A week of good work

I’m about to head to bed, but thought in the brief moments before closing my eyes that I would jot out a few thoughts.

For one, I’m realizing that at the current rate, attempting to catch up on an entire summer is probably not going to happen. It seems to me this may be another great reminder that living in the present seems the wise thing to do, and to incorporate remembrances from a wonderful summer in the woods as it makes sense over the coming weeks.

While I don’t have any photos from the past few days, I figure I’ll just toss in a few from the summer to spice things up that may or may not be completely relevant to what I’m typing.

Essentially, the big happenings this week have been: starting my new job with stopwaste.org (so cool), prepping for my first lesson as an after school sustainability teacher at the Contra Costa Midrasha (read: Jewish after school program), and pouring my evening and weekend hours into studying for the GRE. Why you ask? I ask too.

Than preppin' the garden

One event to note: both Than and myself have shorn our locks, and Than has shorn his beard! Ahhhh! I am rapidly reaching the point where the eccentric flair of the haircut I received this summer from the bunk of G-1 girls at camp is beginning to flirt with the limits of “professional appearance”. (admittedly, part of me enjoys that though)


I suppose I wanted to write tonight because I feel again on the cusp of another wave of incredible event., My orientation at my new job has been going swimmingly; by the end of this week, I will know whether I am qualified for a graduate education; and by the end of the next, I will be back in Maine, helping my brother kiss his bachelorhood goodbye. After that, its back to California for another week of training and teaching, and then back to Maine for – yep! – another wedding! Whoo hoo! Love is in the air it would seem.

In the air

Though I suppose a guy writing a blog about permaculture didn’t need any particular coaxing, today I took a powerful field trip along with my new colleagues to the Davis Street Transfer Station, which sorts a large portion of the waste from Alameda county before it’s ultimately driven to the landfill or shipped overseas to be recycled (yes indeed – that’s where most of Alameda county’s recycling goes!). Now, I know when I hear things like “1.4 million tons of trash a year” or “2,800 tons of trash a day” that its a lot (the former number is from 2008, and the latter from today), but I gotta say – seeing it all in one place, and seeing how it’s handled – I found myself pretty disgusted. And not so much with the trash itself – more just the idea that we waste all this stuff, and for the most part, don’t think twice about it.

I’m sure there’ll be more to share specifically, but I suppose I wanted to point out that even with all the automated systems there were in place (which themselves cost millions of dollars, and are often in need of maintenance – as they were today), there still were people that were needed to sort through all the trash, picking out valuable materials, and making sure particular categories of waste weren’t cross-contaminating. For me, this was the most unsettling thing to see and to think about: it is someone’s job, 365 days a year, to stand on an assembly line and sort through all our refuse.

Now admittedly, I didn’t have a chance to stop and speak with any of these folks, and maybe it’s a job they love, maybe it’s a job that they grew up wanting to do. But something tells me if they had a choice, they probably wouldn’t be putting on their gloves and respirators every day and heading to the transfer station as the preferred way to pay the bills. Yet at the end of the day, because of the way our society operates, someone’s got to do it. The question for me is: how did it get this way, and does it have to continue to be that way going forward? Can we possibly change our attitudes, behaviors, designs and systems enough to eliminate the need for full time trash sorters?

Oy, I can feel my hair getting longer already 😉 Anyway, more idealistic musings to come.

Long hair

Love for now from the East side of the Bay,

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3 Responses to A week of good work

  1. marc says:

    I really appreciate your view on waste, and would like you to know I’m personally very careful about what I use. Every little piece of paper, plastic (or worse) deserves the most use it can get. I’m happy to see you care as much as I, and see the incredible waste we create.

    Sustainability is so easy, once the infrastructure is in place. However, our society of junk has made it easier to throw things away than it is to recycle. It would take such a drastic shift in culture, because unfortunately sustainability habits (or lack thereof) are a learned behavior. So many kids learn it’s okay to waste because their parents do so. Kinda like other social problems in our culture like racism or abuse.

  2. marc says:

    Anyway, as always, keep up the good work and don’t forget to keep us posted on all the fun you have out there. And the music you love.

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