Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy


Who wants to come to the Rose Parade with me?? I'm pretty certain I'm going!

Recently, I've gotten really into parades and other silly forms of american-ness(TG parades in Chi, for example). Okay, so maybe I'm just into parades? Anyway, the Rose Parade is probably the biggest tradition we have in LA and since I've never been, I figured I'd probably go! I'm not camping out, though. Funk that. I'm just gonna roll up at 4am or something.

The Gold Line runs all night
! In LA, all the rail lines are running allll nightttt longggg. So don't drive (in general), but especially tonight. My days of getting stranded in Pas and getting driven 3/4 of the way back to the valley are over! (for tonight, anyway).

Upcycle, please,

Antonio Pacheco

New year


For some reason, it's impossible to find something awesome to do tonight.

I wish I could I could be in Montreal.

Upcycle please,

Antonio Pacheco

Monday, December 29, 2008

I Wish My Camera Worked


My camera is dumb.

but... I had a bus/walking adventure today!


VEGAN DONUTS HAVE BEEN CONQUERED!!!! sososo good. Laura and I hit up the Intelligista and finally, found some of the much-desired vegan donuts. They were pretty yummy and glazy. Sticky fingers ensued. They have really strong espresso and tasty tonic water.

Walking the streets of Los Angeles is fun except that it's been nice and warm and I still dress like im in st louis (read: scarf/coat). Oy.

I went to the Iliad Bookstore in North Hollywood (NoHo) and bought a book, but I can't say which one. It's a really sweet place, you should check it out. Again, it was hot; I walked down the North Hollywood/ Burbank Chandler bikeway.

I also went to Carter Sexton (bought some Le Pens) and a small russian grocery store.

Yay. This kind of doesnt relate to anything? Idk.

Upcycle, please

Antonio

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Nourishing Traditions



Santa gave me several great gifts this year, but my favorite so far has been this book. It looks like it could be a guide to Holistic Healing or Andrew Weil's newest manifesto. It speaks along those lines- an alternative approach to considering nutrition. Okay, all of my posts have been about food. I can't help it. But this book is really cool.

When we think of contemporary nutritional guidelines, we think of the USDA Food Pyramid, the American Dietetic Association, the American Heart Association, etc. These large organizations/societies have been the decreers of how we should eat and have trained missionaries, nutritionists, who then coach us on how to eat and influence what's available to us at cafeterias and hospitals around the country. The author, Sally Fallon, argues that these organizations are in fact representing other interests- mainly corporate interests- and thus what they're telling us is not what is actually good for our bodies, but what is good for the pockets of the grain processing industry and its allies. She argues that the current recommendations, of a diet low in saturated fat and high in grains, is not actually what our bodies evolved to eat. The current craze over margarine and adding omega-3 fatty acids to everything we eat, while throwing out our egg yolks and consuming vast amounts of processed grains is not only wrong, but harmful to our bodies.

She advocates eating unprocessed grains and eliminating our consumption of processed sugars, which makes sense and vibes with current recommendations. She suggests a huge shift in the way in which we view fat and cholesterol. No longer, she says, should we stress only polyunsaturated fats, currently what margarine and olive oil offer us. Margarine and similar shortenings, and most vegetable oils, are harmful to our bodies through their free radicals, the products of high-temperature processing. She believes that our bodies are made to eat large amounts of animal fat, including butter, as long as the animals were raised on their natural diets (think grass) to assure the optimal Omega-3:Omega-6 fatty acid ratio. This argument is supported in part by studies of the primitive populations of the world known for their longevity. These populations eat chiefly animal fats and animal meat, but have little or no tooth decay, excellent bone mass, little aging, and no weight problems (as well as long life spans). Even contemporary diet villains, like butter and coconut and palm oils, are acquitted by her arguments.

More to come on Nourishing Traditions, but I'm optimistic. Be prepared for some startling conclusions. Did I mention that this is a cookbook?

Will

Malibu

And the Winner Is....

After a multitude of bicycle-bound adventures around the StL metro, I've decided on my winner for best farmers' market of 2008. The pool was rather small- I visited the Maplewood market, the Tower Grove market, the Clayton market, Delmar market, the Soulard market, and Bon Appetit's very own mini-market which made its debut this fall. Of these places, two don't qualify as farmers' markets- at the Delmar and Soulard markets, the produce is simply sold by a smaller vendor. However, it's still the same produce that you'll find at Schnucks or Shop n' Save. I also did not consider the North City market, mainly becuase I never visited it, but also because I believe that that produce is aimed at lower-income citizens. I didn't feel like I am the desired clientele at that market, and thus didn't make it a point to visit it.

That leaves us with three full-blown markets: Clayton, Tower Grove, and Maplewood. They have very distinct differences: the weekly fee for a vendor at the Clayton market is around $150, the most expensive out of all of the StL markets. Tower Grove features the largest number of vendors and live music. In addition, the Maplewood market is open every Wednesday, whereas the others are open on Saturdays.

In the end, I had the best experiences at Maplewood! It had a beautiful combination of organic produce vendors selling at reasonable prices and local vendors with spreads, sauces, and chocolate. Attending Maplewood was great- I talked with vendors, traded old Oberweiss jugs for reduced-priced produce, and filled up on scrumptious Black Bear delights. It's real close to campus- a 15 minute bike ride at most- and doesn't require you to wake up real early to attend- it's open from 4-7pm on Wednesdays during the warm months. Make it a point to visit Maplewood. You'll find a wonderful collection of people who are interested in what they're eating and how it impacts their world. Avoid the hype and greenwashing that plagues most current "sustainable alternatives." Really, check it out, and I'll go with you.

If you're hungry, and you're NOT waiting until April, check out one of St. Louis's winter farmers' markets. The Tower Grove market relocates to the St. John Episcopal Church at 3664 Arsenal, just across the street from Tower Grove Park. It's open the 2nd Saturday of every month from 9am to 1pm. Maplewood has its own farmers' market during the winter. The schedule is more intermittent, but the first date in 2009 is January 31st, 2009, open for the same times. For a schedule, see here.

Eat locally, please. In fact, let's do it together

Will

Saturday, December 27, 2008

San Diago


So I missed my bus back to Los Angeles by like, thirty seconds? Per us. I managed to come up on some bandwidth at a local Coffee Bean. Do they have those in the Middle West? I'm not quite sure.

Anyway, I've spent the last few days in the San Diego burbia, hanging out and getting retro with my dad. I finished Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. I'm working on a review! but its not done. anyway,

i dont know why im blogging!
have anice day!

Antonio

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

We talking bout PRACTICE

One of the problems I see in US food culture (if it exists) is the prevalance of rewarding mass eating. The most famous example is the Coney Island hot dog challenge, but any American city you go to, there are a million opportunities for you to try to eat an unreasonable amount of food to earn a pittance. I love the idea of a duo finishing up a Pointersaurus or a crazy person drinking 5 malts at Crown Candy as much as the next person, but I wish that kind of thing didn't proliferate the everyday dining experience. It's only a skip away from that kind of culture to the Supersized fast food meal or the ubiquitous huge portions at restaurants. Maybe if eating itself was an enjoyable, entertaining and fulfilling experience, we wouldn't have to make it an event where people end up puking. A meal is not a frat party, you know?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle


Like the fool that I am, I mistakenly forgot my copy of Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan in my bedroom in St. Louis. After grieving for a few days and attempting to fill Mr. Pollan's void with some Benjamin Button, I decided it was time I end my pitty party and find a new read.

So,yesterday, I bought a new book: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle- A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver at Portrait of a Bookstore. The book chronicles the Kingsolver family's year-long experiment with growing/finding/buying most of their own food in rural Virgina. It reminds me a lot of Michael Pollan, but it's different in an interesting way.

You should read it.

Upcycle, please

Antonio Pacheco

Original Farmers


I came upon this article just now on the LAT website that mentions the Los Angeles Farmers Market's recent efforts to increase the number of farmers who sell produce at this beloved FM. For those of your who don't know, the LA Farmer's Market, like most everything else that goes on around here, is kind of a farmers market in name only. It's first and foremost a place to get lunch, secondly, a stepping stone between the parking lot and The Grove shopping center, thirdly, a place to get Pinkberry and last, but not least, a place to buy groceries and specialty foods.Maybe that indictment of the LAFM is a bit too scathing, but, to quote the LAT article,

"It’s been about eight years since a farmer sold his produce at Farmers Market, a spokeswoman said."

That's kind of a startling fact. While I appreciate the ability of the LAFM to be a legitimate place for social and community interaction, the fact that it is not first and foremost an actual farmers market is really disheartening, especially in a city like Los Angeles that is not only within extreme proximity to good food, but has the population levels to sustain widespread participation in innovative and healthy systems of food growth and distribution. This city, with its endless square miles of underutilized suburban roofs and freeway medians/on ramps has the capacity, ability, and even, willingness to grow much if not all of the food it consumes. Not only that, but with that same vastness comes an opportunity to create a multitude of localized, community-organized and opperated gardens and farmers markets.
Not only that, but it's a situation that can be repeated all across this country. Cities used to have these sorts of farmers markets and corner grocers all over the place, no? What changed was that the prime farmland that was once used to grow all the food sold in the city has now been plowed over by the wheels and gears of the suburbs. Well, maybe it's time to reclaim those farmlands and reap the suburbs for what they're worth.

Upcycle, please

Antonio Pacheco

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Angelic Travels



I had an amazingly random day today out in and about in the city of angeles.

I havent time to upload pictures, but I went here, bought a book here, and ran into her (we go way back).

Took the metro here and ran into some hipsters.


Slowly, I'm starting to actually appreciate home and what it's worth.
Slowly.

Upcycle, please

Antonio Pacheco

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Let The Games Vegan!


I stumbled upon this cool vegan blog. I'm not vegan at all, but it's a neat site. Who wants to grab some vegan donuts!??!

Upcycle, please

Antonio

Train Stations


As you may or may not know, I am terribly interested in all forms of alternative/ lower-carbon modes of transportation. To me, the ways that we choose to move about and through our environments is tied irrevocably to our own personal relationship to all facets of the environment. There are walkable cities and drivable ones; places that love bikes and others that are just straight up scary.
Of all these varied forms of lower-carbon transports, the one I’ve recently become most enamored with architecturally is that of the train. Specifically, I’ve fallen for train stations. There are a lot of train stations in the United States that date to the early 1900s that I find compelling and inspiring in an architectural and even, social sense. I’m talking about the Union Stations that lay scattered across the country, these vast and epic architectural monuments from a time long past. They’re symbols of a day and age when trains ruled the world and the relentless march of the steel track was unstoppable and unforgiving.
But now… these places all suck. The glamour has gone; the patina of time has taken over. Like many of the other emblems of that age, the train station has fallen victim to the ravages of time. And it’s all too apparent. These massive buildings-though mostly newly renovated- sit half empty, cordonded off, inaccessible and underutilized. Instead of being meaningful, useful members of the contemporary architectural scene of our cities, they’re merely blips on the tourist radar, poorly done indoor shopping malls, or half-working, semi-revived train stations.
So, I’ve taken it upon myself to begin talking about these places once again. Starting with Los Angeles’s Union Station, I’m going to begin a series of posts on the big stations I come across during my travels. As of now, I’m planning on writing about stations in Los Angeles, Kansas City, St. Louis, Chicago, and possibly San Diego. If you would like to submit pictures or text about train stations you’ve been to anywhere in the world, please do so. Email submissions to a.p.8.9.88@gmail.com and label them accordingly!

Upcycle, please

Antonio Pacheco

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Max



They say Kansas City is too sprawling to have a light rail system. It’s too vast, too spread out, too suburbanized. But this weekend, I saw something that was quite the contrary, that is, the Max. I’m not entirely sure how it works yet (I’ve only ridden it, I haven’t researched it), but I do know that it worked out pretty well for me. Essentially, the Max is a Bus Rapid Transit system, sort of like a Metro Rapid (in LA) or Express line (in StL): a specialized bus system that runs along on the street with other cars and makes stops at significant intersections. These routes are usually outfitted with snazzy, often shiny, signage and equally supped up buses. These systems are often used when light or heavy rail are too expensive or do not yet meet the level of demand necessary for the serious investments that come along with expansion of public transportation.

Anyway, Kansas City’s 57 Max is great. I took the Megabus to Kansas City from St. Louis. In the past, getting from the Mega Bus stop consisted of a lovely and enlightening 15 block saunter through downtown Kansas City and its immediate areas to the south, but the Mega Bus station recently moved to a new spot on the north eastern part of the downtown area. At first, I was worried about this because my grasp of downtown Kansas City was pretty minimal, so the prospect of sleepily walking off a bus in the middle of an unexplored part of downtown was maybe a bit frightening. But, as it has it, the new Megabus stop is half a block away from the Max line. Not only that, but it’s the same distance from Kansas City’s market. I’ll post about the market later; it’s awesome.

So, the 57 Max line runs from the Mega Bus stop, past the market, through the financial district, down Main Street from downtown, through the Arts District, Union Station, the Hallmark Factory, and down through the southern part of the city. It runs two blocks away from the Nelson Atkins and Kemper Art Museums as well as the Country Club Plaza. So, on my visit to Kansas City, I was able to hit all of my favorite spots in the city in one fell swoop. It was pretty great. My favorite part was that each stop along the route is marked by these monoliths that shave little LED displays that show when the next bus is coming. They also show the route itself, something I haven’t seen much of, even though it’s incredibly helpful.

Effectively, the 57 Max allowed me to gain a much richer and dynamic impression of Kansas City than I would have had I traveled by foot. And it does so both ecause of convenience and explicit choice. This route connects many major cultural and economic centers across the city in a pretty effective way, providing the traveler with an opportunity to reach all these important places with relative ease. So, it raises the questions, 1) what do we allow to dictate route selection for public transportation routes?

And 2) why aren’t planners taking a more proactive approach in structuring a way of moving about the city that includes more than simply traveling from point A to point B? I believe that it is possible to create (or perpetuate) circulation routes through and within the city that can themselves become culturally significant as well as eloquent and stimulating- without being inefficient or overly expensive.

Kansas City’s 57 Max is a first step in this direction.

Upcycle, please

Antonio Pacheco

Not Writing Sucks



Not having time to write really sucks. I think I’ve realized that I am generally happier and healthier when I am constantly putting out a stream of consciousness on this here blog. That becomes troubling when my time is sucked up by other aspects of my life and/or I am too mentally preoccupied with these other aspects that I don’t really have the energy to process critical thought. Of course, this was the first semester of schooling while blogging and although, the results were mixed at very best, I feel encouraged. That’s because there’s room for improvement.

I feel like I have learned a great deal over the last six or so months we’ve been blogging, both about the world, as a whole, and myself, specifically. And that’s essentially been the point of this endeavor- to learn and teach, about our soundings, ourselves, and where those two ideas intersect.

So, hopefully, as I have time to collect and nurture my thoughts over the next three weeks, I will begin a series of writings that will hopefully carry well into the coming semester.

Upcycle, please
Antonio Pacheco

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Riles Files


Richard Reilly is probably the coolest person I've met in a long, long time. He's a big deal around St. Louis, is involved with (among other things) Architecture for Humanity STL, and our grocery project. He keeps a blog. You have to read it.

Ive found myself increasingly coming into contact with incredible, inspiring, and interesting people around this city. I think it's a sign of whats to come, hopefully. There are a lot of talented individuals, working in groups, making the city a better place. we're all trying to reach for a more positive, healthy, and productive future.

Upcycle, please

Antonio

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Publication




I've always wanted to start a publication (magazine, newsletter, comic book?), but I've never been able to. I guess Upcycle Diaries is sort of a publication, but its not tangible enough.

I want something that I can hand out and leave on the Metro or staple to telephone poles.

Is there anyone one out there who'd like to help??

I havent really thought of a theme yet, but it'd have to be something awesome (obviously). And I dont know that it necessarily has to be something that's straight up sustainable. But it'll probably end up being so in some way, however hidden that way might be.

It should also be fun. And colorful.

Upcycle, please

Antonio

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Urbanity


Chicago is a city with suburbs in three states: Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. It cuts a wide swath across the prairie, relentlessly crawling towards the horizon. Last week, I was able to spend time there, taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of the city and its surroundings.

This time around, I traveled through many of these suburban areas, attempting to broaden my definition of what Chicago- and ultimately, urbanity- is and how that relates to what I want to do with my life. After my first visit to the city two years ago, the image of Chicago in my mind has been pretty synonymous with tall buildings and El tracks. Somewhere between then and this most recent trip, tall buildings had been replaced with medium-density neighborhoods; main streets clad in Chicago brick, with small shops, bookstores, restaurants, and fixed gear bicycles. This time, those neighborhoods were replaced by subdivisions and the El Tracks with Metra trains.

Now, my understanding of the city is on one hand, broader and probably more accurate, and on the other, infinitely more confusing. In some ways-that is, for some people-, there is a great permeability and fluidity between life in the suburbs and life (work) in the city. It's easy to hop on the El in one part of the city, take the train to downtown and transfer to a Metra train and end up 50 miles outside the city in a low-density, consumer-driven, suburban utopia. Is that okay?

Upcycle, please

Antonio Pacheco

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Locks of Love Indubitably

I chopped off my hair (probably around a foot of hair), and it was easy.
These are the reasons for me why it was so:
1. I usually can't donate blood because of iron deficiency.
2. I don't really like my hair that much.
3. I can grow it back while the kids with leukemia can't at this point in their lives.
This is a gross generalization, as usual, but since my scalp is healthy, I think I'll keep donating hair for a while. Isn't it weird that strangers send hair to a strange wig factory so a stranger can maybe have a better social life and a boost in their self-esteem? And how the pictures have the donors holding up their newly shed ponytails as if it were a prize-winning deer head or a tuna fish?
The end.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

RAINY DAYS

I've always wondered why people drive in the rain. I guess it sort of makes sense to, I mean, who wants to walk or bike in a downpour? I like walking in the rain, but I'm aware that doing so provides only momentary joy and is followed by prolonged soggyness.

Why wouldnt they just stay home and drink hot chocolate or something?

And yet, if I am ever really struck by the number of cars in a given city, it's during rainy days. It seems like that's when they all come out of the woodwork. It strikes me as odd and presumptuous that people don't really shape their activities around the weather. Maybe that's it.

Stop driving,


Antonio Pacheco

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

APPLE BREAK TONIGHT


I dont think many of the peeps who read this blog are actually in St. Louis, but that's fine. We're holding an Apple Break tonight. Maybe you dont know what that means... I'm not sure its ever been entirely explained.

Apple Break came out of a realization last semester that 1) architecture students are much too stressed and 2) there are too many unused, public spaces on campuses and in cities that could use some bonafide lovin'. We spend too much time inside and that makes us a bit cranky; it keeps us away from plazas and streetcorners.

So, our response was to institute something akin to a cigarette break sans the lung cancer. The point is to take a short break from whatever work needs to be done in order to gain a little mental clarity.

In other words, we had some apples on hand and a desire for procrastination and so, Apple Break was born.

Now, we make posters.

It's starting to become a world-wide phenomenon. So, perhaps, you should take part. It's quite simple. All you need is friends, apples (or anything?), and an underused public space. The rest, my friends, is history.

upcycle, please

Antonio

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

ELECTION DAY



It only took 20 years, but today, I made my parents' dreams come true today. I voted. I waited in line, like so many others and did the damn thing.

It rocked. Captain Elementary School
Long lines, Long Grass
More Long LinesLeaves of ChangeVoting


Upcycle, please

Antonio Pacheco

Sunday, November 2, 2008

BARACK OBAMA FOR PRESIDENT


So, it's probably not a huge shocker that we're pretty big fans of Barack Obama's candidacy for President, but I thought it might be nice to make it official. We're endorsing Barack Obama for President.

The decision to endorse Barack Obama for President has not been a difficult one for me at all. I have been a Barack supporter since before he officially began his campaign. Never for any concrete reason, other than that he seemed like a really cool guy. On a whim, my roommate and I attended the rally he held in Springfield, Illinois back in February of 2007 to announce his candidacy. I had never been colder or more exhausted than I was that morning. It was a frigid and windy morning, the ground was frozen and you could feel it suck the heat from your body. But it didn't matter; even back then, I was one of many in a giant crowd of supporters, a group of people who knew nothing about a man they trusted enough to run and represent their country. Even then, I felt a special connection to this man and his potential. There was something about him that spoke to me, something that I really liked. Who knew that crowd of a few thousand would turn into crowds of 30 and 100,000 people the following times I'd see Barack? His success was always expected and yet, it's still surprising.

It took me up until recently to figure out why, but I think i've got it. While I don't necessarily agree with all of his policies or the way he's handled some of the issues of the campaign, I'm also not entirely certain that matters so much in this election. That's because this election isn't merely a chance to decide between several candidates and a few ballot initiatives, it's a referendum on our way of life. It's a chance to stop and question how we do things now and begin to think about whether or not we should be doing them differently. It is not purely about the specificity of policies or political strategies, but about the more general cultural and social context those policies and strategies are framed within. It's about the possibility for change and the promise of hope. And that's because we've all had enough of not only the last eight years, but of maybe the last 50 or 100 or 200 years. We've reached a point in our history in which questioning and doubt seem natural and we're looking for politicians who can best articulate not only a vision for the future, but a sense of comfort surrounding that uncertain future. And for me, Barack Obama instills that vision and comfort quite well.

It's based fundementally on his image as a symbol for hope. There's no way I can explain it, but he is a man that instills hope. His speeches, his words, his way of life all speak to the notion that the future can be different and better. And rightly so. I don't want a President that I can do keg stands with; I don't want to be smarter or more interesting or a better person than the people who run and represent us. I want a President who is eloquent and wise, amicable and progressive, responsible and inspiring. Our political figures should be no less. Is it really that much to ask for an inspiring political figure?

Barack's slogans and messages of "hope" has been especially meaningful to me, personally, because the notion of hope is fundamental to my existence. That's because I wouldn't be here were it not for the hope my parents had in this country, a hope so persistent and seductive that they were willing to crawl, swim, and talk their way into this country at all costs. They did so purely on the abstract notion that this country could afford them, their families, and their children a better and more promising life. And that notion of hope-in one way or another- is what has brought many of our families here. There is something about these lands that makes it run rife with this infectious sense of possibility, it's what has kept us here and persuaded many more to join us. Hope, for me, is not merely a slogan, it's literally a way of life.

And somehow, Barack Obama has come to represent that notion of hope, the idea that one can overcome adversity and get an education, make a name for themselves, and have a positive, lasting impact on the people and places of this world. It is for this reason and with this hope that We endorse Barack Obama for President.

Vote, please.

Antonio Pacheco

Saturday, November 1, 2008

POLITICS

This picture makes me really sad.

This picture makes me laugh.

So it evens out, I guess.

Upcycle, please

Antonio

Friday, October 31, 2008

STUDS


All the cool people need to stop dying.

Upcycle, please.

Antonio

Thursday, October 30, 2008

METROLINK PROM


We're throwing a Metrolink appreciation event this saturday in an attempt to get the word out about Proposition M and... to have lots of fun. EVERYONE'S talking about it and it's going to be a pretty amazing thing. I don't know what to wear. Various shades of beige, probably. With some sort of snazzy tie.

No two things go better together than formalwear and public transportation, right!? So, Saturday, Novermber 1st, but on a tux and meet us at the Delmar Station at 7:15. There are rumors of a Wash U accapella group providing music for us to dance to. In order to attend, you have to:

1) show up
2) look nice
3) buy a metro ticket, transfer, or pass
4) be ready freddy to have fun

This is our chance to save the metro, will you join us?!

I'm still looking for a date, though. Any takers? Leave a comment if you're interested.

Upcycle, please,

Antonio Pacheco

SCIENTISTS


I read this article today on BBC:


Now that gap in research has been plugged, according to scientists who carried out a detailed analysis of temperature variations at both poles.
Their study indicates that humans have indeed contributed to warming in both regions.

Whoa, really? This same study also discovered that: 1) gravity is indeed what makes stuff fall to the ground and 2)the egg came first (not the chicken, as previously believed). They still havent figured out where dryer transports all those missing socks.

Come on, scientists. Maybe if we'd spent more resources trying to figure out how to fix the problems we've created and less time debating whether or not we created them in the first place, we wouldn't be in this mess.

Upcycle, please

Antonio

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

BAGGU PART 2

A few days ago, I wrote a review of Baggu Bags,stating that although I thought the concept was great, the bags could be pushed further in terms of their overall sustainability. If you read the comment board for that post, you should have noticed the interesting post by Emily Sugihara, the Co-Founder of Baggu Bags:

Hi Antonio,

This is Emily from Baggu - I just wanted to address your concern about why we use Nylon instead of cloth. We think it actually makes Baggu greener.

When we designed Baggu, we took into account our product's entire life cycle (manufacturing, use, and end of life). Here's an explanation of the thinking that went into our fabric choice.

First, while nylon is a petroleum product, it is also a cradle to cradle material, meaning it can be recycled indefinitely. Baggu offers a recycling program to our customers. If a bag becomes damaged or worn out, customers can return their bags to us for a $1 credit towards a new Baggu. We collect the bags to eventually be recycled into new nylon.

Secondly, we felt very strongly about providing an alternative to plastic that was affordable and user friendly. A reusable bag is only green if it is actually being used to replace plastic bags. I personally keep three in my purse all the time, and I never, ever have to take a plastic bag, be it at the drug store, buying clothes, etc. Because cotton is not as strong as nylon, a much heavier weight fabric has to be used to carry the same weight load. I could never keep three heavy weight cotton/canvas totes in my purse - they wouldn't fit. People will actually use Baggu bag because of its appeal, its convenient compact size and strength, when they may have found larger cotton totes impractical. The average Baggu replaces 300 to 700 plastic bags every year.

Finally, the way our landfills are built nothing biodegrades. Not even food. All trash is basically sealed together in giant plastic liners to prevent the toxic things (like plastic bags), that are mixed in with the trash from contaminating the ground water. So unless your city has a composting program, a nylon bag in the landfill and a cotton bag in the landfill are exactly the same, only a cotton bag takes up more space.

Hope this explains our decision to use nylon. We're a small family run company, and we weighed the alternatives to come up with what we felt to be the best option. Thanks again for your blog post - it's really great to hear from people who care about the environment so much. This is why we're doing what we're doing!

Best,

Emily Sugihara

I've gone through and bolded what I thought were the two best points. Regarding the first point, too often we use the concept of recycling as a sort of indulgence, as a way of continuing past levels of consumption by simply stating, "oh, don't worry. It's recyclable." I don't necessarily believe that simply recycling is any better in the long run because many materials, when recycled degrade and become lesser things; recycling a plastic bottle doesn't get you a new plastic bottle, etc. But the concept of cradle to cradle products, I find very interesting. That is, we should not be content with simply recycling(or really, downcycling them) things, we should instead, upcycle them. If nylon is a material that can indeed be recycled indefinitely, then, yes, it's great.

The second point, i think, is the most compelling. I dont personally carry around my tote bags with me, simply because Emily is absolutely right, they take up tons of space and carrying around a tote full of tote isn't that fun. I think I spoke a little bit about this in the original Baggu post, but there is a certain inconvenience tied to the environmental movement that is almost fundemental to that movement. If you care about the environment, you're willing to go out of your way to do so. You take these extra steps to find a recycling bin, carry around real silverware, pay more for organic produce, take time to reasearch where your food and products come from, etc. But the problem with that approach is that there are a finite number of people who are willing to do all of that; for environmentalism to become mainstream and popular, it has to be a bit easier for people to adopt into their daily lives. I'm not advocating for environmentalism to be mindless or overly simplifed, no. We should definitely be cognizent and aware of every decision we make and the ramifcations those decisions have, but environmentalism should not be solely a culture of willful inconvenience. It should be enjoyable and enriching and to a certain degree, easy.

Baggu Bags do this really well because they fold up into neat squares that aren't overly heavy and don't take up tons of space. So, instead of a tote full of totes, you can just carry around three or four Baggu Bag squares at all times. You could even have one in your pack pocket! And that, I think, is pretty cool.

I was convinced by Emily's argument, so I bought a few. When they arrive, I'll use them for a bit and write another review.

Upcycle please,

Antonio Pacheco

PS: Speaking of totes! I just got a new one in the mail a few days ago from far, far away. It's nice, I guess.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

WINDOW GARDEN


In studio, we have a garden growing in a tin can and PVC pipes. We're growing black beans, mint, snap dragons, and basil. The black beans are getting bigbig. Mint smells good. And we got the Basil for a dolla from hitomi. Snapdragons need to be transplanted/DJ doesnt have a green thumb.

I wonder if the black beans will bear fruit. That'd be really exciting. We're trying to have the mint spread its roots through a series of PVC tubes, almost as if it was simultaneously planted in multiple containers, laying down multiple root systems. I guess that's what mint does in real life; we're trying to emulate that. I'm worried for them, though. Winter is coming quite swiftly and ruthlessly. They need to be insulated.


Black Beans!
Climbing.
MintyMint.
Variegated Basil.
Snapdragons.

Upcycle, please.

Antonio Pacheco

Monday, October 27, 2008

PROP M Part 2

Public Transit is Upcycling (and as an Upcycler, you should vote yes on Proposition M)

In St. Louis, we have the resource of a public transit system set to expand and become even more useful to our citizens. By using railroad right-of-ways, the MetroLink utilizes space that was otherwise unused. And most importantly, public transit allows users to reclaim lost time in their day. When they would be sitting in traffic, staring at the car behind them, they can take a nap or read a book as they move along on the bus or train. All that discarded time becomes something productive, where we're interacting with our neighbors and getting where we need to go. Not to mention that public transit means sharing resources, which is inherently less wasteful.

So, we have to support this system. We already have a set of train tracks that run out to the county, and we already have all these resources created. We must use them to the extent they deserve to be used: and that means funding for operation. If Metro goes forward with the planned cuts to services, then our trains and buses become unused resources, and we'll lose the valuable human capital that serves so many jobs in our transit system.

Public transit does a lot of good for us, and needs our support to continue operating. The half-cent sales tax increase that Proposal M supports will allow Metro to continue to operate and to expand, and we deserve a transit system that will serve our needs into the future. Please make it to the end of the ballot and vote yes on Proposal M.

-Miss Metrolink

Sunday, October 26, 2008

CHICAGO'S BICYCLES PART 2 (REENNNNTALLLZZZ)


When we were in Chi City a few weeks back, we ran into this really coool bicycle station in Millennium Park, the McDonald's Cycle Center. It's a bike station on the northern edge of the park where you can rent out bicycles for transportation about the city. It's a pretty cool concept, I think. According to their website, they provide shower facilities, bicycle parking, and repair services in addition to their rental services. This is one of those things that American cities need more of. I'm pretty sure this sort of thing is already popular in Europe; hopefully, we'll catch on here soon.
The rentals are a bit pricey, though. $54 to rent a road bike for a full day seems like too much when you could easily by a pretty baller road bike off craig's for twice that. But, here, you pay for the convenience of rental bike facilities. Because you don't own the bicycle, you dont have to worry about repairs or tune ups, you can simply ride it around and take it back to the bike center when you're done. It's pretty cool.

There's been a lot of discussion in both St. Louis and Los Angeles about the survival and expansion of public transportation systems in these respective cities, but these debates have usually been framed around the notion that public trans is synonymous with buses, trains, and trolleys when really, this is not the case. if there was one thing that I learned this summer concerning public transportation, it's that the best way to transition seamlessly from buses to trains, or trains to trolleys, etc, was via bicycle transportation. It's much faster to bike a mile or two than it is to wait 15 or 20 minutes for a bus to take you that same distance. It's a better experience both psychologically and physiologically because instead of standing or sitting around, waiting for the bus, you're out and about biking around. Not only can you get a better appreciation for the city, but you actually move about that city in an efficient manner. And it's fun.

Here's a bike map from Chicago.

Upcycle, please

Antonio Pacheco
 
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