Creating together︎ on purpose.

Chatting with community compost advocate, Katherine.

Katherine is a crew member at LB Community Compost.  After downing some bomb breakfast burritos and coffee at Good Time, Katherine (aka Kawt) – a Long Beach Community Compost Crew Member – and I sit down to discuss her latest crafty adventure in the form of a zine. Take a down to earth type triiiip with us as she shares her motivation for creating her second community composting zine, her enthusiasm for design, and her admiration for community composting collectives, like ours.

Photos & Interview by Celeste.






…After an hour of us chatting about absolutely nothing and everything*, I finally focus and ask her some questions about the zine. Incoming our conversation…

︎You mentioned part of the reason you wanted to create the zine is because you were concerned about the green bins** rolling out and how that may impact how people view community composting. Can you explain what you mean by that? ︎

Yeah! I guess…just how do we convey to people -- not just the importance of converting food scraps to soil -- but also them feeling motivated to want to start their own backyard composting, because now we have this convenience of green bins being rolled out and now, they can just conveniently put their scraps in there. How do we convey to them that it's more than just about food scraps or going to the landfill…it's also about them having the chance to create a space to connect with neighbors? The food waste from the green bins is transported by trucks so there's still emissions from that, and, you know, and whatever digester it goes to, there's still emissions. And because of that, we should convey to them the need for community composting for those food scraps that are beneficial to the soil.

︎ You’ve created 2 community composting zines now. How were you inspired to create zines? ︎

So the first version of the zine, there was an event coming up that we were attending and I said I was going to do a zine for it. And like most of my stuff, I procrastinated it and I did it in one night in like five hours, so it was the rush of having to finish up that made me complete it.

︎ How was the reaction for your first zine? What made you feel good about it? ︎

Yeah, I think for the most part. It was a youth fair, so I was gearing it more towards kids, but people who just didn't know about composting liked it. So that was nice to see. I think when I made that first one, it was more about how can we say in a concise and clear way what composting is because composting doesn’t have to feel complicated. So, that's what I was trying to convey.

︎ What made it easy for you to convey that message of community composting? ︎

I think some books that you've given me and a CRA*** class I took with the city. So picking up all that knowledge and just experiencing it for myself by doing it with community for about a year at that point…that's what the zine covers. Because people a lot of times ask “What if it's too smelly?” “What if it’s too wet?” So, with all that in mind, I wanted to design it in a way that is easy and will be helpful for people.

︎ Then the second zine came along. And how did that how did that come up? ︎

Yeah, when we have talked with the group about the second zine and ideas, a lot of crew members mentioned we’ve been asked a lot about when the green bins will be rolled out. Which we don’t know because that’s a city effort. And it was about where we should go with this. Should we talk about the difference between anaerobic and aerobic? Even my own friends that were dropping off were asking me if our crew will still be a thing after we get green bins.

It's been a huge creative outlet for me. I went through so many versions of it. Because I feel I've become harder on myself with this kind of stuff. I first made a digital asset. And like everyone thought it was cool. But I felt like I could do more to represent our collective, soI did a second version and played around with construction paper and it felt more crafty and rough around the edges. And then I felt like... that's us. That feels right. The playfulness and the reason I made it a cassette too was like to get to feel make it feel inviting to get people's attention. You can have a song and each song can have the same lyrics. But if one has a funkier beat, you're going listen that one. F*ck the lyrics. That’s how I wanted to grab people’s attention.                  

︎ And that goes back to your first point of why locals should be investing in community composting. ︎

Yeah, we collect zip codes and it's crazy how, like, although we're Long Beach but we operate in the surrounding neighborhood of Signal Hill and we only counted like 32 drop offs from Signal Hill last year out of… I forgot how many, but...can I check real quick?

Pause as shes looking up them numbers…

So we've had 1054 drop offs so far this year and only 33 are from Signal Hill, and some of that may be because Signal Hill residents already received their green bins or an educational component, so I’m thinking how can we encourage those actually around us to continue or start community composting?

I feel keeping your food scraps in local soil is such a powerful thing to do. It's like such an eff you to the system and it’s easy to do.                                             

︎ What do you hope for, that people learn from your creations? ︎

I guess I hope they look at it and they have an AHA! moment.

I’d like them to feel the benefits outside of environmental stuff that I've experienced being a part of this collective and a lot of us continue to stay because of that. For me, when I first started coming, the composting aspect was probably like, 80% of the reason I was coming. And now it's like only 20% of the reason. Yes, it’s so important, but the community aspect is even more encouraging… yeah it’s beautiful.

︎ What about design inspires you and what’s next for Kawt? ︎

Design is a good way to get people's attention and invite them in. Yeah, that's important. Yeah, I think part of what you've done with the social media is like, making it creative and is part of what's brought people in too.

︎ I agree, design is important – how it’s like a magnet and how people can feel welcome by just looking at it. I loved how you created the zine in the shape of a cassette. I feel it. But, you didn’t answer my question – what’s next for Kawt?︎

Zines are still a thing I am interested in continuing to do, depending on how we’re feeling or a message we need to get out. Maybe I’ll make a mini bug zine. But it'd be cool if the next one is a bit more collaborative with the rest of the collective. Also, as we’ve discussed, maybe some content on social media that’s around compost education.

It’d also be fun to start having more fun artsy like workshops at the pile. So, like a day to name our piles with sign making and creating our bike sifter. I just feel it should all just feel good and we should all feel like we can create freely.

︎ Yessss, go with the flow Kawt, go with the flow.
Thank you for chopping it up!︎

︎Editor’s Notes:

*Katherine and I sat down for a conversation at Good Time in Long Beach, CA. I send my gratitude to her for opening up and chatting with me about her experience creating for and with community.

**Green bins: Learn more here. Ask the city if you have Q’s about them.

***CRA stands for the “Compost Recycler Ambassador” Program. Learn more here.