Sunday, April 27, 2014

Global Goals, Citizen Solutions

Although Redwood City is only 26 miles south of San Francisco, thanks to the international gathering at the Global Philanthropy Forum conference at the Sofitel, we felt transported, far from home, truly Global Citizens. We were star struck by the illustrious group of presenters and participants. All of the heavy lifters were there — CEO's and CFO's from the Ford Foundation and the MacArthur to the folks on the ground from Africa, Brazil, Indonesia.

As the smallest NGO at the table (and sometimes we are not even that organized), we were honored to bring our message all the way from Kehoe Beach.

In the evening for the Citizen Ingenuity Reception we piled the table high with vases full of plastic and we set out glue guns so that everyone could have a hands-on crafting experience and make something to take home.



Saturday, April 19, 2014

Fire And Ice

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

When Robert Frost penned these words in 1920 he obviously had not yet read Lisa-ann Gershwin's book Stung! on Jellyfish Blooms and the Future of the Ocean.  If he had, he would be sure that the world is going to end in jellyfish bloom.

During our morning commute we enjoy what we call books-on-tape which is really Judith reading aloud to Richard. This week we were spell bound by a review of Gershwin's book They are Taking Over  by Tim Flannery in the New York Review of Books .

In his review Flannery recounts horror after horror from Gershwin's book about the crisis in the oceans and probable causes for the frightening demise:
By 2002 the total weight of Mnemiopsis in the Black Sea had grown so prodigiously that it was estimated to be ten times greater than the weight of all fish caught throughout the entire world in a year. The Black Sea had become effectively jellified. Nobody knows precisely how or why the jellyfish replaced the valuable fish species, but four hypotheses have been put forward.
The first is that stocks of anchovy, which compete with the jellyfish, collapsed because the jellyfish ate their eggs and young. A second is that jellyfish ate the same food as the anchovies, and starved them. A third is that overfishing left more food for the jellyfish, and the fourth is that climate change caused a decline in plankton or promoted a jellyfish bloom.

Thanks to Rietta Hohman blogger and Marine Science Instructor for the Farallones Marine Sanctuary Association for helping to spread the word about our project especially to the fish purveyors and restauranteurs who read the Pucci Food blog. Read her interview Judith and Richard Lang Create Beautiful and Thought-Provoking Plastic Art from Beach Trash 

Plastic art
Smoked Salmon from our Cavallo Point Series 

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!