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...