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"Home,"by Jill McLennan, is a collage of cardboard, fabric, found pieces, paper, photos, and acrylic, 30”x 30”, 2018.
Jill McLennan is an artist and educator in the Bay Area. She is a member of Mercury 20 Gallery in Oakland. In her current solo exhibition, she records her daily observations of Oakland, documenting history as the presence of her chosen home evolves.
McLennan works as a teaching artist with MOCHA and at the DeYoung Museum in San Francisco. She is a founding member of her neighborhood organization, JABC: Jingletown Arts and Business Community, through which she leads mural projects and art classes.
McLennan is currently working with local youth and neighbors to create Storm Drain Murals around the Estuary to beautify the area while educating residents about their environment.
Buffalo Bacon Ranch Fried Chicken Sandwich
Vegan for Everyone
Deli Favorites Reinvented at The Butcher’s Son
Photo Credit: Shannon Lavelle
3 Vegan for Everyone
Deli Favorites Reinvented at The Butcher's Son
4 Tales From the Bin
The Untold Journey of a Water Bottle
6 The Problem With Fast Fashion
How Your Clothes Are Suffocating The Planet
7 The Free-Spirited Union of Body
A Rock Climbing Devotional
8 Silent Campus
Places to Play Music in Berkeley
by ANYA WAYNE
Inside This Issue
BCC Voice - Fall 2018 - Issue 2
In the 1960s and 1970s, there was a New York City ad campaign for Levy’s Jewish Rye Bread which featured non-Jewish New Yorkers — an older Asian man, a young Black child, and a Native American with braids — munching blissfully on a rye bread sandwich. The concept was to take a food associated with a certain culture and show its appeal to a wider audience. Famous in U.S. marketing history, the tagline was, “You don’t have to be Jewish to love Levy’s real Jewish rye.” The campaign became so beloved that posters of the ads were sold to the public. Many of them ended up on the walls of delis throughout the country.
With its unique version of deli fare, The Butcher’s Son on University Avenue extends the appeal of vegan food to a wider audience. A combination sit-down restaurant plus deli/market, appointed in pale wood and filled with sunlight shining through the plate glass frontage, The Butcher’s Son is a culinary destination for people seeking to revel in the joys of faux animal products. They make their own varieties of vegan protein that are closer to the real thing than any I’ve ever tasted. The only thing missing, perhaps, is a sign on the wall adopting from the Levy’s campaign that says, “You don’t have to be vegan to love the Butcher’s Son.
The menu is comprised primarily of decadent deli sandwiches, including East Coast favorites like meatball, pastrami and grinders, but also offers up healthy salads and treats like fried mozzarella, Their desserts include cheesecake and cannoli. On weekends, And it's all vegan. The Butcher’s Son also offers brunch. The restaurant has a savory smell that is, if not meaty, still mouthwatering.
Co-owner Peter Fikaris developed the menu and all the animal-protein alternatives that are its backbone. Fikaris is not the son of a butcher, but he has been working in the food business most of his life. His dad owned Michael’s American Vegetarian Diner in Berkeley, which closed in the early 2000s. According to Fikaris, his restaurant is about doing what is, “new and different, but still familiar...and doing it sustainably.” Later in our interview, Fikaris noted “Electric cars and alternative meats are better for the planet and better for ourselves.” That, he says, is also the appeal of the restaurant.
It’s Saturday afternoon, traffic is whizzing by on University Avenue, and as usual there’s a line outside The Butcher’s Son. Waiting to get in, three young guys, Howie, Josh and Sean, agree to talk with me (but not to tell me their full names). Howie and Josh say that the Buffalo Bacon Ranch Fried Chicken Sandwich is the thing to order, and they were bringing a third friend to try it. I asked if they were vegan. Only Howie was. He admitted he missed animal products, and that the alternatives they serve at The Butcher’s Son make being vegan enjoyable. “I’ve eaten here at least 20 times,” said Howie. Josh was visiting from Louisville, KY. He imagines that he would include more vegan food in his diet if there was something like The Butcher’s Son where he lives. The third friend, Sean, who described himself as an “omnivore,” wants to reduce the amount of animal protein he consumes. He was excited to try The Butcher’s Son and the sandwich his friends were raving about.
Cannoli are among my favorite desserts, and I try them whenever they are on a menu. The Butcher’s Son, in my opinion, even nails the cannoli. That’s a rare thing, since cannolis are hard to do well. Cannoli get soggy fast — nothing can prevent that; they have to be good enough to sell out quickly, so the next batch can be made. Like everything on the menu, these cannoli are slightly different than their animal-based counterparts. The vegan filling is stickier than one made of ricotta, and its sweetness has a fruity tang that the traditional filling lacks. The shell is made out of a waffle tuile, not the traditional fried dough. Still, the cannoli at The Butcher’s Son cover all the bases: creamy filling with the mouthfeel of sugar and curds is paired with a shatteringly crisp shell that breaks apart with each bite.
In addition to the food, the atmosphere inside The Butcher’s Son is part of what makes it feel so authentic. It is a deli, albeit a different kind of deli, one with open space, light and backyard seating with a rose garden. Chairs are covered in red vinyl, and spices line shelves on the wall. A separate market section fills a corner of the space, with alternative meats and cheeses, vegan desserts and other carry-out goods for sale. A harmony of customers’ voices, the clink of silverware on plates and the open-kitchen music of spatulas on the grill sing the song of good food.
Manager Ryan Walker is a young, light-haired woman with an inviting open, friendly face. She and I talked about the mix of clientele at The Butcher’s Son. “We get a lot of omnivores,” she said. “The Butcher’s Son is a welcoming place. We set an example of co-existing rather than being in your face,” she added. The Butcher’s Son’s innovative vegan concept, which draws in a wider clientele than a traditional vegetarian restaurant, might represent the next generation of vegan cuisine: Vegan 2.0, so to speak.
The Butcher’s Son
1954 University Ave.
To Order Online:
You guzzle a plastic bottle of water before class, toss it in the recycling bin, and never think about it again. You assume that your plastic bottle is magically re-incarnated as another plastic bottle, but this is far from the truth. What is the fate of your plastic bottle? Where does it go? These are questions that few people ponder, because what is out of sight is out of mind. This is the benefit and the drawback of municipal waste collection. Let’s follow your empty water bottle on its journey across the city, and beyond, to see if we can find answers to your questions.
Your water bottle will first make a journey to a facility operated by Community Conservation Centers, or CCC, at Second and Gilman Streets. Michael Ware, Supervising Manager for the CCC, gave a tour of the facility to The BCC Voice. Standing in the parking lot, I watched as people arrived on foot and by bicycle, hauling huge garbage bags full of bottles and cans. Others arrived in rusty pickup trucks filled with cardboard and other recyclables. Ware is an amicable gentleman and greeted several of the people by name, directing them into parking spaces and answering questions, while simultaneously giving me a run-down of the entire operation. According to Ware, the buyback program generates income for some of Berkeley’s homeless population, who collect recyclables from the city streets and sell them at Berkeley Recycling.
Perhaps one of these collectors found your bottle in a blue bin on the sidewalk. They tossed it in a shopping carriage piled high with bottles and wheeled it three miles west, fishing through other bins along the way. When they arrived at Berkeley Recycling, they loaded it onto a large scale with other #1 PET bottles. The scale keeps a tally of the weight of their load as plastic bottles whizz up a conveyor belt to bins behind. The reward for their labor? $1.28 per pound. California has charged a CRV, or California Redemption Value, since 1986 as an incentive to recycle. Because of this law, your water bottle stands a better chance at reincarnation in California than many other states.
If nobody fished your bottle out of the recycling bin, a driver who works for the Berkeley Department of Public Works picked it up and tossed it into the back of a collection truck with hundreds of other bottles. After zigzagging its way across town, that truck pulls into the CCC and deposits your water bottle in front of the Materials Recovery Facility, or MRF. Here it joins a mountain of plastic, aluminum and glass (and some landfill waste, as well) waiting to be sorted.
From there, an employee operating a front loader scoops up your water bottle and drops it onto a long conveyor belt. The conveyor belt carries it inside the MRF, where employees sort all of the city’s curbside recycling by hand. That’s right – by hand. “Berkeley likes [manual sorting] because it creates jobs,” said Ware. According to him, the CCC employs 27 people.
After its journey across the conveyor belt, the sorter responsible for separating #1 plastic plucks out your water bottle and tosses it into a chute, where a mechanism crushes it and diverts it into a large metal bin. The day that I visited, “Reggie” was operating the forklift. He was wearing blue mirrored sunglasses, thick blue rubber gloves and a big smile. He has worked at the CCC since he graduated from high school 13 years ago. He used the forklift to shake the bins periodically, so that they could fit as much plastic in as possible. Above him, a line of employees pulled out plastic bags, food-encrusted plastic tubs, and other non-recyclable items and placed them in trash cans destined for the landfill. These “contaminants,” as they are called, compromise the CCC’s ability to sell the actual recyclables at market if they are not removed.
“Berkeley is one of the cleanest in California,” said Ware, referring to the quality of sorting at the MRF. This means that Berkeley is able to obtain a higher market value for their recyclables than many other municipalities. This is important, since the CCC is a nonprofit. So, your bottle will likely fare better in Berkeley than if it were disposed of in another city or town. Whew.
Next, a forklift operator picks up your bottle along with the rest of the bin and carries it into the massive warehouse next door. Here, an employee loads it into the baler along with other PET bottles from the buyback program. The baler compresses your water bottle, along with hundreds of others, into a giant cube known as a bale. The bale pops out the other end, bound tightly with plastic cords.
Looking around the room, I was overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of plastic and paper that the city consumes. According to the CCC’s website, Berkeley’s MRF processes 1,650 tons of recycling per month. Without baling, recyclables could not be loaded, transported and sold – nor would the CCC have the capacity to store them.
“Here your water bottle, now a fraction of its previous volume, awaits a tractor trailer that will pick it up and take it to the Port of Oakland,” said Ware, and I wondered what would be the next stop on its itinerary.
After the tour, Ware introduced me to Daniel Maher, the Recycling Program Director for the Ecology Center. He was doing work on one of the city’s collection trucks when I approached him, his hands covered in oil. I asked Maher about a project the Ecology Center had done, where they placed GPS tracking devices inside some of the bales to study where they go after they leave the Berkeley CCC.
According to Maher, after your water bottle leaves the CCC, it travels to a facility owned by Titus MRF Services in Southern California. Titus, the company that manufactured the equipment used at the Berkeley MRF, utilizes some of the recyclables the CCC sends for machinery demos, he explained. Because Berkeley’s baler is designed for fiber – that is, paper goods – the plastic bales must be further compressed at the Titus facility before they can be sold at market. This posed a bit of a problem when tracking the bales, since some of the GPS units were crushed during re-baling.
Some of them made it, though.
“Literally all of the plastic is going to Asia,” said Maher. That’s right, your plastic bottle hops onto a cargo ship and takes a trans-Pacific cruise to somewhere in Asia. Maher said that GPS tracking showed bales of plastic from Berkeley went to countries such as China, Malaysia and India. California exports about a third of the recyclable material it collects, according to the CalRecycle website. In 2017, 55 percent of the 14.6 million tons of recyclable exports that were shipped from California were sent to China.
Once your plastic bottle arrives in Asia, it travels to a plant where it is processed into plastic pellets or flakes. Your dismembered bottle is then sold to a manufacturer who melts it down and turns it into another plastic product such as fleece – and, occasionally, but rarely, more bottles. Maher noted, however, that the more times plastic is recycled, the lower the quality becomes until it can no longer be recycled. Additionally, plastics are usually “downcycled,” or turned into a product of lower quality and functionality. That fleece blanket your bottle may have turned into, for example, can’t be discarded in the blue bin. So, although your bottle may be reincarnated, its lifespan is still limited.
Your plastic bottle may soon take a different journey, however, due to the implementation of Chinese policies such as Green Fence and National Sword, which impose stricter standards on the importation of scrap material into the country. Earlier this year, China announced a plan to ban the importation of all recyclables into the country by 2020. Chinese restrictions have resulted in a sharp rise in the export of recyclables to Southeast Asian countries, according to the publisher Resource Recycling. In response, countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam are initiating similar policies.
I asked Maher if he could offer any advice to people who would like to be more conscientious recyclers.
“We need to try to change individual behavior,” he said.
He said that although legislation is effective, industry trade groups such as the American Chemistry Council, which represents the plastic industry, often shape public policy. He pointed to single-use plastics as an environmental problem and said that if bulk dispensers of water were more widely available, people would consume less plastic. And not all plastic faces the same fate as your #1 PET plastic bottle, either. “Three through seven are essentially junk plastic,” he said, noting that there is very little demand for these plastics, so they are difficult to sell at market. He encouraged people to think twice before they pick up food in “clamshells” – thin plastic containers. These are far less likely to get recycled than your water bottle.
As I stood with Ware watching the stream of plastic bottles traveling from the scales, he said, “It’s very ironic, burning all of that fossil fuel to ship plastic across the ocean.”
More information on the Community Conservation Centers:
669 Gilman St.
A forklift driver unloads unsorted recyclables outside the MRF
The Untold Journey of a Water Bottle
"Literally all of the plastic is going to Asia."
A plastic bale at the Berkeley Materials Recovery Facility
Tales From the Bin
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How Your Clothes Are Suffocating the Planet
The planet is deteriorating at an alarming rate, but conscientious consumers can make a difference. Many people don't think about where their clothes are made, what they're made from, or the conditions of the workers. Yet, these are important questions to consider.
According to Hawthorne, a clothing brand in the UK, the fashion industry is the second most harmful industry for the environment. The term “fast fashion” is used to describe mass-produced, low-cost clothing. In the production of making this clothing, harsh chemicals and pesticides are used as well as fossil fuels, which are both nonrenewable and harmful to the environment. The main fabric used is polyester, which is made from polyethylene terephthalate, or PET, a plastic derived from crude oil. Polyester is commonly used because it is cheap to produce, and easy to blend with other fabrics. Because it is mainly made from plastic, polyester can also take hundreds of years to biodegrade, adding to the problem of plastic pollution. Thus, even though polyester is cheap, it is costing us the planet.
Sustainable fashion is when companies find alternative ways to make clothing that are not detrimental to the planet. Using cotton is one solution to the problem, but since it is in such high demand, cotton farmers use chemicals such as pesticides and growth enhancers which pollute the water in the area. Organic cotton is sustainable because it does not use any toxic chemicals to increase production. Less irrigation is required and so less water is used in its production. Even though organic cotton is more expensive than polyester, it is better for the environment. By supporting sustainable fashion, you may be paying more, but in the long run your clothes will be better quality and last longer, helping to reduce waste.
In a recent interview with The BCC Voice, Associate Naomi Willow, who works at the clothing store Madewell on Fourth Street, in Berkeley, explained how her store has been doing beach cleanups and partnering with different brands to help the environment. They have a campaign called “Do Well,” where people can donate their used denim to Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit organization which repurposes jeans as housing insulation. Willow also mentioned, “They recently came out with this jacket that’s made out of plastic bottles, so hopefully they'll start to make more clothing out of recycled materials.”
Amour Vert, a sustainable clothing store on Fourth Street in Berkeley, is warm and welcoming and nothing looks or smells artificial. A sales associate was happy to talk about what makes their company sustainable. She said that 97 percent of their products are made in the Bay Area and none of their products are mass produced, “Also, we are able to make sure that the factories don't use any chemicals or harsh dyes. We only use vegetable dyes and a lot of our fabrics are made from beech tree pulp, so the fabric is wood-based.” She went on to explain that the denim they carry is not their own, but they partner with other companies who are sustainable in one way or the other. The leather jackets are from Sweden and made out of recycled leathers. They come from companies that have over-purchased the product or from people who have donated old leather goods that they didn't want anymore. “They are able to style them in different ways and they all have different stories. They are all broken in, they are all unique in their own way.” Most of the jewelry that they sell is made out of recycled metals. "One of our brands uses recycled marbles from counters that people throw away to make jewelry."
Everything at Amour Vert is sustainably made, and while Madewell still has steps to take, they are on the right track. If more people start buying sustainably-made clothing or buy second hand, it can help heal the planet.
To Shop New, Sustainable and Local:
1901 Fourth St. Ste. 104
1840 Fourth St.
To Shop Used, Responsible and Local;
Crossroads Trading Company
2330-38 Shattuck Ave.
A Rock Climbing Devotional
Throughout my life, I have encountered those who do not understand my addiction to pushing my limits. I have always had a love for playing tiptoe on the edge, but have yet to fall off. That is why rock climbing pulled me in immediately. Climbing combines strength, focus and mindfulness in an intense sport, and I was hooked. Alone, climbing is pure devotion to the moment, but together, climbing creates one of the greatest communities in the sports world. Climbers crave the wild. To go into the wild and climb the sheer face of a cliff, until you are hundreds of feet off the ground, takes a mentality that is not readily available to the majority of the population. This mentality can be shown through both a new climber's perspective on the sport, as well as the world-renowned free soloist Alex Honnold.
Within the climbing world, there are many different types of climbing. Chief among them are: sport climbing, bouldering and free soloing. Sport climbing is climbing with a rope and harness, where you place anchors in the rock for your rope as you climb. Bouldering is climbing with climbing shoes and a chalk bag — no rope, but only a few feet off the ground, with a soft “crash pad” below to protect you from injury. Free-solo climbing is like bouldering, with no ropes, but also much higher walls and nothing to stop a fall. Free-solo climbing is so dangerous that of those who climb, only 1% actually attempt it. Alex Honnold is revered as the world's greatest free solo climber. He has free solo climbed El Sendero Luminosa in Mexico, the face of Half Dome in Yosemite, and most recently El Capitan in Yosemite, commonly known as the most impressive “big wall” yet found on earth, with a height of 7,569 feet. No climber has ever attempted to free solo El Capitan before Alex Honnold, who was the first person to attempt and complete the climb “Freerider.”
National Geographic released "Free Solo," a movie following Alex Honnold’s climb of El Capitan, on September 28, 2018. “Imagine an Olympic Gold Medal level achievement, and if you don't get the gold medal, you die,” says professional climber Tommy Caldwell when describing Honnold’s climb. Honnold has an interesting view of his free soloing. He likes to be “controlled and confident” in his movements, and he does not take “unnecessary risks.” To the outside eye, this may seem like a ridiculous statement, but Honnold feels differently. “I feel like anybody could conceivably die on any given day; soloing makes it feel more present,” he explains in the film. Honnold is an anomaly.
According to a brain scan performed in "Free Solo," Honnold’s fear center of the brain, his amygdala, needs a higher level of stimulation than the average person. This is because pushing the edge of your comfort zone inexplicably stretches it out over time. “I try to expand my comfort zone and work through the fear to the point where it's not scary anymore,” says Honnold. While fear is present for Honnold, he has a much higher threshold for it than the rest of us, making him capable of these awe-inspiring feats of human determination.
Luckily, you do not need to be a superhuman to climb, just the willingness to intentionally push yourself out of your comfort zone, and allow your body and mind to work together as one. “I am really scared of heights and I thought it was a good way to challenge myself.” says new climber Mica Mcloud, who was drawn to climbing originally because of the community. The climbing community is encouraging and motivational, full of people who are driven by their passion and want to share that passion with others. Climbing is easy to be welcomed into, but make no mistake, it is a tough sport.
Mcloud said she felt “uncomfortable and in pain” after her first time climbing, using muscles that are not engaged nearly as much in other sports. The finger strength that climbing requires is developed over years of devotion to the sport. New climbers will often feel soreness or cramping in their forearms and hands. This is a normal hump to get over. Finger strength alone is one of the most important aspects of progress, but it is also the part that is most liable for injury. Mcloud uses climbing as a way to see progress in strength. “It’s a way to develop muscle that you wouldn't normally be working with, and I like to see consistent improvement. You will notice gaps in consistency if you don’t go,” says Mcloud.
Climbing has made its way into cities around the United States with climbing gyms popping up all over (including Berkeley, Oakland, El Cerrito, San Francisco and more), and continues to gain popularity as more people experience what climbing has to offer. Berkeley Iron Works offers classes to get new climbers started with sport climbing or bouldering, as well as classes for experienced climbers to improve technique. Iron Works has a relaxed vibe, and new climbers are always welcome. Walk in and ask someone at the front desk to help you get acquainted with what they have to offer. Bridges Rock Gym is a bouldering specific gym in Berkeley that also offers classes for new climbers. Shoe rentals are cheap and easy, and the staff and climbers are always welcoming. If you are thinking about joining a climbing gym but despair at the thought of leaving your old gym, don’t worry, climbing gyms have a full gym set up as well.
Check Out These Gyms:
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The Free-Spirited Union of Body and Mind
The Problem With Fast Fashion
by SEAN DICKSON
Calling all musicians! Want to play at BCC? Well, you can’t. Berkeley City College lacks a music practice program. The school offers numerous creative art classes, such as visual arts, multimedia, and creative writing; yet, aside from music appreciation classes, a musician’s stream of resources runs dry on this campus.
Simply put, the school lacks acoustic facilities, faculty, and equipment such as stands, chairs, and books—all of which would require tens of thousands of dollars to acquire. According to the East Bay Express, “The Peralta Community College District is facing a $7.3 million shortfall in its tentative 2018-2019 budget,” and in light of these budget shortages, it doesn't seem likely that the school will soon implement a more comprehensive music program.
Laney and Merritt have strong programs, including a diverse range of classes and great equipment that BCC musicians can turn to. And if you're willing, their program offers students many benefits and opportunities for growth. Yet, traveling all the way to these campuses can become problematic. Round trips on BART twice a week from Downtown Berkeley to Lake Merritt, the closest station to Laney, would add another $130 to tuition. Also, lugging an instrument city-to-city during packed rush hours is a major inconvenience.
Even if the students try to create their own music program on campus through club production, the structure and acoustics of the school make it hard to hear the wavelengths coming off of an instrument. The music just bounces around and disappears into the cold concrete fixtures of the school.
Clinton Day, a professor and music instructor at BCC explains, ”Acoustics here are horrible. Though there are many musicians here that love to play, the only place where students can practice is the auditorium."
So if you’re a musician who loves playing in an organized group, just became a full time student at BCC, and want to build your music community in the warm vicinity of the City of Berkeley, well, before you throw away your violin, guitar or drums, you should check out a number resources and collectives scattered around the BCC campus that can aid your artistic talents and aspirations.
Meetup.com: jam — Get together with people from your community
Want just casual jam sessions? These “meetups” are totally free and are open to anyone, beginners and experienced musicians, interested in music. Whether it be jamming in the back of a small music store, going to events where you can derive inspiration from other musicians, or meeting others who love music just as you, Meetup.com offers numerous opportunities for any passionate musician wanting to play.
Check out these groups at Meetup.com:
Bay Area Classical Group: Meetup [San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley]
Bay Area Music Circle: Monthly Concert and Potluck [Berkeley]
Geeks Who Love Music: Let’s Jam Together! [Emeryville]
Plus many more!
California Jazz Conservatory — For the serious artist:
Just across the street from BCC, on Addison, this institution offers classes for the same price as a class at Berkeley City College. This includes proper instruction, great feedback, as well as excellent practice rooms and facilities in order to encourage your inner Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane or Ella Fitzgerald.
California Jazz Conservatory
2087 Addison St.
Berkeley, CA 94704
Guitar Center — Rent out rooms to jam/practice:
If you have nowhere to practice your violin or drums, and your landlord threatens to throw you out from the numerous noise complaints you get, you can always rent out a room at Guitar Center in Emeryville. For just $20 an hour you can get a great room, with awesome acoustics, as well as access to equipment, such as speakers and instruments. Better yet, bring a friend and split the cost of a whole day of great music playing.
5925 Shellmound St.
Places to Play Music in Berkeley
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