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“Right to Know” College Road Tour Blog

Blog Post # 1
Location: Santa Monica, California
Tuesday April 10, 2012
9:33 PM

The “Right to Know” road tour got under way with an amazing opening event at USC. After an early wake up call and a quick breakfast Judi, Duncan and Myself got  into our tour car, the Kia Sportage, and headed to the campus. I definitely had some nerves since it would be our first set up of our eco expo, and I wanted everything to unfold as planned and without any hiccups.

We arrived nice and early for the 10:30 am start of the Environmental Vendor Fair on Trousdale Parkway in the heart of the USC campus. We had anticipated that the set up would take around an hour and a half with all the unloading and display set up…it turns out we all underestimated! I am very glad we arrived as early as we did being that the set up totaled around 3 hours from arrival to completion!

But even with the long set up time I couldn’t have been happier about the way our eco expo looked once the tent, tables and displays were in place. All of the hard work we put into designing the product groupings and display boards certainly paid off. I think people were drawn into the tent out of curiosity about all the products we had, and the free samples from Nature’s Path, Natracare, Dr. Bronner’s and Desert Essence certainly didn’t hurt either!

I just want to take a moment to thank Rafi from Dr. Bronner’s for coming out to our event today and not only spreading the word about their amazing soaps and products, but also talking with students about GMO’s and our right to have products labeled! We were very honored to have him and hope to work with him again very soon.

So many amazing connections were made today at the event! USC you guys are awesome! There seemed as though there was a very real interest in not only our eco expo but also the whole environmental fair. We had amazing conversations with students, teachers, employees, community members and activists where we bounced ideas off each other and started what I hope will be long and fruitful relationships.  I am proud to announce that we have already confirmed a new pair of campus reps who will be representing USC this coming fall in PGC 2012!

I am so excited to head to the upcoming tour stops and meet new friends who we can work with in the future to promote sustainability on their campuses and in the world. Whenever I get the chance to come to schools and talk to students on campus I am consistently inspired by the amount of people out there who possess a passion to make positive and meaningful change in their communities, and USC you were no exception! I am convinced that if we keep fostering these connections between people through education and outreach than we can truly change the world.

All in all I can think of no better way to have kicked off the tour! Now its on to UCLA tomorrow to take part in a Sustainable Food Panel which I think will be the perfect place to gather some signatures for the California Ballot Initiative to Label GMO Food and “plant the seeds” for collaborative projects with UCLA students.

                                                                           JJ Foley • Project Coordinator • Teens Turning Green

 

Blog Post #2
Santa Monica, CA
Thursday, April 12, 2012
8:11 PM

2 events down and the “Right to Know” Road Tour is really hitting its stride! Last night on the 11th of April we were privileged to be able to table at the Sustainable Food Speaking Panel hosted by the UCLA E3 club at the James West Alumni Center on campus. We decided to scale down our displays for this event to address the topic of sustainable food, which would be touched on by the panelists. As the students started to fill the room, the energy really started to build. We were able to talk with the organizers, panelists and so many students! Everyone seemed to be really excited about the take away resource cards that we had prepared for our topics of Real Food and Sustainable Ag, which gave students a pocket sized guide to pertinent facts and resources. I think we also gained a lot of excitement for PGC 2012, and I am hoping we will have a large presence on the UCLA campus come this fall

After some time for local organic food with the attendees the talks began. Each panelist was given 10 minutes to describe their background and their personal relationship with sustainable food. Here’s some quick info about each of the amazing panelists that we were speaking.

Alexa Delwiche is the Policy Coordinator for the Los Angeles Food Policy Council where she manages the large network of individuals working collaboratively to build a Good Food system for Southern California.

Janaki Jagannath is the Southern California Regional Organizer of Co-Fed, a national cooperative network and training program committed to empowering students to create ethically-sourced, cooperatively-run food enterprises on college campuses.

Pamm Larry is the founder of Label GMOs – A 2012 Ballot Initiative Campaign. The goal of this grassroots movement is to require that products containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are labeled, including the products of animals reared on GMOs.

Michael Reed is a Chef and founding partner of Root of All Food, a catering company through which Michael combines his knowledge of fine dining with his commitment to organic and free-range artisanal products, his regional Californian style of cooking and his passion for entertaining.

D’Artagnan Scorza, a current Ph.D. student in the Department of Education at UCLA, is the executive director of the Social Justice Learning Institute, which seeks to improve the education, health and well-being of youth of color through academic and food justice initiatives.

David Steinman is an environmentalist, journalist, consumer health advocate, publisher and author. His major books include Diet for a Poisoned Planet (1990, 2007), The Safe Shopper’s Bible (1995), Living Healthy in a Toxic World (1996), and Safe Trip to Eden: Ten Steps to Save the Planet Earth from Global Warming Meltdown (2007), which introduces a concept he calls Green Patriotism.

After listening to all of the presentations from the panelists I felt so lucky to have been able to come to the event and to have gained some new information about the ways that food influences our lives in this country. I walked away having been able to make some great connections on the UCLA campus and also feeling totally inspired by the panelists to do my part in making the necessary reforms to the food system in this country.

On Friday we are heading south! San Diego here we come. I will be my first time to SD and I am excited! Our next events are on the 14th in El Centro, the 16th at UCSD and the 17 at USD. I’m sure all will yield more amazing stories, interactions and adventures.

JJ Foley • Project Coordinator • Teens Turning Green

 

Blog Post # 3
Location: San Diego, California
Saturday April 14, 2012
8:05 PM

Only one word could be used to sum up todays trip to the Imperial Valley…adventure!

After having looked over the directions from San Diego to Bucklin Park in El Centro Ca (the site of the Imperial Valley 2012 Earth Day Celebration) I had expected it to take us about an hour and a half to get there. Even so we left on the early side at 6am to make the drive out east into the Imperial Valley. What I had not realized about the drive was that we would have to cross several 4,000 foot mountain passes before we could descend into the valley beyond. Normally this would not be an issue but with the trailer and the extra weight we were moving a little slower than I would have wanted climbing up the first pass. As we kept ascending we ran into a little rain, then slowly the rain turned to sleet, and as we got to the higher elevations the rain turned to a full on snowstorm! I can honestly say this is the last obstacle I would have expected to deal with driving from San Diego, a place that I associate with sand, beaches and summer. In any case we took it slow and for the majority of the time drove behind a snowplow so that we got some nice traction. Throughout all these adverse conditions the Kia Sportage preformed admirably, even with the trailer in tow.

Eventually we began to descend and left the snow behind us at the higher elevations. Once we were out of the clouds I was totally awestruck at the natural beauty of the landscapes that surrounded us. Fragmented rock formations and boulder fields lined the mountainsides and valleys, giving the feeling of having been transported to an alien planet. As we entered the Imperial Valley we focused our attention away from the scenery and towards Bucklin Park, where we would set up for our days event.

Having reached El Centro, we got into our setup routine. Luckily this time we had some awesome volunteers (thanks guys!) who came out to help us expedite the process, and it felt like the task moved faster this time compared to USC. Having gotten set up the crowds rolled in! It seemed to me that the Earth Day Festival had attracted had all ages. Tiny kids, students, parents and senior members of the community all grabbed some samples from Dr. Bronner’s, Nature’s Path, Natracare and Desert Essence and were very eager to come look at our displays and ask us questions!

Throughout the day I kept hearing about the scarcity of sustainable product vendors in the valley. Living near large urban centers I feel as though we can sometimes take for granted the availability of organic and local products that in reality are a luxury that some people do not have access to. El Centro is one of those communities, but it is certainly not because the people there don’t want these products! Almost everyone I talked to asked me how they could get there hands on these items more easily. There is a real desire in this community to embrace sustainable living and I believe that the word is already getting around! A local farmers market is in its first stages of operation and I hope that this movement will continue to grow in El Centro so that there is the same availability that we enjoy in other areas of the state. I want to work further with the community to facilitate access to products and continue green education campaigns so that El Centro can both receive sustainable products from outside vendors and continue to support its own internal green movement!

As Duncan and I pulled out of El Centro and started the drive back to San Diego, I felt lucky to have been able to spend the day with such amazing people. I was inspired by the heart and energy in this community and cant wait for my next opportunity to visit!

 

I just want to give a quick shout out to Ivan Soto (the event organizer) and Kristian Salgado. Their help and support made it possible for us to attend the event.

 

                                                                           JJ Foley • Project Coordinator • Teens Turning Green

Blog Post # 4
Location: San Diego, California
Tuesday April 17, 2012
9:10 PM

Welcome back road tour blog readers! Yesterday was a great day here in San Diego. The sun was out, and the thermostat was in the 80’s and everyone was outside! Is that what its always like here in SoCal? Being from the bay I’m not used to this constant sunshine and as such had the sunblock at the ready as we packed up the car to drive 20 minutes north of downtown San Diego to UCSD.

As a quick side note we have added another member to our Road Tour team hear in SD! Susan Lopes who is another one of our all star project coordinators here at TTG flew down yesterday from the Bay to be with us for our tour stops at UCSD and USD. We are so glad to have her! Her efforts and passion to organize and orchestrate this initiative have been essential to our success thus far, and we are certainly glad she has decided to make the trip south to be with us!

Upon arriving at UCSD I called up Kristin Hansen, a sustainability analyst at UCSD, and our contact who, along with the efforts of Jacquelyn Havner, made it possible for us to set up on campus today. After unloading all of our gear from the trailer the set up seemed to move quickly in the Price Center Plaza, where we had a spot directly in front of the Sustainability Resource Center. On our breaks from the sun we got the chance to walk around the SRC and meet some of the dedicated students who are leading the way on the UCSD campus. I was so impressed with the welcoming nature of everyone in the SRC, and can truly say that I felt like a part of the team on campus, at least for the day!

With the tent up and the displays out we passed out samples and made conversation with any and all interested students. I think it helped that our tent was set up just in front of a line of students waiting to purchase tickets to Conan O’Brien who would be coming to campus in a week’s time! The line stretched around the block and we were able to engage student’s attention as they walked by or stood in line. I was able to have some great conversations about GMOs, the UCSD sustainability program and sustainable food and whole body products, all while collecting lots of signatures for the ballot imitative.

As the day wound to a close I think we all felt a little drained from the sun and the heat but also satisfied at how the day had progressed. Our pack up was quick with our volunteers to help us, and as we cruised back to the hotel we all agreed that this had been a successful stop. After a shower and some Mexican food from La Puerta, I felt rejuvenated and ready for our next stop tomorrow at USD, where we will be meeting up with our campus leaders Jessa and Niko. I hope it is as successful as today!

JJ Foley • Project Coordinator • Teens Turning Green

Blog Post # 5
Location: Sausalito, California
Tuesday May 1, 2012
2:08 PM

So I am playing catch up here! I know it has been a little while since my last report but I am eager to get the word out there to the blog-o-sphere that the last four road tour stops since UCSD have been a great success! In that time we have visited USD, UCSC, UCSB and Cal Poly SLO. I have plenty of news and stories from each location, so enough backtracking…lets get back to what you actually want to hear about!

After a quick turnaround from our great event at UCSD, we headed out to our last stop here in SoCal, at the University of San Diego. With a quick breakfast provided by our Kimpton Hotel, we rolled through downtown SD for the last time. This would not actually be our first time to the USD campus being that we had to stop there the previous morning to pick up some samples from our awesome sponsors that had been shipped to Jessa, a USD student and PGC finalist from 2011 who we work with closely. The USD campus is gorgeous. Sitting on top of a hill overlooking downtown SD it is an inspiring location to visit, let alone attend as a student.

Upon getting to campus and parking the trailer, we found our set up spot in front of the Hahn University Center. This great spot right was in a central location of campus where we were able to talk to a lot of students walking by on their “dead hours”, or time between classes. Today we were out in force with our friends Jessa and Niko from USD joining us, as well as Ab and the crew from Dr. Bronner’s coming out for their 2nd tour stop! We were honored to have all the help and support from these guys! It always makes the days go by much more smoothly.

San Diego was a great place to gather signatures for the Ballot Initiative, and if I had to venture a guess, I would say that our day at USD may have been one of our best days in terms of collecting. Like always the weather was spoiling us. Bright sunshine and a cloudless sky meant that everyone was outside and passing by the tent and the displays. The Bronner’s crew spread the word about their awesome products, while we collected signatures and spread some sustainable knowledge around campus. We even had some music this time from some surrounding groups! The energy was defiantly high, and as 2 PM rolled around marking the end of “dead hours” I was definitely bummed that it also marked the end of our time on campus.

I walked away from our experience at USD with a positive energy and having made some great connections with students who I think will work with us in PGC 2012. Thanks again to Jessa, Niko and AB from the Bronner’s team for coming out and being part of our team for the day!

Now its off to Ventura for the night to rest, and then on to Santa Cruz tomorrow for the last stop on this leg of the tour!

JJ Foley • Project Coordinator • Teens Turning Green

Blog Post # 6
Location: Sausalito, California
Tuesday May 1, 2012
8:13 PM

After our event at USD we made a beeline for the airport to drop off Susan who had to catch a flight back to the bay. Upon dropping her off safe and sound we turned around around and pointed the Kia north up the coast on our way to Ventura. A three hour drive later we found our hotel and settled in for the night. It had definitely been a long day, having woken up early, had an event at USD and then driving from San Diego to Ventura all in one day.
The next morning…we slept in! What a luxury. I have to say if felt so nice to have a lazy morning after all the events. As soon as we were up and feeling energized we took back to the road, heading north up route 101 towards Santa Cruz. We had the day to make the drive to SC, so we were not in a huge rush. The drive up 101 is truly beautiful, and we took our time and admired the coastal views just north of Ventura. The drive all in all took about 4 hours and as we pulled into our hotel for the night, we were ready for some food and some sleep, so that we would be good and rested for our event in Quarry Plaza at UCSC.

The next morning once again we were graced with the same fantastic weather that had greeted us all trip. Sunny skies and warm temps accompanied us on our drive up the hill to the UCSC campus, where we parked in Quarry Plaza and began unloading our tent and displays. We met up with Sam Moll, our contact at UCSC, at our set up location and he gave us the run down on the days activities. Susan had driven down to Santa Cruz that morning from the Bay (about an hours drive) to help us for the day, and we quickly fell into our setup routine, which we had down to a science by this point.

All of us had been expecting to speak to many well informed and interested community members at UCSC, just because it is a very tight knit community, that is also very sustainably conscious. I was so impressed with the student and community body at Quarry Plaza that day. Most people we asked had already signed

the ballot initiative and we found that everyone was super enthusiastic about the displays and the chance to learn a little something new in our tent. This is truly a forward thinking community that knows how to mobilize! There were a host of other orgs and groups out colleting signatures, and after talking further with Sam I was truly inspired by the action UCSC students are taking to ensue a sustainable future for their school.

One of the other reasons we had such a great day at Santa Cruz was as always the awesome volunteers we had. I want to give a special thanks to Seth Andrews and Kyle Fujisawa for coming out to support us, as well as Sam who I mentioned above.

What a great day. I was truly inspired by the “green fire” (to quote on of our PGC 2011 finalists Rachel Geiger) that we found at UCSC. This is a community that is taking action to ensure its future as a sustainable campus, I am very glad that we made the trip to quarry plaza!

JJ Foley • Project Coordinator • Teens Turning Green

Blog Post #7
Location: Sausalito Ca
Wednesday May 2, 2012
1:21 PM

Well we have had a nice break from the first leg of the road tour, but now it is time to get back to business! We are heading back out on the road for two more tour stops at UCSB and Cal Poly SLO. Having spent all of yesterday (4/25) repacking the trailer I feel like we are in good shape to head back south for our last two SoCal stops! I have gone to great lengths this time to eliminate extra things which we had on our last leg that ended up only taking up space in the trailer. I have ditched two chairs, the tent weights, a couple boxes of extra samples, and a couple extra baskets which were not used. Hopefully this makes us a little lighter and our setups a little quicker!

Today (4/26) we got on the road about mid day. After a quick stop in Burlingame to exchange our dirty tablecloths for clean ones, we were back on Rt 101 heading south through the ag fields and the countryside. I believe our total drive time ended up being around 5 hours down to Santa Barbara, but the miles go quickly with the amazing scenery. We arrived at the Canary Hotel in downtown SB, which is part of the amazing Kimpton family, and settled in to our beautiful rooms. After exploring the hotel we took a walk down State St. to find some food, and quickly came upon a farm to table Italian restaurant. The food was delicious and we all agreed that we had made the right decision. Then it was back to the hotel for an early night before our stop at UCSB in the morning.

Friday morning came quickly, and we rose bright and early to make a quick trip to whole foods to stock up on some local produce for our displays. After grabbing some local foods and some breakfast too, we were on our way to meet up with our contact Mackenzie from the Environmental Affairs Board at UCSB. As we pulled into Isla Vista, and on to Pardal Rd we were careful to avoid all the bikers and skateboarders which we on the move to morning classes. UCSB students certainly have no shortage of options when it comes to alternative transportation! I don’t think I have ever seen so many people biking or riding to class. Shortly thereafter we were privileged to meet up with Marjan and Marrisa, also from the EAB. I was so impressed with the work of the EAB and all of the committed sustainability students on campus. The Energy was high, and our setup went quickly.

After setting up the students rolled in from the morning commutes. We were located just off the bike path, giving us good visibility.  Our team spent the day spreading the message about project green challenge, and answering any and all questions about sustainability to the best of our ability! There was no shortage of students who were willing to approach our booths and learn about our samples.

After a long day we got a special bonus surprise during our tear down as we recruited 10 volunteers to move our displays back to the truck! It sounds trivial but this cuts down our tear down time in half and makes loading up the trailer so much easier. After loading up we took a quick walk through Isla Vista to the food co-op to pick up some snacks/early dinner. It was inspiring to see a community owned consumer option for students that is committed to sustainability and healthy local produce.

After leaving the co-op we hit the road once more to find a hotel in pismo beach before our event at Cal Poly SLO on Saturday. What a day! I’m so thankful that we got the opportunity to be on campus.

A huge thank you to all of our volunteers from the EAB club at UCSB who made this stop possible!

JJ Foley • Project Coordinator • Teens Turning Green

Blog Post #8
Location: Sausalito Ca
May 2, 2012
3:00 PM

Last night (4/27) we reached Pismo Beach and checked into our hotel which would be about 10 miles from Cal Poly SLO. The reason we had decided to come to SLO, besides it’s amazing reputation for having some of the brightest minds in CA, was the annual CSSC Convergence. The California Student Sustainability Coalition was hosting its annual gathering of students from across the state to eat, think and breath sustainability for thee days. About a month ago I had reached out to Yamina, (the convergence organizer) and since then she had worked hard to get us to campus (and was gracious enough to cater to all of our crazy requests!)

Today we would be doing two separate events during the day. Our first set up would be on the Dexter Lawn during the students lunch hour, and then directly after this we would be hosting a workshop about PGC 2012 in the Agriculture building on campus. Upon arriving at Dexter Lawn around 9 am we were happy to find that we could park the car directly next to our set up spot, eliminating the need to carry any of our displays. I know I have mentioned the distances from our parking to our set up in the last couple blog posts…but it makes such a difference in the set up for the day! In any case our set up today was a breeze!

During our set up we were lucky enough to have an Aztec dancing group practicing next to us! It felt like it fit perfectly into the theme for the convergence, of meeting new people and exploring new ideas. Once we were set up the other student and food vendors joined our space on the lawn. This included a solar cooking operation and a fair trade chocolate operation run by Cal Poly students. We had the availability to set up on the lawn from about 12 till 2:30, which although it was not one of our longer days it certainly was our busiest! With about 200 students from around the state eating lunch on the lawn, I think most stopped and looked at the tent and the samples. We met some truly amazing people doing extraordinary outreach in different areas of the state. It is so inspiring to be around a gathering of young minds that are determined to make an impact in their communities and in their world!

As the lunch was coming to an end we found some kind convergence attendees that were nice enough to watch our tent and displays while we had our workshop. While the attendance at our talk wasn’t huge, we met some more amazing students including Mr. Eco, a rap superhero who uses his rhymes to educate about the importance of going green (http://mrecomusic.com/), and Jonathan from Kidworks, who is doing amazing work in Orange County! Our group was thoughtful and inspiring, and we used the time to introduce PGC 2012 to some new minds, and bounce ideas off of each other. We are always excited to find new ways to improve PGC and whenever we find new people who are willing and excited to help us, we jump at the chance.

After our workshop we had a quick pack up and then we were back on the road to San Francisco. I wish we could have stayed for some of the other workshops, as they sounded fascinating. This stop at Cal Poly left me feeling truly inspired! Thank you so much to Yamina and all the CSSC crew who made this possible for us. The convergence left me feeling positive about the fate of our planet’s sustainability, which is in the hands of this energetic and determined generation!

JJ Foley • Project Coordinator • Teens Turning Green