Sunday, December 14, 2008

Eco Gift Festival 2008

In search of inspiration, we headed south to catch the last day of the 2008 Eco Gift Festival held at the Santa Monica convention center. I haven't been to a tradeshow style event in a very long time.

I approached the festival like one approaches the louvre--knowing it will be nearly impossible to take it all in--but willing to try. My endurance approach soon melted away, as I found myself testing natural lotions from Winona, Minnesota's J.R. Watkins Natural Apothecary, talking to the dynamic co-owner of CHIVAS Goat Milk Skin Care, and marveling over the beauty of her bars of soap made from goats milk that her own mother milks on their farm, and exploring the plethora of organic clothing for children.

I had a lot of favorite kid's booths. The first that struck my fancy was Bamboo Hugs.
They offer organic bamboo towels that double as blankets for wrapping up a post-bath baby or toddler. The bamboo is ultra soft and thick, and the Panda bear hoody on this towel is totally adorable. The co-owner, a former sound engineer if my memory serves me right, is a hip woman who's genuine excitement about her product makes you think of who on your list or in your family might need to go bamboo.

If you are still of the mind set that organic clothes for kids are all about muted colors and funky hemlines, think again. Green Edge Kids offered a broad array of high fashion and practical clothing for kids ages 2 to 12 in a pleasant range of colors in every type of organic fabric you could imagine, save sustainable silk, and Happy Green Bee took color to a new level with a whole line of brightly striped clothing in organic cotton. It was a happy booth.

I've had a hard time finding pjs for my soon-to-be-2 year-old (!) boy, and today I found my new source! Garden Kids. Simple, high quality cotton in solid combos.

Ezra came with us and did extraordinarily well due to two factors; His awesome papa, who kept him company while I explored, and a children's section in the festival where solar girl sang songs and an ugg-clad, felt-hat-topped storyteller kept him entertained. Strategically located in that corner (this vendor must have had some pull with the coordinator) was Eco-Kids, They had two crafts tables set up in front of their booth with gluten-free eco dough at one table and eco-fingerpaint at the other. Ezra was in heaven. Guess who's getting some eco-fingerpaint for Christmas?

After shopping and observing and learning, we ate a vegan chinese lunch (didn't catch the name of the restaurant) in the all vegetarian food court and then headed to the beach walk.

This was the most relaxing commerce experience I've had in years, surrounded by healthy people choosing to live sustainably. No stampedes over a poor Walmart employee, no altercations in the parking lot. Love, joy and save the planet.

Peace out!


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Barack Obama Our NEW President!

I have a terrible cold and I was already losing my voice, but now, now I am shouting inside. I am so incredibly happy! Barack. You embody so much hope for so many people. I saw the worry on your smooth face during your acceptance speech which said, I am so happy to have the opportunity to clean up this major mess and re-instill confidence within our nation and within the world, but WOW what an uphill struggle! Or maybe that was just my take.

I'm so excited. Thank you thank you all you Americans who voted for Barack!

My American Prayer

Today, a woman I met once at a business seminar forwarded me a prayer begging God, in all his power to make John McCain President, so that "gay marriage" could never happen. Not only did I find her plea appalling, but downright inappropriate to send to your extended list of professionals.

On that note, My Prayer goes something like this: May we remember the positive role models, Jesus, Buddha, Gandi, Martin Luther King Junior, Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela and all the others who have preached tolerance of differences. May Barack Obama be a figure who's accomplishments as President of the United States (I'm Praying!) make him fine company to the names listed here. And may California' Prop 8 fail!

Now, for an uplifting American Prayer put on by the entertainment industry members in support of Obama and forwarded to me on this election day by Delilah:

Hope that embedding worked . . . .

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Multiple blogs?

So, if I wanted to have two identities in the blogosphere, and use my same email and blogspot account, how do I keep them separate? It seems if I update about me in one, it adds it to the other. So does this mean the anonymity of one blog is obliterated if you'd like to have one full access blog?

Would love yer feedback, fellow bloggers!

Noelle Aguayo (perhaps!)

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Villa LeDuk and Kaliandra

We spent our first week in Indonesia as the guests of Sietse and Li Tho (brother and now sister-n-law) at Li Tho's uncle's estate. Unlike all of the other estates I've frequented (ahem), Villa Leduk and the surrounding bungalows and lodges that comprise Kaliandra, deliver finery and culture Indonesian style.

At the main villa, this translates to two hosts who are highly accomplished and successful in business, culture and etiquette, yet who treat you with kindness and listen attentively to your conversations without outward scrutiny, a highly trained chef who prepares fresh, local and mainly organic meals and snacks approximately five times a day, and a dozen house servants dressed in white button down tops and colorful pants who walk barefoot across the marble floors to deliver your beverages or serve you multiple courses in one of the many dining areas or grand outdoor terraces. This is coupled with a sense of relaxation derived from the temperate climate, the casual elegance of the owners, and the genuine friendliness and openness of the Indonesian people, who, most importantly for us, absolutely love children. We stayed in the forest bungalows, or the Hastinapura complex, a 10 minutes walk uphill and into the forest.

As you climb lava stone steps and cross hand woven foot bridges surrounded by lush vegetation, you hear birds and other forest creatures. Ezra's 19 month old status, enabled us to have a bungalow to ourselves!

Afternoon tea with sweet rice or banana desserts on banana leaves were brought to us every afternoon in our bungalow, and a young man would come to our bungalow every morning to inform us breakfast was ready on the upper pavilion restaurant. I haven't even begun to explain the decadence.

The life of luxury we maintained for a week as guests of Sietse and Li Tho at Villa Leduk (see 8/23/08 post for more photos) might have led us to feel inconsiderate and self serving in light of the extreme poverty just an hour's drive from this isolated paradise. But, we were able to avoid most of these feelings due to two things: The philanthropic endeavors of our hosts, Atmadja and Bagoes, and their prized non-profit, Kaliandra.

Kaliandra deserves an entry all its own, so I will just say that it marries two ideas that should co-exist in every society--environmental education and stewardship paired with cultural education and preservation. In other words, At and Bagoes ROCK! They give back to the community through this non-profit, provide many learning opportunities to local villagers, and a whole lot more. To learn about Kaliandra, visit the following link.

good night!

A shot of construction in Hong Kong

Although Hong Kong only represented a few days of our trip, I have to share this one picture. I'll have to check my memory against that of Arie Jan's, but I believe I took this from a foot bridge, rather than from the window of the high speed tram. This picture of major construction in the midst of high rises somehow encapsulates a part of my expectations of Hong Kong as a rapidly expanding economy. We were afloat in people, yet it was not as crowded as I had imagined.

More on Indonesia to follow

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Forgoing the Wheat, Dairy and Sugar

A few months ago, I went to Soho to see a local act, and while listening to Mike Dawson, the warm up act sing about an x-girlfriend who was a Milpas Street hooker, I chatted with my friend and local rocker Antara. A friend of Antara's came to the table who looked vaguely familiar. She was slight, fit, with a fabulous hair cut and well dressed. Well, ends up I DID know her--she had just changed everything about her outer look, which translated into a more confident, striking woman.

The last time I saw her, she was a pudgy, round cheeked chef, with pale skin and a air of weariness about her. Now she was thin, energetic even. Without wanting to sound inconsiderate, I tried to find out what had happened. She went on a diet. A diet, I asked? Which one?

After being diagnosed with candida (I believe), she read up on it, and found a book called "The Yeast Syndrome." The book explains how yeast can wreak absolute havoc on our bodies--on both men and women, and can be associated with skin problems, weight problems, low energy levels, etc. She put herself on the diet and several months later emerged as a leaner, and subsequently happier version of herself. My big question though, is, can you trust a thin chef? Yes!

Thank you oh chef for sharing your story with me! You look fabulous.

For the last two weeks, I've been trying the no wheat, no dairy and no sugar diet, and it is very very challenging. You can't eat fruit! And sugar is in everything it seems. Bread is a staple in so many meals, and dairy is the other half. So what do I eat?

Lots of vegetables, soy products, tempeh, rice, polenta, corn, beans and lots of veggie juice and water. Meat is fine in the diet, as is plain yogurt. But I'm not much of a meat eater. Besides an occasional slip of my spoon into Ezra's applesauce, so far so good!

Results? Almost down to my high school weight (a good thing) and more energetic and focused.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Two Diseases I wouldn't mind eliminating

Okay. I'm sure you're saying--wouldn't you want to eliminate ALL diseases? And I'd have to just sit and think about the current world population and what it would be like without any disease--if we could all live our lives as long as humanly possible, save natural disaster, accident or death by the hands of a human. So, I just think about that and I'm glad I'm not God or the universe or your omnipotent force of choice to make such decisions.

But, back to the two diseases I'd love to see eliminated as of this moment--Diabetes and Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. According to an artiles by Karen Kaplan in today's edition of the LA times, researches have genetically transformed cells, that previously functioned to create gut enzymes to digest food, to create insulin. Awesome! This was of course an exepriment with rodents, but I love our intelligence (I think it's intelligence) to figure out the inner workings of a cell and solve problems. The same technique could be used to generate motor neurons for ALS patients, and healthy cardiac muscle cells for heart disease, etc. Pretty cool. Let's see where it goes!

Okay, off to the grind.

Noelle Aguayo

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Villas, Shanty Towns and Rice Fields

Ezra, at 19 months, has seen more of the world than I had at 18 years. He has been to Holland, China and the islands of Java and Bali in Indonesia, as well as Santa Barbara, Solvang and Lompoc, California. What a traveler!

The three of us left for Indonesia on August 23rd in the wee hours of the morning. A 14 hour flight brought us to Hong Kong, where we endured a nine hour layover by taking the high-speed rail from the airport to Hong Kong island. We walked through a maze of second story sky bridges around the island, visited Hong Kong park, and found an excellent restaurant off the touristy Times Square on our own. Another 4 and a half hour flight brought us to Surabaya, Java in the evening where we met up with Sietse, Arie Jan's brother and his fiance Li Tho--their wedding being the impetus for our journey to a third world country.

As I type 3rd world country, I have to say the wedding held on a private estate reflected nothing of the poverty and chaos we witnessed in other areas. The wedding was held at a beautiful and exotic Italian Villa called Villa Leduk in Java--a mountainous rural area a few hours from the bustle of Surabaya.

For once I can write palatial and truly know the meaning of the word. Villa Leduk is modeled after Palladio's villas in Vicenzia (sp?) Italy. It has three wings. The main entry leads to a central hall with a large chandelier suspended in its dome. This entry corridor acts as an axis for the main wing, with a grand parlor to the left (as you face the home) with two grand pianos, a fireplace and three clusters of sitting areas in which to gather for tea, listen to performances, etc. Tapestries and artwork, some original and some replicas, spanning many centuries surround you.It is regal in every sense, and yet the gracious hosts and owners, Atmadja Tjip To Biantoro and Bagoes, exude casual elegance, that enables you to relax and sink into the beautiful chairs and couches with acceptance.

The right wing is an elegant dining room which can easily seat 80. Here is a picture of just the main wing from the back of the villa gardens.

Ezra is awake. To be continued . . .

Barack Obama Speaks my Language

I'm up early and the toddler and man are still asleep so I walked down the driveway, retrieved the LA times (what's left of it with all the layoffs!) and read that Barack selected Joe Biden as his running mate. I didn't do a "yippee" or a "darn" as I don't know enough about the man, but I was excited to read it first.

When I say "read it first", you are probably feeling sorry for me, as the whole world probably knows by now. What I mean is that no one else TOLD me. I know this is old news to most, but I am in this sphere where we don't have TV, I don't check my emails at work (I did sign up to be the "first to know" on Barack's mailing list), and I only go online to read the news when I get home--and last night we had double social events, which means I went straight to bed when we finally arrived home.So this morning, I was the one who "discovered" the news. But then the news started spinning.

As I concluded the front page article, I flipped to page A14, where a parallel article on Obama entitled "Political stagecraft is a high-wire act" spinned in a different direction: speculation and criticism of Obama's whole approach as "theatrical" and risky. The reporter criticized Obama's approach of keeping his 2nd a mystery. I personally loved it.

Obama's campaign strategy takes ordinary, predictable political events that are traditionally dreary, business as usual steps in a campaign and transforms them, infuses them with excitement and peaks the interest of the public. Okay, that may be theatrical, but I've got to say, it works! Obama is speaking my language when he pulls me in, tactics or not! Why the hell should it all be mundane? We're sick of that! If anything, he is staying true to his promise of "change" on every level, including how he strategizes in his campaign.

I think Obama is pulling upon his years as a law professor, where he actively engaged his students so their minds were receptive and open. I never took a class from him, but if he was a talented professor, then he must have engaged his students to teach a topic as old as our country--constitutional law. In his book "The Audacity of Hope" he does speak about making the class relevant and stimulating. Thank GOD he's using these tactics in his campaign.

WE ALL KNOW Obama is campaigning for president. We ALL KNOW that means strategizing to engage people, get their attention, get them involved. If he is a master of media attention grabbing, then that's a GOOD sign, as long as it's being used in a way that is good for the country--and so far, he is a stunning success.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Roots Organic Farm

We're back from Indonesia and I must say it was a life changing trip. Since I only have a moment, I will save the Indonesian tales and pictures for another blog session. For now, I wanted to post a link to the latest article written by Kristin Anderson.

I love organic farming and I am so thankful to live in an area where year round produce is a reality!

If you haven't stopped by Roots Organic Farm at the Santa Barbara Farmer's markets--or any of the other 5 markets in Santa Barbara County, you won't be disappointed to give it a try. The carrots are our favorites.

Monday, July 7, 2008

The New Kindergarten for Society?

"Everything I need to know I got for free on the internet."

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Gap Fire and the 4th of July

For the past two years, our country's birthday has coincided with fire. This year's fire is making its way toward communities where friends live. Several friends within our sphere of community have already been evacuated and so far, everyone we know is okay. So far.

The sky is brown and orange. Beautiful. Ominous. I won't say apocolyptic, because that's just silly. Watching the sky turn brown and orange from smoke is like being out on a boat in an ocean; it puts things into perspective. We are small compared to teh 30-60 foot flames shooting up in the air. One site I read a bit ago reported the flames to be 100-200 feet.

We go along every day in our humdrum routines. We stress about the boss, or the co-worker who annoys us but we must tolerate them to keep up appearances. We talk about trifling matters. Some seem like the essence of life. Yet a fire, a storm, a sudden encounter with nature shifts your perspective in a way that says "You have been sleeping! You are now awake. Really awake!"

I often talk about the idea of being happy when the pest otherwise known as the human race is finally wiped out. Yet, when anything real happens within close proximity, such professions disappear.

I hope that my entry tonight will be just a little commentary about a fire that seemed big and went away. May the Gap Fire go away soon!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

What Makes You Happy?

My book club decided upon Deep Economy by Bill McKibben for our June 2008 meeting. It's my first McKibben book and, 45 pages in, I'm on fire. Intelligently written without too much doomsday (yet), with a hint of hope unfolding in the form of solutions to the problem. Although the book is only 232 pages long, I can't read more than a few pages without wanting to form a set of cards of wise sayings to share with everyone I know. Not everyone I know reads this blog, but for those of you that do, here are some choice words that make you think (hopefully out of context they still wield power and contemplation of the basic question "is more better?"

"You can't get richer, at least for long, by impoverishing the world around you." This thought is inspired by economist Eban Goodstein's Economics and the Environment, where he says "Ecological economists argue that natural and created capital are fundamentally complements" that is, that you actually need to think about the planet."p.29 Deep Economy

This quote resonates so clearly in my mind, like the perfect pitch I always desired. The rate of consumption, the insane drive for more more more that inundates us day in and day out does more harm than good. You may argue that all that consumption creates jobs and keeps the economy going, and just plain makes people happy. But at what cost, and at what illusive definition of happiness?

Aha! Onto another inspiring quote from McKibben. In a passage where he discusses people's reported measures of happiness in relationship to increased wealth, he says the following: All that material progress--and all the billions of barrels of oil and millions of acres of trees that it took to create it--seems not to have moved the satisfaction meter an inch. (p.35 Deep Economy). He goes on to say that "In 1946, the United States was the happiest country among four advanced economies; thirty years later, it was eighth among eleven advanced countries; a decade after tht it ranked tenth among twenty-three nations, many of them from the third world. (Stats garnered from "Happiness" by Layard).

Okay, its too late in the evening for me. Barry, if you are reading this, know that I plan to follow the instructions in your email about your video short (very cool!) as soon as I get another block of time!

Good night, but Good luck is over rated. How about belief in happiness as something that can't be bought, but that resides in time with friends, family, meditation, contemplation, viewing of art and Happy Hour with friends? Okay, so maybe a $3.50 pint accompanying a group of friends and good conversation is a small price to pay for a lot of real happiness :)

Noelle Aguayo

Monday, May 19, 2008

How Many Places Do you Live?

I rarely visit FaceBook, because I just don't get the appeal. I have my GMAIL, and email my friends occasionally, but better yet, I like to see them in person. FaceBook is an effective connection tool for friends in far flung places, and it really does give you a sense of the networking capabilities of meeting friends of friends--but really, where are people getting all of this time? Last time I checked, there were still only 24 hours in a day, and sleep is still essential, as is the work day, and then for those of us with family, there's family time, then hobbies, reading, friend time, etc, etc. So HOW do you all keep up?

I suppose I also have this bloggy presence, and my work email--so I live in four places online. No Avatars yet. Does anyone I know have an avatar? Come on! I want to know if you do!

That's my mid day rant!


Wednesday, May 7, 2008

I've been memed and all the bloggers I know have already been tagged!

Here are the rules:
A) The rules of the game get posted at the beginning.
B) Each player answers the questions about himself or herself.
C) At the end of the post, the player then tags five people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

1) Ten years ago I was...

Hanging out on the banks of the Metolius, watching someone I didn't like much fly fishing.

2) Five things on today's to-do list:

Read "Good Night Gorilla" again.
Buy a t-shirt in Santa Barbara that was made in Honduras to send to our sponsor child in Guatemala for his 6th birthday.
Cook dinner
Respond to my emails
Research Java

3) Things I'd do if I were a billionaire:

Save a small portion of the world (or large if a billion goes that far)
Design and build an ecovillage
Cook dinner at leisure
Enjoy oodles of time with Ezra & Arie Jan
Write a novel or five

4) Three bad habits:

Whining (and not in the good way, like George does).
Checking my email at work
Leaving the peanut butter jar on the counter in the morning (but I'm getting better)

5) Five places I've lived:

Hilo, Hawaii
Waltham, Mass.
Bend, Oregon

6) Six jobs I've had in my life:

Newspaper reporter, Farm stand girl, Marketing Director, International Travel Assistant, Mom

And now to choose five people: Who's left?

Monday, April 28, 2008

Ezra takes a Pilgrimage to his birthplace

Earlier this week, baby E's 'oh its no big deal' runny nose and cough got worse, and after a few sleepless nights and calls to the doctor, we got him in for an office visit Friday morning. He was diagnosed with an 'asthma-like' condition, and an ear infection and prescribed a host of medications. After carefully following treatments that day and evening, we had a particularly rough night with a crying, stuffy baby. In the morning, we landed in the emergency room after his respiratory rate reached 58 breaths per minute.

Four hours and multiple treatments later, Ezra was admitted to Cottage Hospital, the place of his birth. Cottage is just as I remember--incredibly friendly, thorough and competent staff and undergoing construction. I'm sure Ezra will make other pilgrimages in his lifetime, and I certainly hope they are more enjoyable than this one. Although the pediatric nurses and doctor's were great, that doesn't mean much to a 15 1/2 month old who is being poked and prodded for his own well being. Ezra was a total trooper and spent most of his two and a half days in the hospital on my lap--which of course I absolutely loved and was glad I could be there with him day and night--I really can't imagine a child his age undergoing this experience without mom or dad by his side. Dad spent hours with Ezra as well, giving me a chance to go home and sleep for a few hours (as that doesn't happen much at the hospital), and giving Ezra extra security that we were both there for him.

So after its all said and done, Ezra has been labeled with a Reactive Airway Disorder, which is like asthma, but not. According to Dr. Brown (not of the Morter Health System, but of Cottage Hospital Pediatrics), Asthma is hard to diagnose in infants and is more commonly diagnosed between 3 and 7 years of age. As I understand it, Reactive Airway Disorder is a technical condition that explains how some unknown factor (irritation, sensitivity, allergin, or stress) triggers the chest muscles to constrict, making it hard to breathe. The irritation causes inflammation, which leads to coughing and mucus production, which further exacerbates the difficulty in breathing. The difference between Asthma and Reactive Airway Disorder is that Asthma is a recurring condition and RAD could be a one time condition. Only time will tell what Ezra truly has.

Other theories are that he had a virus, and it went untreated and this led to the asthmatic conditions. All possible. In addition, Ezra has a mild case of Pneumonia in his right lung.

I suppose this blog is now my medical journal of sorts. I pray this will not be a recurring theme as our baby boy is usually a healthy active thing!

And now a few cheers to the Cottage Hospital Pediatric staff; nurse Gail was our favorite. She was genuinely warm, caring and thorough as a nurse. It is obvious that she loves people and is there to assist others in the healing process, both as a nurse and as a presence of joyfulness in the face of overwhelming conditions--and any parent who's child is in the hospital has long passed the whelmed stage and is ready for a balance to their overwhelmed state; Gail makes that at least within the realm of possibilities. Our day nurse on the day of discharge was named Michelle--we only had her for a few hours, but she was great with Ezra, and was open and friendly. The night nurse Carla had a perfect balance of helpful, knowledgable and non invasive. Ezra let her hold him more than the others, so she got major points for straight up baby connection. Deedi, our first nurse on Saturday was a traveling nurse and she had a professionalism about her that was just the energy we needed on our first night. She monitored Ezra carefully, made thorough assessments, and helped ease our minds that Ezra was under very good care. She lacked the degree of warmth exuded by some of the other nurses, but we didn't mind in the face of her thoroughness. I didn't even mention the respiratory specialists who came every four hours--they were all great, both in the ER and on the pediatric ward. I believe Amanda, and the male respiratory care giver from Bakersfield, who's name was something like Alexis, were the most informative.

If you've read this far, you're a glutton of some sort! Goodnight!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Recycled US Tires

Design Within Reach, with all of its nifty designs, just sent out an email with hand crafted rubber baskets, a set of three a mere $350. The write up starts in about the 300 million tires Americans throw in the landfill each year, and designers are coming up with a small solution to the big problem--creating household wares. I thought, hey, these are pretty snazzy. Then, I read that they are made in EGYPT! So, these used American tires are shipped to Egypt, go through a manufacturing process, and then are shipped back to the US. Does this seem slightly sick and wrong?

Happy Friday!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Sunday & Godlessness or not?

Easter then; getting dressed up, panic, late for churh as always and knowing we'll probably get a seat in the balcony of the mission, crowding into the pews, annoying those who arrived early, though they grace you with a Catholic smile of forgiveness, because we all have original sin in common. After a long service, going home andexcitedly scowering the garden for chocolates and plastic eggs filled with delicacies in the traditional easter egg hunt, followed by setting the table with china, silver, cloth napkins for brunch out on the patio in the dappled sunlight beneath the large oak tree. We don't talk about God or the sermon, but the presence and idea of a miracle is all around us, combined with the buzz of too many chocolate easter eggs, ane the sense that the afternoon will linger for an eternity.

Easter now: A call from my husband's religious family in the Netherlands on Saturday afternoon after they have attended an Easter wake that ended at midnight. Answering the question of our plans for easter as, "well, uh, a brunch with my family, perhaps a morning church service" editing out the easter egg hunt and the general hedenism of the days plans. Perhaps a pre-brunch with our friends to share mimosas and talk politics or the upcoming 5k run and our training. In a nutshell: Easter eggs. Mimosas, cute clothing, sunshine. Gardening, friends and family.

So, is my current version a Godless experience? Did that sense of miraculousness I grew up with really have to do with a connection to the spiritual, or was it the whole production, the polished silver, the fine clothes, the idea that we had to behave and act civilly, and think of Christ rising from the dead?

Having God in your life, when most of your friends have no interest, or even FEAR of religion, is a much more evasive topic. There is definitely a spiritual presence in our lives, but we don't define it as such, at least not out loud, and not as conversation at a gathering. Yet, it is so important. My friends, though not outwardly religious, have several traits in common--strong ethics and good samaritanism, which translates into belief in doing good for others, a sense of accountability, a desire for regime change, friends who are there when you need them and varying degrees of compassion for the less fortunate. These traits are all about God as I know it. So, is that glamorous grace of childhood any more powerful than a web of community who believes in kindness to others and acts upon it?

My man just put on " St. John's Passion." I suppose our childhood is shining through.

Happy Easter everyone!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Citizen McCaw Documentary

Tonight I had the good fortune of securing a seat in the balcony of the Arlington Theatre in Santa Barbara to see the sold out World Premiere of Citizen McCaw--a well thought out, excellently executed documentary on the downfall of the Santa Barbara News-Press since Wendy McCaw took ownership.

The documentary at first established the pre-McCaw credibility of the News-Press and even went on to show how in the first few years of her ownership, she did a service to the paper by appointing Cole and Roberts to the editorial staff. But, when her lack of understanding about the journalistic wall of integrity between editorial/opinion and news was severely exposed, and she consistently reinforced her desire to shape news content, the demise of the paper began, resulting in the mass resignation of top editors, followed by firing, or resignation of many more, with a total of 80 staff leaving as of January 2008 (I believe that was the number).

The documentary uses interviews with past employees and their personal accounts of events that took place, involving McCaw, Travis Amstrong and 'Nipper' , juxtaposed to voices from the community, other papers such as the Independent, the emergence of blogs covering the story, and how much these reporters sacrificed in the line of integrity.

I recommend this documentary to everyone in our community and nation, and the world at large. It should be shown in every journalism course at the high school and college level, and should be required viewing for all Americans to understand their freedom of speech, and to see it being violated by a woman who uses wealth and lawyers to buy her way out of truthful interaction with others.

I am sure there is a good side to Ms. McCaw and I believe everyone is capable of change. I hope she will read an Ekhart Tolle book and have an epiphany that will awaken her heart, so she can treat other humans with all of the impassioned respect with which she treats animals.

Additional screenings of citizen McCaw are scheduled as follows:
Marjorie Luke Theatre located at 721 E. Cota Street in Santa Barbara: Saturday, April 5th at 8PM and Sunday, April 6th at 3PM.

For more information, go to

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Curitiba, Brazil

On Thursday evening, Antara and I headed down to the Santa Barbara Public Library to see a film on Eco Cities. Although the introduction to the evening was about an architect, Mr. Register, who has been working on Eco Cities for years, the main video feature was about Curitiba, Brazil. After seeing this documentary about how a handful of innovative city employees changed their city for the better in dramatic ways with little to no money, I felt a strong sense of hope that people CAN change. All it takes is motivated, courageous leaders who are willing to think about the good of all, versus the plaints of the overpriviliged who are used to bullying their way into every decision making process through intimidation via lawsuits.

I tried to embed a video on former Mayor of Curitiba Jaime Lerner. This city, this man, and the progress they have made is world changing. Check it out!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Superbowl 10-10-10

I attended one event of the 2008 International Film Festival called 10-10-10; 10 screen writers (5 high school and 5 college) teamed with 10 film makers (ditto parens) resulting in 10 short films in 10 days. Although I'd like to think of myself as hip and community oriented enough to attend such an event on a whim, I actually attended for one very important reason: playwright Cattie Yost.

Ms. Yost is an excellent playwright, and I was very excited to see her first (I believe) screenplay produced by a high school film maker. At the beginning of the event, Roger Duhrling (sp?), the director of the SBIFF gave introductions, as well as informing us the event was actually 9-10-10, as one film maker had not completed his project due to a family emergency. I thought, oh, that's a bummer, but the thought did not stay with me, as I was simply awaiting Cattie Yost's production.

With the conclusion of each 10 minute short, I hoped the next would be Cattie's. Nope, not yet, I had to be more patient! But, when the lights came up and Cattie's screenplay had not aired, i was shocked--as were the 30 or so attendees, some driving from as far away as San Diego, who came expressly to see her film. I must say, that's a royal screw up on the part of the organizers, to not inform the playwright that her work would not be produced. The screen writer was distant to Cattie, and uncommunicative from the start, suggesting he did not want any input. So, the fact that she had not heard from him at all during the process did not seem inconsistent.

I demand justice! I believe Cattie deserves to have her screen play produced! Who out there wants to make it happen?

And I couldn't give a damn about the superbowl.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Spider in the bathroom

This morning, he asked me if he had permission to kill a spider in the bathroom. I was in the other room, so I needed more information.
"Is it big and fast, or is it of a size that you could catch with a lid and glass?" I asked.
"Big and fast."
"Permission granted." pause, re-think. "I mean, could you try to catch it first and if that doesn't work, just stomp on it?"
"Okay." A few minutes go by. He enters the bedroom where baby and I are biding our time to show a creepy spider doing 360s inside a capped glass baby food jar.
"Okay. Great. Don't get any closer."
He smiles.
"Okay, go ahead and take him outside!" I say, calmly.
"So he can drown in this downpour?"
"Yes, a slow, painful death to the spider." The words slipped out before I had much time to think about them. I'm certainly not up for a pet in a baby jar.
"Out he goes."
Good thing its still raining.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Ezra's first Short Film Debut

I have the coolest friends. If you have nine minutes, check out this movie on You Tube that Antara and Roy put together about Ezra's first year of life!

(You'll have to copy this into your address bar, as I haven't figured out how to do links!)

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Earth Charter

Has anyone followed this organization?

I have posted the Earth Charter here in hope that I will read it all the way through!

The Earth Charter

We stand at a critical moment in Earth's history, a time when humanity must choose its future. As the world becomes increasingly interdependent and fragile, the future at once holds great peril and great promise. To move forward we must recognize that in the midst of a magnificent diversity of cultures and life forms we are one human family and one Earth community with a common destiny. We must join together to bring forth a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace. Towards this end, it is imperative that we, the peoples of Earth, declare our responsibility to one another, to the greater community of life, and to future generations.

Earth, Our Home
Humanity is part of a vast evolving universe. Earth, our home, is alive with a unique community of life. The forces of nature make existence a demanding and uncertain adventure, but Earth has provided the conditions essential to life's evolution. The resilience of the community of life and the well-being of humanity depend upon preserving a healthy biosphere with all its ecological systems, a rich variety of plants and animals, fertile soils, pure waters, and clean air. The global environment with its finite resources is a common concern of all peoples. The protection of Earth's vitality, diversity, and beauty is a sacred trust.

The Global Situation
The dominant patterns of production and consumption are causing environmental devastation, the depletion of resources, and a massive extinction of species. Communities are being undermined. The benefits of development are not shared equitably and the gap between rich and poor is widening. Injustice, poverty, ignorance, and violent conflict are widespread and the cause of great suffering. An unprecedented rise in human population has overburdened ecological and social systems. The foundations of global security are threatened. These trends are perilous—but not inevitable.

The Challenges Ahead
The choice is ours: form a global partnership to care for Earth and one another or risk the destruction of ourselves and the diversity of life. Fundamental changes are needed in our values, institutions, and ways of living. We must realize that when basic needs have been met, human development is primarily about being more, not having more. We have the knowledge and technology to provide for all and to reduce our impacts on the environment. The emergence of a global civil society is creating new opportunities to build a democratic and humane world. Our environmental, economic, political, social, and spiritual challenges are interconnected, and together we can forge inclusive solutions.

Universal Responsibility
To realize these aspirations, we must decide to live with a sense of universal responsibility, identifying ourselves with the whole Earth community as well as our local communities. We are at once citizens of different nations and of one world in which the local and global are linked. Everyone shares responsibility for the present and future well-being of the human family and the larger living world. The spirit of human solidarity and kinship with all life is strengthened when we live with reverence for the mystery of being, gratitude for the gift of life, and humility regarding the human place in nature.

We urgently need a shared vision of basic values to provide an ethical foundation for the emerging world community. Therefore, together in hope we affirm the following interdependent principles for a sustainable way of life as a common standard by which the conduct of all individuals, organizations, businesses, governments, and transnational institutions is to be guided and assessed.



1. Respect Earth and life in all its diversity.
a. Recognize that all beings are interdependent and every form of life has value regardless of its worth to human beings.
b. Affirm faith in the inherent dignity of all human beings and in the intellectual, artistic, ethical, and spiritual potential of humanity.

2. Care for the community of life with understanding, compassion, and love.
a. Accept that with the right to own, manage, and use natural resources comes the duty to prevent environmental harm and to protect the rights of people.
b. Affirm that with increased freedom, knowledge, and power comes increased responsibility to promote the common good.

3. Build democratic societies that are just, participatory, sustainable, and peaceful.
a. Ensure that communities at all levels guarantee human rights and fundamental freedoms and provide everyone an opportunity to realize his or her full potential.
b. Promote social and economic justice, enabling all to achieve a secure and meaningful livelihood that is ecologically responsible.

4. Secure Earth's bounty and beauty for present and future generations.
a. Recognize that the freedom of action of each generation is qualified by the needs of future generations.
b. Transmit to future generations values, traditions, and institutions that support the long-term flourishing of Earth's human and ecological communities.

In order to fulfill these four broad commitments, it is necessary to:


5. Protect and restore the integrity of Earth's ecological systems, with special concern for biological diversity and the natural processes that sustain life.
a. Adopt at all levels sustainable development plans and regulations that make environmental conservation and rehabilitation integral to all development initiatives.
b. Establish and safeguard viable nature and biosphere reserves, including wild lands and marine areas, to protect Earth's life support systems, maintain biodiversity, and preserve our natural heritage.
c. Promote the recovery of endangered species and ecosystems.
d. Control and eradicate non-native or genetically modified organisms harmful to native species and the environment, and prevent introduction of such harmful organisms.
e. Manage the use of renewable resources such as water, soil, forest products, and marine life in ways that do not exceed rates of regeneration and that protect the health of ecosystems.
f. Manage the extraction and use of non-renewable resources such as minerals and fossil fuels in ways that minimize depletion and cause no serious environmental damage.

6. Prevent harm as the best method of environmental protection and, when knowledge is limited, apply a precautionary approach.
a. Take action to avoid the possibility of serious or irreversible environmental harm even when scientific knowledge is incomplete or inconclusive.
b. Place the burden of proof on those who argue that a proposed activity will not cause significant harm, and make the responsible parties liable for environmental harm.
c. Ensure that decision making addresses the cumulative, long-term, indirect, long distance, and global consequences of human activities.
d. Prevent pollution of any part of the environment and allow no build-up of radioactive, toxic, or other hazardous substances.
e. Avoid military activities damaging to the environment.

7. Adopt patterns of production, consumption, and reproduction that safeguard Earth's regenerative capacities, human rights, and community well-being.
a. Reduce, reuse, and recycle the materials used in production and consumption systems, and ensure that residual waste can be assimilated by ecological systems.
b. Act with restraint and efficiency when using energy, and rely increasingly on renewable energy sources such as solar and wind.
c. Promote the development, adoption, and equitable transfer of environmentally sound technologies.
d. Internalize the full environmental and social costs of goods and services in the selling price, and enable consumers to identify products that meet the highest social and environmental standards.
e. Ensure universal access to health care that fosters reproductive health and responsible reproduction.
f. Adopt lifestyles that emphasize the quality of life and material sufficiency in a finite world.

8. Advance the study of ecological sustainability and promote the open exchange and wide application of the knowledge acquired.
a. Support international scientific and technical cooperation on sustainability, with special attention to the needs of developing nations.
b. Recognize and preserve the traditional knowledge and spiritual wisdom in all cultures that contribute to environmental protection and human well-being.
c. Ensure that information of vital importance to human health and environmental protection, including genetic information, remains available in the public domain.


9. Eradicate poverty as an ethical, social, and environmental imperative.
a. Guarantee the right to potable water, clean air, food security, uncontaminated soil, shelter, and safe sanitation, allocating the national and international resources required.
b. Empower every human being with the education and resources to secure a sustainable livelihood, and provide social security and safety nets for those who are unable to support themselves.
c. Recognize the ignored, protect the vulnerable, serve those who suffer, and enable them to develop their capacities and to pursue their aspirations.

10. Ensure that economic activities and institutions at all levels promote human development in an equitable and sustainable manner.
a. Promote the equitable distribution of wealth within nations and among nations.
b. Enhance the intellectual, financial, technical, and social resources of developing nations, and relieve them of onerous international debt.
c. Ensure that all trade supports sustainable resource use, environmental protection, and progressive labor standards.
d. Require multinational corporations and international financial organizations to act transparently in the public good, and hold them accountable for the consequences of their activities.

11. Affirm gender equality and equity as prerequisites to sustainable development and ensure universal access to education, health care, and economic opportunity.
a. Secure the human rights of women and girls and end all violence against them.
b. Promote the active participation of women in all aspects of economic, political, civil, social, and cultural life as full and equal partners, decision makers, leaders, and beneficiaries.
c. Strengthen families and ensure the safety and loving nurture of all family members.

12. Uphold the right of all, without discrimination, to a natural and social environment supportive of human dignity, bodily health, and spiritual well-being, with special attention to the rights of indigenous peoples and minorities.
a. Eliminate discrimination in all its forms, such as that based on race, color, sex, sexual orientation, religion, language, and national, ethnic or social origin.
b. Affirm the right of indigenous peoples to their spirituality, knowledge, lands and resources and to their related practice of sustainable livelihoods.
c. Honor and support the young people of our communities, enabling them to fulfill their essential role in creating sustainable societies.
d. Protect and restore outstanding places of cultural and spiritual significance.


13. Strengthen democratic institutions at all levels, and provide transparency and accountability in governance, inclusive participation in decision making, and access to justice.
a. Uphold the right of everyone to receive clear and timely information on environmental matters and all development plans and activities which are likely to affect them or in which they have an interest.
b. Support local, regional and global civil society, and promote the meaningful participation of all interested individuals and organizations in decision making.
c. Protect the rights to freedom of opinion, expression, peaceful assembly, association, and dissent.
d. Institute effective and efficient access to administrative and independent judicial procedures, including remedies and redress for environmental harm and the threat of such harm.
e. Eliminate corruption in all public and private institutions.
f. Strengthen local communities, enabling them to care for their environments, and assign environmental responsibilities to the levels of government where they can be carried out most effectively.

14. Integrate into formal education and life-long learning the knowledge, values, and skills needed for a sustainable way of life.
a. Provide all, especially children and youth, with educational opportunities that empower them to contribute actively to sustainable development.
b. Promote the contribution of the arts and humanities as well as the sciences in sustainability education.
c. Enhance the role of the mass media in raising awareness of ecological and social challenges.
d. Recognize the importance of moral and spiritual education for sustainable living.

15. Treat all living beings with respect and consideration.
a. Prevent cruelty to animals kept in human societies and protect them from suffering.
b. Protect wild animals from methods of hunting, trapping, and fishing that cause extreme, prolonged, or avoidable suffering.
c. Avoid or eliminate to the full extent possible the taking or destruction of non-targeted species.

16. Promote a culture of tolerance, nonviolence, and peace.
a. Encourage and support mutual understanding, solidarity, and cooperation among all peoples and within and among nations.
b. Implement comprehensive strategies to prevent violent conflict and use collaborative problem solving to manage and resolve environmental conflicts and other disputes.
c. Demilitarize national security systems to the level of a non-provocative defense posture, and convert military resources to peaceful purposes, including ecological restoration.
d. Eliminate nuclear, biological, and toxic weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.
e. Ensure that the use of orbital and outer space supports environmental protection and peace.
f. Recognize that peace is the wholeness created by right relationships with oneself, other persons, other cultures, other life, Earth, and the larger whole of which all are a part.


As never before in history, common destiny beckons us to seek a new beginning. Such renewal is the promise of these Earth Charter principles. To fulfill this promise, we must commit ourselves to adopt and promote the values and objectives of the Charter.

This requires a change of mind and heart. It requires a new sense of global interdependence and universal responsibility. We must imaginatively develop and apply the vision of a sustainable way of life locally, nationally, regionally, and globally. Our cultural diversity is a precious heritage and different cultures will find their own distinctive ways to realize the vision. We must deepen and expand the global dialogue that generated the Earth Charter, for we have much to learn from the ongoing collaborative search for truth and wisdom.

Life often involves tensions between important values. This can mean difficult choices. However, we must find ways to harmonize diversity with unity, the exercise of freedom with the common good, short-term objectives with long-term goals. Every individual, family, organization, and community has a vital role to play. The arts, sciences, religions, educational institutions, media, businesses, nongovernmental organizations, and governments are all called to offer creative leadership. The partnership of government, civil society, and business is essential for effective governance.

In order to build a sustainable global community, the nations of the world must renew their commitment to the United Nations, fulfill their obligations under existing international agreements, and support the implementation of Earth Charter principles with an international legally binding instrument on environment and development.

Let ours be a time remembered for the awakening of a new reverence for life, the firm resolve to achieve sustainability, the quickening of the struggle for justice and peace, and the joyful celebration of life.

Ezra Turns One!

Old news by now, but my little Ezra is now officially ONE. To top it off, he's walking. Yeah. Walking! Well, toddling like a drunken sailor and discovering new ways to bang his great head in the tumbles that follow toddles, but today, he held my hand and walked his way through the parking lot to the coffee shop.

We still cheer every time he walks on his own. I suppose there will be a weaning period there. I wonder how his first solo walk without an accompanying 'whew hew, way to go Ezra' will feel to him

Another break through. Ezra is asleep and its not yet 9pm. After a week of hell, sleepless nights and the sadness of letting him cry for up to 10 minutes on his own, we have developed a routine where he falls asleep on his own. If he doesn't do it on his own, he gets a supplemental aid, that will also require a bit of weaning at some point here, but the cool thing is, he's not tearing around the apartment right now getting grumpy in all of his hyperness.

Lovely outing today with the walking Ezra and Queen Whackamole. The outing inclulded a stroll through the sidewalkless citrus streets of Goleta, my first visit to Island Seed and Feed (didn't it used to be on the frontage road btwn Las Positas and La Cumbre?) where I purchased a flat of seedlings I hope to transform into my winter garden.

I'm off to do secret things!


Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Hookers for Jesus and my new business

I know I usually write about my baby boy, but I have to say I found a bit of inspiration while reading the news, and that doesn't happen very often! I guess with the recent upswing in atheism, Jesus is trying out some new marketing strategies, while also poking fun at his followers by showing their weakness for intolerance over acceptance of all their brothers and sisters:

And while we're talking about messages and tactics from above, I've experienced a series of coincidences over the past few days that are making me reconsider the new age books I read in my twenties. (Just in case you didn't read new age books in your twenties, just think of The Power of Now, The Secret and other books of this cosmic universe full of opportunity genre). It seems I am meant to start my own business.

Just to give you an example of the coincidences; This morning I came to work to find a newspaper article on my desk given to me by Tom Spoonerow about new moms who did start ups in areas inspiring to them. Next, my poet friend Chryss Yost sends me an email about the Women's Economic Venture program introductory meeting for their 14 week business training program, which I've been wanting to do for years, and three, the timing all works out for me to actually attend the meeting, at which I became inspired.

So, now I only need to come up with the hefty tuition. And that brings me to Hilary taking New Hampshire. Hillary taught me this evening that anything's possible with the right people supporting you, the ability to observe, listen and incorporate new tactics, and a belief in perserverance. My vote is still up for grabs, and I'm excited about the great democratic game that is afoot.

So my new business, disappointingly to some i'm sure, has nothing to do with hookers and everything to do with sustainability. But of course I can't tell you the details, as that's not sound business practice.

If you read all the way through this blog entry, you get two gold stars for perserverance.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Plastic world


The old debate about water bottles received a fresh magnifying glass, or at least a plausible amount of research to be featured in the New York Times in an article entitled "The (Possible) Perils of Being Thirsty While Being Green". Here's what journalist Alina Tugend had to say about reusing plastic water bottles:

One thing that makes me mad, is that water bottle manufacturers wouldn't tell professor of biology Frederick S. vom Saal of University of Missouri, who specializes in plastics, what their plastic bottles are made of. What's up with that?

There must be some fancy machine that could analyze the materials that make up a plastic water bottle. Take for example, the mass spectrometer used by Berkeley biologist Todd Dawson in Michael Pollan's "Omnivore's Dilemma" to analyze carbon content of a McDonald's meal to determine the percentage of carbon originating from corn.
What if some equally impressive piece of scientific machinery could be used to analyze the content of a pet#1 plastic bottle. And if such a machine, or technology does not exist, why are plastic manufacturers even allowed the responsibility to encase our precious liquid of life in their shells of unknown, and possibly disease contributing content?

Once again, I think corporations have WAY too much power and not enough checks and balances. I love the stick figures in, where the government is polishing the shoes of the corporations.

Personally, I love my Sigg metal water bottle which I've been told is absolutely safe. But come to think of it, I'd love to know what materials went into the shiny lining.

Okay, that's way too much of a rambling about water bottles. I think I'll log off and interact with my warm and cozy family in our little home on this rainy eve instead of typing away at my laptop!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Treehuggers! Sustainable Design

In November 2006, Kristin Anderson assisted Keith Rivera, a kick ass Santa Barbara Architect, with an awards entry in the Portland Courtyard Housing Design Competition. He won first place, and since Mr. Rivera is into crediting those who assist, Kristin is also listed in the team. Metropolis Magazine online has also picked up this story, but Treehugger is what impresses me the most! Check it out!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008


It doesn't take much for a year to roll over. Here we are in 2008. Ezra will be a year old on January 12th. Shall I throw a party? He is the most social person I know besides Marcos Chiappe, El Patron of Santa Barbara.

In other news, are there any cafes in Santa Barbara County where one can order a free range breakfast? Happy eggs, happy piggies, etc? I know, that pig was not happy when it got it's throat slit, but I would like to support a happy life up until that moment, as I would wish on all beings.

I hope to write about an organic farm in SYV this year--perhaps even this month!

To be very healthy
To walk my talk
To start a new business
To play music once a week
To love and support those who love and support me.
(That's the short list!)