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Should I hire a community association management company to help organize my community?

The first question you need to ask does your Homeowner Association Board have extensive and practical experience in financial budgets, governance, community operations, and training for new board members. If you didn't immediately answer yes to each of those questions than a professional community association Management Company could be of service to your board. One more thing to consider is with your homeowner association board is not just do you have the experience, though do you have the time.

Unless your homeowner association board is made of fulltime board members which it probably is not, you have other responsibilities to your own business or employment that take priority for your time. This is why hiring a community management company is so important. That way you have a fulltime staff working to run your community.

One of the most beneficial items from using a professional community management team is operational budgets. The process of having a detailed and accurate budget for board members to make decisions from is crucial to community success. Since management companies with extensive experience have created many successful budgets the difference in accuracy is immense. With realistic budgets and planning your board members can feel confident that they are making the right decisions for their residents. Management services can guide board members through operational challenges that will arise no matter how detailed planning is. The biggest mistake most homeowner association boards make is a lack of a consistent communication process to updates and how the challenge will be solved.

When all community processes are handled by trained fulltime staff your community can run smoothly and it makes you look good for your residents. The reality is that most home owners only notice their association board when there are issues. The best boards are the ones that the residents don't even think about.

Have you ever been frustrated with new board members? Not that they are not bright and highly accomplished people, though they lack the experience of how your board and community works. Professional community management companies should have experience in how to train new board members into effective decision members that can contribute faster to their respected development.

The part that most residents notice the most is the up keep around the properties. Making sure that every person or business responsible is delivering can be overwhelming. The most effective community management companies have systems in place to organic and manage each community to keep property values and impressions up.

Just think if your homeowner association board is having any issues that professional community management could take care of. Less head aches and smoother management makes being on a association board more enjoyable and effective.

Parker Finch specializes in professional community management with online resident services for home owners.

Why is Antarctica a fragile environment

Antarctica, being the last unexplored and unexploited continent on earth is largely untouched and not a contributor to the global warming. Its harsh environment has remained unchanged through millenniums. It is considerably large, about double of Australia’s size, and is covered by a thick sheet of ice. The ice acts as a reflector which makes most of the sun’s heat bounce back leaving the continent cold (-57 deg Fahrenheit) The continent of Antarctica is home to a uniquely beautiful and harsh environment that makes it the coldest place on earth.

All this may soon change as the desire to explore and mine the natural resources of the planet is gaining momentum. Ever since the 1950s scientists have been setting up research stations and exploring the continent, often at huge personal risk. By late 1950s some twelve countries established their bases in Antarctica. The world sat up and took notice. The SCAR (Scientific Committee on Antarctica Research) was formed with the US, Norway, Chile, France, Argentina, U.K., Australia, Russia, New Zealand, South Africa, Japan, Belgium, as members. Poland and Germany joined later. The objective of this committee is to share the research and findings and also consider the issue of climate change.

In 1980 however large deposits of valuable resources such as oil, coal and natural gas were discovered and this has led to a debate on whether to exploit these reserves or not. The debate is pertinent because Antarctica has a huge influence on the climate of the world and the slightest disturbance can have a huge, detrimental impact on the world climate. For example, if just the west Antarctica’s ice sheet melts, the sea level world wide could rise about 20 feet resulting in wide spread flooding in the coastal regions and devastation. It is a valid fear that any thoughtless tampering with the untouched Antarctic environment could lead to increasing the already upset environmental health of the world.

In 1991 a 50 year moratorium was imposed on the use and exploitation of Antarctica’s natural resources, however there is a valid fear that economic and political pressures could lead to nations disregarding it. The global demand for energy keeps rising and this may lead to opening up of Antarctica for oil exploration. If so, the repercussions will be severe as it will cause chaos in the fragile environment of the world.

Why is Styrofoam bad for the environment?

Styrofoam is getting bad press recently and justifiably so. We have all been informed, most emphatically; by environmentalists that Styrofoam does bad things to the planet. A lot of public relations exercises have been done by manufacturers about Styrofoam recycling the efficacy of which is also suspect.

First of all Styrofoam is not foam at all. It is a synthetic material formed by extruded polystyrene and is trademarked by the manufacturer, Dow Chemical Co. Polystyrene is used for protective packaging of food and also for packing non-durables like audio and video cassettes etc. Originally this was considered a wonderful invention in 1940s and put to varied uses because of its many qualities like superior insulating and buoyancy.

However it has a lot of unfavorable qualities too, that are truly harmful to both the human health and the environment.

1. Styrofoam has toxins which leach out of these containers into the edible food that are packaged. Polystyrene actually emits harmful things like Styrene and Benzene into the air and into the food that has been packed in such containers. When the food is eaten, these toxins affect the reproductive system of the consumer. Styrene then ends up getting stored in our fat cells, where they can accumulate to dangerous levels causing nervousness, fatigue, insomnia, depression and nervousness. Benzene causes cancer in humans. Now, due to more awareness, less of these products are used for packing edibles, but they are still used. The reason is that Styrofoam is cheaper than paper cups and containers.

2. Styrofoam products are made with petroleum. Petroleum is a heavy pollutant; moreover this is a commodity that is getting scarce. This is another negative against using Styrofoam.

3. The product is not biodegrade. It seems to last eternally. The reason is that the environment does not seem to harm it. Moreover, since it is light, the wind makes it fly away, and it floats on water. Over long periods of time, a great deal of this material has accumulated in our water bodies, affecting marine life.

3. The Styrofoam that ends up in our garbage continues to live there indefinitely. Over time, animals end up eating it and it clogs their digestive systems. Since animals do get eaten by others and also by man, it directly and indirectly affects our health.

4. Styrofoam is increasingly taking up space in our landfills. The landfills will eventually be breached, and since it does not break down and get recycled by the earth, this is a dangerous situation.

5. Styrofoam manufacturing is done using hydrofluorocarbons or HFCs and more recently CFCs that contribute to global warming and deplete the ozone layer.

What is Carbon Footprint

A lot has been said and discussed about the carbon footprint, and how we need to reduce our carbon footprint to save the planet. In order to do so we need to first understand what carbon footprint is. Carbon footprint refers to the emissions of carbon dioxide or green house gases we emit in the course of our daily activity.
Allow me to explain this. The carbon footprint that the person has on the environment can be calculated by the lifestyle of the person, his actions, his home and the level of emission of greenhouse gases that these things emit. These emissions of greenhouse gases are then measured and calculated to CO2 units, and figure reached by these calculations are the carbon footprint of the person.

Actually, everything we do can add to our carbon footprint. Every breath we take also adds to our carbon footprint. This does not mean that we stop breathing!!! We can however start being careful and making corrections in our lifestyle. Small changes in our lifestyle can go a long way to reduce our carbon footprint.

All our actions, driving a car, cooking food, energy consumption through one’s day and night produces carbon. The climate of earth is undergoing rapid changes that are not beneficial for the atmosphere and our well being. As per environmentalists, the carbon emissions produced by humans has caused our environment great harm. Polar ice caps have shrunk over the last hundred years or so, the climate is changing and the seasons have shifted. We are harming the planet.

We need to take steps to reduce our carbon footprint. An excellent way of doing this is to reduce our energy consumption. Switch off the TV when not in use, unplug our electrical gadgets or switch off power points when we are not using them. We can also switch of lights when we don’t need them. This is a good way to reduce our carbon footprint.

We can start reducing our carbon footprint by reducing our fuel consumption. One excellent way of doing it is to take public transport, or start a car pool. For short distances it is always a good idea to walk. It saves the gas bill and also helps reduce carbon footprint.

Planting trees is a good way to reduce the carbon emissions. Trees help reducing the carbon in the atmosphere and are healthy for us.

Small things like this go a long way to help us with carbon emissions.

Do you know your carbon footprint

Carbon footprint is an issue that has been worrying environmentalists for quite some time, because due to greenhouse gas emissions the planet has become hotter, the polar ice caps have shrunk and there are more natural calamities. The truth is that we have impacted the earth’s climate in a very harmful way due to our living habits.

There are two types of carbon footprints due to human activity;

1. Primary carbon foot print which is the direct carbon emission done by a human being’s activity – such as fuel and energy consumption

2. Secondary carbon footprint which is the indirect carbon emissions, for instance if you prefer to buy and eat food products from overseas, it burns a lot of fuel to get to your table. It also relates to your fashion tastes, if you recycle or not, and even what you prefer to do in your free time.

Food Preference also means that if you like to eat meat, you would have a larger carbon footprint since cooking of meat takes longer than cooking of organic vegetables. Processing meat also takes longer.

Another significant feature of larger footprints is excessive buying of clothes and accessories, just to keep up with fashion.

Hobbies can be environmentally beneficial or not, it depends on what you choose. If you would like to race automobiles or speed boat you are consuming more fuel and that will increase carbon emissions.

It is imperative to know what your carbon footprint is so that one can take steps to reduce it. Reduction of carbon footprint is not difficult. Small insignificant changes in lifestyle and habits go a long way in reducing carbon footprint.

The car you use, the distances you drive, your fuel consumption can be calculated. How you heat your home, the air-conditioning you use also emits carbon gases. So does the food and other stuff you buy.

If you go online, you will find excellent ways to calculate your carbon footprint taking your lifestyle into account. To reduce your carbon footprint, you have to simply go back to a simpler lifestyle. You would need to start re-cycling, re-using and also returning to the environment by planting trees.

The best part in all this effort would be that you will also save money. Eating food that you grow at home, reducing your fuel and energy consumption would mean that you will be spending less money. Cutting down on your clothes bill and keeping your needs simple makes a positive impact not only on the environment but also your budget.

What does the Organic Label Really Mean?

Thanks to the 'Organic' labels -the consumers can now spare themselves the trouble of going through the list of ingredients on a product's packet in order to decide whether it is organic or not. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has introduced a few national standards that need to be met before companies can use the term "organic" for their food items. Any product labeled 'Organic' assures that it is created without the use of artificial hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, bio energy, or irradiation. The farmers involved in the agriculture of organic foods are not only required to abide by certain water and soil conservation mechanisms, but also need to give a benign treatment to animals.

The Definition of Organic

It may be strange yet interesting to note that marking a food item as organic does not necessarily indicate that the food is healthful and nutritive. The USDA does not claim that food produced organically has more salubrious benefits than conventional food, but it does assure that such foods do not contain any pesticides or harmful chemicals. Therefore, the picky consumers, who pay a lot of heed to nutritional values of everything they eat, are still required to read labels attentively in order to decide how nutritious their diet is going to be. Another interpretation conveys that the term 'organic' does not mean 'natural.' All it means is that USDA has approved the food.

USDA's Steps towards Creating Organic Foods

These days, the USDA makes the use of state and private agencies in order to carry out inspections on food companies to certify them to market organic foods. However, all the farmers making less than $5000 through organic sales are exempted from the process of certification. They do however, have to comply with the latest standards of the government and be veracious about their claims for organic label. A fine, as large as $10,000, can be issued upon the companies and individuals, who try to label or sell a product, which does not meet the USDA standards.

The Benefits of Organic Foods over Conventional Foods

The best thing about organic foods is that they comprise of less amounts of minerals. Most of the other foods contain heavy metals, detrimental to our health in the end. These metals include aluminum, which is responsible for Alzheimer's disease; Mercury, which causes neurological damage; and lead, the mental implications of which are known to affect children's IQ adversely.

Therefore, in a world where nothing can be trusted for complete purity, the consumption of foods, certified as organic can certainly define your path towards a healthier lifestyle.

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How Does Organic Food Affect Your Body

Present day health conscious people are attracted more towards natural living fundamental, which includes organic foods as well. But, why do people prefer organic foods instead of conventional foods? How does organic ingredients affect your body? Organic products actually are specially grown food products, rich in organic ingredients, inculcated deliberately. Diets rich in organic health items give natural and fresh dose to the body, as compared to the pesticide inflicted non-organic foods, generally available in the market. Sometimes, conventional foods contain genetically modified organisms (GMO).

Problems associated with non-organic foods The following problems are commonly associated with non-organic products:

Low energy Levels

Low libido

Low motivation levels

Low metabolism Benefits of organic foods for the body Organic items provide not only mental and emotional benefits, but also the physical ones. Therefore, organic foods are fulfilling mentally, physically, and psychologically. Organic products do not contain toxins such as pesticides, antibiotics, additives, and nitrates that are mostly present in non-organic foods. According to an article in the Journal of Applied Nutrition, organic foods are nearly the best ones in the terms of nutritional quality.

Nutrients content of organic foods

Haves: Some of the rich nutrients, largely available in organic health items are:

Chromium - A micro-nutrient, found less in conventional food. Its deficiency may cause diabetes and atherosclerosis in adults.

Selenium - An antioxidant micro-nutrient, which protects from cancer, heart disease, and environmental chemical

Calcium - A mineral required for strong bones and teethes

Boron - This trace element prevents osteoporosis

Lithium - Good for the treatment of certain level of depression

Magnesium - Decreases the death rate, caused due to heart attacks and eases the symptoms of PMS

Vitamins - They are necessary for the body in limited supply for its proper functions and its protection against toxins. Vitamins A, B, C (antioxidant), and beta carotene (immunity booster & prevents lung cancer) are found well in organic foods

Have Nots: According to the researchers, organic foods contain less level of minerals, especially the following heavy metals:

Aluminum - Is responsible for the development of Alzheimer's disease

Lead - Has mental implications and can adversely affect children's IQ

Mercury - It causes neurological damage

Therefore, consuming organic produce is certainly a good idea and promise for good health and long lives, provided you follow the right diet patterns coupled with regular exercising! Organic products have health benefits for you and for the environment that makes long term differences.

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What is Organic Farming and is it Important

Organic farming is a broad concept with extreme application. It is well appreciated on a large scale by the people as now with the help of it they can easily grow their own food. If you have a little bit of free time with you then you need not to face any kind of problem. You can prepare and serve good quality delicious food by doing organic farming at your home.

It is not true that organic farming is practiced at a small scale only. By having a trip of farming sector you can easily understand how much vast this sector actually is. This is not the case some time before. Few years back it was not a highly thriving and demanding sector but now the case has totally changed. It is now not limited to a small scale industry as day by day more corporate sectors are taking interest in this field. Large corporate farming is taking keen interest in the concept of organic farming. Continuous research is going on to find out the way by which huge fields of a single crop can be grown. No one can deny the fact that in the process of organic farming, pests are believed to be the major threat. Due to harmful impact on the biodiversity unnatural pesticides are not much preferred to use.

If you are going for the natural pesticides for controlling the pests then it is certainly an eco friendly approach but believed to be much expensive in contrast to unnatural ones. Some time before, due to expensive nature they were not much preferred in the process of organic farming. After the entrance of large scale industries with huge budget this can be achieved now very easily. Natural pesticides can be a good option when it is about the large scale organic farming but if you are going for it at your home or at a small scale in a separate piece of land then it is advisable to look for any other good option. This is because like other kinds of farming organic farming also requires the process of sowing, cultivating and harvesting. If you do not have proper arrangement of water for the purpose of irrigation then you require depending largely on the rain water. If you are concluding the process of organic farming at your home then irrigation is not a big issue but even at a small scale proper arrangement of water is very essential. If you do not have a huge budget with you then it can be a difficult work for you. You require investing a good amount on purchase of seeds, irrigation, fertilizers, harvesting, etc.

There is much debate till now on the use of unnatural pesticides in the process of organic farming. Several environmentalists and consumer protection organization have claimed that the use of unnatural pesticides not only damage the environment but also have an adverse impact on the quality of food. For killing the insects and pests these pesticides are used but they are not considered helpful after sometime. It is so because these insects as well as the pests easily get adapted to the effects of the chemicals involved in them and so these pesticides looses their worth. Sooner or later it damages the health of the final consumer who without knowing consumes a large amount of lethal chemicals and synthesized materials along with the natural food. Thus it is injurious for the health of the human being as well.

Thus there are several ways by which you can have your favorite vegetables as well as fruits and that too with the help of inorganic as well as organic farming. As there are several pros as well as cons of both it is up to you to decide the one that is best for you. You can make use of organic farming to turn your dreams into reality and the best part is it is already benefiting millions of people so you are not at all required to worry for it as well. offers discount prices on organic baby clothes, organic coffee, and more.

When Mother Nature Fires Back


The people who lost their homes in the recent California fires are suffering from multiple catastrophic losses. These losses are sudden, senseless, unexpected and unjust. The survivors are left with a special set of problems, and the mourning period is prolonged, pending legal mandates, insurance or FEMA assistance. Frequently the anger stage is extended until financial and legal issues have been resolved.

Mother Nature

The awesome power of nature can be overwhelming. Human beings are at the mercy of the natural elements and activity on our planet: wildfires, tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, floods, avalanches and volcanic eruptions claim many lives every year. Sometimes entire communities have been wiped out due to a natural disaster. The tsunamis in Southeast Asia in December of 2004 killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries. Many more died later of hunger, and the recovery effort to rebuild the survivors’ lives and communities continues. Many people affected by this natural disaster are still without critical infrastructure like roads, power, drainage, and vegetation.

Hurricane Katrina, a category five hurricane, hit New Orleans and the Gulf Coast in August 2005 with a vengeance, leaving nearly two thousand dead, thousands more homeless, and an estimated $84 billion dollars in damage.

The whole country rallied by donating blood and sending money, clothes, and food to help the relief efforts, but those who lost loved ones have no one to blame and must grieve for those who died. Survivors experienced multiple losses: their homes, clothes, and personal possessions, many of which are irreplaceable – family photos and paperwork, for example.

Fortunately, with modern technology we sometimes have enough forewarning to evacuate, as the dreaded event gets close. But this is only true of some disasters, and only possible in developed countries.

These events may also cause sudden, unexpected deaths of people and pets, and the grieving process must be done after the fact and after the loss. There will be many others who have gone through the experience with you, so you will have a common experience of loss and you may be able to comfort each other. But for your individual loss, you will feel your own personal pain, and will need to grieve and heal yourself in your own way.

The Trauma of Victimization

Initially people are grateful to survive, to be alive and quickly conclude that what they have lost are just “things.” When it is an act of nature there is no one to blame. But it is different if it is proven that an arsonist set the fire. Then grief will be focused on the perpetrator of the crime. Relatives of victims suffer too. The shock leaves everyone in a state of psychological disruption and disorganization, unable to think clearly or to make decisions. They will feel overwhelmed and devastated by the shock their loss and the emotional pain caused will last for a long time. As they pick through the ashes they will remember what they can’t replace, photos, collections, collectibles, art work, keepsakes and other things that they were attached to. Difficult decisions will need to be made—about rebuilding or moving. Financial devastation will be an issue for many who had no insurance or were underinsured.

They can't understand why this happened to them. It is senseless. Their lives may be shattered in a variety of ways. There may be other losses like a pet that couldn’t be rescued, or perhaps a physical injury is involved. People often suffer post-traumatic stress after such losses and seeking counseling is a good thing to do. Victims will grieve for multiple losses.

If a criminal act is involved then anger will be focused on the legal system. Victim rights groups believe that education of the public about how the criminal justice system works is critical. This can be a long frustrating process with no compensation at the end of the road, if the person is indigent. A perpetrator who is arrested may get out on bail, have his trial delayed for over a year, and may go through several years of costly appeals before his final punishment is carried out.

Healing grief is related how many losses suffered and how you are able to put your life back together. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, it is a process of emotional healing and unique to every individual. Such a big loss will put stress on your relationships. Be patient and gentle with yourself and with family members.


This article was written by Nancy O'Connor Ph.D.. She worked as a Psychotherapist for 23 years and was the Director of the Grief and Loss Center in Tucson, Arizona for 12 years . She is the author of the best selling book Letting Go With Love: The Grieving Process and How to Grow Up When You're Grown Up: Achieving Balance in Adulthood. How To Talk To Your Doctor. Her books may be reviewed and purchased at