Wednesday, November 21, 2012

We are- Solar Champions!

After the relentless pursuit of funding and the dedication to wake up early on a Saturday morning, The Sustainable Architecture Collective earned the title of Solar Champions this past November 10th at Grid Alternative’s 3rd Annual Solarthon Event.

[If you've missed what we've been doing you should check out our previous post here.]

Pft...And they were talking about rain warnings...
The day was bright; rain is not the meteorological condition you want to find yourself in when you are working on the roof so we were off to a good start. I scooped up fellow club members Ian and Isai from LATTC and we raced over to the build site in South LA. John arrived practically at the same time so we were all ready to get solarized! There was time to meet fellow solar champions and scope out the solar companies that had a presence at the event. After a coffee refill and not-so-soft but much needed bagel, the open ceremonies for the day kicked off.
Our scrappy heroes... on a roof!!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Our Last Meeting. 11.06.2012: Introducing The Sustainability Collective

There is always a difference to be made. 

So I have been postponing this post until I had some better news, but considering we didn't really have a meeting this past Tuesday, I don't think that time of ease will be coming any time soon.  So what's new?

We have lost our charter, we are canceling our big event, and We can no longer affliate ourselves with the LATTC Campus.

We may be wounded, but we're not down for the count.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

OLM 10.30: Building an event

When we last left our heros...

Last Friday the submission for our club charter was approved! So our obvious next step is to get ourselves known around campus, as well as raise a little money to get some of our ideas off the ground.  As you may have known from my two posts; Seed Bombs; Winning the War on Concrete , and Painting the Town Green ; I am interested in the artistic value of the Guerilla Gardener.  Luckily so is my club!  So these two, plus Hildemar's plan of hosting a composting workshop, were our main points of discussion.

It was difficult to decide on the right day, considering all of the upcoming holidays.  We want to hold it on the LATTC campus, so during the school week was a must.  Not only that, we had to plan the right timeframe  as to best capture the best audience. We are aiming for November 19th, from 9 am to 2 pm.  As of now we don't have a name for this shindig quite yet but whenever we decide it you'll know!

[ *due to technical difficulties, this event was cancelled.]

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Grid Alternatives and Solarthon 2012 GLA

Good Day Sunshine!

    It's almost Halloween, and yet the California sidewalk is still baking in the summer heat.  While the typical SoCal sunbather would be reveling in the added light, many low-income households suffer these conditions with little reprieve. It has been noted that many of the global warming effects hit these dense urban communities harder than the rest- The amount of concrete and people quickly exacerbates the problem. Since many of these areas don't have the funding to improve the conditions, (and certainly the families can't afford it) they go without the technologies that make the heat unnoticeable to the wealthier areas.

On top of this, the households in these areas generally rely on outdated, inefficient methods that will cost them thousands, and ultimately makes their financial issues even harder to overcome.  These conditions lead Erica Mackie and Tim Sears to form the company Grid Alternatives in 2001, to provide low-cost (or no-cost) solar electric technology to low-income families across California.  They both had been working on large scale private sector projects, when they realized they could bring the same to those who needed it most. Grid Alternatives is focused on providing energy technologies, energy independence, and training individuals to work in this fledgling industry. Their mission can be boiled down to one concept: Empower the Community.

As I mentioned in OLM: 10.23 The Sustainable Architecture Club of LATTC will be participating in Grid Alternatives Annual Fundraising Event; Solarthon 2012!  Which is when hundreds of volunteers get together, to install units on 10 homes, all in the same neighborhood, all on the same day.  This is a massive undertaking that requires the help of capable volunteers, the support of a company with experience, the financial backing of the state, and generous donations from individuals like yourself!

Grid Alternatives created the SASH (Single-Family Affordable Solar Housing) program in 2004. In 2007 California launched the California Solar Initative (CSI) which is  dedicated in reducing millions of tons in CO2 emmissions, providing 10,000+ solar homes, and money allocated to the less fortunate.  Since Grid Alternatives had already been successfully operating for half a decade, they were appointed program manager on behalf of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).  This means the money that was allocated for this undertaking is actually being put to good use by those who know their business.

The money from the Solarthon event makes the solar electricity training possible.  Erica and Tim knew that expansion would lead to a vacuum of qualified workers, and the best way to offer that experience would be to  give the chance to the public. To get not only the volunteers, but the families that receive the panels working together in what has been referred to as "Barn Raising."  The event will be like a block party-good people, good music, and good food; though in the place of sprinklers and games, will be hard work! Everybody lending a hand to make life a little easier for us all.  Without the volunteers, this kind of undertaking would be near to impossible, which is why it is very important that you donate generously.  Every penny counts, and there are plenty of people raising funds for this event that need your help.

Since you're here, I hope you've liked what you've read. If you do, would you please sponsor an LATTC Sustainability Club Member? Thank you so very much.

Once again, the event will be on November 10th, and six of our club members will be pitching in, so look forward to the post-event post!


For more information please visit 
Grid Alternatives home page
Impact Calculator- this shows the great progress they've made!
California Solar Initiative
Solarthon Main Page
Solarthon Greater Los Angeles Page
Solarthon fundraising page
THIS author's fundraising page

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Our Last Meeting (OLM) 10.23 : Solarthon 2012!

 Good Morning Everyone!

Since I'm the webmaster for the Sustainability Club i'm in charge of keeping our web presence up to date.  What I feel would be a good way of doing that, is with this new segment; Our Last Meeting or OLM for short.  The posts will be equipped with both tags for ease of searching.  Our clubs are weekly, Tuesdays at 12:30 in the Architecture lab D330 at LATTC campus.  I will do my best to get these posts out the day of, but as you can see here, I may be a little late at times.  In this I will bring to you some of the points of discussion that arose, the pictures we captured, and the progress we've made.  I don't have any particular format yet so bear with me!

OLM: 10.23.2012 
Myshel Prasad, Delevelopment Officer for Grid Alternatives
About a week ago, our Treasurer John Snelling, reached out to this company that he had previously worked with, and invited them to come speak to our club.  Grid Alternatives, whose main dedication is bringing Solar Electric Energy Panels to single family, low-income housing.  Working year-round, they have already installed panels for +2,500 homes, which in turn saves the families over $62 Million during it's lifetime, which ultimately prevents over 214,000 Tons of Green House Gasses from being produced.  With over 11,000 people trained, Grid Alternatives provides a means of developing the market by producing experienced workers to the void.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Seed Bombs; winning the war on concrete

Image courtesy of:
A brief introduction...

During our first couple of meetings we discussed what we wanted to do for our community.  During a few of those discussions, the idea of "Seed Bombing" surfaced and gained much approval from the members. For those who have never heard this term, you can find more information here, but basically it's the act of compiling a bunch of different plant seeds and compost material-compacted into a ball which can be lobbed into barren lots to create plant growth.  Now the legality of this has been debated frequently; many people have difficulty defining "littering" and therefore the act of Seed Bombing is in a legal grey depending on where you are. In some cases, can actually land you jail time, and in even weirder instances you can actually end up owning the property!

A little bit of history...

According to, " The earliest records of aerial reforestation date back from 1930. In this period, planes were used to distribute seeds over certain inaccessible mountains in Honolulu after forest fires." From  there it discusses other attempts to bring plant life to otherwise barren earth. The wikipage however makes no mention of the Guerilla Gardening Movement; so for that we turn to who claims, "Seedbombs originated in Japan and are an ancient technique called Tsuchi Dango (粘土団子,土団子,土だんご) which means 'Earth Dumpling' which was reintroduced by a Japanese microbiologist in 1938 called Masanobu Fukuoka." and later acknowledges the 1970s 'Green Guerrillas' and their transformation of abandoned New York City lots.  The entire article can be found here.

Meet our Members: Hildemar Cruz

Meet our Members 
an informal series of questions 

Name: Hildemar Cruz

Education Background: I graduated from Florida International University with two Bachelor’s degrees; Philosophy and Women’s Studies.  I was eager to express the nature of my reality through an aesthetic medium so I went back to school to study video production.  Four years of working in television was enough to send me across the country to the desert to shed some scales. I was determined to work in a field that genuinely serves the community in a positive way. While serving a year through AmeriCorps at Habitat for Humanity, I discovered my love of structures and building.  Next thing I know I’m registered for architecture classes…
 Your Favorite Architect or Designer and why? The Venus Project
For the time being, my favorite Architect/Designer is not a single person but an organization; The Venus Project.  The Venus Project was created in 1975 by self-educated structural engineer, industrial designer, and futurist Jacque Fresco and technical/architectural illustrator and model-maker Roxanne Meadows. Driven by the aim to restructure society through the implications of theoretical design the project aims to bring awareness of the current outdated and ill structured economic model. The projects aims to reform our anomalous economy into a resource based economy. “This economy promises an abundance of all resources necessary to human survival and the progressive replacement of human labor with automated technology. This would change the environmental conditions that are responsible for spawning aberrant human behavior such as violence, corruption, greed and exploitation.”

Monday, October 15, 2012

Painting the Town Green

Image courtesy of:

A Statement in Moss

By: Ian Salamanca

 As you may know, I'm all about making a greener city; even if only visually I feel Los Angeles could use a healthy dose of flora.  So an idea I have been playing around with for a little while, is going to be my first proposition for a club project.  The concept is known as Moss Graffiti, and has been gaining in popularity in many metropolitan cities and many green art movements.  The idea is to create a sort of "Moss Paint" in which one would create their design, and then come back weekly to water it into life.  Moss is a tough life form that grows well in any orientation with a moist environment that gets moderate sunlight.  It tenaciously clings to porous surfaces such as brick, stone or wood; and best of all, like all plants provides clean oxygen for those around it.

Making the stuff is easy, as many of the sites I found (and included below) state:

  • One or two clumps (about a small handful) of moss
  • 2 cups of buttermilk
    • You can also substitute with yogurt (vegan yogurt can be used)
    • 2 cups of water
    • 1/2 tsp. sugar
    • Corn syrup (optional as a thickening agent)
    • Mixing and Cleaning Bucket
Basically you make a mossmilk smoothie which you can then use as your paint.  Thicker concoctions would be good for heavy paintbrushes, if it's thinner it can be apply by spray bottle or airbrush.  From there you are free to start tagging this urban jungle. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Meet our Members: Ian Salamanca

Meet our Members

an informal  series of questions 

Name: Ian Glenn Salamanca

Education Background: I initially started my education in writing (journalism/ literature), at the end of High School I moved my focus to screenwriting, editing, and film production. Frustration with the film industry led me to Business and Hospitality Management-which better suited my personality. It wasn't until an overcrowded semester that left me classless lead me to discovered Architecture.  The more I learned about it, the more I realized that Architecture was the culmination of the trades and traits I have already studied and possessed   Of each of the professions I experienced, creation was the motivating factor of my interest.  I may not have known it, but I have always been a designer.

Your Favorite Architect or Designer and why?
Jeanne Gang of Chicago.
 Her truly unique designs are awe-inspiring; often times requiring more than a double-take.  Her firm's  methods of construction are also masterfully orchestrated, the construction projects usually yield more recycled materials than waste.  Her programs are so intelligent they practically become one with nature; one in particular featured a screen designed in such a way to drastically reduce the number of endangered bird deaths, caused by flying into glass.  The sheer amount of information she and her design firm collect for their projects is impressive. That previously mentioned project also was built in a specific physical location that intentionally DIDN'T disrupt the mating habits of said local fauna. It was that attention to her surroundings that sets her design apart. It's that love and respect for our natural world that makes her an inspiration to me as a future Architect.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

An introduction of our club

"Good fences make good neighbors."
-Robert Frost Mending Wall

Living in Los Angeles, it is difficult to let the hardships of the city go unnoticed.  From decaying buildings to dislocated citizens; from the heat islands of the parking structures, to the vast seas of abandoned lots; adversity is all around us. Although, when it comes to green building, this bustling metropolis is proud to hold some of the most forward thinking schools of thought.  It seems that our fences are high, yet not properly maintained.  Many areas of the city could use a good neighbor, to roll up their sleeves, and help them mend their walls.

Which is why the Sustainable Architecture Club of Trade and Tech is ready, willing and able, to make a difference.