MW of the Month // October 7, 2013

Jordan Howard is just 21, but she is already an inspiration for her achievements in the field of environmental education and activism. A consultant for companies like 5Gyres and The Surfrider Foundation, she has given speeches and developed education programs throughout the world. She has made a name for herself in her industry, receiving awards from organizations including The Green Building Council and The Tavis Smiley Foundation. But more than anything else, Jordan is the exemplification of the kind of power that knowledge can wield -- particularly when in the hands of children.

At 15, the South L.A. native enrolled in Lawndale’s Environmental Charter School for high school. Neither she nor her parents were “green” proponents at the time, however the school’s excellent reputation provided Jordan the college-ready atmosphere she was looking for. She quickly found herself a fish out of water though, as this environmental curriculum was nothing to which she had ever been exposed; as a result she found herself the only one in her class to constantly question the new aged dogma taught in the classroom.

It was a fateful, eye-opening lecture one day that showed Jordan environmental education was more than just the doom and gloom of climate change. The lecture pinpointed concrete solutions to many of our sustainability issues -- issues rooted in more than just the environment. Jordan found the inspiration and energy to put towards a problem that had previously only seemed nebulous and unsolvable. She found herself armed with the information to create change.

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With the understanding that environmental and social issues intersect, Jordan decided that it was her duty to pay this education forward. She’s championed education on diabetes, food deserts, and eating locally. As a way to battle these issues, she taught others how to plant and effectively utilize urban gardens. Jordan herself keeps a garden with squash, herbs, fruit trees, kale, and more. Her education efforts have extended far beyond the reaches of her hometown. She has conducted youth education programs as far as India in Delhi, Bombay and Chennai. A key component of Jordan’s educational agenda lies in empowerment. Educational conferences are great, but they can also be ephemeral with teaching tools lasting only as long as the meeting room reservation. To combat this, Jordan teaches that valuable and lasting narratives can be told through educational filmmaking. With storyboarding techniques, technical and financial resources, Jordan empowers children to see their goals through to fruition.

Just a short time after Jordan began pursuing environmental issues fervently as a high school sophomore, a mentor asked her to speak at Barack Obama’s 2008 event, Angelenos Go Green For Obama, where she introduced the evening’s keynote speaker, Hillary Clinton. This speech spawned what is now a prolific speaking career for the 21 year-old, who has given Ted Talks and just a week ago delivered a speech in New Orleans to Environmental Grantmakers Association -- an organization who last year alone facilitated over $4 billion in environmental funding. Make no mistake about it, though Jordan is old enough to only have voted in one presidential election, she is a voice that demands to be heard; a force to be reckoned with among the environmental and entrepreneurial community; and an agent of change.

Despite her various accolades, the humble Howard is most proud when she sees the behavioral and cognitive changes that she advocates for, take effect in others. When Jordan’s youngest sister was born five years ago, her mother decided they would raise an “eco baby.” The Howard household soon found themselves making their own baby foods and advocating the use of reusable diapers. Jordan also breaks a smile when she speaks of hearing her parents argue over who gets to use the reusable shopping bag. Jordan’s influences can also be seen city-wide. One of the attendees at Jordan’s very first 5Gyres conference was Ann Holtzinger, a teacher from Los Angeles’ Thomas Starr King Middle School. While studying the environment, Holzinger’s students learned their plastic lunch trays weren’t being recycled, and with the support of their teacher, the students banded together to create an art piece out of 1,260 trays to bring awareness to the issue. The large installation could not be ignored, and the Los Angeles Unified School District has since switched to paper trays instead. Not only are the new trays compostable but they are cheaper, and save the district  between $5 million to $6 million a year. As Jordan stresses, environmental issues are also socioeconomic at heart; what she teaches is the type of open-systems approach that emphasizes the interconnectedness of many of the world’s biggest issues.

Now a Junior at UCLA, Jordan balances the rigors of collegiate life with her consulting duties for a handful of non-profits, as well as her national public speaking duties, all while producing her weekly environmental web series “Gen Y Not.” How she juggles it all is still a mystery; but if past precedent is any indication, it seems that Jordan thrives most when she is thrown in over her head. It cannot be argued that Jordan Howard was meant for greatness. Though this young entrepreneur and Political Science major says her heart lies in environmental marketing, she isn’t entirely adverse to the idea of entering the political arena. Might we some time soon see Jordan Howard follow in the footsteps of another young trailblazer and Made Woman, Mayor Aja Brown? I wouldn’t be surprised.

Published in Business
Monday, 23 April 2012 16:04

Going Green | How to be Green Made Easy

April 23, 2012

When you wake up in the morning and look in your closet to figure out what to wear, one major factor influencing your choice is the weather.  For the most part, depending on the season, you can predict what it's going to be like outside without checking The Weather Channel everyday.  But lately, it seems like the weather has been more unpredictable than ever.  Snow in southern California, tornadoes across the central states, a cold spell that froze the east for months... It almost seems like the movie, “The Day After Tomorrow,” isn't that far off from reality.

The film “An Inconvenient Truth” shed some light on mankind’s impact on the planet and how we could be the cause of what appears to be Mother Nature’s wrath. Sure, we’ve been taught to turn off the lights when we leave the room, leave the water off while we’re brushing our teeth and separate our recyclables from the trash. I hate to break it to you, but that’s just not enough.

Although we are cognizant of these things year-round, Earth Day gives us a reminder to take that extra step toward preserving our environment. Here are a few more environmentally friendly habits that you can add to your list of daily activities to balance out what “bad” habits you (actually, I mean, “we”) keep:

1. Wash your outerwear only when necessary—maybe every third wear. When you do, use the cold water cycle and hang them to dry. Since you will be conserving water and energy, you’ll keep more dollars in your bank. Your clothes will last longer, too! An added bonus to getting more life out of your wardrobe is not having to spend as much money buying new clothes, thus further reducing your carbon footprint and consumerism (the act of buying new items and things we don't absolutely need).

2. Buy locally-made products. From food to jewelry, when items travel fewer miles to get to us, less carbon seeps into our atmosphere. The USDA has an online farmers’ market directory- http://apps.ams.usda.gov/FarmersMarkets/.  And don’t forget to bring your reusable tote bags when you shop!

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3. Walk, bike or carpool to work whenever possible. We all want to save on fuel expenses these days. You’ll also see the extra benefits in your beach bod this summer.

4. If you don’t already, opt for direct deposit and electronic paystubs at work. Go paperless at the bank too, if you can. You will save trees, and reduce waste and fuel used to deliver it all to you.

5. Ditch the mainstream cleaning products—from your body wash to your countertop disinfectant. Try planet friendly brands that are labeled sulfate, phthalate and paraben –free. You can find those products at most health food stores, natural food stores and the health food section of major supermarkets. Not only will you be doing good for our planet, but some scientists have also shown that it could be good for your uterus (Some of the weird chemicals I named disrupt our bodies’ natural hormone systems.

Remember, you don’t have to do all of these. Just start with one or two and add as you go along. We have to do our own part in ensuring that our environment is inhabitable, water is drinkable, and food is edible. 

Published in Lifestyle
Monday, 26 September 2011 11:39

Hair Care | I Love Lulu Hair Spa

September 26, 2011

A couple of years ago I decided to cut off all of my hair. It had been relaxed for as long as I could remember, and I thought I’d have more options with hair that I could wear either curly and thick or straight. So I chopped it at the roots. It grew faster than it ever had. It was like silk when it was flat ironed, but when it wasn’t, nobody could tell me what to do with it. “You can either keep this… or we can put a relaxer in,” my hairdresser said to me almost twelve months along. As much as I wanted to avoid chemicals and keep my hair natural, I decided that it wasn’t worth sacrificing my appearance for the sake of it.  I felt that there was no alternative to relaxers...until I discovered that I love Lulu.

A restored commitment to living a green lifestyle left me thinking about my hair. I started by changing my diet, and the next logical step was to stop putting chemicals that I couldn’t name on my head.  The thought of them slowly seeping into my scalp made me cringe. While doing neighborhood errands one day, I walked by I Love Lulu, the self-described “growing green hair spa.” The cheerful, bright sign and steamer in the window caught my attention, and I realized that perhaps the solution to my hair care problems had always been just around the corner. I went inside, poured my heart out and booked an appointment – reassured that Lulu would fix everything. 

Lulu Marcelin comes from a large family of creative individuals. This shows in the aesthetic of her shop, a contemporary spin on classic 1960’s décor. It looks like Renee Zellweger’s character from Down With Love is going to pop up from the shampoo bowl next to you, thanks to the artistic flare of one of Lulu’s sisters. The poetic rhymes of another sister, a writer, scroll across the walls, reminding you why you came: “Happy is the woman who … honors her hair.” 

Knowing this, it’s not surprising that Lulu brought her own creative vision to hair care and styling. In fact, she will tell you that her business grew from two clear concepts. The first idea was to take fresh fruits, vegetables, natural herbs and oils and put them into hair in a quick and easy fashion, like “Jamba Juice for the hair.” The second piece came to her in a dream: ten steamers in a row. In the actual spa there is only room for nine - the tenth sits in the window on the street, representing Lulu’s dream to desperate passersby like myself.  At first, people questioned these concepts, asking Lulu what would keep anyone from creating her personalized, organic treatments themselves, and why anyone would want to sit under a steamer when the purpose is to dry the hair. Lulu’s response was as simple and straightforward as her approach: “There is a professionally trained touch that needs to accompany the treatments in order for them to be as effective as possible.” She also pointed out that sucking the moisture out of hair with dryers is counter-intuitive, if you think about it.  Using a steamer instead helps keep moisture locked in, resulting in smoother, conditioned hair. 

Photobucket

The first time that I went to Lulu, I got a life.  No, really - I received her “Get a Life” treatment. After diagnosing my hair’s medical condition (which she does at the beginning of each appointment), this was the treatment that she suggested. “Get a Life” is oil based and applied straight to the scalp. As Lulu parted my hair and applied the oil, she explained that the focus is often on putting oil onto the hair, which is already dead, rather than on the scalp, where your hair actually grows. She broke hair care down into common sense terms.  It made a lot of sense, and I wondered why no one had simply told me these things before. 

After the treatment was applied, I sat under the steamer to let the oil seep into my open pores. Usually, I loathe the dryer. I leave hot, tired, and annoyed, but Lulu’s steamers left me feeling moisturized and refreshed. I also thoroughly enjoyed the shampoo chairs, which are more like beds, where you can lay down without having to prop your head back into an unnatural position. Lulu had truly put thought into every element of her salon and designed a process that put emphasis on a healthy, rehabilitating experience rather than fighting hair’s nature by styling with chemical products. That’s not to say that Lulu can’t style hair though. After I looked at my finished head in the mirror, there was no looking back to other salons. Of course, nothing good comes without sacrifice. My hair is a bit more work than it once was, but Lulu’s words are always in my ear: “Take it. You’ll never regret it.” And I don’t.


Published in Style
Monday, 26 September 2011 08:17

Going Green | How to be Green Made Easy

September 26, 2011 

When you wake up in the morning and look in your closet to figure out what to wear, one major factor influencing your choice is the weather.  For the most part, depending on the season, you can predict what it's going to be like outside without checking The Weather Channel everyday.  But lately, it seems like the weather has been more unpredictable than ever.  Snow in southern California, tornadoes across the central states, a cold spell that froze the east for months... It almost seems like the movie, “The Day After Tomorrow,” isn't that far off from reality.

The film “An Inconvenient Truth” shed some light on mankind’s impact on the planet and how we could be the cause of what appears to be Mother Nature’s wrath. Sure, we’ve been taught to turn off the lights when we leave the room, leave the water off while we’re brushing our teeth and separate our recyclables from the trash. I hate to break it to you, but that’s just not enough.

Here are a few more environmentally friendly habits that you can add to your list of daily activities to balance out what “bad” habits you (actually, I mean, “we”) keep:

1. Wash your outerwear only when necessary—maybe every third wear. When you do, use the cold water cycle and hang them to dry. Since you will be conserving water and energy, you’ll keep more dollars in your bank. Your clothes will last longer, too! An added bonus to getting more life out of your wardrobe is not having to spend as much money buying new clothes, thus further reducing your carbon footprint and consumerism (the act of buying new items and things we don't absolutely need).

2. Buy locally made products. From food to jewelry, when items travel fewer miles to get to us, less carbon seeps into our atmosphere. The USDA has an online farmers’ market directory- http://apps.ams.usda.gov/FarmersMarkets/.  And don’t forget to bring your reusable tote bags when you shop!

3. Walk, bike or carpool to work whenever possible. We all want to save on fuel expenses these days. You’ll also see the extra benefits in your beach bod this summer.

4. If you don’t already, opt for direct deposit and electronic paystubs at work. Go paperless at the bank too, if you can. You will save trees, and reduce waste and fuel used to deliver it all to you.

5. Ditch the mainstream cleaning products—from your body wash to your countertop disinfectant. Try planet friendly brands that are labeled sulfate, phthalate and paraben –free. You can find those products at most health food stores, natural food stores and the health food section of major supermarkets. Not only will you be doing good for our planet, but some scientists have also shown that it could be good for your uterus (Some of the weird chemicals I named disrupt our bodies’ natural hormone systems.

Remember, you don’t have to do all of these. Just start with one or two and add as you go along. We have to do our own part in ensuring that our environment is inhabitable, water is drinkable, and food is edible. 

Published in Lifestyle