Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Gifts from a Thousand Villages

For holiday gifts I went to the 2nd annual Fair Trade Crafts Fair at the Echo Park Methodist Church. To be labled "fair trade" a business or co-op has to be certified that it pays a decent wage and has decent labor practices. This year I'm trying to buy as many presents as possible either fair trade or from my local farmer's market.

At the church I first went to the table for Ten Thousand Villages, a non-profit store in Pasadena that has wonderful handcrafts from all over the world. I bought some fair trade coffee from East Africa and also rose soap made by traditian Indian soapmakers at from the Palm Rural Center, which provieds adequete housing, water, medical assistance, and education for Indian children. Ten Thousand Villages is, I believe, the first fair trade store in Los Angeles and also has an online catalogue where they sell a dazzling array of fairly traded hardcrafted goods from around the world including wonderful ceramics, book ends, furniture, pillows, jewely, musical instruments, purses, planters, hammocks, photo albums, and much much more. Ten Thousand Villages is a non-profit program of the Mennonite Central Community.

Next I went to the Cafe Rebelion table which had Zaptista coffee and honey produced by indigenous Indian co-ops in Chiapas, Mexico; at this table I bought some honey as a gift. The coffee is organic and shaded meaning they don't grow it by cutting down all the trees, destroying habitat for birds, but keep trees up so the coffee has shade and the birds still come to the area. I've previously bought the coffee which is very good. Throughout Central America and southern Mexico there is a movement to have fair trade shaded coffee grown in co-ops run by the producers and then sold in the United States--a very good movement to support.

After buying Zaptista honey I went to the table for the Garment Workers Center where I bought two utterly beautiful hand-woven beaded bracelets. A little card enclosed in both bracelet boxes said, "This product was made by 'Chanita,' a group of Tzutjul women in Santiago Atitlan, Guatamala, and marketed in the U.S. by UPAVIM." Each card told who made the bracelet: one was made by Elisa and the second by Delores. This is the first time I'm learning which co-ops and even which person has made what I've just bought. I like that a lot.

The Garment Workers Center works in downtown Los Angeles to empower 90,000 garment workers who make an average of $3.28/hour. They labor to get the workers better wages, enforce the state's work codes, and het better job conditions. The Center also sell online seven different fair trade gifts baskets to make money. "Start the Day in a Groupmet Way" has wild rice pancake mix, syrup, coffee, tea and cacoa. "Hot and Spicy Cooking" has hand crafted kitchen utensils, spices, olive oil and a farmers market bag.

Finally, I went to the table for Revolutionary Associaton of Afghan Women (RAWA) and bought a lovely hand-woven black-and-red wallet for a gift. The enclosed card explained that the wallet was made by the RAWA Income Generation Project. RAWA gets Afghan women and girls to make gifts which they then sell so the women and girls have income.. Founded in 1977, RAWA is the oldest Afghan women's organization. In the Talibian Era they ran underground girls' schools within Afghanistan. Now they run schools, medical projects, and orphanages. For over 25 years they have worked for peace, freedom, democracy, and women's rights in Afghanistan. RAWA has some of the bravest women on earth.

Saturday was the Fair Trade Festival but Sunday I always go to the Hollywood Farmer's Market, a reincarnation of the medieval fair in the heart of Hollywood! I headed to the ceramicst Kathryn Browne to buy two dark red mugs as a gift. Browne is a wonderful ceramicist, influenced both by great California pottery like Bauerware and Asian pottery. Last year I bought an elegant white vase for my hostess in Washington D.C. who loved her vase.

Next I went to one of three soap tables to buy handmade soap made by My Beautiful Soap & Company in Simi Valley, California. Each soap is made of different natural ingrediants and each has a wonderful smell such as peppermmint. After the soap table I headed to the section of tables for bakers, and stopped at the Old Town Baking Co. table (they are from Fontana, Ca) and bought a lemon bread loaf and a banana nut loaf as gifts. The baker had a made different loaves, and I asked him which one was his favorite. He said, "lemon," so I bought one of those. He was telling me he didn't use any sugar but just natural fruit purees to sweeten his loaves. The ingrediant list looked terrific with no chemicals at all. So I had a happy time with the ceramicist, baker, and soapmaker tables!

What I really like is knowing who made my gift! I am happy that as the fair trade movement grows they are including more information about the co-op who produced the items. That's great. So when I buy someting I feel more connected to the makers of it. It does really feel like I'm buying gifts from a thousand villages! Trade Jo's now has Fair Trade Coffee which I'm beginning to buy, so I will go beyond buying fair trade gifts to making fair trade puchases all year long!

Where to Buy:
Beautiful Soap & Company www.beautifulsoap.com for soap

Cafe Rebelion: www.caferebelion.com for honey and shaded coffee

Garment Worker Center: www.garmentworkcenter.org for fair trade gift baskets

Kathryn Browne Pottery: KBPOTTERY.com for pottery

Revolutionary Associaton of Women of Afghanistan (RAWA): www.rawa.org
www.afghanwomenmission.org for information and
www.cafepress.com/rawa.meena for a t-shirts, mugs, buttons etc.

Ten Thousand Villages: www.tenthousandvillages.com, 496 So. Lake Ave, Pasadena,
for fair trade handcraft from around the world.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Los Angeles in the Year 2106: some ideas

LA Times had an article December 14 that the History Channel had a competion asking seven architectural/design teams from Los Angeles plus one from Harvard to design LA in the year 2106, a century from now. History Channel is running the same competition in New York and Chicago as well as Los Angeles. One hopes the NY's and Chicago's ideas are better because LA's architects aren't very imaginative.

A panel of judges at Los Angeles County Musuem of Art gave the $10,000 prize to Eric Owen Moss Architects. Eric Owen Moss proposed filling the Los Angeles river with more water as well as making the area around the Los Angeles River in downtown Los Angeles a green belt with parks, gardens, houses and hotels for neighbors as well as tourists. The team also wanted to add housing "on both sides of the river, merging the historically Latino Boyle Heights with a burgeoning downtown." Eric Owen Moss's idea is good but it's hardly new. For over a decade Friends of Los Angeles River (FOLAR) has worked hard to transorm the river the concretized Los Angeles river by building parks, bike paths, and agricultural lands along the 30-mile length of the river. I'm all for making the LA River a greenbelt as well as apartments and houses just past the parks--rather like apartment houses on both sides of Central Park in New York--but Eric Owen Moss should have said it was building on FOlAR's ideas.

Eric Owen Moss's proposal is just for one small part of a huge city, so it fails for not rethinking a city. George Yu architects had a landscape with "man-made hillocks, gullies, and purifications" systems to catch rainwater that is linked up to reserviors. A good idea but also not a new one. Andy Lipkins's TreePeople has been arguing for barrels to catch rainwater all over Los Angeles. So far both Eric Owen Moss and George Yu are just recylcing ideas that Los Angeles's environmental leaders have already proposed.

The LA office of EDAW/DMJM Deisgn had a disaster scenario: it imagined global warming causing a 25-foot rise in sea land, obliterating Long Beach and San Pedro as well as making a new waterfront. Thanks but no thanks. Any serious ideas about the city has to ward off environmental disasters not give in to disasterous environmental planning.

Three of the proposals were sheer science-fiction. Griffin Enright Architects presented "Aerotopia" where mass transit is airborne through a wide gride of linked circles. These people need to come down to earth to see more practical mass transit ideas. Xefirotarch and Imaginary Forces imagined a mutation which produced "Chlorofilla," a plant that can be made into buildings and has intelligence. No such plant exists, so forget about "Chlorofilla." Office of Mobile Design's also thought of buildings made of "biomatter" watered by desalinated water. The biomatter buildings are lving things "that can adapt like plants to changes in climate or time of day." Ok, that's interesting, but "biomatter" seems to require mutations of plants like "chorofilla." These three proposals are failures. Yes, I'm all for imagination, but silly ideas like intelligent plants or air-born transporation just are tinkering around with straws.

The Harvard Graduate School of Design's students created "Nephopolis--City of Clouds," which has L.A. covered by a mist created by household desalination. Interesting, but I'd go with Andy Lipkin's catching the rainwater we have before trying any expensive desalination projects.
Finally, the team of Roger Sherman Associates and City/Lab had the most intruiging idea of using the city's many neighborhoods as its "inherent DNA " proposing "a landscape of radically different zones affording to each-his-own range of living styles." That sounds promising, but we need more details, particularly how to help neighborhoods retain traditions while becoming safer with an improved economy.

What strikes me is that none of the eight had any real innovative ideas. If one wants innovative ideas, read The Next Los Angeles: The Struggle for a Livable City by Robert Gottlieb, Mark Valliantos, Regina M. Freer and Peter Dreier. Gottlieb, Valliantos, and Dreier are urban studies professors at Occidental College while Freer teaches politics at the same college. They helped organize a conference in 1998 which got community activists and academics together discussion the history of LA's social reform movements. Then they got a group of grass-roots activists, academics and policy makers to work together from 1999 to 2000 to create a grass-roots plan how to develope LA--that work became the book The Next Los Angeles.

This remarkable book includes in its first 50 pages the first history of progressive movements in Los Angeles in the 20th century, then an analysis of the 1992 civil unrest, and next an analysis identifying a political agenda that would both lessen inequality as well as improve the enviornment. Lastly, he Appendix has 30 pages of recommendations called "A Policy Agenda for the Next L.A." These planners saw clearly than greening the environment had to be combined with social justice--only this double vision of ecology with justice can improve the city.

The Next Los Angeles in its 30 pages of propsals deals with issues the 8 architectural teams never touch:
1. housing for a city with a tremendous lack of decent, affordable housing;
2. the urban environmental for a city which has few parks; polluted industrial lands and toxics in housing; polluted air; pollution in oceans and springs; horrid traffic jams and lack of decent rapid transporation etc.
3. food and nutrition including ending hunger in Los Angeles as well as ensuring a healthy food supply for all
3. improving the schools
4. expanding democracy
5. expanding worker's rights in a city with sweatshops and thousands working at low-wage jobs
6. economic development in a city with large acres of extremely poor neighborhoods.

The 8 architecture/design teams only dealt with a few issues of the urban environment but ignored the other seven issues and never connected with the history of LA, its huge number of ethnic groups, or its social activists. Oh well. If History Channel starts a national debate about how to improve the cities, they have done well.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

In L.A.: a wonderful hand bookbinder, a great bookstore

A 1/2 mile from my house in Los Angeles is a hand bookbinder who does exquisite work and a great bookstore. Near the intersection of Larchmont and Melrose Avenues a few doors west of Larchmont at 5720 Melrose is a shop with a sign saying The Bindery with many books and a hand press in the window. A sign on the front of the Bindery says enter in the rear (there is a doorbell for seniors), so I went around the rear, opened up a metal gate in a vine-covered fence, descended a few steep steps and into the Bindery (M-F 10:00-6:30 pm; Sat. 11-4:00; 323-962-2109) to discover the workshop based on love of books.

The shop owner, Charlene Matthews, is a hand book binder. She does fine book restoration: restores and repairs old books; makes one-of-a-kind book cases; creates one-of-kind artist's and photos books; and does silkscreens. My thick Oxford English Dictionary (OED) had lost its back cover, and Matthews did an excellent job repairing my OED, even adding my initials to the binding. She showed me some of hand-made book cases, which are just lovely and specially designed for each book.

Matthews metal presses are fascinating: She has two job backers presses for working on a book's spine and four book presses to press a book flat. The walls of the Bindery have bookshelves of fine hardbound books for sale. I picked up quite a few unusual art books and novels there. At her shop she gives classes in hand bookbinding for LA Book Arts and also holds her own private bookbinding workshops. She had a website (http://www.charlenematthews.com) which illustrates some of her elegant book arts: her books are regularly exhibited in art shows. Her one-of-a-kind photo books are really wonderful! What's fascinating about Matthews' work is that she carries on a 500-year old tradition of book binding but also creates post-modern one-of-a-kind bookworks for the 21st century.

Heading out of the Bindery back to Larchmont, if I walk a block east on the corner of Gower and Melrose is Astro Burger with a sign saying "vegetarian." Inside they do have burgers, fries, and shakes but also a long vegetarian menu, as the owner claims invention of the veggie burger. The veggie burger deluxe with avocado is terrific along with fried zucchini (cooked only in healthy oils) as Astro is a rarity: a fast food health conscious burger shop.

Refueled by a veggie burger, I walk back to Larchmont, start south two blocks. In the 2nd blook on the westside is Dawson's Bookshop/Michael Dawson Gallery at 535 No. Larchmont (W-Sat 10:00-5:00, 323-469-2186; www.dawsonbooks.com), one of Los Angeles two oldest bookstores (the other is Vromans in Pasadena). I head off the street off the walkway into the huge brick building with racks of books in front and the photo gallery in the back to enter a booklover's bookstore.

Dawson's not only sells books but has made Los Angeles book history. Starting in 1905, Ernest Dawson had his bookstore in three locations downtown, specializing in books on LA, California, and Western America. The second generation Muir and Glen Dawson, both superb mountain climbers (Muir is named after John Muir while Grant had a mountain named after him) moved the bookstore to its present generation, published books (including a wonderful photo book of the Victorian houses on now demolished Bunker Hill), and were closely connected with L.A.'s three great fine printers--Ward Ritche, Grant Dahlstrom, and Plantain Press (I worked for a short setting hand type at Plantain Press when I was a young poet).

Michael Dawson, the 3rd generation and an expert in photography, established in 2000 a photo gallery specializing in California photography. The current show, Scott B. Davis's "Los Angeles Night" photos running until February 3, has erie lonely portraits of the nightime city. Dawson's wonderful website has a photo section which has selections from many previous photo shows, and is an education in Western photography. Photo exhibit after exhibit have exposed amazing and distinct photographers--both historical and contemporary.

The bookshop also has LA Salons on Saturday afternoons, the next one Saturday, December 9, at 2:30, featuring the book Picturing Los Angeles with its authors Jon and Nancy Willman, long-time Angeleno documentary filmmakers. At a previous L.A. Salon this year I heard Peter Richardson speak about his book American Prophet: The Life and Work of Carey McWilliams. I've long been a great admirer of McWilliams, a 1930s radical writer, lawner and civil rights actvisit; he is also best historian of Los Angeles whose book Southern California: An Island in the Sun has been an inspiration to generations of writers in this city.

Of course, browsing Dawson's is also a great experience. I've bought some of my most treasured L.A. books there such Mary Antin's autobiography; Antin was the first great environmental writer of Southenrn California. Last weeend I got Charles Jenck's Hetereopolis: Los Angeles, the Riots and the Strange Beauty of Hetero-Architecture, a fascinating recent book about this city's new amazing architecture in response to the 1992 riots. Jencks was the writer who first defined the idea of post-modern in architecture. So Dawson's like the Bindery is rooted in the best of past book traditions pushing forward into the new century. Visiting both the Bindery and Dawsons in one afternoon is indulging oneself in the best of LA's book arts!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Larchmont Village in Los Angeles: Designed for Walking

Los Angeles is a series of villages. My apartment is between the Western Avenue, part of immigrant Koreatown village, and Larchmont Boulevard village, the shopping area for the Windsor Square/Hancock Park village. This area was built from 1900-1930s between Wilshire and Beverly Boulevard as wealthy suburbs with mansions for the downtown Anglo business and political elite. With integration starting in the late 1960s, Asian, Hollywood, Jewish, Latins and Blacks bought some of the two-story huge houses. Neighbors from the mansions south of Boulevard or the 1-story houses and apartment north of Beverly go to Larchmont Village's shops or cafes. Larchmont Village has two wonderful characteristics: it is a street (not a mall) built for walkers and it has great looking apartment houses. People actually do stroll here.

Today's walk begins and ends at the same place: at the north end of Larchmont where it deadends into Melrose Avenue. A few doors west of Larchmont at 5720 Melrose is a shop with a sign saying The Bindery with books and a hand press in the window at 5720 Melrose. The shop owner, Charlene Matthews, is a hand book binder who does excellent work in book restoration.

Back at the corner of Melrose and Larchmont Avenues I start south through three blocks of antique stores, dentist and realty offices in wooden 1-story former homes. The 1st block has Hans Weisshaar's Rare Violins at 617 Larchmont with a lovely wrought-iron sign over the street that says "violins"; the four-story brick Thai Consulate a few doors down. In the 2nd blook on the eastside is a small building housing the Larchmont Chronicle, the village newspaper. On the westside is Dawson's Bookshop/Michael Dawson Gallery at 535 No. Larchmont (W-Sat 10:00-5:00, 323-469-2186; www.dawsonbooks.com). Dawson's is always a wonderful place to stop and browse books.

The third block on Larchmont on the westside has both practical shops and the not-so-practical: a minimall with a cleaners, shoe repair, and alteration shop; Kasimoff Pianos, which sells German pianos; and Le Petit Retreat, a day spa where one can drop $500 in a afternoon on three different kind of body scrubs! One the eastside is Healing Hands at 414, which has massage (only $60/hour), chiropractor, and accupunture; Barking Lot, for pet supplies; and Chan Dara restaurant, a Thai restaurant with a lovely indoor patio. At Beverly and Larchmont is Koo Koo Roo, a healthy fast food eatery, which features "original skinless flame broiled chicken." The chicken is good as well as healthy--a good choice for lunch.

Once I cross Beverly Boulevard I get to the one main block of Larchmont Village, one of the few blocks in Los Angeles actually designed for pedesterians. Each side of the street is shaded with huge trees, has large stone planters with flowers in them, and even has wooden benches. Now the block is decorated for Christmas with a red ribbon on each tree and red-and-white stripes around each parking meter. This block seems like Italy: most of the shops are small clothing boutiques and cafes with outdoor tables spilling onto the sidewalk. One sees many other walkers here: yoga students carrying their yoga mats going to the Center of Yoga; teenagers from the neighborhood hanging out in the cafes; young mothers with a child going shopping; middle aged and seniors running erands.

While Larchmont's main block has its share of pricey boutiques, there are many practical shops. The westside of the street has a farmer's market selling fruits and vegetables every Sunday 10:00-2:00 pm; the Village Pizzeria with people crammed into the outdoor tables; and a Wells Fargo bank with ATMS. The eastside of Larchmont has a Rite-aid, a chain drugstore -pharmacy with a large newstand in front; a small dry cleaning/shoe repair; Larchmont Village Hardware, where I've gotten vacuum cleaner bags as well as enamel paint to repair my tile kitchen counter; a plumbing store; and Sam's Bagel's, which has huge bagels baked on the premises. Landis General Store is one of my favorite shops: it has everything from pajamas to odd gifts like a folded up travel hat to elegant stationary with lines my mother likes to write letters on.

On the eastside of the street is Chevalier's bookstore with a children's annex with little chairs and tables and huge stuffed dolls include raggedy Anne and Andy perched on top of the high book shelves; the main annex has a good selection of books about Los Angeles, new fiction and non-fiction, cookbooks, mystery novels, and an occasional booksigning. After shopping one can stop at Peet's Coffee &Tea, the only corporate coffee chain worthing going to. Peet's staff take classes in coffee and teas so they're very knowledgeable. I always like the free taste of coffee or tea in a pot of tea or coffee near the cash register; one day I'd like to stop by for the tasting sessions on the weekends.

Now at the corner of Larchmont and First Avenue I turn right, walk one block to Arden, turn right again walking through this one residential block of well-kept one-story homes of Hancock Park neighborhood. At Beverly Boulevard I cross the street, turn left, walk one block to Rossmore and then turn right. At the corner I notice on a post a small sign poster saying "War is over if you want it" while across the street is the Wilshire Country Club which covers blocks going east with its golf course. On July 4th the country club has a huge display of fireworks which can be seen from my house 1/2 a mile away, but many neighbors gather at this cover of Rossmore to get an even better and closer view of the fireworks.

Rossmore Avenue is a shaded, tree-lined street with two blocks of elegant apartments, a rarity for Los Angeles. During the 20th century the L.A. ideal was the detached single-story house, so I love to see these rare but beautiful soaring apartments. Most of the apartment buildings on these two blocks are huge and beautiful, but three have particularly gorgeous architecture. The El Royale at 450 North Rossmore has nine stories, a penthouse, and huge carved stone doorways. Built in 1920 by William Douglas Lee in a French and Spanish colonial revival, the El Royale is an historical-cultural monument as are some of the other apartment buildings nearby. Many famous actors from George Raft to Nicholas Cage have lived at the El Royale, while John F. Kennedy once stayed at the Mauretania Apartments at 520-522 Rossmore, which looks like a modern ship sailing off into the street. Built in 1934 by Milton Black after a British ship, the Mauretania does look like a cruise ship with its Art Deco Streamline Moderne style.

After the Mauretania, I like the Ravenswood Apartments at 570 No. Rossmore. Actress Mae West lived here for 48 years in the building owned by Paramount Studios a few blocks away on Melrose (she liked to walk to work). The Ravenswood, with its huge bronze doors, eight stories, and an Art Deco Style, was built in 1930. Continuing up the block I pass the Church of Christ with its Korean signs out front and then the Christ the King Chatholic Church parish house and then the church itself. We pass a little minmall with Mario's Peruvian seafood restaurant and a Radio Shack. Now we're back at the corner of Rossmore and Melrose Avenues with a large Pavilions supermarket with pharmacy across the street.

If one turns right to continue walking east on Melrose Avenue past a minimall with Korner Cafe coffeehouse I hope to soon try. In Larchmont Avenue like Western Avenue I can walk to get the necessities: a supermarket; a Sunday morning farmer's market for fruits and vegetables; a couple pharmecies; a hardware store; dry cleaners and shoe repair shops; many banks with ATMs. But Larchmont has many speicalty shops including two wonderful independent bookstores, a hand book binder, a rare violin shop and a piano shop.

At Lucerene and Melrose is the Greek Seafood Village open M-F 12-9 and Saturday and Sunday 12-10. It's half off before 7:00. My friend Erica who spent a year in Greece says the decor this restaurant has the most authentic decor since most of the restaurants in Greece look exactly like this one; the seafood is pretty good too. One more block and we're back at the corner of Larchmont and Melrose Avenue where our walk began. Larchmont Village shows that if streets are made comfortable for strollers, they will come. If elegant apartment houses are erected, people will live in them for 48 years like Mae West did. If only many more blocks in Los Angeles were like Larchmont Village's designed for strolling with leafy shade trees, wooden benches, and planters filled with flowers.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Greening Santa Monica College I: worms etc.

Santa Monica College (SMC) where I work has showed a commitment to ecology the last 5 years by recylcing and its Sustainable Works education Program but recently its enviornmental paractices and been criticized by students. Before I deal with the criticism, I liked to describe SMC's current practices.

When I started teaching there I was happy to see the blue recyling bins in the cafeteria and the faculty computer room. I've taught in a lot of colleges, but SMC was the first one I taught in using recyling bins. Now in SMC's student cafeteria there are bins for newspapers/paper; cans, glass, and plastic; and waste. According is Madeline Brodie, the college's recyling coordinator, SMC has a "reputation for one of the best recyling programs in the state. " The colleges recyles 85 of its waste, much of it made up of construction waste, but if you leave out construction waste it recycles 65% of campus waste.

On the website http://www.smc.edu/Recyling is exellent information how the campus reclyces, with different sections and photos on each recyling area: paper reclying; the worms recyling; construction and demolition materials recyling; toner and inkjet cartridges.

As for the paper collected in all the blue bins, student worker Takao Yamzaki empties the blue cans into a dumpster provided by The Paper Depot. The Paper Depot truck picks up and empties the filled dumpsters , and the trucks take the paper to the Paper Depot in Orange, California, where each SMC load is weighed so the college receives credit and compensation. Then the paper is dumped into a huge mountain where a hand sorter removes any confidential paper and then a second person hand sorts it into three categorites--white, multi-colored, and "post office mix"--before baling it. The bales of paper are then sold to such firms as Fort James paper mills, which transforms the bales into toilet paper then sold back to SMC for use in its toilets!

SMC uses worms to recyle food waste. In November 2001 SMC got two grants to buy and install a 16 ft. Vermitech machine, the second of its kind in California. The college also bought 300,000 Red Wiggler worms and put them into the Vermitech--the worms have grown to 500,000. Htakao Yamzaki, student worker, and Sam Martin, custodian, prepare the worms food which is discarded food from the cafeterias, cardboard, and brown papertowels.

When the worm food is ready, the custodian feeds it to the 500,000 worms which dump worm castings into the bottom of the Vermitech where they are "harvested." The gardeners then use the warm castings as fertilizer on campus plants, particulary the hibiscus plants infected with white flies since these particular worm casting fertilizers are supposed to provide resistance to white flies. When I went to the Modern Language Association convention and tried to describe
SMC to faculty from other parts of the nation, I always mentioned our famous worms!

SMC has been demolishing buildings before building new buildings, so it has recycled construction and demoliton matierals. American Waste Industries picks up demolished materials on campus and trucks them to its plant in Sun Valley where the trucks are weighed. One such truck from SMC weighed three tons! The truck then dumps its load onto the "tipping floor" where large items such as plywood, wooden pallets, and large scrape metal are removed. After numerous sortings, 90% of material is removed. Wood, for example, is ground into 2" bits, blended with soil, and sold to landscapers for gardening. The remaning 10% goes to a Sunshine Canyone Lanfill in Sylmar, California, where it is sorted into three sizes, with some sold to landscapers and nurseries. The SMC Grounds Department buys some of this dirt which they used for newly seeded grass areas and for mixed soil blends.

Missed Information, SMC's online newspaper, says that still 30-40% of recylable bottles and cans don't end up in recylce bins but are dumped in trash cans. Many students don't know anything about the campuses recyling, so Sustainable Works, SMC's other important enviornmental program, has students making classroom visits to encourage use of the recyle bins. So the college has the recyling program in place but needs to do more convincing of students to use it.

Sustainable Works, located at 1744 Pearl Street, also does brilliant education work both on-campus and off. It offers nine-week sustainable crew program to about 400 students per year. For a number of years I've have a Sustainable Works speaker come to make English classes to explain that if the students take part in the 12-hour training program on how to have better environmental practices in their lives, they can get extra-credit for my class.

Furthermore, Sustainable Works sponsors the Environmental Lecture Series, bringing some imporant speakers to campus, and a environmental Studies AA degree. They have a Green Business program offering Santa Monica businesses a free assessment how their current practices affect the earth and recommendations how the business can go green. Lastly, they have two gardens in front of its Pearl Street building: one a garden that uses native plants and little water next door to a garden that uses non-natives plants which consume much water. The campus has also had a fine environmental film series.

Clearly the Sustainable Works program and the Recyling Program are both good programs but have functioned independtly. The campus is realizing that it's not enough just to have recyling bins; recylcing must be accompanied by education, so now its beginning to do the education, having Sustainable Works and the recyling program reinforce each other. I'd make a small suggestion. If campus recyling information or even a seminar on recyling isn't part of orientation for new students, then why not? In another blog I'll discuss the recent student criticisms of SMC's practices.