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Monday, April 28, 2014

Manhattan Beach Gets Another "Green" Honor!

With all of the Earth Day activities and celebrations this past week it's important to acknowledge that the City of Manhattan Beach was honored by Los Angeles County last Tuesday with the Green Leadership Award, which recognizes the incredibly forward thinking stance MB has taken in regards to running the city in an amazingly eco-friendly and environmentally positive way.

Some of the factors that were instrumental in choosing Manhattan Beach for this award were the city employees use of alternative fuel and electric vehicles, the re-landscaping of public property with drought-tolerant gardens, pilot food-waste collection programs that were a big success and the incredible steps taken to prevent pollution of the marine environment.

If you go to the City of Manhattan Beach website it is impossible not to be extremely impressed by all of the attention city planners direct towards keeping the environmental standard of livability in MB exceptionally high. In addition to Manhattan Beach getting recognition, Sona Kalapura Coffee, environmental programs manager for the city, was selected to receive the 2014 individual Green Leadership Award for her efforts to improve environmental sustainability in the community and the county of Los Angeles. Congratulations Sona, and the City of MB!

Friday, April 25, 2014

This South Bay Weekend Is Packed With Great Events!

As I mentioned in my Monday blog, this weekend has some really amazing Earth Day events all over the South Bay. The one that is probably most appealing to me is the Volunteers and Organizations Improving the Community's Environment (VOICE) event Saturday at Polliwog Park. This is going to be a seriously jam-packed event with great food, eco-friendly shopping and organizations, an all ages eco-quiz with great prizes, music & dancing, free micro-seminars at the eco-education stage, an alternative fuel vehicles showcase, a free bike parking corral and a lot more. Go to this link for more info on the event and to learn about the great organization that is VOICE (which began its efforts in 1989 by helping the City of Manhattan Beach make their new residential recycling program one of the best in the country).

Of course, as a proud Neptunian I am excited about the Neptunian Woman's Club Fashion Show Saturday.  The fashion show, which features fashions from 6 local designers, will also include lunch by Chef Darren Weiss of Darren's Restaurant (the highly ZAGAT rated, environmentally-friendly fine dining restaurant in Manhattan Beach).  Aragorn and Olivia, a premier acoustic L.A. music duo, will provide music and there will be a raffle, silent auction, and live auction. Definitely feel free to get in touch with me today if you are interested.

Sunday has a great event going on in Torrance to benefit TrinityKids Care as American Honda presents the 29th Annual For Our Children Food and Wine Festival. There will be gourmet food and fine wines from over 90 restaurants and wineries, silent and live auctions featuring sports tickets and memorabilia, dining, entertainment and travel packages (including an Azamara Club Cruise, a luxurious Maui vacation and a fabulous California adventure) and they are raffling off a very sweet 2014 Acura ILX 5-speed sedan with the premium package. Most importantly, the event brings attention to the TrinityKids Care program, which is the only dedicated pediatric hospice program in Los Angeles and Orange counties for infants, children and adolescents with life-limiting illnesses. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Enjoy Your Earth Day Tomorrow!

Tuesday marks the 44th celebration of Earth Day and, according to the Earth Day Network in Washington D.C., over a billion people around the world are expected to take part in some sort of activity related to improving the environment this week (it is considered the largest non-secular holiday on Earth). This coming Saturday is loaded with the most fun, important and informative Earth Day events going on in the South Bay for 2014 and I'll let you know what seem to be the best picks on my weekend blog this Friday.

Meanwhile, did you know that the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970 was instrumental in the formation of most of the "protect the environment" movements? Senator Gaylord Nelson, considered one of the leaders of the modern environmental cause, picked April 22 in order to maximize participation on college campuses for what he conceived as an "environmental teach-in". He determined the week of April 19–25 was the best bet as it did not fall during exams or spring breaks. More students were likely to be in class so there would be less competition with other mid-week events (also, it did not conflict with religious holidays such as Easter or Passover). Expecting to reach hundreds of thousands of students in college towns across the U.S., the event drew 20 million people in major cities such as New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and Los Angeles. Support for major change to environmental policy was so overwhelming, Congress ratified the EPA and it began operation on December 2, 1970.

Obviously, we in the South Bay are blessed to lead California, and the country, in so many ways when it comes to ecological and environmental programs and activism. From Heal the Bay to the Surfrider Foundation to Manhattan Beach being one of the greenest and most progressive energy conservation cities in America, we know how fortunate we are to live in such a special place where outdoor life is so important to us. Please fell free to share any unique ways you go green on Earth Day (or, any day), and I would love to hear tales from anybody who remembers or celebrated the first Los Angeles Earth Day in 1970.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Wishing You All A Wonderful Easter And A Joyous Close To Passover!

I want to wish everybody a wonderful Easter weekend full of love, joy and blessings. To those celebrating Passover, I hope this year's observance has been memorable, joyous and enlightening. I was going to steer clear of offering up Easter suggestions in my weekend picks because it is really one of those holidays where most of the folks I know have had a set plan for awhile...but I just had to mention the doggie Easter egg hunt at the Zoom Room in Redondo Beach on Saturday. It is a totally free event offering portraits with the Easter Bunny, prizes, and an egg hunt that begins at 4 p.m. for both dogs and children.

Then I also saw that the Los Angeles Maritime Institute will hold its Easter Egg Hunt at Sea event Saturday and that looked really cool. Families can sail the Los Angeles Harbor and out into the ocean with the children searching for plastic eggs full of surprises aboard LA's Official Tall Ships, the Irving Johnson and Exy Johnson. You are allowed to bring your own food and beverages, and the adults can sit back and relax or get hands on with the crew if they'd like.

Since my blog readers are the ecologically-minded, environmentally sound types, I am sure some of you will be dropping off your e-waste, old shoes and used clothes at the El Segundo High School Band's recycling event. It will be held at the High School on Saturday starting at 9 a.m. and will also be a fundraiser for the Band and Color Guard. They will receive 60% of the revenue raised from the e-waste and Angel Bins, a for-profit recycling company that helps schools and other charitable organizations raise money through the recycling of everyday items, will will pay  cash for the clothing and shoes collected. The ESHS music program is community funded so these events really help the kids out AND keep tons of e-waste out of our landfills.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Checking In On The SEA Lab In Redondo Beach

I was driving past the SEA Lab in Redondo recently, which many of us in the Beach Cities do often, and I wondered how many of our neighbors actually really know about all of the great things it offers. In the spirit of that, I thought I would share a few cool key tidbits about the SEA Lab and the LA Conservation Corps, which operates and manages it.

  • It was opened in 1997 as a  hands-on science center focusing on marine conservation and education programs that educate schoolchildren and visitors about marine life and the importance of protecting our oceans.
  • They do a ton of free or really inexpensive field trips with kids from all over Los Angeles. They range from touring the West Basin Water Education Center to beach exploration to fishing trips to water conservation programs. They also hold MANY workshops at the Lab all year long for K-12 students.
  • The SEA Lab was created by the amazing Earth Island Institute and Southern California Edison at a cost of $4,000,000. If you don't know about the EIA, definitely check out their website.
  • The Traveling Tidepool visits 86 public schools, impacts over 7,000 students, attends over 20 community events, rescues an average of 1,810 marine creatures and travels over 6,000 miles to more than 45 cities and 4 counties each year. 
  • They have a native plant nursery that grows coastal native plants used for local habitat restoration projects. Corpsmembers participate in all the steps of the growing process from collecting seeds to planting the native vegetation in and around the South Bay area.
  • Every Saturday at 12 p.m. they have a public fish feeding. For $2 per tray of food, you can help feed the fish in their tidepool tank. 
One of the great things about the LA Conservation Corps is that they really engage local youth. Each year approximately 500 middle school and high school kids get the opportunity to gain environmental work experience through their Clean & Green program. Mentors cultivate a positive work ethic that trains the youths to be responsible and dedicated workers who see the value of staying in school, preparing for college and giving back to their communities. It is a pretty great program and if you are interested in learning more about how kids and young adults can participate, their Youth Build website is awesome.

Friday, April 11, 2014

South Bay Has Art, Roller Derby And The Race This Weekend

So many things going on this weekend it is hard to narrow down my picks! An fun event for families is the free day of art at the Malaga Cove Art Show from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday at Malaga Cove Plaza. The Malaga Cove Art Show is a 59 year tradition of the Palos Verdes Art Center's seven artists groups where you chat with the artists and view their work. Approximately 30 artists affiliated with the PVAC will show and sell their ceramics, jewelry and acrylic, oil and watercolor paintings. Of course, you'll also want to make sure to grab some of the yummy treats from the Ranch Market or have a leisurely French brunch at the Yellow Vase.

If you are looking for a way for the family to celebrate the spiritual aspect of Easter while the kids have a blast at a carnival, the Journey of Faith in Manhattan Beach has The Race Saturday afternoon. There will be race cars, a snow hill, bounce houses, Razor Rip Riders, face painting, toddler games, a live DJ, popcorn, cotton candy, snow cones and a bunch of fun activities. Lunch will be served all day and Hot Dog on a Stick and Buffalo Fire Department (a great Torrance burger joint) will be providing the food.

The Los Angeles revival of the Roller Derby craze has not missed the South Bay and Saturday night marks the opening of the season for the Beach Cities Roller Derby home teams. Held at the Wilson Park Rink in Torrance, the Redondo Riots will take on the Hermosa Hit Girls. Physically demanding and super athletic, BCRD strives to inspire women and girls to "embrace their inner strength through this physically demanding sport while entertaining fans and enriching our community". They volunteer often with things such as trash cleanup, ocean conservation, feeding the homeless and Walk for the Cure...just don't mess with them on game night!

Also, if you have any items that you were thinking about giving to Goodwill, you might want to go to the Ralph's in El Segundo on Sepulveda. Manhattan Beach's Noah’s Bark Dog Rescue is hosting a Goodwill donation drive from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will accept clothes, shoes, antiques, electronics, books, toys, tools, sporting goods, audio/video equipment and more. Donations are tax-deductible and receipts will be provided, and money raised will go directly toward the medical care and well-being of injured and sick homeless dogs. Find more info here.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Palos Verdes Conservancy Planning First-ever "Engage The Natural World" Film Series

I loved finding out that in the coming months the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy will celebrate human interaction with the natural world in its first-ever film series titled “The Beauty of Nature”. As a supporter and participant in and of all things outdoors, I find it fantastic that the idea behind showing the films is that we become our true selves as well as something greater each time we truly engage with nature. And, once we do become moved by the beauty of the natural world, we become fierce protectors of it.

The first film was shown at the Warner Grand Theatre this past Saturday and was titled Yosemite: A Gathering of Spirit. I am sorry I missed it as it was directed by the amazing Ken Burns and celebrates the 150th anniversary of the landmark Yosemite Grant signed by Abraham Lincoln in 1864. This act preserved Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias and if any of you have seen this I would enjoy hearing your comments.

The rest of the films are as follows:
  • Riding Giants, to be presented in June at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, looks at the history and popularity of surfing and will probably be the one film that many in the South Bay might be most familiar with since it has a lot of local history (and residents along the coast are the ones whose lives are most impacted by ocean water quality). A cool note for this film is that after it ends, viewers can stick around for the grunion run.
  • In August the film is Rivers and Tides, a documentary on sculptor Andy Goldsworthy as he seeks to “understand that state and that energy that I have in me that I also feel in the plants and in the land”. Presented by the Palos Verdes Art Center, and shown outdoors in the PVAC's renovated atrium, the evening will feature box dinners for a Hollywood Bowl-style evening.
  • Palos Verdes Library District will host the fourth film in September, More Than Honey, which looks in depth at bee colonies, specifically in California, Switzerland, China and Australia, and shows amazing footage of the colonies while addressing the recent problem of disappearing bee colonies (a serious issue since 80% of plant species depend on bee pollination). Check out my recent blog about this topic here.
  • It's back to the Warner Grand Theatre in November for the final film, Kon-Tiki, a historical drama that re-enacts the Pacific Ocean expedition of Thor Heyerdahl and five others aboard a balsa wood raft in 1947. Heyerdahl believed that people from South America could have settled Polynesia in pre-Columbian times and the Conservancy believes the film is all "about the courage to undertake new things and test new hypotheses, something the land conservancy wants to inspire in youngsters.”
It is a great thing that the PVPLC is doing this and if you are interested you can learn more on their website.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Spyder Surf Fest, Cool Foodie Event For PAC-12 Fans And Ultimate Wine Fest Make This Weekend Great!

It is going to be another crazy Saturday in Hermosa Beach as the South Bay’s largest Surf Festival, Spyder Fest, goes on from 11:30 a.m.-7 p.m. at Pier Plaza. The day kicks off with the Surfers Walk of Fame induction ceremony followed by live music, fashion shows, interactive booths and giveaways (which are always awesome). This year they have added something new: The LA Surf Awards, which will be presented at 3 p.m. at Hermosa Pier Plaza. When things wind down at 7 p.m., festivities will continue at the official Surf Fest Post Party at Watermans. VIP wristbands will be issued during the day at the restaurant for express entry and food and beverage discounts.

Akbar Indian restaurant on Aviation in Hermosa certainly has one of the more creative events going on Sunday. They are hosting a Pac-12 loyalty party in the afternoon where they will be pairing 6 South African wines with special gourmet appetizers of their terrific food. It's $35 which also gets you a $10 gift certificate for your next visit and, if you wear your USC hat or UCLA jersey, you'll get another $5 knocked off. There will also be a wine consultant there to teach guests how best to pair certain wines with certain dishes. This seems like a great way to bond over your favorite college teams while eating and drinking well, and you can go here for the scoop. The people at Akbar promise the food and wine will be flowing straight through from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. so this also definitely looks like a place for any foodies to get their groove on this weekend. 

Later in the afternoon Sunday is the big daddy of South Bay wine events as Shade Hotel in Manhattan Beach teams up with Rock 'N Fish to present the 9th Annual Ultimate Wine Festival. There will be over 52 wineries represented with sampling tables and gourmet appetizer stations set up all throughout the hotel. The idea of The Ultimate Wine Festival is to showcase California's premier wineries and winemakers in an intimate setting where members of our South Bay community can relax, ask as many questions as they want and have a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon. While tickets are a little pricey ($125 each), it also is a fundraiser for Manhattan Beach Middle School to help offset the effects of the state's school budget cuts.