatts” over megawatts–energy not used over energy that is expensively lifted out of the ground. By pursuing demand side management—the “soft path”—rather than drilling for more oil or building more nuclear plants—the “hard path”—we can end our oil addiction, reduce our energy costs, and live in a safer and more secure environment.

In Reinventing Fire, Lovins and his staff at the Rocky Mountain Institute have not surrendered the soft path vision first put forth in Foreign Affairs in 1976. But now they have filled in that big, hedgehog-like idea with enough detail to satisfy the foxes. Rather than relying on one big technological breakthrough to supply cheap, clean energy—an approach that, by comparison, looks pretty hedgehoggish—Lovins and Co. rely only on well-proven, existing technologies to chart a pragmatic path from here to a much better future.

I’ll get the chance to read it myself during the upcoming between quarter break. Meanwhile, I wanted to share this new work by someone who approaches energy efficiency as a comprehensive strategy for economic and foreign policy resilience while combatting climate change.

Join team Soft Path, and win, win, win.


Spark’s 1st Video Release

Drum-roll please. Spark in the Dark’s first-ever home video is complete, and is about to be unveiled, in public, right here on this very blog.

This was created for an assignment in BGI’s Social Media for Social Change class.Many of us wondered how we could possibly complete the assignment. I started out not even knowing that Windows comes with a video editor. Its called Movie Maker. It is limited, but in that useful sort of way that makes it relatively easy to use.

After worrying about the assignment for a bit, I finally let go and had some fun with it. In the spirit of the class (“ship early ship often, and don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good enough”), I unveil it here, for your viewing pleasure.

It was fun to meet Joule. Her agent says that she is available for film, play, and commercial roles.


Blog Action Day: Good food. Good business.

Many of my days of late are spent studying “Business for Good” at the Bainbridge Graduate Institute in Seattle. Recently I was lucky enough to join a small group of people in involved in agriculture, the food biz, and sustainable business in Mexico to experience an excellent example of what it means.

It is just more satisfying to do business when everybody wins. That is exactly what happened when self-confessed Napa-based bean lover, author, cook, entrepreneur, and all-around cool guy, Steve Sando aka Rancho Gordo New World Specialty Food, teamed up with Xoxoc, a Mexican family-business dedicated to business, community, food, and family based on their rich Mexican heritage of food and culture.

The Rancho Gordo-Xoxoc Project that grew out of this partnership involves creating a market for heritage beans, Xoxoc products that are based on the native xoconostle tuna, a kind of prickly pear fruit, along with related foods and handmade Mexican products. They are even working with the famed Diana Kennedy to bring a hard to source chile to the American marketplace.

By the standards of big industrial business, the kind of market we are talking about is tiny. But when you look at the big picture, the impact is really impressive. Bringing customers unique and top-quality products that taste great is always front and center. Yet un-trumpeted, and behind the scenes, there is something equally powerful going on.

Steve profiles the great food elements of the Rancho Gordo-Xoxoc Project here and here, and the meals, mezcal, cooking classes, and all-around good times from our trip on his blog here. I’m going to take a different tack, and share what it means from the perspective of energy, green building and real wages for real people.

The Project means that there is a group of hardworking families, like the farmers of Maguey Verde, a small village in Hidalgo State, Mexico, who can now make a living raising heritage beans. Their market niche was quickly being replaced by industrial agriculture and its focus on one or two commercial varieties. Instead of risking a season’s worth of time and effort, just to take the beans to a commodity market that does not prize unique varieties or chemical-free agricultural methods, and where buyers pay the lowest possible price, the Xoxoc farmers can focus on quality, tradition, and production, knowing that their crop is pre-sold. The growers benefit, and so do consumers, who get access to dried beans so fresh and tasty that leading chefs and high-end food magazines extoll their virtues.

Being able to sell your crop is about more than maintaining a family tradition of crops suited to the natural conditions, and grown without irrigation, on communal ejido lands with horse-drawn plows instead of machinery. It translates into things like villages that come together and have enough money to maintain a shared well that for the past couple of years has brought running water to people’s homes. It means the possibility of being able to send your daughter to school past the 6th grade. The 2-horse plow is pretty cool too.

According to Yunuen Carillo Quiroz, one of our gracious hosts, a force-of-nature, and, one of the driving forces behind Xoxoc, they could have built a standard sort of industrial processing facility. Instead they chose to go sustainable, where beauty and good design counts, and the ratio of environmental impact to economic and cultural value is better for everyone involved. They chose traditional construction techniques and materials so they could keep the traditions alive with experienced craftsmen supervising and teaching their methods to laborers unfamiliar with old ways and indigenous materials. Those laborers left with a paycheck and new “old” skills they can bring to the next project and the one after that.

In contrast to the often dark and ugly buildings in the area, the Xoxoc buildings look great and they are designed to make the most of natural daylight. This is handy, especially since the receiving, processing, and packaging areas are not wired. That’s right – the only electricity in the entire facility is for a cutting edge solar-powered dehydrating unit where the xoconostle fruit is turned into dried treats.

Everything else, from washing and peeling the fruit, to sorting and cleaning beans destined for the American market, is done by hand. Doing it this way keeps capital costs down. It also creates good jobs for 11 women, many who are single mothers raising families in an area where employment and money are both in short supply.,

Like every business everywhere, it takes persistence, hard work, and a good sense of humor to make it happen. And where some might say the goal of business is to squeeze a dime out of every nickel, for me, the businesses that do good while doing business are the ones that capture my heart.

PS For more interesting reads, check out Blog Action Day.Link