Friday, August 29, 2008

Tikkun Olam Fridays – Repairing the world one step at a time

Another Friday, another post on tikkun olam – to repair the world. Remember, you don’t have to finish the job, but it is your responsibility to start.

What action did you take this week, big or little, to make a difference?

Today I made a donation to MANNA, the food bank in the Conejo Valley. To be honest, I’d already written a politically themed post. But driving back from kickboxing, the MANNA truck was in front of me. And last Friday when I took the dog to the groomers, the MANNA truck was in front of me.

Mind you, in 15 years of living in the Conejo Valley, I’ve never seen their trucks. Do you think someone was trying to tell me what today’s post should be about?

MANNA was started in 1971 when many families were affected by layoffs in the aerospace industry. The organization gets help from clubs, churches, temples and businesses along with both public and private schools. My kids’ elementary school ran a donation drive while they attended. With the economy the way it is, I’m sure they need help keeping their pantry filled.

According to the website:
MANNA provides food on a short-term basis to families and individuals who are having difficulty in getting enough food to survive and are unable to get immediate help from other sources.

MANNA asks everyone to fill out a short application form and, based on the information provided, MANNA will refer them to the appropriate agency. Generally, each applicant will receive a week’s supply of food immediately.

MANNA expects each applicant to follow up on the referral. If the agency cannot provide immediate assistance, the applicant will be sent back to MANNA by the social worker and MANNA will help them again.

To receive help, learn how to volunteer or organize a drive for your school, organization or business, you can contact them at (805) 497-4959.

Or visit them at:
MANNA of Conejo Valley
3020 Crescent Way
Thousand Oaks, CA 91360

And the political post? Did you think I’d waste it? Look for that over the weekend!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Yes We Can!

Get out the vote. Talk to everyone you know. This race will be close, very close. Do you want 4 more years of McBush? Our country, our world can't afford it. Let's have something to celebrate come November. Get out the vote!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Tikkun Olam Fridays - repairing the world one small step at a time

Stanley Park, Vancouver, Canada
©2008 Bobbi Rubinstein

Every Friday I’m going to post on the concept of tikkun olam. It means ‘to repair the world’. The nice thing about tikkun olam is what Rabbi Tarfon, a sage of the first century AD says: you don’t have to finish the job, but it is your responsibility to start.

What did you do this week to repair the world? What one little thing, or big thing, did you do to make a difference?

This is what I’d like to share …

I like to pick up freebies. I LOVE handouts. Free newspapers in cities I’m visiting, local magazines – green or otherwise, articles at conferences. Sure it’s a lot of paper – and I’m really drowning in paper at the moment – but I just love to read short pieces. (As a kid, I read the World Book Encyclopedia for fun – what an info geek!)

So when I found that someone had started a green magazine for the Conejo Valley/Ventura County area, I was really excited. Green Home and Family Magazine. This was one freebie I grabbed and saved.

After a few issues, I realized that while I could pick it up at the libraries around town, it was an organization I wanted to get behind. The writing was solid, and it was getting the word out to the region and covering events.

So this week I signed up for a subscription. Small thing, for sure, but no one but me would have known I was reading it every month, free of charge, and not giving anything back. Like listening to your local NPR station and never subscribing. (Mea culpa there.)

The sands of summer are falling away – savor them this weekend with family and friends.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

California as Still Life

Eucalyptus - 18" x 24" oil on canvas
© 2008 Karen Winters

If anything defines California, it’s our beautiful and varied landscape, from the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the Pacific Ocean to the desert around Palm Springs, just begging for a dab of paint to capture it. If you’d like to experience the state through an artist’s eyes and tour one of our premier garden museums, visit Descanso Gardens , starting this weekend, to catch the opening of the latest show at the Carriage House Art Gallery.

This month the gallery features the work of five local artists, with an emphasis on artwork that reflects the natural beauty of California. Oil painters include Alyce Cox, Karen Winters, Laura Wambsgans and Jeanne Tannhauser. Ceramicists are Dave Gilbaugh and Don Siminski.

Subject matter ranges from the Central Coast wine country, Southern California seascapes, Santa Monica Mountain scenes, desert wildflowers, still life paintings and floral portraits.

Full disclosure: Karen Winters was my roomie in college. (Go Bruins!) It’s her painting at the top. She’s a Descanso regular and is a California plein air painter in the tradition of the early 20th century impressionists who sought to visually preserve the fragile beauty of the state. Visit her website for more paintings and check out her blog where she posts a daily painting and blogs about paint and horticulture.

The show will run August 23 through September 18 with an artists’ reception on Sunday, August 31, 1-4pm. Exhibit hours are 10am -3:30pm.

According to their website, “Descanso Gardens is an urban retreat of year-round natural beauty, internationally renowned botanical collections and spectacular seasonal horticultural displays. Descanso founder E. Manchester Boddy, preserved these 150 acres of gardens, woodlands and chaparral for future generations to experience the natural heritage and beauty of Southern California. Today Descanso Gardens is a museum of living collections, accredited by the American Association of Museums.”

Descanso Gardens is located at 1418 Descanso Drive in La Canada Flintridge, near the interchange of the 2 and 210 freeways. The Gardens are open 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. Parking is free. Admission fees are $8 for adults; $6 for seniors and students; $3 for children 5 to 12, and free for members and children 5 and younger. The Carriage House Art Gallery is next to the Boddy House. Visiting the Carriage House Art Gallery is free with Gardens’ admission. For more information, call (818) 949-4200.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

In the Shadow of the Gehry Mind

Sunday I packed up the car and headed down the highway looking for a green adventure - the first annual Sustainable LA – a festival “celebrating and exploring urban environmentalism”. The day capped the 2008 Downtown Film Festival that ran August 13-17.

Get a load of the first thing I saw as I walked up the hill from the parking lot ...

The contrast of greenness ...

against the city skyscrapers, especially the organic silver swirls of the Walt Disney Concert Hall by Frank Gehry, blew me away. We’ll need the imagination and vision of many men and women like this award winning architect to save the planet.

Now a sampling of the booths ...

The TreePeople

For over 30 years, TreePeople’s mission has been “ to inspire the people of Los Angeles to take personal responsibility for the urban forest – educating, training and supporting them as they plan and care for trees and improve the neighborhoods in which they live, learn, work and play.”

South Central Farmers’ Cooperative

The SCFC Farm is a CSA, (Community Supported Agriculture) and is Certified Organic by the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) and as well as USDA Certified Organic. SCFC is ‘committed to engaging and empowering community members around attaining food sovereignty and access to high quality organic produce.”


Cyclists Inciting Change thru Live Exchange (C.I.C.L.E.) is a nonprofit organization based in Los Angeles working to promote the bicycle as a viable, healthy, and sustainable transportation choice. C.I.C.L.E. envisions streets that safely accommodate all road users - people on bike, on foot, by wheelchair, by bus and/or by train. If you forgot or never learned how to ride, they’ll teach you, especially how to ride in traffic.

The University of California Cooperative Extension, LA County

Got questions about all things agricultural? Check out this site for information on farming, gardening/horticulture, natural resources, 4-H Youth Development and Nutrition, Family & Consumer Science. I spent some time talking to them about composting and they had some great handouts.

The 14 Gallon Challenge

The LA Dept of Water & Power (LADWP) is asking Angelenos to voluntarily reduce their personal water use by 10% (14 gals a day). That means: Shutting off the water when washing dishes (2.5 gals per min) Turning the faucet off while brushing your teeth (2 gals per min). Taking shorter showers (2.5 gals per min) Check the Green LA home page for ideas about solar energy, recycling and water.

Counting Down to Zero Waste

The city of Los Angeles Dept of Public Works, Bureau of Sanitation is developing a 20 year strategy for reducing waste throughout LA, moving the city to zero waste by the year 2030.

We sat in the shade, under a tent, for the panels ...

The panels included one on urban parks in LA, electric cars and green collar jobs. I attended the Buy Local, Eat Slow discussion featuring Russ Parsons, food columnist for the LA Times, Jules Dervaes, founder of Path to Freedom, Gypsy Gifford Executive Chef of Café Pinot, Lisa Lucas, VP, LA chapter Slow Food Nation, and Amelia Saltsman, host/producer of “Fresh from the Farmer’s Market.” (photo above: Russ, Amelia, Jules)

The Slow Food movement is based on principles of quality, taste, environmental sustainability and social justice – good, clean and fair. I was struck by the confidence each panelist conveyed. The movement has gone beyond the fringe and grown in size and strength. Some of their suggestions: start small, ask questions, grow something – our backyards are under-utilized. Shop smart. Fight for biodiversity in seeds – the big companies like Monsanto are taking over the copyrights on seeds.

In a darkened theater, the documentaries ...

During the afternoon, green documentaries were screening at MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) on trash, farming, bikes, the LA River and oil:

  • Trashed (2007, USA, 20 min, Director: Derek Boonstra)

  • South Central Farm: Oasis in a Concrete Desert (2005, USA, 24 min, Director: Sheila Laffey)

  • The Bike Lane (2007, USA, 65 min, Director: Sean Crowell)

  • The Los Angeles River (2007, USA, 28 min, Director: David Hartwell, Sarah Lorenzen)

  • Fields of Fuel (2008, USA, 90 min, Director: Josh Tickell)

At night, Flow (2008, USA, 93 min, Director: Irena Salina) ended the Film Festival. It’s about our most important natural resource – water – and the future we all face, rich nation or poor, with our water supplies stretched to the limits.

I was happy to be outside, but next year I hope to catch a flick or two.

I drove to my valley and its open spaces and mountains, leaving the chrome and concrete behind me, marveling at the physical diversity of the place I call home.

Monday, August 18, 2008

News Flash: Husband Wants Tomato Plants, Film at 11

While I was wandering the stalls at the Sustainable LA event downtown yesterday next to Disney Concert Hall, Mr. Local was picking up Local 2 from 8 weeks at camp. Since he'd also gone to that camp, whenever he retrieves her, we have to hang out so he can relive his youth and recount the same stories each summer. Really, it's quite darling.

This year he brought along Local 1, who's home from her college internship, and Local Poodle and wandered into the camp's vegetable garden. They all tasted some tomatoes, well, not the dog.

So we congregate back home later in the day, along with a 16-year-old girl's mound of laundry, don't ask, I'm drowning. And what does Mr. Local want to know? Would I mind if he grew some tomato plants? Then, later in the evening, he asked 'what was that you said about composting?'

Inside I was going: yes, yes, yes! But outside I just answered sweetly, "Oh honey, why don't I show you some of the handouts I brought back from the festival."


PS: Speaking of Sustainable LA, I have lots to tell throughout the week. It drew a core, manageable crowd and the booths and panel discussions were informative. I didn't stay for 'Flow', a major screening, or watch the short documentaries but I'm sure they were good too. And the contrast of sustainability, downtown LA, the Music Center and the Disney Concert Hall by Frank Gehry made for a visual treat. And yes, I did wear The Ugly Hat. A visual treat? Not so much.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Tikkun Olam Fridays

Every Friday I’m going to post on the concept of tikkun olam. It means ‘to repair the world’. While it’s the one Jewish teaching that most resonates with me, I believe it’s the catalyst behind the race to save humankind from global warming and all the catastrophes that entails. It’s a path that all religions and people of concern can share and practice.

The nice thing about tikkun olam is what Rabbi Tarfon, a sage of the first century AD says: you don’t have to finish the job, but it is your responsibility to start.

No whining that you can’t devote hours of time and money changing every light bulb in the house this weekend. Change one light bulb the next time one goes out. The first step is always the hardest.

So each Friday I’m going to ask “What did you do this week to repair the world?” What one little thing, or big thing, did you do to make a difference?

Did you:

  • Start to compost?
  • Make a donation to a cause?
  • Turn down or up the heat or AC?
  • Smile at a neighbor?
  • Read your local weekly, not big city daily, newspaper?
  • Read up on an ecological issue – but borrow the book from a library?
  • Write a letter to a Congressperson?
  • Decide not to buy something and save the money instead?

You get the picture. Each step can lead to another and another. We’ll grow in strength and move toward the positive. Together.

So here goes …

Mr. Local and I are joining a synagogue, Valley Beth Shalom in Encino, CA. Yesterday I went in to meet the rabbi in charge of The Green Team, which I’m going to join. Of course. We spent an hour (whoa, thank you Rabbi Farkas for your generous time) getting to know each other and riffing on all things green.

The meeting was supposed to be about what the synagogue’s plans were and how I might help out. What I left with was something more.

To paraphrase him, hopefully correctly, he said that going for the goals of recycling or traveling as a group to New Orleans to rebuild houses is great. But if we’re not getting to know and depend on each other along the way, if we’re just individuals lowering our own carbon footprint, than we haven’t built community. And that ultimately for him, and I agree, should be our goal.

A little bit of Torah/bible study/Koran/contemplation as I went out the door into the uncharacteristically humid California afternoon.

So pull out your tool kits (or borrow your neighbor’s), roll up your sleeves and let’s … start.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

"Sustainable LA" at Downtown LA Film Festival Sunday, Aug 17

For any Angelenos, the 2008 LA Downtown Film Festival concludes with Sustainable LA, a green festival on Sunday, August 17th from 12 noon to 10 pm. Pending family crisis or earthquake, your Intrepid Reporter will be there. If you live relatively nearby, check it out.

Offered up for your eco-enjoyment will be free screenings of green documentaires at MOCA, panel discussions about urban parks, the electric car, Slow Food and green collar jobs. Plus a Farmers' Market. The day will end with a screening of "Flow" from this year's Sundance Film Festsival.

Thanks to my eco-buddy, Tanya, at All Green Things, for giving me the heads up. You can visit her at the event or at her site.

Now if I can just figure out how to get photos into this blog (newbie here) and navigate the parking. Gas up, bring a cooler and reusable water bottle, slather on the sunscreen. Wear the stupid hat and get laughed at by the family (not a hat person). Wear comfortable shoes. Stash the cash for purchasing nibbles from farmers and artisanal types. (confessing ahead of time, Crunchy Chicken) Print out a map. Bring along reusable bags. Charge up the phone and the camera. Throw in paper and pen to take Intrepid Reporter notes. Pray that I can navigate the parking.

And I'm going alone. Imagine if the kids were little and potty training and this became a family outgoing. No, I won't go there.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

How Much More Damage Can He Do?

Will the Frat Boy never leave? And how much worse can he make things before he finally goes?

That’s what Mr. Local and I talk about constantly around the kitchen table. Bush and his buddies have done so much to ruin the country I love that I’m almost paralyzed by rage.

Almost but not quite …

Now he’s taking on the Endangered Species Act. Here are some highlights, rather lowlights, of the bill from the CNN article:

  • Bush wants federal agencies to decide for themselves if projects harm wildlife
  • Changes would "seriously weaken" habitat protections, says conservationist
  • New rules end reviews that developers say increase many project cost
  • Similar bill passed in the House in 2005 but died in the Senate

More points from the story:

  • New regulations, which don't require the approval of Congress, would reduce the mandatory, independent reviews government scientists have been performing for 35 years, according to a draft first obtained by The Associated Press.
  • The director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, H. Dale Hall said, "We will not do anything that leaves the public out of this process."

No requirement for Congressional approval versus we won’t leave the public out of the process.

What?!? Did I read that right?

Perhaps these people need to sit through the entire DVD series of “John Adams” to remind them about what we were fighting for back in 1776.

For the full call to arms, check out today’s post from GreenBeanDreams about how to rise up and take action.

For those of you in California, a piece of good news is that Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-California, is chairwoman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, and has called the proposed changes illegal. So please, fellow Californians, let her know your thoughts.

Just because Bush is touring the world, on our money, to wave good-bye, doesn’t mean his minions back home aren’t wreaking havoc with our children’s world.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Follow the Leafy Green Road

Here's my post for the APLS blog Carnival. APLS are 'affluent people living sustainably.' Everyone's thoughts should be posted by August 15th. If you're an APLS or even think you could be or wonder if you're a Macintosh, Gala or Jonagold, then check us out.

The inaugural topic was:

What does sustainability mean to you?

I started down the Leafy Green Road by having Depression-era parents. Don’t buy what you don’t need, pay cash, eat at home, sew your own clothes and use the library. I guess that’s the underpinning of my sustainable values.

Then I went off to UCLA and got a degree in political science and promptly put it in my back pocket. I worked instead in retailing, moved on to the entertainment industry, a little bit of journalism and ultimately into public relations, which I think of as a combo of everything.

Along the way I grafted some religious/spiritual branches onto myself. I learned about Tikkun Olam, a Jewish value for repairing the world. You start and don’t worry about getting it done. This relieved me of my tendency for perfectionism. Just do it. Plus most synagogues have some kind of social action/political action committee. Whoa, finally a way to use my college degree for something more than a plaque on the wall of my office. I think we’re onto something.

Then I had kids. I made the oldest watch the 1992 Democratic convention with me. I pointed out the states on a placemat decorated with a USA map during the roll call vote. Well, I did that for a few minutes. I was enjoying myself, but the 3 year old wasn’t impressed.

Having kids made me concerned about our future because they were going to live in more of it than me. Then softball and piano lessons and Hebrew School schlepping got in the way. Some years my ‘save the world’ efforts didn’t get any further than mailing a check to the Red Cross anytime there was an earthquake somewhere in the world. I live in SoCal; I know from earthquakes. I was stockpiling good karma.

Then the kids got older and learned to drive themselves to the mall. One was headed to college soon and I knew there’d be very few family dinners left to share on a regular basis. And I was tired of eating mediocre food - mine - so I took cooking classes. And began reading about Slow Food and sustainable agriculture.

I was amazed that our food supply sucked. I’d experienced terrible peaches years ago but figured we were just shipping the good stuff out of state. Then I ate some really bad packaged mystery rice meals and realized something was wrong with this picture. That was the last straw, well, the entire Bush administration was the ongoing last straw but woman cannot live by anger alone.

Now one kid’s in college and the other is in 11th grade and I have more time for me. I’ve pulled that poli sci degree out of my back pocket. I’ve also cut down on paper towels, planted a small container garden, bake bread, visit farmers’ markets, turn off the lights, sweat a lot (almost no AC this summer but The Big Heat Looms, I’m sure), hang the clothes outside to dry when not pressed for clean underwear, recycle the junk mail and all office paper and read, read, read as much as I can about The Issues. Composting is in the future but I need to get other systems in place first – i.e. – husband on board.

So how do I feel on my journey? Well, green is actually my favorite color. But more than that, I feel integrated at last. My economic, political, social and social spiritual values are valued again. I’m living the talk as I walk the walk on the Leafy Green Road. Where am I headed? Not sure but it should be a heck of a journey. Pack a lunch and join me.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

To Live Local - The Green Report

Once a week I’ll be posting articles about ecological issues, new technologies, new green companies and interesting eco- happenings from the Golden State. I’ll offer up both news I’m proud of and activities that might make me wish my fellow Californians had cared a little more about the air, earth and water that we all share.

Here’s today's edition:

Pasadena is very into walkability, an issue near and dear to my feet. Old Town Pasadena has blocks of shops, condos, cafés – you don’t feel like you’re in LA at all. It’s almost Twilight Zone scary to walk from H&M to Forever 21 to lunch with my kids. Today LA Times ran an article about the city’s first “walkabout” in March, an event to compile ideas on making Pasadena safer for pedestrians. Check out “The goal: A foot-friendly city” written by Rong-Gong Lin II.

The New York Times Magazine has an article about water purification – indirect potable reuse – aka toilet to tap. “The Orange County Groundwater Replenishment System is the largest of its type in the world,” writes Elizabeth Royte, author of “Bottlemania: How Water Went on Sale and Why We Bought It”. It's a great article that explains the process. Go OC!

My town has a community garden that is so successful, only 3 spots remain open to rent. Higher food prices are forcing many of us to pick up spade and rake. See the article in The Acorn, our weekly newspaper. “Oak Park garden an offshoot of escalating food prices” by Sophia Fischer. The entire garden is organic. It was an empty lot when we moved there and now I love to watch people climb the stairs to work on their patch of earth.

What's the Green News from your community?

Friday, August 8, 2008

Let Them Eat Rock Soup

No gentle humor this morning, folks. Outrage is how we’re ending the week.

Here’s the headline, top of fold, in today’s Wall Street Journal:

“Food Giants Race to Pass Rising Costs To Shoppers”

Like this is an Olympic sport?!? And Big Aggie is sponsoring a team?

You’ll have to pay to get this article online because that’s just the way Mr. Murdoch is. So let me give you a couple of paragraphs from Scott Kilman’s informative, albeit scary, article.

… “Companies throughout the food chain are changing the way they do business in response to soaring grain costs, and consumers are likely to bear the brunt in the form of rising food prices.

Farmers are making the broadest cuts to their livestock herds in decades, meaning meat at the supermarket will likely cost more in coming years. Middlemen are trying to shorten the duration of supply contracts to 90 days from one year so they can pass on higher costs more quickly. And food brands are shrinking the contents of their packages, from ice-cream cartons to beverage containers.

“Everyone’s adjusting,” Brenda C. Barnes, chief executive of Sara Lee Corp., said Thursday after the company reported a $695 million loss for the quarter ended June 28. That included an $850 million after-tax charge, mostly for writing down the value of bakery businesses hit by soaring wheat costs.”…

ADJUSTING?!?! Is that what we’re calling it now? Should I rush out to buy a cheesecake to help out?

Casaubon’s Book asks what we’re going to do for a living in post-peak oil. To date she's had 93 comments discussing getting down to basic jobs in a depressed economy.

Pity the poor money managers. With no money, what will they manage?

Crunchy Chicken posted on The Economist’s debate on whether rising food prices are good or bad, followed by a thoughtful group of comments.

I say, if rising prices for everything wakes up anyone who could even think of voting for McCain, then the oncoming tsunami of pain will have served its purpose.

We are crumbling, people, and we can’t stand another 4 years of McBush.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

It's Not Easy Being Green

With every article I read about farmers’ markets, I yearn for the weekend when we finally get ours in Oak Park. Seems the company that will run the market passed the parking hurdle, having turned in the study requested by the County. (Hello, if we had buses and small neighborhoods, we wouldn’t have to worry about the cars!) Our market will be either on Saturday or Sunday, from 9 am to 1pm. Either day I’m thrilled.

Human nature being what it is, when you get a group of people together, you get arguments and grumblings and people gaming the system. The article in today’s New York Times ‘Dining In’ section talks about the difficulties of policing the producer-only rules at farmers’ markets.

According to Michael Hurwitz, director of Greenmarket, “those who are violating our rules are cheating, and it should be personal integrity that catches it, rather than an inspection. Do I wish we had 20 more inspectors? No. I wish we had no cheating in the system.”

Stacy Miller, executive secretary of the Farmers Market Coalition, a national nonprofit created in response to requests for more information, resources and representation about the industry, said there is no consensus on producer-only rules.

So what will the Oak Park Farmers’ Market be? According to the proposal before the Municipal Advisory Council, the Community Certified Farmers’ Market will be “An open-air pedestrian based market that offers a variety of fresh and eco friendly produce, fruits, baked/specialty foods and musical entertainment for the local residents...The State of California Agricultural Commissioner will certify that the farmers will sell food produced directly by the farmers themselves. "

Whatever the rules are, what I want is the market. Not simply because I need to know the provenance of my plums or the name of the farmer’s daughter or to eat pesticide-free peaches. I want what a friend said she craves – social – an adjective-turned-noun. And not just anonymous chatting while you bag a few onions, but a deeper relationship with everything and everyone that will cut through the alienation, homogenization and sterility of what our lives have become in the guise of progress.

So Ms. Farmer, you can tell me the history of your heirloom tomatoes. I’ll listen. But I’d rather you feed me. Because I’m hungry.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

A 'Dear Al' Letter

I have a confession to make … I can’t make it through Al Gore’s books.

There, I said it and shortly I will hit publish and it will be out in the world forever. Please don’t take my first born … unless you’re willing to pay for her next 2 years of college.

Lord knows I tried. I read the reviews of “The Assault on Reason”and bought the book in hard copy even. A third of the way through was all I could handle.

Once burned, I borrowed “Earth in the Balance”, from our community library just up the street (will that absolve me?). I succeeded in getting halfway through, even enjoying the parts about how weather effects history and how the French Revolution could have been helped along because of bad harvests.

But then I began to just skim it in the hopes of finding kernels of knowledge from our High Priest. Finally last night I had to put it aside with an apology as I placed it on the nightstand. (I actually said I’m sorry to his face on the back of the book.)

Al, you are my idol when it comes to how to recover from a life crisis. Your strength in not becoming a bitter recluse after the Shame of 2000 (theirs, not yours), your Phoenix-like rise from the ashes to pursue the even more worthy goal of saving the planet, to win an Oscar and then the Nobel Peace Prize … well, when I get down about my life, I just channel my Inner Al because baby, you are one hot role model.

But Al darling, everybody needs an editor, even God (i.e. all commentaries since Sinai).

So while I will support WE (love those commercials), continue to get a tingle when I listen to your speeches on YouTube, and think “An Inconvenient Truth” was amazing as a film as well as for its content, going forward on my journey I will look to you to supply the vision and the leadership only.

For a good read, I’ll reach for Bill McKibben, Michael Pollan, Barbara Kingslover or Thomas Friedman’s upcoming “Hot, Flat and Crowded”.

Please forgive me for I have sinned. Click.

News Flash: check out today’s LA Times Steve Lopez column on the Orange County Fair and Kimberly Barnes, 4-H Club member, president of her chapter of the Future Farmers of America and award winning goat farmer from Tehachapi, CA. She’s off to Iowa State University to become a veterinarian.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

You Ought To Be In Pictures

Last weekend my husband, aka Mr. Local, and I saw King Corn, inspired by Michael Pollan’s book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma. One copy was sitting on the ‘just released’ shelves at Blockbuster, and I snatched it up.

I had missed the chance to see it earlier this year when The California Endowment, a nonprofit whose mission includes promoting improvements in the health status of all Californians, featured it in one of its evenings on food policy.

While a picture is a thousand words, a moving picture ups the ante exponentially.

The film was not only informative about the role of corn in our lives, but just a darn good flick. It’s a sweet story of two friends returning to the shared Mid-Western roots of their great-grandfathers’ generation, roots they didn’t know they had in common when they met in college in Boston.

What’s more, they spurred Mr. Local to action. He’s been willing to follow my lead with our incremental steps To Live Local. What’s not to like if Mrs. Local is saving money with fewer rolls of paper towels and pesto made from the basil in her container garden? But this movie opened up his eyes without me having to harangue him at the kitchen counter, something that doesn’t work much anyway.

So when he came back from a trip to the market, he rushed in with a find that he was bursting to share, much like a little boy bringing home some bugs to show Mom.

Look at this he said and thrust a bottle of Bull’s-Eye Barbecue Sauce in my face. No high fructose corn syrup written right on the label. The man was proud.

He had walked the condiment aisle checking labels. This brand was the only one he could find without Demon Corn in it. I went online to check out the Kraft Foods website. I was surprised, though not really, to find that they didn’t brag about being healthier but just offered up an advertise-y new product kind of pitch instead. Had I actually expected them to fess up to polluting our bodies?

Later this week he stormed into my office once again, this time brandishing a bottle of cranberry juice from Costco. Look, no corn syrup. We’re back to cane sugar, he proclaimed. The man was on a roll.

Then came today’s news flash from the front page of the LA Times on the growing consumer demand for products without high fructose corn syrup. Vote with your wallet, folks. It’s the only effective protest that Big Corporate will respond to.

So now that I found the documentary aisle, small though it may be, I’m eager to hunt down more. And it seems I’m not alone. Michelle over at Green Bean Dreams has solicited comments about Sustainable Cinema and will be posting a list soon.

Hopefully in time for next weekend’s Movie-Sans-Microwavable-Popcorn-Night.