Talal Balaa, a local expert on solar power, gives a talk on how individuals can use the sun to generate power and perform tasks. | Photo by Christopher Nyerges

Solar power is there for the taking, local expert explains how

Victor Limon made soap for sensitive skin. His friends kept asking for more. From what we hear, Victor’s soaps “soften the skin and soothe the soul.” Sound good? We tell you more here. Read on.

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Young Nyerges, in front, in a family photo with his four brothers, sister, Mom and Dad | Photo courtesy of Christopher Nyerges

What my mother taught me about complaining: Don’t!

By Christopher Nyerges

My mother used to tell us, “Quit your complaining!”  

Maybe we wanted something the family couldn’t afford. “Quit your complaining and go out and earn some money,” she’d say. 

Because of my mother, we learned to find creative ways to be youthful entrepreneurs. And, they learned a lot more from her. Read on to learn more.

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Dominique Derouen owner of “Soft Humans Vintage” in Highland Park, wearing the T-shirt of an English neo-psychedelia band from the ’80s and holding an original Ellie Levy ceramic bowl. | Photo by Christopher Nyerges

If you’re looking to buy-nothing-new, look to Soft Humans Vintage, Dominique Derouen’s shop and flea market in Highland Park

By Christopher Nyerges

Since opening “Soft Humans” in Highland Park three years ago, Dominique Derouen has gained a near cult following for the shop’s vintage clothing and kitchen wares, vinyl records and music memorabilia, as well as its twice monthly flea market. It might work for you! Check out why here.

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The year Christopher Nyerges landed on the naughty list turned out to be the one of his best Christimases ever.

I was naughty. There were no toys for Christmas. Here’s what I learned.

By Christopher Nyerges

When I was around 10, my four brothers and I were particularly bad, belligerent, and misbehaving one autumn.  

My mother gave us several warning and threats and a few “beatings” in her ceaseless attempt to get us to obey – all to no avail. 

So, my mother said, “Keep it up and there will be no Christmas this year.”  Read what actually happened in the Nyerges home that year.

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Severin Browne with his latest CD, Overdue, photographed at his home in Highland Park near the Arroyo Seco | Photo by Christopher Nyerges

Severin Browne’s latest CD “Overdue” is right on time

By Christopher Nyerges [www.SchoolofSelf-Reliance.com] Severin Browne has a secure spot on the list of prominent musician/songwriters from Highland Park, along with his brother, Jackson, Timothy Sellers, Tommy Trujillo and the phenom Billie Eilish and her brother, Finneas. And now, Severin, who lives in the home built by his grandfather near the Arroyo Seco, has a […]

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Michelle Williams at the Highland Park Farmers Market holding a crystal that decorates her booth. (The market is open Tuesdays from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.) | Photo by Christopher Nyerges

The healing fairy of Highland Park

By Christopher Nyerges Highland Park resident Michelle Williams is a “healing fairy,” a term she came up with a few years ago. “A fairy,” says Williams, “is a spirit which takes care of the earth and everything that lives on the earth and protects it.  A healing fairy also provides uplifting energy which makes people […]

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At Galco’s, owner John Nese sells birch beer and some 600 other types of soda. | Photo by Christopher Nyerges

My long love affair with Galco’s

By Christopher Nyerges

Galco’s started in 1897 as an Italian grocery store near downtown Los Angeles. The store moved into Highland Park in 1955. It thrived for many years but with the advent of large, chain grocery stores, John Nese  — who was still working for his father — felt that things needed to change.  These days, Galco shoppers can choose from at least 600 different types of sodas. You can get a great sandwich here, but never a Pepsi or a Coke. Read why here.

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The actor Carel Struycken, shown here at his home in Altadena, is a proponent of simpler living and permaculture. | Photo by Christopher Nyerges

The environmental odyssey of Carel Struycken

By Christopher Nyerges Moviegoers know Carel Struycken as “Lurch” in the Addams Family movies or for his roles in Men in Black, Witches of Eastwick, Star Trek: The Next Generation and many other movies and television shows. I know a different side of Struycken. He is a proponent of simpler living and permaculture, a set […]

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Susana Porras and her father capture a moment during their 500 mile pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago in Spain. | Photo courtesy of Susana Porras

Susana Porras: A local poet makes a pilgrimage

By Christopher Nyerges Susana Porras, a Pasadena native and the District Liaison for Pasadena City Councilmember John J. Kennedy, is also an inspired and inspiring poet. Her new book, entitled “To Compostela and Beyond! A Poet’s Chronicle of the Camino de Santiago,” is a collection of 39 sonnets composed on 39 days and nights in 2018 […]

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Timothy Hall lectured on primary water at a recent meeting of WTI, a nonprofit in Highland Park. | Photo by Christopher Nyerges

Water for a thirsty world: Lessons from a maverick

By Christopher Nyerges Timothy Hall, a former Highland Park resident who has worked globally to plant trees and find underground water, recently gave the Sunday lecture at WTI, a community service nonprofit in Highland Park.  Hall’s topic was the life and work of Stephan Riess, a Bavarian-born mining engineer who came to the United States in 1923 […]

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Jesse Carmichael, on a trip to Biocitizen Chile in 2019. | Vicente Aguirre Diaz/Biocitizen Chile.

Jesse Carmichael, biocitizen

By Christopher Nyerges For Eagle Rock resident Jesse Carmichael, the path to becoming a “biocitizen” began around 2017, with a feeling, an urge, to do more to support the earth and young people. She was living in Echo Park, raising her son, running a café, active in the Neighborhood Council and the Chamber of Commerce. […]

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Tom Nuccio, right, explains how to grow tea while Christopher Nyerges, left, photographs the tea plants. | Photo by Helen W. Nyerges

How I learned to grow my own tea — and you can, too

By Christopher Nyerges

If you’ve ever tried to grow your own coffee in Southern California, you were most certainly disappointed when the plants died in the first frost.

But tea is a different story. Would you like to know why? Click on the photo at the top of this page.

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Bushcraft master, James Ruther, teaching the next generation of spoonmakers how to make a wooden spoon | Photo by Christopher Nyerges

A master class in making spoons

By Christopher Nyerges James Ruther is a master of bushcraft, with survival skills that include knife use, foraging, shelter building, firecraft and more. One day, after he and I finished a survival class in the foothills above Eagle Rock, he showed me a wooden spoon. I liked it. It looked a bit different from the […]

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Photo | Google Image

The Longest Straw: A Film by Samantha Bode

When filmmaker Samantha Bode learned that a 338-mile aqueduct brings water into Los Angeles, she decided impulsively to see it for herself by walking its entire length – from the Cascades in Sylmar at the southern terminus of the aqueduct to Mono Lake, 338 miles to the north. The result is a documentary film, The Longest Straw – a close-up look at the environmental impacts of what it takes to keep L.A. alive.

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Recycling the Rain

by Christopher Nyerges During the recent rains, my neighbor, Carol Kampe, collected enough water to irrigate her fruit trees and other plants clear through August. She estimates the savings on her water bill to be about $300 a month. “But I don’t do this for economic reasons,” says Kampe. “I do it because we live […]

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The Allure of Wild Mushrooms

A Voice in the NELA Wildernessby Christopher Nyerges With the recent rains, I have gone in search of mushrooms in wild and not-so-wild spots in NELA and the Arroyo Seco.My study of mycology began in the ’70’s. I wanted to try every wild mushroom I could find until I learned the meaning of the phrase […]

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Zero Waste: An Idea Whose Time is Now

A Voice in the NELA Wilderness by Christopher Nyerges It is sad but true that only a small fraction of discarded materials is recycled, while the rest goes to landfills or incinerators or winds up as immense floating plastic islands in the ocean. Leslie VanKeuren Campbell, a regular at the Old L.A. Farmers Market in […]

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A Voice in the NELA Wilderness: One Man’s Quest to Revive the Dying Art of Basketmaking

Some 20 years ago, I saw a photograph of Justin Farmer in the Southwest Museum in Highland Park. In the photo, Farmer is holding a traditional long bow. I have never forgotten it. Farmer is not primarily known for his bow-making, though that is one of his many skills. Farmer is best known for his […]

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A Voice in the NELA Wilderness: Local Pioneer of Self-Reliance Practices What She Teaches – and Teaches What She Practices

Recently, Prudence Boczarski was at the Highland Park Farmers’ Market, showcasing her natural bakery business and representing WTI, the local nonprofit founded in 1971 to teach urban dwellers how to live better with less. And since there is no better way to teach than to give a hands-on demonstration, Ms. Boczarski was also using her […]

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A Voice in the NELA Wilderness: Soil from Coffee Grounds, Water from the Air Conditioner

I recently noticed a new flower bed behind Antigua Bread, the coffeehouse/bakery at 5703 N. Figueroa St. Where there once had been weeds and trash was a beautiful wood-framed garden bed, approximately 6-by-6 feet, with colorful flowers, some vegetables – and a five-gallon plastic bucket strapped to a tall wooden pole and connected by a […]

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A Voice in the NELA Wilderness: How Does Your Drought-Resistant Garden Grow?

State water officials recently toyed with the idea of reinstating drought-era water rules and making them permanent. In the end, they didn’t act. But rules or no rules, it behooves all of us to find and practice a lifestyle of water conservation. Northeast Los Angeles is part of a coastal desert plain, with enough local […]

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