"Citizen Artists Making Emphatic Statements" was the name of the exhibit that took place at the 18th Street Art Complex
from July to September 2008.
This art complex is a community of artists in Santa Monica. The exhibit, curated by Adolpho (Al) Nodal, focused on art that made important statements about issues such as sustainability.
A local organization called Fallen Fruit
, which focuses on utilizing fruit trees on public land for community use, showed in the exhibit. The organization makes maps of trees on public land so that individuals can find where to pick their own fruit. The organization operates out of Los Angeles and hosts local events, but it has a global perspective.
"We kind of look at the whole world through the lens of fruit," said representative Matias Viegener. "That's become our sort of choice focal point, through which we examine a lot of other things."
According to the 18th Street website, the center's mission is "to provoke public dialogue through contemporary ART making." Currently there are fifteen artists in residence there, and they often have events for the public to see the art.
To me a library symbolizes an environment of sharing, of passive anti-corporatism, where no one needs to even bring out their wallet before entering and using their services. However, a library still needs a lot of money, and the Los Angeles Public Library (of which there are 8 regional branches and a whopping 64 community branches) needs $117 Million
, according to the Library's website (lapl.org
.) This is actually a $5.9 million cut from last year's budget.
Since the California budget cuts, California's services are hurting, and the libraries are having no small amount of trouble as well. This budget cut means many branches will be closed both Sunday and Monday, and less books and programs will be available to the public.
This is no good thing, but what budget cut is? If you were Mayor Villaraigosa, you would surely face opposition no matter what programs you decided to cut.
This may sound biased as a voice behind a blog, but I think that libraries, while very nice and useful, offer services that are a bit outdated. Services that we could live without for a few days a week.
For example, LA Weekly
interviewed a student who appreciated getting a book from the library called Under the Rainbow: Growing up Gay.
Great. Weekly quoted him saying, "The thing about libraries was that it was a place to get information for free." Hm, info for free? You don't say. I can tell you another place to get that service, and you're looking at it.
Of course libraries offer more than that. This article
from the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles suggests that we cut money from a Gang Reduction and Youth Development program, as that program costs $5,245 per youth and the library, which serves many more young people, only costs $6.40 per youth. It cites the library as a safe place for students to go, and then inherently a hindrance to gang relations.
Other services are being hit even harder. According to this Daily News article
by Rick Orlov, hundreds of people are being laid off, daytime child care programs are being canceled at parks and Kid's programs are being scaled back.
While I'm personally for social programs (well, now that I don't pay income tax), I think a small cut to the Public Libary's budget isn't going to kill anyone, so long as they are generally there. There are still thousands of places you can visit in LA on a Sunday, for which the city pays, like the nearest park or some community centers.
I wonder what it's like to be a street Vendor? Venice Beach would be a great place to interview. For now, I have a representative of the Two Trees design company at Matador Mall at California State University, Northridge.
Even if the economy wasn't particularly dismal as of late, it's always a good idea to save money. However, the frugal movement has gone largely unnoticed and unapplied, and it seems that many are even ashamed to buy cheaper, second-hand materials, to wear shoes without diamonds on their soles. However, it’s hip to be green, so try these tips, if not for your wallet, then for the planet.
These tips are based on the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. By doing these three things, we have to buy less, and less goes to landfills as well. Save green, go green. The Scavenger’s Manifesto by Anneli Rufus and Kristan Lawson different types of scavengers and what they can do. Here are some ways listed in the book that students can utilize:
There are several ways to save money and live a sustainable life. They key thing to remember is that we don’t need to buy new things all the time. Be innovative and creative, and you’ll save money, help the planet, and have fun doing it.
- Bring a re-usable water-bottle. I imagine that the first person to literally sell water for a dollar fifty a bottle must have been trying to prove that they could sell anything to sucker consumers. Try getting water from your sink or a water-fountain.
- Get your books at the library. That’s why it’s there.
- Pick your own fruit and vegetables. Yes, you can pick the fruit on public fruit trees. If it doesn't have a sign stating otherwise, you probably can pick the fruit, so go ahead and find out. I don't know why, but so many people think that fruit that doesn't come from the store is literally poison. You can also use neighborhoodfruit.com to find public trees, and post your own trees.
- Get it second hand. It’s usually cheaper and always better for the environment to get things second-hand, and save it from a landfill. That includes going to garage sales, thrift stores, estate sales, craigslist, and flea-markets.
- Freecycle. That’s right, there is a movement for getting free clothes, books, music, technology, and whatever someone else doesn’t want any more. You can use freecycle.org, the “free” section on craigslist, or just check your parent’s closet for some vintage chic.
- Upcycle. If you don’t like something you have, you can freecycle it or upcycle it. Upcycling is the process of making something you don’t like into something you do. For example, I discovered this T-shirt upcycling community blog, which includes instructions on how to convert your frumpy tees into cute, customized style. Instructables.com also has lots of ideas for upcycling, including the instructions to make a juice carton into a wallet, a comfy chair out of paracords, jewelry out of Monopoly pieces, or a rubik’s cube from an old keyboard. Tell me that’s not cool.
- Dumpster dive. This may seem extreme to many people, but it’s a load of fun to do in a group. The idea is to scavenge through dumpsters to find food, clothing, and technology. Satisfy your inner anarchist and reject capitalism, man. Check out freegan.org.uk for safety, legal, and ethical tips before diving.
- Rideshare. Use craigslist rideshare, zimride, or just carpool with your friends.
There's no diving board involved in dumpster diving, and it's not so theatrical and dangerous as to literally go swimming in garbage. Instead, the Los Angeles Dumpster Diving Meetup Group quickly and carefully sifts through discarded material in commercial dumpsters to "save" landfill-bound goodies.
Last Saturday night in Garfield Park, Pasadena, about a dozen people gathered to take part in this seldom-known art. The group's members are from Meetup.com, a website that connects people with similar interests to other locals. The group went to the dumpsters of Bristol Farms and Trader Joe's to recover apples, bananas, artichokes, iced tea, bagels, banana bread, potatoes...and enough food to fill the back of a flat-bed truck. At the end of the night, the divers took what they wanted from the truck, and the rest was donated to a soup kitchen.
Julianne Lee, a 25-year-old graphic designer, was going dumpster diving for the first time that night. "I want to see if it's true that companies throw away as much as people say they do, to see how wasteful we can be as an American society," said Lee while the group waited for the employees at Trader Joe's to leave.
Although divers scavenge for many things, including technology, clothes, and whatever else they can find in these back-alley treasure chests, this particular diving venture uncovered food. According to a 2004 study at the University of Arizona, Tuscon, the United States throws away nearly half of its food supply.
The group organizers were 45-year-old computer programmer Eric Einem and 21-year-old full-time volunteer Grace.
"For some it's about reducing their consumption...and recovering wasted resources. For others, it's about free food. For others, it's just fun," said Einem of dumpster diving.
This practice is, in addition to being a hobby or necessity, based on community. When Grace moved to LA, she "discovered that LA has, really, no freegan [those who salvage and scavenge goods] community, so I thought, 'well, let's build one!'"
The community has many attractive aspects to it. Those who are anti-establishment and anti-consumerism participate in freeganism because, as no money changes hands, it does not contribute to capitalism. Environmentalists take part because it saves food and goods from going to a landfill as well as minimizes the need for producing more food, which takes energy, water, and land. Humanitarians dumpster-dive to donate food to organizations like Food Not Bombs, which gets much of their food from dumpsters to help the hungry. The food is free, so it is good for frugal people (although oddly, there doesn't appear to be a huge increase with the recession.) Also, the thrill of treasure-hunting at night should enthuse any adventurer. The best adventurers ever, Flapjack and K'nuckles, are into it.
According to Freegan.org.uk, there are many reasons a store would choose to throw away food products. Sometimes it's because the food has gone bad. If this is the case, it's as apparent to the diver as it is to the clerk, and the freegan will toss it away again.
However, the majority of the time food is thrown away because the packaging is damaged, it's near or past its sell-by date (but not its use-by date), one item in a pack is damaged, there is seasonal wrapping, or the store wants to make room for new merchandise.
If you're in the Los Angeles area, you can go to meetup.com/freegan to accompany this group on a diving trip. If you live elsewhere, check the 21 other meetup.com groups created in this growing movement.