Sunday, February 28, 2010

Fruit and Photos

Last night we had the video potluck showing of the Howard Zinn documentary "The People Speak". Because the event was hosted by our Dumpster Diving Meetup, we went out dumpstering after the meal, film and discussion were over.

It took a long time until the employees were finished closing up, but it was worth the standing around and hiding. While we were waiting, we watched from the shadows as workers dumped three shopping carts of fruit into the bin. There was no way that we could use it all, so we took what we could handle. There were a lot of other items in a different store's dumpster to give us a nice variety to "shop" from.

A box of fruit that hold perhaps a tenth or less of the fruit we saw thrown out.
A selection of colorful veggies.
Our bread box and a strategically placed pie.
The must-refrigerate items, including many boxes of fancy Brie cheese. 

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Money Illusion

I don't have much time to post right now, as we are getting ready for one of our video potlucks, so I thought I would share a link to an article a friend sent me. It's from the satiric paper "The Onion", which I love. The article is about the fact that currency is an illusion and reports a fictional nationwide realization of this. Of course I thought of my moneyless friend Suelo, whose main message is that money is an illusion. Click here for his blog.

Here's the link for the article, titled, 

Friday, February 26, 2010

On Equality

I'm a feisty kind of girl, the type that can't stand to be underestimated or objectified. I'm easily ticked off if people display disbelief when I go to lift a 50 pound bag of oats or use a hacksaw. The phrase "you're doing a man's job" is a derogatory one to me and the ultimate insult is being ogled and heckled on my way home from the kitchen. In my mind, these things show a lack of respect for women.

However, I have recently started to feel guilty about my possible overreactions. After all, I did just read "A Woman Among Warlords", a book about the struggle for women's rights in Afghanistan. My experience of "inequality" is nothing compared to what these sisters have gone through and continue to face. I can walk home alone without threat of Taliban or fundamentalist punishment or the possibility of being raped as a strategy of war. The way I dress is mine to choose, though I know those choices will determine the amount of hassling I get on my walk.

I really should be aware of the freedoms I have rather than complain about the small things I encounter.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Flowers and a Lack of Respect

I've been making an effort to reduce my time on the computer, and have succeeded in not using the internet for almost a week. It has been great for my reading, my relationships and my self-esteem, but not so good for making regular blog posts. :)

Two days after the big "day of love", Eric and I hit a local grocery store dumpster and it was full of flowers (what else would it be?). I was very saddened to see these beautiful bouquets, all in fantastic shape, just discarded so easily. There were many dozens of the traditional long-stemmed roses, along with other vivid, colorful varieties of flowers. As I always lament, I wish that our camera was working that day so that we could have taken pictures to post. With or without photos, I think you can get the point that it is such a waste of resources, including the time and energy it takes to grow, harvest and transport the flowers. Flowers can be such a joy, but no one will get to enjoy the tons of  plants that will have been tossed into landfills just because they did not sell in the Valentine's Day sales. What a shame.

The canning of all these flowers is not just an issue of waste. It is a lack of respect for the earth, and for life itself. Each plant has within it the same breath of life that we do, causing it to grow just as we do. We have lost our "sense of awe" in regard to the very existence of life itself in our world.

"Forfeit your sense of awe, let your conceit diminish your ability to revere, and the universe becomes a marketplace for you." - Abraham Joshua Heschel  
Human beings have wrested control of this planet out of the hands of the once-balanced ecosystem and turned it into a marketplace. If there is ever an opportunity to turn a piece of nature into product and profit, we find it. We have manipulated every inch of our world to suit our fantasy economy and fabricated needs.

But not for long. Mother Earth will fight back. When we have taken all that we can take, we will be forced to change our way of life. Nature will just move on without us. Someday, humanity will lose.

In the meantime, I took as many of those flowers as I could and redistributed them. For free, of course.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Funky G's Recent Reading List

Yo. I've been doing a lot of reading lately (as always) and thought I would share some titles that I recommend to progressive-minded folks (and any folks). Just a couple of days ago, I started to read "A Woman Among Warlords" by Malalai Joya and am very impressed. It's very intense, describing the political history of Afghanistan's last 30 years of foreign occupation in a very personal way as it follows Malalai's life. I picked up the book in November after hearing her speak in Pasadena. Her message is clear. Democracy cannot be forced on any country, "freedom is something a people must work for and cannot be imposed on them". Obviously, she doesn't feel that the US has "liberated" her people at all.

Other books I have enjoyed recently include "Crimes of Dissent" by Jarret Lovell, a professor at California State University at Fullerton and a friend of the LA Catholic Worker. His book on civil disobedience features Jeff and other members of the LACW community. It's also an inspiring tribute to people power and philosophical anarchism.

If you're interested in the Catholic Worker movement, speaking of philosophical anarchism, a good book about the history of the movement and its founders' ideologies is "All the Way to Heaven". Though I am not religious anymore, I still appreciate people who use their spiritual views to do good. Radical Christianity is something I still support, even if I do not hold the same spiritual thoughts (hence my involvement in an anarchist Catholic community).

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Today I sit at this magical screen after almost a week of no computer interaction. It was actually quite wonderful, doing other things and forgetting for a while about my addiction to the "information superhighway" (remember when people actually called it that?). After a few days of computer-less time, you begin to avoid it on purpose, saying like an old friend of mine, "It's too much to bother". But virtual reality gets us all sometime...

Unfortunately, I have been sick in bed these past two days, and so I wasn't able to do much more than read a couple books (including the wonderful "People's History of American Empire"). It does, however, give me an opportunity to brag about the fact that I have never been ill from eating dumpster food, to my knowledge (that's always one of the first questions I am asked). My sicknesses usually come in the sneezing, running nose, deep chest cough and itchy throat variety. They seem to be more a product of community living than of my food lifestyle. If you just use the same common sense you would in your fridge, dumpster diving won't make you sick.

I've been wondering what to do for Eric for Valentine's Day, since: 1. I've ended up on House Duty for that day and 2. We don't buy each other stuff (I couldn't even if I wanted to). :) And so I must lend myself to creativity...

Another random musing for the day is in the bummer-ness of having to cancel our last two dumpster bike rides due to rain, in Los Angeles. Oh well. We'll try again tomorrow; wish us good weather and a good turnout.

I'll leave you with a great video inspired by the late, great Howard Zinn and narrated by one of my favorite actors (if only because he portrayed Aragorn in the LOTR movies).

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A Little Bit of Reality

You may wonder about my romanticized accounts of working down in Skid Row with marginalized people. Yes, they are just people, individual and beautiful each in their own way. But sometimes there are bad days: it's not all bits of wisdom and smiles. Occasionally we hear gunshots and sirens, witness a fight, get confronted by unhappy guests demanding we "serve them" a certain way or look up to see that the light fixture in our bathroom was ripped out of the ceiling. And all that was just what happened to me last week. Oh, life, how we love your little bits of reality...

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Freedom to Share

On Saturday, Eric and I attended an event that we had a tiny hand in organizing: the Arroyo Time Bank's Really Free Market and Bizarre. It was a lovely taste of what freeganism is all about; it represented people sharing things they no longer needed instead of wasting or selling such things.

In a main room, tables were spread out and stacked with items visitors had brought to share. There was a constant stream of people browsing the unwanted goodies and shopping for absolutely no cost. The goods were of a surprising quality and the turnout was quite impressive. In a corner, a group of children engaged in a free art project while their parents socialized and meandered among the free stuff. Later in the evening, a local band came and played for the event, attracting a lone couple to dance.

Down the hall in a smaller room, presentations were held by community groups such as the Time Bank, the Arroyo Food Co-Op and the Los Angeles Dumpster Diving Meetup (that's us!). I gave a short power point about Freeganism and Eric held an interactive discussion on Carbon Footprinting.

There was, of course, a table with free food. Much of it was from the dumpsters, thanks to an outing Eric and I did, along with the main organizer of the event, our friend Janine. It was her first time, but she was a natural. She even dropped her wedding ring accidentally into the dumpster, but it didn't bother her! "Don't worry, I'll just keep taking stuff out 'till I find it" - which she did. It took about 10 minutes. She also prepared the food for the event, using food that we found that night. Thank you, Janine!

Janine is on the right, I'm on the left. Those boxes represent three of the below final haul.