Southern California environment news and trends

Rewind Grand Opening & the idea of public space

So Friday night I stopped by Rewind to see how their grand opening was going. Took some pictures: check 'em out below.

The party spread along Alvarado, folding metal chairs lined up, the spice-steam of tacos rising and spreading through the air. Families. Hipsters. Echo Park.

Los Angeles, for the first time in a long time, reminded me of New Orleans - where I kept a folding chair near my front door so I could sit on my stoop and toast the cross-the-street neighbors (nicer houses, with porches) - sipping a cocktail in the evenings. It's my error, not the city's: all kinds of people know how to inhabit the public space in this town. They just don't usually get credit for it.

Public space, of course, is our environment: our urban environment. And maybe that's where I get interested in covering the subject. We make decisions about the space we share every day, consciously and not. Offering home-cooked fresh food to someone who comes to your grand opening off the street says something about how you feel about your neighborhood, your environment. In a city, you can't escape the fact that we're negotiating with nature, and with each other, for our futures.

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Eco-foodie musts: Artisanal LA and HomeGrown Culver City

Next weekend will be a busy one for locavoring foodies and Slow Food advocates — because we’ve got two big local food events happening in the L.A. area: Artisanal LA and Homegrown Culver City.

 artisanalFirst, Artisanal LA. Here’s an event that’ll let you taste all the eco-edibles from local chocolatiers, confectioners, bakeries, restaurants, and breweries. The impressively long list of participating vendors includes both well-known local favorites to small newbie companies operating out of home kitchens.

Go for Compartes Chocolatier’s truffles, crafted using seasonal organic ingredients — or Homegirl Cafe’s Latin-flavored dishes made with fresh, cafe-grown produce — or Eagle Rock Brewery’s locally-made beer. Or be adventurous and try out artisan delights from foodies without storefronts. I’m especially eager to try Marcie’s Pies, made with farm fresh fruit from “beyond organic” Jimenez Family Farm in Santa Ynez valley.

The weekend-long event also has a full schedule of workshops, speakers, and demos. For the leafier nibblers, Chef Jonathan Rollo of my favorite salad spot, Greenleaf Chop Shop, will demo using local and seasonal produce; carnivores can learn about heritage meats and home butchering from Lindy & Grundy. Plus, there will be workshops on everything from herb gardening to hand-sewing egg cozies to pairing biodynamic wines with food.

Plus, eco-foodies will get to enjoy music from DJ Bryan Davidson, pick up free seedlings from Pitchfork’s Mud Baron, and receive free gift bags if they’re one of the first 1000 to arrive — all with the happy knowledge that some of the proceeds of the event will benefit LAUSD Edible School Gardens.

Artisanal LA happens Sat., Oct. 23 and Sun., Oct. 24 in the 11th floor penthouse of The Cooper Building, 860 S. Los Angeles St., downtown Los Angeles. Get your ticket in advance for $10 ($15 at the door)

 artisanalCan’t afford the $10? Then head over to HomeGrown Culver City — a free celebration of “food, sustainable gardening and an ecological lifestyle,” according to the event website. This event’s one that keeps giving — because you’ll be able to learn at HomeGrown Culver City how to grow and make your own food too.

After all, the intent of the event is to get more people gardening. Lots of hands-on workshops, from gardening on raised beds to making jam to composting with worms, will help you dig into the homegrown movement. The event also promises kid-friendly entertainment and local food vendors serving dishes made with local ingredients.

The event’s free, but attendees are encouraged to bring canned or packaged healthy food and new children’s winter clothes to Beyond Shelter, a nonprofit that helps homeless families with children find permanent housing. HomeGrown Culver City happens Sat., Oct. 23 from 9 am to 5 pm in Media Park, 9070 Venice Blvd., Culver City.

Both Artisanal LA and HomeGrown Culver City are first-time events — that hope to become annual events. Which one will you go to?

Like what you read? Tweet and Facebook Pacific Swell.

Images: Artisanal LA and HomeGrown Culver City

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Rewind your stereos...to go back to the future!

For today's story about ewaste, I asked Oscar about some of the stuff he had in the store. This was by far my favorite item: a JVC boom box that converted into a portable cassette player. With individual band EQs! And an option for metal or standard cassettes? When we had this kind of magic, how did the eighties end?

On a certain level, this stereo and the Air Jordan high tops I wore while watching other suburban kids breakdance will always fit me. I have loved so many ridiculous objects that are somewhat electronic. But in a fickle way.

Some of them left my house the way a dog leaves to go to a special farm in the country when it's old: by which I mean, they were mercifully killed...most likely, sent into a landfill. And what was the good? I didn't even save E.T. with my Speak 'n Spell.

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Do beach cleanups matter when the next wave brings more trash? Heal the Bay says yes!

This post is part of Blog Action Day 2010, when bloggers around the world unite and post about a single pressing issue. This year’s topic is water.

If you cleaned Santa Monica beach during Coastal Cleanup Day last month, you got an extra treat for your eco-volunteerism. A green-themed flash mob teamed up with environmental nonprofit Heal the Bay to entertain, dancing to a medley of songs including Jack Johnson’s rendition of “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.”

Coastal Cleanup Day only comes around once a year, but Heal the Bay, the Santa Monica-based environmental nonprofit dedicated to cleaning up Southern California’s coastal waters, has “Nothin’ But Sand” beach cleanups on the third Saturday of each month. And the next one happens to be scheduled for tomorrow morning in Venice!

Why should you volunteer? Saira Gandhi, volunteer coordinator at Heal the Bay, couldn’t promise me another flash mob experience — but she did give some compelling reasons why I should help tidy up the beach. For one, picking up the small bits of plastic on the beach can save the lives of marine animals who would otherwise gobble it up believing the trash to be food — then slowly starve to death when the undigested plastic leaves no room in their tummies for actual food.

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Morning greens: Malibu welcomes campers, McDonald's greens arches

broadbeach morning greens: You are now free to camp in Malibu

Malibu now open to campers. For the first time, public camping will be allowed in Malibu, thanks to a vote from the California Coastal Commission to approve the Malibu Parks Public Access Enhancement Plan (PDF). Up to 280 campers per night will get to enjoy outdoor overnight stays in the coastal city, according to Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority’s press release. [Update: While the plan has been passed, campgrounds obviously still have to be built before camping actually begins. Campgrounds could be ready for visitors as soon as Summer 2011, according to Dash Stolarz of the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.]

About 75 residents protested against Prop 23 at Tesoro’s Wilmington refinery yesterday, according to a press release from Communities United Against the Dirty Energy Proposition. LA Times reports that “Opponents of the ballot initiative to suspend California’s global warming law had contributed $19.6 million, more than twice the amount given by supporters.”

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