(This post first appeared on California Progress Report and is reposted here with permission.)
This November, California voters will have an opportunity to vote on a simple, yet important ballot initiative called Proposition 37 – the California Right to Know Act. If approved, it would require food sold in California supermarkets be clearly labeled if it has been genetically engineered.
What many probably don’t yet know is there is no clearer David versus Goliath fight on this year’s ballot. On one side, is a truly grassroots people’s movement that generated over a million signatures in just 10 weeks, easily qualifying for the November ballot. On the other stands the largest anti-union, pro-pesticide, agrichemical interests in the world dedicated to saying and spending whatever it takes to hide the fact that some of our most important crops are being genetically engineered in a lab without our knowledge or consent.
Sandra Zebi is no stranger to the challenges posed by urban waste. Now the owner of a vintage clothing store in Marina del Rey, Zebi was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, which produced 14,000 tons of waste each day.
Ironically inspired by her urban surroundings, Zebi created art using recycled materials. Moving to L.A., she renovated a run-down building and now uses it to house her shop, which is filled with recycled clothing and art.
Zebi loves L.A. but she is not a fan of our waste and recycling system. Like many small business owners she has found that her store does not have a recycling option.
Because of her tenacious environmental consciousness, Zebi seeks other options. Some of her actions are illegal or frowned upon by city government. A business partner, Vanessa, for example, gives bags of recyclable materials to neighborhood homeless men who reside near their store.
One central challenge to building a green economy is that for many, the inner workings of a key pillar of that economy — the construction industry — are a mystery. Understanding construction helps us move beyond simply creating green “jobs,” which could be temporary or even dangerous, to building a new green economic sector that generates permanent construction careers.
Construction is one of the largest sectors of the U.S. economy, with a dollar value approaching $800 billion and more than 7.2 million workers. It brings together people from all different walks of life. For community members that the economic downturn has hit the hardest — low-income workers, minorities, women, those returning from the military or from prison — construction offers a chance at a middle-class career.
A growing piece of the construction industry is retrofitting buildings to increase energy efficiency. Launching a project to retrofit a building,
Los Angeles was granted its anticipated funding for America Fast Forward, a project aiming to expedite construction of more extensive and functional public transportation systems. The project’s approval is a victory for both the people of Los Angeles and Mayor Villaraigosa, who has been supporting it for years.
America Fast Forward is a provision of a larger transportation bill approved by Congress in late June and signed into law by President Obama last week. The $100 billion package, which received rare bipartisan support, will reduce harmful emissions, fund the construction of mass transit projects in multiple cities and create thousands of jobs throughout the country.
That’s the good news. On the downside, the law — which hardly resembles earlier versions of the legislation — cuts funding for a number of important programs and puts off critical decisions by only providing monies through 2014.
L.A.’s program would initially be funded by the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA),
This week the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) released Testing the Waters: A Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches. For some of us, reading the annual report card – or at least hearing its scarier parts summarized on the Six O’clock News – has become a summer ritual, the last piece of broccoli we must swallow before happily heading to our favorite polluted shoreline.
This year’s guide looks at the state of beaches in 2011 and rates them. Among its findings: