Tag Archives: The BEETS

All about Trash!

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On Saturday, February 15, 2014 our CommunityGrows Spring BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens) cohort when off to explore trash at Recology. Recology is an integrated resource recovery company headquartered in San Francisco, California. The company collects and processes municipal solid waste, reclaiming useful materials that would have otherwise been buried in a landfill. The company also runs transfer stations, materials recovery facilities (MRFs), and a small number of landfills. Recology is the largest organics compost facility operator by volume in the United States. The name Recology is a combination of the words “recycle” and “ecology”.
After a slide show about recycling at the Environmental Learning Center (ELC), which houses a classroom, and gallery featuring work made by artists who have participated in the Artist in Residence (AIR) Program, everyone donned hardhats and neon yellow-orange vests. 2.15.14-BEETS-Recology_IMG_5220 Then it was off to see two of the artists who are interning there. The AIR is a unique art and education program that provides Bay Area artists with access to discarded materials, a stipend, and a large studio space at the Recology Solid Waste Transfer and Recycling Center. By supporting artists who work with recycled materials, Recology hopes to encourage people to conserve natural resources and promote new ways of thinking about art and the environment. The first artist was Jamil Hellu, a photographer who was setting up shopping carts with discarded debris-mannikins, and other eye-catching things. He was planning to photograph them with unusual backgrounds. In the next studio we met Matthew Gottschalk. He uses puppetry, sculpture, painting, video and photography to tell stories about history, good vs. evil, empathy, replication and humor. He showed us a puppet he did which looked exactly like him.2.15.14-BEETS-Recology_IMG_5237
After visiting the artists we went out on the grounds and talked with employees who recycle paint, which can be sold back to the consumer. The air was filled with thousands of seagulls as we peeked into the building that compacts garbage for landfill. No cameras allow, and because of the cool, overcast day, not too much odorous smell.
One of the highlights of the tour was walking through the sculpture garden. 2.15.14-BEETS-Recology_IMG_5257

2.15.14-BEETS-Recology_IMG_5247One particular sculpture titled “Stanley” was done by Dana Albany in 2002. It looked like a large flying bug, and was made of an aluminum propeller, metal cable, saw blades, green sprinkler knobs, tea kettle, stainless steel bowl, steel faucet, rebar and brass knobs.2.15.14-BEETS-Recology_IMG_5266
Another highlight of the day was meeting Robert and his Brown Goshawk Falcon. 2.15.14-BEETS-Recology_IMG_5289Recology has begun to address the infestation of legions of several gull species who gave up hunting for meals in the San Francisco Bay to forage through garbage at the site. These birds are huge, and there’s a lot of of ’em! When they eat the garbage they can become unhealthy, poisoned, have digestive blockage and injuries. The birds are also a nuisance to the workers at the site. The idea is to use falcons to chase away freeloading gulls and divert them toward their natural food source.
Finally we toured the transfer station, also known as “the dump”, a local hub for resource recovery. You can bring your discarded large items, electronics, TVs, florescent light bulbs and construction debris here.2.15.14-BEETS-Recology_IMG_5305
The BEETS enjoyed the day and had a few quotes:
“My favorite part of the tour was the sculpture garden. I think I might be able to make art out of scrap.” -Joana
“I liked seeing the hawk and how it scared away the seagulls.” -Hakim
The BEETS also learned about jobs at the Recology Center. As of 2002 Recology employed approximately 2,100 people. The company is 100% employee-owned through an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP). Great day with lots of insights and information shared! Here are some more photos from the day.

Spring 2014 BEETS begins with trip to Baker Beach!

1.28.14-BEETS-KP_IMG_4987On January 28, 2014 our Spring BEETS Cohort began. This spring, the BEETS Program (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens) has seven new teens and five returning from previous sessions. For the first time since 2008, this cohort has more guys than gals—an exciting adventure! They came from a pool of 40 applicants, and we are thrilled to be working with them. Our first day orientation was filled with information about the next four months, and bringing everyone up to speed on code of conduct and what’s to be expected. There was also a tour of Koshland Park and Garden which will be their home base and primary learning site. See more photos from the first day at Koshland Garden on our CommunityGrows Flickr Photostream.
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A few days later, on Saturday, February 1, 2014 it was off to Baker Beach for a group team building day. Under beautiful skies, the cohort had lunch and set off to explore the area. Baker Beach is part of the Presidio, which was a military base from the founding of San Francisco by the Spanish in 1812 until 1997. In 1904, it was fortified with disappearing gun installations known as Battery Chamberlin, which the teens got to explore and learn about from a park ranger. When the Presidio was decommissioned as a U.S. Army base, it became part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which is administered by the National Park Service.
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The teens did a number of team building activities that helped them develop trust within the group. In one activity, half the teens were blindfolded and paired with partner who was tasked to guide them along a path.
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In another exercise, the teens worked as a group to accomplish what appeared to be an insurmountable task.
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By the end of the day everyone felt more comfortable together and inspired by their creativity and improved decision making skills. A great day had by all!
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For more photos from the Baker Beach Day, many taken by our amazing BEETS volunteer, Paige Thornton, please check out our CommunityGrows Flickr Photostream.

Kenya Mack Highlighted at Film Screening

12.5.13-HavanaCurveball_BEETS-KenyaMack_IMG_1420Kenya Mack, one of our very own Fall 2013 BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens) was invited to be highlighted and attend a screening of a new film at the New People Cinema Complex on Post Street on December 5, 2013. It was a night to showcase youth activism and Havana Curveball, a film by Marcia Jarmel and Ken Schneider, Executive Producer Marc Smolowitz. The event was co-presented by the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival and the San Francisco Film Society Education Office.

The movie is about a thirteen year old teen named Mica who dreams of baseball, as he studies for his Bar Mitzvah, the Jewish coming of age rite. He has a worthy idea to send baseballs to Cuba and the documentary chronicles his adventures to make that happen.

Kenya (who represented the BEETS and CommunityGrows) was introduced with a few other youth from the Bay Area, as a youth activist. At the after-party she joined Melissa Tang, BEETS Program Manager, to showcase some of the activities of the BEETS and CommunityGrows. It was lots of fun to mingle with the invited crowd, listen to live music and munch on hors d’oeuvres. Congratulations Kenya on this honor and representing CommunityGrows!12.5.13-HavanaCurveball_BEETS-KenyaMack_IMG_137912.5.13-HavanaCurveball_BEETS-KenyaMack_IMG_1366

BEETS Help Serve Up Thanksgiving at John Muir School

11.23.13-Thanksgiving-BEETS-600pixels_IMG_3735On Saturday, November 23, 2013, CommunityGrows participated with many neighborhood partners to offer Thanksgiving to the Community at John Muir Elementary School. The BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens) join teens from Magic Zone to serve up the food. 11.23.13-Thanksgiving-BEETS-600pixels_IMG_3743The afternoon entertainment included many different youth groups performing, such as Handful Players and John Muir students, and the Soka Gakkai Chorus lead by Horus Tolson, and many other musicians and dancers.11.23.13-Thanksgiving-BEETS-600pixels_IMG_374711.23.13-Thanksgiving-BEETS_IMG_3835 The Western Addition Beacon and Community Partners United helped to organize this successful event. California State Senator, Mark Leno, and Jeff Adachi, Public Defender of San Francisco, also attended. A great time was had by all.Check out more photos on our CommunityGrows Flickr Photstream here.11.23.13-Thanksgiving-BEETS-600pixels_IMG_375011.23.13-Thanksgiving-BEETS-600pixels_IMG_3755

John Muir School’s Pollinator Project

11.14.13-JMES-Markos_IMG_3426On Thursday, November 14, 2013 John Muir Elementary School in San Francisco was a-buzz with activity as parents, teachers, principal Chris Rosenberg, CommunityGrows staff and the BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens) joined Markos Major, for a Pollinator Garden Project at the school. They planted California native and other climate-adapted plants, feed the garden’s Recology compost, sowed hundreds of cover crop seeds (fava beans and peas), and celebrate San Francisco’s biodiversity!
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As coordinator of the “Climate Action Now!” teen environmental education program Markos makes it his mission to communicate the connections between climate change and consumption choices. With a focus on empowerment through action, Climate Action Now! examines how everyday choices like composting and eating locally grown seasonal (mostly vegetarian) foods can help reduce the effects of climate change.
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One of the highlights of the afternoon came when the teens were planting in front of the school and Director of Programs, Nora Brereton discovered a tiny frog in one of the planter containers. It was a thrill rarely met with! After everyone had a chance to see the frog before Markos safely returned it to a pond in San Francisco.

BEETS Host Jobs Panel

11.5.13-BEETS-Panel_IMG_3289On Tuesday November 5, 2013 the CommunityGrows BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens) hosted a panel of workers from the community. On the panel were Francee Covington, a San Francisco Fire Commissioner, Carol Fields, a Rosa Parks Elementary School teacher, Genevieve Cyrs, an Occupational Therapist from the OTTP Training Program, Tyrone Mullins with (team members Marcus and James), from Green Streets, and Jeremy Siemers, Starbucks Store Manager.

A lively discussion ensued with panel participants talking about their jobs: how they got them, what they entailed, and what lessons and suggestions they could pass on about employment. Then there was time for the teens to ask everyone questions. It was a great sharing of ideas and inspiration. Thank you everyone for participating and sharing you lives with the BEETS.

Teens in Koshland Garden with the Redwood Trust

11.2.13-KPWkday-BEETS-CAAS-Redwood_11.2.13-KPWkday-BEETS-CAAS-Redwood_11.2.13-KPWkday-BEETS-CAAS-Redwood_IMG_3180Saturday, November 2, 2013 the BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens) hosted teens from the CA Academy of Sciences and CommunityGrows hosted the Redwood Trust Employee Foundation for a day of garden maintenance in Koshland Park.
The Redwood Trust is a real estate investment trust (REIT) located in Mill Valley, CA. In May 2007, the Redwood Trust Employee Foundation was created for the purpose of supporting and conducting charitable activities by facilitating employees’ involvement in community service. With the continued support and efforts of their employees, the Foundation contributed financial resources and time to CommunityGrows supporting their work with the environment. We were honored to have Kate Freedman and Jessica Sergi join us for the day.11.2.13-KPWkday-BEETS-CAAS-Redwood_IMG_3148
The Cal Academy’s digital learning youth program is a group of teens working on a year long project to create interactive videos and digital maps to educate the public about the food they consume and how to make healthy choices for themselves and the planet. The teens were interested in learning how community gardens play a role in sustainable food systems. 11.2.13-KPWkday-BEETS-CAAS-Redwood_IMG_3222
The day started off with the BEETS setting up the garden circle and getting snacks, name-tags and sign-ins in place. When everyone arrived Damion Edgerson, one of the Fall BEETS, led an ice-breaker allowing everyone to learn each others’ names and create garden names. 11.2.13-KPWkday-BEETS-CAAS-Redwood_IMG_3122Then there was a brief history of the garden, an introduction to the BEETS, and a tour of the garden by many of the BEETS. 11.2.13-KPWkday-BEETS-CAAS-Redwood_IMG_3159Arif Husain and Tyson Appel, two community gardeners talked about their experiences gardening and answered questions from the crowd. 11.2.13-KPWkday-BEETS-CAAS-Redwood_CROPPED_IMG_3132Tyson’s family joined in on the day and enjoyed their time in the garden.11.2.13-KPWkday-BEETS-CAAS-Redwood_IMG_3209
For the next two hours crews were busy trimming ivy, pulling weeds, turning soil, transplanting bushes, and sifting compost. We were even able to move a deep rooted morning glory plant to the back fence of the garden, giving it better room to grow. 11.2.13-KPWkday-BEETS-CAAS-Redwood_IMG_3220This project alone took the full two hours and many strong and willing teens. Walking through the garden at the end of the day everyone saw the fruits of their labors and the transformation for the beginning of the fall season.

Civic Center Farmers’ Market with the BEETS

10.23.13-BEETS-CCFrmMkt_IMG_3039On a cold Wednesday afternoon, October 23, 2013 ten of the Fall BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens) met up with Melissa Tang to explore the Civic Center Farmers Market in San Francisco. Although it was late in the day, the market was still bustling with shoppers checking out the produce from farmers’ stalls. 10.23.13-BEETS-CCFrmMkt_IMG_308610.23.13-BEETS-CCFrmMkt_IMG_308610.23.13-BEETS-CCFrmMkt_IMG_3044
The BEETS were fortunate to have a welcome from Kate Creps, the Executive Director of this Heart of the City Farmers’ Market. This market is an independent, farmer-operated non-profit that was started in 1981 to provide a much needed source of fresh produce to a “food desert” that lacked a grocery store. The market supports and sustains small-scale growers and helps prices stay affordable for the low-income community of Civic Center and the Tenderloin. (More than 80% of food stamps (Cal Fresh EBT) benefits used at SF Farmers Markets are used at this market).10.23.13-BEETS-CCFrmMkt_IMG_3067
After talking with the BEETS, Kate introduced Tony Mellow, one of the farmers who has had a stall at the market since the beginning! Tony Mellow’s family has been farming in the Silicon Valley for four generations, since the 1800s. His grandparents started the first of the family farms, growing apricots, prunes, and pears for the local canneries. His father continued the tradition, adding farms spread across the San Francisco Bay area to grow walnuts and fruit for local canneries and prune dehydrators. Tony always knew he wanted to be a farmer and has been farming since he was 12. In 1966, he started growing pumpkins and miscellaneous vegetables and by 1977 he owned his own ranch in Morgan Hill.10.23.13-BEETS-CCFrmMkt_IMG_3075The BEETS went on a scavenger hunt after that to talk with farmers about their produce, farms and growing practices. Then they regrouped and shared information and produce they purchased.10.23.13-BEETS-CCFrmMkt_IMG_309010.23.13-BEETS-CCFrmMkt_IMG_308510.23.13-BEETS-CCFrmMkt_IMG_3109

Take the BEETS out of the City!

10.19.13-BEETS-GGF_IMG_2924On Saturday, October 19, 2013 the CommunityGrows staff, lead by Melissa Tang, BEETS Program Manager, and Adrian Almquist, Garden Educator, took a group of our Fall 2013 BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens) out of the City to enjoy a day at Green Gulch Farm in Marin. Hoka Sarah Carter, a docent for the farm, lead them on an adventure through the fields, checking out edible plants, compost piles, and bee hives. It was a beautiful relaxing day that ended with a walk to Muir Beach and picking pumpkins to take home. Lots of fun had by all.10.19.13-BEETS-GGF_IMG_282310.19.13-BEETS-GGF_IMG_287410.19.13-BEETS-GGF_IMG_282710.19.13-BEETS-GGF_IMG_289010.19.13-BEETS-GGF_IMG_285510.19.13-BEETS-GGF_IMG_292810.19.13-BEETS-GGF_IMG_2940