Los Angeles, CA, 2015. Michael Ray De Los Angeles.
♛ email: MichaelRay@LoraxCommunity.org

Move with intention, be like water, stay humble. This is the mantra for the coming season and the dog-days of August. Keep this in mind as you begin to hear more about California’s multi-year drought. The silver lining is that the urgency of the issue has put appropriate technology and ecotech on the front line. In Los Angeles, California (and throughout the state) grassroots and civic organizations are proposing real solutions to the forefront of their missions. The mission? Awaken mass consciousness.

Localization is not the entire solution, but it is part of the equation.

South Los Angeles, Spring. In case you didn’t know California has more built more prisons than universities within the last decade– #EducationNotIncarceration folks. In this concrete jungle it feels like there are more fast food joints than there are places to get affordable, wholesome foods. There is a broken window in the fabric of South LA, and left unchecked it brings in the winds of disease, poverty and crime.

Ron Finley states that “people are no longer living in food deserts,” as popularly believed, but rather “food prisons.” This Gangster Gardener is known for asserting civil as he grew edible plants in the parkway near his home– which the authorities deemed illegal– the ending result was the legalization of curbside gardening within the city of Los Angeles. Finely is part of a longtime push for more green space within LA county– the Silver Lake MeadowCypress Park Community Garden Garden, Muir Ranch, and Lyle Street all of which were grassroots projects.

Why would anyone want to grow their own food though? Despite the rewarding experience (in which you actually get to eat the fruits of your labor), growing your own food can reduce your water consumption. That’s because most edible plants consume less water, than grass. Here is a thought: have you ever thought about the journey of a peach? At the end of the day, a lower water bill may just be what the financial adviser ordered. But why stop there? There is a whole spectrum of green technology available; solar energy, rain catchment systems, grey water systems, too. A visit to appropedia  will give you a few DIY project ideas– especially if you’ve ever thought about building a hexayert.

Solutions like these are appearing throughout the state, and locally, organizations such as The Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust, Broadchester Farms, Neighborhood Housing Services and Mayor Garcetti’s (with the Pat Brown Institute and CSULA) pilot program Civic University, have all taken steps towards securing green space for Angelinos. Why the simultaneous grass roots AND governmental push? Simple, without localized food sources, and better resource management (which includes water) Los Angeles cannot maintain its sustainability. The future of Los Angeles depends on how Angelinos utilize the city’s common spaces, not just parkway gardens, but also community centers, transportation pathways, and state parks.

The Revolution Isn’t Free.

The discussion about sustainability is not the utopian ideal of drafted by Prius-driving-venti-macchiato-sipping yuppies lounging in Silver Lake, and to be honest it never was. Rather, the major challenge has been to jump-start dialogue so that it reaches mass consciousness. However, issues of poverty, insufficient resources, and a lackadaisical education system have been hurdles. As a result we find that for many Angelinos, sustainability, appropriate technology, and zero waste initiatives, are not hot topics of discussion. This isn’t to say that the dialogue does not happen. In fact, the recent plastic bag ban may serve as a beacon of hope that grass roots organizations in Los Angeles and Californians in general can bring about change. Trust that people really want to do what is best for our ecology of our state; after all, nobody really wants to see another turtle with a plastic wrapped bag around its neck; or even worse, sit through another apology for a preventable ecological calamity– hat tip to British Petroleum (BP).

Yes, buying organic fruits, and vegetables can be costly– especially if you’re only going to big chain super markets. There are, however, a few very simple solutions. One very fulfilling solution is to grow your own. Yes, even if you live in an apartment or small studio you can grow your own, I recommend started with herbs and spices then expanding out to other edibles– the process is both rewarding and engaging.

AAA. MRDLA SELECTS (3)For those still hesitant to make the plunge into home gardening, you can try a local farmer’s market. Indeed this may not be feasible for every Angelino, but (thanks to groups like Broadchester Farms, Community Services Unlimited, and Community Healing Gardens) access to fresh produce is becoming a reality for city-dwellers as the awareness of community supported agriculture rises. Getting to know the person who grows your food is one of greatest relationships that you can build– if not the most scrumptious.

For residents of South LA the acquisition of space is the first hurdle that needs to be jumped before the first fruit salad can even be made. Two organizations, Community Services Unlimited and Broadchester Farms are have taken two different routes towards the same vision, better food choices for South LA:

Community Services Unlimited & Broadchester Farms:
We’ve Got Some Gardens to Grow!


Breaking Free From Fast Food

The next time you’re in line for your favorite meal, think about where it came from. How many miles did it travel to reach you. One of the benefits of eating locally is that you also become accustomed to eating seasonally– which can be difficult if you’re the type that wants watermelon in December, strawberries in February or Quinoa on everything. However, for the rest of us, there really hope and it comes from developing an understanding of one’s one ecological landscape. What this all comes down to is eat in LA as though you lived here and were not just a tourist; know your farmer, trust your food source; eat locally, eat seasonally too. And most importantly, “Don’t be nervous, be of service”– hat tip to Philip Fraser. Los Angeles has been a food prison for too long. it is time to break free. Are you ready?


Quote-MRDLA-Wendell-BerryPleasure Reading:

Publication4Michael Ray De Los Angeles is a writer-editor & public speaker.

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