Keeping current in wellness, in and out of the water
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I have been an enthusiastic fan of the local social network, Nextdoor, since it launched. I started one for our neighborhood right away, and have worked to increase participation because I believe it has potential to drastically improve communication between neighbors as well as between neighborhoods and law enforcement agencies. We have made a few gains, but I notice recently that many members do not understand how the system works. A neighbor recently asked me where to find instructions to use the site. This inspired me to find this tutorial and create this post with some simple suggestions.
One of the most common misunderstandings seems to be about who can see the posts. Some folks think that because our police department is a member, and does post useful information to the community using the system, they are monitoring Nextdoor full-time. The posts initiated by the police force are visible to the force. All other posts are private from any government agency. There is a private messaging system with which to privately contact any cop who is in the system. Some officers also publish their phone numbers or e-mail addresses. This is not an official channel to report crime. It is a way to dialog about community issues that may include crime. The goal of Nextdoor is to increase engagement, not enter the arena of law enforcement. We already have a police force working very hard on that. Increasing engagement may eventually improve our crime statistics just because more pertinent information is shared.
The calendar and the classified sections are excellent tools to promote events or let neighbors know about services offered. The classified section provides free advertising between local establishments and local residents. The reason to use these special designations is simple. The conversation that is known as a thread or stream will move on with time and be buried by newer posts and conversations. New members will not be likely to search the conversations held in the past. They might, however, check the classified section or the calendar, just as they might in a newspaper. These useful sections are underused where I live. If a member shows interest in an event on the calendar Nextdoor will send an e-mail reminder when the event is soon to occur. There is a new feature I have not used much myself that tags, and recommends businesses that are discussed in the thread.
If you do not have a Nextdoor site in your area, I urge you to start one. It is available as an app for the phone, which most people use now. If you have a site I encourage you to use it to get to know your neighbors. It is free. What is not to like?
I think most people vote based on the state of their own economic situation. If they are feeling confident about their prospects and security they tend to choose the party that is in power at the moment. When insecurity and unhappy circumstances arise political elections become a way to express unease. This election year is full of wild rhetoric and many dramatic moments. Citizens are freaking out in all directions. The focus on our elected officials and policies of the government is never so intense as it is during the presidential season. Tension builds and money is spent like water on all sides. Anger, suspicion, and all the worst in our society, rears its’ ugly head to predict the future. We all think we know how the future will be if we elect one candidate or another.
We do not know what will happen after any election, and this time we seem to know less than ever. Many of the public institutions that have crumbled and decayed will need a total reform or rehab in order to once again serve the public. Politicians tend to protect and defend status quo, just because they exist within it, and that is the easy way to go. A body at rest tends to stay at rest. The GOP is finding it difficult to stay at rest, being challenged from within and by the candidacy of Donald Trump. In this era we do not remember any politics this rowdy or malicious. It is impossible to predict the outcome.
The reality is that after the election we will all go about our business without the suspense or the drama of politics in our faces. The only real change is managed on a personal local level with constant and uninterrupted effort. Figure heads and governing bodies have only so much power to implement or enforce laws and systems. The grass-roots, named for the front yard, is where either weeds or lush green comfort is cultivated. It is a mistake to put so much emphasis on elections while we turn away from our own neighbors and local issues. Like Smokey says, “Only YOU can prevent forest fires.” I believe this philosophy applies to reality and politics just as well. Only YOU can prevent the dismemberment of society, gentle reader. Think small, local, and real. Don’t let these political loonies stress your mind. Act like you want others to act, do unto others what you want done to you.
In Tucson we have an abundance of mesquite trees. The beans, which are the fruit of the tree, develop at the end of summer. In many neighborhoods they fall all over the ground and go unused. In recent years the practice of milling the mesquite beans to make flour has become popular. The taste of baked goods and tortillas made with this flour is exquisite. I am a huge fan of the taste and texture. Although there are plenty of native beans here, some local companies still import mesquite flour from South America. I am not sure why this gets my goat, but the imported flour just bothers me. I have a tree in my front yard and some very large ones in my garden lot that I have not tried to harvest, but maybe this will be the year that I do it for the first time. I am inspired by the way these tasty treats are created from beans in walking distance from the bakery.
The pie I bought from Big Skye was amazing. The pecans are a perfect companion to the mesquite flour crust. I plan to try more varieties, but have been dreaming of the flavor of that pecan pie I purchased. This bakery is a super asset to the community. They sell on Sundays at the Rillito Farmers’ Market, where I will go to get more pie this week. My mouth is already watering at the idea of it.
It is time for the Food Conspiracy Coop’s eat local challenge. The concept is key to saving the planet in my opinion. I do some gardening and shop at farmers’ markets, but I can’t say I eat 100% locally grown or produced food. When I turn my attention to this challenge, as I have in the past years, I notice how much I still buy in jars and bottles. By shipping my food around in heavy glass containers I add to the cost, but not really to the value, of my selections. I make an effort to use less and less from jars, and I very rarely buy any product in a can. If I can start form scratch I prefer it. Some condiments and ethnic delicacies are beyond my abilities to create at home, so I take pleasure in selecting tasty treats from foreign lands that are either a new sensation, or a serious favorite from the past. Truth be told some of those exotic pricey packaged products are sold at the coop along with locally sourced groceries. That is why the 1-14 of July is an extra special time to head down to Food Conspiracy.
First Fridays are always a day of 10% discounts throughout the store. This month in addition to that discount, all local foods will be on sale for 10% off for two weeks, 1-14 July. This is a chance to kick start the local eating habit with some helpful discounts. A contest will also be held on instagram. Using the hashtag #TucsonEatsLocal, and tagging @foodconspiracy contestants can enter shots of gardens, markets, and dishes prepared with local ingredients to win prizes. The t shirts and $50 gift certificate to the store are cool prizes, but the real prize is the satisfaction of starting a habit that is good for everyone. If this concept caught on in a big way factory farming would become obsolete. Processed foods would give way to fresh and organic because the costs in the long run are lower. By participating in the eat local challenge we bring our attention to how easy it is to do. Have you ever tired to be a locavore, gentle reader? Some places it is much easier than others. I still have citrus vodka I made from our fruits last winter..waste not want not.
For our Father’s Day fling I took Bob to Iron John’s Brewing Company for some beer and a tee shirt. His needs are simple, with craft beer and tee shirts always hitting the mark. We had tried some of the beers last week at pizza throw down and had agreed that Iron John was our favorite new discovery that intrigued us. They hold free tastings each Saturday from 11-6pm in their small but very cool artisan brewery and bottle shop. They are not opening a bar or a restaurant. They have a passion for the art of beer making, and are sticking to producing small batches of seasonally changing beers. They sell in a few local restaurants, and are open at the brewery Thursday-Saturday for sales of the current line up. Although I am not much of a beer drinker myself I liked all of the samples I tried. They take great care to adjust each water source for each beer, sometimes adding minerals to distilled water to arrive at the perfect chemical balance. They also buy small batches of brewing yeast and grow it themselves to assure quality. I was impressed with the taste, the tour, and the dedication these folks are showing to making an excellent local product for local consumption. I am always happy to support locals serving tasty treats to locals. Bob has a beer collection to make his week a pleasant and delicious one. We recommend a visit and a tour to anyone who likes beer.
I ate lunch today at my new favorite restaurant, Cafe Botanica. This charming restaurant is nestled into the exotic greenery at Tucson Botanical Gardens. I visit frequently and for no particular reason had never eaten there. When I met a neighbor who works there as a server I decided to make a point to try the food. To my great surprise the offerings are the most seasonal, the most creative, and for my personal taste, the most delightful plates in the city of Tucson. The concept is to make use of every kind of local, organic, sustainable source of ingredients. I think they go beyond any other restaurant to achieve this goal, but without the brilliance of Chef Cristopher and his wild creativity the concept would not be as smashing. He combines ingredients I would not have thought of, including some I have never eaten, such as radish tops. The result was exactly the kind of full flavor, gorgeous to see, plate of variety I want to eat all the time. The great news is that I have a garden, and they will trade me prepared food for some of my extra produce. This could become a serious habit…the kind with only positive effects!!!
New Summer hours will start on June 3, including a weekend brunch. Dog membership also begins on June 3, and has expanded to inviting member dogs on both Tuesday and Thursday this year. The innovative menu, and the fact that the gardens create a cooler micro climate for morning walks will be an exciting new addition to our neighborhood. There will also be Thursday dinners this summer with BYOB wine. This is a major upgrade for Tucson. I highly recommend Cafe Botanica to anyone. There is an air conditioned inside dining room for times when it is too hot. The gourmet, homemade dishes are very reasonably priced, and there is no chef more caring, and into it, than Christopher. Mandy, my friend and server, puts her heart into making guests feel right at home.
Although this well produced story is actually an ad for Chipotle Mexican Grill I believe it is worth sharing with everyone who buys and eats food. I believe cruelty and waste are built into the American economy and fed to all of us; this is not inevitable or even reasonable. Cruelty and waste are the root cause of our environmental problems, including the human obesity epidemic. While I would love to see more whole foods produced and eaten locally, just stepping away from heavily processed and transported foods is the first baby step to liberate the energy we spend freezing, storing and shipping our nutrients. American kids are not familiar with the sources of food, other than the drive up window. The entire society pays for the ignorance in the form of what is known as health care. It is time to put self-care and prehabilitaion on the menu in the United States. It is easy, clean, and leads to tastier dining. Stop feeding the industrialized food monster and start nourishing your home and family. Eat something raw and local today, Gentle Reader. Sorry it is so hard for most of you Americans to find.
In case you need to refresh Sir Isaac Newton gave us some basic concepts that we use today. He broke down movement and energy to define inertia. The third law of motion states that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. This may be easy to imagine in terms of tug boats or bumper cars, but how does this law pertaining to matter have significance we can use to make smarter purchases? When we play billiards we consider the angle, the trajectory, the speed of the ball as we direct it on its way. Do we ever think about the economic repercussions we create with our spending decisions?
Today is shop local, Small Business Saturday. At the same time the mega retailers are bringing in customers with loss leaders to hunt for extreme bargains. Santa is in business all over the country promoting the concept that a big spending binge is healthy, cheery, and designates the participants as Christians. Giant light displays and seasonal music beckon to those who are attracted to all that. Office parties with cocktails and perhaps secret Santa designate this month as Slack for Seasonal Cheer time. Monday while employees are paid to be working, a day to shop on line will be granted by workers to workers. Only a Grinch or a Scrooge would interfere with Cyber Monday. Culturally this is the time to allow employees to take it easy around the office as a reward for doing their jobs for 11 months. What equal and opposite harm can come from that?
Meanwhile over at Zappo’s every single employee is brushing up skills, checking them twice, because it does not matter if you are naughty or nice….you will be answering the phone and delivering happiness to customers during this busiest shopping season. The core values that run the best retail experience on earth include full collaboration from all staff all the time. When needs of the customers’ shift, they shift to accommodate. They do not carry the myth that by giving them a party in December the company fulfills the promise to make employees happy. The Zappsters know that an overall commitment to serve the happiness of both customers and staff is in place and being improved constantly. Their benefits, their work environment, and their personal satisfaction are at the very foundation of the success enjoyed by the company. I do enjoy on line shopping, in spite of the fact that it does not support my local economy. Since I am a speed shopper, I am not so much into the comparison of prices as I am into a superior selection and customer service. The happy Zappsters deliver, so much more than shoes. I like the idea that my purchase contributes to a happy healthy workplace if not to my micro economy.