Living Light
Welcome! You have found the site of the CreationKeepers team (Christ Church's Eco Church Committee), which shares ideas and experiences about how we can all lighten our environmental footprint. We do this because we see our planet and its resources at a breaking point and believe in the power of personal examples. Most weeks, we will reflect on some aspect of living, working, shopping, consuming, reading, learning, etc. These are all local experiences and can easily be adopted by others in our community. Our authors (Rosie and Monika) look forward to any comments or ideas that you may also have and want to share. Send us your ideas at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Blog #75: It's hot, hot, hot in Vienna

June 23rd, 2022
Monika Weber-Fahr
Thirty. Thirty-one. Thirty-two. Yes, these were the numbers on the thermostat in my kitchen in downtown Vienna this week, and if I read the forecast right we’ll get to 34o centigrade next week. It’s hot in Vienna - even though summer only just started. Is this the changing climate or has Vienna always been that warm in the summer? I don’t really know; what I do know is that we just saw a full-scale heat wave across Europe and North Africa, with temperatures well above 40 degrees in Spain, France and Germany; the drought in Italy with unusually low water levels in the river Po is only part of that story.  Earlier in June, similar heat waves - there with temperatures well into the 40s -  hit North America, and earlier in the year India and Pakistan. Harvests are at risk and forest fires on the rise.
What to do? Here in Vienna, a major concern is everybody’s health: Many people - in particular as we get older - cannot handle extreme temperatures well. Staying cool and staying hydrated is critical! The city helps - with some 1,300 public drinking water fountains, 170 water fog set-ups and over 70 mobile wells, amongst other things.  All of them are are easy to find - at least when using the Cooles Wien app, available for free in your app store. There you can find - at the tip of your finger - how far you (or your dog!) are from the next water fountain, or where you can find other opportunities for cooling down, including parks and swimming pools.  And if you want to find out whether your area is particularly hot, do check out the Vienna heat map, listing parts of town that are particularly exposed. This is based on the temperatures typically measured in these areas and based on the share of young people and senior citizens living there.
Vienna has a few other great locations that might allow you to stay cool - without spending extra energy. Several Viennese churches have - literally - cool underground locations, including St. Stephan’s catacombes, the Capuchin’s Crypt, or the crypt in St Peter’s Church. And yes, it can get chilly in these underground places, if though they may not be for the fainthearted.  If you like things to be adventurous, you may even go on the Third man tour - remember that novel of Grahame Greene, a film with Orson Wells? - that takes place primarily in the Viennese underground!  Other somewhat odd places in Vienna that offer enjoyable coolness include the Salzgrotte Oceaneum and the Polardome in the Schönbrunn Zoo. 
Mostly though, when walking across town, a quick visit in any of the churches will offer respite from the heat.  What better reason to come for a visit to a holy place?  The catholic church is pro-actively using the cool temperatures in its churches as a way to promote its Refreshing Church campaign.  Not everyone knows what you know, though, so keep on the lookout for people who may be suffering from dehydration and offer them water or point them to places where they can find it. Vienna has some 12,000 + people without a place of their own - they need us to care, especially in the middle of the heat!

Picture: Check out the COOLES WIEN app (simply type COOLES WIEN in your appstore on your mobile): It will show you the nearest locations of water fountains, cooling areas, and so on....
Inspired? Thoughts or reactions? Or ideas for forthcoming blogs? We look forward to hearing from you - best via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Blog #74: E-Mobility in Vienna - Easy to Check Out until Sunday

June 16th, 2022
Monika Weber-Fahr
Yes, yes, yes - I know: Electric cars are not the (only) solution for keeping climate change at bay.  But - even as we walk more, cycle more, use public transport more, zoom and find other ways of connecting, consuming and producing - cars will in all likelihood remain part of our future. So why not go out and inform ourselves? Check out what’s in store? Find out how to get what you might be looking for? And get ideas about the agencies and programs that are there to help you in all this.
This week(end) is the time for such endeavors: Yesterday, on the Vienna Rathausplatz the Wiener Elektrotage 2022 - the Vienna E-Mobility Show 2022 (loose translation) opened their doors, inviting visitors respectively between 11:00 and 21:00 every day through Sunday (Sunday only until 19:00). There you will be able to find answers to a lot of your questions about electric this-that-and-the other - including questions you probably did not know you had. 
Big toys are for big boys (and girls), and I admit, most of the E-Mobility show is about promoting electric cars. It’s no surprise, of course, given that the event has been organized by the Porsche Media & Creative company.  But let’s be fair: So many of us still not have seen a proper electric car from the inside - and we are curious! The brands presenting their products on the Rathausplatz include AUDI, CUPRA, Fiat, KIA, Porsche, ŠKODA, Toyota, and VW.  But there are also Motorcycle brands such as KTM, Seat Mo’, and Vespa/Piaggio, as well as organizations such as Porsche’s car-sharing venture Sharetoo, the Austrian Auto Club (ÖAMTC) and the Technical University of Vienna. Interestingly, on the Rathausplatz, you will also be able to learn more about batteries, charging stations, where to find them or where to put them yourself - and about the developments expected in the coming years, both in terms of technology and in terms of prices and availability. 
You’ll never be able to buy one, the best of all husbands told me soberly this morning. He had a point - and it's not only about budget: For a variety of reasons, the waiting times for electric cars are tremendously - if not ridiculously - long.  Quite a few electric cars cannot even be ordered at all at this point, many others come with wait times lasting a year or longer. The german-speaking Autobild came out with a rather disappointing list of wait times a few weeks ago, confirming this to be a major issue for practically all brands, even though more so for the smaller than the larger cars. On the other hand: let’s go to the Rathausplatz and hear what the brands there have to say.

Picture: Cool-looking new e-van by Volkswagen, is this the future of driving? Worthwhile a visit on the Rathausplatz.  Source: Promotional website for the event.
But are electric cars even green?  A few months ago, I listened to a really interesting little podcast to this end, produced by the Folgewirkung series of the Austrian Klima und Energiefonds, a legitimate source of information. The calculus they presented was very convincing: A small electric car, deployed well and over many years, using electricity drawn mainly from renewable resources, has a super-small environmental footprint, even when considering production cost end-to-end (including raw materials for batteries etc). On the other hand, a large electric car - heavy and inefficient in energy use, driven in countries where electricity is generated with a big share of coal or oil - really is not terribly green. Many of the analyses that you will find online do not take such a differentiated view, often simply discarding electric cars for the environmental footprint of their production or batteries. It’s worthwhile checking the details!
One last and perhaps more personal point: E-Mobility can be serious fun! A few months ago, I test-drove one of the larger motorcycles on offer by Seat Mo’. The acceleration was incredible! And the feeling of gliding - practically without noise - along countryside roads, in fact fast-gliding at 100 km/h: priceless, as a well-known advertising campaign would say!  So at minimum: Check out test-drive options and go have some fun!
Inspired? Thoughts or reactions? Or ideas for forthcoming blogs? We look forward to hearing from you - best via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Blog #73: Viennese Water - a Minor Miracle!

June 9th, 2022
Monika Weber-Fahr
I had had no clue. In fact, it was not until I began working professionally in the field of water management and water protection that I discovered the very existence of water museums. Why a museum for water - in fact: why so many museums for water, I then asked myself.  Just like most of us growing up in the world’s Northern hemisphere - where we have enough and often even too much water - I had somewhat taken it for granted that there would always be a tap to turn whenever I needed a shower, a drink, or something to boil my potatoes or eggs in.  It had never dawned on me what kind of miracles were needed - brought about by those knowing and understanding nature, geology, and engineering - to make clean water accessible to everyone, everywhere.  I knew it was difficult and had something to do with pipes and pressures.  But only when I discovered how much ingenuity it actually takes to bring water to each and every one of us, I realized that museums are a great place to tell the stories behind the impressive men and women that made these minor miracles happen. If you are like me - a little ignorant but also very curious - then you might enjoy taking a moment to read about my visit last week at the Vienna Waterpipe Museum, about 90 kilometers from here in Kaiserbrunn in the Viennese Alps. You will find that Yes, sometimes a museum, even if small, is a great way to remind us of the miracles needed to carefully use mother nature’s gifts to help all of us. And if you’d like to check out the museum itself - do skip to the last paragraph and consider a little outing that we will organize for those of us left behind here in Vienna during the summer.

Picture:Beautifully located in Kaiserbrunn in the Höllental, the Waterpipe Museum lets its visitors admire what it took to build the pipes necessary to transport water along 90 kilometers down to Vienne. Source: Self.

At the beginning, like so often, there had been a crisis: By the mid 19th century, the 300,000 plus inhabitants in Vienna had access to all but 4-5 liters of water per person per day, mostly drawn from wells within the city and pipe systems drawing water from nearby resources. Typhoid and Cholera were rampant, and mortality among children and infants was high. Clean water was accessible - coming both from the Siebenbrunnen wells in the seventh district or even straight from the Vienna Alps, carried on horseback  - but only to those lucky ones at the Imperial Court.  It was up to a geologist and later head of Vienna University - the England-born Eduard Suess - to come up with an idea that would serve the entire population: He suggested building a 90 kilometer long pipeline to bring freshwater to the burgeoning population of the imperial city.  At the time, it was a courageous if not crazy plan - and yet the Vienna City Council approved it in 1864.  Construction started five years later and was concluded in 1873 - and ever since Vienna’s water comes, crystalclear, straight from the mountains, along the way even generating a little electricity here and there. Eduard Suess in the meantime became a pioneer in several other environmental areas also, including by introducing the concept of a biosphere - which has become so important as we manage complex ecological assets. On Schwarzenbergplatz - where the Hochstrahlbrunnen is one of the nicest water fountains in town, having been built in 1873 in celebration of the new water pipes - Suess is remembered with a statue and a plaque as a fighter for freedom and progress
Want to learn more?  This would be best done by visiting the Vienna Waterpipe Museum in Kaiserbrunn itself. Tucked in between the meadows in the middle of the Höllental, the museum features a few rooms with original artifacts from the time of constructing the pipe system, accompanied by appropriate illustrations and explanations, taking the visitor even back to the times when the Romans and Greeks dealt with the challenge of bringing fresh water to their city populations. You will also get to see a film that gives you more details, and you can check out all sorts of impressive things such as old pumps and tunnels.  When taking a tour, the guide will also take you to see the original wells themselves. If the weather is great - which it was when I went, last week - one can even stroll along the Wasserleitungsweg (water pipe path), four kilometers that will take you from Kaiserbrunn to the neighboring village Hirschwang.  If you are lucky, you can catch the historical Museumstrain to Payerbach from where the regional train will take you back to Viennay. 

Picture: Looking miraculous – the underground tunnels through which water flows from Kaiserbrunn in the Viennese Alps down to Vienna itself.  Source: Self.

Curious? Want to check it out yourself? Visiting is indeed a joy - you only need to consider two things: The museum is open only on weekends and official Austrian holidays and only between May and early November.  And: In order to get there, you either have to travel by car or you can take the - very convenient - train from Vienna to Payerbach, connecting from there either by Bus or cab. Alternatively, if you are in town in late July, you may want to consider joining a group outing: On Sunday, July 24, if all goes right, we will organize a little trip out there, including an english-speaking Museum tour. If you want to join, do send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and stay tuned for updates in the coming weeks!y!
Inspired? Thoughts or reactions? Or ideas for forthcoming blogs? We look forward to hearing from you - best via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Blog #72: Cafe Harvest - Gemütlich, Tasty, and Totally Vegan

June 2nd, 2022
Monika Weber-Fahr
Six weeks and five blogs ago, we published our first restaurant review - here, on the LivingLight Blog. The review featured a somewhat unusual 2nd district restaurant with good vegetarian and vegan options - Blog #67: Kiss, the Cook.  At the time, several people wrote to me, suggesting that we stick with the idea of making such reviews a series, and so today I’d like to invite you to join me on a quick visit at Cafe Harvest.

Picture: Facebook page of Café Harvest - worthwhile checking in from time to time. Source: Facebook.

Café Harvest is well worth not just a visit - but to actually spend time there, to hang out, as my kids would say, to chillax. Located in the 2nd district, right off Taborstrasse, on Karmeliterplatz (not Karmelitermarkt), Café Harvest was conceived to be a bit of an Oasis in the middle of its visitors’ hectic days, and certainly in my view, they achieved this mission. There is a little colorful Schanigarten outside, but the real atmospheric bliss appears only when coming inside where two cosy rooms are filled with an eclectic mix of easy chairs and sofas, pictures, side boards, and so on. The Americans would probably speak about shabby chic - but my sense is that someone simply walked across a bunch of flea markets and got inspired.  As a result, Café Harvest looks somewhat different from the regular Viennese Coffeehouse, but don't be fooled: In terms of the key characteristics of a Viennese Coffeehouse, they have it all - free magazines and newspapers, and a long list of different coffee (and tea) options for you to choose from.