Volunteer Journal #90 - Surfrider Bans Polystyrene

City Council Agenda - (Snore) I was sitting in a Manhattan Beach City Council meeting listening to a bunch of politicians gripe at Cal Edison, a utility, for shoddy service (Duh).  I’d rather be grocery shopping, doing laundry, lifting weights, cleaning the litter box, calling family members back, editing, any of the other 1 million tasks on my list that had to be done that day. It was quickly approaching 9pm. Not one of my chores were done. I had to work tomorrow.

But I kept my bottom in the seat because I was there in support of Surfrider, who in conjunction with a number of other environmental welfare groups, presented a case to the MB City Council to ban polystyrene containers within city limits.  In this case, numbers matter, volunteers in support of the ban were needed.

Polystyrene (often referred to as “Styrofoam”) is a know carcinogen, and as anyone who has done a beach or waterways cleanup can tell you – it’s everywhere. It’s a pain to clean up.  Polystyrene actually beats out cigarette butts in both quantity and annoying ridiculousness, which is hard to do. (FOR THE UPTEENTH TIME I HAAATTTEEE CIGARETTE BUTTS!!!!) But I digress.

At 9pm I was ready to bounce, but then things got exciting.

The Manhattan Beach City Council considers damning evidence against polystyrene.

The city appointed scientist finally stood to present their case – damning polystyrene toxic evidence followed damming evidence.  Supporters of the ban got excited.  Then a call for the community speakers. Surfrider representatives as well as community members got up and speak.  All in favor of the ban. Hurray!

But then a man in a blue shirt storms in...  Whispers circulate.  This is Michael Zislis of the Zislis Group - owner of several high profile restaurants in the Manhattan Beach area and the luxury boutique hotel Shade. Is he about to shut this meeting down, and say that the new regulations will hurt local business?

Actually... the opposite.  Michael prides himself on his green restaurants, hotels, his Tesla, and the fact that he's a free market guy. As he clearly states for the MB City Council all restaurants should support the ban on polystyrene.  He believes polystyrene is toxic and the cost difference between polystyrene containers and more eco friendly packaging is nominal – maybe one cent cost per unit.  All of his properties have made the shift.  The City Council members, clearly impressed, nod their heads in agreement.  One of their most prominent business owners has spoken.  Zislis, putting the nail in the coffin for Styrofoam, turns and quickly exits the hall.

 

I love LA! Congrats Manhattan Beach!

The ban passed with no problem.  Surfrider, Heal the Bay, the city scientists, the City Council of Manhattan Beach, citizens of MB,  volunteers, and Zislis should be proud.

I challenge people who live in smaller metropolitan areas to take up this kind of activism.  You live close to your local politicians, your kids might even play little league with the mayor's kid.  Why not take up a polystyrene ban?  Do you really want to get cancer from a cooler or bad take out food?

No! You Do Not!  And as Michael Zilsiz pointed out the cost difference is nominal.  So why would you continue to use something that pollutes and could poison you or grandkids?

Now if only I could ban cigarettes. Everywhere.

 

 

 

 

 

Volunteering Journal #89 - Tree Musketeers

Climbing Trees next to LAX. I had the pleasure of volunteering for an organization founded by kids for kids called Tree Muskeeters.

The young Musketeers plant trees, care for them, and hopefully pass on the lessons they learn to adults.

I always tell people that one of the best things about volunteering is how much you learn in the process - you can even get job training by volunteering.  My educational focus on this particular day was tree care (because some day I’m going to have fruit trees).  Since we were doing tree maintenance I didn’t think the arborist would mind being harassed.

The Tree Musketeers Arborist James was very accommodating as I peppered him with tons of annoying questions like “What is the tree that looks like it’s catching fire?”

One should never mention fire around a California Arborist.

When the panic subsided he said, “Oh the bottlebrush tree.  Yes, hummingbirds love that tree.”

She really likes trees

And I love hummingbirds so this is good.

He told me that he was in the park so often to care for the trees that the hummingbirds had gotten to know him.  They would give him an elevator greeting.

“What’s an elevator greeting?”

He said that they will swoop in and hover, considering him for a second, and then shoot straight up.

I then had far too many questions about hummingbirds.

I continued my question barrage at him and our teenage team leader Sammy as we pulled up weeds and grass in a two-foot radius around each tree and then put down a berm of mulch.  The mulch keeps the tree well hydrated, and also prevents weeds growing which zaps trees of needed nutrients.

Sammy and I put down mulch

It was fun.  I got dirty.  I climbed some trees.

Organizations founded with child volunteers in mind are few and far between.  Most groups will allow children so long as they are accompanied by an adult.  Never assume - always call ahead before bringing your children – for their safety as well as yours.

The Los Angeles War Against Public Gardens

Los Angeles Garden

One of the most touching projects I’ve done in the last 89 volunteer missions was the day I worked with LA Green Grounds. In April we planted a garden in the food dessert that is South Central Los Angeles.  Angel Teger and her family allowed LAGG to plant the garden in her yard and the parkways (area in between the sidewalk and street) lining the property. 

In late July the 8th District of LA slapped Teger with a notice to pull up the garden in parkways in 48 hours or else. I contacted Angel for her side of the story.

Tell me about the moment you got the notice from the city…

It was a very upsetting experience.  It was Monday, July 22nd and my son and I had just gotten into my car to run some errands.  I started my car and was about to pull out into the street when I heard excessive and aggressive honking right behind me.  I looked out my driver’s side window and there was a man standing there, with no badge or uniform to identify him as a city employee. He said “I need to talk to you about your garden.”

 I wasn’t sure what was going on.  He said that his supervisor had called him over the weekend, specifically about my garden.  He even made a point of identifying other planting violations within eyesight of our corner, but said that it was our garden that was a problem.  He told me I had 48 hours to pull everything out of the parkways.  When I told him that was impossible – my husband works during the day and it’s just me at home, there’s no way I could do all of that in 48 hours, he said he didn’t care who did it, that it had to be done, and if I didn’t take care of it he would come back and take care of it himself.

What were you growing in this problematic garden?

We’ve harvested chard, kale, eggplant, yellow squash, zucchini, mustard greens, string beans, honeydew melon, chili pepper, banana pepper, bell pepper, cucumber, tomatoes, bok choy¸ nectarines and strawberries.  The cantaloupe will be ready any day now.

Tiny ones plant Angel Teger's Garden

So the city wanted you to pull up a food-producing garden. What was the condition of your yard before the LA Green Grounds event in April?

Our property sat vacant for over a year before we bought it.  The land hadn’t been cared for in so long, it was hard as rock and overgrown with weeds. People would leave their trash on the parkways – fast food containers, beer bottles, dog poop.  It was awful.

What did your neighbors think of this rouge garden and city violation?

The response from the neighborhood has been overwhelmingly positive.  It started on our dig-in day, with neighbors coming by to show their support – donating food to our volunteers, dropping off bottled water, and even grabbing shovels and digging in right there with us. 

Since we planted it (almost four months ago), we’ve met so many of our neighbors.  Some make a point of taking their daily walks past our house so they can see how things are growing.  A lot of the neighborhood kids come by and pick strawberries or take zucchini, squash, cucumbers or tomatoes back home for their families. 

Every day that we are out in the garden – without exception – someone stops to tell us how much they love the garden, or how they want to do the same.  It’s been a wonderful way to connect with people.  After all, it’s food we’re growing out there – the most basic of human needs.  It makes sense that an edible garden would bring us together and grow community.

A fast growing protest started on Facebook when Angel reported her community created garden was being threatened. 

The LA City Council, without explanation, backed down from its demand that the garden be pulled up. Why do you think they really backed down from pulling up the parkway?

I’m not really sure.  I don’t know why they had such a problem with it to begin with and I don’t know why they backed off.  But, I think that support for parkway gardens like ours and the urban agriculture movement in general has grown tremendously. (A shout out here for Ron Finley and his TED talk which is what inspired me to get involved with LA Green Grounds and made this garden a reality.) 

After we received the violation, Ron started a Facebook campaign urging supporters to contact Bernard Parks, the Councilman for my neighborhood, and ask him to save our garden.  I know that made an impact because Councilman Parks’ office immediately came out to my home and got involved.  Then Steve Lopez’s article came out in the LA Times, drawing attention to the fact that the Herb Wesson, City Council President, had vowed to change the laws to allow for parkway gardens TWO YEARS AGO and nothing had changed.

Ron Finley

What can we do now to bring food justice to LA and the rest of the country?

A simple step is for the [Los Angeles] City Council to update the parkway planting guidelines to allow for fruits and vegetables.  But, after two years, they’ve been unable to follow through. 

The City of LA has a really wonderful opportunity here to promote better health and nutrition for its residents by allowing us to grow food and build community in areas that really don’t have access to good food options.  South LA doesn’t have to be a food desert.  We can change that. 

Our little garden has come to symbolize a movement that the City of LA should embrace – growing your own food to take control of your diet and health; building strong communities in which neighbors look out for one another and share resources; reconnecting with nature and taking care of our own little piece of the planet while we’re lucky enough to be on it.  These are all good things that are worth fighting for, but we shouldn’t need to fight.

What happened to Angel is not unusual. 

But just like in Angel’s case, city and governments can always be pushed by the people. 

Food Justice For Everyone

My SuperChangeYourLife Interview

I just did an interview with Stanley Bronstein from Superchangeyourlife.com . We talked about what gets me up in the morning, my favorite groups I've worked with, what happens when it all goes wrong, what poverty looks like in America, and much much more...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CMCxqG5X3t0&feature=player_embedded

Raegan Payne SuperChangeYourLife Interview

My Wish List for the 100

Me & My Buds In Alaska! I’ve only got a few projects left on my way to 100. As I’ve suggested before I have no idea right now what I’m going to be able to do or how I’m going to finish this list.  It will get done though.

These non-profits are on my wish list both national and international. I’d love to work with them someday:

Green Bronx Machine - - Stephen Ritz is an inspiration. Teaching kids how to grow their own vegetables in school and helping them become entrepreneurs in the process.

Living Lands and Waters – This Illinois group travels up and down the Mississippi cleaning up the river.  It reminds me of Huck Finn.

Surfrider – I’ve worked with Heal the Bay lots (technical term), but haven’t gotten to this national ocean saving organization yet.

Always Vote TheGoodMuse

Best Friends Animal Society – the Utah Sanctuary – They originated the Puppy Mill Protests I participated in years ago.  They rehabbed the Michael Vick Dogs.

Gleaners Community Food Bank in Southeast Michigan – I’ve worked with Food Forward in LA, but this group feeds the needed of Detroit with really innovative programs.

The Taos Land Trust http://www.taoslandtrust.org/pages/volunteer_info.html - Because much of my family has settled around this haunting beautiful section of New Mexico.

I’d love to work with Veterans in Murray Ky – Serving meals, telling stories, whatever they need.  This is where my grandfather hung out before he passed on.

Be the Match – Marrow/Stem Cell Donation – After 3 years on the donor list I’m a possible match for a 57 year old woman.  Will find out in a few months.

And the international groups:

Goonj – The ULTIMATE REUSE REDUCE RECYCLE ALIEVIATE POVERTY group in India – they are doing brilliant

Hi!

Mercy Ships -  These ships are all over the world.  They bring medical relief to remote villages who might not otherwise see a doctor.

Royal Canal Cleanup – In Dublin, Ireland. I was suppose to work with them while I was there last May, but got one of my notorious May sinus infections.  They still send me emails.  I still want to help.

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society - Because what little girl doesn't want to be a pirate?

TheGoodMuse Explains: FAQ Question - Why I Do This?

Princess Being Awesome “Why do you do TheGoodMuse?” “Why do this?” “What’s in it for you?” “What’s the ‘angle’?” “Who are you doing it for?”

I get asked the above a lot.  Often, with a fair amount of cynicism in the tone. Sometimes people ask these questions, and then cross their arms and lean back, like I'm about to try and sell them magic beans. A few times - they've looked at me with pity.

I think it’s interesting that I have to explain this, in this way, but here goes…

I did TheGoodMuse because it’s the right thing to do.  I did it because I believe that if you are in a position to do so it is your duty to lend a hand.

I did it because I needed help, so many times, so many many times, and it wasn’t available, and I didn’t want anyone else to feel that way ever. (P.S. Big props to those who did step up and helped me over the years).

I did it because I wanted to help and always said I would when I became a big artist, but then realized – woulda, shoulda, coulda – if I wasn’t willing to help now when would I?

I do this because so many people want to help society, but less than 1% can write checks or go buy a table to a fancy fundraising banquet, luncheon, or event.  Everyone can give time.

I did not do it because I wanted to write a blog about what a good person I am. Totally debatable.

I did not do it because I naively thought I could solve all the world’s problems.

But I did do it to create a ripple in the pond.  And because - “Be the change.” Seriously. Be the freakin change people.

”How am I going to “capitalize” on it?” “How can I afford to do it?” “Do I realize there is not a market for this?”

I get asked a version of these questions several times a week at least.

I’m a southern girl. We don’t talk about money. It’s not polite. But just so I don’t have to be subjected to these again…

I am not a trust fund baby.  I am not a kept woman or a lady who lunches.  I am a doer.

I don’t make money on this.  I work other jobs.  This is an artistic pursuit.  An act of  and study on humanity.  A reason to get off the couch. My hobby. My passion.  I’m a good writer - this is how I release my artistic expression.

I’ve been smirked at because I haven’t monetized TheGoodMuse.  My question to the smirkers is: Why does everything have to be about money? You don’t get paid for breathing and still you do it.  Same deal.

Photo from the Vault. The little author in San Fran.

“Why don’t you film it?” or “Why don’t you have more pictures?”

I am actually doing the physical volunteer work, many times by myself.  I only have two hands.  Taking time away to film takes time away from the service project.  I try to take some pictures.  I hope that’s okay.

“How do you find the time?”

I’ve been denied jobs because of this one. HR finds the blog and then somehow think I can’t manage to have a hobby and work at the same time.

I don’t drink, smoke, do drugs or really socialize that much.  Think how much time is saved when you never have to recover from a hangover. And then think about what good you could do with that extra time.

I also don’t have kids.  I have a cat – Princess.  She is very low maintenance.

“Are you sorry for spending time volunteering, and doing this instead of writing another play, TV show pilot etc.?”

I can’t work all the time.  Again hobby, free time, release. I would not trade what I have learned doing this blog for a full paid 2 years Masters Degree from Oxford.

As artists, many of us wake up and wonder: “Did my art make an impact?”  “Did I change the way people think?”  In this project I know I’ve been 100 percent successful because I know I’ve impacted at least one person. I’ve heard from them.  I can live the rest of my days happy knowing that.

“Are you naïve?”

Look – It’s the right thing to do.

I believe that the good guy should win.  People / Non-Profits / Groups should be recognized for doing good and working hard.  Which they do.  With very little praise or notice.

I also believe: Fracking destroys drinking water.  Fur is evil and the people who wear it should learn to read. Vegetables = yum.  Reading is good. Princess is awesome. Comedy cures most ills. The sky is blue and water should be as well.

 

Taking it all in...

“What’s next?”   And most importantly: “How are you going to finish 100?”

I’m going to finish 100 volunteer projects by the end of the year.  I do have my list of charities I would like to work with someday, but I don’t know which exact ones will match my limited resources. I like finding new groups and look forward to the challenge.

There might be very little fan fare or celebration when I get this done.  But it will get done. And then I’ll probably keep going, but at a slower pace.

“Would I recommend someone else to try the same thing? “

Absolutely, there is no better way to explore the world than by helping people.

Remember -If you’re not going to do something now.  If you’re not willing to do something now.  You’re never going to do it.

Have a great day.

Volunteer Journal #86 - Los Angeles Rabbit Foundation

IMG_1061 An actual conversation with my brother:

Me: I'm going to help bunnies.

Brother: Playboy bunnies.

Me: No, bunny bunnies.

Brother: They're an invasive species.

Me: No, house bunnies.

Brother: Again, it sounds like we're talking about Playboy bunnies.

Me: [long sigh]

Brother: I'll come help. [pause] If it's Playboy bunnies. [pause] Maybe a halfway house for Playboy bunnies. [pause] Please.

They love each other.

As that conversation with my brother the humanitarian would suggest I volunteered with the Los Angeles Rabbits Foundation and the above was one of the nicer conversations I had about the experience.

Would you believe that telling someone your going to volunteer with rabbits it can lead to all out hostility? Well, it can and does.  People want to know "Why?" you would do such a thing, and "What good?" helping rabbits could possibly do. Many went so far as to suggest that perhaps I should spend my time doing something that would "Make a difference."

How does practicing kindness in any shape, size, style, or task not help or make a difference?

As far as the rabbits, first I would like to point out the obvious - there are domestic and wild rabbits.  Domestic rabbits, which humans historically bred for food, clothing, and pets are not exactly built for survival outdoors. LArabbits.org works with domestic rabbits.

Second, rabbits make excellent companion animals - especially for someone who spends time at home and needs a serious chill pill a la graduate students.

Third, how dare we breed rabbits or any animal (cats, dogs, etc.) then turn our back on them and say not our responsibility.  It is our business now.  We bred them for us, and guess what, they're either sitting ducks without us or can really wreck havoc on an environment.  Built in our image it would seem.

Rabbit Petting Guide. Serious stuff.

I was thrilled to be able to work with The Los Angeles Rabbit Foundation, which helps abandoned domestic rabbits by promoting spay and neuter, providing education on their care, volunteering in shelters and humane societies, and by fostering and rehabilitating rescued rabbits until such time as suitable permanent homes can be found.  The listings on their website are pretty cute/hilarious - it include bunnies with "bunnitude" and areas for single male and female rabbits looking to date.

From my day spent sitting in pens (see pic) and socializing (petting) the rabbits I learned that bunnies are very sensitive creatures. They mate for life, get depressed if their mate disappears, have tiny panic attacks if lifted off the ground (think hawks and eagles), they overheat quickly, generally do not like their underside rubbed, and can have a heart attack if they see a dog. That last point is important - owners of dogs and cats should be aware that one bark or snarl from your pet can startle a bunny out of it's senses - please be extra cautious if you see bunnies and outdoor events.

For all their sensitivities rabbits are also sweet pets who like to be loved on as this clip of "Pat" the bunny demonstrates. They are individuals who display, like cats and dogs, unique personalities.  They are calming creatures, and when you sit with one for awhile you feel a little sense of peace and gratefulness that this small animal let you hang for awhile.

If you would like to volunteer or learn more about domestic rabbits go to LArabbits.org.

Try to be kind to animals okay - "You can judge the morality of a nation by the way the society treats its animals" - Mahatma Gandhi 

 

Blue Fin Demand Increases & Supply Fades to Black

tunaIn a recent article “complacent” media was blamed for the lack of concern in Japan over the disappearing blue fin tuna. Apparently the Japanese public does not know that their consumption of blue fin is a major contributor to the species decline. Thus, in an effort to reach the people of Japan, one of the most educated and enduring cultures on the planet, I, a member of the media, am writing to say: Japan currently consumes about 80% of the worlds blue fin tuna, known as “The King of Sushi,” “Toro” or "hon-maguro." It is estimated that... Read Full Article on Celsias

Proud to be Cruelty Free

Cruelty FreeI would venture a guess that the majority of human beings want to use cruelty free cosmetic/beauty products. I don’t think people walk around saying, “I would like my perfume to be worn by a rat first please.” Or “I’m a smart sentient being who would never shove lipstick into my eye, but if you could please put lipstick into a monkey’s eye to be double sure it’s safe, I’d appreciate it. Thanks.” So why does animal testing on beauty products exist?

Animal testing on cosmetics began when the U.S. Congress passed the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1938 in response to manufacturers selling unsafe... Read Full Article on Celsias

Horses to be Slaughtered in the US for Meat

Lorie's HorsesThe U.S.D.A. (United States Department of Agriculture) is moving toward approving a horsemeat slaughterhouse in New Mexico within the next two months. This will be the first time equine meat slaughtered in the US will be offered for human consumption since 2007. Horses can be consumed in the US, but not slaughtered here so they have been shipped to Canada and Mexico. If you’re like me you might be shocked, and appalled that people could eat horsemeat in the US. And then, like me, maybe you’re also harkening back to those elementary school years (before I gladly became a vegetarian) thinking, “What was in those school hamburgers?!...Read Full Article on Celsias

My Interview with Trailer Talks!

Hey guys! I did an interview with this great little start up called Trailer Talks. Check it out here!

I wave my hands around a bit, but don't worry nobody was hurt while filming.

Volunteer Journal #82 - Cleaning up Ballona Creek

January 19th, 2013

Yay!  National Day of Service!

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr.

LA organized a citywide cleanup. I picked an event hosted by Friends of Ballona Wetlands. I helped clean up my local bike path, which runs next to Ballona Creek.

A little editorialized history for those not local - Ballona Creek use to be part of the Los Angeles River's drainage area.  Then someone got the bright idea to wrap it in concrete. To "prevent flooding" and create a massive eye sore - something like that. Today it is a pathetic little stream of water that runs through barren concrete on it’s way to Marina del Rey.  I privately cheer everytime I see a little bush or tree that has pushed up through the concrete.

I showed up at 10am and had to leave at 12pm.  The Friends of Ballona Creek provided me with gloves and trash bags.  Beyond that these BEFORE and AFTER pictures speak for themselves:

[slideshow id=5]

Trash picked up...

Cigarette Butts. Stop smoking! It's so nasty! Throw your cigarette butts in the trash - it's not hard.

Plastic Bags (grocery, newspaper, dog poop bags)

Styrofoam – why is this stuff still around?

Take out containers, coffee stirrers, Starbucks containers - just... stop... buying stuff.

Bait and Switch: The Harmful Mislabeling of Fish

If the environmental consequences weren’t enough reason to swear off fish a newly released study by OCEANA found that seafood fraud (the mislabeling of fish) is wide spread.  Of particular concern are fish species the FDA advises against eating, either because of high mercury content or unpleasant digestive side effects.

What kinds of fish were mislabeled? We’re not talking about already questionable fish sticks, which everyone knows are chicken. No, we are talking about over 13 different kinds of fish, from some of the finest dining establishments in New York City. Of the 142 samples taken 56 were mislabeled (39%).  Previous tests in other cities revealed similar numbers: Los Angeles (55%), Boston (48%), Miami (31%).  Samples were taken at random from groceries (both small independents and large chains), restaurants, and sushi bars.

Two of the more disturbing factoids in the study:

“100 percent of the 16 sushi bars tested sold mislabeled fish.”

Read Full Article on Celsias

Volunteer Journal #78 –Farmers Market Gleaning

Americans throw away 165 billion dollars worth of food a year! What if we could re-route that food to the hungry, or starving.

Food Forward – a Southern California charity that needs to become national and international is doing just that.  They started by picking un-harvested fruit trees and donating the fruit in 2008.  Today they’ve donated over a million pounds of fresh produce to local food banks

Now they’ve moved onto gleaning (collecting) unsold food from 3 farmers markets in the Los Angeles area.

In less than two months Food Forward Farmers Market Recovery Program (started Aug. 15th) has collected and donated 15,000 lbs of fruits & vegetables to those in need.

I loved the sound of this program, so  I had to see how it worked.  Last Wednesday I joined the projects coordinator Mary Baldwin and her group of intrepid and beautiful volunteers at the Santa Monica Farmers Market.

We braved humidity, 50 lbs boxes of produce, baby strollers, and what I can only call food pirates to collect over 1000 lbs. of fruits & veg.

How does it work? First, Mary and her team pass out Food Forward boxes to farmers, who believe they will have leftovers, towards the end of the market.  Mary keeps track of the names and just over an hour later the team runs back through the market to collect the boxes.  The produce is weighed, recorded, and then distributed to the food banks.  In Santa Monica 300 lbs. of food was sent to local charity Step Up on Second and then the rest was taken by van to St. Joseph Center which provides help to the working poor.

This isn’t my first foray into the Food Forward world.  I volunteered on a couple of fruit picks when they were a baby group of volunteers.  I’m thrilled they’re now humongous.  Their programs have helped up the nutrition level of those in need, kept food local, saved over a million of pounds of food from landfills and improved the health of the trees.

If you are interested in joining the FMR Progam Glean Team, which I highly recommend, say hello to mary at fmrecovery@foodforward.org.

So many farmers decide to donate and things are not easy for small family farms, so I'd like to take a minute to mention some of the regulars who feed so many.  If you’re lucky enough to go to a Southern California farmers market look for:

flora bella: http://florabellafarm.com/

fairview gardens: http://www.fairviewgardens.org/

windrose: http://windrosefarm.org/

see canyon: http://www.seecanyonwedding.com/

weiser family farms: http://www.weiserfamilyfarms.com/

yasutomi: http://www.realtimefarms.com/farm/5214035/yasutomi-farms

mud creek ranch: https://www.facebook.com/mudcreeksp

jimenz family farms: http://www.jimenezfamilyfarm.com/

gloria's: http://www.realtimefarms.com/farm/5069057/glorias-fruits-veggies

Fair Hills Apple Farms: http://www.fairhillsapplefarm.com/

And Dave Eakin Citrus Farmer Extraordinaire!

Now, in the spirit of this post, and using local produce, may I recommend my favorite virgin cocktail recipe that involves freshly squeezed juice-

Lavender/Grapefruit Yummy Drink

1 cup fresh grapefruit juice

1/3 cup sparkling water like Pellegrino

1-2 tablespoons (to taste) lavender simple syrup – homemade or Monin.

Pour together – stir or shake - enjoy

Bringing the Farm Out of Retirement

The University of the South, a tiny liberal arts university tucked on a 13,000 acres campus in the mountains of Tennessee, is turning their environmental record around - in part thanks to the 100 year old farm they are bringing out of retirement.

In 2007, the University of the South, commonly referred to as Sewanee, became a signatory to the Presidents Climate Commitment. A “D” rating in sustainability forced the University to evaluate it’s environmental commitments and come up with some inventive new plans.

Sewanee made a... Read Full Article at Celsias

Green Bronx Machine: Fighting Poverty

Stephen Ritz noticed the kids in his class were getting heavier and heavier. Three generations had pass through his Bronx classroom; obesity and diabetes were on the rise.

He needed to engage his students, to make them responsible for their health and education.

He started with a simple class project – they would build an edible wall. The kids sorted seeds, planted the wall and it grew. They named themselves the Green Bronx Machine, and adopted the slogan “We are Amer-i-CANS.” They got support from Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., and people noticed.

The kids were invited to Boston to install an edible wall on the George Hancock building. They were invited to South Hampton to install green roofs. They came back to the Bronx, installed more living walls and began earning real green.

The students got licensed and bonded in trade, they now build affordable housing, and their gardens easily produce 25,000 pounds of vegetables a year. They donate some of their fresh vegetables to seniors. “Brook Park feeds hundreds of people without a food stamp or a fingerprint,” says Ritz.

When Mr. Ritz’s kids became the first in their family to... Read the Rest on Celsias and watch the video.

Volunteer Journal #77 – DonorsChoose.org

Recently, I stumbled upon the brilliant organization Vittana – a group that makes loans to students to finish their education much like Kiva makes loans to small businesses in developing countries.

Seeing how excited I was to loan to students a TGM fan suggested I check out Donorschoose.org, which makes donations directly to teachers for school supplies, class projects, field trips, etc.

I had heard about Donorschoose around “the water cooler,” and the fact that America's teachers dip into their own poorly paid pockets to provide at least $40 a month in basic school supplies for their students. I believe, American public, this constitutes an epic fail on our part.

DonorsChoose, developed by teacher Charles Best in 2000, has unique transparency, you are allowed to choose the exact way in which your money is donated.  After a brief search I made a donation to a southern elementary school to help them fund a school garden. (I am particularly fond of school gardening programs). I responded to the brave request of Mr. Carberry who wants his student to have gardening supplies.  Currently, this loan is still not completely funded.  Look people, when a fund will educate, provide food, fight obesity, and teach real world skills it's a no brainer - donate to the garden.

Generally, I try to limit TheGoodMuse activities to physical acts or loans like Kiva or Vittana*.  My rational is - most people in this economy, around the world, don’t have money to spare, like myself, but they can act – thus volunteering or acts of kindness.  Also, making TheGoodMuse a sight about giving money away was too easy and boring – unengaged, unplugged, and not realistic for the majority of readers.  But Donorschoose was a unique case, and I wanted to demo how it worked for all of ya'll.

I believe, in the digital age that most charities will be required to move towards a more transparent donation model like Donorschoose, they just got the jump on the competition.

* Vittana and Kiva are loans not donations because your money is given back eventually and then it’s your chose to reloan or pocket.