Monday, December 27, 2010

"Wasted: Life in the Age of Excess" (Video)

Here's the video I was talking about yesterday, created by a friend of mine, using interviews with Eric, friends and me.

"Cosmic Rockstar presents "WASTED", a documentary on a merry band of dumpster-diving anti-consumerists called Freegans! Check it out: Freshness guaranteed!"

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Bittersweet Christmas + New Freegan Video!

Christmas was bittersweet this year, with the knowledge that several of our friends will likely not make it to Christmas next year. At the LACW, we make our house a home for people who are near the end of their lives. Many poor individuals have moved off the streets and into the hospitality house to live out their last days (or to live many years, too).

Right now, we have a man named Mike who is suffering from a malicious tumor in his jaw. His doctor told him that he may not see Christmas this year (thankfully he did!). We learn from him, and those in the past, how to die gracefully. Mike is a gracious and friendly man. We pray for his comfort.

In other news, a friend of Eric's and mine has directed and produced a mini-documentary about freeganism. The video follows a Los Angeles Dumpster Diving Meetup event and included interviews with Eric and me.

Watch the film here. This link is only useful to Facebook users. You have to sign in to see the video. I will post a public link or embed the video as soon as I get that information.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

On Eternity

Interest me, please,
That scratching at the door of my mind,
a thought squeezing its way in
from empty void to idea behind my eyes.

Explain to me, please,
That fascination of the human psyche,
an abstract obsession long written
on the pages of our history.

Present to me, please,
A rationale for this futile fantasy,
this unproven unreality ever wished for
in the spaces between life and death.

Why are we so interested in a possibility of life after this present moment? Is it merely to give hope for those whose lives are not happy here? I have no answers, "only questions." 

There's no time for hatred, only questions
What is love, where is happiness, what is Life,
where is peace?
When will I find the strength to bring me release?

And tell me where is the love in what your prophet has said?
Man, It sounds to me just like a prison for the walking dead
And I've got a message for you and your twisted hell
You better turn around and blow your kiss goodbye
to life eternal angel...
-Jeff Buckley, "Eternal Life" (full lyrics here)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Mixed Blessing

It's been raining record amounts here in the "City of Angels" during the season of Christmas. The Oregonian part of me rejoices in the life-giving waters. The humanitarian part of me aches with every thought of the "unwanted ones" who come to eat at our Hippie Kitchen, many without shelter, proper rain gear, or some even without shoes. We do what we can, but still people suffer in the rain. How can we face that?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Dumpster Diving at the Bloomington Catholic Worker

Almost every Catholic Worker community has its own newsletter, and receives the newspapers of all the other communities. I hardly ever find the time to read the newsletters, but every once in a while a front page or an article catches my eye. This time, one of my fellow community members pointed out this article in the "Bloomington Christian Radical", because it made them think of me. I think it's fantastic and worth sharing.

On Dumpster Diving  by Laura Ertmer

Dumpster diving is not about trash. It is about waste.

Esteban grew up on the streets of La Paz. He knows about trash. It is a last resort for the homeless - offering little more than bones and other food scraps. In Lima, basureros pock through mountains of trash to salvage tin cans and plastic bottles to resell. In Buenos Aires, cartoneros collect and recycle cardboard. In Bloomington, we too collect from what has been discarded - but ours is a privileged scavenging. We are feasting on the absurdity of mass food production and mega stores. America is confused about trash. The wealth - and shame - of our nation is reflected in the abundance of usable, edible and wearable items that stores throw away.

We are exuberant, energetic dumpster divers. There is no delight quite as wholesome as salvaging pounds of food from the garbage. Imagine when the beam of your headlamp first plunges into the darkness of the bin and illuminates a radiant red bell pepper.  And then it falls on another. And then a yellow one. Oooh! Bags of apples. Broccoli. Ah, and there's some Brie! A fish fillet! A lime! A meal begins to take shape when the light shines upon some wine a peach pie. In this big metal box behind the grocery store, we forage for food and come out with a feast.

We win! We eat for free!! And yet, in our joy we recognize that this is sick. This system of production, consumption and waste is sick. Why are beautiful apples and fresh organic milk discarded? Have we lost all common sense? Do we not see food for food? Do we see food only as profit? Do we expect perfection in produce?

There is always more food than we can take. And we take all we can. We distribute it to friends. We throw dinner parties. We dry fruit, can tomatoes, pickle cucumbers. It's not enough. The dumpster is always full. Go. Take your flashlight. Drive around back and look in the bin. You will see the absurdity of the system. YOU can eat for free. This is the truth about the trash. If we ignore the waste of the system, we let it become trash. If we reclaim the waste, we eat for free.

America's food system is messed up. We do not pretend that we are changing it. We are, in fact, relying on the absurdity of the system for our sustenance. While we continue to to harvest from the dumpsters, we need to call attention to the waste. We need to ask stores to reduce their waste - or to redistribute their "waste" to social service organizations that depend on food donations. It is the cost we should assume when we are nourished by an immoral system. We cannot become complacent. This waste is wrong even when we benefit from it. 


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Post #100! and Quote of the Day

This is my 100th post! Strangely, it has taken a year and a half to get this far... but WOO HOO anyway.

I came across this cute thing that a friend of mine said of Eric and me:

"You two are like foster parents for garbage."