February 2015

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

2/15

Within the past couple months since the time I started looking at this studio I live in, a building has gone up next door- LEED A-Pod-Ments. It’s a building full of LEED built studio apartments. New LEED certified living quarters seems to be a trend that is quickly popping up in my neighborhood. Lots of old restaurants or businesses I used to know have moved down the street or gone away with large “Proposed Land Use Action” boards now decorating the walls, about to be turned into high rise green built living quarters with retail at the bottom. I doubt any of them have a bathtub though so I won’t be moving anytime soon.

I plugged the tub when taking a shower so I could see how much water I used compared to taking a bath. 2 showers = 1 bath, for me anyway. Considering I still practice the Rabbit average of 1 or 2 showers per week, I don’t mind a good healing bath once in a while.

During my First Aid training for my new job, I stumbled upon the parking lot of the community center where the training was held. I just had to stop and stare at the juxtaposition of this old vine covered parking lot full of art and graffiti with two electric car charging stations in the corner.

I also discovered a store for back yard farmers on a preschool field trip, The Grange. We took the kiddos to see the chickens, ducks, and rabbits, but that place is for farms in the middle of the city. It was pretty cool.

I found a stand at the Farmer’s Market with a giant sign that said “Micro Greens.” It peaked my curiosity for what kind of new green trend this might be. After chatting with the guy I now understand that there is a giant warehouse in West Seattle, filled floor to ceiling with a “vertical farm,” growing these “micro greens” using aeroponics and hydroponics, and supplying many of the large Seattle restaurants with greens. Basically they are urban farmed baby herbs and veggies, grown year round using mist and LED lights. Whaaaat!!? The company of Farmbox is magical.

I went into the Thrive cafe yesterday for the first time in over 4 years to drop off a flyer for my upcoming workshop. They are now growing their own greens right in the restaurant using hydroponics.

Soon I’ll be giving a workshop at a holistic bookstore. The workshop is called “Become Your Own Genie!” where I teach people to make all their wishes come true. With my new life coaching practice I help people heal heartache in Love and Abundance so they can be more empowered creationary humans in the world. One of my holistic teachers advises us not to be hypocrites in our holistic business, like don’t be Martha Stewart who gets caught by a chef binge eating at a restaurant. Sometimes I wonder if helping people build their wealth and abundance along with my frequent dumpster diving adventures is the kind of hypocritical activity I’ve been advised against. I can’t help but rescue perfectly good food from moral injustice while filling my fridge with the abundance of sustenance, even if I were a 6 or 7 figure earner. Between the food waste at work and all the mostly organic produce I’ve rescued, I’ve been able to eat for free so far this month.

Since the monetary economy of this land of Seattle is so differently askew from Rabbit Land, I’ve started keeping a spread sheet of my monetary income and expenses, including all the times I’ve gotten food for free, so I can get a good bearing of what my money and abundance is doing in this city. I thought perhaps I’d be spending $250 per month on food, but thus far I’ve only spent a tiny fraction on edible luxuries, like $5 on rose water which I’ll try in an experimental batch of Kombucha to go along with some rose black tea I have.

I’m now adopting monetary behavior I never had when I lived in the city before, back when I was still trapped in my illusionary notions of lack and scarcity, back when I went around thinking about how expensive things were instead of appreciating their real value. Last month I only spent $20 in the entertainment category, I thought it would be more fulfilling for my heart and soul to have more of that in my life. This month I gave myself a birthday present of a $110 Ticket to see Cirque De Soleil’s Kurios. Keeping a spread sheet really helps put things in perspective when it comes to abundance.

A friend recently told me about a concept called “Transition Towns.” She said Seattle seems to be on it’s way to becoming a “transition town.” In basic terms she described it as a town that has the eco awareness capabilities to survive if shit hits the fan. It reminded me of the many community pea patches that dot the city and supportive organizations like City Fruit that has a database map of all the registered fruit trees in Seattle. It’s comforting to have companionship with the notion that this city would probably still be pretty awesome even if “shit hit the fan.” Rabbit Land is pretty awesome too and if “shit hit the fan” I’m sure it’d be quite a different reality to share it with 600,000+ people rather than 70.

January 2015

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

1/7

Well, a full time job and my own apartment is not something I’ve ever had the pleasure of having, believe it or not. I figured I might as well try it out for several months before I make a decision if it is right for me or if Rabbit Land is better.

This month’s gallery features some interesting eco conscious gems from the city: An all vegan grocery store, a “rain wise” yard, carpet mulch downtown, compostable pet poo bag dispenser, the “Sensational Saver Kit,” and the Footprint Apartments map. While looking for a studio apartment I found there are 12 properties in Seattle called the “Footprint Apartments” that are designed to lower your carbon footprint, very interesting. Their adds can be found amongst the adds for other “micro-studios” which are about 200 sq ft or less. I didn’t rent a footprint, but I found a nice micro-studio close to work.

My studio is about 200 sq ft, including the bathroom. There is a shared kitchen across the hall. I have my own bathroom with a bathtub and my own refrigerator! Oh my gosh so exciting! And what is more exciting is that I can afford it. I work a 10 minute walk from my studio. I won’t be riding in a bus or a car for at least a week! When I came to look at the place, I asked the landlord if there was compost. He said, “Not right at the moment, but we are going to start composting in the next few days. I have the cans downstairs, but I have to go get the right bags. The city is going to start charging a fine to all apartment complexes that don’t compost, so we’ll have compost by the time you move in.” The city is going to start charging a Fine to all apartment complexes that don’t compost!!! and the cans are all nicely labeled with what goes into each. “No napkins, paper towels, pizza boxes, or used compostable to-go food containers in the trash. They all go into the compost along with all the other food waste,” read a reminder email I received today from the landlord to all units in my building.

I found a lovely full time job at a co-op preschool! What!? I work at a co-op! It’s perfect for a little Rabbit like me. It is owned and run by the parents and families that bring their children to the preschool. The parents help out at the preschool by doing things like cleaning the classrooms, purchasing the food, web mastering, and working in the admin office. The committee that makes the decisions is called the “steering committee,” I very much like that name for the decision making body. We eat all organic and non-gmo food at “The Co-op” and dietary preferences vary from no dairy and no gluten kids and so fourth. It’s a peanut free environment so we eat almond butter and sunflower butter instead. I had not heard of sunflower butter. Every day the kids eat a gourmet snack in the afternoon. The first day I came for the interview they were having squash pasta for snack, I was flabbergasted. The children aren’t allowed to bring cake or sugary desserts for their birthday parties either so they bring things like chia pudding. Oh goodness, 2015, these are the days when even the Cookie Monster might stop eating cookies all together unless they are gluten free, vegan, and sweetened with stevia. It’s a community oriented, eco and health conscious place to spend 40 hrs per week. Accredited preschools are pretty rigorous in terms of health and cleanly standards of course, so they are not allowed to re-serve any leftovers.

Who gets to take home left over gourmet snacks from “The Co-op?” SunGee! Well of course no one really calls me that here, but I’ve found that when I talk to myself, I still call myself that. I spilled a little water in the kitchen the other day and told myself, “SunGee should be more careful.” In terms of food, there is also a food bank in the building below the preschool. Sometimes I like to look through the food bank’s food waste out back. You’d be amazed at what you’d find! Today’s catch is an organic Delicata squash with one rotten spot, an organic potato with a couple scratches, an organic orange with some spots on the peel, and an organic pear with one bruise. There is more waste produce than I could ever carry home, and from the food bank no less. Between preschool snack food waste and food bank food waste, I’ve been able to eat lunch and dinner for free for the past three days. I usually eat a green smoothie for breakfast though, which I did buy ingredients for. This week I’ve spent about $10 on breakfast smoothie food. Organic veggies are pretty cheap at Trader Joe’s and even then it was gift certificate money from a nice Christmas present. Besides the nearby Trader Joe’s and Safeway, there is also a farmer’s market every Saturday one block from my studio, all within a 15 min walk, and a PCC and a giant Whole Foods a 10 min bus ride away. For some household items there is a dollar store and a Goodwill in walking distance, but I don’t think I’d want to eat any of the food in the dollar store’s food section. I’ve taken to a new years resolution for the next few months for health reasons, and I’ve decided to try a diet of mostly vegetables, some fruits, some nuts, and of course shiitake mushrooms. I miss my 40 logs, but I bought a mushroom growing kit at the farmer’s market. No refined sugar, no processed food, no or very low gluten and grains, rarely meat and dairy and only if it is happy meat- raw and grass fed small animal like goat milk or lamb or fish maybe once per month. No cow and no pig. I think a diet like this for less than $25 per week within a 15 min walking distance would be impossible in Rabbit Land at this time of year, but for a “bottom feeder” like me, it is doable in my situation in the city. My mother endearingly calls me a “bottom feeder” because I eat, well, what falls to the bottom from the big fish up top and I am more wealthy and healthy than ever. I don’t even go to the food bank, I just look in their waste food. Although my co-worker says I could go to the food bank if I wanted to, you don’t need to show anything except a piece of ID and a piece of mail. Preschool teachers are probably considered low income in a high economy city like Seattle, but I feel like a queen making more than triple what my yearly income was in Rabbit Land. So far, I think I’ll buy my food other than the treasures I find out back, there is no long line at the food bank trash. Lol!

I share my kitchen with about 6 or 8 other units, and it’s a bit interesting to share in a city where people keep to themselves. I thought about putting up a notice about starting a dinner co-op, but I don’t think that would work for this lifestyle and other people’s eating habits and schedule. They probably think I am either an alien from another culture or some gourmet chef when they look at me cutting up my organic Delicata squash and potatoes as they briefly appear in the kitchen to remove their ready bake pizzas or pot pies from the oven or to use the microwave. I won’t tell them my organic healthy food was from the garbage can full of produce.

 

December 2014

4 Short Years of Eco Conscious Changes in Seattle

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

12/1

I recently made a stunning realization when asked by a Rabbit, “So do you plan to come home next year?” Originally I had of course, but after reading this month’s blog post I am sure any eco conscious human may be able to deduce why the decision is now a very confusing one for me to make. Since I moved away from Seattle in 2010 my eco ideal lifestyle seemed like a fantasy, perhaps 20-50 years in the future. Now, just 4 short years after living in this city and coming back to my hometown for an extended period of time, I can see that my eco ideals from home in Rabbit Land have percolated into the mainstream like the best infection ever. The mainstream is catching up to our eco ideals at lightening speed and includes technology and resources we don’t have at home. Seattle is now considered one of the most eco friendly cities in the nation.

I was inspired to share this blog post today after stumbling upon a LEED Gold certified Starbucks this morning and then another LEED Gold University building this afternoon. Apparently it is a fashionable social norm to be eco conscious in Seattle nowadays. In Rabbit Land we are giving it our best effort to build a LEED certified Common House. It’s a fabulous and favorable idea, but with a 1 Million dollar price tag, it has often been a source of tension in the village and an emotional roller coaster in meetings in a village where the consciousness surrounding $$$ tends to be of much lower proportion than common consumer America. Sometimes I wish that I could just teleport all 70 Rabbits to Seattle to hang out for the weekend. It would definitely be an eye opening excursion! This afternoon after my new Elf job, I took a stroll up the hill to my old university to find a warm place to eat lunch. The general resource building for students, called the HUB (Husky Union Building) looks the same on the outside as it ever did 5 years ago, but walking inside was a surreal experience as the whole interior now looks very modern! After my Starbucks experience this morning I wasn’t surprised to find a LEED 2013 plaque on the wall down the hall and eco water saving commercial toilets as I had also seen in the grocery store complete with a nearby water fountain that digitally keeps track of how many plastic water bottles have been saved.

This is a lengthy post this month but it describes many eco conscious changes that have happened in Seattle from 2010-2014. The first part is the way things were about 4 years ago Then ……. And after the dots is how they are Now:

Most city busses used to be gas guzzling machines, buses were good for getting around but no mass transit system comparable to a subway ……. Now city buses are hybrid electric-natural gas and there is a light rail system. “Gas isn’t expensive if you don’t buy any,” read an advertisement I recently saw for the metro transit system. In many cities only “poor people” take the bus, but in Seattle even upper middle class people like my friends who work at Microsoft don’t have a car and take public transit to work.

If you couldn’t take the bus for some reason and you didn’t have a car, a taxi was your next best option and there weren’t magical public transit cell phone apps ……. Now “One Bus Away” can give you the time of your next bus down to the minute due to a GPS each bus carries so you know if your bus will be late or on time. Don’t wanna take the bus, call an Uber Car to your destination using another cell phone app. Regular people can work for Uber using their own car, it’s similar to calling a taxi but the cars are unmarked of course and all transactions, monetary or otherwise, are done through the app, including letting you know what make of car you are looking out for, the driver’s name, and how many minutes away it is. There is also privacy protection between the customer and the Uber driver. You can call an Uber car to your destination within minutes anytime. I’m not sure that I understand quite how it works but it seems like some kind of technologically advanced carpooling. My carless friend frequently uses Uber when he’s in more of a hurry than the bus provides and I rode in one with him the other day.

I certainly don’t remember seeing bike rental stations and car charging places laying around all over ……. Now electric cars and smart cars are much more common and you can rent a bike, like renting a movie in the old days, from special bike racks around the city complete with an automated pay station and helmet cabinet. I still don’t fully understand how it works, another marvel that a stranger asked me, “Why haven’t you seen those before?” when I was staring in awe (like I’d never seen one because I hadn’t).

Studio apartments were about 200-300 square feet at the least and Internet was never included along in utilities ……. Now you can rent “micro-studios” or “a-pod-ments” as small as 150 sq feet with a shared kitchen down the hall, and internet is included in the rent along with the other utilities. Makes a Rabbit feel right at home, maybe friendly people might want to form a dinner co-op so they don’t have to cook for themselves all the time. I was touring studios for when I get a job.

Plastic bags were a common free item given with your groceries at the store and most stores would give you a bag even if you only bought one thing. I used to have to request no bag please ……. Now, due to a city ordinance, no plastic bags are given out in stores within Seattle city limits, paper only and if you want one it’s a 5-10 cent extra charge per bag. People using reusable shopping bags when buying groceries or stores not giving you a bag at all if you only have a few goods is more of a social norm now.

When buying produce you used to put it into a clear plastic bag and styrofoam to-go food containers and plastic cutlery were common ……. Now these produce bags are green and recyclable or compostable made of some kind of corn starch material or “recycled resin” but still as durable as the old plastic ones. Many take away food containers are brown and compostable along with cutlery that is as durable as the old plastic ones but reads “commercially compostable.” Even wax lined Chinese take out boxes or used pizza boxes can be put in the compost.

You used to have to sort the recycling into bins- glass, paper, metal, and there were not as many different types of plastic you could put in there ……. Now recycling is collected from your home all in one big can that looks like the trash but it is green and there are much less things that go into the trash now. The city has a nice pamphlet about what can go into compost and recycling vs the trash. Things like ice cream cartons and all plastics, even bags, can go into the recycling, except for styrofoam, plastic wrap, and things like plastic cutlery.

There used to be a large can labeled “yard waste” that you could have the option to be collected from your home but only yard waste like leaves and branches or lawn clippings went into it. Only hippies like my mom composted in their own back yard ……. Now any organic food scraps including meat bones and things like paper towels can go into the compost and be collected from your home and most apartment complexes just like the trash. Having a little green bucket or other container on the kitchen counter for compost is almost as common as having a trash can in your kitchen.

I’m not sure what the laws were 4 years ago but ……. It is now legal to keep 8 chickens and 2 goats in your backyard.

Stores like Whole Foods and the local branch, PCC, were just health food grocery stores that hippies shopped at who wanted to eat organic ……. Now these are mainstream stores even being put into new ritzy apartment complexes. They cater to eco conscious, health conscious people and to many different dietary needs and preferences of course. There is a big bulk food section in each of these stores where you can buy things the common Rabbit would order from UNFI, self dispensed from containers. Now both chains have a hot food bar and salad bar inside at the area near the deli, bakery, butcher etc. It’s similar to a cross between a food court and a cafeteria where the customer either takes a plate or a compostable heavy duty paper box, serves themselves good yummy food in wide variety cooked by a chef with vegan, omnivore, and vegetarian options, and pays by the weight using a machine that prints a sticker. You can even pay After you eat it! I was so confused until someone walked me through how it worked. Little SunGee could eat dinner there for $5 every night if she wanted to, eat an organic fruit veggie smoothie for breakfast, and a sensible easily self-made lunch like a Queen high on the hog for a grocery bill of $250/month at most. Believe me I have been doing a lot of store browsing with a calculator because I have no idea how much it costs to live here anymore. A gallon of organic milk is $6 btw so any Rabbit should treasure their raw cow juice from the local dairy at $2.50 a gallon.

Almost no one had solar panels on their roof ……. One year ago when I was visiting, for the first time I saw an apartment complex with a roof full of solar panels. This year I have seen quite a few residential houses on my bus trips that have solar panels all over their roof and subdivisions in this area full of houses that use solar are not unheard of. Even the Seattle Aquarium has a bank of solar panels on its roof, and many other residential and commercial solar photos can be viewed at NorthwestSolar dot com. It was like waking up to a fantasy.

The houses similar to features we use in Rabbit Land seemed like a pipe dream ……. Now there is a house just two blocks away from where I am staying with my family that was built just about a year ago and uses solar power, rain catchment and a cistern, passive solar, and has walls that are about two feet thick. My mother says she went on a tour of this house because they are giving them about once per year and they have a sign outside their house about it. I hear there is a whole subdivision of townhouses houses like this in a Seattle suburb that also use geothermal heating.

I don’t use it and might have cared less, but pot was illegal ……. Now it is a legal medicinal and recreational herb in the whole state of Washington. I stumbled upon a cannabis store the other night on my way to an evening ecstatic dance, it was closed but had much paraphernalia in the window. My friend uses pot to make salves and lotion (she says the salve is great for curing headaches and muscle joint pain, really helped her when she broke a wrist so she started making salve and selling it too), and when I was over at another friend’s house he had a bar of cannabis soap, it smelled really good. Wtf happened to this place!

Gay marriage was illegal ……. It may not necessarily be eco conscious, but diversity and acceptance is highly valued in Rabbit Land. Gay marriage is now a legal act in Seattle, and many job postings advertise that they provide benefits for same sex couples.

I guess the Emerald City is living up to its name. Next on its agenda is a public food forest park full of food bearing trees that would be free for the public, and there is already a website that tells of all the private residential fruit bearing trees that residents have listed as ok for the public to come and pick. My mother’s friend said she heard on the news the other day that the goal is to make Seattle one of the most eco friendly cities in the Nation. Well, it’s definitely doing a great job, when a little Rabbit can live here with more than she bargained for in mainstream eco ideals.

Oh, and this may not necessarily have to do with being eco, but money consciousness is also something I care about. When I lived in Seattle many years ago I worked at an ice cream shop for $7.35/hour, minimum wage……. Apparently a new ordinance will raise the minimum wage to $15/hour over the next few years. All the tech jobs have driven the economy sky high in this area. A cheap studio apartment is around $800 per month and you need to prove to your landlord that you make 3x your rent in salary. $15/hr minimum wage makes a lot of sense after looking for full time jobs and being asked what my salary expectations are. Personally I am really good at being frugal but for this reason, because I want my own place to live, I asked to be making around $15/hr starting off at a preschool where some usually start as low as $11/hr. Seattle is an interesting city economically with a large culture of high salary tech gurus; my modern hippy friends who like to dance, eat organic, and make kombucha; and a homeless population of around 8,000 complete with Tent City. It really makes you grateful for the little things in life.

If you’re still reading, I hope that was as entertaining for you as it has been for me to walk around my hometown wide eyed and jaw dropped for the past two months.