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Schools

LAEF announces $3.7 million goal

The Los Altos Educational Foundation, a nonprofit organization led by a board of parent volunteers, is targeting a fundraising goal of $3.7 million for the 2016-2017 school year.

For more than 30 years, LAEF has raised funds from parents and the com...

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Community

 Foothill-De Anza chancellor highlights innovative programs in Rotary Club talk

Foothill-De Anza chancellor highlights innovative programs in Rotary Club talk


Steve Pomeroy/Rotary Club of Los Altos
Judy Miner addresses the Rotary Club of Los Altos at its Aug. 4 meeting.

Despite state funding cuts, Chancellor Judy C. Miner of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District remains positive about the colle...

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Sports

Eagles get defensive

Eagles get defensive


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Los Altos quarterback Cooper Cornell, above, hands the ball off to fullback Nick Pontius, who also starts at defensive tackle.

Football coaches can’t help but be optimistic this time of year – every team is st...

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Comment

Letters to the Editor

Remove coyotes from Los Altos

Coyotes are dangerous apex predators that are killing many cats (at least 10 in the past year) and will move on to attacking dogs and people.

Nationally, a number of people have been attacked recently, including four b...

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Special Sections

Got a wedding singer? Musicians and engaged couples work in tandem to orchestrate perfect night

Got a wedding singer? Musicians and engaged couples work in tandem to orchestrate perfect night


Courtesy of Dick Bright
Dick Bright, a veteran Bay Area musician, manages local bands such as the Dick Bright Orchestra, Club 90 and Encore. His bands ramp up the energy at weddings.

A wedding soundtrack draws nearly everyone to the dance floor....

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Business

LAH startup aims to make startups happy

LAH startup aims to make startups happy


Whether it’s a nail salon or a car mechanic on the premises, many startups are finding creative ways to keep employees happy. Coders have come to expect services at the office, but CEOs – and overstressed human resource officers –...

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People

EDITH B. LACHENBRUCH

EDITH B. LACHENBRUCH

Nov. 4, 1927- Aug. 7, 2016

Edith B. Lachenbruch died on Sunday, August 7th surrounded by family in her Corvallis, Oregon home. She lived an engaged and thoughtful life. Those who knew her will take comfort thinking of the almost 89 years that she ...

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Business

LAH startup aims to make startups happy

LAH startup aims to make startups happy

Whether it’s a nail salon or a car mechanic on the premises, many startups are finding creative ways to keep employees happy. Coders have come to expect services at the office, but CEOs – and overstressed human resource officers – can’t always keep up with workers’ de...

Readmore

Sports

Eagles get defensive

Eagles get defensive

Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Los Altos quarterback Cooper Cornell, above, hands the ball off to fullback Nick Pontius, who also starts at defensive tackle.

Football coaches can’t help but be optimistic this time of year – every team is still undefeated. Los Altos High coach Trevor Pruitt...

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Community

Foothill-De Anza chancellor highlights innovative programs in Rotary Club talk

 Foothill-De Anza chancellor highlights innovative programs in Rotary Club talk

Steve Pomeroy/Rotary Club of Los Altos
Judy Miner addresses the Rotary Club of Los Altos at its Aug. 4 meeting.

Despite state funding cuts, Chancellor Judy C. Miner of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District remains positive about the colleges’ innovative educational programs.

Miner...

Readmore

Comment

Letters to the Editor

Remove coyotes from Los Altos

Coyotes are dangerous apex predators that are killing many cats (at least 10 in the past year) and will move on to attacking dogs and people.

Nationally, a number of people have been attacked recently, including four by rabid coyotes. There are serious problems in Los...

Readmore

Spiritual Life

'World-embracing vision' requires a shift in thinking

 

More than 120 years ago, the prophet founder of the Baha’i faith wrote, “It is not for him to pride himself who loveth his own country, but rather for him who loveth the whole world. The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens.”

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People

EDITH B. LACHENBRUCH

EDITH B. LACHENBRUCH

Nov. 4, 1927- Aug. 7, 2016

Edith B. Lachenbruch died on Sunday, August 7th surrounded by family in her Corvallis, Oregon home. She lived an engaged and thoughtful life. Those who knew her will take comfort thinking of the almost 89 years that she was able to be here as a living, helping, mindful,...

Readmore

Schools

LAEF announces $3.7 million goal

The Los Altos Educational Foundation, a nonprofit organization led by a board of parent volunteers, is targeting a fundraising goal of $3.7 million for the 2016-2017 school year.

For more than 30 years, LAEF has raised funds from parents and the community to provide enrichment programs and smaller ...

Readmore

Special Sections

Got a wedding singer? Musicians and engaged couples work in tandem to orchestrate perfect night

Got a wedding singer? Musicians and engaged couples work in tandem to orchestrate perfect night

Courtesy of Dick Bright
Dick Bright, a veteran Bay Area musician, manages local bands such as the Dick Bright Orchestra, Club 90 and Encore. His bands ramp up the energy at weddings.

A wedding soundtrack draws nearly everyone to the dance floor. As the band plays a Beatles tune followed by Brun...

Readmore

Stepping Out

TheatreWorks gets 'Party' started in Mtn. View

TheatreWorks Silicon Valley is scheduled to give American audiences their first look at the London hit “The Life of the Party,” a celebration of songs by Andrew Lippa.

The musical is slated to run today through Sept. 18 at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro St.

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Obituaries

EDITH B. LACHENBRUCH

EDITH B. LACHENBRUCH

Nov. 4, 1927- Aug. 7, 2016

Edith B. Lachenbruch died on Sunday, August 7th surrounded by family in her Corvallis, Oregon home. She lived an engaged and thoughtful life. Those who knew her will take comfort thinking of the almost 89 years that she was able to be here as a living, helping, mindful,...

Readmore

Magazine

Festival offers fun for just about everyone

Festival offers fun for just about everyone

TOWN CRIER FILE PHOTO
The 37th annual Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival expects to draw thousands of people to the downtown village over the weekend. The festival features arts, crafts, food, wine, beer and children’s activities.

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Going green underground: You CAN take it with you when it comes to environmental values

Photo Town Crier File PhotoA field of flowers or a terrace of trees – green burials offer an environmentally friendly alternative to today's marble-stone cemeteries.
Lowering your carbon footprint – it’s all about switching from regular bulbs to CFLs, recycling garbage and buying produce from local farmers. It’s the least we can do while we’re here to sustain a future for generations to come.

Lowering your final footprint? It’s all about the options available to the environmentally conscious – a way to stay green even after you die, a way to help push up the daisies, so to speak – a way to return as dust to the earth with minimal harm to the Earth.

It’s called a green burial – highly popular in England and beginning to gain attention in the United States. Green burial is a natural alternative to what has become a traditional burial – embalming, casket and marble gravestone. And it’s cheaper.

 

Back then and now

Once upon a time before the Civil War and funeral directors, it fell to family members and close neighbors to prepare and dispose of the remains of a deceased loved one. The body was lovingly washed, dressed and set in the parlor for visitation. Burials followed.

The Civil War, with soldiers dying far from home and the large number of deaths, changed that. Embalming with arsenic to preserve bodies for the train ride home became a trend. Then came formaldehyde, metal caskets, concrete for burial vaults and steel to reinforce the concrete.

“The current burial process, besides being expensive, wastes great quantities of natural resources. It separates us biologically and psychologically from our host planet,” according to Jane Hillhouse’s message at www.finalfootprint.com. “And, perhaps more importantly, it strives to keep us separate from our loved ones at an important time in both lives.”

Hillhouse owns the Half Moon-based Web company that offers biodegradable-receptitacle options for burials.

Cemeteries use vast amounts of fertilizers and water for expansive lawns. From casket to vault to

mausoleum, cemeteries degrade the natural landscape.

Today’s cemeteries and gravesites are here forever although no one will remember those who are buried there 50 years from now. That rankles Deborah Meckler, president of the Funeral Consumers Alliance (FCA) of Santa Clara and San Mateo counties.

“That land is useless,” Meckler said of modern cemeteries. “It’s destroyed as a natural ecosystem – as open space.”

But with cemeteries and plots filling fast and burial costs on the rise, another option for remains’ disposal has become popular. High heat

“The trend definitely is toward cremation, which I think is sad,” Meckler said. “Cremation has two downsides – the energy used in drying a body and the particulate matter emitted.”

You don’t want to be downwind of a crematorium, Meckler said.

With dioxins, nitrous oxide and concentrations of mercury from amalgam fillings in teeth, as well as smoke particulates, cremation is far from being Earth-friendly.

 

Go green gone

With a strong national lobby in the National Funeral Directors Association, Meckler said the FCA was established to educate the public about options for the disposition of remains.

“The funeral industry was packaging service options – people were being charged a lot,” she said.

The FCA successfully lobbied the Federal Trade Commission to prohibit the practice. Consumers are presented with individual options when burying loved ones.

With a bachelor’s degree in natural resource management and conservancy, Meckler’s mission goes beyond protecting consumers to protecting the Earth and educating the public about green burials.

“People seem very interested in this, but most people don’t know about it,” she said.

As open space is procured for green-burial sites – Forever Fernwood in San Mateo County is one such example – Meckler hopes laws can be changed to enable burial sites to be reused after 50 years, long after a body has decomposed. And grazing pastures are a waste of space, too.

“There’s no reason not to use agricultural lands (for green burials),” she said.

 

Green rules

The rules for going green underground are simple – and cheaper on the pocketbook, Meckler said.

• Bodies cannot be embalmed. Contrary to popular belief, embalming is not usually required by law.

“It doesn’t stop the smell, it doesn’t stop the decay. It just makes you look better,” she said.

• Burial containers must be biodegradable. Untreated pine boxes, shrouds – Final Footprint offers wicker coffins – the container must return to earth like the body.

• Levels or horizons of the plot must be removed and returned, level by level. Meckler said it’s important not to mix the different layers of soil in order to protect the living organisms.

• Natural grave markers only are allowed, including a log piece or stones with written or chiseled names. Some green cemeteries issue GPS data on the location.

“But it should just look like open space,” Meckler said of a green-burial site.

And it’s important to understand the difference between a burial and a funeral – just because a burial is simple doesn’t mean the farewell needs to be, she added.

“You can have lavish flowers and music. A green burial doesn’t negate the excesses of a funeral,” she said.

 

Lessons learned

For Meckler, it’s important to prepare a dead loved one for burial rather than handing the body over to strangers. The FCA’s Web site offers advice and guidelines in returning to the traditions of bygone days.

Surprisingly, people aren’t appalled at the idea.

“They’ve cared for loved ones in hospice – for many, they want to do it. It’s no big deal,” she said. “Touching is very important to get that sense of ‘goneness.’”

Others don’t want to discuss death.

“One of our taglines is, ‘Would it kill you to talk about?’” Meckler said.

But while older adults often do want to talk about their deaths and their disposition wishes, children don’t always want to hear about them.

“It’s good to put it in writing,” she said.

And as leaching arsenic from Civil War soldiers’ embalmed bodies becomes a problem in groundwater in the East, Meckler hopes green burials become the trend.

For more information, visit www.fcapeninsula.org or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Contact Mary Beth Hislop at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Submit a Letter to the Editor

The Town Crier welcomes letters to the editor on current events pertinent to Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Mountain View. Write to us at 138 Main St., Los Altos 94022, Attn: Editor, or email editor Bruce Barton at bruceb@latc.com. Because editorial space is limited, please confine letters to no more than 200 words. Include a phone number for verification purposes. Anonymous letters will not be printed.

You can also have your say right here at losaltosonline.com – scroll to the bottom of any story to add a comment. 

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