Monday, October 28, 2013

Your Trash Needs a Passport...(a lot of recycling goes to China)

So, we were curious.  We took a moment to think about where some of our garbage goes.  When I say garbage, I mean that purely as the things we throw away regardless of whether or not they are actually waste.  We were actually at a facility that does not really process its waste efficiently.  They would like to and we are working on that, but for the time being, not so much.  We will get into that later.

We wondered what happened to the boxes and for that matter a lot of the recyclables that were going "away".  I have to admit, I was really surprised at the answer that we got.  The initial call to the recycling company resulted in an "I don't know." when asked where it was going, but it got another phone number.  The next number led to another "I don't know," but still got a little further.  It appears that it goes overseas; namely, to China.

I liked to think of myself as pretty eco-literate and I have to admit that I did not know that.  Later, I took to researching how this was justified.  The initial thought was that this seems REALLY inefficient and wasteful.  Aren't there processing plants here in the good old U. S. of A.?  The short answer is yes, but here is the logic.  Apparently, they use the same ships to ship this cardboard and other stuff to China as they do to bring stuff back.  The idea is that it is economical to use these ships to haul this stuff there, for it to be turned into packaging and carpet and other products so that those ships do not have to return to China empty.

Part of me understood that, still part of me was unsatisfied.  Further research shows that now, even China is getting full and cannot use all of the waste that we are shipping to them.  They will no longer purchase it and are very likely to reject a lot of it.  Basically, your cardboard and more is being collected and shipped back and forth across the ocean.

China has apparently created a "Green Fence", locking out a lot of waste that the U.S. is sending over there because they cannot use it.  They have a need for plastic resin, but aside from that, the U.S. is basically producing far too much for them to use.  It is collected from your from stoop, shipped to China, shipped back and thrown in landfills.  China's Green Fence rejects poorly cleaned recyclables an rather than engage in cleaning the waste themselves, they ship it back.   China's processing of recyclables is pretty questionable also.  The recycling there is done mainly by family businesses using very low tech methods and unskilled labor.

So what does this mean for us?  Well, the main thing, as I understand it, is that we have to get better at reusing our own stuff.  We have to take an active role in reusing our own material.  Perhaps our own Green Revolution is near at hand.  This stuff is no longer just washing up on shores of beaches that people no longer go to, it is being hand delivered via large ships wrapped in the same package we send it off in.

Monday, October 21, 2013

True Sustainability, it is catching...Gringos Project, Day 3

Today we spent the better part of the day on a roof looking out over the city of Greenville.  We are still in that phase of thinking about what can be done and what should be done and how.  The problem is not too few options, but too many and we like it that way.  I only had a little time because I had another meeting, but more on that later.

Today was basically a look at what we are up against.  It is a lot of bare white space...Just what we wanted. Elizabeth and I spent a good hour brainstorming and flying through all of the options.  The main thing is to cover every bare surface that can support something with something green.  That is pretty much end of plan.
So what are our next steps?  Well, funding and manpower.  There is a part of me that believes in the power of people to get things done when faced with an idea and a facilitating factor.  I hesitate to say that something is simple, but when faced with zero obstacles, why would it be hard to do the right thing? Like I said, there is a hesitation to say that something is easy, but this seems to me to be a no brainer.

I say a lot of this because I spoke with two leaders in our community who feel the same way.  The first meeting was with a man who wanted us to put a window box in his parking lot.  It was bare gravel and it looked hideous and out of place. It was about 11:45 a.m. and I told him that I had to meet Elizabeth in 15 minutes.  He held up his finger to indicate that he wanted me to wait, wrapped up the phone call with his mom about Mah Jhong and we looked outside.  It took five minutes to reach a consensus about what was going to go in there and how.  I told him that we wanted to build a reclaimed pallet planter and he said go for it.  That was that.

I hurried to Gringos to meet Elizabeth and she was already there, hanging out.  She bounced up and we headed outside.  Jacob found a ladder but the only place it could be used was next to a table of guests seated on the patio.  No biggie.  Elizabeth and I talked about what we could and could not do.  Like I said, there was little we could not do and so many options.  Jacob allowed for us to go crazy with thoughts and ideas and then I had to go to a meeting with John Cocciolione.

John is the new director of the Greenville County Special Needs Board and we were set to sit down and chat at two, but he was running late.  He was putting out figurative fires as I would later find out and again, it was no biggie.  Elizabeth and I just went and hung out at Snack Works up the street and she learned a little about what Patrick is doing there and had her first wheat grass shot.  They hit it off and we all parted ways.

I took another swing past where I was to meet John and he was coming out with a water in hand and we sat down to talk.  It was a good day for collaboration, because the one word I was not hearing AT ALL was "no".  We talked about how to engage his staff, the properties the GCSNB, and the clients more in the green movement to make his organization more streamlined, efficient, educational, and possibly profitable.  We talked about how to engage his clients in useful activities like gardening and possibly business and how to give them a place to be rather than just go.  Yes, it was a good meeting.  John, like me, is from elsewhere and the beauty of the things that we want to do is that we are not reinventing the wheel.  It has been done...a a lot of other places that we have been.

We are excited to bring it to Greenville and with people like this, leaders in the community, behind this, it will not be hard.  With all that we have to work with, the hardest place to find purchase is the one square foot of space in the human head.  My hardest job is changing minds and to date, there are not many that I have had to convince, just connect.

We have set a goal of $7000 to get this and other projects going through the winter and dawning into spring.  If we keep it up, I think we can hit it.  Please contribute!  You'll breathe easier...literally.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The 75%...The Gringos Project, Day 1

We have been given a goal.  75%.  Of what?  I sat with Adam and Brian at Gringo's on Camperdown and we had a somewhat brief, yet long conversation.  How does this conversation somehow exist and how can it be both long and short?  It was one of those conversations where the initial question is posed, then there is a quick answer, then the remainder of the conversation is simply simultaneous head nodding at the ideas that we have both had that are so incredibly simple and similar.

So we are going to take this restaurant and give it a green makeover.  Our goal is to decrease the amount of waste by 75%.  We are going to develop systems that they can use to save time, money, space and the environment.  I consider myself fairly eloquent, but this was one case where I did not have to use  a lot of words, especially since I was dealing with Adam Bennett and preaching to the choir, so to speak. We both come from places where this is commonplace so we are not doing anything different, it is only different for Greenville.

Within the next week, I am going to spend some time with his staff and look at ways to minimize waste.  We are also going to embrace the things that are going to inevitably spring from this, like how to deal with building owners and city hall.  This is going to be fun.

Day 1...A lot of thought.  We have been poring over designs and ideas all day and creating what amounts to a wish list of things we would like to do.  Experience teaches that there needs to be a structure to things before getting really deeply involved so today is about brainstorming and design for the rooftop garden.  The earthbox design was specifically requested.  It is low maintenance and miserly with water. Combine that with the fact that we can mass produce them pretty easily and we are off and running.

Today was met with the idea that this is going to take a lot of looking and adjusting to things on the fly.  We are all about solving problems though and the only thing that was not on the table for this whole project, was doubt.  Follow along.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Wheat Grass Verdict...

So we gave it a shot, seven of them, in fact.  One shot of wheat grass a day for seven days and it was not really that bad.
The hardest part was developing a routine. Getting it every day was the hard part and that seems to be the thing that adds to the experience.  Being healthy takes dedication and somewhat of a routine.  You have to want it as the trainers say.
It is not a magic potion, we have to say that right off the bat.  From our research, it is part of a regimen that can lead to a lot of positives.  First, increased energy.  We have been working pretty hard and coffee simply does not do the trick in a lot of cases.  The caffeine is notorious for petering out within a few hours.  A strong caffeine start at 6 a.m. leads to a fall at about 2 p.m.
We did not find this with the wheat grass. Its effects are more long lasting and being novices to this, the three of us wondered what may have been the cause of this.  Was it something that occurs across the board?  Might it even have been psychosomatic?
We had our launch party on Tuesday evening and a shot of wheat grass in the morning (for those of us who were willing) was a life saver after an entire evening of shots of vodka.  Apparently the stuff speeds digestion and cleans out the liver, two HUGE necessities after a night out.

Eli's Verdict?  Every once in a while, but not every day.  It is a good pick me up, but I feel I would be forced to choose between coffee and wheat grass and there is a clear winner with the coffee.

Laina's Verdict?  I am now a daily shot taker.  I think a week is not long enough to judge the effects and I am really very interested in seeing how I feel in a month.  I also want to explore more of the routine aspect of it.  A shot a day...?

Jason's Verdict?  I may try another couple of days or weeks.  I have too much to do and though this could be a solution, it could also be a problem.  It is not readily available everywhere and

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Table of Contents.

We are changing more and more every day, growing, and getting bigger with more and more contributors from across the nation.  Our first two weeks, we have hit the ground running and a number of you have read our articles.  Thank you!
We are just getting warmed up.  We are working out where to look for what and honing our skills to let you know what is going on.  The front page will feature comments about what is going and the strongest stories about things and people you should know.  
The Events and Happenings page lets you know what kinds of things we are up to as well as others.
The Bazaar is the page you can go to get stuff and we are soon to have lots.  Eat Up!, Health and Fitness, Sight and Sound, and more are waiting for you to take a look as well.  
The Gist will be featured articles with some of the coolest people around. The Egress will feature fiction and poetry by some very talented people. 

This was just a moment to let you know to look around and see what there is to see.  Tomorrow, we round out our beverage run by talking about some local bars and you can see how a week of wheat grass went.  We will be following up with our Ink! spectacular where we talk a lot about body art and modification...Should be interesting.  Tomorrow, I talk with Patrick Cox about photography, Greenville, and a lot about life in general.  

Are we having fun yet?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

John Cocciolone, Executive Director of the GCDSNB: A Name and an Acronym to Know

By Lucy Hoffman, Event Director With Plan Ahead Events, Greenville
Part of the fun of my job is getting to meet the people who run organizations.  John Cocciolone is what I would refer to as a horse of a different color.  Greenville County Disabilities and Special Needs Organization hired Cocciolone to be a turnaround guy.  He was brought in to recreate this organization in broad sense.  His job is to get this organization noticed.  I admit I had never heard of it before I met him.  I’m guessing that is true of many of you as well.
John Cocciolone, Executive Director, GCDSNB
The mission of GCDSNB is as follows: “to serve and assist people in our area with developmental disabilities, Autism, and head and spinal cord injuries.”  At the Mauldin campus, there are 600 people bused in daily to help with their lives, their families, their work skills, and their life skills.  
Cocciolone has a background of working with nonprofits.  He worked with Easter Seals and owned his own consulting business assisting nonprofits with the many challenges they face.  He came on board here to bring the organization up to speed.  He is working on improving the website, shortening the name, fund raising, creating marketing pieces, and establishing a “face” of the organization.  According to LinkedIn, “John is an experienced and successful nonprofit executive with over 30 years of tenure as a CEO. John's strengths include; Board and Staff development, Strategic Planning, team building, project management, and advocate for people with disabilities and nonprofit organizations” – an ideal fit for this organization.  He graduated from Central Michigan University and Michigan State.
Cocciolone is working hard with the board in establishing priorities and motivating the staff.  He has positive things to say about the people with whom he works.  His determination to see this organization succeed is such that he spends 12 hour days working on it.
Cocciolone also hopes to get his organization involved with Eq Greenville – another great idea in Greenville, and have the clients work with the composting and garden creation.
One of his goals is regular events – which is where I come in.  I’m assisting Cocciolone in planning a comedy night on February 20, 2014, at the Gunter Theater. This is a fund raiser – but just as importantly, it will bring exposure to this great organization.  Come out that evening and help support the Greenville County Disabilities and Special Needs Board.  You will want to meet the forever affable Cocciolone.  He is a force with which to be reckoned.
Lucy Hoffman, Event Director with Plan Ahead events

Monday, October 14, 2013

From A Small Town, To A Big City, And Back Again

Katie Garren is a recent college graduate and now an aspiring writer and full time adult.  We asked her to take a few moments to put down her thoughts about the transition in today's world.

I grew up in a small town.  Not the kind of small town where everyone knows everyone, but the kind that’s just small enough to be annoying.  I ran into the same assholes year after year in school, with a random smattering of new faces to give the illusion of diversity.  I spent 13 years learning with the same people, in the same run-down schools in the same mile-long stretch of road.  It was cloistered and smothering.  I hated it, if you hadn’t gathered that already.  Not in a visceral way, I didn’t want to burn the town down or drown myself in the lake, I just wanted to leave.  So, I did. 

I decided to go to college.  I ran away (in a manner of speaking) to the big city of Seattle to learn and grow and mostly get day drunk while watching Disney movies.  I learned a lot.  I grew as a person.  I made friends, talked to people, separated myself from the person I used to be.  I was happier than I’d ever been.  I was on my own in a foreign-ish city (orientation had been my first overnight trip to the city).  I explored and had fun.  I learned to be okay on my own.  For the first time, I really understood who I was.  I knew myself and didn’t have to rely on anyone else.  It was lovely.

As much as I loved college, it had to end.  Four years of life, with occasional class attending, ended with a twelve-page paper about Buffy the Vampire Slayer and two graduation ceremonies.  I thought the world was in front of me.  I thought my life was about to begin.  That train of thought was corrected almost immediately after my final graduation.

As I walked out of the ceremony to meet my family, it became obvious I was no longer in control of my own way.  I was ushered by family immediately to the car.  No time for pictures or, god forbid, saying goodbye to friends I may never see again.  My family was uncomfortable with the crowds and suggestion of traffic on the freeway.  Screw my goodbyes and my happiness.  Forget my new home.  That life was over.
I left Seattle to move back home.  I thought, hey, how hard could it be to find a job. Ha.  What an idiot.  I lived in a small town.  There were no jobs.  All of a sudden, I was stuck.  There was no returning to Seattle.  Not without a job.  I needed a job to move back to Seattle and find a job.  You see my predicament.  But this is not the worst part.  I was back in a small town after having gotten out.

Coming back to the small, safe, stifling town I grew up in was, and is, torture.  It all seems so much worse now.  Everything that seemed small when I was in high school seems tiny now.  Everything that was bad is now worse.  There is nothing to do.  I mean that.  Even the bowling alley is closed by five o’clock.  I try to go out, but I keep running into people I went to high school with and I can only pretend to not remember them for so long.  I am suddenly aware of how much I never liked it here.  Now I understand the visceral hate.  I would give anything to burn this hell-hole to the ground.

I made a new life somewhere else, and now home doesn’t seem quite so much like home anymore.  Now everything about my old home seems tiny and horrible.  I guess that terrible old cliché is true, you can’t go home again.  

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Ink! Showing a little skin...

Leading up to the holidays, we were looking at some interesting gifts that people might find in their stockings.  There was one that stopped me in my tracks and I wondered about what others thought about it.  I have two, and many people I know have many, and several people I know have at least one.  Yes, we like ink.

When I got my first one, I had to go to Athens, GA because they were illegal at the time in SC.  It was a 90 minute drive and it was easier going than coming because I had to drive with a fresh tattoo on my upper arm.   When I left the shop I got it in, the artist told me that she would see me soon.  Her logic was that it was addictive.  Though I did get one more, I would never put myself in the category of being addicted.

That was about 15 years ago and I do not regret them one bit, but how do we look at modern "tats"?  How many is too many?  Have they gotten mainstream enough to be shown at work?  Can you get someone a tattoo for Christmas? What about piercings?  Maybe that's a whole new issue.

What the...???

So what are we?  What is this?  I have to say that this project is ambitious and it becomes more and more difficult to define what we are all about in one sentence..  We think it is pretty simple.  We are about everything.
"But aren't you an eco-startup?" Yes, but how much of what begins at the foundations of our lives tie into the rest of our world?
We collect compost.
We build gardens (two so far) and growing.
We feed people..
We work for ways to make like easier and more sustainable.
We talk about issues that concern people in the area.
We discuss things that go on across the nation.
We talk about the things that make our lives happier, like music, art, and other entertainment.
We start conversations.

So, what does the E.Q. stand for?  Excellent question...

That is the nutshell, but we actually try to do everything that makes things just better.  Are we spreading ourselves a bit thin?...nahh.
Take dive through your world, we are, and you are welcome to tag along. Follow us at @greenvilleeq or on facebook at

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Let's Be Honest, Starbucks Is The Best Coffee Shop In The World

Starbucks has the market cornered, but there are some interesting coffee places that are doing interesting things.  Our anonymous critic seems to think that most of these places are (and have to be) about so much more than coffee to get in the game.  What do you think?  See what she has to say here!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Beverages Anyone? Articles we are working on.

Not a bad day for the first day. We had a lot of page views for this first "issue" and we are going for more; talking about a wide variety of things.  The beverage issue is on the horizon with our look at coffee shops in the upstate by our anonymous blogger.  We are going to find the best bar in Greenville.  We are going to talk with some local health gurus about the juicing craze.

 I guess I am personally most excited about talking craft brews with the guys at The Growler Station Greenville.   They say that average simply is just not good enough any more and a lot of craft brewers have gone a long way to step up their game.  We are working on these stories and more, so hang on.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Jacob has some great advice for the city...

"Get out of the way."   That is Jacob Billingsley's advice to the city.  As a successful businessman in this city for a number of years, he has a vision of what he and others can do in this town if the city would just step back and let him do something different, new, and vibrant for the downtown area.  I talked with Jacob this afternoon at Gringo's, his two story (loosely) Mexican restaurant on Camperdown Way and he shared his thoughts about coming to the south, opening several restaurants, and his next project, a music venue in the downtown area.  I also spoke with some of the people who work for him and some of his friends about where he is in the "tribe" of people around here who are wanting to do more in Greenville, the Upstate, and the south.  Jacob is definitely one to watch.

We launch on Sunday, October 6th and our talk with Jacob is going to be the first article.  We are going to do a lot of talking, but moreover, we are going to do a lot of listening and telling you about things that are going on around here.  So keep following.

If you have questions, comments, or ideas, please contact us at  We would love to hear from you.


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Just a taste...Letter from the editor

"I wanted to dislike them so badly."
That is a quote from our anonymous food blogger about going to various coffee shops around Greenville.  She went on to say that as part of her new job that she wanted to have something to complain about so she could write a scathing review of some new place.  We had a chat about journalistic integrity and her method of writing and how she should strive to be indifferent and neutral and just write the facts.

Two things came of that conversation.  She gained a perspective on what it means to write, even if it is just for a lowly blog.  Secondly, she gave me a delightful view of what the nature of Greenville coffee shops provide.  Her idea shifted from what she could say that was bad about these places and turned to what was great about them because the beverages are very similar.  Instead of comparing apples to oranges, she realized that she should be comparing apples to other apples and noting what was good about each variety and what there was to be had from each.

Spill the Beans, Starbucks, Coffee Underground, Brew and Ewe, Coffee to a have all been shopped.  See what a stranger said about your service and your ambiance.  Get ready, we launch on Saturday.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


There is a chill in the air.  In the mornings at least, fall has arrived?  This is the south and we have taken that in stride.  It is not quite sweater weather yet and not yet time to start looking for the snuggly hat in the morning, but it is getting there and there is a lot on the plate for this month.

We are going to look a bit deeper into Greenville and the surrounding areas in new and different ways.
What are the food trends we need to look out for?
Who are the hottest local musicians? Artists?
What do you need to know about the government shutdown?
Finally, from Jon Sanchez.

We have a little bit of everything and then some.
Get ready, we launch on Sunday!