Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Great Camp Out

I have a constant craving to camp these days. Perhaps it's due to my hectic schedule or living in a fast-paced, Starbucks- and iPhone-ridden society. I've had this fetish ever since my boyfriend Daniel and I began a camping spree last summer-- traveling to the desert, local mountains and of course the beach nearly every weekend  to camp out, hike and surf. I have become fond of headlamps and have acquired a taste for instant coffee.
Our travel/camping vehicle at the moment is Daniel's van, which suffices for now. We are saving for a used,  old school RV, however -- with a van front. Every time I see an RV  -- which seems daily now -- I get an urge to sell my house and opt for permanent RV living. RVs are a fond reminder of traveling with my parents in the 1970s in our El Dorado motorhome. John Denver was a popular music selections as we traveled to and stayed in places like Yellowstone National Park, the Redwoods and Jackson Hole, Wyo. My parents and I even lived on the beach in a tent trailer for two weeks while waiting for base housing at Camp Pendleton in Oceanside Calif. by the popular  SoCal beach the locals call San O.   As a kid that was pure heaven (and still is). Through these experiences, my parents taught me the pure joy of simple outdoor living. It's something I plan to pass on to my son.
I came across this video clip recently of a documentary called 23 Feet, which depicts the simple, carefree and sustainable lifestyle of people who live in their RVs, campers, etc. It's inspiring. Check it out below:

23 Feet Trailer from Allie Bombach on Vimeo.

I have also included some random shots from Dan & Dre's camping adventures the past year. Enjoy.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Down to the Roots

In rural Mississippi during the 50s, the Roberson family -- which consisted of my mom, 10 brothers and sisters and their parents -- lived and worked off the land as sharecroppers, mainly picking cotton, and sometimes corn.
The boys did the planting and also helped the girls chop and weed the cotton, which often left blisters on their hands.
“The cotton bowls had ‘"burrs’ on them when they dried and it would prick your hands, especially around your fingernails when you pulled the cotton out,” my mom remembers.
Probably the most harmful to my mom’s family, however, were the fertilizers and insect sprays used for crops and vegetable gardens. Both of my mom’s parents (fondly remembered as mamaw and papaw), as well as her eldest brother have since passed away from different forms of cancer. One of my mom’s sisters is a breast cancer survivor, while another is a uterine cancer surivor  Did all that exposure to pesticides contribute to the family’s cancer? It’s highly likely.
The use of pesticides -- the "elixirs of death” that descended from World War II chemical warfare experiments -- is still highly prevalent around the United States today, despite the work of the late great American farm worker, labor leader and civil rights activist Cesar Chavez and others. (By the way, happy birthday to the late Cesar Chavez!)
I searched for stats on pesticide use in the United States and this is some of the information I found: The United States accounts for more than one third of the $33.5 billion in global pesticide sales, the vast majority for farming, according to 2005 statistics.
Besides seeping into crops and into our bodies, pesticides also make their way into rivers, lakes, wells and the ocean. Since the late 1970s, studies have found more than 139 different pesticide residues in groundwater in the Untied States, most frequently in corn- and soybean-growing regions. Roughly 85 percent of all cropland in America relies on herbicides.
Here in California, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently opened a 30-day public comment period on the controversial strawberry pesticide methyl iodide.
Methyl iodide is included in California’s Proposition 65’s (The Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986) list of chemicals known to cause cancer. The pesticide poses the most direct risks to farm workers and neighboring communities. The use of this pesticide could reach 6-to-10 million pounds a year in California alone.
Methyl iodide is intended to replace methyl bromide, which is being phased out under the Montreal Protocol because it damages the ozone layer. California’s strawberry growers, who would be the state’s primary consumers of methyl iodide, contend that the chemical is crucial to their $2 billion industry.
But scientists say methyl iodide is too toxic for agricultural use because it poses serious health risks, including late term miscarriages, groundwater contamination and possibly brain damage. It is so carcinogenic that it’s used to create cancer cells in laboratories.
This is another possible case of economics ruling out the environment. If approved for use, this pesticide may give strawberry farmers a much needed economic boost, but the costs of doctor bills associated with the deadly risks, not too mention headaches and anguish, aren’t worth it if you ask me.
I may not live to see a pesticide-free world, but I hope that my 9-year-old son does. That’s why I try to buy organic foods and products as much as I can. Sure, organics may cost more, but the ultimate cost could be our health. To buy green we have to shovel out more “green.” But the more demands we as consumers make for organic- and chemical- free foods, the more will be available, which, in turn, will eventually lower the costs.
For me and my family, it’s a fundamental step in leading a healthy and sustainable lifestyle.

*Special thanks to my beautiful mom for sharing her rural Mississippi living stories with me (stay tuned for more future blog posts about her life in the deep south). I admire and respect her deeply, along with the rest of her family. I will always remember my roots, and have started some of my own--organic ones.

Below are some photos of my mom and her family. The first photo shows my mom (on the right siting on her mom's lap)  with mamaw and papaw, two of her sisters and one of her brothers. The second photo was taken of my mom (in the front with my then- toddler son) and five of her six sisters. Her sister-in-law is on the far right. You can see the striking resemblence of the Roberson gals. They all flew out to California a few years ago to see us. One of them, aunt Jean, had never been on a plane.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

All Aboard!

Welcome aboard the world's first "eco" train, made mostly of recycled material such as tires, plastic bottles, scrap metal and bamboo. Fueled by biodiesel, it runs along the ocean's edge -- according to the tides -- and includes an open air top for passengers to feel and smell the fresh ocean breezes. This new sea safari, called the Coast Cruiser, is the invention of my son, who came up with the novel idea  in 2009 during one of our beach walks. After I applauded his ingenuity he asked me when this eco train could be up and running. I didn't want to burst his bubble, but I told him that  we would need to go through an enormous amount of regulatory hurdles for the Coast Cruiser to even be considered. So, naturally, he wanted to know who needed  to approve such a project. After some more discussion, my son wanted to present  his plan to the California Coastal Commission, Caltrans and to local city officials. He of course  was disappointed when I told him that this particular train would most likely not be approved. But I told him to jot down all of his ideas and that one day he could design and build his own eco train.
We still occasionally talk about the Coast Cruiser and what a brilliant idea it is.  My son, who has Asberger's disorder and is now 9,  has come up with numerous other great inventions that one day I believe could help change the world. I am continually impressed and inspired by his creativity, passion, compassion and brilliance.
I am blessed to be able to share the sea and its many wonders with him.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The collision of surf, science and art....

 I just read a brilliant posting about an event held back in December at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography about the critical collaboration between art, science and surfing. The chatter included perspectives on  surf board design, wave modeling and the role of utopia and dystopia in surf culture and the artworld.  It's a fascinating read. Click here to read more.
I am inspired...

A fresh perspective

I found this aerial shot of pre earthquake- and tsunami-ridden Honshu, Japan (circa 1994). It's  amazing how, from a different  view and perspective , things  can look really beautiful and peaceful..Sending love, peace and beauty to my friends and their loved ones in Japan.
BTW, I just read this interesting short post about  Japan's rebuilding and sustainable building opportunity. Japan has long been recognized as a leader in sustainable building and energy efficient design. Check out the post here.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Soul Surfer

My good friend Denny Martin is still ripping after 14 surgeries in the last couple of years. I admire his passion and will to surf and live. I'm currently writing his story. Stay tuned....

Hippy Stroll

During a recent camping trip, Daniel and I were strolling along the beach checking out the shimmering sunset at San O when we ran into friend, artist and surfer Tyler Warren, who was getting ready to paddle out on his new noserider (the first he has made). Photog Kentaro Minato was also there. Here are a couple of shots from that evening:

Dirty Water

Rain is essential to our ecosystem, livelihood and economy. But as surfers, we cringe over the fact that we have to stay out of the water at least 72 hours after a good rain due to  polluted run-off (unless, perhaps you have your hep shots). Well, maybe we just need to rethink our urban water management system and plan.... check out this story. It totally makes sense...Wasted water?

Dirty Hippy surf rocket

I surf, therefore I am..Check out this 6'4" tri- fish custom board made for me by Michael Miller. Groovy air brush artwork by his brother David. Daniel Partch made the beautiful custom butterfly plywood fins. Thanks love.

Butterfly Surf

My new custom wetsuit I designed. Hand crafted by Yvonne at Surf N Sea Custom Wetsuits in Ocean Beach, CA. Thanks to my love Daniel for this...can't wait to rock it!

Sew what...inspirations for some new threads