Archive for June 2012 | Monthly archive page

Where do you go when you have a harmed hummingbird?  A banged-up bunny?  An orphaned owl?  On the Central Coast, you can take your injured animals to Pacific Wildlife Care, the largest animal rehabilitation center in San Luis Obispo County.  PWC is committed to caring for and reintroducing damaged and orphaned wildlife back into their respective habitats.  In addition to medical treatment, the non-profit organization also provides educational material and outreach programs to the community.

Founded in 2007 and licensed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the PWC is one of 12 primary facilities for the Oiled Wildlife Care Network.  A 24-hour, 365 day telephone line is available for information and public appeals to aid injured animals.  Their dedicated group of volunteers staff the Center around the clock, making sure that all new patients are properly transported, accepted, treated, and eventually released. Their doors are open from 8am-6pm for walk-in evaluations  at their offices in Morro Bay.

Located right off of Highway 101, the PWC houses a state of the art facility to examine, house, and nourish a number of wild species.  They take in nearly 1,500 animals each year, carefully cataloging and charting their progress from their first moments inside the PWC to their departure back into the wild.  Hotline operators and the FAQ section of their website advises rescuers on how to stabilize their charges and usher them to the professionals. Their participation in community events further instructs humans on how to care for their fellow species through live animal presentations and talks.

To help care for wildlife in distress, call the PWC hotline at 1-800-WILD (9453).  Volunteers have many opportunities to aid in rescue!  Visit their site to sign up for training manning the emergency response line, transporting injured animals, education outreach, fundraising, maintenance and repair work, feeding, and cleaning.  Donations to the PWC, sponsorships, and membership purchases can be made through their online giving center.

Have you heard?  Bamboo can be used to make inexpensive, electricity-free speakers for your iPhone.  The iBamboo, currently being funded by Kickstarter, is fashioned from a foot of bamboo, taking advantage of the grass’ natural resonance to amplify and project the sound from your mobile device.  The top of the tube is cut to made a fitted dock that snugly holds the phone in place.  Sound waves travel outward in both directions, creating a stereo effect with an “airy” effect perfect for jazz and classical music.

As a material, bamboo is a surprisingly good choice for this tiny stereo system.  Just as strong as most plastics and metal, the tube is made from sustainable plant material, laser-cut for fast and easy production, lightweight, and biodegradable.  As beautiful as it is practical, no two iBamboos are alike.  Perfect for the zen and natural aesthetic tastes, the hand-finished speaker set costs about $25-30 and are currently compatible with the iPhone 4.

Or save a few bucks and make one yourself! A handsaw, a drill and some sand paper is about all you need. Check with us if you need a piece of bamboo. We always have an assortment of bamboo poles in a variety of diameters.





Walking along the beaches of the Central Coast, it is common to marvel at the breathtaking scenery, be delighted by the crash of the waves and smell of the salt air, and also be utterly confused as to what the heck you are looking at washed up on the sand.  Even as an avid naturalist and beachcomber, there have been a number of times when I have been puzzled as to what I have seen lying helpless and stranded just above the water line.  More often than not these mystery creatures are organisms that are unfamiliar, but there have also been instances where trash and other man made debris littered the shore.  How do you know what you are staring at, and whether it is normal or a result of climate change, natural disaster, or human disturbance?

Jellywatch-  With shifts in climate and human influences changing to composition of our oceans, there have been substantial changes in jellyfish populations.  Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Jellywatch Android App can help you identify, track, and report what your ocean-side observations.  The application congregates data on squid, jellyfish, red tide, and animal sightings along with photographs.  All information is added to Google maps and displays graphic information on the heath of the sea.

Marine Debris Tracker- When you see trash on the beach, it may be difficult to know from whence it came.  Ocean currents sweep debris far away from their points of origin and deposit them sometimes thousands of miles from their homes on land.  University of Georgia researchers and UGA computer systems have joined forces to keep tabs on our massive amounts of floating refuse.  Using the built-in GPS technology of smartphones, the Marine Debris Tracker app for Android and iPhones allows users to log information and add it to an ever growing database run by the Southeast Atlantic Marine Debris Initiative and the NOAA Marine Debris Division.

Project Noah- Launched out of NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, Project Noah aims to educate and reconnect people with nature through technology using mobile applications.  Android and iPhone users can become citizen scientists by snapping photos of wildlife, identifying what they encounter, and providing critical information to scientists across the globe.  Gorgeous, detailed maps display the participant community’s sightings, provide field stats and background info on the animal, join local missions and conservation efforts, and talk with other nature enthusiasts.

Let your smartphone be a power for good!  Download these free, educational apps today!

Some retired basketball stars promote athletic shoes and sports drinks. Others, like former pro player Will Allen, become advocates for urban farming.  As the founder and CEO of Growing Power, Inc., Allen believes that all communities, regardless of social status or tax bracket, deserve access to nutritious and affordable food.  As the son of a sharecropper and ex-corporate sales leader, he has ample experience in both the agricultural and business sectors.  In 2008, he was awarded a “genius grant” by the John D. and Katherine T. McArthur Foundation for his efforts in furthering city farming.  He is also a member of the Clinton Global Initiative, one of Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People”, and part of the First Lady’s “Let’s Move” campaign for childhood fitness.

Beginning with a plot in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Growing Power has now expanded to a handful of cities across the country, including urban centers in Mississippi, Massachusetts, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Georgia.  By establishing Community Food Centers, the organization hopes to engage citizens in food production.  Growing Power demonstrates growing methods through on-site workshops and satellite training programs.  They also run outreach programs and educational seminars to bring together farmers and members of the community.  Many of their youth programs and talks are operated by a base of dedicated volunteers who reside in the places where they teach.  In addition to instruction, Growing Power distributes fresh meats and produce through cooperatives and food security programs.

Growing Power is a treasure trove of information, and is a resource for everything from vermicomposting to aquaponics.  Their Milwaukee operation is host to national conferences throughout the year and is a hub for those seeking to inform and empower themselves through agriculture. The Wisconsin headquarters is powered by an array of solar cells, and currently pursuing generating power from the anaerobic digestion of microorganisms.  They are even beginning experiments with vertical farming in order to produce the maximum amount of food in areas with limited space.

Get inspired with Growing Power!  Create a backyard garden, or volunteer your time and expertise at a local cooperative.  San Luis Obispo residents may want to explore the Central Coast Grown’s site for information on local CSA’s, talks, and farming classes in our part of the state.  Go on and get your hands in the soil and feed your body, spirit, and community!


Finding a job with health care or affordable coverage can be very difficult these days.  Regardless of your opinion as to whether care should be subsidized or mandatory, nearly everyone can agree that when a fellow human is suffering, they should be able to receive treatment.  As social animals, we humans look out for one another as a means of survival for the benefit of society as a whole.  Practically speaking, curing an illness helps to curb the spread of infectious disease, keeps taxes and premiums down by managing problems before they get out of hand, and keeps people at work and fueling the economy instead of sick out of commission.  Morally, society ensures the well being of all of its members, alleviates pain, and exercises the virtues of kindness and compassion.

San Luis Obispo is fortunate to have the Noor Foundation, a non-profit clinic that provides free health care to the uninsured.  Supported entirely by donations and run by volunteer nurses, pharmacists and physicians, the Foundation offers quality medical assistance, education outreach, and advocacy services.  Established in 2009 by Dr. Ahmad Nooristani, the organization was formed to tackle the problems of the community’s underserved populations by making non-emergent, acute care free and accessible.  They also offer discount proscription coverage, public material for social workers and caregivers, and opportunities for students to learn about addressing health care disparities through the cooperation and of professionals and members of the community.

The Noor Foundation is open on Fridays and Saturdays from 1-5pm.  The clinic is located at 1428 Phillips Ln in San Luis Obispo. To make a donation, visit their website.  Appointments are available online and by telephone at (805) 439-1797.


Moving house is never easy.  Sure, lugging boxes back and forth can be a pain, but the real agony comes from all of the work that needs to be done before the truck is loaded.  Decisions need to be made over what should be kept, thrown away, recycled, sold, or donated.  Where can your stuff go in order to do some social good, remain out of the landfill, and maybe even earn you a buck or two?  Here are a couple of places in SLO county that can help you when it comes time to clean out the closet or hop lily pads.

Donation:  When it comes time to make a charitable donation, there are always the good old national standbys, Goodwill and the Salvation Army.  If you are looking for a more local non-profit, drop off your goods at Old Mission School Thrift, the Women’s Shelter Program of San Luis Obispo County, and Alpha Pregnancy and Parenting Support.  Any food that you do not want to carry with you to the new kitchen can be gifted to the SLO Food Bank or the Aids Support Network’s Food Pantry.

Consignment:  San Luis Obispo is lucky to have many fine consignment stores that will be happy to find homes for your old apparel, antiques, and housewares.  Old World Antiques, Antiques on Monterey, and the Antique Center Mall are all conveniently located downtown and are available to showcase your vintage treasures.  Boutique stores like Revolve, and California Blonde are all great shops that either offer cash up front or an IOU when your piece sells.   If you have some designer duds, you might want to drop by Finders Keepers, a consignment shop that features high end merchandise.

Recycle: Find a safe place for your appliances, electronics, and hardware by e-cycling or donating to organizations that will rehab outdated or broken items.  Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore accepts a variety of electrical and building materials.  Many companies will now take back their old goods, but if you would rather not have to spend the time and money tracking and shipping bits and pieces, you can visit companies such as All Green Electronics Recycling who accept contributions without charge.  The Cleaner Earth Company and RES Recycling/Achievement House, will also dispose of and recycle used equipment.

Sell:  If a yard sale and Craiglisting are not for you, head over to the Sunset Swap Meet, held every Sunday from 5-10am.  Selling will cost you around $20 for the space, so you may want to bring only what you are sure you can offload.  Used bookstores like Phoenix will pay you for your gently used reads or allow you to open a line of credit.  Depending on condition, retailers such as the Mac Superstore will give you a few dollars for old computers, hardware, and accessories.

Looking for moving boxes? Give us a call. Bambu Batu always has a sizable collection of cardboard boxes on hand, just waiting to be reused!

A couple of weekends ago, I let my inner nerd out into public.  The Central Coast Cactus and Succulent Society was having its annual show and sale, and I could not pass up the opportunity to gawk at the glories of nature, and take home a few starters for the garden at home.  Thankfully, I was not the only cactus cuddler at the event.  A good-sized crowd meandered carefully among the display tables showcasing the winners with their bright ribbons proudly displaying their genus name and ranking.  Observers snapped pictures with gigantic DSLR cameras, enthusiasts chatted with one another over cultivation techniques, and I did my best not to touch the beauties resting like fine modern sculptures in their pots.

After spending a good chunk of change on some new little gems, I made sure to get some information on the Society before rushing off to get my beauties in the ground.  The CCCSS meets the second Sunday of every month at 2pm at the San Luis Obispo City Library (995 Palm St.).  Each gathering features monthly raffles and exchanges, opportunities to meet other “cactophiles”, and chances to ask experts prickly questions and borrow free educational materials.  New members even receive a free plant for joining!  Yearly fees range from $5-30, and allows for full participation in all activities and meetings.

Discover the joys of drought tolerant vegetation and mingle with fellow enthusiasts!

Brought to you by the Cal Poly Center for Sustainability, the 7th Annual A Taste of the Future Fundraiser will be a celebration of Central Coast food and farming.  Held at Hearst Ranch on June 23rd at 6pm, the dinner will feature the creations of leading Central Coast chefs and feature a talk by Woody Tasch, the founder and chairman of the organization, Slow Money.  The tax deductible tickets are $125 per person, and will go to benefit Cal Poly’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Science Center for Sustainability.

The night promises to be an event that will nourish both your body and mind.  Speaker Woody Tasch is the author of Inquiries into the Nature of Slow Money; Investing as if Food, Farms and Fertility Mattered. He is also the man behind the Slow Money Alliance, a group that focuses on food security, safety, and access through economic principles.  The Alliance strives to promote ecological, cultural, and monetary diversity by turning away from traditional extractive and exploitative consumption practices.   Believing that revenue streams can flow too quickly and that companies can become too large, adherents of the Slow Money philosophy hope to bring money “back down to earth”.

Tasch himself is a pioneer of asset and philanthropic integration, beginning in the 1990’s as the treasurer of the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation and later the founding chairman of the Community Development Venture Capital Alliance.  For a decade, Tasch was a chairman of Investor’s Circle, a network of funders that contributed to ventures promoting sustainability.

Support your county’s commitment to local cuisine, business, and education!  Contribute to the Center for Sustainability today!


Everything breaks.  It is a law of the Universe.  At some point in its life span, an object will begin to wear, degrade, and eventually come undone.  However, some of our tools, pieces of clothing, appliances, and furniture last longer than others.  For the past 80 or so years, planned obsolescence — the intentional design and manufacturing practice meant to ensure the failure of a product — has been a major contributing factor to landfill crowding, waste, and woefully poor construction.  As seen in Annie Leonard’s animation, The Story of Stuff, precious natural resources and good, hard-earned cash are being squandered in the pursuit of acquiring junk and replacing it with new, poorly-made models.

The clear answer to ensuring the longevity of your stuff is simple: fix it.  Yet, where do you go nowadays to make simple repairs that will not break the bank?  Head on down to your local repair cafe, a concept that is beginning to draw proponents of conservation, tinkerers, caffeine hounds, and community advocates.  Beginning in the Netherlands two and a half years ago by a former journalist, the world’s first Repair Cafe occurs in an Amsterdam community center every couple of months.  The gatherings are open to whoever needs assistance or to those willing to help others tune up their miscellaneous odds and ends.  Branching out from its initial humble incarnation in the foyer of a theater, the Cafe is now supported by an official foundation, small donations, and grants from the Dutch government.  There now exist over forty similar start-ups throughout the country, and even a Repair Cafe bus.  The Foundation is working on translating DIY material and tutorials for use in the  United States.

A little closer to home, repair collectives are sprouting up in community centers, coffee shops, and auditoriums.  The West Seattle Fixers Collective holds meetings twice a month at the West Seattle Tool Library, featuring events such as re-sewing umbrellas, repairing espresso makers, laptops, appliances, and mending antiques.  In New York, the Fixers Collective, which has been running since 2008, began as part of an art exhibit in Brooklyn, and continues as a project in residence at Protues Gowanus, and interdisciplinary gallery and reading room.  Fixing sessions include “Master Fixers” who have a range of knowledge and experience, apprentices, and drop-in visitors looking to putter and socialize.

Here in San Luis Obispo, you can cruise on over to the SLO Bicycle Coalition’s Bike Kitchen (860 Pacific St., Suite 105).  The space comes equipped with tools, gear, parts, and experts who can help guide you in your mission to tune up your ride.  The Coalition offers seminars on traffic safety and bicycle maintenance with hands-on demonstrations.  The Kitchen is open Wednesday and Thursday from 4-7pm, and Sunday from 12-4pm.  Day use is $5 (plus any parts purchased), and Coalition members receive 4 free visits.

Give your possessions a little TLC instead of the old heave-ho.  Ask a friend, attend a repair cafe meeting, or search for a video on YouTube.  Your wallet and Mother Nature will thank you!


Sing a shanty, wax down your surfboard, and take a poke around your local tide pools.  June 8th is World Oceans Day!  This year’s theme, “Youth: the Next Wave for Change”, focuses on the next generation’s role in the stewardship of our seas.  Officially recognized as an international holiday by the United Nations General Assembly in 2008, the day symbolizes a worldwide commitment to raising awareness for global food security, health, and economy.  The proposal for World Oceans Day followed the landmark 1992 Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil that set forth a number of important resolutions pertaining to biodiversity, pollution, climate change, and development.

The Central Coast is host to a number of events celebrating the briny deep!

-Monterey Bay Aquarium- Join one of the world’s foremost aquariums in celebration from June 9-10.  Free with admission, activities throughout the weekend include live music performances, kid’s programs, family crafts, sustainable cooking demonstrations, and information booths run by a number of conservation organizations from 9:30am-6pm.  Explore their amazing exhibits, talk to their knowledgeable staff, and learn about the inhabitants of one of the most fascinating ecosystems on earth!

-Channel Islands Live- See what goes on under the waves with a live virtual dive into the kelp forests off the Channel Islands!  Brought to you by the National Park Service, the interactive programs will broadcast from June 9-10.  On Wed-Fri, shows occur at 12:30pm, 2pm, and 3:30pm, and Saturday at 10am, 12:30pm, and 2pm.  Watch the adventure online or at the Channel Islands National Park visitor center in Ventura.

-Save Our Shores- On June 7, take a trip to Monterey Bay for Save Our Shore’s  kickoff party for the Summer of Clean Beaches.  Held at Light & Motion (300 Cannery Row), you will enjoy drinks and appetizers while learning how to get involved in caring for our coastline.

Ty Warner Sea Center- Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara and the Ty Warner Sea Center will celebrateWorld Oceans Day celebration June 9th.  Meet the experts that research and protect our oceans, observe life animal feedings, and make a “wish for a fish” with their Dr. Seuss-themed activities.  Festival programs are free with general admission and take place from 11am-3pm.

Hokuloa- Cheer on your local San Luis outrigger canoe team on June 9 at 8am-3pm at Harbor Cove Beach in Ventura.  See races that range from 5-15 miles in length along with hundreds of Southern California paddlers and spectators.  Displays, vendors, food stands, Hawaiian dancers and members of the Hokuloa club will all be present to celebrate World Oceans Day polynesian style!

Party for our planet and learn how you can make a difference in the health of our oceans.  Happy World Oceans Day!