Member Interview – Kerry Parker, 2/2019

courtesy of Ruth Abbe
Kerry Parker, of Alameda’s Public Works Department, holds a sign as Samantha Sommer with ReThink Disposable and “Bag Monster” look on during the 2017 Art & Wine Faire.

Program Specialist II, City of Alameda Public Works Department, hired in 2003
In an island city with a small staff, I do a bit of everything that has to do with trash and recycling. As many are aware, I now find myself an officer of the straws and plastic foodware police (armed with reusable straws); and as the coordinator of Coastal Cleanup Day for 9 years running, this just feels like the closing of a loop. I am the designer and implementer of myriad programs that range from untwisting difficult accounts with ACI – Alameda County Industries, to C&D project monitoring, to managing used oil collection in Alameda’s marinas, to greening city offices via the Green Business Program. For several years a few of us – including NCRA VP Jessica Robinson, performed “The Lunch Monitors” to assemblies of Alameda students to show them how to recycle their lunches properly.

I have a BA from UC Santa Cruz in Sociology and Women’s Studies, which I received while working full time as a Montessori teacher. I have certificates in Zero Waste Principles and Practices, and Managing Recycling Systems from SWANA, I took a whole bunch of trash 101 courses from CRRA eons ago and am a USGBC LEED Green Associate.

My earliest defining moment was my personal tour of Davis Street Transfer Station 12 years ago with Rebecca Jewell. That day of looking at how people tend to sort their stuff, I learned they don’t – much – and that made a huge impression on me. Also, RJ’s use of f-bombs was eye-opening.

More recently, I realized that the impossible can happen as I followed a group of 3 brilliant Alameda High School students into the bubble tea shops of Alameda, and watched them influence the shop owners to use less single-use plastic by incentivizing reusable bottles and steel boba straws. The students pointed at me when they said, “if you remain out of compliance, your business could receive fines.” I nodded authoritatively.

I am an Oakland native and have tons of friends and family all over the area. I love the beach, playing with my dog Butternut, and I can crochet anything. I’m currently trying to figure out how to crochet a curbside cart. Those edges, tho.

What would people be surprised to know about you? I was a Montessori pre-school teacher for 10 years.

What inspires you? Kids. Example: The kids that wrote letters to the city council to ask that plastic straws be restricted are my heroes.

If you could vacation anywhere in the world where would you go? I have been dreaming of a trip to Easter Island to see the Moai, or giant stone heads. I think it would be breathtaking.


Book: Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy. I am an avid science fiction/dystopic novel reader, but this one is feminist utopian – and I love it. Especially significant is the discussion of colorful, fluffy and semi-transparent clothes created for party-goers called “flimsies” that you simply throw in the compost after the party. If textile recycling were only so easy…

Restaurant: I am a foodie, and am super sad to hear that Oakland’s Camino closed because it was a favorite. I heard they have another restaurant called The Kebabery, so now I have another restaurant to check out!

Person: Barack Obama

Recycled Product: I am really in love with the custom receptacles that CleanRiver makes – out of 95% post-consumer HDPE. I suppose that sounds geeky.

Song, Movie or Show: The Book of Mormon

Technology: Any software that helps me get my job done. I love tech.

Time Management Technique: I am a slave to my Outlook appointment calendar. If it’s not on the calendar, it’s not happening.

If you could invite any three people to dinner – dead or alive, who would you invite and why?;

Oh shoot, I just want my NCRA friends to come over for dinner (you know who you are!). Any celebrity alive or dead would make me too nervous and I’d clam up.

Question of Your Choice: What’s my dream job? Solid Waste Manager of [Insert City Name Here]. 😉

Member Interview – Hilary Near, 12/18

As Commercial Zero Waste Analyst for San Francisco Environment, I serve the City and its goals of living more lightly on our Earth through designing and participating in Zero Waste systems. Working primarily with businesses to improve their recovery programs, I consider myself an ambassador for behavior change necessitated by mandates and environmental initiatives.

My formal education includes a BA from UC Berkeley and MPA from San Francisco State. One of the first times I felt like I was among “my people” and chosen path was in StopWaste’s Master Composter class of 2007. Since then, I’ve had the immense privilege of working for some of the Bay Area’s most generous and progressive organizations/people – StopWaste, Cascadia Consulting Group, City of Oakland and San Francisco Department of the Environment. I continue learning on the job and through extra courses like NCRA’s Introduction to Recycling (2009) and US Composting Council’s Compost Operator Training Course (2014). I joined the NCRA Board in 2017. One reason I show up daily to work toward Zero Waste is the chance to continually learn and share with so many passionate change makers!

I’m grateful to enjoy my work for San Francisco Zero Waste. I feel refreshed in my free time by connecting with the soil and other creatures. I care for a small plot in the Oakland Golden Gate Community Garden and several bee hives, along with a cat with whom I share a small studio at North Oakland Golden Gate Co-Housing. Tis the season for wild mushroom foraging, and I love to hike the East Bay hills and head home with a delicious haul of local chanterelles and other fruits of the forest. My yoga and meditation practice are essential to ground and inspire me on this life journey. Come join me for a yoga class at Barefoot Movement in Uptown Oakland!

I’m also inspired by the commitment and love that my co-housing community demonstrates as they show up for each other at weekly meals, hard conversations and little neighborly actions.

Vacation dreams? I would go on another, longer bike packing trip. In Fall I set off on the train to Eugene, Oregon and biked home, camping along the way and going at my own pace. I loved it! I’d continue the trip down the Pacific Coast all the way to Chile, even!

# # #


Member Interview – Nikhil Balachandran, 09/18

I have a relentless desire to find solutions that address sustainability and process efficiency problems by building products from inception to scale with a passion that derives its inspiration from climbing mountains and swimming in open water. My encounters with litter during hiking and open water swimming have been defining moments that have compelled me to switch my career to keep trash out of the environment.

Now CEO of Zabble Inc., I live in Walnut Creek and am happy married to Diana. We are expecting a daughter in the coming weeks.  My professional goal is to build a company that provides services and tools to quantify and categorize waste to enable a circular economy that eliminates waste, is financially efficient and protects Earth.

Read More “Member Interview – Nikhil Balachandran, 09/18”

What’s Next ARB?

AR Boone Wrapper Necklace 11 2015
Arthur R. Boone

By Tom Wright,, 1/14/16

Editor’s Note: Arthur Robinson Boone joined NCRA in the summer of 1983 and has been a continuous and active member for 33 years. He served as President in 1987 and again from 2011 -2013 and Secretary for at least 10 years in between. He founded the very popular Recycling Update (RU) in 1995 and managed it well until stepping down in 2013. One of NCRA’s primary teachers, he produces Introduction To Recycling (ITR) two times a year and would like to do a redux of Nature of Materials. He continues as the chair of the Zero Waste Advocacy Committee (ZWAC). In honor of all that Arthur does or has done for NCRA, Tom Wright stepped up to interview him for the NCRA News. Read More “What’s Next ARB?”

Member Interview – Doug Brooms, 08/14

I’m a Bay Area native. I grew up in Oakland, received a BS Degree in Engineering at San Francisco State in 1970, and a Masters Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford in 1972.

One of my favorite defining moments was when I worked as a student engineering trainee at Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Vallejo in 1967. There for 3 months, I designed an air conditioning system for a data center, including all the duct work drawings and A/C specifications. When I returned to work the following summer, all the work had been completed, and the building was considerably cooler. It was my first and lasting validation as an engineer. During 1969 and 1970, 15 months were spent working at the Lawrence Berkeley Lab on an assortment of mechanical projects related to high energy physics research.

Read More “Member Interview – Doug Brooms, 08/14”