Posts Tagged ‘california’

Lush, green, and hardy, bamboo sets the stage for the perfect garden getaway. When planted in thickets, the grass forms walls that provide privacy and quiet. When in clumps, bamboo is an excellent highlight to just about any backyard.

You already know who’s got the best selection of bamboo clothing and textiles on the planet, but Paso Bamboo Farm and  Nursery is the only place on the Central Coast where you will find timber and exotic bamboos ready to be planted in your yard! The Nursery carries thirteen different species that tolerate extreme temperatures and are available in 5, 15, and 25 gallon containers, or can be dug to order. The staff is also able to create bamboo installations for home and business.

In addition to growing the their beautiful specimens of bamboo, the Nursery holds educational talks throughout the county. The owners love to inform the public as to the remarkable qualities of the plant. Easy to maintain, bamboo is an attractive way to sequester carbon and filter the air. Able to harvested for  building material, craft, or textiles, the giant green stalks are as practical as they are ornamental.

Interested green thumbs are encouraged to visit the Paso Bamboo Farm and Nursery at 5590 North River Road in Paso Robles. For more information, head over to their official site and discover a world of versatile, verdant bamboo!

San Luis Obispites, your neighbors to the south need your help! Oil and gas interests are planning to exploit the Monterey Shale deposits in Santa Barbara county. Dubbed the “Santa Maria Energy Project”, the scheme would create 136 drilling wells. If passed, the industry estimates that they will be able to extract 15.4 million barrels of oil, as much as would be pumped through the Keystone XL Pipeline over a 40 year period. In addition to wreaking havoc on the climate by pumping 88,000 tons of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere each year, the extraction processes would waste and pollute already stressed water supplies. The Santa Maria Energy Project would inject 300,000 gallons of water into the earth each day, taking resources away from farmers and infrastructure.

Take the time to sign a petition through 350.org to be presented to the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission and County Supervisors this month!

When it comes to caring for the environment, we would all like to do the right thing. Whether it’s installing a solar array or buying an electric vehicle, the cost of the new green technologies can sometimes be prohibitive. Luckily, there are some incentive programs to make modern living both sustainable and affordable.

Lawn be Gone – Living on the Central Cost, residents enjoy a Mediterranean climate. Characterized by long hot summers and short rainy winters, the native vegetation has adapted to become drought tolerant and hardy. With suburban development, much of the endemic flora has been replaced by water hogging lawns and golf courses. The county suffers from water shortages on an almost consistent basis, and this has spurred some cities to offer compensation for replacing grass with xeroscaping. Paso Robles, for example, will give homeowners up to $500 to convert their yards into gardens that use rocks, succulents, and other drought tolerant plants.

Energy Extras – San Luis Obispo is blessed with an abundance of sunshine. What better part of the state to take advantage of solar panels and heating systems? The California Solar Initiative provides assistance and cash back for those in PG&E, SCE, and SDG&E territories who wish to operate off of the grid. The program takes you through an energy efficient audit, helps you find a solar installer, and apply for the rebates that apply to your home or business. The CSI program has a total budget of $2.167 billion between 2007 and 2016 and a goal to install approximately 1,940 MW of new solar generation capacity, meaning that there is a pretty deep funding pool for those who qualify.

Cars and Cash- Hybrid and electric vehicles are undoubtedly the wave of the future, but the sticker price can send some prospective shoppers into shock. However, California is home to a number of programs that take a little pain out of making an enlightened decision. The Clean Vehicle Rebate Project from the Center for  Sustainable Energy California provides up to $2,500 to consumers for the purchase of a zero-emission or plug-in vehicle. Federal tax credits for plug in-hybrids and EV’s can reach as high as $7,500 if bought after 2010.

It seems as though every California city has at one point in its history been home to an eclectic group of residents. The Guadalupe Dunes, located in Oceano, once boasted a unique community of intellectuals, mystics, artists, and vagabonds who called themselves the “Dunites”.

In the 1930’s and 1940’s, a collection of disenfranchised sand worshipers claimed the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes as their own, salvaging the wood and scrap materials from an ill-conceived boardwalk and resort town built during the turn of the century. The Dunites were comprised of a number of odd personalities, including Spanish-American war veteran Edward St Claire, notable author and Socialist gubernatorial candidate Upton Sinclair, recovering alcoholic and evangelical naturalist George Blais, artist Elwood Decker, and Gavin Arthur, astrologist and grandson of President Chester A. Arthur. The members published their own alternative magazine with contributors such as Ansel Adams. Dune Forum only lasted for five issues as its expensive price of 35 cents during the Depression and Bohemian content proved to be a hard sell for the majority of the population.

In addition to being the refuge for society’s outcasts, the Oceano Dunes is an Official Archeological Site that is the resting place for Cecil B. DeMille’s massive “Ten Commandments” set, a wildlife sanctuary, and recreation area. Visitors interested in exploring this amazing landscape can delve into the area’s history at the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Center. For more information, check out Norm Hammond’s book, The Dunites for a comprehensive history of men and women who survived on nuts and fruit, dressed in loincloths to go to town, and wandered around the sand as modern mystics.

 

Seeds of Hope

For many of us in the Western world, potable water flowing from a tap is such a common occurrence that we barely think twice about turning a handle for one of the most vital resources on the planet. Rarely do we consider that millions of people around the world lack basic access to clean water due to poverty, lack of infrastructure, and environmental pollution.

Imagine being able to take concrete steps toward ending the spiral of poverty for vulnerable communities in Africa. Seeds of Hope International Partnerships is a non-profit organization that seeks to transform neighborhoods with the use of community development and holistic practices. They work towards bringing knowledge of water-borne diseases through education and increase quality of life. The organization was founded back in 2003 when Seeds of Hope Director, Kirk Schauer, visited Zambia with a group of pastors from California.

After witnessing the appalling state of the water infrastructure in the country, he became determined to make a difference. Seeds of Hope began a collaboration with Center for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology to implement methods of sanitation and to conduct trainings. Through BioSand Filters, community wells, AIDS/HIV lectures, Seeds of Hope is transforming local infrastructure from the grassroots.

On August 3, the Mountainbrook Community Church will host a Walk For Hope as an extension of the mission presented by Seeds of Hope. Adult tickets are available for $20 or $25 with t-shirt. Children under 12 are free. Participants will meet in the Mountainbrook parking lot at 8am.

Jayson Fann Spirit Nest

There are times when all you want to do is shed the trappings of a modern life and head for the trees. Californian artist Jayson Fann understands the desire to reconnect with nature in a direct and meaningful manner. Through his Spirit Nests, the artist constructs giant structures inspired by birds. Using local sustainably-harvested woods, each dwelling is completely unique to its location. He begins construction by finding the wood on site, and strips the branches of leaves and twigs, scattering them to reduce the risk of fire. Fann then fits each piece of wood into spiraled pattern, using the tension of the configuration and counter sunk screws to hold the composition together. To support the nest, he builds a base that is capable of supporting a 2,000 lb load.

Fann has created nests for a variety of places throughout the state, including the famous Esalen Institute and Treebones Resort in Big Sur. In addition to his installation work, he also runs the cross-cultural arts organization, Big Sur Spirit Garden. Located between the Santa Lucia Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, the facility offers arts education courses, training, and booking for special events. It boasts three outdoor stages, sculptures, murals, tropical gardens, and of course, the famous Spirit Nests. Hoping to foster understanding, creativity, and connection through the arts, the Big Sur Spirit Garden and its unique projects embody the energy and vitality of the region.

As a part of Bambu Batu’s ongoing fundraiser for marriage equality, the next recipient of our Kale shirt donations will be The All Family Project. Based out of San Francisco, the non-profit encourages social equality by countering negative stereotypes of the LGBT community with videos and photographic essays featuring gay and lesbian families.

Their primary audience is middle America heterosexuals, and since that demographic is unlikely to visit their Facebook page or YouTube channel, they have decided to take their message to them. Depicting same sex couples and their children on billboards across the nation, The All Family Project hopes to encourage tolerance and familiarity. For those inside the LGBT community, they seek to complement other organizations focused on empowerment and awareness and to show the unsure that it is possible to raise a happy and healthy family.

To prove that same sex couples are not just a “coastal phenomenon”, they invite families from all over the world to pose for photographic essays. Other than names and general geographic area, no personal information is given, allowing the smiling faces to tell their stories. They also encourage participants and supporters to host grassroots parties to help spread their message of love and acceptance.

As in any campaign challenging traditional, narrow-minded notions, the Project was faced with resistance when trying to establish their ads. In Salt Lake City, Utah, they tried for 7 months to install transit ads on 12 buses. Eventually, their photos were accepted, but were forced to remove their copy reading, “2 Moms + 1 Child = Family”. Even though the transit system was funded by the government, the decision to erase their message was a direct result of pressure from the LDS community. Regardless of the church’s views, however, the Project still maintains that, “We are all, after all, all family”.

For more information on The All Family Project and what you can do to support them, visit their official site and Facebook page or come into the store and purchase a Kale For Marriage Equality t-shirt!

 

Across the US, hydraulic fracturing has been the source of a raging debate over domestic energy policy. While some tout “fracking” as a way to generate local power and provide jobs and money in a time of economic hardship, the act of  shattering shale to extract gas and petroleum have many worried. From exploding wells and flammable tap water to toxic chemicals contaminating aquifers and earthquakes, fracking has major consequences for the environment. California stands as the 4th largest gas and oil producing state, and even though new existing wells are already being exploited by fracking technology, the process is almost completely unregulated.

In response to the exploitation of land and natural resources, the Global Exchange has organized California Communities Rising Against Fracking, a speaking tour of the Golden State that exposes the realities of the extraction technology. The tour will largely target those areas that would most strongly impacted and stops include Sacramento, San Luis Obispo, Ventura, Culver City, and Los Angeles. Each stop will host a day of action preceded by a local media plan and outreach groups. Former Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania councilman Dough Shields will be scheduled to speak as one of the first to enact a “rights-based” ban on fracking in the nation.

The Global Exchange launched the Community Rights Program challenging corporate power five years ago to confront the unjust laws that value big business over the rights of citizens. The have partnered with organizations such as 350.org, Center for Biological Diversity, Food & Water Watch, Clean Water Action, EarthWorks, and Transition Towns to fight for the health and well-being of Americans through grassroots efforts. Currently, they are working towards banning fracking in San Luis Obispo county, following the examples of Pennsylvania, New York, and New Mexico who have outlawed the process.

For more information on the tour, contact Shannon Biggs, Community Rights Program Director for the Global Exchange at (415) 575-5540 and shannon@globalexhange.org.

Forget the need for the Keystone XL pipeline or Diablo Canyon’s nuclear reactors. San Luis Obispo’s very own Cal Poly is paving the way for a green energy future thanks to some hearty  microorganisms and the contents of a toilet bowl. A research team dubbed the Algae Technology Group (ATG) has recently been awarded a $1.3 million grant by the Department of Energy to develop biofuels made from municipal wastewater and algae. The tiny plants not only help to clean water efficiently and inexpensively, but also produce energy and sequester carbon. Local governments will soon have a new method to purify water and can even sell to algae feedstock to refineries for a little extra revenue.

The ATG began back in 2006 and has since been working with faculty and students to research water reclamation and energy production. Their current project will use nine large “raceway” style ponds that cover about half an acre at the San Luis Obispo Water Reclamation Facility on Prado Road. Algae will grow in the ponds, using little inputs other than wastewater and sunlight. Some electricity is needed to circulate the water and run related equipment, but engineers believe that much of that energy could come from renewable sources in the future.

While still an emerging technology, the ATG estimates that with only ten percent of the market share in California, algae biofuel could reduce ratpayers bills by an accumulated $240 million a year. The U.S. Department of Energy predicts that the nation could produce 21 billion gallons of algae biofuel annually. So, between dirty and expensive fossil fuels or cheap energy made from microscopic plants, which alternative would you choose?

It is that time of year again.  The leaves are falling, the Halloween decorations are getting swapped out for hand-turkeys and cornucopias, and sample ballots are being mailed to homes across California.  This season, citizens of the Golden State have an opportunity to make history with Proposition 37, a measure that will require genetically modified food to be labeled for consumers.  As a business that supports transparency, responsibility, and the rights of customers to make the decisions based on accurate information, Bambu Batu would like to support passing Proposition 37.  Before voting, here are a couple of things to consider.

· Who is funding the proposition and who is against it?  Turns out the major force against Proposition 37 is Monsanto, donating over $7 to stop the law from being passed.  Other opponents include Pepsico, Syngenta, DOW, Nestle, ConAgra Foods, and Coca Cola, all massive corporations that either produce or use GMO’s.  Those in favor of the bill are a collection of health food brands, family farms, and organizations such as the Organic Consumers Fund, The Center for Food Safety, Amy’s Kitchen, Clif Bar and Company, UFW, California Nurses Association, and the Sierra Club.

· 61 other countries have labeling requirements for GMO’s.  Labeling would occur at no cost to consumers and create no new bureaucracy.

· The Union of Concerned Scientists give Monsanto an “F” grade in sustainable agriculture, citing their value of the bottom line and production of engineered seeds over conservation and long term viability.  Not only are they falling short on feeding the world, their products and practices foster chemical resistance, spread gene contamination, encourage dangerous monocultures, reject alternatives that are more expensive, suppresses research, and direct enormous amounts of time and money lobbying congress.  Not surprisingly, the gigantic company is the largest opponent to Prop 37.

· GM foods have caused a number of problems in the environment and for small farmers.  Those who do not wish to support the actions of agribusinesses should have the right to opt out of buying these goods.  For example, there have been peer reviewed studies that have shown GM plants have contributed to the rise of genetic resistance to certain pesticides, and to the decline of certain plants and animals.

· Some who disagree with Prop 37 believe that if consumers were aware of GMO’s in their foods, they would shy away from those brands because of a negative stigma.  If GMO’s are as safe as we are told, why should these businesses worry?  If we label trans fats and sodium, we should be able to let consumers know other ingredients are in their foods, where they come from, and how they are cultivated.  The foods are not banned, just labelled.

 

 

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