09272016Tue
Last updateWed, 28 Sep 2016 4pm

News

Suspected serial bank robber arrested

Suspected serial bank robber arrested

The suspect wanted in connection with a local bank robbery in July has been identified and arrested by San Jose Police officers.

Havens

Officers arrested San Jose resident Spencer Havens Sept. 15, according to a department press release publish...

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Schools

Foothill astronomy star Fraknoi wins national teaching award

Town Crier Report

Foothill College astronomy professor Andrew Fraknoi recently received the Pinnacle Professor Award for long-standing, distinguished service to the professionalization of astronomy education.

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Community

Balanced  Mountain View revamps website

Balanced Mountain View revamps website

The Campaign for a Balanced Mountain View recently revised and updated its website and has launched a Facebook page.

Courtesy of Balanced Mountain View

The group’s mission is to encourage Mountain View residents to engage in the civic process.

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Sports

Pride Bowl trophy returns to Los Altos

Pride Bowl trophy returns to Los Altos

As the Los Altos High football team remained on the field to celebrate Friday night’s 12-9 win and pose for photos with the Pride Bowl trophy, stunned rival Mountain View trudged to the locker room to face disappointed head coach Shelley Smith and hi...

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Comment

Letters to the Editor

Voting is a personal responsibility

In his Sept. 14 letter to the editor (“Take a stand on presidential election”), Michael Rappaport criticizes the Town Crier’s decision to not endorse/recommend a presidential candidate.

I applau...

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Special Sections

LAHS student launches international website on mental health

LAHS student launches international website on mental health


Photos courtesy of nadia ghaffari
Months after founding the website TeenzTalk, Ghaffari, second from left, spoke with international teens at the Yale program about methods to overcome stress.

When Nadia Ghaffari went to Yale University this summer ...

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Business

Start-up with big dreams launches localized, secure messaging app

Start-up with big dreams launches localized, secure messaging app


megan V. winslow/town crier
Marty Kacin, right, CEO of Los Altos Research Center, promotes his newly released app last week.

Approximately 150 guests, including the mayor and other Los Altos officials, convened at Los Altos Golf & Country Cl...

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People

FLORA WALLACE

Flora Wallace, beloved wife of Seymour and cherished mother of Linda, passed away on September 7, 2016. She succumbed to complications of cancer. Flora was born in Argentina on March 17, 1927. She lived in Los Altos for approximately 55 years. She wa...

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News

Suspected serial bank robber arrested

Suspected serial bank robber arrested

The suspect wanted in connection with a local bank robbery in July has been identified and arrested by San Jose Police officers.

Havens

Officers arrested San Jose resident Spencer Havens Sept. 15, according to a department press release published Thursday.

Havens, 25, is suspected of robbing ...

Readmore

Business

Start-up with big dreams launches localized, secure messaging app

Start-up with big dreams launches localized, secure messaging app

megan V. winslow/town crier
Marty Kacin, right, CEO of Los Altos Research Center, promotes his newly released app last week.

Approximately 150 guests, including the mayor and other Los Altos officials, convened at Los Altos Golf & Country Club to witness the launch of a new business three y...

Readmore

Sports

Pride Bowl trophy returns to Los Altos

Pride Bowl trophy returns to Los Altos

As the Los Altos High football team remained on the field to celebrate Friday night’s 12-9 win and pose for photos with the Pride Bowl trophy, stunned rival Mountain View trudged to the locker room to face disappointed head coach Shelley Smith and his staff.

By the time the somber Spartans emerged,...

Readmore

Community

Balanced Mountain View revamps website

Balanced  Mountain View revamps website

The Campaign for a Balanced Mountain View recently revised and updated its website and has launched a Facebook page.

Courtesy of Balanced Mountain View

The group’s mission is to encourage Mountain View residents to engage in the civic process.

Readmore

Comment

Letters to the Editor

Voting is a personal responsibility

In his Sept. 14 letter to the editor (“Take a stand on presidential election”), Michael Rappaport criticizes the Town Crier’s decision to not endorse/recommend a presidential candidate.

I applaud the Town Crier for saying, “You’re o...

Readmore

Spiritual Life

Spiritual Briefs

Baja orphanage founders share experiences Sunday

Bill and Kaye Lawrence, founders of the Rancho Santa Marta orphanage and school for developmentally challenged children in Baja California, are scheduled to speak 9:30 a.m. Sunday at Union Presbyterian Church of Los Altos, 858 University Ave. A light...

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People

FLORA WALLACE

Flora Wallace, beloved wife of Seymour and cherished mother of Linda, passed away on September 7, 2016. She succumbed to complications of cancer. Flora was born in Argentina on March 17, 1927. She lived in Los Altos for approximately 55 years. She was an avid gardener, stunt kite flier, and supporte...

Readmore

Schools

Foothill astronomy star Fraknoi wins national teaching award

Town Crier Report

Foothill College astronomy professor Andrew Fraknoi recently received the Pinnacle Professor Award for long-standing, distinguished service to the professionalization of astronomy education.

Readmore

Special Sections

LAHS student launches international website on mental health

LAHS student launches international website on mental health

Photos courtesy of nadia ghaffari
Months after founding the website TeenzTalk, Ghaffari, second from left, spoke with international teens at the Yale program about methods to overcome stress.

When Nadia Ghaffari went to Yale University this summer for a global program for high school students, she...

Readmore

Stepping Out

LA Stage Company snuffs out 'Assassins' Sunday

LA Stage Company snuffs out 'Assassins' Sunday

Richard Mayer/Special to the Town Crier
The cast of the musical “Assassins” includes, from left, Chase Campbell, Ken Boswell and Andy Cooperfauss.

Los Altos Stage Company is scheduled to present “Assassins” through Sunday at Bus Barn Theater.

Launching the company’s 21st season, the controvers...

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Obituaries

FLORA WALLACE

Flora Wallace, beloved wife of Seymour and cherished mother of Linda, passed away on September 7, 2016. She succumbed to complications of cancer. Flora was born in Argentina on March 17, 1927. She lived in Los Altos for approximately 55 years. She was an avid gardener, stunt kite flier, and supporte...

Readmore

Magazine

California lilacs come in all sizes

California lilacs come in all sizes

Tanya Kucak/Special to the Town Crier
The profuse blue flowers of ceanothus shrubs in late winter to late spring lure many pollinators. On a sunny day, you can find the nearest California lilac by listening for the sound of happy bees.

Pete Veilleux experiments with all kinds of native plants at...

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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.

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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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