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October 21, 2012 (La Mesa) -- Not only does their creativity bring a smile, but the breadth of ideas, ages and techniques will make a lovely, rounded exhibition. It is exciting each year to see what the students will come up with for the "Our Home, Our Planet" K-12 Environmental Literacy and Art contest. 

Awards will be handed out by Mayor Art Madrid on the Festival Stage of the "Sustain La Mesa" Environmental Festival at 10:00 a.m. on October 27 at Harry Griffen Park.

Altogether 170 pieces were submitted, from which 32 were selected for recognition and exhibition at the La Mesa Library throughout the month of November. 

This year awards for art go to Isaiah Cardenas, Vanessa Martin, Isaiah Bell, Isabel Curtin, Brieanne Keyes, Josh Louviere, Faith Cervantes, Emily Kath, Niran Cuevas, Charlotte Means, Joy Baber, Daniel Delgado, Brianna Johnson and Christopher Babcock.

Poetry awards go to Jakarrie Bryant, Casey Campbell, Slade Watson, Phoenix Todd, Shaquira Bryant, Sam Lawson, Joaquin Baez, Madison Moran, Maryhan Elmashed and Clarissa Hernandez. The award for high school essay goes to Mackenzie Manns.

Recognition also goes to Brandon Pizarro, Kler Pineda, Erick Vega, Jose Pizarro, Alyssa Allman, Justin Schweizer, Samantha Benitez, Jennifer Landa, and Valeria Uribe for their inventions.

This year's "Sustain La Mesa" Environmental Festival will have booths and free information on everything under the sun, from every day useful ideas to the latest in cutting edge technology. Bring your family, bring your recycling, and make a day of it! There will be information booths, activities for the whole family, music, food trucks, and prizes, as well as a breathtaking Monarch butterfly release at 1:45 p.m.

10:00          Contest Awards

10:45          Ms. Smarty Plants

11:20          Helix High School Ukulele Club

11:45          Bamboo Bob

12:20          Paul Seaforth and the Mo'Sax Saxophone Quartet 

1:00 Cadence Baron, Herbs

1:30 Paul Seaforth and the Mo'Sax Saxophone Quartet

1:45 Finale: Butterfly release


For more information, please visit

The contest is a cooperative project between the City of La Mesa's Environmental Sustainability Commission, the La Mesa-Spring Valley School District's ESS Program, and the La Mesa Branch of the County Library System. Printed flyers and bookmarks were underwritten by SDGE, and matting for the exhibition will be donated by Aaron Brothers. 

Environmental Sustainability Commission Members are Gloria Carrillo, Chairperson, Mary Jane Bailey, Vice Chairperson, Charles Anacker, Bill Baber, Debi Byrd, Griffen Dehne, Don Parent, Robin Rivet, John Snyder, DeAna Verbeke and Jon Wreschinsky. Contest judges this year were Ruth Ketchum, La Mesa Librarian, John Gordon, Director of the SDSU School of Art, Design and Art History, and Kristin Kjaero, the Contest Organizer. - -

Casey Campbell, Kindergarten,  "A Kindergartener's '2 Sense' " 

2nd Place Poetry Grades K-2

The Earth looks like the color blue.

The ocean smells like soapy bubbles.

I hear waves that sound like thunder,

CRASH - BOOM into rocks.

The water is wet, my feet in the sand,

feels like oatmeal in my toes.

I smell fresh air, smells like cookies.

I see seaweed, it breaks apart

CRUNCH - CRUNCH under my feet.

I look up and see

yellow, purple, orange and red in the sky.

A sunset, looks like a rainbow.

Time to go to sleep.

I hear music at night,

I hear the sound of crickets outside

When the wind blows,

Sounds like the world is spinning.

My mommy kisses me goodnight.

I feel safe.


Mackenzie Manns, 1st Place Essay Grades 9-12

Big changes start with small steps as most life starts with small beginnings. I am talking about seeds, the beginnings of every gardener's dreams. My dream is a place where La Mesan's of all ages and backgrounds come together to create a difference for future generations. That place is a community garden. Through the establishment of community gardens, La Mesa can strengthen the bonds of our community, educate our youth and improve our environment.

In an era where technology is making the world smaller, some say it is isolating us. According to Stefanie Olsen, people who use social media are 30% less likely to know their neighbors and 26% less likely to provide companionship to their neighbors. [NY Times, Technology, Nov 5, 2009,] What better way to bring neighbors out of their homes than an opportunity to take some pride in the fruits of their labor. Working the soil and watching one's efforts be rewarded with some juicy tomatoes or crisp carrots offers long term self-esteem and optimism. Across the country, community gardens have fostered relationships among neighbors.

As more people turn to pre-prepared meals, our younger generation is losing it's connection to food. Through gardening, lessons are learned about where food comes from, practical math skills and issues of environmental sustainability. The process of waiting for seeds to germinate and learning the importance of constant tending to seedlings teaches young people the need to be patient and steadfast. These are perfect lessons for a generation conditioned to instant gratification.

Community gardens add to the beauty of neighborhoods and increase people's appreciation for living things. They give us a plae to recycle lawn trimmings and other organic wastes, reducing our landfills. Adding to the vegetation also adds to the earth's ability to reduce pollution and restore oxygen in our air.

La Mesa has a great network of parks that offer room for small plot community gardens without reducing the parks usable space or impacting private property. Local businesses like Dixieline, La Mesa Lumber, EDCO and Walmart all offer small community grants and donations that would assist with the needed materials. Also, the American Community Gardening Association offers grants to assist with start up costs. La Mesa calls itself a Tree City USA, I believe we can build on that reputation by adding more green to our neighborhoods and strengthening our community bonds. Imagine our neighborhoods, full of life, friendship and health. What better vision for the next century than this?   


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