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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A Voice in the NELA Wilderness: Flamenco-Fusion Out of Highland Park

I’ve observed what happens when David Holguin, 27, starts to play his guitar. People stop and listen – and then they stay, waiting for another song. “That’s the kind of music we need more of,” said one man who recently stopped to listen to Holguin at the Old L.A. Farmers Market in Highland Park. Holguin, […]

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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: The Art and Craft of Sharpening a Knife

I met Julio Toruno recently at the Old L.A. (Highland Park) Farmers Market, where he works on Tuesdays from the back of his truck, sharpening knives on a whetstone.  Just by watching him, I could tell he epitomizes “old school” craftsmanship.  I approached him as he was sharpening a large kitchen knife and I could […]

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A Voice in the NELA Wilderness:Grow Your Own Oyster Mushrooms

Matt Heidrich of Highland Park loves oyster mushrooms – so much, in fact, that he has mastered the intricate art and science of home cultivation. I visited him recently and learned a lot. Oyster mushrooms grow on the sides of old and dying trees; in the Arroyo Seco, they commonly grow on willows and cottonwoods. […]

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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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