March 2008

It’s great to see some serious talk about improving the quality of our food choices in Altadena. Her’es the latest from Patrick Reagan…

The next meeting of the committee to investigate an Altadena food
co-operative is scheduled to meet Thursday April 17th at 8:00pm at the
Coffee Gallery.  Our core group is getting off to a good start but
others are welcome to attend if they are interested.

The original idea for a food co-op got started during an on-line
discussion. There’s been frustration at the closing of the Pasadena Wild
Oats and an interest in a wider selection of products than offered by
existing stores in our area. Plus there are general issues, such as
rising prices, neighborhood access to organic food and the environment,
that don’t seem to be addressed adequately by conventional grocery stores.

There are some wonderful co-ops in neighborhoods just like ours around
the country.  They’re member owned so they’re very responsive to local
needs and contribute back to the community in many ways.  They also play
a proactive role that normal businesses seem to have a hard time with –
helping communities develop demand for sustainable products.  More
information is included below about how co-ops work and how one might
help us.

This next committee meeting is for people who are interested in, and
have the time to help research, what it will take to establish a food
co-op.  No prior co-op forming experience is necessary.  We’ll be
addressing issues of financial management, fund raising, marketing, real
estate and grocery store management.  So if you have experience in any
of these it would be great to have you with us.  The goal of our efforts
will be to prepare for the next step – which is to hold a community
meeting to gauge general interest in our area.

If you are interested then please attend. An RSVP to would be
appreciated. Please send it to…

If you’re interested but cannot make this meeting, respond with what
hours work for you and we’ll factor this in to your meeting schedule
discussions.  In the last meeting we decided to try alternating between
daytime and evening meetings.

Feel free to pass this information on to others who might be interested
and to post this information to any discussion groups/blogs for our area.
Patrick Reagan

— What is a co-op?
“A co-op is an organization that takes the idea of working together and
puts it into a business structure. A cooperative is a business
voluntarily owned and controlled by the people who use it – its members.
It is operated solely for the benefit of its members, to meet their
mutual needs. When groups of people have similar needs – such as the
need for lower prices, more affordable housing, or access to
telecommunications services – cooperatives offer great potential to meet
those needs.

Although definitions of co-ops vary, they all contain the following
  – Co-ops are owned and controlled by those who use their services
(the members).
  – Co-ops are democratically governed.
  – Co-ops are businesses, not clubs or associations.
  – Co-ops adhere to internationally recognized principles.
In simplest terms, a food co-op is a co-op that buys food and household
items for its members. The co-op helps members obtain access to products
of desired quality at the best possible price. Food co-ops offer
consumers a retail environment free of coercive sales influences and
with full disclosure of product qualities and value. Food co-ops
typically operate out of retail facilities. Most are open to anyone who
wishes to shop there, though they may provide special services, prices,
or benefits to members only. Food co-ops may also offer a wide range of
products and services aside from groceries, including pharmacies, dry
cleaning, travel services, cooking and nutrition classes, housewares,
food service and catering, gas stations, etc.” (From “How to Start a
Food Co-op”, Cooperative Grocers’ Information Network)
— How would a co-op benefit us here?
A food co-op in Altadena could help us by…
  – saving us money by offering a wide variety of bulk items and
possibly lower prices in general,
  – offering organic/local/natural products in our area so we save
time/fuel by not having to drive as much,
  – keeping our grocery dollars closer to our community so our
successful co-op can foster local small businesses and offer non-grocery
community benefits (classes, etc.),
  – helping nudge our society toward more sustainable
business/consumption habits.
– Where are the nearest co-ops?
Co-opportunity co-op is located in Santa Monica:
Isla Vista co-op is located just outside of Santa Barbara:
Ocean Beach is located outside of San Diego:
— Could a co-op succeed in Altadena?
This is one of things the investigating committee needs to research and
why we’ll need community meetings. We’ll need to gauge competition and
survey community interest. Yet the prospects look promising based upon
the success of the local farmer’s markets, the prospering of the
Pasadena corporate competition (Whole Foods/Trader Joe’s) and the
rumored success of Isla Vista/Santa Monica co-ops. Also encouraging is
how the Puget Consumer’s Co-op has succeeded so well in a metropolitan
area such as ours. They currently have nine stores with a number of them
located deep in residential neighborhoods:
— What will it take to get one started?
This is a multiple step process involving the work of a small number of
community members (first the Steering Committee, then the Board of
Directors and sub committees) with the guidance/feedback/investment of
the community and the assistance of outside professionals. First efforts
will be to gauge whether the community could support a co-op, what size
it might need to be and how the membership structure might look.
Assuming all looks good then a membership drive would be undertaken to
raise initial capital. With this capital we’ll be able to secure loans.
With funds in hand we’ll be able to search for a store manager and location.
More startup details may be found at…

— What’s the next step?
The next step is for the committee to do research.  We have to become
knowledgeable in what it takes to get such a business off the ground,
how co-ops compare to normal grocery stores and to begin to get a handle
on financially justifying such a business.  Along the way we need to
clarify our goals and determine if it might be possible to accomplish
them by some other means – working with existing businesses for
instance.  We need to make sure there are no insurmountable obstacles to
an Altadena area co-op and prepare ourselves to present our findings to
a community meeting.

Take a look at pix from our trip to Death Valley. These are the dunes, with a little surprise in the last few! Took these on a photo workshop weekend with Keith Skelton and Brian Leng of California Photography Workshops. These were taken early Sunday morning, March 9. More later…

Did you catch some of that hail a few minutes ago? Wow! What a blast. Here are some pix..It’s wild out there!


The “flash flood”2008-03-15-010_edited-1.jpgHere’s the hail in my lawn

Here’s the story about Portugal-born Patricio da Silva,0,5226901.story

Altadena Sheriff’s Station


Altadena Sheriff’s Community Advisory Committee


 Gangs Community Forum
Come meet with Altadena Sheriff’s Station Captain Roosevelt Blow and Altadena Gang Sergeant Al Pelaez and his Detectives for a presentation on the current gang activity in the Altadena area.   A question and answer session along with public commentary will immediately follow the presentation. 

March 25, 2008

7:00pm – 9:00pm

at the

Altadena Community Center

730 E. Altadena Dr. 

Altadena, CA 91001

For additional information, contact the Altadena Sheriff’s Station Community Relations office at (626)296-2103 or (626)296-2104

I love the detective work and stories found in tracing one’s roots. Here are some upcoming genealogy events: 

Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak will be featured at Jamboree on June 27-29. You’ll
have another opportunity to hear her – at the Conejo Valley Genealogical
Society Seminar May 10.

We are sending this along for our friends a CVGS:

Conejo Valley Genealogical Society Seminar will feature speaker, Megan
Smolenyak Smolenyak, at their annual seminar on May 10, 2008, 8:30 AM – 3:45
PM, at Ascension Lutheran Church – 1600 E. Hillcrest Dr., Thousand Oaks, CA
91362.  The topics will be:  “Reverse Genealogy – Techniques for Finding
Your Lost Loved Ones,” “Cases that Made My Brain Hurt,” “Find that Obituary:
Online Newspaper Research,” and “Remembering Our Ancestors.”  All of these
topics are different from what Megan will present at the Jamboree in June.
For more information: visit, email:, or call (805) 379-2067.

– * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – *

Register for Jamboree 2008 – June 27-29

My so so funny pal Paula Johnson has a special night coming up in Arcadia. Here’s her invite to The Joke Gym. Don’t miss it, Paula’s got a mouth that’s faster (and a lot funnier) than Elliot Spitzer’s resignation.
“Last month, Scott Shimamoto and I launched The Joke Gym, a twice-monthly open mic comedy show held in the back room of Zapata Vive Mexican Restaurant in Arcadia.

The first two shows were lots of fun, but the next show will be really great if we can make one little change: a bigger audience!

And by “bigger,” I mean an audience that outnumbers the comedians.

Open mic nights are an informal way for comedians to try out new material, so you never know what you’ll hear. At The Joke Gym, we present up to 15 comics in the open mic, and then close the show with a few handpicked comedians.

Each performer gets just five minutes on stage, so it’s fast-paced night. I’ll be MCing on Thursday, March 20, so you know things will zip right along.

There is no cover charge or drink minimums, but you can order drinks or food if you’d like.

I’d love to see some familiar faces in the audience. If you can’t make the next show, feel free to drop in on the 1st or 3rd Thursday of any month. If you have friends who live or work in the Arcadia area, please share this Evite with them.

Visit our website,, for more details and a link to our blog. For the inside story on my accidental stand-up hobby, see my comedy site.”

Here’s the Star-News story on the review of charter schools in Altadena.

I’ve got a letter to add to this which I’ll post later.

What is it with these people, the latest being “Margaret B. Jones” and her fake autubiography, and the publishers who fall for them? Having been working on my own memoir for a while, it’s crazymaking when this crap pops up. Vroman’s just cancelled her stop there, and for good reason. Here’s the LA Times link,0,3476910.story

So the Star-News’s Larry Wilson commented that the old Wamu building was a local savings and loan years ago. Anyone else know the history of the building? I moved here more than 12 years ago. Then I was with Great Western and I believe that’s what it was then, but can’t be sure. Who can chime in here?

I’m off to Death Valley this weekend with a stop to see the Owens Valley telescopes, so not a lot of time to blog until my return. I’ll have more local history from Michele Zack’s talk at Nuccio’s when I return! And lots of pictures of the desert wildflowers.

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