Browngirl Going Green

Too Much Goin’ On
May 5, 2010, 2:42 am
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Where do I start? My life has been super-hectic with work lately, which is good for my pocketbook but not very good for my blogging and other writing (at least not in the short-term). And the world’s been kind of a schizo place lately, it seems—from the celebration of all things Earth Day and enviro this last month of April, to the devastating and tragically ironic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico on the last day of the same month, to the craziness around the new Arizona anti-immigrant law.

On a more personal level, I’ve been trying to keep up with my garden while working tons more hours than I have in a long, long time, and mostly succeeded—me and my husband put a couple hours into taking care of the vegetable beds the other day, and were rewarded with the sight of broccoli heads poking out from between the huge leaves on my broccoli plants. I’ll post some pics later.

In other news, I went to check out some local ‘Bay-friendly’ aka environmentally sustainable gardens as part of the annual East Bay Bay Friendly Garden Tour, which was super-cool. Saw three Oakland gardens not more than a few miles from my home: a lovely terraced mini-forest garden shaded by huge redwoods; a C-shaped garden full of plants and flowers suited for its sunny location; and finally my friend Wally’s garden in deep East Oakland, which he pretty much ‘built’ himself, and includes keyhole veggie beds overflowing with fava beans, lots of drought-tolerant and native plants, and a hammock (aaahhh). Wally’s was the only stop on the garden tour, I’d venture a guess, where we were offered wine AND rum and coke.

Also, ate some of the pork chops from the sustainably and humanely raised pig that we share-bought a few months ago. Every bit of meat we’ve had from this pig has been frickin’ scrumptious—dense, meaty, savory.

I hope to put some more time into the garden and use some of my home-grown vermicompost in the beds soon. Which reminds me of something else I gotta do: feed my worms!


“All Shades of Green”: Bloggers Write About the Environment
April 27, 2010, 4:33 pm
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One of my blog posts is featured in the Scratch-n-Sniff ‘All Shades of Green’ blog carnival, which is part of the Diversity in Science series. My blogging buddy Dianne Glave, the author of the forthcoming book, Rooted in the Earth: Reclaiming the African-American Environmental Heritage, is hosting the carnival, which features posts from an eclectic range of writers (including several writers of color) on the theme of ‘all things April: Earth Day, Arbor Day, environmental awareness, etc.

I’m honored to be in the virtual company of such an amazing cohort of writers! Read more about the carnival and see the links to all of our blog posts on Dianne’s blog.

Earth Day, Everyday
April 23, 2010, 4:15 am
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Today is Earth Day, a ‘holiday’ to celebrate the Earth and do ‘green’ things to help the planet thrive and become a more sustainable place for human beings and other beings to live. Earth Day is a good thing, for sure—Habitat for Humanity, for example, does a build-a-thon around Earth Day, and I’m sure hundreds of other nonprofits, businesses (including Google) and millions of individuals did things today to heighten public awareness of the dangers facing the environment and what we can all do to be more eco-conscious.

Maybe it’s because I live in the Bay Area, where there have got to be more Priuses and electric cars per square mile than anywhere else in the country, and where two of the biggest counties (Alameda and San Francisco) run extensive public recycling and composting programs for residents and even businesses, but Earth Day is not really that big of a deal to me. Not because I don’t think it’s good to celebrate the Earth on a special day once a year, but because I pretty much celebrate the Earth everyday.

Of course, there are days when my behavior is less eco-friendly than others (like when I give in to cravings and go get McDonald’s french fries or when I drive the two miles from my house to downtown Oakland for a meeting when I could easily take the bus), but most days, I strive to do as many things as I can in a way that’s less harmful to the environment and the living beings that dwell in it.

Some of the things I do everyday to honor the Earth:
– Thank the Earth for all that She gives us: food, water, ground to walk on, flowers, trees, soil.
– Recycle and compost (both through the public compost bin as well as two worm bins)
– Use a steel water bottle instead of buying plastic (90% of the time anyway ;))
– Garden pretty much ‘organically’, no pesticides
– Buy and eat locally grown, organic produce, from farmer’s markets and sometimes Whole Foods in a pinch
– Eat as much sustainably raised meat and seafood products as I can, given the limitations of the knowledge we have about our meat products
– Use cloth bags/sacks when shopping or just put things I buy in my (fairly large) purse
– Try to practice compassion and metta (loving kindness) as much as possible
– Donate money to environmental organizations
– Sign petitions in support of environmental causes and issues, such as this one that is pushing for more low-fat food, fresh vegetables, fruits, etc. be included in federally-funded school nutrition programs, which are largely aimed at serving low-income children
– Serve on the board of an environmental justice organization, the Asian Pacific Environmental Network

There are more things that I do, I’m sure, and there are also plenty of other things that I could do to be even more ‘green’. And Earth Day, I’m sure, helps a lot of people who don’t live in such highly eco-conscious environments learn more about what they can do to walk more lightly on the Earth.

But if we are going to make the big, long-term changes in the way we harness and use energy, in how we eat, in how we share resources and how we treat each other, we are going to have to practice being ‘green’ everyday, not just one day out of the year.

More Brownfolks Going Green

Jarid Manos and his son Kaiden (from the Ghetto Plainsmen web site)

Thanks to fellow blogger Dianne Glave for giving me the heads-up on two other people of color who are going green and writing about it. It’s been inspiring and cool for me to find these kindred spirits online, and makes me want to plan a cross-country trip so that I can meet these folks and see some of the wild places that have inspired them and their writing.

First, there’s DNLee at the Urban Science Adventures! blog, who recently visited San Francisco and seemed to have had a grand time. She’s a scientist who’s blogging about discovering nature in urban areas—one of my favorite people-of-color-and-the-environment topics. Since so many of us live in and / or identify with urban areas, either by choice or by force of circumstance (economic or otherwise) I think it’s important for people of color to (re)claim nature in the cities and towns where we live. Environmentalism is not just about going to the backwoods and living off the land—it’s about stewarding all of our natural resources in a way that’s respectful and sustainable.

On the other end of the spectrum, Dianne also introduced me to Jarid Manos, whose new book is provocatively and intriguingly titled The Ghetto Plainsman. Jarid is the CEO of the Great Plains Restoration Council, whose mission is to “restore and protect our shattered prairies and plains through developing youth leaders in Ecological Health”. I love this mission statement, and the way the organization integrates the healing of our young people and humanity with the healing of our land and ecosystems.

The time I spent in the Pacific Northwest last year as part of the Windcall Institute—a three-week-long nature residency for activists and organizers to recover from burnout and reconnect to our essential selves—showed me first-hand nature’s power to heal and to grant clarity and purpose. I came back from my time in that rugged, wild part of the world with a renewed sense of connection to the Earth, and a stronger commitment to making environmentalism part of my social justice work as well as my writing and my everyday life. I started this blog in part because of my time at Windcall—so I totally get that we need nature to heal ourselves, and that our acts of healing the Earth are also healing for ourselves.

Lastly, I’m going to be submitting something for the April Diversity in Science Carnival, a sort of blogging festival that’s being curated this month by Dianne, whose book, Rooted in the Earth is coming out in a few months. The theme this month is, of course, Earth Day, which happens every year on April 20th. I’m not sure yet what I’m going to write, but I’ll think of something.