A Lecture on the Connection Between Cats and Grain

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If not for cats would we have bread? On Saturday June 4th at 2 p.m. at the Los Angeles Bread Festival at Grand Central Market I’m going to deliver a talk on the connection between cats and grain. The connection is a basic one: store grain and you get vermin. Then you need cats.

But, in the course of preparing for this lecture, I discovered that the commonly held narrative of cat domestication is an unsubstantiated fiction. That narrative goes something like this: in a golden, ancient time Egyptians revered cats, Medieval folks persecuted them and enlightened 18th century philosophers rediscovered them. This is the feline version of the myth of progress whose ultimate destination is a world in which we spend all our hours spinning around in self driving cars while watching, on our virtual reality glasses, an endlessly looped 3D version of Nyan Cat.

Islam tells a much more succinct and, I think, more accurate version of cat domestication. An Islamic legend holds that Noah’s ark was overrun with mice and rats. God instructed Noah to pet the nostril of a lion, whereupon the lion sneezed out two house cats. Noah’s vermin problem was solved. The story highlights the two ways in which humans actually interacted with house cats for thousands of years: as rodent control and as the occupants of ships.

In my talk I’ll discuss what we know about early cat domestication in the Fertile Crescent (not much, but cat domestication predates Egyptian civilization by several thousand years). Then I’ll show how our feline grain guardians became ship’s cats and spread all around the world. Lastly, I’ll take a detour into the lives of famous distillery cats.

Hope to see you at the Bread Fest!

Sprouted Rye Class This Saturday!

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I’m teaching a rye bread class this Saturday May 14th at 10:45 AM at Holy Nativity Episcopal Church in Westchester. I’m going to walk you through how to start a rye sourdough starter, how to sprout grain and how to work with 100% rye doughs. There are still a few seats available so sign up soon. As a bonus, there will be a pizza lunch and community bread bake using the community oven built by Environmental Changemakers. To sign up for the class head over to the Los Angeles Bread Bakers Meetup Group.

Placemaking with Mark Lakeman

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How do you create a neighborhood feel, within a city that is renowned as having been designed and built as “automobile-centric”? Come find out, at an evening with Mark Lakeman, founder of City Repair, Tues Mar 22nd at Holy Nativity Episcopal Church 700 W. 83rd, Los Angeles 90045.

City Repair has done things like painted intersections, installed benches, planted gardens, built Little Free Libraries, and other colorful artistic and techniques which bring people together as a neighborhood and a community.

Now we’re doing it in Los Angeles! Come meet Mark, get inspired, and get connected with like-minded people who want to launch similar projects to transform their local places in L.A.

Beautiful video that’s an intro to City Repair work: https://vimeo.com/101460111

More about Mark Lakeman and this event https://www.change-making.com/placemaking-with-mark-lakeman-mar-22-26-27/

Suggested donation $15, “no one will be turned away”

RSVP https://environmentalchangemakers.wufoo.com/forms/events-from-the-environmental-changemakers/

Stuff to do in February and March

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Free webinar today, Tuesday February 23rd at 11 a.m. PST: New Times, New Tools: Cultivating Climate Resilience on Your Organic Farm This webinar will also be archived for later viewing. And check out eXtension’s long list of upcoming free webinars.

For Angelinos:

Tuesday, 2/23
Caltrans wants to build an overpass in front of the historic Episcopal Cathedral that will dump freeway speed traffic right in front of a new bike lane. Tell them no! More info here.

Wednesday, 2/24
Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council Meeting to SAVE PROYECTO JARDIN

Thursday, 2/5
Save The Hahamongna Nursery

Saturday, 2/27
Curious about aquaponics? Come help and with the aquaponic installation at the Micheltorena School Garden.

Tuesday, 3/15
CERT training in Silver Lake (the LAFD site erroneously reads “Echo Park”)

Thanks to Lee Conger for the list of local happenings.

Avid Gardener Series: Responsible Water Usage for Edible Landscapes

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UPDATE: Sorry to say that this class has been cancelled due to lack of enrollment. We’re going to rework the content into a one day or afternoon class. Watch Root Simple for the announcement and we hope to see you at the Huntington!

Hey gardeners, we’re teaching a three part edible landscaping course April 2, 9, and 16 from 9 a.m.- 12 p.m. at the Huntington Ranch.

Learn creative ways to grow a delicious, drought-conscious garden in this hands-on series. Sessions will take place in The Huntington’s Ranch Garden and will address drip irrigation, greywater systems, plant selection, mulch and soil health, and more. The Huntington Ranch is a beautiful edible gardening demonstration area that is seldom open to the public.  The class will focus on growing food in our increasingly dry and challenging Southern California climate.