Archive for May 2012 | Monthly archive page

Spending a little too much time in an office chair, lounging on the sofa, or vegging out in front of the TV and computer?  It could be bad for your health. Recent studies have shown associations between sitting and developing type 2 diabetes in women, premature mortality, weight gain, increased amounts of fat in the bloodstream and organs, and a greater risk of heart disease and blood clots and remaining on your keister. In a country where 90% of our leisure time is spent in a state of inactivity, and our workplaces encourage little to no movement, exercise has become increasingly important for our well-being.

Take a tip from James Brown, and “get up offa that thing!”  Gretchen Reynolds of the New York Times Phys Ed column suggests in her new book, The First 20 Minutes that you should stand for at least two minutes for every 20 spent chair-bound.  When possible, walk around to increase metabolism and activate the major muscles in your legs.  Regular exercise on your feet, such as jogging or running, for at least half an hour every day can go a long way to reduce the risk of disease, improve brain and muscle function, and aid in shedding the pounds.

Here are a couple of ways to keep your drumsticks in gear;

– Buy a tall desk or music stand for papers and computers.  This will help you to stay upright when taking care of businesses or noodling around on the Net.

– Take a walk on breaks.  Bring a friend, start a lunchtime jogging club, or stroll through the office when possible.  Drink from small cups so you are forced to stand to refill your coffee or water.

–  Cycle or walk to work and when on errands.  Park a little farther away from the store to encourage more movement.

–  Decrease your commute and time spent trapped in the car or bus by adjusting when you hit traffic.  Take your bike out for a spin for extra exercise!

– Relax and blow off stress by taking a dance class or or hitting the gym instead of plopping in front of the tube or playing video games.  Read your favorite novel or converse with friends standing.

– Go low-tech and choose to sweep instead of blow the leaves from the front yard, speak to colleagues face-to-face rather than text messaging, and cook on your feet instead of driving through for take-out or buying prepared meals.

Let your body show you what it was made to do!  Shun that desk chair and sofa and keep moving!

It is true, as the saying goes, that the sun shines on us all equally.  Yet, when it comes to harnessing the sun’s energy as a form of clean power, the cards may be stacked against those who cannot afford to install solar technology.  GRID Alternatives — a non-profit founded in 2001 by two socially and environmentally minded engineers — seeks to bring green energy to low-income neighborhoods, individual households, and otherwise underrepresented members of the community.  Through their core program, the Solar Affordable Housing Program, GRID Alternatives prepares volunteers and job trainees to install solar arrays and provide them with the resources to create sustainable, economically feasible systems.

From their first two pilot installations in 2004, GRID Alternatives has grown to facilitate hundreds of programs a year through their many California offices.  The Single-family Affordable Solar Homes Program (SASH) functions on behalf of the California Public Utilities Commission by offering incentives on photo-voltaic systems for qualifying participants in the PG & E, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric areas.  In addition to SASH, GRID Alternatives operates three programs that provide workforce training in the solar industry, including local development partnerships, subcontractor partnerships, and team leader volunteer opportunities.  Efficiency audits and savings calculations are also available to clients, and low-income residents can receive assistance in applying for free solar assistance programs.

The GRID Alternatives Central Coast office was established in 2010, and covers the Santa Cruz, Monterey, San Benito, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara counties.  Locals can check their page for regularly occurring installation events, fundraisers, sponsorship and volunteer opportunities, and information on who qualifies for their services.

Spread a little sunshine to those who need it most!  Volunteer or donate to GRID Alternatives!

Time for some Spring closet cleaning!  Clear out those old outfits and either swap them for new duds or learn to repair them at the 3rd Annual San Luis Obispo Swap-O-Rama-Rama.  Taking place on Saturday, June 2 from 11-4pm at the CL Smith Elementary School (1375 Balboa St., SLO), the event will host a gigantic clothing exchange, sewing and crafting stations, and live music from the Zongo All-Stars from 2-4pm.  Bring at least one bag of clean, unwanted threads to change out for a brand new ensemble! Tickets are $5 pre-sale, or $10 at the door.

To reserve your tickets, email or call (805) 242-6484.

Looking for clothing with conviction?  Sustainable style with sense?  Apparel with altruism?  Join SLO Green Drinks and HumanKind Fair Trade for the Eco Fashion Show on Thursday, May 31 at the Steynberg Gallery (1531 Monterey St) from 6-9pm.  The event will feature attire from local retailers, including HumaKind Fair Trade, Hemp Shak, Curio, Nekkidd and yours truly, Bambu Batu! Mingle with your fellow fashionistas as you watch the night’s lineup of dance and music performances, take part in the silent auction, and grab a drink or a bite to eat from the cafe.  All proceeds will benefit HumanKind Fair Trade, a non-profit store that provides vital income for artisans and farmers in the developing world.

Tickets are $10 presale (available at Steynberg and HumanKind) or $15 at the door.  See you by the runway!

Nestled into the Santa Lucia Mountains of the Los Padres National Forest sits the Hi Mountain Condor Lookout, a fully restored fire tower, research facility, and tracking station.  Sponsored by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Morro Coast Audubon Society, US Forest ServiceCal Poly San Luis Obispo, and the Ventana Wildlife Society, Hi Mountain is right in the middle of prime habitat for the endangered California condor and the peregrine falcon.  In addition to observing these magnificent birds, the organization offers internships for biology students and public outreach programs throughout the year.

It is no mystery why people flock to Hi Mountain.  Aside from the stunning views atop their 3198 foot perch, the Lookout offers the opportunity to glimpse the majestic California condor, a bird with an impressive 9.8 foot wingspan and weight of nearly 30 pounds.  With jet black feathers contrasted with white patches on the underside of its wings, and reddish-orange bald heads, these scavengers are certainly a noteworthy sight in the skies over Big Sur.  While these birds can live up to 60 years, their mere existence has been in peril over the last century.  Due to poaching, habitat destruction, and lead poisoning, their numbers dwindled to only 22 in 1987.  Facing extinction, the US Government captured the remaining wild individuals in order to create a critical captive breeding program led by the San Diego and Los Angeles Zoos.  As of last year, there were 310 condors known to be living, with 210 of them having been reintroduced to their native ecosystems.

Join the Hi Mountain Lookout crew this Friday, May 18 and Saturday, May 19th, and Sunday, May 20th for a weekend remembering a remarkable man.  The Mike Tyner Memorial Event begins at 5:30 on Friday evening for a potluck and owl observation.  Continuing into Saturday, the gathering will feature opportunities to share memories of Mike, conduct repairs on the station, hiking tours, birding, and potluck. A condor biologist, naturalist, and Hi Mountain intern, Mike will be sorely missed by his friends and family.  To make a tax deductible donation to his Memorial Internship Fund, send contributions by mail to the Morro Coast Audubon Society, PO Box 1507, Morro Bay, CA 93443 or online.

For questions and details, contact Steve Schubert at (805) 628 6138, Francis Villablanca at (805) 748-1014, Marcelle at (806) 927-1017, or Joel Weiss at (805) 801-6236.

Have any condor sightings?  There has been a recent report of one over Diablo Canyon Power Plant, a spectacle that has not been glimpsed for over 40 years!

San Luis Obispo is a county of people who truly care about their surroundings.  Blessed with some of the most stunning scenery on the continent, we as residents of the Central Coast take great pride in our land.  Knowing that all beautiful and valuable things are open to exploitation by forces larger than any individual, concerned citizens, like those involved with SLO Transition Towns, gather together to identify and address the threats facing our natural heritage.

With the topics of peak oil, climate change, and economic instability at the forefront of their agenda, SLO Transition Towns  will present an evening of information, discussion, and a call for action this Wednesday, May 16 at the Ludwick Center (864 Santa Rosa St.) beginning at 6:59pm.  The event will address issues of corporate personhood, fracking, water rights, and overall environmental protection.

Keynote speaker Shannon Biggs will discuss her current work which focuses on helping communities confronted by corporate power to assert their rights and enact binding law that places the well-being of people and landscapes above profit.  Her methods of organizing stem from an understanding of the origins of corporate power as developed by the Community Environmental Defense Fund (CELDF).   Biggs is the director of the Community Rights program at Global Exchange and is the copauthor of Building the Green Economy; Success Stories from the Grass Roots and The Rights of Nature: The Case for a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth.  Joining her will be Kylie Nealis, the Community Rights Program Associate from Global Exchange.

For more information, contact June Cochran at (805) 773-2847.


Calling all amateur scientists and nature buffs!  The United States National Phenology Network (USANPN) needs to you to help record and catalog natural events across the country.  The USANPN hopes to gather as much data on plants and animals as possible in order to study and monitor the effects of climate change on the ecosystem.  By bringing together academic researchers, schools, non-profit organizations, and individual citizens, the Network has created an ever-expanding database of information that can be used to aid in conservation, environmental policy, and land management.  The effort combines modern Internet technology with good, old-fashioned methods of analysis.   As of 2012, participants have contributed over 1 million observations of North American flora and fauna.

There are several ways to get involved in the USANPN.  Through their popular Nature’s Notebook program, would-be naturalists can search their list of species that are under investigation, learn some basic observation skills, register as a participant, and begin to log their recordings online.  After submitting, contributors can explore the site to see where their numbers fit into the whole picture, see who is leading the pack on number of observations entered, and access maps and visual representations of the project.  Bird-lovers can get involved with the Bird Phenology Program which is undertaking the enormous effort of digitizing a collection of over 6 million Migration Observer Cards.  These handwritten notes are valuable pieces of history that shed light on behavior patterns and distribution of a host of avian species across the continent.  Once in the computer, the cards will be cross-referenced with climate data and evaluated.  Collaborating organizations can partner with the USANPN or join already existing efforts and ongoing studies. Long-time backyard biologists can even contribute old statistics to become a part of the data set.

The USANPN is an excellent resource  for professional researchers and inquiring minds who have access to a plethora of information that is available for download.  Their search engine scours a number of record collections from around the globe, literature on climate and biocomplexity, and publications by their staff and affiliated journals.  In an era of shrinking budgets for research and a time where smart energy policy has never been more crucial, the USANPN is utilizing the power of those affected by the problems of climate change to become a part of the solution.  So, grab some binoculars, a pencil, and a piece of paper!  It’s time to get phenomenal!

With the threat of climate change looming like an unseasonable storm cloud overhead, and a Congress that can barely agree on the time of day let alone a meaningful energy policy, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed and discouraged.  Yet, instead of letting the frustration of politics get in the way of responsible stewardship, communities across the nation are banding together to take steps towards a greener future.  Installing solar panels can be an excellent way to reduce the costs of household electric bills and shift consumption practices away from dirty, non-renewable sources of power.  Individually, going solar can be expensive and inconvenient.  Banded together, co-ops bring down the cost of setting up an array, share their expertise with the entire neighborhood, and develop a model that can be followed by local and national governments.

Want a little help getting your street off the grid?  Allow Mt. Pleasant Solar Cooperative of Washington, D.C. to guide you towards the light!  An association of over 70 households, the Cooperative was founded in 2006 by neighbors concerned about energy independence and global warming.  Advocating conservation and collective action, they provide their members with sponsored energy audits, compact fluorescent bulbs, aggregate neighborhood data on electricity usage, seminars, and the buying power that comes with greater numbers.

With our sunny Mediterranean climate, San Luis Obispo County is perfect for solar technology. The Central Coast is home to several local solar companies, including REC Solar and Pacific Energy Company.  As if making a dent in the climate crisis was not enough of a reason to switch to renewables, online calculators allowing you to determine the money you would save make for a compelling argument.  The state even provides incentives and rebates for homeowners and businesses to take the first steps towards set-up.

Need a little help getting people together?  Browse the Center for a New American Dream’s website for advice on how to start a movement in your neck of the woods!

Time to inflate your tires, polish your helmet, and squeeze into that old riding spandex!  May is Bike Month in San Luis Obispo, and whether your are a seasoned pro or a beginning biker, there are plenty of fun activities planned for you and your trusty set of wheels. Here are some highlights of the over 60 free events scheduled county-wide during the upcoming weeks:

Commuter Bike Competition- How many friends and coworkers can you motivate to cycle for their commute?  Compete with other local businesses in the same size bracket to see how many miles you can ride to and from the workplace!  Register your company today by visiting the San Luis Obispo Regional Rideshare website.

Kidical Mass- Take the children out on a spin around town with the just-for-kids version of the Thursday, May 3 Bike Happening at 5:30pm.  Costumes are encouraged for this year’s theme of “Rainbows”.  Meet at Mitchell Park and follow the leaders through downtown San Luis Obispo!

Bike to Bites- On Wednesday May 9, head over to Atascadero’s Galaxy Theater for pizza, root beer and a movie!  The ride starts at the Community Center for a quick safety lecture at 3:30pm.

Bike-In Movie-  Leave the car at home for the San Luis Obispo Bike-In Movie on Thursday, May 11 at the Mission Plaza.  A showing of Napoleon Dynamite begins at 7:30 pm under the stars.  Bring snacks, blankets, and a friend!

Bikefest- Arroyo Grande will be holding the Iras Memorial Bikefest on Saturday, May 12 starting with a Bike Parade at the Rotary Bandstand on Nelson St. at 12:30pm.  From there, the party pedals to Branch Street Deli with food, beer from New Belgium Brewing Company, and music from blues and jazz band, Moonpie.

Montana de Oro Group Ride- Take in the scenery on Saturday, May 12 for the Montana de Oro Group Ride.  Meet at the Ranger Station at 1pm to wheel up Hazard Peak Trail.

Tweed Ride- Don’t be surprised to see many a dapper lady and gentleman on Sunday, May 13.  They will be gussied up to take part in the SLO Tweed Ride, beginning at the Triangle Park near the Railroad Station at 1.  Play croquet, listen to music, and munch on crumpets.  Visit the Tweed Ride’s official site for more details and outfit recommendations.

Women’s Bike Workshops- On Monday, May 14, beginning at 6pm, join your sister cyclers for bike workshops and tutorials.  Sign up through the SLO Bicycle Coalition for a free spot and details on time and location.  Sorry, no boys allowed!

World Bike Relief Poker Run- Play a game of chance through downtown San Luis Obispo for a good cause.  Benefiting World Bicycle Relief, a non-profit that provides bicycles to third world nations, participants take off from Central Coast Brewing on Saturday, May 19th at 10am to begin their walk or ride in search of playing cards at local businesses.  Donations are $5 a hand, and there will be prizes, food, and beer on tap.  Stick around for a raffle after the Run!

Cote de Tolosa Velo Challenge III- Tolosa Winery and the SLO Bicycle Coalition host a beautiful 52-mile ride on Sunday, May 20.  The event is free, and leaves the Winery in Edna Valley promptly at 7am.  Lunch is provided for those taking part in the event.  With over 5,000 feet of climbing, this journey is for serious cyclers only.  Register at Tolosa’s events page.

Bike Workshops- Become bike savvy through a day of workshops held at the SLO Bicycle Coalitions Headquarters in downtown San Luis Obispo on Monday, May 21.  The first of a series of lessons begin at 6pm and will go over basic rules of the road, dispel common myths, and provide tips on ow to ease your commute around town.  Stick around for their 7pm session where you will learn basic bike maintenance and repair skills.  Reserve a spot through the SLO Bicycle Coalition website.

Dad’s Big Wheel Race- Bring the best plastic toy ride you can find, haul it to the top of the Jennifer Street Bridge in San Luis Obispo, and race with your fellow costumed crazies.  Padding comes highly recommended for this lighthearted competition on Saturday, May 26 at 3:30 pm.  Dad will award prizes for Hottest Hot Wheel and Coolest Costume.  Move to Gus’s for social hour and bruise-nursing afterward.

Pedal to Paella- Gather at Santa Margarita Park on Sunday, May 27 at 2pm for the fourth annual Pedal to Paella.  Tour the alleyways to wind up at the Educated Gardener Nursery for paella, friends, and music.  Bring your own drinks, dishes, and flatware.  Ingredient donations appreciated.

Bicycle Advocacy Mini-Summit- Learn to make communities more bike friendly through advocacy and awareness on Wednesday, May 30 at 6pm.  Held in the SLO Library Community Room, you can reserve a seat at the discussion through the SLO County Bicycle Coalition.

Bike Month Blowout- Party with your fellow road warriors at the Creeky Tiki in San Luis Obispo on Thursday, June 7 at 6:30pm.  Commuter Bike Competition will be presented, brand new bicycles raffled off, and plenty of food, music, and drinks to fuel your ride for the months ahead!








Your mom is strong, versatile, flexible, and multi-talented.  She clothed, fed, and supported you right from your very first days.  Give her a gift that is as nurturing and multifaceted as herself.  Surprise her with something bamboo this Mother’s Day!

Soft- Mom has always shown a great amount of compassion and sensitivity.  Clothe her in silky bamboo with a stylish shawl, luxurious pajama set, or elegant dress.

Strong- Like the sturdy bamboo plant, mom has demonstrated toughness and perseverance.  Remember your teenage years?  Present her with one of our attractive and durable bamboo serving bowls or cutting boards.

Nourishing-  Let her pamper her body and replenish her spirit with our selection of body products and candles!  We feature pure beeswax candles from Big Dipper Wax Works as well as  organic, natural skin body butters by Nourish.

Wise- With an inspirational scroll or stone bearing an insightful quote, you will demonstrate to mom that you have taken her words of wisdom to heart!  A truly thoughtful gift! Choose a saying from the Dalai Lama, Gandhi, Buddha, Albert Einstein, Rumi, and many, many more!

Flexible- Mom has had to bend over backwards for you.  Let her know you appreciate her flexibility with a soft, stretchy pair of bamboo yoga pants.

Whether it is breakfast in a bed outfitted with our bamboo sheets, or a childhood photo of you in a bamboo picture frame, you are sure to find a meaningful and memorable Mother’s Day gift here at Bambu Batu!