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(Click on the title for the full story.)

Native plant landscaping saves water and adds beauty to your home and garden

Bottom Line: Landscaping with California native plants is an ecologically sustainable way to beautify your home or business, save water, cut CO2 emissions, and create wildlife habitat.

California Native Gardening

Water shortages are increasingly common, and everything that we can do in order to save water makes a difference. Even more substantial than taking shorter showers or collecting wastewater from your kitchen or bathroom is reducing the amount of water you use outside. Gardens and landscaping are very precious but can often involve large, costly amounts of water. Not only do they involve these impositions, but also they are usually done with gas-powered, and polluting equipment. Other benefits of this idea are that it cuts the use of synthetic fertilizers, and reinforces the natural beauty of the native California landscape. There is an easier solution other than spending a fortune on water for an alluring, high maintenance garden – substitute many or all of your plants for native plants! Aside from these plants being gorgeous and easy to take care of, they don’t call for much water. Most California native plants are exquisite and look good year round, but other low water plants can be great too. California has tons of beautiful native plants that require barely any water. You can find the plants at any reputable nursery for a reasonable price. In the end, not only will you have a beautiful, exotic, and fun filled garden, but you will be saving water, the planet, and have a few extra bucks in your pocket!

Teaching Social Justice

Bottom Line: Reach and Teach is a peace and social justice learning company dedicated to transforming the world through teachable moments.

Take Advantage of Local Environmental Education Programs

Bottom Line: Local Environmental Education Programs offer students, teachers, and families a chance to explore their natural world, develop a deep appreciation for our local environment and an understanding of the importance of responsible stewardship.

There are many environmental education programs offered throughout San Mateo County. These incredible programs give students opportunities to observe natural ecosystems, engage in hands-on discovery activities, and receive knowledgeable scientific instruction. These valuable programs lead students to an appreciation of the natural world and an awareness of the importance of responsible environmental stewardship. There is a range of affordable or free environmental educational programs available for student groups, teachers, individuals, and families.

Visit Harley Farm Goat Dairy – A Model of Sustainable Farming

Bottom Line: Dee Harley is milking her way to success by showing her goat farm is good for the economy, environment and the community.

Harley FarmsHarley Farms in Pescadero started 16 years ago with six goats and has since grown into a fully self-sustaining 267+ goat operation and the only dairy farm in San Mateo County. The nine-acre farm is a farmstead dairy, meaning the cheese produced comes directly from the farms animals. It has received six national cheese awards and was the recipient the 2008 Sustainable San Mateo County Award, and the 2008 San Mateo County Farmer of the Year award. It also was featured in a February 2007 New York Times article about agri-tourism (see Eco-Tourism Article), a concept in which small farms open up to curious visiting urbanites.

Get the Job You Want, Enroll in a Vocational Program

Bottom Line: The three colleges that make up the San Mateo County Community College District offer over 90 vocational-technical programs to help you get the job you want!

SMCCCD_Vocational ProgramsThe San Mateo Community College District is a three-college district located between San Francisco and Silicon Valley. The College of San Mateo, Canada College in Redwood City, and Skyline College in San Bruno serve more than 40,000 students each year and offer the first two years of instruction in a wide variety of 4-year college transfer programs as well as more than 90 vocational-technical programs.

Restore Wetlands with Recycled Water from Your Water Treatment Facility

Bottom Line: Wastewater recycling plants can recycle water using ultraviolet disinfection and use the water to restore wetlands using the hydro geomorphic model (GHM).

Restore Wetlands_Water Treatment PlantThe Calera Creek Waste Water Recycling Plant (WWRP) in Pacifica can treat 4 million gallons of sewage per day (up to 20 MGD during storm events) using its innovative treatment techniques. This plant helped pioneer the use of ultraviolet disinfection for wastewater effluent in California. UV treatment allows release of recycled water into wetlands because residual chlorine is not allowed in the permitting process. To minimize visual impact, the entire facility except for the filters and control building are buried in a hillside covered with native plants. Odor control scrubbers pull air from all process areas to neutralize odor-causing gases.

Get the Help You Need at Free and Low-Cost Health Clinics

Bottom Line: There are local, free and low-cost health clinics available that offer a variety of services to meet all healthcare needs.

GettheHelpYouNeed-FreeandLow-costHealthClinics-image1The San Mateo County Medical Center operates several outpatient clinics throughout San Mateo County that specialize in a range of services, such as STD screening and treatment, HIV or AIDS services, pediatrics and urgent care and much more. The San Mateo Medical Center is dedicated to serving the healthcare needs of all residents of San Mateo County, with an emphasis on education and prevention, and without regard for ability to pay. Their Mobile Health Clinic offers convenient medical care for low-income and homeless people and no one is denied service. If you don’t have insurance, their Community Health Advocates will help you find affordable healthcare coverage.

Employers and Employees Can Take Public Transportation to the Bank

Bottom Line: Commuter tax benefit program saves employees on federal income taxes and saves employers on payroll related taxes.

Transit Tax BenefitsAs of February 2009, the Federal tax code allows employers and employees to set aside pre-tax income to pay for transit commuting and parking costs. The tax code allows tax-free transportation fringe benefits of up to $230 per month per employee for transit expenses and up to $230 per month for qualified parking (includes BART stations). Qualified parking must be near an employer’s worksite or at a facility from which an employee commutes. Commuters can receive both the transit and parking benefits – up to $460 per month.

City of Millbrae Uses Kitchen Grease to Power Wastewater Treatment Facility

Bottom Line: The City of Millbrae completed a $6 million facility at its Water Pollution Control Plant that will turn grease from local restaurants into biogas and pay for itself in 17 years.

The City of Millbrae (with the help of Chevron Energy Solutions) recently completed a new $6 million facility at its Water Pollution Control Plant that will turn inedible used kitchen grease from local restaurants into biogas — generating renewable energy to treat the city’s wastewater. Their old plant was aging and too small to support the installation and use of modern cogeneration equipment that can capture and reuse biogas. Instead of wasting a valuable energy source, the City took on the challenge of building a custom system that can be replicated anywhere.

One Gardener’s Dream Creates a Scholarship Program for Low Income Students

Bottom Line: The Bay Area Gardeners Foundation has provided $49,500 in scholarships to 31 low-income students, now in college, since its inception in 2006.

TapiaCatalino Tapia, a 2008 Sustainable San Mateo Award Winner, thought the odds were against him when he wanted to start a scholarship foundation in 2002. He had difficulty convincing his friends and the Latino community that it was possible for a Mexican immigrant gardener to raise money for low-income Latino high school students to go to college. So it wasn’t until 2005, when he took a long drive on Highway 5 to Los Angeles that he realized he had the power and strength within himself to make the Bay Area Gardeners Foundation a reality. All he had to do was ask for help, and success came soon after.


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