Only a couple of weeks to go!

Trip Start Nov 01, 2007
Trip End Apr 30, 2008

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

We have been asked by a number of people to offer Peace For Earth Walk tee-shirts. (See image) So, we have created an on-line store where you can order one for yourself. We also added a tote bag, in case you already have too many tee-shirts. The website is: One of the choices is organic cotton.

Greetings from Santa Monica. --Can you believe it? We have only two weeks of walking before we leave sunny California for a QEW meeting in windy Chicago and then head home--to enjoy spring all over in still-chilly Vermont! As you might guess, we are having mixed feelings about returning to home, umpteen projects, and a regular work schedule. We love our home, F/friends, kitties, neighborhood, gardens, and Vermont. We've also loved our slow days with time to really come to know people and places. We hope we can incorporate some of that slowness into our lives by being focused on our spiritual lives, which keep us grounded while we work.

Now, on to some of our recent adventures:

One event that we omitted from our last blog entry was our visit to Temple Beth David during our walk from Los Osos to San Luis Obispo. We had been told about a new "green" building along our walking route and hoped there would be an opportunity to have a visit. As we approached, we wondered whether anyone was in the building. Even though there was a car in the parking lot, we couldn't see any lights on. But someone did respond to our tentative knock on the door. Her name was Peggy, one of the office staff, who graciously gave us a tour. Out of the 92 acres this Reformed Jewish congregation had purchased for the temple, 62 acres are being maintained as conservation land. They have solar panels, lots of natural lighting (which is why we didn't see any lights), passive solar heating (with only a few very small gas heaters placed strategically around the facility), and natural materials. One of their bulletin boards was dedicated to news about ecological living. They are currently applying for LEED certification. It was very impressive and filled us with hope that people of many faiths are putting their care for the earth into action.

As mentioned in our previous blog entry, we stayed with Melissa Lovett-Adair and her husband Chris Adair for our two nights in San Luis Obispo.

On the evening of our presentation at the public library in San Luis Obispo, we met James Robertson, a member of Santa Barbara Friends Meeting, who would be accompanying us on our three-day walk to Santa Barbara. James and his wife Pat also would be our hosts in Goleta on the last night before walking into Santa Barbara. James had a VW camper, and each day he walked with us part of the way, then turned back to retrieve his parked van, which he then drove on to our next host site. He wanted to be of assistance to us, and we happily accepted his offer to transport some of our heavier gear in his van. We loved having his company each day and appreciated coming to know someone so well over time. James, 71, is a retired math professor from the University of California at Santa Barbara. He grew up in an Indiana Quaker church, and we enjoyed learning about his experiences as a long-time peace activist. We also learned that he has completed six marathon foot races!

The morning we left San Luis Obispo for Arroyo Grande, we were accompanied by James, Melissa, her son Ian, a friend of Ian's, and Liz Cordoba (a member of the San Luis Obispo Friends Meeting that we had met after our presentation). Melissa, Ian, and his friend turned back after a few miles, and a bit later James returned to get his van. Liz lived in Arroyo Grande, so she was happy to walk the whole twelve miles with us. Again, we felt so privileged to have a day to come to know someone in depth. Liz was delightful, interesting, and very astute about environmental issues.

That evening, we stayed at the home of Emily Howard and Christine Klopfer. Emily is the daughter of Gay Howard, an old F/friend of Ruah's whom she had been surprised to meet again during our potluck supper in San Luis Obispo. Gay and Ruah had been part of Cambridge (Mass.) Friends Meeting many years ago. They were excited at this opportunity to catch up on news from the intervening years. (This was only one of many serendipitous meetings of old acquaintances during our walk.)

Emily and Christine welcomed us warmly and soon we felt like we had known them forever. Christine is a member of Temple Beth David and Emily is part of San Luis Obispo Friends. They lit the Shabbat candles that night and then we had a silent Quaker blessing before eating. They share one another's faiths and sometimes attended each other's houses of worship. Emily is a woodworker and some of her beautiful pieces of furniture were in their home. The next morning it was again hard to say goodbye to our new-found friends.

Our next destination was Nipomo, about 13 miles away. With such a short day, we were able to leave at 9 in the morning and still have a leisurely walk. James again walked with us for the first part of the day. As we left the town of Arroyo Grande we began to encounter many bicyclists participating in some sort of organized event. By walking and pushing our cart against the traffic, as the law requires of pedestrians, we found ourselves blocking their dedicated bicycle lane. So repeatedly we had to stop and wait on the unpaved shoulder to let clusters of bicyclists pass. This happened so often that we began to wonder whether we'd ever get out of town! We finally asked a stopped cyclist, a young woman who told us it wasn't a race but was a loosely organized 200-mile pleasure outing involving some 500 cyclists! She said she was pleased with her progress over the first 75 miles and she shared some chocolate-covered espresso beans with us to give us a quick energy lift. (We have noticed that many long-distance bicyclists now include us in their "club" of  endurance athletes and are very enthusiastic about our trek.) As we left the bicyclists behind and entered countryside, James returned to the van while we continued on.

While on the road to Nipomo, we received a call from Nicole, a reporter for the Santa Maria Times, who wanted to meet us for an interview. While eating lunch at a market and deli along the way and waiting for Nicole, a man who was also eating lunch there read our sign and became very enthused. As he passed us several times, he gave us great praise for what we were doing. Then he returned once more, and after saying, "I'm a very, very poor man, but I want to contribute to your cause," he gave us $2. We were very touched. Nicole and a photographer, Ian, then arrived. After the interview Ian followed us for a mile or two, stopping of his car from time to time to photograph us from different angles.

A few hours later we were met by James who had left his van at our next evening's destination and had walked back to join us. Soon we found ourselves at Bill's Farm Hostel, a ranch-style home on several acres of land that is part of the international hostel network. Bill, in his 80's, has lived there since 1962 and currently raises chickens, goats, and dogs. He has been a peace and environmental activist for many decades. In 1985 he had to decide whether to move to New Zealand, which he viewed as having a more peaceful and ecologically aware culture, or stay in the U.S. and work to change its more destructive tendencies. He decided to stay where he was, accept a job at the local community college, and dedicate much time and effort to save Point Sal, a nearby wilderness seashore area. He was proud to say that Point Sal had not changed since 1985 and felt he had had a lot to do with that.

We were shown to our room in the hostel, designated "the couple's room," where there were some interesting indications of another area of Bill's activism, which is zero, or even negative, population growth. There was a sign saying, "Make love, not babies" and another saying, "Copulate, don't populate." There was also a picture of a wedding couple cutting the cake with a smiling, very pregnant bride and unhappy-looking groom above the words, "Only 2% of condoms fail." To underscore these exhortations, someone had taped packages of condoms to the walls in the room. We got quite a chuckle from all this unabashed propaganda, while still understanding the importance of the message. An additional reinforcement of the message was the large number of photos of wild animals with their babies, reminding the occupants of the room that one reason for limiting human population is to leave room for other species.

When we asked about the rate for staying there, Bill insisted that we were his guests and needed only to pay for the food and drinks we consumed. So, that evening, because we all quite exhausted and didn't feel like cooking, James and we ordered and paid for a pizza to be delivered, inviting Bill to join us. Bill was very pleased and he remarked he had never had a pizza delivered to his home before. We had much fun sitting around the table, joined by another hostel guest, Lila, from Colorado. As we shared stories of our lives, some of the conversation was inspired by pictures of events in Bill's life that practically wallpapered the walls. We chuckled at a hand-made "Wanted" poster bearing a photograph of Bill and labeling him as an "eco-hooligan." Bill too had been a marathoner, so James and he enjoyed comparing notes.  Some insight into Bill's curmudgeonly ways could be found in the posted rules of the house: In addition to the usual standards for proper behavior at a hostel, there were these two items: "All beer to be paid for in advance--Bill's rule" and "No smokers allowed in this facility--kick the habit." We felt it was a wonderful gift to meet and spend time with such a colorful  and inspiring "character."

The next morning, after being awakened by a crowing rooster and having a good breakfast made from the homestead's plentiful egg supply, we got out maps and plotted our course for the coming day's walk. The freeway bridge over the Santa Maria River wasn't consider safe for pedestrians, but Bill assured us that we would have no problem walking across the Santa Maria River riverbed since it was completely dried up this time of year. We chose to walk rather than accepting a ride in James's VW van. Bill and his three dogs were our as guides as we tramped across the quarter-mile wide riverbed to the edge of Santa Maria. Once across, we said goodbyes and headed to a park where we were to meet up with James.

In the early afternoon we arrived at the home of Dan and Betsy Wilcox. Dan met us part way to his house and was eager to talk about our experiences as Quakers. En route we picked up copies of the Santa Maria Sunday Times, where we were thrilled to see Nicole's article  and Ian's photo of us on the front page of the local section. We were impressed by the supportive tone and accuracy of the article and of quality of the photo.

Dan is a high school literature teacher, and Betsy works on the staff of a school. Dan periodically attends the San Luis Obispo Friends Meeting and Betsy attends a local church. They still have one teenage son at home. We spent the afternoon sharing our spiritual journeys and coming to know one another. Betsy mother joined us for dinner as well. After breakfast the next morning, James and we headed off towards Guadalupe. Again James planned to walk for a time, return to get his van, drive on to our next host site, and then walk back part way to meet us. At times we were concerned about James, since he insisted on walking even when he was getting sore muscles. We encouraged early turn arounds, but he really wanted to walk! We admired his fortitude.

As we were leaving the town of Santa Maria we stopped at a small shopping center where all signs in the stores were in Spanish. When we entered a market to buy supplies and use the bathrooms, we had to communicate with the cashiers and clerks in Spanish. The market was stocked mostly with goods that would in particular demand by the local Latino population, including dozens of colorful party pinatas hanging from the ceiling and an entire aisle of specialty spices and every kind of chili pepper imaginable. It was like walking into another country.

As we left town we entered open farming country, where there were vast plantings of various vegetables and strawberries, some of which were being harvested that day by Latino workers. This went on for many miles. We did some reflecting on the nature of our nation's largely industrialized food system with mono crops and no trees or other vegetation to stop the dust and wind.

After meeting James at the edge of Guadalupe, we began walking into town, where we were met by Nancy Lynch of Santa Barbara Friends Meeting. Together we walked to the Guadalupe Catholic Worker house, where we were to spend the night. Guadalupe is a very small, clean, and quiet Latino town. Almost all the restaurants and markets were Mexican. We did notice one Chinese restaurant. Nancy had brought dinner which consisted of soft tacos with a variety of delicious fillings. We were feeling celebratory because we had just crossed our 1,100-mile mark. Benny McCabe, who is from Ireland, was our host that evening, since the coordinators of the Catholic Worker House were not available. Benny had many wonderful stories to share about his life and travels and humanitarian work in many places around the world. He'll be returning to Ireland at the end of June. We completed a wonderful evening by sharing stories and poems in the parlor of the century-old Victorian-style house.

Instead of walking the next morning, we carpooled with Nancy and Benny to Vandenberg Air Force Base and Space Command Center, in order to participate in a regular Tuesday vigil that had been going on for about 30 years. We were a small group that day, but we felt lots of spirit. We were impressed with the number of positive gestures and honks from drivers-by. Currently most of the signs held by the vigilers focused on the problems of weapons in space. At the end of the vigil we headed out on foot towards Lompoc, where we would stay the night. It was a very pleasant walk with sunny skies and beautiful, semi-desert landscape. As Louis was walking towards a brushy spot for a pee break he suddenly leaped over on a very large snake that he was just about to step on. Meanwhile, the snake hadn't moved, so we thought at first it might have been road kill. But a gentle poke with the walking stick aroused it, and it finally slithered down a nearby gopher hole. We breathed sighs of relief as we noticed there were no rattles in its tail.

Our next host home was with Rosemary Holmes in Lompoc. She had been a peace activist in town, and that was how the Quaker network had found her to be our host. She also had an interest in Friends, but had not lived near enough to a Friends Meeting to make it environmentally responsible to attend. She was a film buff, and as we enjoyed dinner with her and a friend, John, we enjoyed talking about different movies. We felt so appreciative of her kindness and generosity, which included giving us her bed while she slept in the den.

At this point, our coordinators had devised a complicated strategy for following a largely pedestrian-unfriendly route to Goleta: We would walk some miles, then wait to be picked up by someone from Santa Barbara, who would transport us over a dangerous section of road before dropping us off to continue our walk into Goleta. We were alarmed at the number of miles of driving this would take, so while we were at Rosemary's we researched ways to get to Goleta by public transportation. We didn't find suitable public buses but found that Amtrak ran a regular morning commuter train with stops between nearby Surf Beach and Goleta. Our finding that solution was a relief to everyone else. After being driven to Surf Beach by Rosemary, we had a relaxing and scenic ride down the coast for an hour. James met us at the train station and we walked with him back to his home. It was nice to be with him again and now to meet his wife, Pat, who fed us well and took care of us. Like us, James and Pat enjoyed feeding birds in their back yard and had many bird feeders. They even have Mallard ducks coming into the yard. We even identified several new species of birds for our life list.

In the afternoon we visited Fairview Gardens, which was only a few blocks away from James and Pat's house. We had come to know about this farm from a video, Beyond Organic, that is owned by QEW. This 12-1/2 acre urban agriculture center has been in continuous operation for more than 50 years while becoming progressively surrounded by housing developments. It has thrived through its dedication to sustainable, organic farming, plus a policy of developing good relations with suburban neighbors who may not be used to the smells of manure and the sounds of crowing roosters. They employed 30 people and were a non-profit corporation operating under a land trust. One of their mandates was to educate the community about where its food comes from. Many school groups come for visits and hands-on work. They have a children's garden as well and a local Waldorf school makes regular visits.

We were given a private tour of Fairview Gardens by Tiffany Cooper, the Education Director. We petted the goats, sampled delicious strawberries and loquats, and  learned how their productive fruit and avocado trees were managed without synthetic chemicals. We were impressed by their system of  intensive vegetable cropping that allows this small tract to feed hundreds of families. This relied on a carefully managed composting program, including liquid residue from the worm beds that was added to the drip-irrigation water. We also liked the way that animals were integrated with the farming. For instance, chickens were penned among the fruit trees to control insect pests that spend part of their life-cycles in the soil beneath the trees. The housing for some of the workers currently consisted of simple trailers, but Tiffany told us changes were coming with plans for new, environmentally sound housing. We look forward to following their progress.

James and Pat had tickets to the theater that night while we had a live interview on local public radio. So we went to the campus of UCSB and enjoyed a very relaxing interview with Phillip LeVasseur, host of the weekly program, "The Art of Peace." Phillip was an excellent interviewer because he was relaxed and helped us feel like we were just in a casual conversation.While walking to and from the studio, we were impressed with the extensive use of bicycles on this campus, which had delineated bike paths and rules that kept pedestrians and cyclists at a safe distance from each other. Louis remarked that when he had been in college the only bicycle he ever saw on campus was used by an history professor that everyone regarded as an eccentric.

The next morning we walked from Goleta to Santa Barbara, stopping at a walk-in clinic to get medical attention for Ruah's every-spreading poison oak rash. After a quick consultation with the doctor (and a big fee, which reminded us of the problems of our broken health system), we headed on to the Santa Barbara Friends Meetinghouse. Walking down the main street brought back pleasant memories of watching Santa Barbara's fabulous summer solstice parade almost two years earlier, when we had been in town for the wedding of Ruah's son Rich.Our evening program at the Santa Barbara Friends Meetinghouse began with an abundant and delicious "close to home" potluck. Our presentation was well-received and well attended, including several non-Friends from the community. We finally met Nancy Rowan, our Santa Barbara walk coordinator, who had had a tough job finding us safe walking routes. It was interesting how we felt like we already knew our coordinators before meeting them, since so many e-mails are required to finalize all the plans and logistics.

That night we stayed with Nancy Lynch in her lovely old home in the Santa Barbara hills, where she had lived for 40 or so years. We loved the homey, warm feel of her home (a reflection of the person that she is) and were wowed the next morning by a brief tour of her gorgeous gardens. We had so much fun with Nancy! Again we were finding a kindred spirit and hopefully a life-long friend.

The next morning a number of Santa Barbara Friends joined us on the walk south to Carpinteria. It felt so good when folks wanted to join us for part of the walk. We talked and laughed and learned about each other and about the places we were walking through. It would be hard to forget this part of our journey! After a few miles everyone but Nancy Lynch turned back. The three of us continued to a certain intersection where we would be picked up to go to La Casa de Maria, an retreat and conference center where we had been invited to have lunch.

La Casa de Maria had been founded by Immaculate Heart Sisters 50 years ago on the site of a former orchard, and fruit production had continued to be part of their program. At some point the Sisters had left the official order and had founded the Immaculate Heart Community. This community now included many people of different faiths who work and volunteer there. We were awed by the beautiful organic gardens and orchards and the tender care the place was given. We were particularly taken with the Sadako Peace Garden, where many paper cranes were hung from trees and bush branches. It was dedicated on August 6, 1995, the 50th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. A very large eucalyptus tree graces the garden and we were delighted to see the nesting red tailed hawks in its top.We met a number of the paid staff, some of whom live on the grounds, as well as some of the volunteers. In fact, our next host, Toni Stuart, a retired Episcopal priest, is the volunteer coordinator for La Casa de Maria. We transferred our belongings and ourselves to Toni's car for a ride to a safe walking point, at which we resumed our walk to Carpinteria.

We were scheduled to arrive in Carpinteria by 5 order to join a weekly peace vigil that had been faithfully gathered at a downtown street corner for the previous five years. We were greeted by a lively bunch of folks, including some Veterans for Peace members, who held up various signs and banners to the tune of honks, cheers, and other overwhelmingly positive responses from passers-by. The participants said they've seen quite a change in the responses over the years, with many more being positive now. We felt privileged to be share a vigil with this small, dedicated bunch of folks. We then walked to Toni's house and enjoyed a dinner with guests Carol Nieman and Shirley (didn't get her last name), both volunteers at La Casa de Maria. Carol was also our contact person for the Conejo Valley Worship Group in Thousand Oaks.

In the morning we walked with Toni to a lovely salt marsh just a few blocks from her home, where we saw many beautiful birds, including several that were new to our life list. Toni also introduced us to a website where nesting bald eagles on nearby Santa Cruz Island are being observed by a web cam during all daylight hours. More than 800 people are watching the eagles with their two newly-hatched chicks. We then got ready to walk, agreeing to meet Toni at a harbor seal rookery a fews miles south. There we saw the seals with their pups just lying around on the beach in a protected area. We were then driven past some dangerous walking areas to a public beach campground, where we met our next hosts, Marion and Jim Holzwarth, of the Santa Barbara Friends Meeting. As we said goodbye and thanks to Toni, Marion joined us on the walk.

Marion is a very upbeat and interesting person. She has worked for the underprivileged for many years in many capacities. After a few miles we were joined by Marion's neighbor, Mary Frances. At that point, Marion turned back because she had to attend a funeral that afternoon. We and Mary Frances walked the rest of the way into Ventura. We learned that she and her partner Jennifer had moved next door to Marion and Jim several years ago, it had taken a few months before they discovered their Quaker connections. Mary Frances works at UCLA, currently conducting research on elderly people who have lost their partners. She is trying to understand the connections between mind and body during the grieving process. (This is a very oversimplified description.) We were totally immersed in conversation the whole way, which made the last ten miles go by very quickly. All this time we were walking along the ocean, and occasionally we saw seals swimming in the surf. It was a cloudless, sunny day and we were almost sailing along.

We parted from Mary Frances after coffee in downtown Ventura and continued towards our destination on the south side of town. Along the way a woman at a bus stop saw our sign and insisted that we cross the street to an Internet cafe to meet a young man who was walking around the world! We were glad we followed her suggestion because he had an amazing story to tell. Luke Wilbanks had already walked across Europe and Asia and had just crossed the U.S. and was on his way to Seattle. The next leg of his journey might take him to South America! His purpose is to raise funds for the millions of children orphaned in Africa due to aids.We were impressed that he often walked about 30 miles a day, and his pack looked pretty big. Oh, to be young again! We exchanged cards and good wishes, and we hoped to contact him in the future.

We finally reached Marion and Jim's house and were delighted that Mary Frances and Jennifer would be joining us for dinner and hot-tubbing. Jennifer worked at the University of California-Santa Barbara and conducts research on the processes of social movements. Jim has had a long career in the non-profit sector and was currently setting up a Job Corps organization in Ventura. When we learned that he also had worked with area food banks, we immediately thought of the growing fund of lost coins we had picked up since leaving Vancouver. We had already decided to donate it to a food bank when we got back home, but we realized that this occasion was even more appropriate. So we gave Jim a check for $25--the amount we projected we would have collected by the time we reached San Diego--payable to the Food Bank of Santa Barbara County. Jim also had been the Ventura coordinator for the Obama '08 presidential primary campaign. So, with this lively bunch of people, we had a terrific evening. Topping it off with the backyard hot tub made it the ultimate California experience.

After a leisurely Sunday morning, Jim and Marion drove us to Thousand Oaks to worship with the Conejo Valley Worship Group. We had originally planned on walking two days to Thousand Oaks, but Nancy Lynch had pointed out that it would have been ashame to not worship with that group, since we would have been so close. Being driven there would give us the extra time we would need for that to fit into our schedule. We've learned to be very flexible, and this was the right thing to do. We enjoyed the worship and potluck and the children's sharing after worship. They led us in a "game show" called "Will the real William Penn Please Stand Up?" It brought lots of laughs and we learned a few things about William Penn. Then Jim and Marion took us to Percy and Clifford Severn's house in Newbury Park, our next place to stay. Percy turned out to be a direct descendant of Elias Hicks, a famous early Quaker whose views led to the formation of one of the major branches of our faith. A portrait of Hicks (the only one known to exist) hung in their living room. We took a picture of it and share it with you here. It was interesting to reflect that along this journey we have stayed with other people who were direct descendants of famous early Quakers, namely John Woolman and William Penn.

Percy and Clifford recently sold their Australia-based business, which made sheepskin footwear. Clifford now spent much of his retirement time playing and organizing local cricket games. (He was born in England of South African parents and then lived in South Africa before emigrating to the United States when he was a young man.) Percy is active in the Alternatives to Violence Program and the Afghan Refugee Girls School fund. The latter was inspired by two Quakers in 2002 and now supports schooling for a number of young Afghan girls who are living in refugee camps in Pakistan. The Orange Grove Friends Meeting h asoversight of the fine program and accepts contributions. We so enjoyed getting to know Percy and admired her commitment to the betterment of others. We enjoyed listening to Clifford's great stories of his life and experiences. We enjoyed an evening's dinner with Percy and Clifford's son Clifford as well.

Since we both have relatives in Thousand Oaks, we took advantage of this opportunity to visit them. One day we went to lunch with Louis's Aunt Betty and Cousin Bonnie. (Bonnie expressed interest in seeing our presentation and wrote down the address.) The next day we spent time with Ruah's Aunt Brita. It was great fun catching up on all the family news.

The evening event with the Conejo Valley Worship Group was held at Carol Nieman's home in Westlake. After a tasty potluck we shared our presentation with the group, which led to a lively and interesting discussion afterwards. We were pleased when Louis's cousin Bonnie showed up, and she seemed to enjoy the potluck and presentation. We had to get up at 4 a.m. the next morning so that Percy (poor tired thing) could drive us to Darrell Heximer's home, in order for us to get a ride to our next stop in Santa Monica. Darrell left his home each morning at 5 a.m. to get to his job at the Santa Monica Community College where he has worked for 20 years. We really enjoyed getting to know Darrell and admired his commitment to living a rather simple life with his wife and daughter, including not watching television.

Darrell dropped us off at a coffee shop on Whishire Blvd., where he told the servers about our walk, and they expressed great enthusiasm for what we were doing. After we had ordered our breakfasts the two servers told us that the meal was on them. After we had said many thank-you's,  the servers, Joy and Eddy, agreed to pose for a photo. It was so heartwarming to see people respond in such generous ways. Later Joe Morris, our Santa Monica Friends Meeting contact, met us at the coffee shop and together we walked to his home a couple of miles away. (You might remember from a previous blog that Joe and his girlfriend Carolyn had helped us celebrate our reaching the 1,000-mile mark while we were passing through Big Sur.)

Joe, Carolyn, and we spent a memorable day in Santa Monica, which started with a visit to the Santa Monica Farmer's Market, where we bought bread and cheese and other good fresh foods for a picnic lunch on a park bench overlooking the famous Santa Monica Pier and the Pacific Ocean. We learned that about 11,000 people visit this farmers' market each week! We then went to an arranged tour of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) 5-year-old, Platinum LEED-certified building. When it was built it was touted as the "greenest" building in the world. It is now tied for third place in the world, since new green technologies are being used today that weren't available five years ago. NRDC focuses on protecting the environment at the public policy and legislative levels through the legal processes. Our enthusiastic docent, Gisela Lesin, made sure that we were shown every major element that had contributed to the building's exceptional green rating. We were impressed with the rain water collection and gray water recycling system that is used to flush the toilets and water the plants. Gisela introduced us to a number of folks who work for NRDC, and we all walked away with admiration for this organization.

We then crossed town to meet the staff of Sustainable Works, an environmental education organization whose mission is to create a culture of sustainability. They offer programs that promote sustainable practices in businesses, residential, and college communities. We met Lisa Harrison, the public information coordinator and Matt Henigan, an account executive in the Business Greening Program. They were both very enthusiastic and knowledgeable, and we wished all communities had programs like this. One demonstration project that we visited consisted of two front yards, one with native plant landscaping and one more traditional. There were signs which showed how much water and labor was saved by planting indigenous plants.

As we were walking, Joe commented that programs like these (NRDC and Sustainable Works) refute the stereotypes we sometimes hear about people from Los Angeles being a bunch of hedonists not caring about the environment. And, yes, we were impressed with all the efforts of Santa Monica to become a sustainable city.

That evening, the gathering for our presentation was held in the home of Stan and Rebbecca Searl in Culver City, because the Santa Monica Friends Meeting House didn't have facilities for hosting a potluck. Stan and Rebecca's hilltop home had a majestic view of downtown Los Angeles and the Hollywood Hills. Ruah was delighted that her step-brother, Bill, and his partner Kelly could be there. It was nice to see Anthony and Kathleen Manousos again. Anthony is the retiring editor of Friends Bulletin, and we've come to know him over the years through connections at Yearly Meetings and FGC Gatherings. Anthony and Kathleen will be moving to Pendle Hill for a year later this summer. Once again we were appreciated by the group, who were moved by our skit.

This morning we are waiting for Ruah's step-brother Bill to meet us at Joe Morris's apartment so we can have lunch together before we head for Pasadena. We have enjoyed our time with Joe and look forward to working with him in QEW circles. We hope you are all enjoying some springtime. Our days have been cloudless and warm and comforting.
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