Thursday, December 9, 2010

It's been a while, here's why

So my blog has basically been defunct for some time. But here is a link to an article about what I've been up to.
In the meantime I'v contributed to M-M-M-My Pomona once or twice

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Home Buying

I'm trying to buy a home in lovely Pomona. I put in an offer for one and I really hope I get it. Even though the house has been on the market for a few months i made a really low offer because it needs work and i've seen vandals walk out of the property. Send good vibes or prayers, whichever it is that you do. I'm remaining reservedly hopeful.

Why didn't anyone tell me that home buying is so stressful?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Congratulations Juan and Susie!

When I first moved to Pomona I didn't know a SINGLE person living in the area. So I asked a friend in Santa Ana (who i knew knew people in Pomona) who i could talk to so I wouldn't feel like a stranger. She (Teresita) told me about Susie, Juan and Bunny Gunner. It took me a while to ever approach them because well, what was I gonna say? "Hi I'm new, will you be my friend?" Well, it turns out, I probably could have done that and they would have been my friends!

What happened instead is, I started blogging and I started following their blog as well, Pomona's Art Colonists and I began to get the feeling that they were warm and welcoming people whose doors seemed to always be open to people in the community. We slowly became virtual buddies by reading each others blogs and eventually i decided to pop my head into the shop in the middle of the day on a weekday. So I rode my bike over there and finally got to meet them face to face. They were the kindest people and they welcomed me to the community with open arms! I incidentally got to meet REN for the first time during my visit. Although I spend most of my time locked away studying, when I do go out and I see Juan and Susie it always makes my day because they are both such genuinely good people. I thank Juan and Susie for welcoming me to this tight knit community, I never once felt like a stranger and i love them dearly for their kindness.

Congratulations Susie and Juan! I wish you both the best from the bottom of my heart!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Forgotten Fruits: Cashew Apple

Cashews - Maranones
Originally uploaded by rnoltenius
So, it's the return of the forgotten fruits topic. Today I'm going to talk about the Cashew apple (or marañón). There is a lot to discuss when talking about the Cashew apple and it has a lot of implications as a fruit.

As you could have guessed the Cashew nut and the Cashew apple are from the same tree, and as you can see, the nut actually grows from the end of the fruit (making the cashew apple a pseudo fruit).

You may be wondering why the cashew nut is so prevalent yet the fruit is nowhere to be found anywhere! Because this is a perfect example of a fruit that is unavailable to our markets because it cannot be shipped. The skin of the fruit is too fragile for shipping, so we won't see it in any markets anytime soon. "What about at a farmers market?" you ask. Well, it's a tropical tree that begins to decline at about 50 degrees F and will die if temperatures get close to freezing. Trust me, I tried growing a tree once and it didn't even have a chance. Until I get a large greenhouse, I won't be trying it again.

There are also a lot of arguments against shipping foods overseas, however shipping via boat is actually super-efficient and more greenhouse gases and emissions are emitted from delivery trucks going short distances. So really the best solution is to grow your own food in terms of shipping emissions concerns.1

The fruit is described as very juicy and sweet and juice made from the fruit is fairly popular in Brazil. I suppose the juice could be shipped and sold here, but introducing new foods to existing markets is probably very hard. That is, until someone claims it as a "superfruit"

Source: 1 Weber, Christopher & Matthews, Scott (2008) Food-Miles and the Relative Climate Impacts of Food Choices in the United States, Environmental Science and Technology 42 (10)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Uncertain Futures and Invested Interests

Originally uploaded by Akanzler
In a discussion in class recently, we touched on the idea of how people deal with time in relation to their living situation. It really hit home.

Here in Pomona, I've noticed from first hand experience that a lot of people who live here are renting either their apartment or their house. I for one am one of them.

This affects my invested interest not only in my home but also in my city. The uncertainty of my future in this particular home makes it so that I have very little interest in spending money to fix my home. Unfortunately, the house needs a lot of work. A new roof is needed (those who follow my blog will remember the loss of a laptop due to a leaky roof) but all that has been done is that plastic has been placed on top of the roof. I am not interested in paying for the new roof. Seeing as how I sublease, I am not in contact with the actual property owner so my line of communication is already complicated.
(Why not just move out? well, as a starving student who is trying to save money to buy a house I have very few options)

If I owned my home my futures have a higher level of certainty so my invested interest in the house would be increased. And the home that I might own, being in a certain city would also increase my invested interest because I am more likely to stay within that city because I live in the home that I own.

To be honest, I don't know how long I will be living in Pomona because I do not own a home here. Also, I do not know what home prices will look like when I have enough saved up to buy a home. Though homes are cheap in Pomona and I really want to stay, there is a chance that I may need to look elsewhere for a home.

SO, like most renters I have a greater likelihood of transience. Thus my invested interest in the city is not as high as it might be due to that. With so many homes "se rente," we wonder why, with a population so high, so many people don't show that they care in this wonderful city of Pomona.

We studied this in relation to environmental issues but it indeed relates to many other issues of concern inside a city.

There are other cities that require that when someone buys a house, they (or sometimes an immediate family member) must live in it for at least a year or more before they can consider renting it out. I'm just saying... it's something worth considering.

(The article of discussion was "Time, Cycles and Tempos in Social-ecological Research and Environmental Policy" by Charles H. Wood from Time & Society 2008; 17; 261)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pomona's FIRST Bike Lane!

Technically it's not the first but I don't think I can justify the roundabout bike lane at the Red Cross building as being of any use to the city since it is probably only used by Cal Poly Students who typically have no desire to be invested in the city.

BUT, Pomona finally has a bike lane! and here it is!

View Larger Map

I noticed it a few months back but never reported on it. Unfortunately, that bike lane is very much out of the way for me except when I ride to school. Also, the lane is less than a mile long. A bike lane down Garey would be great, but then we'd lose a lot of parking and street parking is way smarter in terms of walkability than having parking lots. UNLESS we have the bike/car lane hybrids like they have in Pasadena we may never see a bike lane along Garey. But, there are other streets closer to Garey that could fit bike lanes, such as Park and also Palomares. There are also a lot of east west streets that have room for bike lanes such as oh... I don't know, ALL the number streets, 1 through 12th, then grand, phillips, franklin, lexington, philadelphia, and olive.

In fact, until I see bike lanes on all those streets...

Well, I just hope it happens soon.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Journey to Peru + Water

I recently guest "blogged" on Green Empowerment's blog about my experience with them in Peru.

There was the link and here is the nearly identical post.

In August myself and some classmates headed down to Peru with some folks from Green Empowerment. We flew into Lima and from there we went to Cajamarca. Cajamarca is in the Andes on the east side of the continental divide. This city is known as the switzerland of Peru because of their well known dairy products. I was pretty excited because I'm a huge fan of cheese and I've heard nothing but good things about Cajamarcan Cheese. What's cool about this town is their old architecture and city plan. There is a plaza in the center of town called Plaza de Arma (turns out just about every plaza in Peru is called plaza de Arma). We stayed in a hostel just a block from the center of town called hostal de Cajamarca. Hostels in Peru aren't like hostels that we think of in the states, Hostels are really just hotels that aren't 4 star hotels. This hostel was really cool because it had a courtyard that we often used as the central gathering location or hang out spot when we were waiting or just chatting. It reminds me of how much I want a courtyard to be the center of my house. Of course this style is of spanish influence, not of the indigenous groups. We spent the first few days here, getting acqainted with what to expect and meeting with various people from the NGO Soluciones Practicas.

We were here because me and a few others had spent 6 months preparing a project for a community in the Andes of the La Cocha subwatershed. 6 months is a lot of work to be doing for a place that we had never seen before. We based all our judgements on figures and numbers on everything we could find about the area. We did research on the slopes, the rainfall, the temperature, types of crops they were growing, types of innovations their ancestors employed and a bunch of other things. We came up with as many solutions we could to help them adapt to global climate change and help them survive in a more globally effected climate.

But we finally made it out here, and were excited to be able to see what it was really like. Cajamarca is a relatively cold city, but based on our research we new that the town we were going to, Chilete, would be warm or even hot like it was back home. Unfortunaley I had forgotten that the climate and temperature could change in Peru in such relatively short distances. On our way up we found that much of the Andes is being afforested with new trees that never grew here before.

Trees like Eucalyptus and pines we being planted along grids, and some of us weren't sure wether they were the best species or not because they could become invasive.

The ride was definitely educational and we began to learn more about the Yanacocha mine that was nearby. It is one of the largest gold mines in the world yet the locals do not benefit from it.

Once we got to Chilete we presented some of our work to some leaders of the community. It was amazing to finally present our work to the people we intended it for. It being a class project that we had spent 6 months on, it never seemed like it was a real and viable project until that day. Our work was finally coming to life. If only we had really had this feeling earlier we may have been more prepared. Things like understanding that we need to produce our work in spanish for them, and many other language barriers were a problem but we were able to make it through with our classmate Rene. Rene hadn't been part of the project, but he was the most fluent spanish speaker and he became an important part of the project. After our presentation we exchanged contact information with the hopes of keeping in touch.

We received a much needed info on the La Cocha sub watershed and we finally were able to see the hillsides we had been so accustomed to seeing on maps.

It was getting closer to our trip to Suro Antivo.

Suro Antivo is higher up in the Andes, on the way up we almost hit a Vicuna, a rare species related to the Alpaca. Its fur was once reserved for royalty because it is so soft.

There was much concern over how well our bodies would be able to handle the altitude when we got there, so Jason thought it'd be a good idea to play soccer when we got there. The long car ride made me beat so I decided to sit this one out.

Suro Antivo is an amazing town to visit. Farmers all own large plots of land and everyone lives no less than a quarter mile apart. Suro is a type of bamboo that was used as a common building material. That plant is no longer found in town. Antivo means “old” similar to the word antique. The grassland landscape here must have changed a few times over the many years that people have been here. It is likely going to change again.

Most of our meetings took place in the school house because it is the only public gathering place. In Suro Antivo many people have just received running water for the first time, and neighboring communities many people do not having clean running water at all. This means the most common causes of death is dysentery from dirty water.

Our objective in Suro antivo was to locate and plot the existing springs on a GPS unit and then create tapstands for the existing taps so that they will not break.

We split up into a few groups, Some of us checked the flow of water on the existing springs. Some went and did environmental assessments on springs around town. When we returned we shared our findings with each other and began working on plans to keep the newer springs in optimal condition over a long period of time.

Here we are working on the plans for the assessments

And presenting them to the community.

Later on we went to other communities in other parts of the greater Jequetepeque watershed. We assessed other springs and conducted interviews of people that lived there.

So many people have no clean running water and so many people are sick every other week because of it. It's truly eyeopening to know how fortunate we are in the US to have clean running water.

Our nights were coming to an end in Suro Antivo and our next stop was to be in Alto Peru on our way back to Cajamarca.

On our way to Alto Peru I noticed some locals packed in hauling trucks who seemed angry at us. We were driving by in the same kinds of trucks that the miners use so, many of the locals thought we were miners. When we arrived in Alto Peru we spoke with some of the community leaders who voiced extreme concerns about the mine.

The irony was that there were many power lines held up by large towers that ran right past Alto Peru and went directly to the yanacocha mine. The only source of power for those in Alto Peru were from their own wind turbines.

The road the rest of the way was paved. Again, the road to the mine is paved, but not to other parts of the watershed.

When we arrived back to Cajamarca we took a trip out to Cumbe Mayo. Something I have been wanting to see. Cumbe Mayo is the location of a pre Incan aqueduct, the craftsmanship of the aqueduct is just amazing.

Back in Cajamarca we met with some more folks from soluciones practicas and discussed our findings and impressions of Chilete, Suro Antivo and the surrounding areas. We said goodbye to our drivers who became our friends and before we knew it we were on our way back to Lima.

On our last days in Lima it became easy to become bored because our days previously were so filled. However it was our friend David's birthday and we had a chance to celebrate. (he loves the cuy.

Now only a couple of months later I am back in school and still thinking about what kind of impact we may have had on the people we had visited.