What 3 Things Do You Keep under Your Bed?

Ariel Okamoto, San Francisco

If you saw the Bay Bridge collapse in 1989, or watched Clark Gable mince through 1906 rubble in the movie San Francisco, or dived under your desk during school drills, you might be as prepared as I am for an earthquake.

We live on solid rock not bay fill.

We live on the top floor not the bottom.

We have five bottles of water, a day pack full of old clothes, and an Ikea bag full of bungee cords and tarps in case we need emergency shelter.

But what struck me most in all the preparedness training I heard was one thing – what if you can’t get at the door?  What if you’re barefoot on the broken glass? What if there is no cell reception? 

What 3 things do I keep under my bed?

A crowbar
Hiking boots & socks
A hand crank radio

 

Hot Gardens for SoCal

Adriana Pera, Eagle Rock

One thing that East Los Angeles has mastered is the art of the “Hot Garden.” In Eagle Rock, it seems that every other property displays careful assortments of prickly cacti nestled in warm, earthy colored rock beds. Curations of these vibrant perennials will likely captivate the eyes of the passersby while also serving a larger need: Californian water efficiency. Dry gardens are environmentally sustainable while conducive to a modern aesthetic that gives life and style to the entrance of one’s home. To achieve such an attractive living environment requires as much research of one’s surroundings as it does artistry in arrangement. In the age of COVID-19, an opportunity to express creativity in one’s own garden may come as a welcome activity, with an added bonus of combating drought in our state.

 

Persistent as Plastic

Aleta George, Suisun City

When I was a kid there was a slogan seen everywhere, “Give a hoot. Don’t pollute!” We need an update to that slogan, because plastic pollution hasn’t gone away during the pandemic. In fact, it seems to have gotten worse — in my town anyway. Several years ago, I decided to start picking up all the plastic trash I see whenever I go for a walk. I live in Suisun City, a historical town on a slough that connects to the San Francisco Estuary. I made the commitment when I noticed a plastic bag looped through an iron railing above the water while I was out on a walk. “I’ll grab that and throw it away on my way back,” I said to myself. I was well aware of what happens to plastic in water, how it breaks down to miniscule pieces that are mistaken for food by fish and birds. But when I returned, the bag was in the water ten feet below and irretrievable without a boat. That was the day I decided that I could make a small difference by retrieving any plastic trash I see in my town and keeping it out of the Bay and Pacific Ocean.

 

Green Bunny Household

Kathleen Wong, El Cerrito

As a vegetarian I eat low on the food chain. We dump all food scraps into our green waste bin to be composted by the city. We only dump about 1 can of garbage per three weeks for our two-person, two bunny household (the bunnies only generate green waste, to be honest.) We have always recycled like crazy. This spring, we sheet mulched our yard to improve the nutrient content of our soil while reducing the need for future irrigation. And we’re going to install a bioswale to slow and collect rainfall to reduce runoff and increase soil moisture. I was already commuting by bicycle and BART; now I’m telecommuting so generate zero transportation. Already doing a lot!

 

Guide to Responsible
Litter Pick-Up

in the Age of COVID-19

Michael Adamson, San Francisco

  1. See a piece of plastic on the sidewalk, reach down to pick it up.
  2. Stop yourself. You don’t know whose waste this is; it might be contaminated with the virus.
  3. Realize that’s not really how community transmission works. Go to the store to buy some gloves anyway, since you can’t be too safe.
  4. Remind yourself that millions of disposable gloves end up in landfills each year and take ages to break down.
  5. Head home to grab your pair of reusable rubber kitchen gloves.
  6. Start huffing and puffing on your way up the hill leading home (you live in San Francisco).
  7. React in horror to the smell of your own breath saturating your face covering.
  8. Throw your face covering into the laundry machine.
  9. Add the rest of your dirty laundry, since you know that doing full loads saves on water.
  10. Brush your teeth.
  11. Hang-dry your clothes to skip the dryer cycle and save on energy.
  12. Return to the sidewalk, now sporting your rubber gloves and clean, still-damp face covering.
  13. Discover that the offending piece of plastic has blown away.
  14. Hunt for more, since you’ve gone through all this effort.

 

Moth on Bark

Robin Meadows, Fairfield

Hiking gets me out of my head and into the wonders of nature. Today I noticed the fabulous color pop of this pale green moth against the bright orangey-red of manzanita bark, and moments like this center and give me resilience that carries into my work. I write about the environment, and all the damage and disasters can be overwhelming. Another thing that helps me is covering actions we can take — and are taking — to protect the world around us.