Local Happenings

Everything under one green roof!

It’s been three years in the making and now, finally, visitors can find out just what is under that 2.5-acre living roof at the new California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park. Last month the museum threw open its doors and showed off its new digs with a celebration that included Chinese acrobats, family-friendly activities, live music and dance, and sustainably sourced food from all over the world. Now visitors can check out the innovative new museum for themselves and get up close and personal with the new Morrison Planetarium, Kimball Natural History Museum, Steinhart Aquarium—even a four-story rain forest. 415.379.8000, calacademy.org

Eco lunch

Marin resident Chance Claxton is helping to reduce campus trash with her new Kids Konserve waste-free lunch kit, which includes a stainless steel beverage container, two stainless steel food containers, a sandwich container and a cloth napkin, all stored in a reusable cotton sack. The lunch kit retails for $40 and all items are available separately. 415.413.4723, kidskonserve.com 

Green valet

The Lark Creek Inn, along with sister restaurant Yankee Pier in Larkspur, is offering free valet parking (normally $4 per vehicle) to those who arrive in hybrid, electric and natural-gas-powered vehicles. Guests also have the option to store bicycles in the shared bike rack.

Hamilton Goes Green SolarCraft has recently completed a 35.4-kilowatt solar energy system at the new 94,000-square-foot Hamilton Marketplace Complex in Novato. All common areas, certain parking lot areas and walkways will be powered by 165 SunPower solar modules. The solar setup will enable the complex to generate enough clean electricity to spare the air nearly 31 tons of harmful greenhouse gases annually, equivalent to the air filtering done by 6.2 acres of trees.

San Rafael’s Scott Urquhart, Murray Orrick and Randy Phillippe have released Let’s Go Green, a children’s CD all about going green. On October 18 the group will perform at the Del Mar School book fair in Tiburon. 415.785.3722, letsgogreenkids.com

Groomed pooches

Marin pooches can get cleaned in style with Aussie Pet, a fully equipped mobile pet grooming salon, custom designed with air-conditioning and a heated hydro bath. Pets are pampered with a 15-step spa treatment that includes shampoo, massage, blow-dry, brushing and nail clipping.  Extra services include aloe treatments for dry skin, nail grinding, flea and tick control and a nontoxic doggie pedicure. 800.738.6624, aussiepetmobile.com


Balboa Cafe Comes to Mill Valley The new Sweetwater location has a tasty new neighbor with the 3,100-square-foot Balboa Cafe. The interior features a large walnut bar and antique mirrors; the menu includes the signature Balboa burger, a Cobb salad, Dungeness crab cakes and a full children’s menu. 38 Miller Ave., Mill Valley. balboacafe.com

Kid flicks

What happens when two lifelong Marin-based friends with a love of dancing start making children’s films? They wind up with three films, The Letter Q, Dance-A-Bet and Pink Wrap, in the Mill Valley Film Festival, of course. See the films produced by Melinda Darlington-Bach and Cynthia Pepper and complete with voice- and giggle-over provided by Pepper’s two daughters, at the festival this October 2–12. mvff.com

Pedal pushing

The Marin County Bicycle Coalition is hoping to double its numbers with programs like a membership-in-a-bottle offer, which will be sold at local bike shops and includes a bike map, membership and bicycle water bottle. The coalition uses the money it raises for community improvements like the newly striped bike lanes in the county and bike route signs. Join by visiting marinbike.org.

The future of driving

Meaning to “fly from the earth” in Latin, this small wonder of engineering does just that. The brainchild of Marin native now East Coaster and MIT grad Carl Dietrich and his team, the Terrafugia Transition allows flying enthusiasts to pilot a small craft with speed and agility and still drive away from the airport in a street-legal vehicle. Designed to auto safety standards with an optional parachute. You’ll never complain about traffic again. terrafugia.com

Label hunting

Tired of squinting at six-point print on the side a cereal box to find out what you’re eating? Labelwatch.com, a brand new website with a database of over 25,000 brand-name products, allows curious consumers a behind-the-label peek at their favorite foods. Special K cereal?  While most ingredients are “OK” if not “beneficial,” a few, including BHT, get a cautionary nod. A simple click tells us, “BHT retards rancidity in oils. It either increased or decreased the risk of cancer in various animal studies. Residues of BHT occur in human fat. BHT is unnecessary or is easily replaced by safe substitutes (see discussion of BHA). Avoid it when possible.” A modern-day Cassandra, Diane Manning, felt compelled to launch this website to help others after suffering her own bout of poor health due to the unknown additives in her otherwise healthy diet. “For the last 20 years, my partners and I have marketed a broad assortment of food and beverage brands, ranging from organic to fast food to processed foods,” she says. “The differences between how companies formulate their products and the questionable additives used by some is absolutely astounding. As a result, we decided it was high time that people learn the truth about some of these food additives and the products that contain them. “ Look for Evo Spa’s Neka Pasquale in the site’s Smart Living section, where she’ll be dispensing nutritional tidbits as the site’s dietary adviser. labelwatch.com

Old pills piling up?

California’s “No Drugs Down the Drain” campaign kicks off to promote disposal of unwanted medication to keep pharmaceuticals out of the sewer system and waterways. As most of us know, you shouldn’t discard old medicine by flushing it down the toilet. Studies have shown the presence of pharmaceuticals in waterways have been linked to the skewed gender ratios in fish populations off the coast of Orange County and male fish in the Potomac River and Boulder Creek displaying female traits. To learn where you can safely throw away unwanted medication, check out nodrugsdownthedrain.org, which lists locations by zipcode.

Ranches and rolling hills

Celebrating 10 years of Marin Agricultural Land Trust art shows, Ranches and Rolling Hills Art of West Marin—A Land Trust features 135 works by 40 artists. Proceeds from the sale of the book assist MALT in acquiring agricultural easements to protect farmland in Marin. Available through Windgate Press. 415.332.0912

Adventure hiking

Leave your car at home and use the local West Marin Stagecoach to reach out-of-the-way hikes with leader Judy Hall, who offers a year-round “Adventure Hiking Meets the Stage” program. Hall has received permission from landowners to take groups to areas that are normally off-limits to the public during her Friday and Sunday morning hikes. Sign up at marinlearn.com. 415.945.3730

Power books

Belvedere resident Carolyn Hansen and Novato resident Cathleen Peck have hiked together for years. The two friends, who met in college at Berkeley, were on one of their regular hikes in Paris (Cathleen used to live there) racing down the Rue di Rivoli, when Cathleen noted that they were “power hiking.” They agreed that power hiking—which they consider a walk with an agenda such as sightseeing—would be a great idea for a book. Their first book, Power Hiking Paris, was unveiled last year, San Francisco has just been released and future books include London, New York, Beverly Hills and New Zealand.  The two have visited all the boutiques and restaurants they recommend as stops along their hiking routes and the itineraries include tips on where to turn back if you get tired and the distance and approximate time of each hike. Order the books at powerhiking.com.

A new business model 

Tiburon-based professor, lecturer and businessman Jon Fisher has started and sold two companies in his life—the second, Bharosa, Inc., was bought by Oracle in 2007—and through that experience he has learned one or two things about building and selling a business. His first-ever book, Strategic Entrepreneurism™—Shattering the Start-Up Entrepreneurial Myths, reveals all that he has learned. SelectBooks, Inc., $21.95, selectbooks.com