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City: Challenges from pandemic, global recycling market affecting zero-waste goals

 April 22, 2022 at 2:46 PM PDT

S1: On this Earth Day , we get an update on San Diego's zero waste program.
S2: 15% of all that's thrown into a landfill is actually food.
S1: I'm Maureen CAVANAUGH. This is KPBS Midday Edition. The non-profit make project expands opportunities in North Park made project.
S3: It has two very good coworkers and everyone around is really , really sweet and they help a lot if you need it and it is always there. It's a really good environment for them , especially for your mental health.
S1: And new theatre productions and more. On our weekend preview. That's ahead on Midday Edition. Earth Day celebrates its 52nd anniversary today. Ambitious climate action plans and environmental cleanup efforts are part of its legacy in San Diego. One action plan is the city's zero waste policy. Its goal is for the city to recycle , reuse and stop generating waste by the year 2040. But recycling doesn't always work to keep trash out of the landfills. Much of the problem stems from contamination and mistakes by residents. Now , as the city launches a new organic waste recycling effort. Consumer education is seen as key to making this part of the zero waste program work. Joining me is Ken Prew , deputy director of the city of San Diego's Environmental Services Department. Ken , welcome to the program.
S2: Thank you for having me.
S1: So in this city , step by step , plan to get to zero waste. We were supposed to divert 75% of our trash from landfills by 2020 , but apparently the latest numbers for 2019 only show 65% diversion rate.
S2: And there have been challenges with the pandemic and with just the global recycling markets and things like that. But we've been very fortunate that the city of San Diego's waste diversion rate has stayed in the kind of mid to high sixties for a number of years and in a way it's not as high as we'd like , but the fact that it stayed there while we've seen increased population and also employment growth , which those are things that usually lead to increased waste generation. So we're glad that we haven't declined , but we're also looking forward to the additional increases that we'll see here in the near future with the new state organic waste recycling requirement.
S1: Now a report from CAPP Radio last year estimated that 20 to 40% of the trash Californians put in their recycle bins actually ends up in landfills.
S2: Sometimes it's from containers that are plastic , containers that are full , maybe a peanut butter jar that's half full or something. Or unfortunately , a lot of times it could be where someone's well-intentioned and they put in items that are not accepted in the program. It's kind of that wasteful recycling where you put it in there and kind of hope that they're going to find a way to recycle your garden hose or your bicycle tires or , you know , various things that not only are that they're not actually accepted in the blue bin , they actually complicate the sorting because some of these things say a garden hose can get wrapped up in all the machinery that is used to separate the materials. And so it you know , it actually can really make the process much more challenging.
S1: And talk about challenging a new state law that went into effect this year requires that cities begin organic waste recycling.
S2: We've done what we call our Commercial Food Scraps Recycling program , where we work with large generators and basically they separate their food scraps and we send them for composting. We also do a lot with those generators with edible food recovery and encouraging donation and putting it to better , you say , than composting. Because if you can take it and feed people with that edible food or even feed animals , that that's a better thing than even getting to the point of composting it. And then as far as getting it to the actual residents for the homes that are serviced by the city of San Diego , we've gone through and we've thankfully been granted the budget by our city council and mayor to take the steps to prepare for for the organic waste recycling implementation. So last June we ordered the new collection trucks that we need , and we're in the process of hiring the drivers and we have the containers lined up. There's all these pieces coming together and currently we expect to begin delivering those new containers and service to the city service residents in January. And then on the other side , a lot of the multifamily properties , a lot of apartments and condos and all the businesses , they're serviced by private companies. And so those haulers are ramping up their services because with the new organic based recycling requirement , it requires basically anyone and everyone in the state to recycle their organic materials so their food scraps , their yard trimmings and other related materials.
S1: So multifamily units and commercial units are going to be recycling organic waste , let's say , in the next few months. Residential neighborhoods should be getting all that information by January.
S2: So not even getting into the other organic materials such as yard trimmings or non-hazardous , wood waste or things , just just food by itself is 15% of everything that gets thrown away. And so there's a lot of. They're to be recovered or potentially recovered. And there's a lot of efforts to help educate people and just ultimately get everybody in the habit. And then there'll be significant amounts of diversion and benefits that go with that.
S2: The franchise haulers will do that with their customers. We're also doing a lot with webinars for online webinars , for customer service by private haulers , and we do things on social media. We have a lot of things , and we're also building up and we're preparing to bring on a marketing consultant to help continue to build our program. And we're going to be doing multilingual , multicultural outreach and just really getting the word out and helping people understand the changes and hopefully conveying it so that it'll be easy to understand and easy to get in the habit. And then you don't even really think about it.
S1: Okay , then I've been speaking with Ken Peru. He's deputy director of the city of San Diego's Environmental Services Department. Ken , thanks a lot.
S2: Thank you so much.
S1: A restaurant , urban garden and a job training center for immigrants and refugees. That's the business model of make projects in North Park. KPBS Speaker , city House reporter Jacob Air shows us the impact the nonprofit is having on the lives of San Diegans.
S3: The burger Goliath.
S2: Looks like.
S4: A lush garden queen patio and a group of eager high school students are some of the first things you notice at me. Cafe. The North Park restaurant is part of Make Projects. A non-profit organization whose acronym stands for Merging Agriculture , Kitchens and Employment.
S3: Because we have an amazing urban farm. It's a working farm. We have a restaurant that has Thursday and Saturday dinner service and service. And then we're also a private events catering.
S4: Company , Make Projects founder and executive director. And she May says they offer paid job training programs for refugee and immigrant youth and adults.
S3: We have the youth enroll in a 6 to 8 week paid work experience , and they're working about 10 hours a week on the farm , in the restaurant , and they have an hour a week of job readiness training. The adults are three months long and they are bit more intensive 12 to 15 hours a week.
S4: A few of the recent make projects youth participants include sophomore Nadine Osman and junior Hanan Idrees. They both attend Crawford High School in City Heights and were friends before joining the program.
S3: There's there's four positions we switch out , so there's Hostess Server Beverage and the person who does the farm tours.
S4: Osman says the program gives them a low stress opportunity to improve their public speaking , writing and interview techniques.
S3: And those helped me a lot because now when I sign up to jobs , I know what to do exactly , and I have my resume ready , which like help me , you know , help jobs that I'm looking for and be interested in me.
S4: Senior farm trainer Robbie Wilcox teaches students like Osman and Idris about those job skills , as well as providing food and gardening knowledge. He says they have trainees lead farm tours to build their confidence.
S5: So if you learn not necessarily how to farm , but nutrient cycling or organic pest management or even what these different varieties are , how to cook with them , how to talk about them. You can kind of work that public speaking , professional kind of practice muscle without having to mine the well all the time.
S4: Another way that many projects , trains , youth and adult participants is through the hands on jobs of the restaurant business. Janette Sandoval supervises the cafe.
S3: So for a lot of our adult trainees , language barriers are really hard for them. So they usually go to the back of house in order because it's even easier to communicate through a kitchen and food than it is to communicate through only verbal language.
S4: Murphy says mic projects is currently 15% self-sustaining from their business income , but aims to be at 80% in the next five years. That growth will come from their multiple channels that fund their mission , including a vegetable box , CSA subscription and their growing café , which was an accidental byproduct of the pandemic.
S3: Originally it was catering and that was , you know , so sad to see all that business go away. But when we reinvented with a restaurant model , you know , that's become so much more impactful for our participants because now they're learning all those soft skills and social skills that are directly translating into better employment.
S4: Idris says the program is a place of acceptance , where trainees learn job and life skills from staff who are patient and kind.
S3: Make a project that has very good coworkers and everyone around is really , really sweet and they help a lot if you need it , and they're just always there. It's a really good environment for them , especially for your mental health.
S4: For now , Idris is focused on applying to universities this upcoming fall. Her goal is to eventually open a nonprofit organization that builds on the lessons she learned from projects. And Osman is excited to begin her new job making pizzas at Little Caesars , a role she had help applying for through the program. Jake Baer , KPBS News.
S1: This is KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Maureen CAVANAUGH. On today's Weekend Preview , we'll discuss contemporary dance Joan of Arc , mother to art exhibitions closing this weekend and plenty more. Joining me with all the details is KPBS arts editor and producer Julia Dixon Evans. And welcome , Julia.
S6: Hi , Marion. Thanks for having me.
S1: Now , first up is a contemporary dance performance from Disco Riot , their spring showcase called Spectra.
S6: So a lot of times it's without themes or other constraints or I hate to say the word gimmicks , but along those lines. And I actually also spoke to Zakiya Malia Salinas. She is Disco Riot's , co-founder and artistic director. And she said that they still noticed this throughline that developed in the works anyway. It's this idea of personal histories , and one of the four pieces is choreographed by Salinas herself , and it's called Hourglass Alchemy. And it started with her asking the set of questions about our inherited traumas and our triumphs.
S3: And I was really sort of like interested in this idea of inheritance and thinking about and I'm sort of always obsessed with this , but like the way in which our inheritance from our parents or from society or from the culture that we grow up in or from our genetic lineage or whatever that is , like how that sort of is in the body and how that informs who we become.
S6: And in addition to Selena's work , there are three other pieces , one from Martin Anthony Tirado , about the ten years since he moved to San Diego. Another from Chelsea Saphira called Girl Dream 1996 that sort of constructed like a dreamscape mixtape. And then guest choreographer Anna Brown Massie's new work called Margaret Carmichael. And it's inspired by Cape Breton , Nova Scotia and Scottish Highland Dancing. There are two more performances in the series tonight and Saturday. Both of them are at 7 p.m. at the City Heights Performance Annex. Tickets are donation based , but you do need to reserve them in advance.
S1: So that Spectra from Disco Riot. Now moving to the theater , Moxie Theatre is opening a play with a unique perspective on Joan of Arc. Fill us in on this one. Right.
S6: Right. This one's called Mother of the Maid. It's Joan of Arc story told through the eyes of her long suffering mother , Isabel. And this is a play by the prolific playwright Jane Anderson , and it will be directed by Desiree Clarke , starring Moxie co-founder Jennifer Eve Thorne as Isabel Mikhaila. Rae Macias is Joan , and the play officially opens next weekend. But the first low cost preview performance is this Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m..
S1: Moxie Theatre's mother of the maid runs Sunday through May 22nd. Staying with what's new in theater , tell us about the Black Lady showcase at the Old Globe this weekend.
S6: Yeah , this is a production of the San Diego Black Artists Collective during their residency at the Globe. Its three nights tonight and Saturday at 8 p.m. and then Sunday at 7 p.m.. And they're presenting three new plays. There are two works by playwright Joy Yvonne Jones. One called In the Courtyard and another called A Promise of New Life. And there's also Andrea Acosta's quick change. These are all produced and acted by black artists , collective members. And these works , they're going to dig into a pretty wide range of themes across the three of them. There's family , there's art , marriage , racism , police brutality , even COVID. And all told by local black women writers. It's a free show , but you do need to reserve your seat in the theater in advance.
S1: That's the Black Lady Showcase at the Old Globe for visual art. It's our last chance to see some exhibitions that are closing this weekend. And two that you want to highlight , Julia , are Yolanda Lopez and Emma Sophia Potter.
S6: This is her recent body of work. It's called New Man A Woman's Gaze. And it's been on view at Bread and saw just since February. And this is a series of works where the artist is really trying to break down the gender binary by proposing this new , gentler , more vulnerable model of masculinity. And she works primarily in textiles , and she makes these. Sort of she calls them textile paintings and they're portraits of men , or maybe just phalluses. There's actually a lot of phalluses in the show. And there's also all of these traditionally feminine materials like florals or sequins. And that closes on Sunday. And the galleries open today , tomorrow and Sunday from 11 to 4. And also closing on Sunday is the Yolanda Lopez exhibition. That one's called Portrait of the Artist , and it's been open at the Museum of Contemporary Art , San Diego's downtown campus since October. And if you remember , Lopez passed away just weeks before this exhibition opened. It's a really powerful show. It's a retrospective but kind of restrained to this period of time in Lopez's career , where she was mostly working here in San Diego during the 1970s and the 1980s , including her time studying at UC San Diego. And the museum downtown is open 10 to 4 today , Saturday and Sunday.
S1: And finally , the Oakland based musician known as Spelling performs at the Casbah tonight.
S6: It's called The Turning Wheel. And during the pandemic , she decided to orchestrate and record something like 31 different instruments for the record. And that orchestration makes this album really special. It's rich and it's layered and also just really unexpected. My favorite track is Always , and it's the sort of timeless sound like it could be from the fifties or the eighties or maybe even 100 years from now. LA The word rings like a bell.
S1: That's always bye. Spelling who will perform with local Carey Feller and Orange County's Dear Donna at the Casbah tonight at 930. You can find details on these and more arts events or sign up for Julia's weekly KPBS Arts newsletter at KPBS Dawgs Arts. I've been speaking with KPBS arts editor and producer Julia Dixon Evans. Thank you , Julia.
S6: Thank you , Maureen. Have a good weekend.

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On Earth Day, a look at San Diego's zero waste policy — the city’s goal to recycle, reuse and stop generating waste by the year 2040. Plus, besides a restaurant and urban garden, the business model of the nonprofit MAKE Projects in North Park is a job training center for refugees and immigrants. And it’s already making a difference. Finally, this weekend in the arts: Black Artist Collective at The Old Globe; Yolanda López and Irma Sofia Poeter; "Mother of the Maid" at Moxie; Broadway San Diego presents "Rent"; Anya Gallaccio at Quint ONE; the Symphony; and Spellling at the Casbah.