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August 2011

Healthy Communities: Environment, Economy, and Social Equity


I attended the Healthy Communities Forum #3 on August 18. There were two previous forums in this series that I didn't hear about in time to go to. The series explores the idea of sustainability vis-a-vis environment, economy, and social equity, and it contends that maintaining all three "bottom lines" is good for business in general.

The forum focused more on government and large corporations than small businesses such as my own. The focus on larger institutions is wise, of course, as the larger the institution, the larger the effect for good or ill.

The forum's central question was: "What would the top of the sustainability mountain look like in your/our community, and what steps. individually and collectively, do we need to take to get there?"

After introducing all the corporate and government sponsors, forum organizers showed the film So Right—So Smart, featuring Ray Anderson, founder and CEO of Interface Corporation and author of the book Mid-Course Correction. I had previously seen Anderson in the film The Corporation by Achbar, Abbott & Bakan. This film So Right—So Smart provides a much deeper understanding of Anderson's story and of what governments and businesses might do to transform themselves into being part of the solution.

Librarians (I really appreciate librarians) at the San Mateo Public Library, where the forum was held, set up a display of these books:

75 Green Businesses—You Can Start to Make Money & Make a Difference
By Glen Croston, PhD

Green Business
By Amy K. Townsend

Green Careers For Dummies
By Carol McLelland, PhD

Greening Your Business
By Daniel Sitarz

Doing What Matters
By James M. Kiltz

Companies on a Mission
By Michael V. Russo

Greening Your Small Business
By Jennifer Kaplan

The Plot to Save the Planet
By Brian Dumaine

The Green Collar Economy
By Van Jones

Climate Capitalism
By L. Hunter Lovins & Boyd Cohen

Green to Gold
By Daniel C. Esty & Andrew S. Winston

Spy Kids Movie Opens in 4-D: Scratch-and-Sniff Card

August 17, 2011
"Spy Kids: All The Time In The World In 4D" is upping the ante when it comes to multiple dimensions. Robert Rodriguez's fourth installment in his Spy Kids franchise, which stars Jessica Alba and Jeremy Piven, hits theaters Friday, where it will be available in 4D. So what exactly can moviegoers expect from the added dimension? The experience actually will feature "Aroma-Scope," a sort of scratch-and-sniff feature that allows audiences to not only watch but also smell along with the movie. What happens is, moviegoers will get a postcard that includes eight numbered squares, according to the Los Angeles Times. When a number pops up on the screen, viewers will know to scratch that particular square, releasing a scent. The feature will propel each moviegoer's "nose first into the fourth dimension," Rodriguez said. But let the scratch-and-sniffer beware: The director said he came up with the idea to add the feature to the latest Spy Kids after inhaling the smell of Alba's baby's diaper. But, he added, the audience has the ultimate control over whether they want to inhale whatever scent awaits. "The nice thing about cards is, if you don't want to smell you don't have to," he said. "You're doing it by your own willpower." Additionally, the extra feature isn't adding anything to the ticket price above the 3D.

Boston Bill's Cheesesteak & Chowder House to Open in September

Boston Bill's Cheesesteak and Chowder House plans to open in mid-September at the old KFC store in Rockaway. A bright new sign has gone up in front, giving Highway 1 commuters something new to look at. Stay tuned for details. Owner William McGowan says, "We have finally shifted into high gear. We have struck a deal to sell exclusive Harris Ranch grass-fed beef, no frozen 'who knows what.' We even found a baker that will parbake [partial-bake] rolls, so fresh bread every day. In fact, fresh everything every day. Whoo hoo!"

Christine Krenzel Receives Kateri "Most Valuable Angel" Award

Chris and Kathy G MVA
Kateri Fund Board Chair Kathy Green presents Most Valuable Angel award to Chris Krenzel.
The Kateri Tekakwitha Fund, a small 501 (c) 3 nonprofit corporation working among indigenous people in Guatemala, recognized the contributions of Christine Krenzel of Pacifica, California, and Sara Stephenson of Lincoln, Nebraska, with the 2011 Most Valuable Angel Award. The MVA award is given each year to outstanding contributors to support of the fund. The fund’s purpose is to help indigenous Guatemalans to improve their lives through education and income-producing activities. The fund's offices are in Pacifica and Chimaltenango, Guatemala.
Krenzel is the owner of Christine Krenzel, CPA, a Pacifica accounting service.  She has donated her services to the fund since 1997. Her advice setting up and keeping the fund's books has made it possible for the fund to comply with 501 (c) 3 requirements. She has done the fund’s taxes each year since 1997 and made sure they were filed properly. By donating her services for more than 14 yreas, she has saved the fund thousands of dollars. This money in turn has been used to award scholarships to indigenous Guatemalan women.
Stephenson is a retired school teacher whom Kay Sweeney, the fund's managing director, met in 1990 on a retreat in Mexico. Stephenson supported Sweeney’s work as the fund developed. When Sweeney came home from Guatemala on vacation, Stephenson drove her all over the Midwest, selling the Guatemalan women’s handicrafts. Stephenson has been a longtime contributor to the fund, supporting young women on scholarships. At present she is supporting the Women’s Development Project.
Two new members of the Board of Directors, Jessica Flores and Sr. Kathleen Curtin, PBVM, were installed, along with new board chair, Kathy Green. Kathy Bray, founding member of the board, was honored on her retirement from the board. She was praised for her longtime contribution to the fund as it has grown from a “seat of the pants” operation to a stable, well-organized fund. Managing Director Kay Sweeney was honored on her 80th birthday with a card containing the well wishes of all present.
Kateri Tekakwitha Fund/Mission: Guatemala, PO Box 906, Pacifica CA 94044
Phone & Fax: 650-557-1591
Everything is possible with a little help from a friend!

Police & Coroner: Pacifica Woman Attacked by Pit Bull Bled to Death

By Henry Lee
August 15, 2011

The pregnant Pacifica woman who was attacked by her pet pit bull bled to death, police said today. Darla Napora, 32, died of blood loss and shock, according to a preliminary investigation by the San Mateo County coroner's office.

Napora's husband found her unconscious when he returned from work to their home on Reina del Mar at about noon Thursday. The dog stood over his wife's body before he dragged the animal to another part of the home, police said. Two officers shot the pit bull to death when he got loose from the backyard after police arrived, authorities said.

A necropsy of the unneutered, 2-year-old male pit bull, Gunner, confirmed that the 125-pound animal was responsible for the attack, said police Capt. Dave Bertini. A veterinarian at the Peninsula Humane Society reviewed hair and tissue samples and blood evidence to reach that conclusion, police said.

An examination of the couple's other pit bull, a female named Tazi, confirmed that she was not involved in the attack. Teeth impressions were made of Gunner and Tazi, and they were compared with the wounds on Darla Napora, Bertini said.





Snowy Plovers Return to Linda Mar Beach: Please Help Protect Them

Snowy plovers have returned to Linda Mar Beach for the non-breeding season. Jack Solano and I saw five out there on Friday afternoon, the first I've seen this season. One of them was color-banded lime-green:yellow-orange (LG:YO). Because of the scaly look to the top of the head, it looked to me like a bird born this season. That was confirmed later that evening. The woman who coordinates sightings of color-banded snowy plovers reported that the bird above hatched this summer at a site called Reservation Road, just north of Fort Ord, Monterey. Unfortunately, in the few minutes we were watching the five plovers, they were disturbed by two running off-leash dogs, and two people flying kites right over the plover resting area. See BACKGROUND INFORMATION below for details.


BACKGROUND INFORMATION: Western Snowy Plovers are small sand-colored shorebirds that reside on sandy beaches along the Pacific coast of North America. Unfortunately, the population of this species has been in decline due to a loss of habitat and disturbances from development, recreation, and other human pressures. In 1993 the West Coast population of the species was listed as threatened by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service under the federal Endangered Species Act. It was also listed as a "species of special concern" by the State of California.
Up until the early 1970s, Western Snowy Plovers nested in Pacifica, but now the species is found here only during the non-breeding season, approximately from mid-August to May. Three beaches in Pacifica host wintering Western Snowy Plovers. But while Sharp Park Beach and Rockaway Beach are used by the plovers in small numbers or only occasionally, only Pacifica State Beach (formerly Linda Mar Beach) supports significant numbers of wintering Western Snowy Plovers.
For the past six years, regular counts by observers document that Pacifica State Beach has provided wintering habitat for at least 20 to 24 Western Snowy Plovers, or about 1 percent of the total West Coast breeding population of the species. In previous years the counts of wintering birds on the beach were even higher, with up to 33 individuals recorded on the beach during the 2000-2005 period.
Many of the Western Snowy Plovers seen on Pacifica State Beach have been color-banded as part of a research project to learn more about the movements and requirements of the species. The records of color-banded birds from Pacifica State Beach show that the majority of the color-banded Western Snowy Plovers wintering on the beach originate from important nesting areas for the species in northern Monterey County, California, approximately 70 miles to the south. In particular, the color-banded plovers come from Salinas National Wildlife Refuge, Salinas State Park, and Moss Landing salt ponds.

As of August 12, the Western Snowy Plovers began returning to Pacifica State Beach for the non-breeding season. Five individuals were seen on that date including a color-banded bird known as Lime-Green:Yellow-Orange (LG:YO) and shown at the top of this post. This bird was hatched this summer at a site called Reservation Road, just north of Fort Ord in Monterey County. By August 13 the count was up to eight individuals.

Unfortunately, demonstrating the plight of the species, in the few minutes we were watching the five plovers on August 12, they were disturbed by two running off-leash dogs, and two people flying kites right over the plover resting area. Western Snowy Plovers require the same sorts of sandy beaches that we humans prefer for our recreation, and that has been one of the principal reasons for the decline in their numbers.

People walking down the beach disturb the plovers a little; people with dogs on leash disturb them a lot more; off-leash dogs running through the plover area are a disaster. The real threat to the plovers from dogs is not that the dogs are going to catch and kill them. Dogs are way too slow to capture anything other than sick or injured plovers. The danger is in how the dogs affect the energy balance of the birds.

Western Snowy Plovers, like most wild creatures, exist on a fairly tight energy budget. There is a small amount of slack built into the system, but not a lot. Anything that negatively impacts that energy balance threatens their physiological well-being. Constantly flying around to avoid dogs certainly qualifies as an negative impact on that balance. It disrupts their feeding, and it disrupts their rest time, rest that is as important to them as it is to us. If the physiological well-being of the plovers is diminished, it affects their over-winter survival rate. More important, it affects their reproductive success in the next breeding season. If you care about protecting Western Snowy Plovers on Pacifica State Beach, there are several things you can do:

Avoid walking through or picnicking in the area most heavily used by the plovers. The plovers are largely restricted to an area of dry sand on the northern half of the beach. Along this stretch of beach, stick closer to the water. The above aerial photo shows the plover area in white hatching, and the photo below shows how difficult it can be to see the plovers roosting in the sand. Be sure to keep your dog on a leash. If you are with your dog, you might even consider keeping to the stretch of beach south of Crespi Drive.

Keep activities like kite-flying to the south of Crespi Drive. Kites might seem harmless enough to us, but to the plovers they can look like aerial predators.
Properly dispose of any food scraps from your visit to the beach. While food scraps are biodegradable and pose no threat to the larger environment, they can negatively impact the plovers. The food attracts scavengers like crows and ravens that then turn to plover eggs and chicks when food scraps are not available. The plovers do not presently nest on Pacifica State Beach, but it’s not a good idea to encourage these scavengers in the event that nesting plovers some day return.
Educate and inform others about the plovers and what can be done to protect them.

Paul Donahue
August 2011


Brussels Sprouts, Honey, and Lumber Top County Earners

Beekeepers, Sprout Growers and Lumberjacks Buck Recessionary Trend in Local Agriculture

Download CROP REPORT 2010
REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – Locally produced Brussels sprouts, honey and lumber rose in value last year, but agriculture’s overall earnings in San Mateo County contracted 3.7 percent in 2010, the third straight year of decline for local farm products, according to the County’s 2010 Agricultural Crop Report released Tuesday.
The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors accepted the report following a presentation by Agricultural Commissioner Fred Crowder.
The flower and nursery trade, which makes up 83 percent of San Mateo County’s farming industry, saw a 5.3 percent drop in earnings last year, reflecting belt-tightening among recession-weary consumers and relentless competition from out-of-state and foreign producers.
From artichokes to pumpkins, earnings were slightly down in most fruit, vegetable and grain categories, the only exception was the region’s famous Brussels sprout crop which increased in value by $474,000.
The overall slide in earnings was significantly less than the 8.3 decrease farmers saw in 2009, and some niche producers saw healthy increases in revenue.
Lumber production earnings tripled from last year, the result of harvest practices that rotate between San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties; 2010 was a year with greater logging in San Mateo County.
The county’s beekeepers also earned more with slightly smaller production, as the price of honey jumped to $7.86 per pound from last year’s $4.79.  Honey has been in short supply, which might be a reflection of weather, the impacts of mites, pathogens and the loss of foraging ground.
Greenhouse-grown potted plants edged up about 1 percent in value, a promising sign for the county’s biggest crop sector, according Crowder.
“Because we’ve seen such declines over the past three years, just holding steady could be considered progress”, Crowder said. “In some areas we’ve lost quite a bit, and in some we’ve picked up. But in our major crops areas we’re just trying to hold our own.”
 Agriculture, which remains California’s biggest industry, has seen decreases statewide, according to Crowder. “Some counties are doing better than others, but most are down and none are seeing the increases in crop value of a few years ago” Crowder said.
County Supervisor Don Horsley, whose District 3 encompasses much of the county’s agricultural lands, noted “that even with these mixed results, agricultural production remains key to San Mateo County’s economic vitality. The County will continue to work to retain and strengthen this sector of our economy”.
Crop Report Roundup
* Total gross agricultural production for San Mateo County in 2010 was $143,700,000, down from $149,226,000 in 2009, and $162,726,000 in 2008.
* Organic acreage in San Mateo County doubled last year, from 110 to 220 acres. The number of organic farms in the county increased from 11 to 15.
* Japan is the top export destination for California farm products passing through San Mateo County, with another 17 percent of California exports going to Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Palau.
* Agricultural inspectors inspected 2,896 air shipments of plants and produce last year, and rejected or seized 282 shipments because of insect or disease contamination.
* Pest detection traps nabbed one Guava fruit fly last year, the second year in a row one of the yellow-spotted critters has turned up in the county.
The report will be available on-line on the San Mateo County website under Departments, Department of Agriculture / Weights and Measures/Links and Resources, Agricultural Crop Report.

Fred Crowder
Agricultural Commissioner/Sealer of Weights and Measures
(650) 363-4700