Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Record of Dumpster Diving

I feel rather disconnected from this blog, like it has become only a record of my dumpster diving adventures instead of a journal of my lifestyle and ideas. Unfortunately, I am not sure how to fix that. My life is so full that it is hard to articulate everything that goes through my mind.

I am so grateful to have Suelo and his traveling buddies around for the Thanksgiving weekend. Eric's house (the "RagaJazzFreegan House") has become its own intentional community, with 12 people staying in the small 3 bedroom duplex this weekend.

On Saturday, we hosted our November Dumpster Ride and Freegan Meal event, which was rained out. We still met, but watched a documentary ("The Power Of Community") instead of having a bike ride. After the movie, the group of us went dumpster diving and pulled out a mountain of holiday related goodies, including a whole frozen turkey and at least 15 containers of cranberry relish.

I continue to deliver dumpster goodies to the Hippie Kitchen. On Saturday morning, Catherine told one of our volunteers where some of the food had come from. The volunteer happened to be an employee at one of the stores that I like to dumpster dive at. She told us that her particular store had passed a mandate in 2010 saying that no food could be thrown out and that it all had to be donated. I didn't have the heart to tell her that her store was the one at which Eric found a whole case of wine a couple of months ago (it had been chucked out because one bottle was broken).

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

I just wanted to wish all of my readers a happy holiday tomorrow. Make the best of it, even though it's based on a twisted interpretation of colonialism.... ;)

I'm going to have a great time. Here at the Los Angeles Catholic Worker, we have invited many of our guests from the streets and personal friends to come to our big house for a giant lunch time meal.

And a big news flash: "Suleo" (Zero Currency Man) is currently in LA, for the first time! I cannot wait to see him.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Freeganism as Civil Disobedience

Dumpster diving is a great way to get free food and to shock people into awareness of waste, but I see a lot more to it. It is true that the activity is mildly illegal, because it is often seen as a form of trespassing or even stealing (which is ridiculous to me, but that's beside the point). People shouldn't be fooled; even though it is rare to be arrested or prosecuted for bin raiding, there is a risk of that (and the risk that goes with the stigma associated with such activities). And because of the risk, people who dumpster dive should believe that it's worth getting in trouble for. I think that's where the principles of  Freeganism come in.

I personally see dumpster diving as a form of civil disobedience. I am violating the petty laws that protect trash (which is a representation of a wasteful society) in order to make a statement about the system that creates trash. Another part of freeganism is finding ways to reduce my own participation in that system. Dumpster diving provides a strategy for stepping out of consumer habits.

This topic came to my mind because of a recent police encounter. At our last dumpster ride event, we were confronted by the same officers who stopped us on our May dumpster ride (check the link for a recounting of that incident). During the first stop on our October ride, we where cornered by the police while we were behind the fence and in the dumpsters. We were caught red handed, trespassing! I have a problem with the way that authority holds the words of the law above the ideas that motivate people to break or keep the laws. The cops were also verbally abusive with us, assuming that we were less than them, merely because we were "breaking a law". How can they expect us to cooperate and keep our cool when they approach us with guns and sharpened words?

Even when stopped by authorities, it is rare to be prosecuted for such a "crime" as dumpster diving. We have not been contacted since the incident.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Back Again

I've taken another break from the computer, including a great vacation with my family in beautiful Oregon. Eric went with me (his first time in the lovely place I grew up), and we even dumpster dove in my hometown (population 3320).

Check out the pictures here: