Friday, December 28, 2012

Feel Good Friday - Recology

Recology... sounds familiar, right? If you live in San Francisco, this is the company that runs the curbside pickup of your trash, compost and recycling.  Of course, yes. That's what it says on the side of the trucks that role around your neighborhood once a week, you remember now.

But did you know they're also the company that runs an Artist in Residence Program at the dump! Yes, you read that correctly. Since 1990, over ninety-five professional artists and twenty student artists have completed residencies at this one-of-a-kind program and have made art from discarded materials. 

Scary Cow at the dump!
The Artist in Residence Program at Recology San Francisco is a unique art and education program that provides Bay Area artists with access to discarded materials, a stipend, and a large studio space at the Recology Solid Waste Transfer and Recycling Center (aka the dump).  By supporting artists who work with recycled materials, Recology hopes to encourage people to conserve natural resources and promote new ways of thinking about art and the environment.

Tamara Albaitis working in front
of her piece, "Dwell"
"Carpet Mountain" by
Amy Wilson Faville
This fall, I went to the dump with my Scary Cow crew to find out more about what's going on and talk to the artists.  Tamara Albaitis creates interactive sound sculptures, while Amy Wilson Faville creates mixed media constructions based on photos of items dropped off at the dump - carpets and mattresses being two examples.

Tamara, Kristian & Amy
ready for the hunt
During our visit, the ladies and I put on our reflective vests ala Charlie's Angels and went on a scavenging hunt.  Well, that is if Charlie's Angels ever stepped through piles of discarded belongings  shouting "eureka" while dodging front loader tractors.

The following month the Scary Cow crew returned for the gallery show.  These shows are open to the public and not only do you get to see great recycled art and talk to the artists but beer, wine and hot dogs are also provided!  For free!  

The next opening will be Friday, January 25th (2013!) from 5pm to 9pm and Saturday, January 26th from 1pm to 5pm.  
You can also sign up for a tour of the facility, which takes you through the sculpture garden home to works made by former artists in residence.
Earth's Tear

All in all this program, the people who run it and the artists who participate in it are fantastic and you would do yourself a favor to check them out in 2013.

Happy New Year!

All photos courtesy of Aida Daay!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Feel Good Friday - Loved Twice

My friends, the holiday season is upon us; Hanukkah, Christmas, and the end of the Mayan calendar. (If you don't read the blog this week because you're running from meteor showers, or just out buying a new calendar, you are forgiven.)

This time of year is usually spent with friends and family and often includes a gift exchange.  By now you've most likely either given your gifts or have them at your house ready to wrap. (If you don't read the blog this week because you've got to do some last minute shopping, you are also forgiven.)

This blog focus on gift-giving that happens year round.  Loved Twice is a non-profit organization that clothes newborns in need with recycled baby clothing for the first year of life.  They collect gently-used babywear, sort these garments into boy and girl wardrobes-in-a-box, and distribute them through social workers in hospitals, shelters, and clinics.

Theirs is a simple solution that supports disadvantaged babies while recycling thousands of onesies, swaddling blankets, and babywear that would otherwise end up in landfills. Since their inception in 2005 they have distributed 432,000 garments and clothed 5700 babies!

In a season of celebrating a famous birth, consider helping out the babies that are being born every day by giving what you can; clothes, money or time.

As for keeping those used clothes out of the landfill... tune in next week to find out what other creative strategies people are using to stop trash in it's tracks.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Feel Good Friday - Journeys For Good

It's Friday, the weekend is almost here and many people will soon be taking time off work to travel and spend time with their families. What a perfect (okay average) segue as traveling is the subject for this week's Feel Good Friday blog!

Posing in the window
is much easier than
painting the wall...
Over the last 14 years, I have participated in six volunteer trips with Habitat for Humanity's Global Village program, co-leading the last two.  You spend two weeks in a foreign country building houses with other volunteers and the soon-to-be homeowners and having a fabulous, oftentimes transforming, experience.  Those of you who know me, know I love it and would encourage any of you who are curious to give it a try.

What do you do if you like the idea of voluntourism, as volunteer vacations are now being called, but house building just ain't your thang?  That's where Journeys For Good comes in.

Steve and Joanie Wynn are a Bay Area couple who have traveled the world together producing stories for Travel Channel and other major stations.  After a trip to Tanzania to film a group of volunteers, they were inspired to spread the message of volunteer travel and created a website to do just that.

The goal of their site - and upcoming TV series - is to "celebrate volunteer travel experiences around the world."  Steve, Joanie and their son Ryan are about to go on a volunteer trip to Cambodia to film the pilot for their show.  They'll be blogging while there and putting films on their YouTube channel when they come home so we can all follow along!

As a person with aspirations to create and host a TV series highlighting the positive impact people around the world are making in their communities, I'm cheering them on and can't wait to see what discoveries they make.

I know from experience that volunteering to help others can make you feel great and doing it in another country opens you up to people you wouldn't normally meet visiting only as a tourist.  Have I mentioned that if you're thinking about something like this you should do it?  Just do it!

Tracy and I really were shoveling these rocks into a
 wheelbarrow when we weren't resting and posing for photos.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Feel Good Friday - Mazingira Monkeys

Hi All,

It's Feel Good Friday #2 and, considering this is only the 2nd week I've started this, I'm pretty excited to be able to say I haven't missed a Friday yet!

Our subject today, The Mazingira Monkey Project in Arusha, Tanzania. It's the brainchild of a man named Ramadhani Juma who I met while traveling in 2007.

Hanging bags to dry.
Tired of the plastic bags that litter the streets, parks and rivers of Arusha, he decided to collect them, wash them out and then use them to stuff animals he makes and sells to the tourists who pass through town. He does this not only to earn money for paying rent, buying food and sending his kids to school but also because he knows the plastic bags are bad for the environment and the animals that eat them.

Making the animals.
Mazingira is the Swahili word for environment and the Monkey Project is run by Ramadhani and his wife. He makes daily treks into the downtown area to check on sales at the Jambo Cafe, then collect and wash plastic bags before bringing them home to dry in the sun. When he can, he asks the children living on the streets to help him pick up the bags and in return he buys them food. Once home, Ramadhani and his wife work together sewing and stuffing all the animals by hand.

He's been making monkeys, elephants and giraffes for the last 10 years and while I'd love to be able to say he's moved into a bigger home and is sending all his children to school,  he still struggles to make ends meet. And yet, he's still committed the project because of the positive impact it's having on the streets of Arusha.

You can learn more about him by watching a video I put together. Keep in mind it was done 5 years ago before I developed some of the mad skillz I have now so be gentle.

Ta da!

If you feel compelled to help Ramadhani out, do. Buy an animal, send him an email of support or send him some cash. He's not tax deductible, he's just a guy trying to make his city a better place.