Dec 29, 2007

Holiday Round Up + Compact '08?

Ok, if you got a pressure gift that you didn't want, try to let it go. Today I'll be trying to let them go at the Really Really Free Market (110 Capp St, 5th floor).

I don't want to dwell on the places where the holiday went weird, so I'm looking to 2008. I see more Compacting in my future, but again, not as stringently as in 2006. For instance, I bought a new pair of cycling gloves last week without over analyzing it as I did in late 2006. (Talk to the tendon[-itis] if you have a problem w/ it).

The Compact is less of a game to me now, I'm not as into the challenge of it. I guess one can only maintain that level of enthusiasm for so long. I'm more interested in developing my understanding of how these simplicity movements intersect and complement each other.

The Compact itself doesn't provide many solutions or alternatives, it's more a personal challenge to those who wish to change their over-consumptive habits. I'd have given up on it by now if it weren't for the other networks that I've learned of in my pursuit of the Compact. When people write to me, that's usually what they ask: Do you know anyone in cityX or stateY? Or, how do I get folks to do this with me. Most of those answers are very place specific. I'm lucky to be in the Bay Area with loads of like-minded folks, though I often think we lack the creativity of some other areas.

I'm also returning to my promise to work less in 2008. I tried that in 2007 and did well through about July, when I took on work in habitat restoration. I love working in my field, but the pay means I can't completely leave dog walking behind at the moment. Ugh, I'm working on solutions. Regardless, those contracts are up in July and I'll be off to London by the Fall. It's difficult to work less when you see certain debt in your future.

Help me work less: Send me relevant scholarship info! I'm going for a Masters of Science in Conservation and (currently) hope to do my research on the effects of border walls on desert plant communities.
Or just fund me yourself, hee hee! Holiday wishes, oh my! (My daddy always says it doesn't hurt to ask.)

And let's all keep spreading our own knowledge freely, unlike our university establishments. Share your wealth, be it in money, goods, compassion, skills, talent, strength, or knowledge.

Dec 22, 2007

Christmas in Consumption Country

A few years ago I tried to find a way to pull out of the over-consumptive clusterfuck that has become the holiday season. I was tired of mindless consumption, of long lines, anxiety, a deadline for gift giving, and a feeling of financial inadequacy. I was tired of trucking home those feelings and plastic crap on a bike in the rain.

I wanted to hold on to the things that make Christmas special, like showing my love to my friends and family. I like sharing meals and conversation, thinking about the new year with the people that I love. If Christmas is truly an opportunity for that, then so be it.

But this year I feel like I'm on a different planet from some of the folks around me, family included to a small extent. I usually provide a small list of needed items if family folks really want to buy me something. The list usually sounds something like: bungee cords, laptop battery, ipod battery, you get the point. My parents are supportive of my detachment from gifting because they despise the transition of Christmas from religious holiday to excuse for shopping.

I'd love to say that my sister's entirely supportive, but when I attempted to confirm with her that there would be no gifts exchanged, she said "Everyone's getting something from Mexico". She's touring Oaxaca next month so she wants to bring me a trinket. I asked her not to do that since I'm moving to London next year and I don't need anymore "treasures" in my life, noting that I still have many of the trinkets from her time in Ireland, like a bookmark displayed in its plastic packaging . She said that I can "leave it at Mom and Dad's". Not the fuckin' point. It does mean something if the ornamental thing comes from her: it means I can't throw it away without feeling guilty. Or even that I won't want to throw it away, giving me yet another possession that actually owns me.

So what's the force that pressures us into thinking we have to buy something to express our affections for one another? The market, the advertisers, the corporations, credit card companies, some crazy notion that we could/should all be cash rich?

Listen to the radio, if you dare. The ads offer a way to "take the stress out of the holidays". Or "don't go broke this holiday season, shop at...". DJ's urge workers to play hookey to go shopping as a way to avoid the "madness". Pre-recorded hooks count down the "shopping days until Christmas". One DJ remarked that he had "3 no 7 people left on his list". His caller said, "I'm giving watches". Ok, Mr. DJ, what section of people made your list jump from 3 to 7? Co-workers who you're pressured into shopping for? And Mr. Caller, what's up with choosing a single item and dispersing it among your friends? Weird, formulaic, wasteful. Not thoughtful or genuine.

So if we're all realistic about the financial problems associated with Christmas, why do we run up credit card bills? If we all know that the holidays are tooooooo stressful, why do we race around buying shit? If it's common knowledge that the gifts aren't the important part of the holiday, why do we compete with each other in gifting?

We have this desperate desire to relate to each other. We want to express the gratitude, love, and affection that we feel for one another, but we're wrapped up in this consumer society. A nation of producers, no more. We watch TV. TV tells us to shop. We shop to tell each other that we love each other. Can we just turn off the TV, turn to each other and actually say, "I love you"?

I'm ready to give the holiday back. I don't want it anymore. It's a buy nothing Christmas. It's been so degraded and defiled that I'm ready to pretend that Christmas doesn't exist.

On a lighter note, we did a printmaking workshop at Dirty Dove this Wednesday. We made some cards to send to political prisoners. My friend, Matt, made a rad print of Jesus Claus. It really captured the dissociative identity of the holiday for me.

Dec 11, 2007

Gifts of Time: Volunteerism and Dates with Friends

I love gifts of time for holidays and birthdays. My sister gave me a hike and picnic date for my birthday. I get to pick the hike and she'll bring most of the food. I like these ideas because it means that we're gonna spend some time together! Erica knows what I like, so she made the gift about me, but also something she can enjoy too.

If you have a good idea of the sort of entertainment that your friend likes, you might support the arts with your gift of time. Tickets to dance performances, gallery openings, plays, music shows can all be fun. It can also be a bit restricting if there's a date attached so keep that in mind. My sister gave me a "night of art and culture" last year. I got to choose the event so we went to see an one man play called "Tings De Happen". It was amazing and it was also the only play I saw all year, which means that I might not have seen any if not for Erica's gift.

Along the same lines, you could make a date with friends or family to volunteer together. Maybe choose something that allows you to converse and enjoy each others' company. Of course, I recommend volunteering in habitat restoration, which is a good way to get some exercise, fresh air, and knowledge of a park near you. But food banks can be fun, serving meals, beach clean ups, or just picking up the trash on your block. Most of these are opportunities that individuals can plug into without prior experience for one time commitments. Post a comment if you have other volunteer ideas along those lines. Sometimes I think folks aren't involved because they don't know how to get involved.

Similar to Cap'n'Trade Christmas, if your gift recipient is far away, volunteer for a cause dear to him/her in your own town. Demonstrate that you know the person to whom you're trying to show your love. Send a card for the holiday explaining what you're doing. And send one as follow up when you've done the work. The time you've taken to think about the gift, write the card, take the action, and write again will be much more enjoyable to you than driving or even biking to a store, fighting crowds, standing in line, and paying your credit card bill a month later.

Like a hike date, volunteer gifts won't cost either you or the recipient a dime. Instead of producing an ecological impact or a financial impact, you create a positive impact on a community or ecosystem as well as on your friend. Who needs a mall?

Dinners are also good, of course. People gotta eat. If you want to continue thinking ecologically w/ a dinner gift, make it vegan/vegetarian, a small, local business, and a place that buys most of its food from local farmers. Gift certificates for dinners are nice too, if you live too far away to give a gift of time. Maybe the last time you visited your brother, he took you to a place you remembered. Show him that you remember that experience by sending him there again.

These sort of gifts require thought, as do many environmentally conscious acts. But thoughtless gifts are worse than no gift at all.

Dec 9, 2007

stupid broken cell phone (i want an iphone)

Geeze, my cellphone broke again! I got a (new) used phone off craigslist in June, and last week it stopped ringing. Today it kept shutting off randomly. So I'm gonna be needin' a new phone, again.

Can I live without one? No. I house sit over 100 days a year at 6-10 different spots. It's impossible to keep up with my clients, friends, and family without my phone.

As my ipod needs a new battery (after 4 years), I'm totally into the thought of getting a both a new phone and a new ipod... in one. Aaauuugggghhhhh!!!!! I've got it bad! I was hanging out with my awesome clients, Miles and Tam, and they both have iphones. They let me play with them and gave me a tantalizing demo of the gadget's capabilities.

Yesterday was my birthday and while talking to my mom, I mentioned that I want a new phone, specifically one that costs way tooooooo much money. She offered to pay for most of it, making this even more tough to turn down.

Even after watching The Story of Stuff, I'm tempted! Really, the number one thing keeping me from buying the darn thing is the fact that I could break a $400 phone, turning it into a $400 piece of toxic trash very quickly.

Nonetheless, I have to replace this phone. I'm at a loss as to what route to take with that as my last few choices have backfired. Oh what to do? Always learning, always learning.

Dec 6, 2007

The Story of Stuff

Wow you gotta watch this. It's long, but worthwhile. My favorite section is the Distribution section. You can jump to it. The Consumption part is great too.

http://www.storyofstuff.com/

Dec 5, 2007

Gifts Again, Donations

Thanks for all of the great ideas about gift giving. Be sure to check out the comments that folks are posting! It's so wonderful to hear about creative, non-mall ways of expressing our affections for each other. I'm going to write about donations, volunteering, crafting, and the gift of time.

Many people mention having family far away, and I'm in the same boat. I'm so fortunate to have my sister, brother-in-law, and many family-tight-friends (not related by blood but bound by love) in San Francisco. But my folks are in Georgia and the rest of our extended family lives in Missouri.

It's tough to send your love across thousands of miles. I usually want to send something that I've touched. Something that my mom can hold. Something that my dad might look at during the day, causing him to think of me and the special bond between us. But geeze, they have enough stuff. I do often find a piece of jewelery for Mom, but if I can't find something small to send, I make sure to send a handwritten letter for them to read.

My dad actually introduced me to donating in the name of a loved one. He donates to the Arbor Day Foundation and Heifer International. I like the Arbor Day Foundation. I've done Heifer, but find that they really send me toooooooo much paper mail for me to ever use them again. In her comment, Kamala pointed out Seva.org. I've never used that one, but it looks pretty cool. Heath, my brother-in-law, donated to Kiva.org for me. That was really cool. Kiva provides micro-loans to small businesses in the developing world. I think that's awesome.

In the past I've also donated to local organizations like PAWS, (Pets Are Wonderful Support helps people with low incomes and disabling diseases to care for their animals) which is still my favorite animal related organization. You could also donate to a local park. In San Francisco I guess one would donate to the Parks Trust.

Donations can be a great route for families. Just sitting around talking about how you'd like to donate can teach you about each other's values and provide a reason to get together or talk on the phone. My family is very large and there's a bit of an argument every year about Christmas. Seriously, the family is huge, so we don't try to exchange with everyone. There's a name exchange instead. Many of us do not participate in that anymore. Because I live so far away, and have never lived in Missouri, there's a good chance that some poor cousin will get my name and have zero idea what $15, easy-to-ship mall item would suit me (the answer is none, of course). And many of us would love to see the Christmas exchange turn into the Christmas donation. But the forces of consumerism hold us back. Parents and grandparents with young children have thus refused to allow this change in holiday dynamic. I don't even think the argument took place this year because the fall-out was so bad in the past 2 years that we're too afraid to battle the gift.

I don't think this obsession with gifts has much to do with greed. And I know that there is thought and care put into the selection of some of the gifts. For example, my aunt made me 3 pillows one year as my gift. They were all different shapes to help me take care of my ever-injured knees and elbows. I think the gift obsession might have something to do with marketing. I don't know. I do know that my family is devoutly Christian, and really worried about Jesus being taken out of Christmas. I guess I find it contradictory that we haven't been able to establish either a donation or service oriented Christmas because gifts have become such an expectation with Christmas. I saw "What Would Jesus Buy" last week, and I thought about my family a lot while watching it. I mentioned to some folks that I was going to see it, and it seems like it would be a good impetus for talking about gifts at Christmas. But I don't think I'm going to go there. For those of us who don't like a "thing" based Christmas, we're allowed to opt out, just not to express our discontent.

Dec 3, 2007

Holiday Ideas

Like everybody else, I'm pondering how to share my love with my friends and family this month. Every year I try something different, because none of us wants to be the person who gives the same scented candle every year. I've given used objects, donated in the name of someone, given gratis dog walks or house sitting. I gave my dad a national parks pass once. Mom loves antique trinkets. Blake lets me pay some random bill or something. Thinking that my sister and her husband would adopt a dog in 2007, I gave them a care package for the new addition that still hasn't come. So now what!? It's 2007 and I'm thinking.
I became involved with the Compact in late 2005, just before the challenge initiated, when I gave John and Rob a day of veganism as part of my Cap'n'Trade Christmas project. I gave friends, family, and clients a note about this project, and donated some environmental service. Basically I was asking for folks to give me a gift of sustainability by shrinking their footprints in easy ways. My dad took all of the weight out of the trunk of his car. In doing this, I could borrow a car once in a while without a net gain in emissions. Blake reduced his shower time by 2 minutes per day. So when I feel like taking a longer dip, I know that there's no excess water consumption. I gave folks a list of ideas to choose from. For a lot of clients, from whom I didn't expect a trade, I just agreed to pick up 5 extra piles of poop in their local park. As unwieldy as this project was, it offered a fun way to talk to people about sustainability and the over-consumption associated with Christmas.

Over the next couple of weeks I'm going to write about a few new ideas that I have and some that other folks have sent along. Feel free to share your creative gift solutions too.

Nov 27, 2007

Overwhelmed by the Oil Spill Pt 2


Meet BoBo, an oil slathered pelican from SF Bay. Upon the advice of a friend, I doused a stuffed animal with vegetable oil and dirt at Saturday's Really Really Free Market. A lot of folks got into this li'l project and I'd like to encourage Critical Massers to join me in decorating their bikes with dead sea goers for Friday's ride. You can't read the card attached, but it says "Cosco Busan: Over 5,000 animals dead". I need to update that sign, as today we're learning that over 20,00 birds alone are expected to have died in this oil spill. We aren't even considering fish and ocean dwellers in that number.

I'm still angry and a bit overwhelmed. I cannot find out what was delivered to us on that ship. What was it carrying away? When I search for this info, I find pictures of oiled birds. I can't handle it. I can't think about the devastation without shrinking into my own thoughts, crying, wondering how the fuck this happened. I saw a headline that read, "Poor Anglers Hit Hardest by Spill". True among humans, but what a short sighted perspective among life.

Speaking with a respected naturalist on Sunday, I confessed my inability to engage directly with the spill. I still haven't been to the bay or ocean since the spill. As I was out of town when this occurred, I don't think I've been to the bay or ocean since October (unusual for me). My friend said that he, too, had "buried [his] head in the sand". The more I think about it, the more angry and frustrated I become. Sadness is daunting for me. That said, I'm grateful to all of the folks trying to remedy this situation, particularly my friends Chris Giorni, Josiah Clarke, and Lew Stringer.

We cannot eliminate human error entirely. We can blame the pilot, captain, and coast guard all day, but accidents will happen. If we seriously want to reduce the chance of accidents, perhaps we should reduce the number of ships traversing our bay. What imports does California really need? Is my estimation of this state's bounty short-sighted, or are we played for fools by profit seeking corporations?
My brain imagines that we got some plastic crap from Asia, summoned by one of our multi-national corporations which moved its operations abroad to reduce its labor costs. And on the way out I imagine that the Cosco Busan was carrying our e-waste to Asia for "disposal" (also known as dumping).
I don't know this at all. But if not this ship, then how many others? This spill reminds us to eat, drink, and live locally. Not out of nationalistic pride, but out of common sense and respect for all life.

Nov 22, 2007

Celebrate Buy Nothing Day


Buy Nothing Day is upon us. Tomorrow hordes of shoppers will hit malls and commercial districts to kick off the shopping season, formally known as the holiday season. Count me out, of course. Though some shoppers may see me at Union Square caroling. But you won't see me with a corporate bag in hand.

Creative actions are taking place all over. Here are some events in the Bay Area. Report back here on your own ideas, activities, and celebrations of Buy Nothing Day.

The Really Really Free Market is on Saturday in Dolores Park from 1-5pm. This will be a continuation of Buy Nothing Day.

Nov 20, 2007

Maintaining Oil Spill Awareness (and compacting thievery, again)

My friends and I are taking the following steps to ensure that folks don't just forget about this oil spill. Feel free to join us. Thrift stores are great places to find stuffed animals.

1: Get a stuffed animal ( an ocean goer is best)
2: Rub it with VEG. oil, dirt and any black non-toxic gook
3: Print out on paper:

BUNKER OIL IS BAD FOR YOUR HEALTH
OVER 5,000 ANIMALS DEAD
LET'S LOOK AHEAD - WWW.OWCN.ORG
WRITE CONGRESS / CALL: 311

Laminate label with clear plastic tape. Hang from the neck of the "oiled" animal so that it can be easily seen by the public. Place the "oiled" animal in a prominent place - tie down if need be with wire/stake.

So that it's not out of sight or out of mind.
Thursday is a HIGH tide - watch out for more oil spreading.

And in other compact news, my panniers were stolen off my bike tonight! I got those bad boys off of Freecycle about 18 months ago and used the hell out of them. I'm heartbroken, in part because they were filled with 13 mason jars for tomorrow's canning workshop at dirty dove. I'd just picked those up at Thriftown for $3. One moment without vigilance and my shit is stolen, of course. silly me.

Nov 19, 2007

Canning workshop and RRFM on BND!

Feeling slightly less dismal than yesterday, thanks for the feedback on my anger and frustration.
Wednesday we're having a canning workshop at the Dirty Dove Infoshop. Last week we had an amazing massage workshop where at least 10 folks learned techniques or had them practiced on their bodies. The space really transformed for that workshop, with folks laying on mats in candlelight. This week we'll embrace the food holidays by sharing the practical skill of canning. We plan to focus on greens I think, as they're easy to dumpster. (I should go out soon to look for some, but my kitties are all snuggled up here and siphoning off my motivation!)
Via Freecycle I found about a dozen canning jars in the past couple of weeks. I'm still scouting more, but may not need them. A few folks responded to my Freecycle request with inquiries about the workshop! That was too cool. I hope I get to can some greens and peppers with those folks.

Saturday is the Really Really Free Market in Dolores Park. This kinda synchs up with Buy Nothing Day. So really BND is the Friday after Thanksgiving, but Saturday should be a Buy Nothing Day as well. So we'll be out in Dolores Park from 1-5 sharing skills and the excess we've accumulated in our lives. If you're into BND, you might check to see if a group near you is doing something creative. I'd love to hear about different happenings around BND!!!!!

Nov 18, 2007

overwhelmed by the oil

There's a weak and fucked up piece of me that wants to give up, sell out, and buy in. The urgency of ecological crises is always apparent to me, but disasters like this oil spill in diverse and biologically beautiful SF Bay really dampen my resolve. This spill added a slick coating to bruises and soreness I acquired in another setting. And it seems that when I try to step out of this gloomy, angry mindset, I slip and re-injure myself.
Generally I'd ride the hell out of my bike to get out of a funk. But my legs are sore and I always end up at the water when I ride. I've spent the week trying to heal and be productive, but fear keeps me from the bay and ocean. I can't think about anything w/o getting angry.

I'm so close to selling out. A few months ago I took a steep pay cut to do work that I value more than dollars (restoration). Sustaining this pace is difficult, especially knowing that I could be a stellar capitalist. I've had a successful dog care business for many years. If I focused on that, I'd be an economic "success" by most standards. I'd be doing the "smart thing". I'd make loads of cash and then go shopping.
It must be positive feedback ya know. Person works hard, makes money, buys shit to make him/herself feel good. I could get so wrapped up in things and scenes - like cars and games - that I'd forget the realities of overconsumption. Maybe I could forget that it's impossible for everyone on earth to attain the "success" that is possible for me.
Maybe I could forget that loads of people work harder than I do every day and still don't have enough to eat. I'd have to trick myself into believing that equal work provides equal wealth.
Maybe I could achieve such contentment as to forget that I can afford luxuries because companies like Sony and Kenworth site their exploitive factories in border towns like Mexicali. Not seeing the workers, their neighborhoods, or lifestyles, maybe I could forget that my cheap goods are subsidized by cheap labor.
And if I could convince myself to forget all of this, then surely I could forget that a capitalistic obsession with stuff is threatening our ability to inhabit earth.

That weak and fucked up part of me wants to join the consumerist clusterfuck, wants to usher in rising sea levels and mass extinctions with a grin of ignorance and a bounty of useless information on the lives of rich celebrities. I could abdicate any responsibility for the future of my species and others. Tell myself it's not my problem. Stop trying to engage with zombies and just let them bit me so I, too, can walk unflinchingly toward our future.

Nov 14, 2007

PiratePods and Holiday onset

I did a podcast last month with Tiffany and Cherie of PiratePods. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Halloween ended, foisting the shopping season upon us all. There are many alternatives to mindless gift buying, don't get sucked into it! If you live around the Bay, maybe you and your family can get together to do some oil spill clean up. Family activities are so much better than scented candles. There are 2 trainings for oil spill cleanup this Saturday at the County Fair Building.

Buy Nothing Day is the Friday after Thanksgiving. We should all participate. I encourage you to make it a buy nothing Christmas. Let's reject the plastic crap hauled to us in container ships. Take a breather from consumerism and think about our oiled birds. Donate in the name of a family member to cleanup organizations like WildCare or Baykeeper. This spill is haunting, and as much as we want to blame the pilot or captain or the coast guard, we need to look critically at the economic system that brought that ship into our bay. Real solutions have less to do with double hulled ships than reducing the number of vessels crossing our oceans with bellies full of oil.

Nov 6, 2007

Ipod Woes and Free Workshops

I'm suffering from the stubborn compactor's complex. Well, suffering might be an overstatement. My headphones broke, sort of. I went the first 18 months of the compact with no problems acquiring headphones for my ipod. But now my luck has run out.

I cycle with my headphones because I'm reactionary when it comes to cars. I'm truly a better cyclist with music in my ears because I don't react to drivers. I've had some scary encounters, scary enough to convince me that I'm more likely to survive with headphones. But this is not the point. My crappy, sound distorting earbuds were mangled in my tire about 2 weeks ago. So now I have one, terribly distorted earbud to connect to my 45 minute battery life ipod. Very silly, I know.


The Dirty Dove Infoshop will host several workshops this November on Wednesdays between 4-8pm. We're freely sharing some skills this month, starting with a massage workshop on 11/14. With our lending library shelved, a cabinet of zines stocked, and tea brewing by request, the collective looks forward to these skillshares as a way to acquaint people with the space and learn something useful.

I'm helping with a canning workshop on 11/21, that's the day before Thanksgiving. Everyone will be in food mode! I'm looking out for jars on Freecycle and craigslist. Canning is a tradition in my family, one that I don't want to miss out on just because I'm an urbanite. With our bounty of plums, pears, tomatoes, and apples, I should have been canning all summer.

We're also scheduling a discussion on free culture, which will be led by two students from San Francisco State University. They've been researching free networks, freeganism, and free culture. We're all excited to hear what they have to say.

Some friends and I are working on the ecology workshops for December. I want to invite my friends, Amber Hasselbring and Josiah Clark to talk about the projects that they have going. And in the tradition of free school, I want to share some biology basics relevant to the Bay Area. Associated field trips might include a birding walk or a bike tour of Amber's Mission Greenbelt proposal.

Oct 29, 2007

Restoration is resistance



Saturday's really really free market attracted both regular attendees and loads of new folks, who were in Dolores Park for the conclusion of an anti-war march. Expecting a large turnout, market supporters brought along extra food, water, skills (like the stamp making skillshare above), and even pet rats for people to get to know.
I packed the bike trailer with 15 plants, 2 gallons of water, a gallon of sweet tea, a huge pot of mashed potatoes, and a bunch of SF ecology info. I enjoyed giving out the plants, and learned a lot by doing it. Folks always ask for specific plants, always stuff I don't have. I'm usually asked if my plants are edible. "Do you have any herbs?" "I'm into succulents."
I'm not complaining that people have interests, and I'm trying to learn from what I'm being told. I bring some aromatic plants (horkelia usually), some flowering plants, some trees. I try to bring at least a couple that will grow well in the fog belt. And yarrow has many uses.
But I'm shocked by how practical (and human centered) people's plant preferences are. But even that sentence is pretty comical: people's plant preferences are human centered... why is that shocking? I love restoration because it's not about people as much as it's about ecosystems, which, of course, people inhabit with lots of other life. But I guess that others may come to a love of ecosystems by way of loving plants that have human uses.

When I grow food, I think of it as a way of eliminating the transport of some small fraction of my caloric intake. And I know that all of the excess that I give away will encourage others to think about where their own food originates. But everything else that I plant is for wildlife. Someone at RRFM told me that horkelia looks like a weed... yep, many of our native plants have a scruffy look. But I don't plant for human aesthetics. I'm actually kind of sickened by overly ornamental gardens. And I figure that there are countless bees, butterflies, birds, and bugs that have a different kind of aesthetic, something less about visuals and more about smell and texture. Something that I don't get.
The aesthetic of a restoration site is most satisfying to me when I see bugs in the soil and hear birds warning of my approach. Coyote shit on my shoes is actually a bit delightful at first. And swarming yellow jackets give me a nervous smile as I pass apprehensively. That's beauty and utility for me.

I don't want to force that on other folks, but I hope to point out the existence of that perspective at least. Today I was able to alert a fellow dog walker to the shriek of a red-tailed hawk overhead. She thanked me and I remembered how easy it is to not hear these creatures over the din of cars and urban construction. Last week a study was released about the paltry amount of time that kids spend outside/in "nature". Like a lot of other folks in ecology, I hope that these little experiences (like planting yarrow or listening for red tails) translate to larger explorations of the outdoors.

Oct 25, 2007

Free Plants on a Borrowed Bike Trailer!




Check it out! Here are the plants I'm taking to the Really Really Free Market on Saturday. My friend, Douglas, helped me hook up the trailer and rode with me to pick out the plants. The trailer belongs to to Station 40, which is also the location for the Dirty Dove Infoshop.

And while the rad kids at Station 40 would have let me use their trailer for nothing, I was happy to give them a slew of potatoes and onions that I found in Bernal this morning. I found 12 gigantic onions and about 15 lbs of potatoes, some of which I had to toss. There was also one carrot and 2 cans of "Hart Brand Vegetarian Beans in tomato sauce". So I guess I'm cooking for RRFM as well.

Tomorrow is Halloween Critical Mass!!! I'll be rocking the dead CEO look again. Yeah!

Oct 24, 2007

RRFM in Dolores Park at End of Anti-War March

Saturday is the Really Really Free Market in SF! This is in solidarity with the anti-war effort, and it's also just the day and place that the market occurs. (Last Saturday of each month in Dolores Park).

I'm borrowing a bike trailer to haul a slew of plants. And I'll have Nature in the City Maps of SF's open space. I'm excited about setting up a little nursery in the park to get folks involved in their own restoration projects. I'll have guides for DIY restoration and a list of blighted sites that could use some nifty native plants to bring them back to health and neighborly utility.

A couple of posts back I was talking about how we all need to take action in ways that we feel is effective and in ways that bring us joy. I've been to a lot of marches and demos since it was apparent that we would bomb Afghanistan in September of 2001. I marched against the war in Iraq before it started, even though I naively thought there was no way the public would buy this war. Apparently, we can be sold ANYTHING.
I'm very happy for the folks and families who get something out of these demos. But I'm heartened more by signs in Bernal Heights calling people to join their neighbors in this fight, than by anything I'd see at the actual march. I have the fortunate position of being for something this Saturday, even as I'm against the war. I'm all for the free exchange of ideas, skills, and things as it presents an alternative to the paradigm that lead us into this war.

But I get to see the demo because it ends in Dolores Park. Crazy. February's market was located at Montgomery and Market during the last big convergence and loads of people dropped by RRFM who might not have seen it otherwise. It should be a receptive crowd for ecology, so I hope to get at least 10 plants into some dirt.

Oct 21, 2007

Collapse of Corporatism


We're calling this one "the fall of fashionism". If you can't tell what you're looking at, those were the logos for Calven Klyne, NiKKKe, and Adeedes. (Did you know that corporate hacks actually waste their time googling their company names to prevent folks from speaking out against them? Hence the misspellings. Not saying that these pumpkins would draw their ire, but ya never know.)

I thought I'd provide a link to this protracted piece. Click on the "Corporate Pumpkins" set to the right to see all the photos from this year. The pumpkins from years past are on there too. Last year's are compacty too, enviro pumpkins. Check 'em out.

Oct 18, 2007

Scales and Moralizing

First, I guess the Good Magazine article is online now. Some of my friends really hated it, forcing me to reconsider it. But I still like it! I did an AWESOME interview on Saturday with Tiffany of Piratepods.com. I love podcasts because you have time to think about the questions and an ability to elaborate.

Anyway, the Good Magazine article mentioned that some folks think we compactors are trying to moralize our way out of a huge, global problem. I've heard this criticism a lot and it has it's merits ... on certain scales. Yeah, the geographer in me has no truck w/ letting my own habits off the hook because there is a global context. I can't wait for multi-national corporations to convince everyone to "buy green" to slow climate change and prevent large scale species die off.

We didn't initiate the Compact to get a bunch of people to pledge to stop shopping. This started out on a very small scale. And we built something out of it. Yeah, the blogs and list-serves are cool, but among ourselves, we built a community. Action on the community scale is what really interests me. People can wander from the mall to their televisions, bags in hand, all around me - as long as I have a place where I belong as well. I don't find community in H0me Dep0t, or self expression in mass produced goods. Is it really moralizing to look at my culture and say: Fuck, I don't fit here!? And then to create a space in which I and others like me, really do fit?

Current criticism of the "environmental" movement harps on negativity and says we can't affect large scale change through scare tactics. I don't disagree, actually. But I don't think the Compact has done this. First, we did this for ourselves, not to start a movement. We did it because it brings us joy - try it w/ 10 friends and you will laugh for a year. It's a direct way for us to engage w/ the ecological issues that we care about, while also considering the network of factors that feed into ecological crises, such as labor, market, health, poverty, and local economy issues. Working on this challenge provided a realizable outlet for our concerns. Giving ourselves that space for action makes it more possible for us to act on other scales.

Isn't it also kinda moralizing to beg corporations to stop oppressing people and ecosystems? What's the difference really? Money saving? Well, compactors save money too. That's not it. Efficiency? Goes both ways. Just as some folks are depressed into inaction by the scare tactics of the "environmental" movement, I'm overwhelmed by the responsibility of engaging corporations to solve ecological crises. Sorry if I can't get wrapped up in online petitions and lobbying of rich ceo's, trying to convince them to adopt practices that will make them richer.

We should all be doing the work that makes us happy and allows us growth. Usually that has some connection to our talents and skills. I say this because it doesn't matter that I can't deal with corporations. If you're moved that way, then do it. Get what you can out of it. Learn something and tell us about that. That's all the Compact really is: People trying something and sharing what they learn (to which end you can find about 500 uses of plastic bags via these networks).

Oct 14, 2007

Defense Pumpkin


Here's one of 7 logo pumpkins. The flag is just the backdrop for the paw.

Oct 13, 2007

Pumpkin Carving!!!!


Every year Blake (my housemate) and I throw a small pumpking carving party to get folks together to creatively gnarl gourds. You might remember that our theme last year was enviro pumpkins. The picture above is our "Buy Nothing Day" pumpkin.
This year we're going with a corporate zombie theme. Everyone is encouraged to come dressed as a corporate drone or ceo, or wearing enough logos to rival a NASCAR driver. The pumpkins themselves always mold and rot after a few days, even though we seal them w/ petroleum jelly. So after years of carving inspiring messages into the pumpkins (peace in 6 languages in 2004, political pumpkins in 2005, enviros in 2006) we've decided to let the mold and break down of the pumpkins be part of the art. So we're carving logo montages into the gourds.

Yeah, I'm gonna have 6 pumpkins on my steps w/ logos for fashion (nikee, louey vittton,etc) media (foxxxx, cb es, diznee, inbeeseee), telecommunications (AyTEE'n'TEE, Singular, and Verrrizon), defense (blackkkwater, halliburt0n, and bektel), fast food (mkdon's, murderking, tacohell), and the parent companies (gee eee, viakkkom, noosecorps). Our jack-o-lantern will be a genetically modified masterpiece (franken food).

I don't know how these are going to turn out. The concept is a little circuitous. Our stairs are going to look like the NY Stock Exchange board for a few days, but when it all starts to fall apart, maybe it will make sense.

Oct 8, 2007

Good Mag Article

Wow, I just read the article by Zachary Slobig in Good Magazine about the Compact. It's my favorite by far, except that my picture's in it. I'm camera shy... I couldn't find the article online. I got it from fellow compactor, John.
Slobig gives a super image of the Really Really Free Market too! Stellar writing, most favorite journalist ever.

Oh, and I started a new blog about my sustainable dog walking project. Treading that fine line folks.

Oct 1, 2007

Bartered Bicycles and Sayin' What You Need

Last week I lamented that I'd be going to Critical Mass, yet again, w/a broken rear derailluer. Well, I didn't have to, thanks to my clients (and friends), who are currently decluttering their space. I got a mostly new bike for my dog walking services! And I'm having my truck -er, Trek- fixed by a friend this week.

With the impending rainy season, I have a million things to think about, the bike was just one of those. (I love my trek too much to ride it all winter). But not only did my clients offer me the bike, today they gave me a rain jacket that absolutely rocks. I'm on the way to weatherproofness.

Since engaging in the compact experiment, I've gotten a lot less shy about stating my needs. That's part of how I've redefined my relationship to goods. It's not shameful to need something, ya know. I wonder how our perception of need correlates to situations like credit card debt.

Sometimes when I mention that I need X, I get advice or commiseration. And sometimes folks are actually getting rid of the thing that I need, or they run across it and think of me. (As has happened w/ a bed, patio chairs, and other crazy stuff.) I try to reciprocate by keeping my eye out for things my friends need, like the toaster oven for RRFM.

It's compact karma, for real. I'm hoping it kicks in for grad school funding/finding housing in London next year. I'm not entirely relying on compact karma tho'... I'll also be invoking Santa, the Easter Bunny, and perhaps the Tooth Fairy if it gets real bad.

Sep 26, 2007

Egalitarian Leadership & RRFM on Sat

Ok, I don't have a TV but I've recently begun watching Jon Stewart online occasionally (damn you, Alternet for those li'l clips). I saw Evo Morales on the Daily Show and thought I'd tip off those of you who missed it. He speaks about the merit of varied experiences, reminding me that many paths are as valuable as formal education (or maybe even northern science?). It was an exciting and empowering interview. I was heartened to hear President Morales speak to climate change, excited to hear him call out excess and luxury.

Last night I was chatting with some friends who quickly disposed of my notions of hierarchy by redefining it through experiences rather than traditional norms of gender, race, class, or age. It was a point of learning that I bumped into accidentally, though I'd been heading for it for a while.

Also (!) Critical Mass is 15 on Friday! I look forward to another CM w/ a broken rear derailluer. (How have I been riding on that shit for a month?)

And, the Really Really Free Market is on Saturday in Dolores Park from 1pm - dusk. The reminders always mention a toaster oven... one of my clients has one on her sun porch so I think it's coming to the market. We'll see if anyone takes it.

The Dirty Dove Infoshop was open yesterday and I got an instructive tutorial on my li'l camera. I quickly put that info to use, leaving the infoshop for a friend's dinner party, which wrapped up with a photography session (after devolving into a YouTube freakout). The pix aren't grainy anymore! Thanks, Megan!

Sep 24, 2007

On the Master's and Raingear

So today I could be in London starting my Master's in Conservation, but I'm in SF scheduling dog walks and habitat restoration for the week. It's impossible for me to say that I would be better off in London, but I'm a little achy today, thinking that I could be somewhere new, if only education weren't so fucking expensive. (I paid my way through my undergrad, so I know something about this). I have another year to come up with the funds... Compacting helps, for sure.

My lack of school funds makes me a bit more impassioned for projects like the Really Really Free Market and the Dirty Dove Infoshop. Free share of knowledge makes way more sense to me than over-extrapolated (capitalist) education systems. Don't get me wrong, I want the education, and I need instructors. But there are lots of theories, skills, languages, and such that we can learn from each other.

Tomorrow I'll be at Dirty Dove, asking Megan to show me how to use my camera, and getting tips on sewing a holster for my hand shears. (I've never seen a non-leather holster for hand shears, and I've never seen even the leather holsters used.)

But I'm up against that seasonal challenge that I hit last year as a Compactor. It's gonna rain. I spend about 6-8 hours outside each day, even when it rains. That's on my bike, walking dogs, and pulling weeds. I need functional rain gear. Last year I called it a professional exception and bought new rain pants and a coat as I had worn out my set from the 2 years before. It was a light rainy season and I thought I'd make it through w/ that stuff to this year, but I crashed my bike and ripped up both the pants and coat (mad love to the driver who pulled outta his parking space, causing me to get caught in the Muni tracks: you rock).

Have you ever bought raingear? That shit is expensive. Grrrr, I might just have to do it as I haven't seen any useful raingear in any thrift stores or on Freecycle. I feel like such a freak in REI, especially when I get all drooly over camping gear and bike lights... and I think I just talked myself into at least checking out their dumpster tonight.

Sep 20, 2007

Workaholic?

Maybe you remember that instead of just curbing my consumption this year, that I had also planned to work less. M'kay I'm failing at that goal, hence my sporadic installations on this blog. For real, I've got my dog walking, the public outreach project, a contract for habitat restoration (kick ass!), and a cool piece of work organizing for a local restoration guru. Now those jobs pay, but they're all solo commitments so I have a few side projects that allow for collaboration.

I hit you up here about the Really Really Free Market at least once a month, so you know about that one. But I've just gotten involved w/ a gorgeous group of folks forming a free infoshop in SF. I mentioned Dirty Dove back when it kicked off in July. Tuesdays 4-8pm @ 3030B 16th St @ Mission St.

If you're interested in my diy guides for habitat restoration/urban harvesting or a free consultation on planting for wildlife in SF, you can find me at Dirty Dove on Tuesdays. I'll bring the same info to the Really Really Free Market. There's a lot more to both groups, that's just my li'l contribution.

Or if you're available this Sunday, I'm doing a workshop as part of my friend's show at Cellspace. Amber's piece, Mission Greenbelt, is up until September 29th, so hit it up!

I hope to also work with Amber on her upcoming show at the SF Arts Commission Gallery near City Hall w/ these workshops. More on that to come.

When I'm not doing all this shit, I'm applying for funding so I can take up my acceptance in University College London's MSc in Conservation. I deferred my admission (which would have began on the coming Monday) to get some funding ... if you run into a grant that I should be applying to, send it along!

Sep 7, 2007

Stepping Stones

Perhaps you can tell that I've found lots to do w/ the time that I don't spend shopping. One project that I'm working on right now is an effort to engage new people in habitat restoration. I am particularly interested in reaching folks in my own age group. Twenty-somethings rise up! Let's get dirty and help wildlife!

San Francisco is a biodiversity hotspot, largely because of its isolation. Surrounded by water on three sides and bounded to the south by San Bruno Mountain, the species of plants and critters in SF evolved in very specialized circumstances.

Thanks in part to topography, we have many islands of natural habitat left in San Francisco. You can see those islands in our undeveloped hilltops, Glen Canyon, and the shores along the Pacific and parts of the Bay.

We need to connect these islands in order to maintain diversity. Isolated species inbreed and implode leading to their extirpation (local extinction). We've learned that losing one species can trigger an extinction/extirpation cascade in which we also lose up to 30 other species that were somehow connected to the first. Our open space in SF is amazingly diverse, but that biological diversity is not necessarily going to persist. We can connect these islands of habitat with stepping stones that will link larger open spaces. We can create corridors to aid butterflies, bees, and birds along our sidewalks and in our backyards.

Several of my friends are working on just these sort of projects. Amber Hasselbring has proposed a Mission Greenbelt to connect Franklin Square Park to Dolores Park. If you are in SF, the Hidden Histories show is a must see. Amber and I are lucky to work with the rest of the Nature in the City education and stewardship committee on the recently conceived "Green Hairstreak Project". Liam O'Brien is our butterfly guru (no, I cannot spell the fancy title) and he has brought an amazing proposal forward to connect two populations of the Green Hairstreak to encourage their inter-breeding, and therefore, their survival.

I'll be holding a few workshops this fall on Radical Restoration. More to come on that.

Sep 4, 2007

Emphasizing Interdependence

So I was ranting yesterday about how we can't just lament the environmental crises we face, but we gotta connect our struggles. Well, I ran into this stellar article today that puts this all a bit more eloquently than I do. It may just seem like an anti-corporate rant for a second, but hang in there, it's worthwhile.

Sep 3, 2007

Politicians vs Bikes Pt2

US Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters has joined the backward Rep. McHenry in asserting that bikes are not transportation. What the fuck is going on here? I dunno what these folks would call it when I ride 10-20 miles each day to get to jobs in various neighborhoods in SF. Clearly, whatever it is, it's not transportation. More pointedly, Secretary Peters insinuates that bridges are falling because huge portions of transportation funds go to bike and ped paths (and lighthouses), which is bullshit. For some analysis of these statements about bikes, read the response from the League of American Bicyclists.

You can read the full interview to see how she scapegoats marginalized modes of transport to explain why bridges are collapsing, while simultaneously lamenting the idea of a higher gas tax.

This sort of thinking is never going to relieve us of our oil addiction. Things must change if we're going to make our lives sustainable. Change doesn't necessitate deprivation. Why do we whine so loudly for being asked to change a bit or to bear the costs of our extravagances? We have many of the solutions that we need to break oil addiction, for example.

As in all of nature, our habits are related and have rippling manifestations in other parts of our lives. Break the oil addiction and maybe my cousin, Jon, wouldn't be in Baghdad right now. I'm over looking at these consumption issues as strictly "environmental". They're all related to our social issues, particularly labor and health issues, but also war and property rights, and land use and transportation and capitalism in general. And scarcity (of oil, timber, WATER, pasture, etc) is only going to emphasize these relationships going forward.

Aug 28, 2007

Bicycle Music Festival

Some creative and straight up lovely people have brought bike culture to a new high in SF this summer. Clearly the brilliant folks behind the Bicycle Music Festival have been at their melodic and mechanic trades for a while. How did they make those awesome bikes that power the PA? No doubt, if you asked, someone would take the time to explain.

Like other cyclists who love their creations, Gabe (shake your peace), Paul (rock the bike), and all the other contributers also like to share them. With smiles. No snobby scene included. Just good music. And let me tell you, the music and performances could be bad (imagine if this was a more macho subsection of bike culture), but they all work!

Last night there were several great performances. I rolled up to see maybe 5 people playing an laundry basket rigged w/ instruments. The music was pedal powered throughout. Everything and everyone arrived on bikes and left on bikes.

Truly sustainable music. Umm, who needs carbon offsets?

Aug 24, 2007

Hauling Plants w/o a Trailer

Today I went to see my friend, Greg, again about more native plants for the Really Really Free Market. He got me psyched about variety and started pulling horkelia, bee plant, and coffeeberry out for me to take.
"Wait", I said, "I'm on my bike so I can only take two".

Oh boy was I wrong. I wondered how Greg transported plants as he rides a bike, too. Well, today I found out.

Greg pulled a bunch of these plants (above plus 2 doug iris' and coast buckwheat) out of their one gallon containers and placed them into a plastic bag. He grabbed a second bag, sprayed the lot w/ water and put the load into the box on the back of my bike.

Ok, so now my cooler box (great for groceries) smells like beer b/c the bags were used to haul bottles to the recycling center where Greg runs the native plant nursery, bu so what. I hauled 3x the number of plants today, and I can realistically get them all to the RRFM tomorrow.

The plants are free tomorrow, like everything else. See you there!

Aug 23, 2007

Really Really Free Market this Saturday

I'm stoked to go to this month's Really Really Free Market in SF's Dolores Park on Saturday. I'm taking some nifty native plants to give away. I have a kick ass friend who collects local seed and propagates native plants at a recycling center in the Haight. Today I picked up some toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia) and sticky monkey flower (Mimulus aurantiacus).

Along with the plants I'll have the new Nature in the City maps to give away. And some fresh pears from my backyard. I'm hoping that the plants initiate some conversation that can make the ecology aspect of this month's market something of a skill share.

But now I have to re-pot these plants. My bike fell over and everything spilled. I need a trailer for Saturday!

Aug 20, 2007

Bikes Rock, Rep McHenry Should Shut Up and Take a Ride

Did ya'll read/watch the ridiculous comments of North Carolina's Rep. McHenry regarding an energy provision last week (H.R. 1498)? There's this incentive to give bicyclists who commute to work a $20/month credit.

McHenry thinks this is no solution to our energy [consumption] crisis. Nuclear energy, that's a real solution. According to McHenry, bikes are "antiquated" but this spiel has some creepy Manifest Destiny moments tied together by the 1950's progress paradigm that has led to our high impact/high consumption lifestyles.


I'm pretty familiar with North Carolina, having grown up in Georgia. I bet it's a gorgeous place to ride, particularly in the coming months of Fall. Maybe McHenry should get on a bike instead of making sarcastic speeches rife w/ partisanship and completely lacking in substance. Maybe he'd find a little inspiration in the twists and ascents of the Smokies.

Anyway, here's a bit of what he said.

“A major component of the Democrats’ energy legislation and the Democrats’ answer to our energy crisis is, hold on, wait one minute, wait one minute, it is promoting the use of the bicycle.

Oh, I cannot make this stuff up. Yes, the American people have heard this. Their answer to our fuel crisis, the crisis at the pumps, is: Ride a bike.

Democrats believe that using taxpayer funds in this bill to the tune of $1 million a year should be devoted to the principle of: “Save energy, ride a bike.”

Some might argue that depending on bicycles to solve our energy crisis is naive, perhaps ridiculous. Some might even say Congress should use this energy legislation to create new energy, bring new nuclear power plants on line, use clean coal technology, energy exploration, but no, no.

They want to tell the American people, stop driving, ride a bike. This is absolutely amazing.

Apparently, the Democrats believe that the miracle on two wheels that we know as a bicycle will end our dependence on foreign oil. I cannot make this stuff up. It is absolutely amazing.

Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you the Democrats, promoting 19th century solutions to 21st century problems. If you don’t like it, ride a bike. If you don’t like the price at the pumps, ride a bike.

Stay tuned for the next big idea for the Democrats: Improving energy efficiency by the horse and buggy.”

Aug 7, 2007

Media Moments: Can You Help?

I have 2 opportunities for folks who'd like to weigh in on consumption issues.

Journalist Zachary Slobig is looking for someone to chat w/ about dropping out of the Compact. If you tried it and found that it did not work for you, perhaps you can help him out. Maybe you've set some other standards for yourself that work better? This is for an article in Good Magazine. Zachary rocks, very easy to talk to. Email me if you can help w/ this one.

And there's a documentary in the making called American Dream that is also seeking to get feedback from Compactors. Video diaries are sought from around the country/globe.
The film is not directly about the Compact, but you may still have something relevant to say. Below is the info provided to me by Justin, a rad fella who's working on the film. I did an interview w/ him and Jason (?) last week. Again, great folks, easy to talk to.

New Documentary looking for Compactors!

A new feature documentary called American Dream is looking for people
participating in the compact!

The documentary is about an everyday man who realizes that his financial
success and his accumulation of material things are not making him
happy. He decides to sell most of what he owns in order to make a film
about the over consumption and lack of sense of purpose that mark
today’s vision of success. Through his journey, we will find out what
has happened to the American society and to the original American Dream
after the arrival of industrialization, advertisement and mass-consumption.

The documentary includes engaging interviews with celebrities,
luminaries and industry leaders such as Danny Glover, Howard Zinn, Vicki
Robin, Ed Begley Jr., Jean Kilbourne, Rickson Gracie, Satish Kumar and
will be released in theaters nationwide.

Part of the film includes a search for solutions. We plan on
interviewing the original compactors in San Francisco and we want to
speak with others in the US and around the world!

If you are compacting or planning on compacting..or just like the
idea---We want to hear your story!

Please email justin@americandreamthemovie.com and we will be in touch very soon!

Aug 1, 2007

"Green" Shopping One More Time

I did this radio show on Monday that actually pitted "green" shopping advocates against the anti-consumerist/simple lifer mindset. It was not a positive experience for me in the moment, but it's meant that folks are pressing me to talk about this so here's a bit of how I approach this.

The Compact was a challenge to not buy new products for one year. We made a few exceptions, but the point was to reduce our personal landfill contributions among other things.

We advocate reducing consumption because it is evident that the American standard of living is not tenable on a global scale: there are not enough resources available for all of the 6.7 billion people on earth to have the average American lifestyle. Even if we made all products environmentally friendly, there would still be inequity in their distribution because there is not enough to go around. Thus, as the "green" products market explodes, I do not feel that I now have license to buy the unnecessary junk that's being marketed.

This problem is pronounced for my household as we cannot afford to buy into this market of "ethical" goods. We couldn't buy a new refrigerator, even if our landlord said it was ok. If we can't, as Americans in their twenties with college degrees, then it seems like a fallacy to think this is what will preserve rare species, slow climate change, and create sustainable communities across the planet.

Rather the "green" market seems like a continuation of over-consumption that's designed to eliminate the responsibility one may feel about the realistic footprint and lifespan of a product. It's the same market approach that brought us to the threshold upon which we now stand. If I have to buy new, then sure, I'll buy the "green" product. But I won't fool myself into thinking I need a personal espresso machine just because I can get one that barely draws any watts.

My framework with respect to over-consumption reflects a need for community based solutions. Rather than everyone having a personal espresso machine, I think we're much better off walking to the local coffee shop w/ our cups in hand. "Green" shopping is a continuation of the individualist paradigm that has led so many of us to think each home needs it's own steam cleaner and chainsaw, even if those items are only used every six months.

Once we have all of these products, we've long forgotten that their materials were extracted, they were assembled, shipped, marketed, and then used. Each of these steps has an impact, and I sincerely doubt that each one is being made "green".

So for me, if I want something, I'll first decide whether I really need it. If I have to shop, I'll try used first. (And you might be shocked at even the "green" products you can find used. Just look at Craigslist for an energy star refrigerator.)

Jul 24, 2007

RRFM and George Monbiot

This Saturday is the Really Really Free Market in San Francisco's Dolores Park. Folks come between 12-dusk at 19th and Dolores in the park. Bring stuff you don't want or a skill to share. Hang out, pick something up (?), and get down w/ other folks creating change around consumption.

And check out this article by George Monbiot: Eco-Junk: Why Buying Less Is More Than Buying Green. This really rocks. He not only takes up the media's pushing of green products, but also the class issues that plague the shopping against climate change paradigm. Yay and thank you, Mr. Monbiot! Below is my fav bit.

"Ethical shopping is in danger of becoming another signifier of social status. I have met people who have bought solar panels and mini-wind turbines before they have insulated their lofts: partly because they love gadgets, but partly, I suspect, because everyone can then see how conscientious (and how rich) they are. We are often told that buying such products encourages us to think more widely about environmental challenges, but it is just as likely to be depoliticising. Green consumerism is another form of atomisation - a substitute for collective action. No political challenge can be met by shopping."

Jul 15, 2007

earth aware travel


I'm tired of using the words "green", "eco____", or "carbon neutral" so today I'm using "earth aware" to tell you about a bike camping trip I took. So bike camping is the way to travel! I'm kinda bent on not flying this year so it looks like I'm staying close to SF for a while. I took a nice spin down to Half Moon Bay last weekend that was soooooo fun. We've discovered that we can camp without reservations for all of $3! Yay! Oh and the pic is me and the loaded bikes over-looking Montara and Pacifica.

And for the shopping updates: I've tried and had some success. I bought some social shoes for the first time in about 2 years. Now I have more than work shoes. My social shoes are pretty functional too actually. But maybe they won't be covered in red Bernal dust all the time.

Speaking of Bernal, check out my updated website, greendogwalks.org If you've wondered why I haven't been writing here, it's in part b/c I've been working on this project pretty intensely. Today we did a poop pick up w/ biodegradable bags in Bernal Heights Park. It was a fun opportunity for outreach and stewardship.

Jul 1, 2007

RRFM Rocks


Yesterday's Really Really Free Market offered SF participants a chill afternoon of stuff swapping and community building. With brilliant sun drenching Dolores Park, we sat around munching on plums and grapes. Some skills were swapped, including sari wrapping, the last manifestation of which is shown to the left.

I got rid of some great stuff that I couldn't use, like extra spices & tea, doktor cockroach stickers, fabric, and such. For sure my favorite part was passing on the skeleton that I exhumed from an owl pellet. Having learned everything I could from the rodent bones, I thought perhaps someone else would enjoy them. It really only took a little description and several folks were actually interested in seeing the bones and teeth. I had fun pulling the largest teeth out of the lower jaws to demonstrate their length and examine the tartar line. Super fun.

If you like RRFM, you might check out the Dirty Dove Infoshop, which opens at Station 40 on Wednesday 7/4 at 2pm. If you have time to put into either of these projects, they're both great examples of new ways of sharing materials and information. Building these alternatives to the systems that exploit our resources and sully our culture is equally as important as removing yourself from the consumption treadmill. These community based efforts make our individual contributions realistic. Check it out!

Jun 27, 2007

Really Really Free Market!


Saturday is SF's Really Really Free Market. I'm bringing plums from the backyard. See you there!

a community market and celebration where nothing is bought or sold

June 30, 2007
Noon-Dusk

no money
no barter
no trade
everything is free. really.

your participation strongly encouraged

bring gifts, entertainment and friends
leave your wallet at home

the last saturday of every month, dolores park

participation can take many forms. some people
look over their things and bring what they dont
need anymore. someone else will most likely need
exactly what you give. some people bring or make
food on the spot. some people teach skills like
juggling or bike repair. some people play music.
there are infinite ways to involve yourself - be creative!

Jun 24, 2007

Shopping against Climate Change!

There's a bit of a buzz right now around the growth of the "green" products market. I read this super article on alternet last week, check it out if you haven't seen it. I'm stoked to see this discussion rolling along.

Even "green" junk is junk. It's some sort of fantasy that we can feel ok about over consumption if we just make unnecessary products as low impact as possible. I haven't seen any direct research on that idea yet, but considering that it would take 4 more Earths to bring the entire world to the US standard of living, I'm thinking we don't have the resources to give an "eco-friendly" hot tub each of the 6.7 billion people currently sharing this planet. (see E.O. Wilson's The Future of Life for the statistic, see Plenty Magazine for a green hot tub).

On a side note, since I'm taking a few months off from strict Compacting (July 1st - October 1st), I'm going to be posting about the crap I buy during that period of time. I kinda want to keep track, see if I'm falling prey to advertising/impulse buying, impatience, or whatever. I'm thinking of this (justifying!) as a way to understand my relationship to things, materialism. Will see what I can learn.

Jun 21, 2007

holidays and street scores

Last week was Father's Day and Yahoo ran an article about how we spend way more money on Mother's Day than Father's Day. I read a bit and got kinda grossed out by the insinuation that the amount of money we spend correlates to our love for our fathers and mothers. How cheap, Yahoo. This guilt trip from our corporate handlers didn't compell me to shop hard for my dad, who, like most dads, was grateful for my conversation and card.

There's another holiday upon us, 2 really. And they're both flag holidays. First is Pride, a celebration now rife with consumerism in the form of Cliff Bar and Smirnoff ads/floats. It's tough for a lot of folks to think about this. We all want to be out and share these festivities, but we're bankrupt when it comes to funding this massive party without the corporate sell out. Maybe this is how we gain acceptance in mainstream society. We must be ok if we shop, right?

The second holiday is 4th of July. I scored a free flag on Santa Marina St yesterday. It's going to be a serious art piece by the start of the anti-torture demonstration on 7/4/07. I'll try to post some pix when it's finished.

Jun 14, 2007

Sustainable Tenancy, Modifying My Commitment

Still working my way around the chainsaw needs. With friends stopping in to either harvest or pick up plums, I've been thinking about my relationship to this space. I've lived in this apartment with Blake and the kitties for 3+ years now. Having deferred my admission to grad school until Fall 2008, I see myself here a bit over a year longer. I would love to hire an arborist to sculpt my plum trees and remove two stubborn stumps.

As a tenant, I do not want to pay for this. Knowing that my landlord couldn't care less about this property, I'm less than enthusiastic about talking to him about it. We get about 2 repairs per year outta the man. He used the backyard as a dump and really seems to consider it a bonus feature of the place, not something he has to deal with at all.

So yeah, renting is a bitch sometimes. I look at the backyard lot next door and want to scream. Han was the best neighbor we ever had in SF. He kept an immaculate vegetable garden, having lived in his home for 14 years. Last June the landlord decided to evict Han for an "owner move in". She did not compensate him according to law and the place has been vacant ever since. The landlord did a bunch of unpermitted work on the downstairs and seems to be biding her time until she can rent out the place as 2 units.

The fence had fallen down between ours and Han's yards last spring. We kinda liked it as we finally had street access through his yard! That's how we got all of the sinks, toilets, shingles, tile, doors, and luggage out of the yard. As soon as Hann was gone and the workers arrived, the fence went back up.

Whatever. I've been hopping it to tend the fig tree a bit, and to access the street w/ some compost. I'd love to see someone either squat in the whole place, or just reclaim the backyard. I'd love to see fewer fences in these lots, we'd have way more useable space that way. And I bet one of my neighbors has a chainsaw, and a rake, and a shovel. For a block of backyards, probably 20 households, we could make do with a couple of rakes and shovels, etc.

There's all this dialogue about this individualism that drives us do everything ourselves, requiring us to each have the tools and skills to perform all tasks. This inevitably leads to consumption. How often do you need your drill, steam cleaner, or whatever that weird thing is that you like to do for yourself? What if you could trade that service w/ a neighbor?

Anyway, these larger aspects of consumption have become my focus these days, as opposed to life as a non-shopper. I feel like I've lived shopping detox long enough. Last week I bought fabric and some beads. That's ok! I don't think I can learn a whole lot more about sustainability with the original terms of the Compact. So I'm taking a summer break. I plan to be back to abstention by October so as to not fall into the holiday trap. I'll still be blogging about consumption issues, but it might be water or oil or whatever.

Jun 6, 2007

Selling Out to Superstition?

Alright, I live in SF, but am originally from the South. I, and my housemate, are both ridiculously superstitious, having been raised on stories of heads on houses and evil spirits. And if you read the last post, you may surmise that our horror fetish plays an apt role in the maintenance of our superstitious tendencies.

Blake broke the mirrored closet door in my bedroom on Monday. We've both nearly gotten ulcers over it. He's trippin' b/c he broke the damn thing, and I can't sleep b/c the closet door is now missing (cuz you know we got that cursed object outta the house as soon as we could).

I went to SCRAP yesterday to get some fabric to cover the closet. I tried to dye some white fabric, but all I succeeded in doing was making a mess. I like messes, and had fun destroying that fabric, but I hate the open closet door. Today I whined a bit to a friend, who happens to drape most of his entryways rather than using doors. He hooked me up w/ some bright fabric of the perfect length.

So if I've taken care of the evil spirits in my closet, why the sellout? My house of free, used, and found objects is getting a bit tacky. Really, it's just my room. It's like the neon of the 80's was regurgitated into my bedroom. 2 orange rugs, either an orange and yellow or a green and pink comforter, a green and orange curtain for the closet, and a bright yellow fabric over the top of the window. Oh, and one ugly green chair that matches our green formica kitchen table. Ugh, I can barely think in my room these days. Because SCRAP had nothing I'd like to hang on my closet, I'm thinking of heading to a fabric store. A new closet curtain and window cover might make the rest bearable again.

I've been compacting for nearly 18 months. And I'm losing it over an interior decorating drama. I've taken all the free stuff and loved the bright colors. But now that they all have to live in the same room, it's a bit blinding.

Jun 3, 2007

I need a chainsaw!

No, this isn't a prequel to the "Another Hole in the Head" Film Festival. But when I ask friends if they have a chainsaw I can use, I'm noticing distinctly fearful glances. Most of my friends don't actually have chainsaws, we're city folk, but it's fun to ask them anyway. I'm pretty tight with a subset of SF's native plant and open space stewards. But I think perhaps they're too responsible to loan me a chainsaw. Though if I mentioned that I need it to kill that cotoneaster, someone might come through.

Otherwise the backyard project is going really well! There's a big bucket on the steps so folks can swing by whenever they want for plums. I'm doing deliveries to my clients. And fellow Compactors, John and Kate, want a whole slew of plums so they can try some canning. My friend suggested we have a harvest party and get wild w/ some compote makin'. That'll be next week, I think. The tomatoes are in the ground just as SF's June Gloom begins. The persimmons and figs are a couple weeks away. About 15 gallons of plums to come. Pears and apples in the coming months, too. All that and we only planted the tomatoes!

Without the chainsaw, I'm considering axes. Again w/ the horror movie, I know. I get a lot of my inspiration from horror films. I know a lot of people hate the genre or don't get how the rest of us can love it so much. But you guys should appreciate a project I'm starting w/ Blake (roommate/dearest friend, recent graduate w/ art degree). We're launching our Shopping Hell House. With only 5 months until Halloween, it's time to spook our friends into helping us manifest this nightmare. We want to scare people out of recreational shopping based on several themes like environmental destruction, cultural implications, social justice issues, etc. We're thinking we'll model it after those wacky "hell houses" that churches set up.

Help us out w/ ideas and a decent name! If you're in SF, we're looking for collaborators and a space for this project. And chainsaws...

May 31, 2007

Cultivation Karma?


Aren't Quivus and Zalaazil cute inspecting these free tomato plants? This is a rare treat because they kill all species from the kingdom Plantae, as Quivus quickly demonstrated moments after the photo was taken.

I scored 36 free tomato plants on Wool St yesterday, thanks to a tip from fellow Compactor, John Perry. I snagged them on the way down the hill from a dog walk, left 6 in the community garden on Cortland, and stashed the rest behind my client's stairs for a day. Hauling them home on my bike was tricky. The effort was aided by a passing neighbor who took 6 more off my hands! On my street, Raul's going to pass a few down the street, leaving me with about 18 plants. Still too many.
Can't wait to call my dad to get the skinny on tomato cultivation! They smell so good!

May 30, 2007

Open Fruit Pick in the Backyard

Surprisingly, my housemate is down with the idea to collectivize the backyard. the two of us agree that we cannot manage any sort of garden on our own, nor can we eat all of the fruit that is currently produced.

We're hosting a fruit pick to get those plums and persimmons off the trees. That will give our friends a chance to come check out the space and to express interest in working with us. We do rent, but are only inviting folks we know, and friends of folks we know, to become partners in the backyard. We want edible or native plants only to keep water inputs low. And we want folks to come from our surrounding neighborhoods, or folks we see over here regularly anyway. No sense in folks driving across town to work in our garden.

But we're excited about this! Community gardens are the number 2 desire of San Franciscans in terms of park use. So if we can help some folks get their hands dirty, all the better. I'm sure the camaraderie will encourage the two of us to work out there more, and incite yummy potlucks among other benefits.

May 23, 2007

Making My Backyard a Collective Garden?

Before I approach my housemate w/ this thought, I'll pose it here. I have backyard with sun in San Francisco. Seriously, it's a commodity. Last year Blake (that's my best friend/housemate) and I took all of the sinks, toilets, roofing materials, doors, wood, tile, and such out through our evicted neighbors street access after 2 years of renting this place. So now we REALLY have a backyard. It isn't just a tetanus hazard these days.

But I housesit 10-14 days per month and Blake just ain't the most outdoorsy. So to get the most utility of the space, I'd like to communalize it. Maybe I'm nuts. See this requires me giving a house key to anyone who wants to participate as we have no street access. But it seems like a shame that we're not actively enjoying this space unless we're painting anti-war banners or feeding feral cats. We have 7 fruit trees (which we never knew until we got rid of the dumptruck full of debris). We can't even eat all of the plums, persimons, and pears.

So yeah, free bike parking in my garage for green thumb folks who want to turn the rest of our backyard into a native plant garden! I can score the plants from local native plant gurus, but I need help caring for them since I'm only around half the time. Must be tolerant of feral cats and willing to kill a vibrant cotoneaster.

Really Really Free Market! and a funny car moment


The Really Really Free Market takes place this Saturday in San Francisco's Dolores Park. We'll be hangin' out from noon to dusk. Everything is free. Bring your unwanted items, take something with you, or bring a skill to share. Be prepared to take any of your unwanted stuff back home if no one snags it.

I love the RRFM, and if you make it on Saturday, you will too. It's more than a free garage sale. It's folks creating the change that they want to see in the way resources are distributed. It's a gift economy and we all have something to give.


On another note entirely, I saw the most ridiculous thing today on my way to Holly Park. I tend to get really self-righteous when I see someone washing a car. I'm a water conservation NUT, and I'm not a fan of personal automobiles either. Upon seeing someone wasting our precious Hetch Hetchy water on a land use converting, climate changer, I generally scowl and grumble under my breath.

Today was different though. I saw a guy washing his SUV ... while it was running. He nearly sprayed me and two dogs because, of course, he was blocking the sidewalk to do this highly intelligent activity. Maybe if you leave the car running it will dry faster. I dunno, but I couldn't grumble. I was so overwhelmed by sight that I started howling with laughter. Pixel and Raster (the dogs in my care) thought I'd gone nuts but were thrilled to get the hell away from the hose. I think the SUV man thought I was crazy, too.
To make this even more ridiculous, I tried to find a web image of someone washing a red SUV to put w/ this post. Do not google "car wash" unless you want to see a lot of scantily clad women covered in soap.

The Really Really Free Market is way more important than this antecdote but I had to share. If you're in SF, hope to see you there. If not, check your area for a local RRFM. If you don't find one, start one.

May 22, 2007

When precious items break

A small piece of plastic broke yesterday, leaving me with hair in my face and that requisite anxiety that creeps in when I start to think about replacing random crap like headbands. You might think it's trivial, and to a certain extent, so do I. But I loved this headband b/c it actually allowed me to be a bit stylish while maintaining a functional cut.
I don't like hair in my face when I'm cycling or when I'm walking dogs on windy Bernal Hill.
Ok, so it should be easy enough to replace right? Well I've never actually seen another one like this. It had this pattern to it that staggered out my locks.
I know this sounds petty. But consider that I don't really buy into the typical conventions of style and conspicuous consumption. I nearly always choose function over form. I wear the ugliest shoes ever, because my body hurts like hell if I try to wear any sort of cute shoe. Whatever. I wear an ugly, torn windbreaker b/c it's reflective and I feel safer on my bike. Whatever. I've been missing 5 of 10 earrings for the past year. Whatever. But this headband worked, ya know?
I have another headband, but it's ugly. I'll wear it, but I won't be happy about it.

May 19, 2007

a vapid moment as a vegetarian

I've been some sort of vegetarian for about 7 years now. I've lived vegan but am currently ovo-lacto, except for that ounce of wild salmon I ate on Monday. Why I feel the need to explore this here is unclear to me, but I've been thinking about those 2 tablespoons of flesh all week.

I became a vegetarian because of animal rights concerns, particularly the cruelty of factory farming. Ecological considerations deepen my commitment. For example, do you know what the top two agricultural uses of water are in the water poor state of California?
1) Irrigated Pasture (for cows mainly)
2) Alfalfa (for cows mainly)
Or that 8 oz of tofu uses requires about 460 gallons of water where as 8 oz of steak requires 1231 gallons of water?

What would convince a committed vegetarian to eat flesh? Well, it didn't take much. At a potluck my friend provided salmon that he caught off the tip of Point Reyes. I always find myself stupidly saying that I'd eat wild game before I'd eat farmed animals because wild animals had a chance to live, were never enslaved. Why I feel it necessary to apologize for my diet is unclear to me. I grew up fishing and even hunting deer and squirrels with my dad in Georgia. I said this bit about eating game on Monday, and somehow felt a curiosity about my own philosophy.

I always made this wild game statement in a conditional way, as in, "If I had to eat flesh..." Well, I was at a potluck in San Francisco, clearly I didn't have to eat meat. No one pressured me to do so or insulted my regular habits (god knows if they had, then no fish would have neared my lips). Indeed, the open minded crew whose company I was enjoying was a certain factor in my decision to try fish.

I'm not saying that I feel some heavy guilt over my fish eating. Rather I'm reflecting on my principles here. Perhaps all of the strict rules in my life have made these perverse missteps more likely. My absolutism necessitates some rebellion at times.

No, I don't feel guilty about eating a couple of bites of fish. But I feel a bit foolish. As strong as my beliefs are about eating flesh, I knew that a few bites wouldn't change my habits, so I ate the salmon. But what's the point in that? It feels a bit voyeuristic, kinda shallow. Like the way I think of foie gras consumption. I can't even bear to describe the taste, because that seems so vulgar to me. As it sank into my mouth I couldn't consider the feeling as good or bad, only bizarre.

Above I noted "my decision to try fish". But it's not like I'd never eaten fish before, or like I would start eating it regularly from this taste. For both of these reasons, I'm conflicted. This consumption feels a bit hollow, but also not detrimental really. I suppose I can only take away that I would be much more comfortable not having eaten the salmon.

May 17, 2007

Just me and my starbucks gift card

A very sweet client at the dog daycare sent me a Starbucks gift card as a thank you for loving her dogs. She likes coffee as much as I do and always brings it to the daycare when she brings Abbey. That's one thing, but me stepping foot into one of the 64 Starbucks in San Francisco (49 square miles) is quite another.

Last time I got one of these I gave it to my co-worker, who stops by Starbucks frequently. But I'm not a fan of advertising for Starbucks either. I'm betting the gift card is non-refundable, which means that if I don't do something with it, then there was straight profit.

Have you ever seen the Church of Stop Shopping's actions at Starbucks? Wouldn't it be nice if we all went together to return our unwanted gift cards? Hangin' on to the idiot piece of plastic until I find a solution.

May 10, 2007

Finally some new underwear

It's been in the list of exceptions from the beginning. Compactors can buy new underwear and not feel guilty. Or so we say. From the first month of the Compact I've been asking where I could find some ecological underwear. Who's selling the socially concious, environmentally sound drawers?
I don't believe we've all gotten so in touch w/ nature that we're ridin' our bikes and planting trees commando style. I don't buy it. And I didn't buy new underwear for 2 years.
But the tips I was given by my fellow environmentalists were kinda poor. Is it a requirement that environmentalists sport white granny panties that come via post? Buying clothes is a special sort of hell for me, so convincing myself to buy clothes I'd hate was just impossible.
Last week I started thinking I should layer my holey underwear to create one whole pair. But it's more of an art/ political piece w/ the symbolic "No Bush in 2004" pair on the outside (thanks, beth!).
So yeah, I got over my hang ups and took a trip to Stonestown Mall's Victoria Secrets.
Gotcha! For real, I went to American Apparel, only to come home to a lecture from my darling housemate: "You KNOW American Apparel's NOT a good company".

May 5, 2007

Plug it Out/Gifts for Mom/ Scholarly Recap

Have you guys heard of Plug It Out? These folks are encouraging us to uplug our electronic devices from 6:30pm - 10:30 pm on Saturday, May 12th. You've got a week, make it happen. I'm thinking of hosting a small dinner followed by a bike ride to involve more people.

I'm grateful for the advice on mom gifts. It's funny, my dad and sister are stumped too. So I'm looking into jewelery cleaning or making soap at this time. Further suggestions are welcome. I'm not donating in her name and she's not into travel or writing.

In other news, my research on off-leash dog walking did not win at the CSU Student Research Competition. But I met some fabulous people! Folks working on all sorts of research. It was such a great experience.
In the same vein, I should know soon about scholarships at UCL soon. Then I'll know whether I'm moving to London this Fall or next. Wow, I look forward to getting that settled!!!! No money means no go, at least not this year. Whenever I go, I'll need to meet some London Compactors. I'm wondering what sort of anti-consumerist and environmental projects I should be aware of before I go. It's difficult to think of losing all of my networks here, but I'm excited to learn from a new perspective! I hope I find activists in London as open as my favorite orgs and idols in SF.

May 2, 2007

I love my mom!

Mother's Day is in about 10 days. And my mom's birthday is at the end of the month. I think I'm screwed. I've already donated in my Mom's name many times. She would not really enjoy a massage or something like that. She lives in the country and has everything she needs really. She knows I love her, but... I'm going to feel like an ungrateful brat if I don't come up w/ something. (I totally blew off my folks anniversary this year ):

Getting creative w/ gifts gets kinda difficult once you've done the standard alternatives for a couple of years! Suggestions?

Green DogWalks


On Friday I have the opportunity to present my research on off-leash dog recreation at the California State University Student Research Competition. I'm excited to participate, and nervous, of course.


Green DogWalks is the public outreach project that has evolved out of my study of off-leash dog walking trends at Bernal Heights Park in San Francisco. As you know, I'm a dogwalker, have been for about 7 years. Bernal Hts Park is the top 33 acres of an undeveloped hilltop in southeast SF; it's the park I go to the most. Two years ago I began an internship with the Natural Areas Program(NAP)of SF Rec and Parks Dept. I've learned tons and tons from the wonderful NAP staff, all of whom I consider my teachers.

So why study off-leash dogs? Well, Bernal Heights Park is a place for off-leash dogs and it's a Significant Natural Resource Area (SNRA) managed by the Natural Areas Program. Some folks find these two designations a bit conflicting. I see a potential partnership between stakeholders who love the park. Luckily, NAP likes my perspective and asked me to do some work on building dialogue between the agency and the dog walking community at Bernal Hill.

I did the research to get an idea of what the trends are like at the park so we know what we're dealing with in terms of volume of dogs, activities, and dispersal across the park. I found that an average of 765 dogs come to the park each day, handled by 473 people. That's a lot of potential partnerships for the community, a lot of stakeholders to help steward this park. I looked at a lot of variables that I won't bore you with here.

We took what we learned from the research and held 3 focus groups last summer to get input on how to structure our outreach project. It's been slow going on the outreach develpment, for a lot of reasons. But I created a frumpy little website for the project and did a display in the windows of the closest grocery store about the park. There was an article about the project and NAP in a dog newspaper. I've done some on site tours and outreach. Our brochure went to the designers today. We'll have that puppy out within a month, inshallah.

But we've also taken some physical steps to build bonds between NAP, native plant lovers, and dog lovers. Now, if you're not a dog lover, you might not see the value in these little steps, but trust me, they mean a lot to us. First we filled an annoying depression that would hold water long after the rain had passed. Dogs always wallowed in it, and it's a bit of a hazard in terms of giardia. Building on input from the focus groups, NAP mowed an area of low restoration value to keep it available to dogs as the foxtail season emerged. I am personally grateful for this as one of my clients is like velcro w/ foxtails. Foxtails hold the seeds of an invasive grass. They have a one way trajectory and often become lodged in dogs bodies, notably in the nose, ears, eyes, penises, toes and armpits.
Dog walkers have taken steps too. We held a poop pick up party in the fall. NAP let me write that up for their community newsletter, which means that lots of folks learned about the stewardship efforts of dog walkers. Similarly, dog walkers turned out to clean up McLaren Park the day before Earth Day. We announced that on stage to again draw those stewardship connections for folks.

I love this project. It's allowed me to bring together my love of dogs with my passion for conservation.