Fixing the LA River Part 1b

It's a start but it's not the end

The LA River got a little closer to its roots as the official boating program got launched today. The unofficial program has been going for years and it is the reason why the LA River is where it is today. The activists who have risked arrest by hitting the river are the real heroes and they deserve the praise and less those who have hidden behind non-existent laws to promote the boating program. On the day of this event the Canadians who hit the river in February for the sole purpose of exploring LA River were being paddled in court in Van Nuys for their transgressions. Their crime? Setting foot and boat in the LA River. Their charges? Loitering and trespassing.

The LA River will become the LA River when it is fully restored to what it once was: the heart and soul of LA. Please contact me at if you want to become a part of the next wave of truly cleaning up the LA River.


Let’s Get Vertical?

It’s spring and many are getting their gardens on.  Many Angelenos, however, do not have access to soil…the ground, so they resign themselves to be garden less.   The world’s population is rapidly expanding and god ain’t growing any more land so we have to figure out another way to grow.  Plants need air, sun, water and nutrients to grow – the nutrients come from the soil.  The nutrients don’t have to come from the soil.  You probably have heard of hydroponics – sounds kind of head shop – but it’s not…well, it is about growing plants without soil…I guess that is how some grow weed.   You can have a great garden in your apartment, condo, Mc Mansion without soil using a hydroponic system.

Here is how great it can be:

The vid tells you how you do it all y’all:

Peddling for Dollars

Gas prices are going up again and are only going to get worse as we head into summer.  Some people are now using their bikes to get around town and reaping the benefits of saving money on gas and getting some exercise at the same time.   While LA is definitely dominated by das auto, it is not difficult to imagine a future LA where cycles and cars truly share the road.`

That future is realized in the LA Master Bike Plan.  Kudos to the LA County Bike Coalition, Mayor Villaraigosa, Ed Reyes, and other cycling advocates who shaped the recently approved plan.   There are many, many miles of new bike lanes in the new plan and a variety of other goodies that will definitely push LA forward on the biking front.  You can check out the plan at:

Does LA Need a Little Vitamin G?

LA has a serious shortage of green space and green people. Several studies have indicated that access to green space has many health benefits. With greenspace comes stress reduction, physical activity and social cohesion, and,…gardens, and sometimes even urban farms. What? Farms in LA? How unnatural.

A recent Dutch study looked at 250,000 people and their proximity to green spaces and tabulated their perceived health status. The key finding was a steady decline in the percentage of people perceiving their health to be less than good as the percentage of green space within 3 km of where they lived rose, and that was after controlling statistically for demographic and socioeconomic factors and population density itself (urbanity). The researchers conclude that their study shows that green space should be considered to be more than just a luxury. Darn tootin’. It is essential to life…or at least healthy living.

Euros are of course way out ahead of us on this. The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment ( estimates that Hyde Park in central London contributes 10% to the physical activity of 100,000 people living nearby and that such activity probably saves the British economy £3 million (about $4.2 million) in a year and the National Health Service £600,000.

The LA River is a natural for green space development. Attend a LA River Revitalization Corp meeting and have a say in the future green of your LA River. For more info go to:

Making Sense of the Blue Bin

Recycling.  Great.  Reduce, reuse, recycle.  Got it.  Makes perfect sense.  Instead of throwing everything into a landfill let’s try to use some of it.  Okay.  Can we do this?  Is everything recyclable?  Where are these things recycled?  Does somebody have a magic wand that turns all that stuff in the blue bin into new bottles,…or new boxes,…or new magic wands?  The last magic wand I bought was thrown into the recycling bin because it didn’t work.  I am sorry, but recycling plastic, for the most part, does not work.

I was recently almost hit by a LA City sanitation recycling truck and it got me thinking about this whole recycling business.  We used to have one truck pick up everything, but now we have three.  Hmmmmm.  What is that doing to the environment?  What is the cost of all this recycling – the sorting, transportation, and storage?  Maybe we should be using that money for some other environmental good? Unfortunately, a lot of what we put in the blue bin does not get a new life.  Much of the plastic takes a long boat to China and does not make it back to our sunny shores.
Certain requirements must be met for recycling to be economically feasible and environmentally effective.  These include an adequate source of recyclates, a system to extract those recyclates from the waste stream, a nearby factory capable of reprocessing the recyclates, and a potential demand for the recycled products.  Sending plastic discards to China to be discarded there makes close to zero sense and I think we are smarter than that.  We need to stop buying, when possible, items wrapped in plastic.  More details to follow in my next post.

C’est La Vie Plastique

AB 1998 heads for vote to the California Senate this week and when it passes -it still needs your pressure to pass – it will forever change how us Californian’s retail.  After July 1, 2011 stores will be prohibited from providing a plastic carryout bag to a customer.  The bill would require a store, on and after July 1, 2011 to either make reusable bags available for purchase by the customer or provide a paper carryout bag that is subject to the green bag fee that would be imposed by the bill.
The bill would require a store to charge a green bag fee of not
less than $0.25 for each paper carryout bag distributed at the point
of sale.  The bill would establish the Paper Bag Pollution Cleanup
Fund in the State Treasury and would require a store to remit these
fees, less a specified amount, to the State Board of Equalization for
deposit in that fund.
The bill would…wait a second…this is getting too boring…
Here’s the bottom line: If you want to help make single use bags and their inherent problems go away then go to the Heal the Bay website and follow their lead:

Get Your Feet Wet

A motion to establish a boating program in the Los Angeles River, where boating and other water contact activities are prohibited, was recently introduced by Councilman Ed P. Reyes (CD-1).  The program would allow kayaking, rafting and other non-motorized boating on the river for the first time.  The motion directs affected City, county and environmental groups, in coordination with the United States Army Corps of Engineers, to report to the Ad Hoc River Committee in 90 days on the feasibility of establishing a pilot non-motorized boating program for the 32-mile stretch of the L.A. River that lies within the City’s boundaries.  Reyes’ motion further calls for staff to address legal and financial issues, public access, public safety training, education and other matters with respect to water contact activities at the L.A. River.
If you want to take part then here is your link:

LA’s Plastic Problem

LA has a plastic problem. No, this is not a post about breast implants, nor is it a post about the ever present lack of authenticity in LA.  Our dear city has a lot of plastic bags, bottles, and yes, some discarded breast implants fouling our roads, rivers, ocean, and…well, it’s all over the place and it is not going away. Several organizations are doing a lot to battle this blight and one of them, the Plastic Pollution Coalition, is doing more than a lot. They have a great event coming up at UCLA on 8/22 and a lot of great info on their website:

Event info:

The Bridges Theater is located at the Northeastern corner of the UCLA campus.  To reach the UCLA Campus using public transportation, please see the campus map with bus stops<>or plan your trip at Metro <; .
Parking is available in Lot 3. Parking fee is $10.  From Hilgard Ave. enter the east side of campus at Wyton Dr. Make and immediate right turn onto Charles E. Young Dr. East and signs will direct you to Parking Structure 3.
From the ground level of Structure 3, enter the underpass (or from the street level cross Charles E. Young Dr. North and proceed down steps) and walk straight alongside Melnitz and Macgowan Halls. Turn left at the plaza and proceed to the courtyard of theaters.
Charitable Donations will be accepted at the event.

LA River Revitalization Corp

There is much confusion now about what will happen to the LA River now that it has been declared navigable and thus protected by the EPA. Many have been working for years to do something positive with the river and there is a revitalization master plan. The River Revitalization Corp is the lead agency for getting things rolling.

The River Revitalization Corp is having a meeting on Aug 17.

Learn more at:

Did You Clean Your Hands?

Hand transmission of microbes (bugs) by health care workers is a primary cause of infections in healthcare settings. Compliance with effective handwashing and hand sanitization regimens can help prevent such infections.  Many studies have shown that alcohol gel sanitizers are as effective and sometimes more effective than soap and water at killing bacteria and viruses that hang out on people’s hands and healthcare workers are now being advised to use alcohol gels instead of soap and water to help prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

When a person washes their hands they are supposed to do it for at least twenty seconds and the rubbing of the soap and the water should be vigorous.  Such a proper washing uses (or wastes?) more than a quart of water.  And what about the paper towels that are wasted as well?  If the use of alcohol gels is as or more effective than soap and water then what are we doing with these handwashing rituals we engage in a few or more times a day?  This is a question that has few solid answers so far, but needs to be debated.  Water is a precious resource and we shouldn’t be playing games with it.  Let’s figure this thing out together.

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