Where there is a will there is a way

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Finding a home on land

Ok, so my husband and I are looking for a home with an actual yard (called a "garden" here in NZ). There is that classic irony of course of needing to work more in the city to purchase the land to "return to nature". But there is also the problem that's been happening over the last few hundred years, and at a critical point now-- of overdevelopment! Just as you buy a place with some wild land near it, it quickly also gets swept up and developed.

So, should I become active politically to plead for city zoning laws to change? How do I make a home on land???

The area where we would love to live is currently near a huge forest, and estuary. The forested area is zoned for development, and we all know, it won't be long. There is also a huge bridge in the plans which will cut through the estuary, through the neighbourhood. This is the most "wild" place we could find that we could afford to live.

Even in the real story of Laura Wilder, in her books "The little house on the prairie", the family made a home just beyond the wave of settlement. But now, we are carving up every metre.

The people of the future will reintroduce greenery where they can, and strike a balance. I am going to move there, and fight for all the wildness that I can.

Friday, November 19, 2010

LA county bans plastic bags

I heard about this from care2.com's website, who got their information from a LA Times story.

I copied and pasted the original story as follows from the LA Times website, including their photo, link: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2010/11/la-county-passes-sweeping-ban-on-plastic-bags.html

L.A. County passes sweeping ban on plastic bags

November 16, 2010 12:46 pm

Enacting one of the nation's most aggressive environmental measures, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to ban plastic grocery bags in unincorporated areas of the county.

The vote was 3-1, supported by Supervisors Gloria Molina, Mark Ridley-Thomas, and Zev Yaroslavsky, and opposed by Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich. Supervisor Don Knabe was absent.

The ban, which will cover nearly 1.1 million residents countywide, is to the point: “No store shall provide to any customer a plastic carryout bag.” An exception would be made for plastic bags that are used to hold fruit, vegetables or raw meat in order to prevent contamination with other grocery items.

"If grocers choose to offer paper bags, they must sell them for 10 cents each, according to the ordinance. The revenue will be retained by the stores to purchase the paper bags and educate customers about the law.

“Plastic bags are a pollutant. They pollute the urban landscape. They are what we call in our county urban tumbleweed,” Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said.

Mark Gold, president of the Santa Monica environmental group Heal the Bay, said previous county efforts to promote recycling of plastic bags at grocery stores was a failure.

“You cannot recycle your way out of the plastic bag problem,” Gold said. “The cost of convenience can no longer be at the expense of the environment.”

The measure is a significant win for environmental groups, which suffered a major defeat in Sacramento at the end of August with the failure of the state Senate to pass a sweeping plastic bag ban that won the support of the state Assembly and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger amid heavy and costly lobbying by plastic bag manufacturers.

But the ban could cause confusion. The action by the Board of Supervisors only covers the unincorporated areas of L.A. County, covering some neighborhoods like Altadena, Valencia and Rowland Heights, but doesn't cover 88 cities in L.A. County. City councils could adopt a similar ordinance.

Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich raised the prospect that small mom-and-pop shops could suffer financially because they won’t be able to buy paper and reusable bags in great volume, and could force low-income people to buy bags to pick up pet waste or carry their lunch.

“At a time of economic uncertainty, with a large number of businesses leaving our state and community this would not be an appropriate time ... to impose this additional regulation,” Antonovich said.

Opponents of the ban told the supervisors that a legal challenge to the ban is still a possibility.

With the Tuesday vote, L.A. County’s measure is more stringent than similar bans adopted elsewhere in California, Gold said.

San Francisco’s ban, which passed three years ago, is less restrictive because it still permits grocers to offer bioplastic bags made from corn starch, which are imperfect because they also do not degrade in the ocean, Gold said. Bans in San Francisco and Malibu also do not add a surcharge on paper bags, Gold said, which does not give consumers an incentive to switch to reusable cloth bags.

Washington, D.C., decided to tackle the issue not with a ban on any kind of bag, but a 5-cent surcharge per any item of disposable bag.

Gold, however, said an outright ban will be more effective on reducing the 6 billion plastic bags that are used in L.A. County every year, which according to the county, account for 25% of the litter picked up here.

Government figures show that just 5% of plastic bags are recycled.

Last week, the American Chemistry Council, one of the chief opponents of the ban, warned L.A. County leaders that the proposed ordinance and fee on paper bags fall under the voting requirements of Proposition 26. The initiative, which passed this month, reclassifies most regulatory fees on industry as "taxes" requiring a two-thirds vote in government bodies or in public referendums, rather than a simple majority.

County Counsel Andrea Ordin said Tuesday that the 10-cent surcharge on paper bags is not a fee covered by Prop. 26 because the revenue is being kept by the grocers and not directed to a government agency.

--article ends--

Monday, November 1, 2010

Cat Stevens -- Where do the children play?

I just discovered Cat Steven's song, Where do the children play? and I got shivers, while working on the computer. Buy it on itunes, or wherever. (Our credit card is linked to itunes, so we can explore and find a song or two of various artists we come across. I don't even have an ipod, but itunes is great.) Music is really important.

I feel artists pick up, and channel messages bigger than them.

Here are the words, as I want to really listen to them. But just listen to it k.

Well I think it's fine, building jumbo planes.
Or taking a ride on a cosmic train.
Switch on summer from a slot machine.
Yes, get what you want to if you want, 'cause you can get anything.

I know we've come a long way,
We're changing day to day,
But tell me, where do the children play?

Well you roll on roads over fresh green grass.
For your lorry loads pumping petrol gas.
And you make them long, and you make them tough.
But they just go on and on, and it seems that you can't get off.

Oh, I know we've come a long way,
We're changing day to day,
But tell me, where do the children play?

Well you've cracked the sky, scrapers fill the air.
But will you keep on building higher
'til there's no more room up there?
Will you make us laugh, will you make us cry?
Will you tell us when to live, will you tell us when to die?

I know we've come a long way,
We're changing day to day,
But tell me, where do the children play?

As a mother, all I do is herd my children beside and away from roads. They can't run free outside because of roads (or developed space). So I really understand this. I also realize by my instincts, how much they need to be running around in a country wild setting, outdoors, in the grass and trees. Because there isn't that space.

It's about our culture's belief that we have come to a great place in our culture, but actually, what do we lose? I challenge this assumption. What we lose when we develop everything is of far greater value. Freedom, wildness, birds...forts...being somewhere outside ourselves.

(Another amazing song of Cat Steven's is of course Father and Son.)

P.S. Also check out Ben Harper's Better Way.