Archive for the ‘eco festivals and events’ Category

Armand and Augustine-The Tale of Two Swallow Tail Butterfly Caterpillars

Friday, May 31st, 2013


Every May, The Natural History Museum in Los Angeles hosts an Insect Fair. This year, I came home with 2 Swallowtail caterpillars, which I named Armand (the larger one) and Augustine.




Back at home, I gently placed them on anise (fennel) from my garden, which stayed fresh in a small vase of water that I placed on my windowsill, out of direct sunlight. Caterpillars have powerful jaws that are ideal for biting through tough plant material. Armand and Augustine fed nonstop and put on weight quickly.




They ate their way through the anise until Augustine had enough and bound herself to a plant stem with silk that she produced. She shed her skin and spun a cocoon, another step towards her final transformation into an adult butterfly, which can take up to two weeks. Augustine is going through her transformation in a large netted bag suspended in the shade outside my kitchen. She is expected to emerge from her cocoon around June 7th. As soon as she does, I will release her.













While Augustine’s was busy making her cocoon, Armand went missing. I searched the entire area where he was last seen and I couldn’t find him. Then, 2 days later, he was spotted:



Armand had decided that he didn’t want to spin a cocoon on the anise like Augustine but preferred a wood shelf from Ikea instead. Armand has suspended himself among my Moroccan tagines dishes and wood bowls. As soon as he is ready to emerge, I will keep all the doors and windows open so he can safely fly out into my garden to look for Augustine.




Armand and Augustine will have to make the most of their time together as it will be a brief 3-4 weeks, during which they will have to mate and Augustine will lay her single sphere shaped egg, hopefully on the anise in the garden.

To attract butterflies to your garden, plant their favorite flowers:

Lantana (Lantana camara and hybrids), Butterfly bushes (Buddleia’s), Marigolds (tagetes species), Zinnias (Zinnia elegans), Cape Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata), Wild Buckwheats (Eriogonum species), Milkweeds (Asclepias series), Glossy Abelia (Abelia grandiflora) and Anise (Fennel).

Next month, I hope to share photos of Armand and Augustine! Stay tuned.

Worldwide March Against Monsanto and GMO’s

Friday, May 31st, 2013


This past May 25th, millions of protesters marched against Monsanto in over 4oo cities around the world. This was the first protest March Against Monsanto and the dangers of GMO’s. To learn more about GMO’s: and also:


Following are images from the march in Venice Beach, California

























My friend and Gamechanger for the month of June Almanac, Ed Begley jr. at a March Against Monsanto in Los Angeles:





Milken Institute’s Global Conference May 2013

Thursday, May 30th, 2013



Early in May, I attended my first Milken Institute’s Global Conference held in Beverly Hills, California, where some of the world’s leading thinkers come together for a few intensive days of highly focused interactions. Possible solutions are explored to today’s most pressing challenges in business, health, government and education. Even though this event wasn’t all about the environment, or the importance of organic gardening, or how to reduce waste, I enjoyed listening to these following discussions:

One of the sessions I attended was Crowdfunding for Start-ups and Small Businesses, and the panelists were the co-founder of Indiegogo, Danae Ringelmann; AngelList’s Babak Nivi; Benjamin Miller of Fundrise and Candace Klein of SoMoLend. Together they discussed how the JOBS Act might open up new avenues for job-creating startups and small businesses. I picked up a few tips from each of them: The Go Go factor on Indiegogo happens when the harder you work at raising funds, the higher rank you get, which in turn brings you the most attention on Indiegogo. Fundrise talked about how the investors are helping developers make their projects happen faster if that same project benefits the investor. Angellist mentioned that if you are a start-up, you can bring a co-investor to find other investors.


To learn more:


The Session on Building a Global Community to Drive Social Change was moderated by my dear friend Jesse Dylan, and featured Ben Goldhirsh of GOOD, Shawn Amos of Freshwire, Michelle Byrd of Games for Change and Alden Stoner of Participant Media. The discussion focused on the importance of designing a game for your business and how that format is very successful at driving traffic to your site.


To learn more: ttp://


Global overview session panelists were Nouriel Roubini, Geraldine Sundstrom, Scott Minerd and Pierre Beaudoin of Bombardier Inc. This was a very intense discussion. Each panelist shared their predictions for the future world economy.

According to this panel, in 2030-2050, China and India will have 1/2 of the world’s GDP and that emerged economies such as Brazil, China and India have staying power, as do Chili, Uruguay and Peru.


To learn more:


Can retailers thrive in a digital world was the topic that was discussed by Silas Chou of Novel Holdings Group, Jim Fielding of Claire’s Stores, David E. Simon of Simon Property Group, Inc and John Danhaki of Leonard Green & Partners, LP. E-commerce is rising and they also discussed the benefits of having a game installed on your store’s website to drive traffic.

To learn more:


The session Climate change: Hope for the best, Prepare for the worst   was about how do we adapt to climate change in the most cost effective manner. We need to build a climate-resistant infrastructure not only in our own country but also in poor countries, which are in danger from storm surges and flooding to the desertification of the ever spreading desert, putting agriculture at risk. It has been difficult for us to adapt global predictions to local adaptations. Did you know that 70% of USA citizens live in a high risk area? We all need to grow food that is adapted to where we each live.

To learn more:


Investing in our future: Best cities for Successful Aging was attended by Henry Cisneros of CityView, Marc Freedman of, Nancy Leamond of AARP, Joseph Coughlin of Agelab and Lauta Cartsensen of Stanford Center on longevity. I learned about, a website for those looking to reinvent themselves. Also, how cities need to adapt to the aging Baby Boomer population and what services should be offered. This session wasn’t filmed. However, many of the ones I couldn’t attend were.

For all other videos of the sessions:


Wednesday, May 1st, 2013


Over the past 7 years, I have attended many Green Festivals in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and more recently, New York City. I love going to shows, festivals, events that focus on sustainable, mindful and less wasteful living. There are always new things to learn and wonderful likeminded people to meet and teach you new sustainable practices.


In New York City, I stopped by the Green Festival that was held there last month and since I am particularly fond of recycling, repurposing and reusing in order to reduce waste, and also innovative ideas thrill me, I was excited about these businesses in particular. One is a small business and the other, an established iconic company that is making changes in the materials they use, putting them at the forefront of sustainable car design.



Ford Motors has redesigned the doors of their Fusion Energi, Focus Electric and C-Max Hybrid cars, outfitting them with eco materials such as wheat straw, for the door panel:




Soy was used to make the upper armrest panel




Corn was used to make the armrest handle



Sweet potato was used to make the map product



Sugar cane was used to make the crash block



And even more surprising is the use of… dandelions.  The perennial weed, the bane of so many gardeners, can be used to make rubber! Regular rubber is synthetic and petroleum based which isn’t a sustainable resource. This is the kind of story I love where a big corporation like Ford, has the resources to finance the research into something that we can all benefit from, including our planet. Dandelions are easily grown and the plan is  they will serve as a natural alternative to synthetic rubber in Ford products.

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The small business I discovered is called ReFleece, They create products from recycled fleece jackets, sweaters and fleece scraps, which are manufactured locally using low energy processes to build Ipad and Kindle sleeves, giving fleece a new form and a new life. ReFleece was founded by the nicest couple, Sam Palmer and his wife Jennifer Feller who met when they both worked at Patagonia, a company that prides itself on being environmentally responsible. ReFleece reduces the amount of waste going out to our overfilled landfills. You can even send your old fleece jacket to ReFleece and they will make you an Ipad case from it! Watch their Kickstarter campaign:

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* Coincidentally, my Person of the Month in my May almanac is the founder of Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard!


Monday, April 29th, 2013


Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth


We, the peoples and nations of Earth:

Considering that we are all part of Mother Earth, an indivisible, living community of interrelated and interdependent beings with a common destiny;

gratefully acknowledging that Mother Earth is the source of life, nourishment and learning and provides everything we need to live well;

recognizing that the capitalist system and all forms of depredation, exploitation, abuse and contamination have caused great destruction, degradation and disruption of Mother Earth, putting life as we know it today at risk through phenomena such as climate change;

convinced that in an interdependent living community it is not possible to recognize the rights of only human beings without causing an imbalance within Mother Earth;

affirming that to guarantee human rights it is necessary to recognize and defend the rights of Mother Earth and all beings in her and that there are existing cultures, practices and laws that do so;

conscious of the urgency of taking decisive, collective action to transform structures and systems that cause climate change and other threats to Mother Earth;

proclaim this Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth, and call on the General Assembly of the United Nation to adopt it, as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations of the world, and to the end that every individual and institution takes responsibility for promoting through teaching, education, and consciousness raising, respect for the rights recognized in this Declaration and ensure through prompt and progressive measures and mechanisms, national and international, their universal and effective recognition and observance among all peoples and States in the world.

Article 1. Mother Earth

(1) Mother Earth is a living being.

(2) Mother Earth is a unique, indivisible, self-regulating community of interrelated beings that sustains, contains and reproduces all beings.

(3) Each being is defined by its relationships as an integral part of Mother Earth.

(4) The inherent rights of Mother Earth are inalienable in that they arise from the same source as existence.

(5) Mother Earth and all beings are entitled to all the inherent rights recognized in this Declaration without distinction of any kind, such as may be made between organic and inorganic beings, species, origin, use to human beings, or any other status.

(6) Just as human beings have human rights, all other beings also have rights, which are specific to their species or kind, and appropriate for their role and function within the communities within which they exist.

(7) The rights of each being are limited by the rights of other beings and any conflict between their rights must be resolved in a way that maintains the integrity, balance and health of Mother Earth.

Article 2. Inherent Rights of Mother Earth

(1) Mother Earth and all beings of which she is composed have the following inherent rights:

(a) The right to life and to exist;

(b) The right to be respected;

(c) The right to regenerate its bio-capacity and to continue its vital cycles and processes free from human disruptions;

(d) The right to maintain its identity and integrity as a distinct, self-regulating and interrelated being;

(e) The right to water as a source of life;

(f) The right to clean air;

(g) The right to integral health;

(h) The right to be free from contamination, pollution and toxic or radioactive waste;

(i) The right to not have its genetic structure modified or disrupted in a manner that threatens it integrity or vital and healthy functioning;

(j) The right to full and prompt restoration the violation of the rights recognized in this Declaration caused by human activities;

(2) Each being has the right to a place and to play its role in Mother Earth for her harmonious functioning.

(3) Every being has the right to wellbeing and to live free from torture or cruel treatment by human beings.

Article 3. Obligations of human beings to Mother Earth

(1) Every human being is responsible for respecting and living in harmony with Mother Earth.

(2) Human beings, all States, and all public and private institutions must:

(a) Act in accordance with the rights and obligations recognized in this Declaration;

(b) Recognize and promote the full implementation and enforcement of the rights and obligations recognized in this Declaration;

(c) Promote and participate in learning, analysis, interpretation and communication about how to live in harmony with Mother Earth in accordance with this Declaration;

(d) Ensure that the pursuit of human wellbeing contributes to the wellbeing of Mother Earth, now and in the future;

(e) Establish and apply effective norms and laws for the defence, protection and conservation of the rights of Mother Earth;

(f) Respect, protect, conserve and where necessary, restore the integrity, of the vital ecological cycles, processes and balances of Mother Earth;

(g) Guarantee that the damages caused by human violations of the inherent rights recognized in this Declaration are rectified and that those responsible are held accountable for restoring the integrity and health of Mother Earth;

(h) Empower human beings and institutions to defend the rights of Mother Earth and of all beings;

(i) Establish precautionary and restrictive measures to prevent human activities from causing species extinction, the destruction of ecosystems or the disruption of ecological cycles;

(j) Guarantee peace and eliminate nuclear, chemical and biological weapons;

(k) Promote and support practices of respect for Mother Earth and all beings, in accordance with their own cultures, traditions and customs;

(l) Promote economic systems that are in harmony with Mother Earth and in accordance with the rights recognized in this Declaration.

Article 4. Definitions

(1) The term “being” includes ecosystems, natural communities, species and all other natural entities, which exist as part of Mother Earth.

(2) Nothing in this Declaration restricts the recognition of other inherent rights of all beings or specified beings.

Our Global Kitchen

Sunday, April 28th, 2013


The Natural History Museum in NYC has a show on till August 11th, 2013:


Our Global Kitchen

Food Nature Culture



The topic of food interests me a great deal and especially the future of food. Which foods will be the best to grow in 20 years? Which are the most nutritious for us and can be grown successfully? Which ones help the environment rather than deplete it?

Our Global Kitchen was full of facts beginning with vertical farming, an innovative indoor farming model that will allow for food to be grown within closer proximity to cities where 70% of people are expected to be living in the future. It will be able to produce fresh, healthy food year round, protect food from weather extremes, bring food closer to the city or be right in it therefore reducing transportation from farm to city and will recycle the water and nutrients therefore reducing waste. Vertical farming will be joining urban farms that can be found today in yards, roofs and balconies! I love urban farms and urban farmers.

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About the dreaded waste… of which each of us is producing and adding to our overfilled landfills: discarded food is the #1 source of waste reaching landfills, and methane from decaying food is a significant cause of global warming. Composting your kitchen scraps is one solution but also being evermore mindful about the amount of food you buy.  In fact, buying less could help… Buy only what you really need. Our consumer society should  turn into a ‘mindful” consumer society.



The future of food


Our population is expanding, while standards of living are also changing and our environment is increasingly strained. How will future food production meet the growing demand? Will our diets change?

Which foods will become fashionable in the future is impossible to predict. Most likely, some exist now and are underutilized. About 2,500 plant species have been domesticated for food. But today, almost half our food calories come from just three grains: wheat, maize and rice.

These following 8 food resources could provide solutions to problems of meeting the growing demand of producing more food without depleting natural resources:


Peach palm ( Bactris gasipaes) grows well in Central and South America and produces a large, nutritious fruit.




Emmer wheat (Triticum dicoccum), a neglected crop that is being grown in Turkey, requires less fertilizer and fewer pesticides than the breeds that are currently being grown.



Insects, of which there are 2,000 species already eaten worldwide, including mopane worms (Gonimbrasia belina) in South Africa. Insects are high in protein and require much less land, water and food than animals raised for meat.

mopane worms



Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa) is a grain from the Andes, which contains all the essential amino acids the human body needs for protein and has no gluten.



Sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) uses nitrogen from the air as fertilizer because of specialized bacteria in its roots, which are dense and help prevent soil erosion in China.

sea buckthorn


Minor millets are cereals that have been grown in Asia for 6,500 years. Many farmers in India and Nepal are now switching from growing crops like maize and rice back to traditional varieties bred to grow on local mountainsides.

minor millets


Algae and seaweed, which are already popular in Japan, are highly nutritious and can be grown in both fresh water and salt water.


Giant swamp taro ( Cyrtosperma chamissonis), which grows well in the salty, sandy soils of many Pacific islands, is rich in vitamins and minerals. Yellow varieties are high in beta carotene, which can help prevent blindness.





What to eat all this delicious and nutritious food with?


A history of forks:

Forks arrived in Western Europe shortly after AD 1000, when a Byzantine princess from Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey) married a nobleman in Venice, Italy. Instead of eating with her fingers, the princess cut up her food into small pieces and ate with little golden forks with two prongs.

Americans adopted forks sometime in the mid 1800′s, much later than Europeans. Before then, Americans often used either their fingers or stabbed food with knives, to the horror of their European visitors.

A history of knives:

Our early ancestors began using stone cutting tools some 2.5 million years ago. Hundreds of years ago, European hosts didn’t provide utensils, so people had to carry their own, which was usually just a sharp knife.

By the 1500′s, most knives were made of steel, which reacted to acidic foods, affecting flavor. By the 1900′s, stainless steel arrived and revolutionized mass-produced utensils.


Note: I took loads of notes at the show, and quoted directly from the material that was posted as I found it to be just perfect. I extend many thanks to the unknown writers and researchers who put this wonderful show together.

How do we adapt to Climate Change?

Thursday, February 28th, 2013



Following are my notes from a recent panel discussion between a climate scientist, an environmental reporter, and an environmental historian about what we all can do to adapt to climate change.

-We have to adapt because we have no choice.

-As we know, there is no chance we’ll return to a pre-industrial environment, so we need to think long term about how we can create a solid foundation for efficient and accessible renewable energy that will benefit our descendants in the future.

-Knowing our neighbors and investing in building and caring for a strong community will become ever more important, as sustainable living will increasingly come to be localized.

-By planning smartly, we can adapt and continue to prosper.

-These three things will all benefit your community and the environment in general: Plant more trees + Ride more Bicycles + Conserve water. Planting trees along streets create shade and help make our towns and cities cooler.

-We have to cut demand for oil, by riding our bikes more, and not using plastic bags. It takes 430,000 gallons of oil to produce 100 million plastic bags -fooddemocracy (

-We can green the planet by eating what is grown locally and in season, rather then choosing items that are flown or shipped here from faraway climates.

-We can learn about how to be more resilient and self sufficient from other people around the world. We all need to share solutions and Twitter is an effective world connecting resource. Go to #agchat and immerse yourself in the global discussion on the future of agriculture.


“Basically, we all need to know more about the reality we are living in so give it to us straight.”


To watch the whole discussion:



Environmental Working Group

Friday, September 7th, 2012

A few days ago, I had the pleasure and great honor of giving a tea in my home for Ken Cook, president and co-founder of the Environmental Working Group (EWG).  It was so wonderful to hear him speak about all the work the EWG does to better our world and also to have the opportunity to discuss issues that matter to us such as how very important it is that we all vote YES on Prop 37 in the upcoming November election (prop 37 is only being voted on in California), which will require labeling on all foods and drinks containing GMO’s. I feel that we should have the right to know what’s in the food we buy and that it’s about time!

We also discussed how we can only hope that Johnson & Johnson’s announcement a few months ago that it will be removing potentially harmful chemicals like formaldehyde, from its line of consumer products by the end of 2015, will inspire many more (all!) companies that make consumer products to do the same. I mentioned that it feels like a new age of enlightenment to me, these last 10 years, because over these years, we have been made aware of the toxins in many of the products we all grew up using yet never questioned if they were healthy to use, but only how effective they were.

Blthye Metz, my co-producer on #StopMonsanto film, being photographed photographing me introducing Ken Cook to the intimate group in my living room.


In case you don’t know about the EWG…

Quoting from their site: “The EWG was founded in 1993, and is a national public interest group dedicated to using the power of information to protect public health and the environment.

Their Mission is to protect the most vulnerable segments of the population-children, babies, and infants in the womb-from health problems attributed to toxic contaminants. The EWG works on replacing federal policies, including government subsidies that damage the environment and natural resources, with policies that invest in conservation and sustainable development. The EWG also wants to give us all the tools we need to make the best product buying decisions for our families.


The EWG’s research brings to light unsettling facts that you have the right to know about. it shames and shakes up polluters and their representatives. It rattles lawmakers and regulatory agencies, persuading them to rethink science and reshape public policy accordingly. It provides practical information you can use to protect your family and community.

As a 501 non-profit, EWG is nonpartisan and does not support or oppose candidates or political parties.”

Their website is


Selection of the helpful and informative guides the EWG shares with us.


EWG is a treasure and an invaluable trustworthy resource I go to regularly, and whenever I can, I share monthly updates about in my almanac blog on my site.



Creative Activist

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

A Creative Activist is defined as an individual who is inspired to use media and the arts to create awareness of crucial issues and ignite positive action. I am definitely a Creative Activist and I have written this blog about why I feel it’s vitally important that we all get out and vote in November, and vote yes on Prop 37. I usually like to stay out of anything politically related, but in this case, I am making an exception. Voting is one of the few ways we actually can make a difference in this beautiful country of ours-the others being when we do jury duty and also, what you spend your money on.

Did you know… that Corn and Soy are the most GMO grown foods in the United States? I am including an informative link about GMO sweet corn that is enlightening :


Please join me in supporting Prop 37 and our right to know what’s in our food:

No matter what side of the fence you are on, I feel that we all should have the right to choose the food we buy for our families and know what’s in it.



Check out this list of all the companies that have donated towards defeating Prop 37. I can’t believe that some of the ones I have been buying from for years are on the list…So disappointing.


Labeling will not increase the price of food:

Quoting the Huffington Post: “To fight the initiative, seed giant Monsanto Co, soda and snack seller PepsiCo Inc and other opponents of the labeling measure have put up $25 million already and could raise up to $50 million.

Foodmakers, like carmakers, know that what starts in California has a fair chance of becoming the national law, or at least the national norm.

Unbeknownst to many Americans, some of the most popular U.S. GMO crops — corn, soybeans and canola — have been staple ingredients for years in virtually every type of packaged food, from soup and tofu to breakfast cereals and chips.

Supporters of the ballot initiative, who include food and environmental activists as well as organic growers, say consumers have the right to know what’s in the food they eat and want GMO products cut from the food chain.

A “yes” vote from the Golden State – home to about 10 percent of Americans – could upend the U.S. food business from farm to fork if it prompts makers of popular foods to dump GMO ingredients.”

read the whole piece:


Did you notice what I have had posted on my facebook page from years ago when I first joined?

Each of us have the power to change the world by what we buy.

I still believe that.



Monday, June 25th, 2012


I popped into Dwell on Design held in Los Angeles last week with my dear friend, designer Amanda Pays and we had such a great time walking around the show. I’ve been going to this design event ever since it first started and this year, I was so encouraged to see many more building/design companies offering non-toxic materials. The choices are so attractive and inspiring! I especially liked the ingenuity of the Bad Beetle company, who repurpose pine trees that have been devastated by the mountain pine beetle, into unique Apple accessories.

In case you couldn’t make it to the show:


For inside your walls: Fabulous insulation from, made from 95% plant based hemp.


For your floors: distressed looking wood planks painted with low VOC, water -based paints + coatings, from Lumber is not recycled or repurposed wood but is from FSC certified mills.


For your walls: upcycled newpapers are handwoven on a loom (!) and then paperbacked to make Newsworthy from

For your patio:  make your own free standing raised garden beds.  offers 2 different size steel brackets.


For fun: Stencils Rock! This one is from, a company that actually makes eco-friendly tables from 100% recycled. 100% USDA certified bio-based fiber resources.


For your foot!