Friends and friends of friends in SF Bay: Help! I need a place to live!

You’ve found what amounts to a personal ad wherein I ask for help in finding an apartment in the apparently cutthroat San Francisco Bay Area housing market.

However, I’m reasonably certain that good apartments are filled through word-of-mouth beyond the Craigslist free-for-all. So if you or someone you know or someone who knows someone you know is a good landlord looking for a good tenant, please pass along my contact info (right-hand side of the page).

A bit about me: I grew up in small-town Illinois and worked in St. Louis and elsewhere as a journalist. For five of the last seven years, I’ve been a scholar, teacher, volunteer and dive bum in India. Right now, I conduct/oversee social science research for multiple environmental NGOs; I also help manage a nascent permaculture farm/garden project. I’ll be starting a PhD in the Geography Department at UC-Berkeley in August 2016. In student mode, I’m pretty quiet and nerdy; I like statistics and maps. When not studying, I scuba dive, plant trees and occasionally sip bourbon. I’m also a mild cycling activist.

My CV has a more official version of me.

What I’m looking for: a small but individual apartment, studio, carriage house, in-law flat, yurt, Swiss tent, tree house, etc., in the area from El Cerrito in the north to Oakland in the south. I’m looking to move in during the first or second week of August. I would also be excited to trade permaculture work, gardening, urban farming, etc. in exchange for a discount on rent. At first, it will just be me on a grad student’s income, but my wife (a molecular ecologist and elephant geneticist) will likely join me in early 2017.

If this reads a bit like a dating advert, it’s because the process of finding an apartment in such a hyper-competitive area is fraught with nervousness, excitement, cold sweats, self doubt and uncertainty, not unlike young love.

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I think I’m burned out on Rio+20 already

The giant, carnivalesque global environmental summit Rio+20 started rolling this weekend and the official, high-level talks start tomorrow.

Unless you’re really following environmental affairs, this grand meeting may not even hit on your radar. And, to be honest, it probably shouldn’t.

It seems much of the environmental community has low expectations for this year’s conference. Environmental problems are as intractable as ever. Nations continue to struggle with economic matters.

As the name implies, Rio+20 is part-anniversary, part-debrief, part-”let’s find a way forward” from the landmark 1992 Rio Earth Summit officially known as the the U.N. Conference on Environment and Development. Certainly in the last 20 years there have been successes, particularly at the local and national level, but on the international stage, collective action on the environment has largely been ineffective (and I’m being kind).

Though I wish it were otherwise, I don’t have much faith in the international system. Certainly I think attempts to workout problems collectively are necessary and applaud people who will spin their wheels and beat their heads against walls. But I see fundamental flaws as well. The system is broken and it seems to like it that way.

So Rio+20 will likely be all show with a rather weak finish. Sunita Narain, head of the Centre for Environment and Science, has a salient commentary in the centre’s magazine Down to Earth.

But, truth be told, I’m already burnt out on trying to monitor Rio+20 from India. My own thoughts are below:

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