Monday, November 17, 2014

Celebrate peace on earth, good will to all living things on Dec 7 at our home!

Welcome to our Earth-Friendly, Neighborly Home!

Nuestra casa es su casa!

We are inviting our neighbors and friends to a get together at our home on December 7th from 3-6 pm to celebrate the coming of the Prince of Peace. He lived a simple life so others could simply live. He showed us that there is a better way than the way of empire and exploitation of resources and people. We hope to share with our friends and neighbors our commitment to living green--one of the best ways we know to insure "peace on earth, good will to all living things."

Peace begins at home. As the 18th century Quaker prophet John Woolman noted in his "Plea for the Poor," the seeds of war are sown in our lifestyles:

"Oh! that we who declare against wars, and acknowledge our trust to be in God only, may walk in the light, and therein examine our foundation and motives in holding great estates! May we look upon our treasures, and the furniture of our houses, and the garments in which we array ourselves, and try whether the seeds of war have nourishment in these our possessions, or not. Holding treasures in the self-pleasing spirit is a strong plant, the fruit whereof ripens fast.
"A day of outward distress is coming, and Divine love calls to prepare against it. Hearken then, O ye children who have known the light, and come forth. Leave every thing which Jesus Christ does not own. Think not his pattern too plain, too coarse for you. Think not a small portion in this life too little. But let us live in his spirit, and walk as he walked: so shall we be preserved in the greatest troubles."

Woolman was calling on his fellow Quakers, and fellow Christians, to simplify their lifestyles and not use products created by slave labor. He foresaw the bloody consequences of slavery. Today we live in a society dependent on cheap oil and cheap, underpaid labor. Our over-consumption of fossil fuels degrades the planet and heightens the risk of war. Our dependence on cheap labor creates misery for millions of workers both here in the US and around the world. We need to live more sustainably, in harmony with Divine Love. Otherwise, there will be dire consequences for life on this planet.

Welcome to our Earth-Friendly, Neighborly Home!

Nuestra casa es su casa!

We love our neighborhood—Northwest Pasadena is one of the most diverse, vibrant and friendly places in our city—and we love our neighbors! We are seeking to express our love by making our home a place of welcome for everyone—including birds, bees and butterflies! We also love our planet and want to make sure it’s healthy for future generations. So we are seeking to reduce our carbon footprint. Here’s some of the ways we are putting our love and faith into action:

1.       We want all to feel welcome so we don’t have a fence in front of our home. Instead, we have turned our front yard into “Faith Park,” which includes a water fountain (which diverts water to our plants), park benches. hammock and a little free library—with a sign that says, “Reflect and Relax.”  Please feel free anytime to bring or borrow books, and to linger a while and enjoy our little park.

2.       Our raised bed organic garden has an underground self-cleaning drip system called Netaphim that saves water: no evaporation and few weeds! We also have numerous fruit trees and vine—citrus, avocado, apple, kumquats, loquats, peaches, plums, persimmons, figs, passion fruit and concord grapes. The motto of our home is “Everyone ‘neath their vine and fig tree / shall live in peace and unafraid. /And into ploughshares turn their swords/ Nations shall learn war no more” (a song based on the prophet Micah, which we love to sing together).

3.       A peace pole was installed on Anthony’s birthday because we are both committed to peacemaking and believe that peace starts in our home and neighborhood. As a Quaker, Anthony volunteers for various organizations committed to promoting peace and justice. War is one of the biggest polluters on the planet and isn’t healthy for children and other living things, so let’s do what we can to prevent it!

4.       Due to our concern for the drought we have taken advantage of the city’s turf removal program and replaced our grass with mulch, decomposed granite, and some drought-tolerant native and some Mediterranean plants.

5.       Our gray water system recycles around 10,000 gallons of water per year from our bath tub and sinks to water our fruit trees. We make our own environmentally and plant-friendly cleaning products using recipes with ingredients our grandparents would have used: baking soda, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, and Dr. Bonner’s soap. (Our decomposed granite also allows more water to percolate into the water table.)

6.       Our bird bath fountain recycles water and welcomes birds, and our milk weed attracts monarch butterflies.

7.       We compost and practice vermiculture (African red wrigglies produce excellent fertilizer on the par with Miracle Gro). We use our chicken droppings to add a rich dose of nitrogen to the compost. And we celebrate Easter all year, with pale pink, green and blue eggs, natural colors of Arucana/Amerucana breed.

8.       Our solar panels produce nearly 5500 KW hour per year, more than enough electricity for our home. And it’s more cost effective than you may think! We use the surplus watts to run our our used Chevy Volt, which we bought at nearly half price. It’s a plug-in hybrid that goes 40 miles on a charge and therefore averages 100 miles per gallon. It drives beautifully. Its state-of-the-art technology is made in Detroit, a struggling US city, which is another reason we love it. It reduces our gas consumption by 75%. Instead of fracking and the Keystone Pipeline, we feel renewable energy is the best way to reduce dependence on foreign oil—one of the root causes of war today.

9.       To be light on the earth, and get exercise, we often use our “zero emission” bikes.

10.    We want our home to be permanently affordable so Jill is seeking to place our home into a community land trust. (Gentrification is raising housing costs in our neighborhood and we don’t want to displace current residents.) Just as Anthony is committed to ending war, Jill is committed to ending homelessness. About half of the homeless work, but don’t make enough to live indoors because of the cost. So Jill has written a book on how to make housing affordable and seeks to create more affordable housing in our city. An added bonus about most affordable housing: if it’s funded with tax credits (and most units are), winning these credits requires the use of state-of-the-art energy efficiency.

11.    We find strength and encouragement in the Bible, but find a top down approach to teaching it problematic, so we hold “Quaker style” Bible studies, where no one is a leader—all participate equally as they wish, sharing insights, questions and doubts they may have.  This gathering is for neighbors of all faiths. We meet on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month from 7:30 to 8:45pm. (Because our Bible study is neighborhood-based, everyone can walk to it, thereby saving energy!) We also often have get-togethers for community leaders and neighbors. Spanish as well as English is spoken here!

If you want to learn more about how to make your home earth-friendly, please feel free to ask us questions. We are also eager to learn how you are making your home and garden more earth- and people-friendly.  Together we can make our neighborhood a safe and friendly place for all!


Other Green Aspects of our Home

  • Solar attic fans to reduce need for use of AC
  • A “cool” roof
  • An AC system that is highly efficient
  • A Energy Star front-loading highly efficient washing machine (was $645 but over $400 in rebates refunded by the city)
  • Dual flush toilet (push one for #1 and the other for #2) was also purchased with city rebates
  • Efficient water emitters on all the faucets and shower that minimize water use
  • Tankless water heater
  • A Visco Mattress (like Tempur-pedic) made of corn and soy-100% bio degradable.
  • A Five Star energy efficient refrigerator that costs only $35 a year to run with significant city rebates.
Recycle of all kitchen and yard waste in the following ways:
  • To feed the chickens
  • To feed the worm farm
  • To make compost in a homemade rolling composter for use in the garden to prevent use of chemicals for growing vegetables
Recycle and minimize use of paper in the following ways:
  • Reuse of the back side of paper
  •  Comics (aka “funny papers”) are used to wrap gifts
  • We add some newspaper to the composters
  • Use cloth napkins and reduce use of paper goods
Reuse of building materials and fixtures in the following ways:
  • Insulation for the back shed is made of recycled Levis
  • Walkways created from cement from prior walkway and from bricks from the earthquake-damaged fire place
  • Reuse of the sink from the main home for the outdoor bathroom
  • The medicine cabinet from Habitat for Humanity Restore ($5)
Passive solar water heater located on the roof of our back house
·         Built mostly from reused material, some of which was purchased from Habitat for Humanity, It heats water for outside shower—in the summer it can get so hot you have to add cold water. This “non-photovoltaic” solar water heater could be heating home water throughout our nation.
  • Copper pipes ($8 for two ten foot pipes!)
  • Free used  water heater stripped to use as the tank
  • Jill’s grandmother’s old claw foot tub was used for the outdoor bathroom
  • Tempered glass, double paned patio door ($25)
  • Advantage of back house: good use of land for home office space, with no commute time
In the garden:
  • Use of hay from the chicken coop to mulch and minimize water use
  • Use of water wise spaghetti tubing on timers
  • Water from outside tub diverted to water trees

Resource list:

Solar panels: Sustainable Solutions Partners
Altadena Solar:
Turf Terminators. Remove turf for free. : 323-647-2532
Our landscaper: Sal Salis, 310-595-0617
City of Pasadena Turf Removal Program:
Gray water installer: Ziggy Zigmantis Pudzemis  626-354-7610
Facts about plug-in hybrids:
The Shed is Pasadena's emerging space for urban agriculture, sustainable development, planning, permaculture, land use, watershed and foodshed. contact  them at 626) 421-6185/  1355 Lincoln Ave, Pasadena, CA 91103. Also check out Path to Freedom, Pasadena’s urban homestead:


  1. An inspiring and encouraging list. May your example inspire and encourage many others. I look forward to the day we all live like this.

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