Sunday, April 6, 2014

Cinéma vérité

We trekked to Kehoe today with three intrepid Tam High Schoolers: Hannah, Bella, and Paloma, who were on assignment to create a cinéma vérité style three minute piece to discover a cinematic truth - and what better truth than to document plastic on the beach.

Unfortunately, there was almost no plastic. Especially embarrassing after we had described the great swales we would find and had shown them our art work and our vast collection inventory. So sad, it was our worst day ever, the beach was clean. To make the most of the tiny pieces we were finding we fell to our knees to dramatize our diligent work. Perhaps this is the new truth = no plastic. We could see the bold headlines: R&J Plastics gone bankrupt. R&J Plastics out of business.

After a high tide, the backside of the dunes often catch the drift of plastic so we decided to go round to take the trail home. Almost invisible because of its diminutive size and camoflage color, Judith found the tinniest soldier, a 3/4" bazooka guy tucked under some brush and nearby him almost 50 nurdles scattered in the sand. We were saved, we regained our creditbility with the filmmakers- maybe there really is plastic on the beach- and they exclaimed - "hey this is fun!!!"

Back at the Dance Palace in Point Reyes the benefit concert for All One Ocean was in full swing. There was lots of hoopin' and hollerin' for a good cause. AOO is a SF Bay Area non-profit devoted to educating people about the destructive impact of trash by providing Beach Clean UP stations stocked with reusable bags, a simple way for beach goers to help clean up. 

Our What's for supper? table display greeted concert go-ers. After a long day we asked ourselves What's for supper? and headed for the Palace Market.

While standing in the grocery checkout line we were recognized by a couple who remembered our presentation for the Geography of Hope conference. We struck up a conversation. Richard told the story of Monopoly:

How can this tiny piece of trash point us toward the motivation to change the world? It's no wonder that in our 15 years of collecting trash from 1000 yards of one beach we've found 2 of the little houses after all 6 billion have been made. And what is it we need to understand? The trail of art as a piece of culture that reflects, and the point of culture is to reflect ourselves. As art became more abstract, money became abstract. As metaphor focuses thought, we use art to make metaphor to make understanding

As life-long producers of art work, essentially the job of creating metaphor to understand the mysteries of the world, we have chosen several objects fraught with meaning, that from point to line to cube to time/space, show us in a humanly graspable way how we may find the path toward sustainable human existence on planet earth. One little monopoly house opened the world for us, from ideas of progressive experiential education to the economic theory of the Georgists a single tax scheme that had among its adherents conservative and liberal alike. John Kenneth Galbraithe, Phillipe Legrain, Sun Yat Sen, Frank Lloyd Wright to name a few. Lizzie Maggie an acolyte of Henry George invented the game to give the players the feeling of psychic shame at the defeat of your fellow players…the question this little house asks why did Lizzie Maggie fail so badly in her mission. Because it's fun to win?

and that's the truth!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Time and tide

Time and tide wait for no man.

Although the origin of this phrase is uncertain, it's clear that the phrase is ages old and that it predates modern English. The earliest known record is from St. Marher, 1225:

"And te tide and te time þat tu iboren were, schal beon iblescet."

Sometimes it takes us a long time to discover the source of a particular piece of plastic. For years we have collected small turquoise fish-shaped pieces. At school with Grandson Aloysius, the revelation was at hand. He is a big fan of the plastic swimming pool filled with plastic balls and will while-away over and over again tossing the balls up into the air. When it was time to ride the horsey, as I removed him from the pool, to my amazement I saw embossed fish shapes on the bottom that I recognized as the same as our beach finds.

From Kehoe Beach 

Later, during our walk home we found another kind of tide and time: a sidewalk shopping enticement, a battery-operated plastic scuba guy clacking over and over again against the edge of a pool that was way too small for his enthusiastic strokes. Needless to say, Aloysius was a big fan. And for me, something existential, yes, time and tide...

Friday, March 28, 2014

All One Ocean

Help us help All One Ocean and enjoy a fun fab benefit 
at the Dance Palace in Point Reyes, April 6, 4- 6 PM

Monday, March 17, 2014

Difficulty in Finding

Although we are great collaborators in the studio when we are at the beach we can rev into a fierce competition of who can find the best piece, who can find the most. Extra points are awarded for difficulty in finding which means if only a thin slip of the plastic is visible or if it's nearly invisible because it is the color of the sand or it's hidden under a pile of tangled driftwood and seaweed. 

Richard's plastic covered wagon cover won the day on the beach but back at home Judith found it in a jiff on the Internet.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Hit List

We set out today to make a "hit list" of the items that we find every time we go to the beach. In the first 100 yards we were able to check off the first five: tiparillo tip, straw, shotgun shell wad, bottle and wrapper. It was not long before we had completed our task, then we spent the afternoon on the lookout for what would classify as our most unusual find of the day.

Over the years there have been some truly astounding finds:
from the ballot box lid from the 2001 election to the 2 monopoly houses 

But today the bright red rose was an eye-catcher. It's a member of the taxon Simulacracea and the peer reviewed paper requires a knowledge of Pig Latin. It appeared in the Ethnobotany Research & Applications, Vol 5 (2007)

Our thanks to Robert Burns for his poem A Red, Red Rose

O my Luve is like a red, red rose
   That’s newly sprung in June;
O my Luve is like the melody
   That’s sweetly played in tune.

So fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
   So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
     Till a’ the seas gang dry. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Many happy returns of the day...

We are up and at 'em, headed for the beach- hoping that the recent storms have washed up a strew of plastic. Envious of Janis Selby Jones' (Judith's' sister) soldier pic that she posted on Instagram and Litterati this morning, we are fueled by the competitive fire and are on the hunt for the plastic invasion —  will we find a marine Marine?

When Janis is not at the beach she is a school-based resource teacher at an elementary school in Oceanside, CA. She makes regular posts of her prize-winning images onto Litterati, a crowd sourced compendium of photographs that geo-tag tracks the who, what, where, and when of litter with the hope that this awareness will make for a litter free world.

At her school she is helping to institute a zero waste campaign and is working with students to organize a Green Team. Plus she keeps a blog Write the World where she posts about "living, learning, and teaching through photography and writing." YAY! Janis!

But the Norcal vs. Socal rivalry rears its transgressive head. Hey, Janis, we have two, yes 2 of those mortar men.          

See Fig A.

We looked all afternoon for that soldier. He was not to be found but maybe these tiny .5" binoculars were once his?

Although there was not much plastic, there are many other reasons for a trip to the beach. We marveled at the swoop and dive of the Peregrine Falcons and listened to their resounding cry echoing from the cliff side caves where they nest. And the enthusiastic troop of geology students from San Francisco State University was out in full force on the hunt for fossils.

Kehoe Beach is a favorite place for geology aficionados. It's a textbook case from the textbook Geology at Point Reyes:

Fossil marine mollusks and echinoids found at the base of the Laird Sandstone on Kehoe Beach indicate that deposition occurred in shallow during middle Miocene time (Clark and Brabb, 1997). These sandy facies grade into finer-grained rocks (sandstone, siltstone, and shale) of the lower Monterey Formation. The Monterey Formation grades upward into siliceous shales, porcellanite, and chert. The upper Monterey Formation yields fossil benthic foraminifera that suggest the sediments were deposited in bathyal depths (200 to 4,000 m) during middle to late Miocene time (Clark and others, 1984).

A day at the beach rain or shine, plastic or no, is always cause for celebration.

And, as the old adage goes, what goes round comes round...
or should we say,
many happy returns of the day...

Hey, Janis, we found this pic on the Internet.
Let's see who can find the whole set.


Sunday, February 16, 2014


Due to what Richard has aptly named "a drought related injury" we were unable to go to the beach this weekend. In our sink and shower we have a 5 gallon bucket system to catch the cold water before it goes to warm. The dishes are done in an insert then emptied. The heavy buckets are then hauled out to garden to keep our winter vegetables (tatsoi and kale) going. As Richard was doing the dishes he turned and crashed into the unaccustomed bucket—Who put that there?  

So instead we spent a productive weekend at home. For a follow-up conversation Michael Wing, the science teacher from Drake High, came out to Forest Knolls to interview us for a book he is writing about how to keep the spirit of inquiry alive. His final question what's next?  had us both flummoxed. But as we worked our way through the weekend, announcements for a couple of design competitions came our way so we are off and running with some exciting new ideas about the molecular structure of water. Stay tuned! 

Adam Ratner and his team of volunteers at The Marine Mammal Center has been keeping up with the tying of the promise tags.  Judith prepped the strips with a brush of ocean blue colors. By now over 1,000 pledges have been made on site at TMMC. Promise to do your part for a healthy ocean online HERE!

promise tags at the Marine Mammal Center

There has been lots of good news from the Anchorage Museum about the exhibition Gyre: the plastic ocean.  

To eliminate the carbon footprint of shipping our collection of plastic to Anchorage, we opted to send high-res files of the images. We figured that Alaska already has plenty of plastic. That was evident in four tons collected by the Gyre expedition of artists and scientists from a four-mile stretch of beach at Hallo Bay, AK. Our gratitude to the expert team at the Anchorage Museum who printed and mounted our artwork big on the wall where it is basking in the glow of our colleague Cynthia Minet's "Pack Dogs" in this feature in Wired.