Tag Archives: Los Angeles

This California Summer

This heat and drought in California is truly something else. I’m sure many of you have seen the “before and after” photos of bodies of water in California that have experienced devastating consequences from this drought (if not, check it out here). We are particularly feeling the effects of this drought here in Southern California. On top of that, we’re in the middle of a really horrendous heatwave right now that has led to some planned (and unplanned!) power outages around this region. I’m saying this in part to highlight a lot of the important issues that we’re facing in California, but also to really show that we don’t always have perfect, 75 degree temperatures in Southern California! In the Orange County area this past weekend, there was a fire burning over 1,000 acres of land in Silverado Canyon. This particularly hits close to home because it literally was close to my parents’ home in Orange County. Interestingly enough, this fire was started by the metal roofing of a vegetable garden! What a small way for such a devastating fire to start! You can find out more about the story here. Okay; end rant!

As a result of all of this, I have really made an effort to conserve as much water as possible. One way that I’ve been doing this is by choosing more drought-tolerant plants for my balcony garden. Of course, my small, unassuming balcony garden probably wouldn’t use up much water in the first place, but every drop counts, right? On top of that, keeping plants alive in this summer heat is a whole different ballgame, particularly regarding plants that are not suitable for high temperatures. As a resident of the top floor of my apartment complex, my balcony experiences inexplicably high heat. So instead of planting snapdragons and basil as I have before, I’ve planted succulents in my overhanging balcony planters! I feel like it’s a bit of a non-traditional way to use planters, but I love it!

Succulent Planter #1

Succulent Planter #1

Succulent Planter #2

Succulent Planter #2

This is a really great way to also use cuttings of succulents, propagate more succulents, and also, to minimize how many pots you use. I was tired of having so many separate little planters so I threw them all together.

Here are some photos of the rest of the balcony! It’s slowly but surely coming together!

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Balcony Gardening @ www.ecospired.com

What are you doing to keep cool in the last few days before fall begins? Leave a comment! 🙂

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Santa Monica: A Bicycle Safety Analysis

Today, I’ll be focusing in on a beautiful, vibrant city in Los Angeles: Santa Monica.  For several of my classes, I have focused on Santa Monica’s sustainability initiatives and have made a bike-safety map, done neighborhood design analyses on the City and its initiatives. Believe it or not, Santa Monica is one of the greenest and most sustainable cities in the US  I was amazed by how much progress they’ve made as a city and how seriously they take being sustainable.  For more information, take a look at Santa Monica’s Sustainable City Report Card and their Climate Action Plan. They have an Office of Sustainability and the Environment  as well!  Frankly, their initiatives are impressive and inspiring.

However, I wanted to further analyze their bicycle safety initiatives.  In my research, I discovered that biking in Santa Monica actually wasn’t as safe as I had previously thought. It’s easy to see how it could be dangerous- millions of tourists, pedestrians, cars, buses, and bikers all convening into one city could easily cause many problems.  Today, I’ll be posting a bike-safety map I made using ArcGIS (Geographic Information Systems), a program that allows you to make maps and overlay important information in a visual way.  In all of my research, I was not able to find a map of Santa Monica’s most dangerous intersections and roads, so I created one myself.

I used the top 10 most dangerous intersections from the collision statistics collected by the Santa Monica Police Department from 2006-2011 and hand-digitized them onto the map as well. The top 10 intersections most dangerous intersections for bicyclists in Santa Monica are listed below.[iii] 

Top 10 Most Dangerous Intersections for bicyclists in Santa Monica

Top 10 Most Dangerous Intersections for bicyclists in Santa Monica

The datasets I used to map Santa Monica were bike routes, bike paths, street centerlines, truck routes and city-block boundaries. I was able to download the bicycle data for this project from Santa Monica Government’s GIS data website,[i] which I downloaded as a shapefile and integrated into my project. For bus routes, I used the Big Blue Bus routes [ii] and hand-digitized them onto my map.

After adding the layers from Santa Monica’s GIS data (bike routes, bike paths, street centerlines, truck routes and city-block boundaries), I hand-digitized the main Big Blue Bus routes to provide a layer that can shed light on the most congested streets. Buses often drive on the most ‘popular’ and likely places for people to be, so this can substitute for a traffic layer that I was not able to otherwise find. The blue circles on the map account for the top 10 most dangerous intersections in Santa Monica. (Hint: click on the map to see a larger view).

Santa Monica Bike Safety Analysis Map.

Santa Monica Bike Safety Analysis Map. Please feel free to share, but give credit to http://www.ecospired.com

As evident in the map, the intersections of bus routes and truck routes undeniably are the most prone areas to bicycle accidents. This is evident by the intersection of yellow and red lines through a blue circle. For a majority of the top 10 most dangerous intersections, it seems to be clear that they are 4-way intersections that are wide, packed with cars, trucks, buses, and have the potential for serious vehicular accidents. Additionally, within 6 of these intersections, I noticed that there were no bicycle lanes or paths on the intersecting streets. These intersections included Wilshire and 4th St., Lincoln Blvd. and Pico Blvd., Pico Blvd., and 17th Street, 4th Street and Santa Monica Blvd., Broadway and 4th St., and Colorado Ave. and 2nd St.

I have done a much more extensive analyses of this map with policy recommendations  in my courses at USC, but I will include that information in my next post.  What do you think? Are you surprised? Leave me a comment and let me know!

[i] http://www.smgov.net/departments/isd/gis.aspx

[ii] http://bigbluebus.com/Routes-And-Schedules/Routes—Schedules.aspx

[iii] http://www.santamonicainjurylawfirm.com/Personal-Injury/Bicycle-Accidents.aspx

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Spring Renewal

Spring in Southern California is kind of a joke. We have “perfect” weather year-round. California’s subtleties in seasonal cycles can make it difficult to differentiate between the months. You have to go through the darkness to see the light, right? Figuratively, we don’t have that “darkness.” At the risk of sounding unappreciative, sometimes it’s hard to appreciate that beautiful day outside because we can trust that it’ll be there tomorrow and the day after. At least that’s how I feel.

My point is, it’s easy to fly by the seasons doing the exact same things when you live in a place that doesn’t obviously display its seasons. But I’ve made it a point of mine to change my actions/attire/perspective seasonally. That’s why I’ve planted a colossal amount of seeds. Even if spring is practically year round, it’s finally that time of year! So I went a little overboard at Home Depot and Orchard the other day. I always feel so dorky when I talk about plants, like I’m “too young” to be gardening. Then I realized that it doesn’t actually matter because at the end of the day, you’ve got to be unabashedly YOU.

Seeds

Yep. This happened. I usually never buy/plant any thing other than herbs, succulents and ferns. I’m branching out (puns)! I’ve decided to grow more vegetables and flowers. I used to think flowers were frivolous on such a small balcony but I’ve changed my mind. Flowers are awesome. Some flower seeds I got were Foxgloves, which are TREMENDOUSLY BEAUTIFUL and definitely too big for my balcony, Zinnias, Poppies, Baby’s Breath, Lupine and a few more. I also got more vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, swiss chard, lettuces, arugula, malabar spinach, etc. AND herbs, as usual. Here are some herbs I cut today from my balcony.

Rosemary, grapefruit mint, chives, dill and parsley

Rosemary, grapefruit mint, chives, dill and parsley

I bought the 72 pod Greenhouse Jiffy kit from Home depot and put some seeds in! I was wondering how to label the seeds so I used some plastic-y tabs and wrote on them with permanent marker and devised a little organizational system to make sure I don’t mix them up.

seeds at www.ecospired.com

seeds at www.ecospired.com

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At first, this was the container I was using. Jokes! It’s too small. So that’s when I bought the 72 pod container and transferred these guys over (that’s why you’ll see that there are a couple of already-sprouted rows).

seeds at www.ecospired.com

What do you think? I’m so excited for these little guys to grow. My balcony/apartment will be a complete jungle. No complaints here!

Sushi, my little parakeet

Sushi, my little parakeet

This is my bird, Sushi. Don’t ask about the name. Named her 13 or so years ago! Ironic that I never had tried sushi at the time that I named her, and no longer eat sushi now…

terrarium at www.ecospired.com

Also, I got bored with the moss terrarium so I took some of Sushi’s bird seeds and just threw them in the terrarium. They’ve sprouted. Surprise!

Lastly, this is some seaweed concentrate that I got for the plants from Orchard. It’s apparently really great for the soil and foliage of plants and apparently keeps bugs from infesting your plants because they don’t like the taste. We’ll see!

seaweed concentrate for gardening!

seaweed concentrate for gardening!

Have you started planting yet? Spring cleaning? Let me know!

-Daria

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Look Ma, No Vertical Blinds!

Vertical blinds are hideous, and pretty much all (affordable?) rentals are equipped with them. I would definitely rather the windows be naked than to have to deal with that mess. Anyway, after a year of living in this apartment, I finally decided to take them out of my living room. I had taken them out of my room and replaced them with curtains a year ago, but I still needed to replace them in the living room. Of course, I also decided to give myself a manicure last night, which really only happens, like, once a year, because of this little inconvenience (hint: musicians usually shouldn’t wear nail polish), so they’re already chipped from all the nailing and hand-drilling. Cool.

Being super original and totally eclectic, I decided to go with white curtains. Oh, the surprise. In my defense, I hadn’t gotten my black couch yet, so I went neutral. It’ll just give me more opportunities to add more sht to make them more interesting, like the tassels from yesterday, which I am strongly considering for these plain curtains. Black tassels? Red? Green?

This project wasn’t particularly green, but it needed to be done (although, the curtains weren’t made of plastic, which I guess is a given because they’re not shower curtains…).  So, I got plain white curtains from Ikea.

Here’s how ugly the apartment looks with vertical blinds (I didn’t manage to get a picture of the other window, because apparently I was too excited to rip them down):

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Now, check me out:

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How’s that for some ghetto iphone photos?

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They all look like the same picture, but I wanted to show them off. Do you know how long it took me to figure out how to get these to turn out bright, even though the lighting was behind the shot? (A while).

After I did all this work (at this point, my biceps are HUGE! not), I was clearly out of it. I have this maidenhair fern that I won’t stop talking about (and here’s a pic),

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and I usually spray it with water because it likes the humidity. Today, however, I reached for the spray bottle and dowsed it before realizing that the leaves looked bubbly, which is weird, because water doesn’t usually DO THAT. Welllll, it was Simple Green cleaning solution. So, this poor plant, which was suffering earlier and finally coming back to life, has been seriously confused today. So like any plant-obsessed person, I hosed it off in the shower.

Also, this is the water I’m drinking right now, which I assume is really intriguing to you.

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I do have to say though, I got 4 of these 100% recycled glasses a week ago. I love the look of 100% recycled glass. Also, those are mint leaves from my balcony garden in my water. I’ve become such a diva that I can’t drink water without organic matter in it. Los Angeles has totally gotten to me.

Have a lovely thirsty thursday.

-d

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I’m Officially…a Plant Lady

I’ve lost my mind.

If you’ve been to my apartment, you’d know about my vast amount of plants. Like… 30 pots worth. Apparently that wasn’t enough.

Here’s my balcony “Before”: (these pictures were taken with my janky iphone)

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Here’s my balcony with 3 ridiculously huge hanging plants:

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Here are some other views:

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(My roommate is out of the country now… time to add more plants!)

SO- I bought 4 containers of Petunias. I don’t know if I really like them. All I know is that they were a whopping 75% OFF at Lowe’s and whether or not I liked them, I had to buy them. So, I bought 3 yellow and purple hanging baskets of Petunias. Like the Lakers’ colors (and I don’t even care for basketball…).

I also bought a big pot of pink Petunias. But before you judge me, They were literally $3.50. And they’re huge. So now I feel like I’m walking out into a jungle when I step out on my balcony, which I’m not sure if I hate or love but WHO CARES because now I’m stuck with my jungle in Los Angeles. Part of the reason I also bought flowers was because there’s this cute little hummingbird that’s been coming around to my balcony and looking around, probably wondering why the hell I have so much basil, spinach and succulents, and no flowers. GET AT ME NOW! I could supply a herd of hummingbirds with these flowers.

I’m not really sure why I’ve gotten soo into plants. I think a part of it is the fact that I’m getting a Master’s degree in Environmental Studies (tree-huggers, by virtue, like plants) and also, they’re my pseudo pets! All of my pets are at my parents’ house, an hourish away. So, I guess I’ve just adopted a colossal amount of plants to fill the void in my house and heart…so deep.

Anyway, the whole purpose of my trip to Lowe’s today was to buy the materials to make a vermicompost bin. In other words, a worm compost bin! I bought the materials and finished the project, but I’m too exhausted to talk about worms right now. I’ll write about them in the next day or so.

Do you live in a small space? Do you have plants? Comment and tell me about them!

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Decorating the Apartment. With Difficulty.

My little 2 bedroom, 2 bath rental in LA needs some work. Okay…. maybe a little more work than I’m letting on. One day I will be brave enough to show you a picture. My good friend and I live on the top floor of an apartment building in a very cute neighborhood…but–it’s difficult to decorate a rental. You know it only yours for tiny bit and there’s really only so much you can do, right? And obviously, it’s a lot more challenging to decorate on a student budget!

source: radicalpossibility.com

source: radicalpossibility.com

Let me describe my apartment to you. When you walk into the kitchen and family room, we have white walls, with white tile, with off-white cabinetry and white appliances. We have 3 off-white leather sectionals (the roommates’) and a white bookshelf. Oh–and white vertical blinds. CAN YOU IMAGINE HOW HIDEOUS THAT IS? That’s some serious drab sht right there. It needs serious help. In fact, when I was inquiring about renting this place, the manager at the time said: “I mean, I don’t think you’re going to want to rent this place if you like to spend a lot of time at home.” Whoops.

So a lot of what I’ll talk about is making my apartment truly a reflection of my life (and my roommate’s life too)!  This is difficult to do when you and your roommate bring your own furniture and have your own tastes.  Luckily, my roommate is easy-going about these things (she hasn’t yelled at me for having 30 potted plants in our apartment yet so I think we’re good).  I firmly believe that you should always make your place perfect for you.  Not in a Pottery barn kind of way, but just… you. I have so many weird things around my apartment that I’ve wondered if I should just hide when I have visitors but then I realized- who really cares? We shouldn’t have to justify our choices, in anything, really. Here are a couple of pictures of some embarrassing frames that I own:

Happiness is still Homemade. And embroidered, apparently.

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(That’s some serious embroidery, huh?)

So there! I absolutely love thrift and antique stores. I love upcycling. I refuse to buy anything at Anthropologie for full price even though I think they have some seriously good sht. Sorry bout it.

And. Ladies– we gotta get more comfortable with shopping at Home Depot. And using hammers, and screwdrivers, and tools other than the ones that come in our makeup bags. Like– if I step in Home Depot one more time and have one more dude worker ask me quizzically if I’m lost, I’m going to scream that REAL WOMEN SHOP AT HOME DEPOT, because I mean it.

Alright, getting back on track.  I also want to make my place look refined and ME. And as you’ve probably figured out, I wanna be ECOSPIRED babes!

What have you done to make your place “you”? Comment below and let’s talk!

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Hi world!

Hi world! First post! So exciting.

So I guess I should introduce myself now. 🙂 I live in LA and I’m a student at USC. I’m a female by the name of Daria, (like the MTV show in the 90s–and although I’m admittedly as sassy as Daria Morgendorffer, but I’m also REALLY ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT LIFE). Anywho, I graduated yesterday (AHH!) with a Bachelor of Music in Harp Performance (weird, I know) and a minor in Environmental Studies. However, it’s not the real world for me quite yet, as I’ll be continuing with my master’s in Environmental Studies at USC.

SO– here’s my deal. For this blog/website/whatever I’ll be talking about different DIY projects and my feelings.  I’m obsessed with DIY, and with home & outdoor design. However, my main focus is DIY with an environmentally-conscious focus (hence- “ecospired”). I like to upcycle things that have little value and are probably going in the trash anyway- or something that just needs some extra TLC.  I’m also planning on writing about different environmentally-friendly options and practices. You know, whatever.

Let’s DO this!

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