An Energy Conscious Business

About The First Law

The First Law is in reference to conservation of energy. The First Law will teach you where energy comes from and how it can be used.

Horticulture

The First Law will introduce you to themes, in the horticulture industry, such as gardening, landscape architecture, and permaculture practices.

Sustainability

The First Law is your resource for finding more sustainable ways to live.

Projects

Need some help with your next project? Explore some of my previous projects or inquire about how The First Law can serve you.

America The Beautiful: Part 2

Destination 11: Yellowstone National Park
Old Faithful; one of our oldest, most active geysers that goes off multiple times a day like clockwork. We arrived at dawn to a steaming mound and no one in our sight. It was brisk and windy; we made our way up the cliff side above Old Faithful. We got our blood pumping and were rewarded with being able to watch it erupt high into the sky. The power of water under pressure is amazing. IMG_6094
As the sun started to peer into the park, the crowds grew thick. We hiked for a few miles through fields of geysers. The salt buildup in these pools gave them amazing color displays on the edges with the clearest water in the middle. The prevalence of Sulphur in these pools could be smelled throughout the hike. (Think rotting eggs) IMG_6153
Next was the Grand Canyon at Yellowstone. This was my single most favorite spot on my road trip. IMG_6171
Seeing the waterfall from a distance was confusing. To see it so small, but hear how loud it was proved that the force of water is enough to carve a canyon out of rocks. IMG_6190
To hike down to the top of this 308 foot waterfall, stand at the top and look down the river, was another thing. IMG_6202
It makes you feel small! The only other thing that can be said about Yellowstone is you need time there. At least one week… On the road again…

Destination 12: Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve
Our next adventure took us to Arco, Idaho. We camped at the preserve, in between huge rocks that looked like asteroids on Earth. They were good wind blocks. IMG_6223
I awoke before sunrise and snapped this shot. IMG_6222
The lava flow at this site had hardened in bands that looked like braided rope. It provided a rich atmosphere for some plants, but a rough terrain to grow in. Some small flowers could be seen among the scattered Limper Pines. IMG_6236
I was able to find some of the volcanic rock that had been broken, and the inside displayed a porous matrix of hard lava rock and air space. IMG_6273
We continued on to hike Devil’s Orchard Trail. IMG_6294
We saw some interesting rock formations, spatter cones, and cave entrances. IMG_6320
With a long drive to Utah ahead of us, we got on the road before sunset.

Destination 13: Bryce Canyon National Park
Upon immediately entering Bryce Canyon National Park, we happened upon the visitor center that had just completed construction of a Concentrating Photovoltaic Solar Array system. IMG_6398
It was ingeniously designed to be 53 feet off the ground so there is no habitat loss to the wildlife, in addition to it being a good perching area for birds. IMG_6400
The solar panels installed are way more efficient than conventional solar panels currently on the market, will track the sun throughout the day, and save the park about $40,000 a year in electricity costs. Way to go Bryce Canyon! Our hike down our first trail led us through a couple archways to many interesting rock formations, called Hoodoo’s. IMG_6421
We then followed many switchbacks back up to Thor’s Hammer. IMG_6447
I was pretty thrilled to be on this adventure with my big brother. IMG_6449
Learning about the lands we visited was a big part of our adventure. We did research, talked to park rangers, examined maps, and read quotes of visitors throughout history. Here is one quote from Herbert E. Gregory from his geological and geographic sketch of Bryce Canyon National Park, in 1950: “of this vast region of unexcelled scenery in Utah and Arizona, Bryce Canyon National Park is but a short narrow strip along the southeaster rim of the Paunsangunt Plateau and this plateau is only one of the seven great tables that dominate the landscape of Southern Utah.” Great tables, indeed.

Destination 14: The Grand Canyon National Park
I had long been waiting for an opportunity to see the Grand Canyon in person. Knowing how big it is made think we wouldn’t be able to see much of it. I decided to explore the southern rim mostly. My initial walk out to look into the Canyon was terrifying as I realized all those small green dots were trees. IMG_6495
The canyon was so huge and we were about a mile about the Colorado River that flowed within. The next logical thing to do was take the South Kaibab trail down many switchbacks, past donkeys, as far into the canyon as we could. IMG_6506
There was no way we could make it to the river and back by sunset, and we had no camping gear, so we only went a few miles in. We headed back up and went down to the Bright Angel Trailhead. The vista from the trailhead was a gorgeous sight to see. After a short hike, it was sadly time to move on and set up camp for the night.
Traveling can bring together individuals who share the same type of energy. That night we bumped into a new friend, Christo, while camping in the back country. We exchanged stories around the fire before and after one small hike to the fire tower. As we watched the moon on this cloudy, windy, night we talked of our love of Maui and how we would rendezvous there in a month or so. He is a man of his word and we continued our friendship in Hawai’i. That’s true Aloha.

Destination 15: The Hoover Dam and VegasIMG_6670
Many have heard of the Hoover Dam, but even less has heard of Lake Mead. They share a relationship through the man who provides the namesake to the Lake. Dr. Elwood Mead was a water and irrigation engineer. He wrote Wyoming’s first water code which was emulated around the world. As a water conservationist, his genius was recognized and he was named Bureau of Reclamation’s first commissioner, where his last final project in his life was the Hoover Dam.IMG_6683
The Hoover Dam is a huge concrete structure that reclaims the water from the Colorado River. That is the same river that flows through the Grand Canyon. It was built with huge concrete blocks, 215 in total, that range from 25-60 feet. IMG_6675
The dam generates about 4 billion kilowatt-hours of hydroelectric power each year. That goes to about 1.3 million people in Arizona, California, and Nevada. The power plant is down near the foundation, split into 2 wings that have 17 turbines total. IMG_6678
It is a great example of America using the topography and landscape to produce clean, renewable energy. ‘Merica! IMG_6673
Our trip through Vegas was a short one. We visited my friend Joe from Philadelphia, and we caught up for a few hours before eating dinner and hitting the road, once again.

Destination 16: Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree was not a destination on my original itinerary, but life happens. On the route to the Grand Canyon, we hit a deer in my brother’s car while going around a blind turn in Utah. This led to a long evening of dragging the deer off the highway, waiting for the police, talking to insurance on the phone, and looking for a shop to take the vehicle to. We were forced to leave my brothers car in Utah, and to take a rental car on the last leg of our journey. My brother then had to head back from LA two days early so he would not have to wait an extra weekend to get his vehicle, before driving back cross country, alone. So we decided to skip our plans to see Yosemite and Silicon Valley, which was unfortunate because Silicon Valley was the place my brother wanted to visit most.
Joshua Tree is an interesting meeting place of 2 ecosystems. The eastern part of the park is a lower desert and considered the Colorado Desert. The western half is higher in elevation, and considered the Mojave Desert. We visited the western half to see the legendary Joshua Tree and the awkward rock stacks. IMG_6710
We were not disappointed with what we found. We came across cacti, trees suffocated by parasitic mistletoe, massive boulders laying on massive boulders, and a tarantula! IMG_6770

IMG_6727
It soon became apparent that we were not spending enough time out west. There are massive areas to explore, plants to see, and wildlife to observe. With the day winding down quickly, we hit the road together for the last time.

Destination 17: Costa Mesa, California
One of my best friends from college, Loc, had moved to Costa Mesa from Philadelphia to pursue success as a landscape architect. This was a great opportunity to visit him, and potentially have one quick adventure together. We met him, and spent the night with him in Costa Mesa. The next morning my brother and I said goodbye. It would be nearly 3 months until we would see each other once again. I convinced Loc to join me on a short camping trip to the Sequoia National Forest. We had spent many days on campus at Temple Ambler, under the Metasequoia, studying, playing Frisbee, and planning travels and designs. California had been a destination we hoped to explore together, and we finally had a chance. I immediately rented a car for the weekend we started heading North.

Destination 18: Sequoia National Forest
Our drive into the forest was eerie and exciting. Our ascent up the mountain began at sunset, and we were soon climbing switchbacks in the dark. Our headlights would illuminate huge trees at ever other bend, with steep cliffs at the others. We climbed another couple thousand feet before reaching our campsite for the night. We set up camp, got our fire going, and enjoyed some snacks before calling it a night. We rose with the sun and headed to a local spot on the mountain for breakfast. While doing so, we got the low down on trail closures due to recent fires and storms. This limited our itinerary to only visiting the Trail of 1,000 Giants. We didn’t have to hike far to find these majestic creatures. One tree with fire damage on the inside had 4 leaders that rose from the ground to make the trunk. That created a small tunnel to walk through. A small photoshoot ensued. IMG_6792

IMG_6798

IMG_6805
We continued down the trail only for another couple minutes before we lost the trail. Downed trees and plant debris prevented us from going any further without losing our path back, so we turned around. Loc and I made many stops at scenic lookouts along the switchbacks down the mountain. IMG_6816
With a vista of trees as far as my eyes could see, my road trip was feeling pretty complete. On the road one last time.

Destination 19: Anaheim, California
The time for my road trip was coming to an end. It was Halloween, and I had to catch a flight to Hawai’i from Los Angeles in two days. Having come from Philadelphia, I was not in the mood for much city time. I got a hold of a great high school friend, Nicole, to spend the next few days with. We spent a lot of time on her roof next door to the Angel’s stadium. We spent countless hours catching up from the last 8 years. We had plans to go out and enjoy ourselves for Halloween celebrations, but stayed in last minute due to great travel, relationship, and friendly conversation. It was so great to reconnect and realize we were still close despite years apart. My last few hours on the mainland were spent in reflection. I thought of all the great friends I got to see, the breathtaking landscapes of the various national parks I visited, and the experiences I gained while car camping for 3 weeks. I then started to look forward on the Hawai’ian journey I was about to set out upon, on the road trips I would take across country in the future, and on the amazing job opportunities that would fill the next year of my life. Time to board.

Destination 20: Maui, Hawaii
This entire road trip was a pre-cursor to a 4 month adventure in Maui. I got a job offer to go live off the grid, take care of a 10-acre estate, and work for a 1-acre organic micro-farm, called Maui Moon Farm. As a horticulturist in Pennsylvania, I have the ability to travel in the winter when I’m not in the growing season. I visited Oahu in 2014, then Maui in January of 2015. I was curious what it would be like to live and work in paradise. Fortunately, I have amazing friends who find unreal opportunities for me. My time here is coming to a close, and the experience I gained was years’ worth squeezed into 4 short months. I look forward to writing a post in the near future that will highlight my experience in great detail.
Maui travelers map

Final Thoughts:
Traveling is an activity that should be prioritized high on ones list of things to do with life. You meet people, see sunrises and sunsets, go on great hikes, struggle with those you love while living together in small spaces, and lose your attachment to material things. I have a deep appreciation for those initial explorers of our national parks for their sense of adventure, love for nature, and their vision to protect it. I titled this post America the Beautiful because I purchased a National Park Pass labeled “America the Beautiful” that gave me free entry into all the parks I visited. I’ll leave you with these words from Edward Abbey, “It is not enough to understand the natural world; the point is to defend and preserve it.”
Aloha

America The Beautiful: Part 1

For those of you who don’t know me personally, you may not know that family is a huge part of my life. I come from a family in East Africa, where my parents had over a dozen siblings, each. I have a modest 5 siblings. We are all very close, and they are all apart of some of my best travel stories. My childhood was peppered with roadtrips to various parts of the North America; from Orlando, Texas, Memphis, and Toronto to name a few. My most recent journey will take us back to October 2015 to a great celebration of love. My sister, Kulthum, has found her other half in our childhood friend, Sean. They decided to further their commitment with a Nikkah. A Nikkah is a religious wedding ceremony that serves as a sacred act and legal agreement that can be witnessed by the two joining families. IMG_5431 My father, Yusuf, graciously hosted the Mohamedali’s and Mcnamara’s so our houses could join. It was a quick, simple, ceremony and my sister looked beautiful. IMG_2294IMG_5479 Coffee and chocolates are standard at every event by my family. IMG_5481 The lovely Dee Thurner made all the arrangements for the special day (Black Eyed Susan Design). IMG_2303

IMG_2304 We had such an amazing time on this day. IMG_2318

IMG_2324

The next day my brother and I said our “see you later’s” to our friends and family before leaving on our cross country journey. I planned a route using an app, RoadTrippers, which would take me through as many national parks as possible. IMG_20160307_203020 We were leaving from Allentown, Pennsylvania, heading to Los Angeles, California, with hopes to visit a handful of friends and family along the way.

Destination 1 & 2: Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Cleveland Ohio
A long journey east through Pennsylvania to Ohio, along with it being a brisk day, led us to decide to take one short hike before continuing on to Cleveland. IMG_5643 We hiked around the Brandywine Falls and enjoyed the peaceful sounds of the flowing water and chirping birds. Great first hike! A goal of mine on this journey was to see how America is producing their energy at different levels. IMG_5661 The Great Lakes was a prime example of how easily wind energy can be harvested in certain locations. First Energy Stadium and the Great Lakes Science Center both have huge windmills to power their facilities. We had a quick chance to sightsee before the rain came down hard, and then started a long drive to Kentucky to set up camp.

Destination 3: Mammoth Cave National Park
Mammoth Caves, in Kentucky, is the largest cave system in the world. There are 405 miles of explored area, with an estimated over 1,200 miles of potentially accessible caves. We went on one short journey into the caves, but the future may hold a spelunking journey for me in these caves. While picture taking was difficult, I can tell you that we witnessed cave crickets, some bats, and breathtaking natural formations.
IMG_5691

IMG_5693

IMG_5694
An early start left us with plenty of sunlight for a hike above the caves. The National Park has quite the topography of rolling hills, streams, and heavily wooded forests. IMG_5700 The butterflies were abundant and the canopies were majestic. IMG_5705
IMG_5701 We had hopes of visiting my friend Neal and getting deep dish pizza in Chicago, so, on the road again.

Destination 4: Chi-town
The journey to Chicago made this trip start to feel like something bigger. Our drive through Indiana took us into the sunset with miles and miles of countless windmills. IMG_5707 We had entered the open country and it started to dawn on us how far our destinations were from each other. It was a good reminder to enjoy the journey as much as the destination, and to take moments to stop the car and reflect. IMG_5713 We bought 3 deep dish pizzas on our way to spend the night with Neal and his brother. Our main destination was to see Millennium Park, but we also wanted to see more of Chicago. We rented bikes for the day and easily put 10 miles on them just cruising around the city. IMG_5729 IMG_5747 Chicago is beautiful, with its huge sculptures, amazing art, bustling activity, and delicious food. IMG_5727 If you live in the Northeast, make it a point to visit this culture filled city. We ate Chicago dogs, and then chased the sunset to a frozen lake. IMG_5769
On the road again.

Destination 5: Dawson, Minnesota
We decided to stay with my sister and her kids for a couple days. A mild October allowed me to take my niece on walks, and teach her about Sumacs. IMG_5787 We got to enjoy some quality time together, but I had a timeline to follow.

Destination 6: Sioux Falls
Sioux Falls drew me to a state I had never been in, South Dakota. IMG_5806 It is arguably the quietest city I have ever been in. Like I do on most hikes, I followed the water uphill. It led us into town where we found a Michelangelo replica. IMG_5826 The town had time capsules scattered about and wall art for days. IMG_5840IMG_5831 We spent time watching the falls go through the old Sioux Falls Light & Power Hydroelectric plant and thought how inspiring it was that in 1908 we had the ability to power all the lights and street carts in a town with a single small plant. IMG_5853

IMG_5860 Sioux Falls now has a place in my heart.

Destination 7: Badlands National Park
One badass place, in the middle of the prairie. IMG_5900 Our long drive from Sioux Falls got us through South Dakota in time for a sunset at the beginning of our drive into the National Park. IMG_5912 The pinks and oranges in the clouds during the sunset provided much tranquility on our search for our campground. The dirt roads and lack of lights made it one bumpy, blind ride along cliff sides. IMG_5920 We awoke to grazing buffalo in the field across us, and gave us a warm Midwest welcome. We saw many wild rodents, buffalo, rams, butterflies, and cacti on our hike from sunrise to sunset. We set up camp for the night before heading to the black hills.

Destination 8 and 9: Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse
My next two stops were on the western edge of South Dakota. We first stopped at the Mount Rushmore National Memorial. IMG_5998 It was the ultimate experience to walk down to the base, and see it up close on a hike through the evergreen forest. To learn about the construction methods of this national monument was awe-inspiring. Brave men hung off cliff faces, blasting dynamite, using jackhammers, and wedges to finish off the faces. IMG_6032 The compressors for the jackhammers and the pipeline from the original construction process can still be observed at the monument.
Having visited Mount Rushmore, I felt it imperative to visit Craze Horse Monument. IMG_6045 This monument is a private endeavor, and will be the largest sculpture in the world. If you want your breath taken away, then visit this site. It dwarfs Mount Rushmore, and could even fit the Sphinx at Giza inside of it! It will still be years until it is finally finished, so another visit down the line will be in order. IMG_6046 Both of these sculptures in South Dakota can be found in Custer County. One can find beautiful hikes and huge caves there in the Black Hills, which makes it a popular destination in South Dakota. As the sun began to set, we got on the road once again, with Denver in sight.

Destination 10: Denver, Colorado
About this time, my brother and I had started to crave a bed to sleep in and some home cooked meals. We headed to Arvada to stay with Ian, my college roommate. His mom makes a mean taco lasagna that I waited 5 years to have for a second time. It was not a disappointment. We made little plans other than eating good food, hitting all the thrift shops in hopes to find some gear from Vale, and to go to a comedy show. A friend from upstate New York, Tillman, had relocated to Denver and recently had a birthday. He joined us at the comedy show where we got to see Pete Davidson from SNL and Jordan Rock (Chris Rock’s younger brother). We enjoyed many laughs together until my cheeks hurt. Our hopes were to visit and climb Pikes Peak. It is the highest summit of the southern front range of the Rocky Mountains. Terrible weather and hazardous road conditions prevented us from driving up the mountain, so we moved on to Wyoming.

Check back soon to read the second half of my journey out west!

New blog, new beginnings


The first rule of Fight Club is you do not talk about Fight Club, but you are not Jack’s wasted life. The first law of energy states that energy can not be created, neither can it be destroyed.  What it can do is change in form, potentially giving off heat and gases as a result. This law of energy movement is the foundation of The First Law. Everything that we know is existing in some form of energy. From the food that we eat, the sun rays that warm our skin, to the gasoline that fuels our automobiles. The first law will explore the different forms by the study of horticulture, landscape architecture, permaculture practices, and may highlight a little bit of political activism because it’s important to ensure that our elected officials know that we as a human race deserve to live on a more sustainable earth.

I will take this first entry as an opportunity to introduce myself. My name is Jabir Mohamedali, and no, no relation. While pursuing my degree I became very interested in urban gardening.  I interned at Crane Arts Company, where I learned about growing vegetables in an urban setting, maintaining gardens, and the value of permeable paved parking lots in alleviating the pressures on the municipalities storm water systems.  I began to study the benefits and construction methods of green roofs and green walls and how we could use them to make Philadelphia a better city to live in.  After graduating, I worked with Urban Jungle as their Horticulturist planting residential, commercial, and non-profit gardens that can be seen around Philadelphia.  I now serve as an Ecological Landscape Professional while also being the Sole Proprietor of a small business, The First Law.  My goal is to make efficient, small space gardens in Philadelphia.  I have spent the last 6 months developing a soil blend for Bennett Compost through various experiments with their compost, which is sourced from Philadelphia residents and businesses.

aaa4795e-ae40-4f44-9f8c-58abe0d460aa

My ambitions now are aimed towards food production. I have been offered a farmer position for a CSA in a Bucks County homesteading community. I am deeply humbled and anxious to start using soil, water, and seed to feed 13 families. I write this a week before I leave on a cross country trip with my older brother Ali, who has been a big influence on my life. His passion, love, and dedication to family, community, and donating his time has been inspiring.  I look forward to spending nearly 3 weeks on our road trip to California.

While I’m happy to have the opportunity to spend the time with him, we will be saying see you later for the last time in 3 months.  Bittersweet, because I’m flying off to Hawaii to work for 4 months!  Some of you are thinking, “wait… I know math. Something doesn’t add up.” Well, for those of you who don’t know me very well, my sister is having a Maui beach wedding on my birthday week, so I’ll be seeing family and friends for my birthday week! I’ll spend one more month abroad then return in the Spring to farm and grow in Pennsylvania.

My hopes are to experience organic farming in tropical climates, but will begin with an opportunity to work on beautiful properties while I search the islands. I’m excited to start this journey, and I invite you to join me.

Feel free to email me with any suggestions questions or comments @ JabirM1989@gmail.com