He's a Rebel!
The Rhizome Collective's Scott Kellogg
I approach the Rhizome Collective on a sunny Saturday, and co-founder Scott Kellogg is in the middle of the street, his long hair flowing over a satellite dish covered in broken bits of mirror. He aims the dish into the sun, holding a piece of cardboard in front of the dish, careful to reflect the concentrated sunlight into the center of the board. In minutes, the cardboard is in flames at our feet. "We sometimes boil eggs with it," Kellogg says.
The Rhizome Collective was founded in 2000 as a center for community organizing and urban sustainability education. The founding members replaced asphalt with wood mulch and soil, and now the space fosters gardens and a greenhouse that supports tilapia and catfish. "Our take on sustainability is that it's not something that we should be waiting for governments or corporations ... to decide that it's time to start doing the green thing," Kellogg says. "We're trying to just empower individuals ... to let people know it's something they can do without having a lot of money and without necessarily having backgrounds in engineering or the sciences." Hence my five-minute lesson on solar cooking.
In a more formal setting, the Rhizome hosts Radical Urban Sustainability Training, intensive weekendlong seminars on ecological survival skills. Part of the RUST workshop is held at the collective's brownfield property, a 10-acre field in the Montopolis neighborhood donated to the collective in 2004 as a cleanup project. At the end of April, the brownfield property will be another sort of dumping ground: It's where the Rhizome will install one of the city's first code-approved composting toilets. "We were able to do it there because we're exactly 100 feet away from an existing sewer line. ... We hope to demonstrate that they function just fine."
Kellogg and his composting cohorts also work to educate fellow citizens outside of their properties: Recently founded business Soil Cyclers offers local businesses a bicycle-powered food-waste-hauling service, and Kellogg's book, Toolbox for Sustainable City Living: A Do-It-Ourselves Guide (South End Press), co-written by Stacy Pettigrew, comes out in June.
To learn more about the Rhizome Collective, visit www.rhizomecollective.org.
Green Crush Faves:
Enviro doc: Darwin's Nightmare
Fave local green business(es): Ecology Action, DieselGreen Fuels
Fave locally grown/produced foods/drinks: White Mountain tofu, Boggy Creek Farm
Fave shade of green: red and black