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Showing posts from May, 2011

The Meaning of Trees: California's Oaks and Their Protection

Coast Live Oaks in L.A. Trees. I have a thing for trees. The chestnuts in Central Europe and the fir trees of the Alps are among my favorites as are the oaks in California. No matter which kind, there is something about trees that makes me feel grounded, something that connects me to a before and to an after; trees signify dignity, endurance, patience; they stand for adaptability and integrity at the same time, for a balance between the two. In the urban sprawl of L.A. trees sometimes have a hard time. The native oak trees are no exception which is why the County of L.A. chose to cover all oak species by the oak tree ordinance. With it oaks are recognized as "significant historical, aesthetic, and ecological resources" and as a unique but threatened plant heritage. The ordinance states that "a person shall not cut, destroy, remove, relocate, inflict damage, or encroach into the protected zone of any tree of the oak tree genus without first obtaining a permit"

Food's Glorious Future: Snackified Drinks, Drinkified Snacks

Snackified drinks and drinkified snacks: that is the future of food and it will be good for us, says PepsiCo, the largest producer of food and beverages in the United States. PepsiCo is training for the perfect split: give people what they want and are used to, snacks and drinks that taste of sugar, fat, and salt, but sneak in what they don't get enough of, namely protein and especially fiber. In a recent article in the New Yorker titled Snacks for a Fat Planet  Indra Nooyi, the CEO of PepsiCo, talks of "this new convergence area coming up" which according to her is going to be "a glorious area." She promises that our children - apparently refuseniks of the first order when it comes to eating healthy food - will drink carrots though they wouldn't eat them; they will suck minestrone and "oatmeal with a little bit of fruit" out of single serve pouches; they will be happy and healthy. Hm. I am doubtful. First, I hope that the "new convergence

Walking the Line: Contradictions, Diversity, and Integrity

L. A. is a city of contradictions. Anything goes, every opinion and every fashion. There is room for SUVs which seem more like trucks than cars and for little hybrids with environmentalists behind the wheel; for beach barbies, hippies, and old style ladies; for Frank Gery's Disney Concert Hall and for Richard Meier's Getty Center.   Disney Conc ert Hall (Photo: Carol M. Highsmith) Getty Center (Photo: Forrestn) Diversity in all its forms is what I love about L.A. as a whole. And yet - on a smaller scale I do look for integrity, a trait I sorely missed during our recent visit to the California Science Center. The museum features an educational and appealing exhibit on ecosystems  which includes a section on garbage in L.A.* The exhibitors point out how avoiding the production of trash in the first place is the best thing we can do to begin to tackle the environmental problem. So far so good, but the Science Center also features a McDonald's outlet where, at least

Sites As Sets: the Double Life of L.A.'s Infrastructure

California Science Center, main entrance One of the things that make life in L.A. full of surprises is that we often stumble upon scenes and vistas which seem familiar from movies, TV shows, commercials. I had one such aha-moment after a recent visit to the California Science Center. One of its older buildings doubles as the (fictitious) Jeffersonian Institute which is located in Washington, D.C., in the TV series Bones. Here it is, albeit in the background and blurry: Rose garden and Jeffersonian Institute