Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Los Angeles River as Our Commons

Yesterday I went on the bus tour of the Los Angeles river put on by Friends of the Los Angeles River (F.O.L.A.R). At our first stop we walked a dirt path down to the river first the the Sepulveda Flood Control Basin in the San Fernando Valley. We stood on the south side of the concrete bank but below this stretch of the river was wide, shallow, full of birds, and with a dirt bottom. So many birds flew in and out of the river. We were right north of the Sepulveda Dam, and right south of the Wildlife Refuge around the river where a thicket of trees goes right down to the river itself. The wooded area of the river just north of us is what the river must have looked like 300 years ago.

The river here is beautiful but also retains the idea of space around river being used for the common good. Just north of the Sepulveda Dam was the only place parkland are on both sides of the river that include athletic fields, parks, a wildlife reserve, a fishing lake, and Tillman Sewage Treatment Plant. Here the river is allowed to flood over the parklands, restoring the underground aquifer. We walked down to the river itself, getting a closer look at the birds and the dam. Here all is peaceful as if we weren't at all in the center of a huge city. Jenny Price, our tour guide who is a environmental writer who graduated from Yale, told us that when the river floods here, the water seeps into the dirt which cleans of it of toxics and then it replenishes the aquifers in this natural flood control. So having parkland on both sides of the river serves not just the public need for parks but also helps clean the river as well as prevent flooding damage to homes.

As we stood on the river bank looking down at birds darting up and down the shallow waters, Jenny Price told us that the history of Los Angeles is the history of its river. The LA basin is surrounded by four mountains--Santa Monicas, San Gabriels, and Santa Susanas, and Verdugos--whose waters pour into creeks all joining up into this 52-mile length as the waters plunge downward to the Pacific at Long Beach.

The river and its tributary creeks provided all the water needed for the city until 1910. Since LA is a flood plain, the river naturally has flooded regularly including huge floods of the 1930s. Then the Army Corps of Engineers put the river into concrete. Developers ruled the city then, seeing only the need to build homes along the river and preventing homes from being flooded. The idea of the river as commons was totally lost. The idea of letting the river naturally flood as good for the ecology was lost except for the Sepulveda Dam basin. Olmstead had created a plan for a long string of parks along the river but that plan was rejected.

Next we stopped at the Glendale Narrows where the river turns right going south through the gap between two mountain ranges: the Santa Monicas and the Verdugos. Just east of the intersection of Los Felix Boulevard and Riverside Drive we walked on another dirt path through a pocket park with bushes, poppies, and trees built in the Glendale Narrows, stopping to eat lunch with our feet dangling out over the riverbank and looking at this other section of the river with a natural dirt bottom. Below us we saw huge tangles of trees, bushes, and boulders that occupy the middle of the river. Here ducks and many other birds cavort.

Around 1990 I went on a river walk right here that F.O.L.A.R. and took a short canoe ride in the river as FOLAR attempted the revive the idea of the river as commons. When I glided around in the back of the canoe, I felt the river enter my consciousness. My Silverlake friends and I would often walk by the river here. In 1995 I took a series of photos here of the the lush rushes, small yellow poppies, and sculptured boulders. Also in 1995 I saw Collage Dance Theater do their Mother Ditch dance right in the river itself with the dancers dancing on abandoned bed springs above the waters with we the audience on its banks.

But at that time the Army Corps of Engineer with regular "cleaning" the river by taking away the plants and boulders until 1995 when they stopped. Now the trees inside the river are taller, the bushes thicker, more boulders and rocks nestle beside them, and there are more birds as nature takes over.

After lunch we walked through the pocket park called the Yoga Park because it had little alcoves to do yoga positions amidst the green bushes and California poppies. During the late 1990s F.O.L.A.R. and Northeast Trees convinced the city to build 7 pocket parks and extend the bikeway. Jenny, our guide, said even though these parks were tiny, they started a major change of consciousness getting thousands to think, of course, we should have a green way by the river. I thought the pocket parks were great, but as a yoga student for twenty years I think few yoga practitioners like to move from site to site to do yoga positions. Instead a few more tables and benches would be good. Many people would like to eat or sit by the river but not on the ground.

We walked down to the pedestrian bridge, then walked over, stopping in the middle, looking at both sides of the river. My companions, Etan and Eileen from Eagle Rock, told me they bike along the bikeway which now extends for seven miles on the far side of the river. We could see a few more people bicycle now and some walkers in this eight-mile stretch of the river with a natural dirt bottom. My spirit is also recharged by a walk by the river here.

Our next stop, the Confluence of the Los Angeles River and the Arroyo Seco creek flowing down from the mighty San Gabriel Mountains, was quite different. Only a few miles north of downtown, we walked down by these huge concrete pillars covered with huge colorful graffiti down to the confluence where the river is in its concrete straight jacket. Jenny had us go out into the river itself which was only an inch deep where we walked to get a better look at the confluence of river and creek all enclosed in monumental concrete straight jacket. She said while the river itself is the city's spine, this spot is its heart.

Yes, but the confluence is the bleeding wounded historical heart of Los Angeles. Since the confluence of river and creek was had a rich supply of year-round water, the Tongva Indians sited many of their villages here including the biggest, Yagna, just to the south. The 1761 Portola Expedition sent from Spain said this lush valley by the river was the best place for a village, so they began their pueblo also a little south. But the confluence now is just freeway underpasses, a concrete river, and parking lots--that whole history of this place has been erased as the river was straightjacketed in concrete.

As we stood in the river, Jenny told us a lot of the land surrounding the confluence is owned by different governmental agencies. The city of LA is committed to building a park here, but it's slow going getting the land from there governmental agencies but it has bought a parking lot as its first acquisition. I was glad we had seen the two natural parts of the river first--what it once was and could be--before we saw the Confluence.

Our forth stop was the Cornfields Park where first we stopped outside the chain link fence on the north end. Then the bus drove about a mile to the entrance at the south end. We walked in, saw the many small tree saplings that had been planted, and then walked up to the little mound which had short trees on it and historical plaques in the ground in a circle telling the Cornfields' history: Yagna village right next door; Spanish and Mexican pueblo just south had fields here watered by the zanja madre, the mother ditch; the Yankees built a huge railroad depot and train yards here were thousands of new immigrants poured in.

Below us two teenage boys actually played ball on the grass. No one else though was in the park this sunny Saturday. Nearby Chinatown has no parks--just none. So why aren't hundreds of people here like the elderly Chinese sitting on every bench playing cards and chatting as they do in Portsmouth Square in San Francisco's Chinatown. Because the glacially slow process of park building still leaves the neighbors with next-to-nothing to do here. I say build up a spot on the Cornfields for the elderly Chinese with benches and tables!

Our last stop was at the 6th Street Bridge just south of downtown. We walked through a urine-smelling, trash-lined tunnel under the bridge out into the river again only an inch deep where we walked. On the east bank were train tracks where a train with cars saying it had Chinese goods were heading south to the port. We saw the architecturally wonderful bridges spanning the river both north and south as well as all the graffiti on the concrete pillars of the bridge. The new river master plan has chosen the east, Latino side of the 6th Street bridge as a spot to build another park.

We'd seen more geography of the river as it meanders through its two dirt-bottom sections and its two concrete-lined industrial areas. Jenny argues that putting the river into concrete was wrong for four reasons. Ecologically, the storm drains dump waters into the laden with toxins into the channeled river, increasing the flow and carrying toxins down to pollute the beaches. Before the city was built, only 8% of the rainwater flowed into the ocean but now 80% of it does. Also when the river was allowed to flood its banks, it increased the underwater aquifer. Now it just dumps water into the Pacific Ocean.

Socially, the refusal to build a greenway along the river in the 1930s meant Los Angeles became one of the most park-poor cities in the country, with working class and non-white neighborhoods having the least parks. Chinatown is a good example here--it has no parks at all for 25,000 people. Economically, the city doesn't use cisterns to capture rainwater nor its river water through flooding on parkland but instead spends billions to transport water from far away. Finally, people lost the idea of the river in her lives. I would add that other cities like London or Paris the river is a great unifying force but in Los Angeles we lack that. Instead we have neighborhoods who are divided from one another.

What got lost was not just the river but also the sense of the river as a commons. FOLAR, Northeast Trees, the Chinatown and Latino river activists have labored for twenty years to get LA to adopt its plan to bring back the river; now the city has said, yes, it will commit to having a greenway on the 32 miles the river is within its limits--a huge victory. The city as just issued a Master Plan for the river.

Yet the huge government bureaucracies work at a glacial slowness. We need to engage the citizens more in making the river again our common meeting place. We need to all go down to the river. We should go by then tens of thousands and then talk together what we want for the river. Then hopefully the process of building the parks along the river will be speeded up. Let us all go down to the river.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Anti-war march Hollywood 3-17: Coffins and the Two Figures of Death

Noon I went to the anti-war march in Hollywood on Saturday at Hollywood and Vine Street, on this fourth year I've joined the anti-war marches down Hollywood Boulevard. In that first march the dance group Corpus Delecti danced in torn white rags with white faces as if they were the ghosts of the dieing and the dead of this soon-to-be war. For years later Again the east corner was crammed with people hearing music and speeches from the truck on Hollywood Boulevard. When I got there an inter-racial group of rappers were rapping for freedom.

A few minutes later I took some photos, then crossed the street, and ran into Joan, a fellow instructor at East Los Angeles College. Kent Wong, the head of the UCLA Labor Center, gave a short but powerful anti-war speech. Also students from high schools and colleges spoke briefly as well as the priest from All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, the church which had its tax exempt status investigated for opposing the war, spoke. In between speeches Joan and I, neither of whom are teaching any more at East Los Angeles College, caught up on what we've been doing. It was Saint Patrick's Day, and Joan, who was Catholic, explained that St. Patrick had driven all the snakes from Ireland so the country doesn't have any snakes.

Lots of signs: Topanga Peace Alliance, Episcopalian church group, Impeach Everybody. My favorite sign all day said "St. Patrick, Bring the Troops Home from Iraq." I thought that fitting: if St. Patrick could drive the snakes out of Ireland, hopefully he could also bring the troops home. We heard that despite the horrendously cold weather in Washington D.C., peace people were marching to the Pentagon.

The march slowly began around 12:45 as the sound truck led the peace marchers down Hollywood Boulevard. To my right a man and a woman were dressed all in black including their faces totally covered by black masks and both held scythes as two figures of Death walked beside me. We continued to Cahuenga Boulevard, then walked two blocks south to the multi-story CNN building, turned right for two more blocks. At Shrader Avenue, we turned right, and marched straight past my favorite YMCA where we waved at the exercisers and peace marchers and children in the courtyard.

We continued to the next block past the Gay and Lesbian Center where a man in a Veterans for peace t-shirt holding a flag in front said it wasn't legal for him to get married. The march continued on back to Hollywood Boulevard, turned left again.. Behind me Veterans for Peace carried row upon row of coffins draped in American flags. Throughout the march groups of student and youth marched together: they had a loud presence. Also the Bus Riders union in their yellow shirts marched in a strong group. Two groups of Asians drummers marched me behind me also.

The next day I went to see the "Multiple Vantage Points: Southern California Women Arts 1980-2006" show at Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery Barnsdall Park, and Erica Rothenberg had a wonderful witty pieces up including a church calendar for the year 2100 which included an listing for an alcoholics group and also for an anti-war group.

Four years of marchers. Four years ago when I and 40,000 marchers paraded down Hollywood Boulevard we hoped we just hoped we could stop this war. The dancers tried to make the corpse visible of the people who would be killed in this war. Four years later we marched carrying coffins and accompanied by the two figures of Death in black walking besides us.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Once A Cornfield By the LA River

Today I went to visit the Cornfield, a new park by the Los Angeles river, and also attend the Friday noon salon at Farmlab, a fascinating an art/ecology project at 1745 North Spring Street. I got off the Gold Line train at Chinatown, the stop just north of downtown, and started walking north up Spring Street looking for the entrance to the Cornfield State Historical Park but missed it, so I was walking in the hot sun on this barren dirt as there was no sidewalk.

A little to the west was a 4 foot high chain link fence and then the park with an earth road, a few benches, a green lawn, and lots of flowers. But strangely enough there were no people in the park and no gates. Just me looking longingly at the greenery cordoned off from my by the chain link metal fence. Across Spring Street were warehouses in a treeless industrial belt.

I know a bit of the history of this park, a crescent of 32-acres just south of the LA River. For ten years community groups battled to stop Majestic Realty from developing this area, a Southern Pacific Railroad yard, into a $80 million industrial development. The Chinatown Yard Alliance, a coalition of 35 groups including Friends of the LA River, sued Majestic Realty and the City of Los Angeles; the lawsuit resulted in the state of California acquiring the land in 2001 for a much needed park. The neighborhoods surrounding the Cornfields are made up of Chinese, Vietnamese, Latinos and Anglos who lack parks.

Around 2002 I went to see the Cornfields Park, then filled with dirt, weeds, and railroad junk but we did see the section of the 220-year old madre zanja, the mother ditch. The original Spanish colonialists put their village El Peublo just south of the river, and dug the madre zanja as the communal water source to bring water to their fields. The amateur archeologists who discoved of the piece of the mother ditch helped people redefine this site from industrial wasteland to historically important. Just south I could see the towering beige milling company with a big 1883 on its side, and thought the Anglo settlers must have used river water to mill flour. To the north and east was the LA River; to the east up the embankment was Chinatown. To the south, the gleaming towers of downtown. The site is the historical heart of the city.

I kept walking under the hot sun on the dirt looking at the empty park now with multi-colored wild flowers. After the park had remained a brownfield junkyard for four years, artist Lauren Bon and her collaborators in Not a Cornfields turned the whole park into a work of art by planting acres of corn and native wild flowers. While planting, they held community events from drum circles to rock concerts to Day of the Dead celebrations. They had a ceremony by the Tongva people, the Native Americans whose village of Yangna, the real beginning of Los Angeles, was located 1/2 a mile south. At that time Father Crespi in the first Spanish expedition to see the river said the land by the river was a verdant paradise full of greenery including wild grape vines, rosebushes in full bloom, alders and cottonwoods.

In spring 2006 after Farm Lab harvested the corn , they turned the land back to the State park system, but left behind the native, drought tolerant plants and wildflowers I could now see including White Yarrow, California Poppy, Golden Yarrow, Bush Sunflower, Biglow’s Coreopsis etc. I kept walking in the glaring sunlight, seeing a couple in the park, and then no more people but a circle of what looked like big bales of hay or Cornhenge. Not A Cornfield had composed 31 bales from the harvest and erected this circle of corn bales along with more flowers of purple, white and yellow. It's a beautiful living sculpture, Cornhenge. Across the street I could see Asian women in the parking lot of the warehouse where they worked eating lunch. Why couldn't they eat in the park? No gate, no benches, no tables. The sun glared even more as I cross the street.

I walked past another block and a half of warehouses on my right, park on my left, wondering why no one was in the park, then turned into a warehouse, entered the Not a Cornfield space which was part-gallery with exhibits. I was late, so I promised to return, exited where more exhibits were outdoors enclosed by concrete pillars called Under Spring Street Gallery--I supposed the concrete pillars held up Spring Street above us. Then I entered Farmlab where people were setting out a buffet lunch. The free lunch was wonderful: a fish stew, yucca, rice, a fine green salad, carrot juice, two pies (I took a piece of the apple).

As I ate, I talked to Jamie Wolters, a gardener who planted the corn in Not A Cornfield and now worked with Farmlab. He said a local Chicano youth group contacted them for help in planting a garden near their building on a brownfield site owned by Cal Trans. Farmlab has started growing mushrooms as a way to regenerate brownfields sites, but Cal Trans last week said no garden could be planted on their property. He said they were continuing to develop growing mushrooms to clean up brownfields, hopefully on another site.

Casey Coates Danson presented her documentary "Who's Got the Power" about global warming and its solutions. What struck me was the information that oil and gas get tremendous governmental subsidies but solar panels, which could be used to generate electricity, get much less subsidy. After the question and answer, I asked a Farmlab member where the north gate to the Cornfields Park was. She said, "Right outside the door. It looks like a locked gate, but you can enter there."

Back at the 4 foot chain link fence, I tried two gates. Both were really locked, and I couldn't get through, so I trudged back down the dirt under the even more glaring sun. The park was completely empty. Why does there need to be a metal fence walling a park off from people? Blocks later I did see the south gate, a large opening for the driveway, but it was too late for me to walk through the park.

Back home some Internet research explained why the park, established after a huge community struggle, was now so empty. In the 2005 Arroyo Seco Foundation News, Lewis McAdams, founder of Friends of the Los Angeles River and key activist in establishing the park, said the Cornfields is "languishing, penniless." McAdams blames politicians--LA City Council, County Supervisors, and state legislators--for failing to get state funding for the park.

Further, Kim Benjamin, president of the Chinatown Business Improvement District and vice president of the Historic Cultural Neighborhood Council, suggested a modest plan for "a baseball diamond, soccer fields, picnic benches, a Tai Chi exercise area, and walking tours." He said that nearby Cathedral High School, the Chinese Benevolent Association and local property owners would raise $600,000 to create the baseball field, soccer fields, etc, but State Parks has refused the community's plan. The state said "the department's mission does not allow recreation sports in its parks" because the city's Recreation and Parks Department takes care of sports. The state department spokesman has forgotten than his mission is to be a public servant: to serve that public that asks for a baseball field, soccer fields, and a place to do tai chi.

I remember every park I saw in China had people doing Tai Chi every day, but not in the Cornfields Park right next to Chinatown! In Bejiing the Temple of Heaven was formerly a huge ornate blue temple where only the Emperor worshiped; now the Temple of Heaven, one of the most stunningly beautiful buildings in China, was a park which had thousands of senior citizens doing social dancing, playing instruments, doing group sports like badminton, playing music together. But no sports in the Cornfields.

So next to nobody uses the park. To me that is appalling. The California State Parks Department in November, 2006, did announced that, after it had spent thousands for an eight-month design competition to choose a team to design the park, had chosen San Francisco firm Hargreaves Associates. The Hargreaves Associating winning plan sounds quite awful because it also neglected to include what the community has asked for. Hargreaves should start its design process by talking to the park's neighbors. It was they who struggled ten years for the Cornfields so they should have their dreams in the park.

No wonder it was such an empty park Friday. It should be full of people. Hopefully one day it will be full of people from the neighborhood playing baseball on the field, having soccer matches, doing tai chi, and office workers from the downtown towers as well as warehouse workers and salespeople having lunch at the outdoor benches and tables. It should always have those bales of corne from Cornhenge. It should have walking tours that show the madre zanja, telling of the history of El Peublo. It should have tours telling the history of the Tongva's nearby village of Yangna. It would always have corn growing by the Los Angeles river. It should also have the wild grape vines, rose bushes, cottonwoods and alders it once ahead 230 years ago.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The LA Philharmonic at Disney Hall

I drove to my friend Sara's as she had an extra ticket for the LA Philharmonic matinee concert Saturday, and then drove both of us downtown to the Disney Hall--of course, driving is a convenience. Sara and I bought like to take the bus or subway as much as possible, but I was running late, so I drove--a "convenience" that spews carbon dioxide in the air.

We walked around the outskirts of the Disney Hall--a very beautiful sculptural building. Then into our lobby and then our seats right behind the orchestra way up high, but I loved our seats because we could really look down at the different musicians, watching them play from out seats up in Paradise. The French movie Children of Paradise said that those who have seats high up in the theater are in paradise--as we were. For a large concert hall the Disney Hall seems intimate and well as spectacular.

Leonard Slatkin was conducting, and his hands did an elegant choreography to the music. The first piece was late 20th century Steven Reich's "Triple Quartet. This is the first time I've heard a Reich piece. His "Triple Quarter" had three triangles of 12 string musicians playing on the stage repetitions of rhythms interspersed with Eastern European Jewish melodies. The second piece was Franz Liszt's Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-flat with Yundi Li, a young award-winning Chinese pianist who gave a dramatic performance.

After the intermission the Los Angeles Philharmonic played Gustav Holst's The Planets. Though I'm familiar with the piece, I knew little about Holst. He's English, and oddly combines a fascination with Hindu spirituality and a love of traditional English folksong. He started composing The Planets in 1914 right before World War I started. Though the program notes say the piece isn't about war, I think it as, as it starts with "Mars, the bringer of war," a very aggressive opener with violins marking a beat like soldiers' foots, then booming drums and trumpets. "Mars" really does evoke all the aggressive rhythms of war.

After 'Mars" comes "Venus, the Bringer of Peace," which is gentle and sensuous, with a solo violin and harp. Next comes "Mercury, the Winger Messenger;" just as Mercury is the quick moving messenger of the gods, the music has a solo violin, a form of piano called a celesta, and a two harps as well as the orchestra do faster rhythms. "Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity" is one of my all-time favorite pieces of music, with this great sonorous melody repeated by different sections of the orchestra--it was just wonderful to listen to "Jupiter" not on record but with a terrific orchestra. Next come the sad "Saturn, Bringer the Old Age," which has both a solemn sadness, an angry clashing protest against old age, and then a peaceful acceptance. "Uranus, the Magician" has that wild energy of other pieces evoking sorcerers.

The last section of The Planets is "Neptune the Mystic" where Holst and the LA Philharmonic capture the peaceful mysticism. The Pacific Women's Choir song the wordless mystical sounds, but as the orchestra played the choir was nowhere to be seen. Where were they? Their beautiful singing seemed to emerge from underneath the stage, so I thought maybe they were below stage, but the effect of the music floating off from nowhere was wonderful.

Sara said she felt richly fed after the concert. So did I. The Disney Hall, the LA Philharmonic's playing, the conductor Leonard Slatkin, the soloist Yundi Li, the program which encompassed 150 years of music--all were terrific. I just wished the Disney Hall were next door to a subway stop, so we could take the marvelous subway home.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Going Carbon Neutral

I've been thinking about reducing the energy I use for a long time in order to reduce my contribution to global warming. Reading GreenLAGirl, an excellent environmental blog, I read about DriveNeutral, a non-profit that sells carbon offsets. Today I went to the DriveNeutral website, and learned I can pay money to DriveNeutral, and they buy on my behalf emmission credit reductions at the Chicago Climate Trust. The Chicago Climate Trust is like a stock exchange where companies or individuals can buy credits to offset the carbon they produce. The Chicago Climate Trust has 3rd party verification that it actually uses to money to buy environmental-sound projects such as forest projects or urban reforestation such as planting trees in the countryside or the cities or building renewable energy sources such as wind farms, solar energy or geothermal.

DriveNeutral had a calculator where I could calculate how much carbon dioxide my driving produces each year. Last year I took the subway twice a week to work, reducing my driving. I own a Mazda Protege which gets 27 miles/gallon. I drive approximately 6700 miles/year (the average American drives 12000 miles/years). At DriveNeutral the calculator said that the 6700 miles I drive at 27 miles/gallon produces 4265 lbs. of carbon dioxide. To offset that I had to pay $28 to offset the carbon, so I did. They will send me my certificate in the mail.

I have an an-electric apartment. Over a year ago I signed up for the Green Energy Program of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. It cost me about $3.50 extra each month, but all the energy for my house comes from green energy sources such as solar, wind, or geothermal, so my house heating my house or using my stove doesn't produce any carbon dioxide. To be truthful, I do have a gas heater but don't know how much carbon dioxide that produces over a year. For the last year I've tried to get my fruits and vegetables at the local farmer's market, but still I buy about 1/2 of my food at the supermarket, so there is trucking involved--I don't know how to calculate that amount of carbon dioxide. So even with heating and stove powered by green powering, I still am producing some amount of carbon from my food and water heater but I don't know how much.

I also flew to China where I had a vacation in 2006. At TerraPass, another non-profit where individuals can buy carbon credits, I calculate that I flew 14,938 miles which produced 6,142 lbs of carbon dioxide.If I buy a $36.95 carbon credit from TerraPass (DriveNeutral does only carbon credits for driving), then I would offset the carbon produced by my flying. Once I buy the $36.95 carbon credit, then I will be near neutral in my production of carbon dioxide.

I must say that going to a website, calculating how many pounds of carbon dioxide I'm producing, then look at the amount of money it would take to offset has taught me a lot: it has made the abstract concrete. At first I couldn't believe 1 round trip to China would produce over 3 tons of carbon dioxide. Now I'm beginning to understand.

If I add up all my carbon produced this year:
4,265 lbs carbon dioxide- driving
14,938 lbs carbon dioxide- flying
?500 lbs carbon dioxide- my estimate for gas to heat water heater & trucking my food
19,702 lbs carbon dioxide- 9.5 tons carbon dioxide produced by me in 2006!

By the way, Executive Director Carlson of Carbonfund says the average American produces 55,000 lbs or 27.5 tons of carbon dioxide/year. There are a number of non-profits--TerraPass, DriveNeutral, Carbonfund--who sell carbon offsets ranging from $8-$11/ton for Terrapass, $10/ton for DriveNeutral, and $5.50/ton for Carbonfund.

If I pay $10/ton for my 9.5 tons, I need to spend $95 to offset all the carbon I produce in 2006. Wikepdia says that $90 can buy 900 trees, and trees are great for getting carbon dioxide out of the air. What I like about this whole process I have to think concretely about the carbon I produce and what my responsibilites for that are? So far I've spent $28, and I'm thinking if I should spend $67 more to go carbon neutral

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Recyling E-waste

After I bought my new computer, I still had my old computer parts to dispose of. I didn't want to drop my only computer parts in landfill, since they are hazardous waste, so I needed to find a hazardous waste site for them.

I looked online for sites which accept electronic waste, but the Los Angeles city-run sites only were open Saturday or Saturday and Sunday--not very convenient. I read on Green LA Green, an excellent environmental blog for Los Angeles, that Amoeba record store accepts in Hollywood accepts e-waste, but on a visit their "Big Green Box" was really a very small green box only accepting batteries and cell phones; I did give them my batteries and portable phone. The sales clerk suggested I take any working parts to Goodwill on Vine Street just south of Fountain, which I did. I had two speakers which worked, so I dropped them off at Goodwill.

Still I had to find a hazardous waste-home for my huge old computer monitor and the CPU unit. On Worldchanging Los Angeles, I read about California Recycles, a store which accepts computers and then recycles them. They recycle CRT monitors, TV sets, cell phones & accessories, stereo equipment, DVD & VCR players, computers & accessories, scanners & fax machines, batteries of cell phones and laptop batteries. They say on their website that they want to make electronic waste recycling easy and convenient.

Better yet, they are in West Los Angeles near where I work and also are open Monday-Friday 8:30-5. So I drove there, and gave them my old computer and CPU unit.

The man working there even helped carry my computer monitor into the store as it was too heavy for me. I asked him, "Why do you do with the old computers and monitors." He said some they dismantle and sell the parts while others they fix and resell. They also gave me a certificate that they would erase the hard disc.

California recycles: