About 80 people gathered at the Dade Public Library to watch "Symphony of the Soil" and discuss composting. Or maybe it was the food that sucked 'em in--catering was by Lupi's.
District 4 Commissioner Allan Bradford calls eco-activist Jennifer Blair "my tree-hugger." But for her first pro-green event at the Dade County Public Library, Ms. Blair started by embracing not trees but a more basic element of the biome. Tuesdays "Dinner and a Movie at the Library" was all about: dirt.
(Actually, "soil" seems to be the preferred appellation these days but that strikes The Planet as along the lines of saying "pre-owned" instead of "used" or "incarcerated" instead of "in jail." Journalism abhors euphemism. In any case The Planet, which after all began life as a garden column, adores dirt in all its variations, and is now in the business of dishing up the metaphorical kind.)
The movie was "Symphony of the Soil," which explored worldwide practices of building up the soil and increasing crop yields not through chemical fertilizers but by adding organic materials to the earth by methods including composting.
The dinner was pizza and lasagna by Lupi's Pizza Pie, with food served on compostable plates with compostable napkins. Food scraps were also saved for the compost bin. The impressive crowd of 80 or so Dade treehuggers (or, in this case, dirtkissers?) who showed up for the do conveyed lasagna to their mouths with metal knives and sipped lemonade from glass Mason jars, all of which were rounded up at the end of the event for the dishwasher and for use at future events. (More on that in a minute.)
Photo: Library manager Marshana Sharp (left) and "Treehugger" Jennifer Blair were the evening's hostesses.
The whole idea, explained Ms. Blair, who spoke after the movie, is to combat what she calls the "linear garbage stream." In the last few decades, Americans have gotten into the terrible habit of expressing consumer goods in a straight line from factory to landfill. Now the landfills are filling up, the seas are choked with plastic, China is refusing to deal with America's continental piles of plastic, and it's time to kiss that straight line goodbye. In nature, she said: "It's all about cycles."
Part of the reason for the dinner, said Ms. Blair, was to encourage people to look at their postprandial detritus and think what to do with it all besides chucking everything into the garbage. "What can be reused? What can be recycled? What can be composted?" she said. "The way to address all these problems is right in front of you."
Taking food scraps from the plate or container and returning it to the dir ... ahem, soil, is one dead easy way of completing one of nature's benevolent circles. One reason plastics are rejected by recyclers is that they still contain food residue, she said. Why not compost the food instead, thereby improving the soil? "It's a way not only to reduce our waste but also to reclaim our resources," said Ms. Blair.
Commissioner Bradford (right) showed solidarity with "his treehugger" by attending the May 21 dinner and by speaking briefly afterwards. Bradford presides over the county transfer station as his committee assignment on the Dade County Commission. As such, he inherits not just the responsibility of giving each month what The Planet is pleased to call the State of the Dump address, which enumerates the tons of garbage Dade paid to be hauled away that month, but the responsibility of coordinating with green activists such as Ms. Blair to reduce that tonnage.
(Here The Planet must rap its own knuckles for the use of imprecise and euphemistic language. The Planet should not say green activists such as Ms. Blair but simply "Ms. Blair," because Ms. Blair is the first green activist Dade has ever had.)
Bradford agreed with Ms. Blair that the tons of garbage he is reporting each month is too much garbage, and thanked her for her efforts to reduce it.
After the dinner, Ms. Blair and library manager Marshana Sharp gave away door prizes of--you guessed it!--samples of the myriad composting systems currently on the market.
(Here The Planet cannot prevent itself from interjecting that they missed the most basic one, which is: Dirt. Food scraps simply buried in the soil, or placed atop it and covered with hay, will decompose more quickly and thoroughly than if placed in a plastic box or barrel, and will not cost you any money to do so.)
For the food, Ms. Blair and Ms. Sharp thanked Lupi's and John Shober, a Dade farmer who is, incidentally, married to Dorris Shober, owner of the pizzeria.
(The Planet thanks them, too, everything was delish; thanks Mses. Sharp and Blair for hosting the event; and thanks Ms. Blair for her courage and persistence in being Dade's first green activist. But if The Planet does not stop butting in we'll never get through this!)
Ms. Sharp announced at the end of the event that it was only the first of a series of eco-related programs she and Ms. Blair are planning at the library. Watch these pages for announcements of future events!
Bonus News Nugget at No Additional Cost: "Sharp"-eyed observers may have noticed that Dade's intrepid library manager is unaccustomedly short in today's pics. That's because Ms. Sharp wore to the May 21 dinner not her usual skyscrapin' stilettos but these glam yet comfy-looking flat sandals. That's twice in one week The Planet has caught her in sensible footwear and Ms. Sharp admitted: "I may be a convert."