July 14, 2010 | General


BioCycle July 2010, Vol. 51, No. 7, p. 19

Editor’s Note: This month’s Letters page highlights correspondence regarding BioCycle’s 25th Annual West Coast Conference, held in April 2010 in San Diego. Next year, the BioCycle Global conference will take place in San Diego, California, on April 11, 12, 13, 14, 2011. Visit www.biocycle for the Call for Papers and additional information as it becomes available.


I am a longtime composter who has faced angry communities, regulatory challenges and simple business hurdles. Despite all of that, I have always been extremely proud of the recycling contributions I have been involved with over the last 20 years. After hearing People’s Grocery Executive Director Nikki Henderson’s talk at this year’s BioCycle West Coast Conference, I realize just how myopic I have been in considering my mission as simply to educate folks on the greater good of the projects I have been involved with. Nikki made me see that I have been shortsighted in not considering that not only do many people not have access to the neighborhood gardens that I want to focus on, but no choice to be located where they are.
I have been attending BioCycle conferences for two decades and noticed for the first time this year that we are a distinct group of likeminded people rarely challenged to think beyond our own issues.
I am so pleased that the People’s Grocery mission is moving along and that Nikki Henderson is involved and working to educate so many on the real challenges faced by our neighbors. I have a more open mind now that will always be “consulted” when making project, marketing, staffing and siting decisions moving forward.

Jeffrey R. Ziegenbein
Deputy Manager of
Operations and Organics
Inland Empire Utility Agency

I took a large step attending the BioCycle West Coast Conference in April. I wasn’t sure if I could connect, but by the time we were wrapping it up I felt I had made friends with many and was in the company of giants. As copies of BioCycle started finding me at home afterward, it felt like a friend was writing letters. I wax poetic, but the feeling of inclusion, and the desire to step up and find my place in the industry is intense.
When I returned to campus, I was approached by a reporter from the university student newspaper looking for an Earth Day story, and I must have hit her like Moses coming down from the mountain. She sent a photographer to a presentation I was giving to middle schoolers, which resulted in the newspaper article I am sending you.
I look forward to attending BioCycle’s Conference in San Diego next year and, someday, to make enough progress to be able to present what I am doing. Thank you for your efforts, and I hope this letter encourages you like your conference encouraged me.
Parting thought: I think teaching composting to youth starts with feeding them – just like conference keynoter Nikki Henderson from People’s Grocery in Oakland suggested. Once young people have experienced trimming, preparing and eating nonprocessed fruits and vegetables, they are prepared to understand where trimmings come from – and what to do with them.

Randy Scot Thomson
Director of Publications
University Advancement
California State University, Northridge

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