Mendo Island Journal — Timely. Useful. Sometimes Cranky.

Archive for December, 2008|Monthly archive page

Farmers Market News

In Dave Smith on December 31, 2008 at 1:06 pm


farmheadquarters2

From Scott Cratty

Greetings  -

Happy New Year!

This Saturday Ukiah’s 1st farmers’ market of 2009 will almost surely be bigger than the close of 2008 (which was cold, spare and poorly attended … the smallest on record by a wide margin).  Thanks to you hardy few who attended.  My apology to the couple of you who arrived close to 1 p.m. and found us packing up … it was just too cold for a few of the vendors after the propane tank for the heater ran dry.

Lots of good signs for the start of 2009.  Pedro Ortiz should be back from vacation. Mendocino Organics will be back as will most of our other regular vendors (don’t forget to keep up with Paula’s great blog.)  With a bit of luck somewhat calmer waters should also increase the range of fish.

We will have Jerry Krantmanback with his eclectic acoustic music … he might even let you sing along with a tune or two.  Plus, it should be a bit warmer.  Heck, it might even crack 50.  I will be refilling the propane tank just in case.

Don’t forget to get your ticket for our new raffle.  Loads of fine stuff.

As always, the market is in Alex Thomas Plaza on Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Check Friday’s UDJ for part two of my New Year’s food rant.

Community Announcement:

Learn how to create your own Victory Garden.  A free class for beginners presented by Mendocino County’s Master Gardeners that will cover how to choose a garden location, play the layout, prepare the soil, plant, irrigate and maintain a garden.  Bring a picture or map of your yard and a jar with tight fitting lid half full of dirt from the location you wish to plant. January 17, 8:30-noon, 2240 Old River Rd.   To register contact JT via email at jtwilli@ucdavisedu or call 463-4495.

See you at the market.


…and the band played on…

In Dave Smith on December 31, 2008 at 12:41 pm


titanicsinkingsm

From Evan Johnson

Media conglomerate owner Singleton has steadfastly maintained his company is financially sound and honoring its financial commitments.

Media company announces employee benefit cuts
Written by Elizabeth Larson
Wednesday, 31 December 2008

LAKEPORT – The parent company of the Lake County Record-Bee [Ukiah Daily Journal, et. al.] gave employees some not-very-happy holiday news this week, telling them that the company is cutting its matching contributions to the 401(k) retirement plan.
……
Moody’s Investors Services downgraded nearly all of the company’s $1 billion in debt further into junk status, reaching a non-investment grade rating of “Caa3,” which according to an Associated Press report is the third-lowest rating on Moody’s scale.

Moody had previously downgraded MediaNews’ debt in May. Three months later, the company sold its Connecticut newspaper holdings, including the Connecticut Post and seven non-daily newspapers, to Hearst Corp.

The rating downgrades are based on Moody’s lowered opinion of the company’s ability to meet its financial obligations after a 16-percent decline in revenue for the third quarter, and concerns over a revolving $175 million credit facility that comes due in December 2009, according to the Associated Press.

The Associated Press noted that the downgrade also has the impact of making it harder for MediaNews to find new financing because of default concerns.
~

[Let's get these local newspapers back into local, independent ownership. The $800,000 that leaves our county every year from the UDJ to parts known (Asia) and unknown, would be better used circulating in our community. Also, rumors of The Bullhorn resurrection are encouraging. Go for it, Laura and Sid! -DS]


Whole Lotta Shakin Goin On

In Dave Smith on December 31, 2008 at 5:14 am


From Lisa Mammina
New Year’s Eve Party
PAY IT FORWARD, RING IT IN, JUST DANCE!
Celebrate with Great Music and Good Friends
Appetizers and Drinks
8:00 pm to 1:00 am
Over 21 Crowd
No Host Bar
$20 Per Person
107 S. Oak St., Downtown Ukiah
More Info? Call 707.467.8229

See also Live Hulu Coverage of Times Square 2009


Henry David Sez

In Dave Smith on December 31, 2008 at 5:11 am

thoreau

One says to me, ‘I wonder that you do not lay up money; you love to travel; you might take the [railroad] cars and go to Fitchberg today and see the country.’ But I am wiser than that. I have learned that the swiftest traveller is he that goes afoot. I say to my friend, Suppose we try who will get there first. The distance is thirty miles; the fare ninety cents. That is almost a day’s wages. I remember when wages were sixty cents a day for laborers on this very road. Well, I start now on foot, and get there before night; I have travelled at that rate by the week together. You will in the meanwhile have earned your fare, and arrive there some time tomorrow, or possibly this evening, if you are lucky enough to get a job in season. Instead of going to Fitchburg, you will be working here the greater part of the day. And so, if the railroad reached around the world, I think that I should keep ahead of you; and as for seeing the country and getting the experience of that kind, I should have to cut your acquaintance altogether.
~

It is remarkable that there is little or nothing to be remembered written on the subject of getting a living; how to make getting a living not merely honest and honorable, but altogether inviting and glorious; for if getting a living is not so, then living is not.
~

It is not enough to be industrious; so are the ants. What are you industrious about?
~

With all your science can you tell how it is, and whence it is, the light that comes into the soul?
~

Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence. Wherever a man separates from the multitude and goes his own way, there is a fork in the road, though the travelers along the highway see only a gap in the paling.
~

Pursue, keep up with, circle round and round your life, as a dog does his master’s chaise. Do what you love. Know your own bone; gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, and gnaw it still.
~~

See also A Timbered Choir by Wendell Berry
(Tip of the hat to Dave Pollard)


Tree News from Friends of Gibson Creek

In Dave Smith on December 30, 2008 at 3:29 pm

gibsonheadwaters

From Linda Sanders
Friends of Gibson Creek

Tree Friends-

On  December 17, 2008 the City Council chambers packed with students from the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas and members of Compassion for Animals, Respect for the Earth (CARE) voiced their request for changing the language in the existing animal related code from owner to guardian. The tree protection supporters voiced their support of a city tree
commission.

Council briefly discussed the benefits of a tree committee versus commission and decided to re-agendize Tree Ordinance, Tree
Commission or Tree Committee, Existing Policies and Recommendations and Plans for sometime in March. City staff created the 12/17 agenda item that listed nine competing interests for the 12/17 meeting, of course it placed us at a disadvantage in vying for the Council’s attention. Council voted 4-1 for changing the animal regulation language to guardian. Tree protection will take time.

Do come to the Planning Commission meeting on 1/14/08.


Ohio Amish Farmers Food Co-op Raided – KZYX Tuesday Ecology Hour 7-8pm

In Dave Smith on December 30, 2008 at 3:20 pm

kzyx

From Steve Scalmanini

via Doug Mosel
~

Various news reports:

Ohio authorities stormed a farm house in LaGange Monday, December 1, to execute a search warrant, holding the Jacqueline and John Stowers and their son and young grandchildren at gunpoint for nine hours. During the raid the Ohio Department of Agriculture and police confiscated over ten thousand dollars worth of food, computers and cell phones. The Stowers’ crime? They run a private, members-only food co-op.

While state authorities were looking for evidence of illegal activities,
the family was not informed what crime they were suspected of, they were not read their rights or allowed to make a phone call. The children, some as young as toddlers, were traumatized by armed officers interrogating the adults with guns drawn.

The Morning Journal, a newspaper serving northern Ohio, reported that the Stowers were believed to be operating without a license. However, the Stowers claim that the food co-op they run does not engage in any activities that would require state licensing.

Friends of the Stowers openly question why such aggressive tactics were necessary to investigate a licensing complaint.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture has apparently been chastised by the courts in previous cases for over-reach, including entrapment of an Amish man to sell raw milk, which backfired, when it became known that the man gave milk instead of selling it to a state undercover agent, refusing to take money for what he believed to be a charitable act. The Amish literally interpret the Gospel of Matthew (5:42) to “give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.”

The matter has been forwarded to the Lorain County Prosecutor’s Office and the Lorain County General Health District according to Lorain County court records.


Locabucks: Are local currencies the answer?

In Dave Smith, Mendo Island Transition on December 30, 2008 at 6:28 am

From Dave Smith
More at Mendo Moola

Excerpt:

On July 5th 1932, in the middle of the Great Depression, the Austrian town of Wörgl made economic history by introducing a remarkable complimentary currency. Wörgl was in trouble, and was prepared to try anything. Of its population of 4,500, a total of 1,500 people were without a job, and 200 families were penniless.

The mayor, Michael Unterguggenberger, had a long list of projects he wanted to accomplish, but there was hardly any money with which to carry them out. These included repaving the roads, streetlighting, extending water distribution across the whole town, and planting trees along the streets.

Rather than spending the 40,000 Austrian schillings in the town’s coffers to start these projects off, he deposited them in a local savings bank as a guarantee to back the issue of a type of complimentary currency known as ’stamp scrip’. This requires a monthly stamp to be stuck on all the circulating notes for them to remain valid, and in Wörgl, the stamp amounted 1% of the each note’s value. The money raised was used to run a soup kitchen that fed 220 families.

Because nobody wanted to pay what was effectively a hoarding fee [technically known as 'demurrage' and often referred to as "negative interest"], everyone receiving the notes would spend them as fast as possible. The 40,000 schilling deposit allowed anyone to exchange scrip for 98 per cent of its value in schillings. This offer was rarely taken up though.

Of all the business in town, only the railway station and the post office refused to accept the local money. When people ran out of spending ideas, they would pay their taxes early using scrip, resulting in a huge increase in town revenues. Over the 13-month period the project ran, the council not only carried out all the intended works projects, but also built new houses, a reservoir, a ski jump, and a bridge. The people also used scrip to replant forests, in anticipation of the future cashflow they would receive from the trees.

The key to its success was the fast circulation of scrip within the local economy, 14 times higher than the schilling. This in turn increased trade, creating extra employment. At the time of the project, Wörgl was the only Austrian town to achieve full employment.

Six neighbouring villages copied the system successfully. The French Prime Minister, Eduoard Dalladier, made a special visit to see the ‘miracle of Wörgl’. In January 1933, the project was replicated in the neighbouring city of Kirchbuhl, and in June 1933, Unterguggenburger addressed a meeting with representatives from 170 different towns and villages. Two hundred Austrian townships were interested in adopting the idea.

Unterguggenberger was opposed to both communism and fascism, championing instead what he referred to as ‘economic freedom’. Therefore, it was deeply ironic that the Wörgl experiment was first branded ‘craziness’ by the monetary authorities, then a Communist idea, and some years later as a fascist one.

Continue reading full article at The Oil Drum

See also Beyond Greed and Scarcity at Yes Magazine


This and That and DDR

In Around the web on December 29, 2008 at 5:26 pm

janie2

From Janie Sheppard

This post will most likely turn out to be a bit of this and that, locally inspired. A bit of this: I wish someone would tell us exactly what DDR, would be developer of the old Masonite site, is up to. Are they folding their tent? All I know is that Jeff Adams, DDR’s local man-on-the-scene, isn’t answering phone calls, even from people who were (are?) working with him. We do know that DDR, apparently without any qualms on the part of the Board of Supervisors, tore up all the railroad track on the property, which would be a strange thing to do if DDR was thinking of unloading the property, or maybe not. Mysteries abound. On a related matter, could someone who attended the December 14th meeting of Mendocino County Tomorrow report on what’s going on with that group?

The larger question posed by DDR’s plans is: Who does DDR envision its customers would be? Mervyn’s couldn’t make it, Kohl’s thinks it can even while more county residents have less money to spend. I’m curious how they figure that. Long suspicious of marketing studies I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that whoever conducted the original DDR marketing study was using made-up numbers, just like Ponzi scheme master, Bernie Madoff. Likewise, whoever conducted the marketing study for Kohl’s.

On the subject of made-up numbers one memorable scene comes to mind: Supervisor Colfax expressing disbelief that DDR’s proposed development would result in an increase of 26 eating establishments hereabouts. Disbelief seems too mild a word; astonishment perhaps? And yet on the basis of patently ludicrous numbers shopping centers get built. Not all succeed. In the end, I suspect their success or failure has little to do with the forecasts in a marketing study and more to do with elusive factors such as feng shui. There isn’t a lot of feng shui at the Mervyn’s site, which is owned by DDR, as Evan Johnson’s ironic photo shows. If Kohl’s succeeds, obviously I’m wrong, but I’d rather see the building demolished and a community garden established on the site, growing vegetables for the local food bank, Plowshares, and the Ford Street Project. The feng shui would emerge, people would eat, and profits would be in the form of healthier local residents.

The local farmer’s market at Alex Thomas Plaza has quite a different vibe: Local merchants selling fresh, locally grown food, handmade toys, beautiful woolen hats and scarves, and cosmetics, some of which I captured in a photo post. I’m spending whatever I can afford there, where the local merchants are appreciative and helpful and the profits stay at home. Why should I help DDR or Kohl’s when their profits go to huge out-of-state corporations? And what the local merchants don’t carry (yet) I will try to do without, or buy at a thrift shop, where the profits stay right here.

For a winter vacation we went to Mendocino to stay at the Stanford Inn, within 50 miles of our house, but with all the amenities of far-away fancy resorts. There, the profits do not get sucked up by a big corporate chain, but are plowed right back into the business and the county. It is a great way to get away while keeping your money at home . . . My grandson was drawn like a magnet to the electric train set up under a lovingly adorned Christmas tree; Bill and I loved the imaginative food, and my daughter and son-in-law loved the huge swimming pool and the hot tub. The dogs loved the strange smells, the other dogs, and the cats (well, love isn’t quite the right word for the cats, but their tails did wag).

And that’s it for today.
~~

See also The Mall Man’s Dreams For Ukiah at the AVA→


The Idea of a Local Economy

In Dave Smith on December 28, 2008 at 10:23 pm

Excerpts from The Idea of a Local Economy
Orion Magazine (2001)
Wendell Berry

A total economy is one in which everything—“life forms,” for instance,—or the “right to pollute” is “private property” and has a price and is for sale. In a total economy significant and sometimes critical choices that once belonged to individuals or communities become the property of corporations.

A total economy, operating internationally, necessarily shrinks the powers of state and national governments, not only because those governments have signed over significant powers to an international bureaucracy or because political leaders become the paid hacks of the corporations but also because political processes—and especially democratic processes—are too slow to react to unrestrained economic and technological development on a global scale. And when state and national governments begin to act in effect as agents of the global economy, selling their people for low wages and their people’s products for low prices, then the rights and liberties of citizenship must necessarily shrink. A total economy is an unrestrained taking of profits from the disintegration of nations. communities, households, landscapes, and ecosystems. It licenses symbolic or artificial wealth to “grow” by means of the destruction of the real wealth of all the world…

Aware of industrialism’s potential for destruction, as well as the considerable political danger of great concentrations of wealth and power in industrial corporations, American leaders developed, and for a while used, the means of limiting and restraining such concentrations, and of somewhat equitable distributing wealth and property. The means were: laws against trusts and monopolies, the principle of collective bargaining, the concept of one-hundred-percent parity between the land-using and the manufacturing economies, and the progressive income tax. And to protect domestic producers and production capacities it is possible for governments to impose tariffs on cheap imported goods. These means are justified by the government’s obligation to protect the lives, livelihoods, and freedoms of its citizens. There is, then, no necessity or inevitability requiring our government to sacrifice the livelihoods or our small farmers, small business people, and workers, along with our domestic economic independence to the global “free market.” But now all of these means are either weakened or in disuse. The global economomy is intended as a means of subverting them.

Continue reading The Idea of a Local Economy


Solar letter to Obama

In Mendo Island Transition on December 28, 2008 at 2:47 pm

From Michael Laybourn

I was contacted by the Obama Transition Team for input. So I did some input for them, wondering if anyone would ever read it, much less take some action. Here is what I wrote:

Transition Team:

Thanks for this opportunity.

Solar could meet 74% to 86% of total US residential electricity demands by 2010 and 2025, respectively. (Navigant Consulting study)

A solar house can power a new electric vehicle or plug-in hybrid and it could provide enough electricity to be its own energy source. Multiply that for over 200 million cars to drive 12k miles per year. That’s enough to replace the oil we currently import.

How do we get there?

If the government subsidized 1/2 to 2/3 the cost of a home or small business solar system and did low interest loans for the rest of the cost, it would be very attractive for anyone (with enough sun) to go solar. Then, as they did in Germany, have the utility companies pay for the electricity they would be receiving at a somewhat higher than market rate until the loans are paid off. Then when the loans are paid off, the utilities could pay the market rate and possibly purchase the electricity cheaper than it costs now, even though clean energy is worth more as a product.

Clean energy creates millions of jobs, helps global warming, and creates the infrastructure for electric autos.

Don’t subsidize? Let me scoff: We subsidize the auto and oil industry with highways, tax credits and bailouts. We have always subsidized nuclear and coal both in research and  tax breaks. We have not included the costs of cleanup (the Superfund, etc), which is another subsidy. We seem to be stupidly subsidizing Wall Street without any checks and balances at the moment.
Clean energy is the smartest way to help the economy, release us from dependence on oil and rebuild our national infrastructure.

——-

Now, in your mind, transfer this locally. The City of Ukiah would end up with very cheap energy, I think.


Monumental Times

In Dave Smith on December 27, 2008 at 6:51 pm

earl-photo

From Earl Brown

[Earl Brown, one of our community treasures, has been fighting the good environmental fight for many years at great personal sacrifice. Find him hanging out at Ukiah's Coffee Critic in the mornings, and at the Brewpub at all hours, when he's not off saving the planet. Talk to him. Listen to his wisdom. Feel the passion and commitment of an earth warrior. He is here for you and me and all of us. He cares more deeply about our environmental predicament, and involves himself in living the change without self-aggrandizement, more than anyone I know. The old commercial says "I wanna be like Mike." No thanks. I'd rather be more like Earl. -DS]

We are living in monumental times. There is nothing small about world events and circumstances as we enter 2009 and the challenges we face are going to get tougher and more eminent in our lives. Our political system, long abused by the rich elite and corporate pressure, has succumbed to the fear mongering and manipulation by these special interests, they have bought into perpetual war, the diminishment of civil liberties, environmentally destructive consumerism, religious fundamentalism and the economic enslavement of its citizenry.

It is a good thing that we are monumental Beings, not here to lead “normal” lives. It is a good thing to know, during these time of collapse and re-structuring, that our human-ness, our ability to be human, our Human Potential has yet to be tapped. It is good to know that we are up to the challenges that the knowledge, creativity, imagination and energy exists within us and within all of Life. The question is: Do we have the “will” to come together, to make the little sacrifices in our own lives that are needed to make the changes we know need to be made?

Continue reading Monumental Times


Redeeming the future

In Guest Posts on December 27, 2008 at 5:16 pm

From Gail Johnson

This is about the bigger natural community we are in. Just an excerpt. Perhaps interesting and germane.

By Chief Oren Lyons, Faithkeeper of Onondaga nation
Interview from Book, “A Seat at the Table” by Huston Smith 2006 Univ. of Calif. Press p.174

Redeeming the Future

All Indian nations, as far as I know, have this profound understanding of and belief in the Creation. We believe that the Creation was perfect, and the Creation was profoundly diverse, from the smallest creatures to the varieties of bugs, the varieties of plants, the varieties of fish, the varieties of trees, and the varieties of peoples. They were all different, and they were all interconnected, and they were all related.

In fact, what you had was community. You had a world community of life. A life that really existed in what I would call the Great Law of Regeneration. The greatest natural law is the law of regeneration, the ability to regenerate endlessly as long as you maintain the rules of the law, which is variety. So if you tamper with variety then you are challenging the laws of regeneration, which of course means that it’s the human beings who are doing it. Absolutely the only ones who are doing it. They are now challenging the process of life itself. They put themselves in jeopardy now because in our understanding and in our belief, you can never challenge these laws. You can only abide by them. You can only understand them.

But if you challenge natural law and think you are going to change it, then eventually you are going to come to that crisis point where life is not regenerating itself anymore.

One of our Indian leaders said, “Only after you cut the last tree, and only after you’ve caught the last fish, and only after there is nothing left; only then will you realize that you can’t eat coal.

“Only after.”


“All of these rights spell security…”

In Dave Smith on December 27, 2008 at 9:12 am

FDR’s Economic Bill of Rights

It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people—whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth—is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.

This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights—among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.

As our nation has grown in size and stature, however—as our industrial economy expanded—these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.

We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. “Necessitous men are not free men.” People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.

In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all—regardless of station, race, or creed.

Among these are:

The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;

The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;

The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;

The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;

The right of every family to a decent home;

The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;

The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;

The right to a good education.

All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.

America’s own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for our citizens.


Self-Reliance vs. Self-Sufficiency

In Dave Smith on December 27, 2008 at 8:07 am

From So Shall We Reap, Colin Tudge
via The Transition Handbook, Rob Hopkins

A system of farming that was truly designed to feed people and to go on doing so for the indefinite future, would be founded primarily on mixed farms and local production. In general, each country (or otherwise convenient political or geographical unit) would contrive to be self-reliant in food. Self-reliant does not mean self-sufficient. A self-sufficient country would produce absolutely everything that it needed, and would not trade with outsiders and this, for most countries, would be a non-sense…

Self-reliance does mean, however, that each country [or county or region - Ed.] would produce its own basic foods, and be able to get by in a crisis. Strategically, this can be highly desirable. Britain found this in both world wars, when the entire country was under siege. Today, surely, most poor countries would benefit from basic self-reliance, and might well make this their prime goal, even if they also attempt to compete in world markets with rivals that have various kinds of head start.

See also Disaster Farming


Oppose Tom Vilsack’s Confirmation as Secretary of Agriculture

In Around the web on December 27, 2008 at 8:04 am


From Organic Consumers Union via John McCowen

Despite a massive public outcry, including over 20,000 emails from the Organic Consumers Association, President-Elect Obama has chosen former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack to be the next Secretary of Agriculture.

While Vilsack has promoted respectable policies with respect to restraining livestock monopolies, his overall record is one of aiding and abetting Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) or factory farms and promoting genetically engineered crops and animal cloning. Equally troubling is Vilsack’s support for unsustainable industrial ethanol production, which has already caused global corn and grain prices to skyrocket, literally taking food off the table for a billion people in the developing world.

The Organic Consumers Association is calling on organic consumers and all concerned citizens to join our call to action and block Vilsack’s confirmation as the next Secretary of Agriculture. Please help us reach our goal of 100,000 petition signatures against Vilsack’ nomination. Sign today!

Go to Sign Petition

See also A food agenda for Obama – change we can eat


The barn raising

In Dave Smith, Garden Farm Skills on December 26, 2008 at 1:38 pm

mortise

From the original Contrary Farmer, Gene Logsdon, over at OrganicToBe.org

The summer tornado that touched down in Holmes County left a path of destruction cut as cleanly into the landscape as a swath mown through the middle of a hayfield. The wind plucked up giant oaks, tulip poplars, ashes, and maples and laid them down in crisscrossed, splintered chaos through the Amish woodland. With the same nicety for borderline definition, the tornado sliced through Amish farmsteads, capriciously reducing barns to kindling while ignoring buggy sheds, chicken coops, corncribs, and houses close by. In the twenty-minute dance that the tornado performed before exiting into the wings of the sky as abruptly as it had come, it destroyed at least fifteen acres of mature forest a hundred years or more in the growing, and four barns that represented the collected architectural wisdom of several centuries of rural tradition.

But what followed in the wake of the tornado during the next three weeks was just as awesome as the wind itself. In that time—three weeks—the forest devastation was sawed into lumber and transformed into four big new barns. No massive effort of bulldozers, cranes, semi-trucks, or the National Guard was involved. The surrounding Amish community rolled up its sleeves, hitched up its horses and did it all. Nor were the barns the quick-fix modern structures of sheet metal hung on posts stuck in the ground. They were massive three-story affairs of post-and-beam framing, held together with hundreds of hand-hewn mortises and tenons.

A building contractor, walking through the last of the barns to be completed, could only shake his head in disbelief. Even with a beefed-up crew, it would have taken him most of the summer to build this barn alone and it would have cost the farmer $100,000, if in fact he could have found such huge girder beams at any price.

Continue reading The Barn Raising at OrganicToBe.org


A little scary…

In Around the web on December 26, 2008 at 10:39 am

From Michael Laybourn

At the time I first saw this it was kind of funny. Now… It’s a little scary…
Dear Beloved American:
“I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship with a transfer of funds of great magnitude.
I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My country has had crisis that has caused the need for large transfer of funds of 800 billion USD. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most profitable to you.

I am working with Mr. Phil Gramm, lobbyist for UBS, who (God willing) will be my replacement as Ministry of the Treasury in January. As a former U.S. congressional leader and the architect of the PALIN / McCain Financial Doctrine, you may know him as the leader of the American banking deregulation movement in the 1990s. As such, you can be assured that this transaction is 100% safe.

This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check. We need the funds as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these funds in the names of our close friends because we are constantly under surveillance. My family lawyer advised me that I should look for a reliable and trustworthy person who will act as a next of kin so the funds can be transferred.

Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund account numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to wallstreetbailout@treasury.gov so that we may transfer your commission for this transaction. After I receive that information, I will respond with detailed information about safeguards that will be used to protect the funds.
Yours Faithfully Minister of Treasury Paulson”

Lo and behold! He got the blank check and no one can tell him what to do with it. What is left after these giveaways? No one knows, neither Congress nor the American people.

Continue reading A little scary…


Ukiah Farmers Market Saturday

In Dave Smith on December 26, 2008 at 10:06 am

From Scott Cratty

Family is in town, gifts have been given, the post holiday sales were all shopped yesterday, leftovers are dwindling … what to do in Ukiah with friends and family on a post holiday Saturday morning?

How about showing off our pretty historic downtown and stopping in at the Saturday Farmers’ Market? The market will be small and mellow (we will not have live music to save those talented fingers from the cold, we will be spinning local music on the boombox). A few vendors will be out with their own families but we should still have lots of great local foods and some quality local crafts you can get with the dollars you got trading in that electric ear warmers from Uncle Floyd.

Stop in and enjoy a baked good to support the Ford Street Project, have a cup of fair trade, organic Thanksgiving coffee and share a smile. Getting some fresh local food also is a great way to keep your strength up for all next week’s parties, like the one at the Saturday Afternoon Club…

New Year’s Party PAY IT FORWARD, RING IT IN, JUST DANCE! Celebrate with Great Music and Good Friends. Appetizers and Drinks 8:00 pm to 1:00 am. Over 21 Crowd. No Host Bar. $20 Per Person 107 S. Oak St., Downtown Ukiah . More Info? Call 707.467.8229

There is a slide show version of WELL co-founder Dr. Jason Bradford’s video on this blog at Scenario 2020: The Future of Food in Mendocino County… a “history” of how Mendocino County survived the economic and social upheaval of 2009 and learned how to feed itself. The slide show version is here

Check Friday’s edition of the UDJ for Part I of my first (and likely only) New Year’s rant.

See you at the market.


Solstice Renewal

In Dave Smith on December 26, 2008 at 9:37 am

From Jeff Cox over at OrganicToBe.org

After holding my six week old granddaughter in my arms this afternoon, I had a revelation about Christmas. All my life, I thought the celebration was about the arrival of the redeemer in the form of a particular baby 2,000 years ago. But today I realized that there’s a larger context to the Christmas story.

Looking at the sleeping baby in my arms, I saw that every baby has the potential to be a redeemer. Every newborn could grow to become a savior. Each new baby is a blank slate on which may be written a deep and meaningful story. Every baby should have three kings come to worship him or her, and give that baby precious gifts. Who knows who that little person is, or will become? Every newborn is a renewal of the pledge of life: that we will grow stronger and better and more valuable than ever before. And all that hope is wrapped tightly in the body and soul of a newborn babe.

Continue reading Solstice Renewal at OrganicToBe.org


A Japanese town that kicked the oil habit

In Dave Smith on December 24, 2008 at 1:00 pm

From Steve Scalmanini
This short article is downright inspirational, thinking about what we could do locally. The $6,000 per resident cost is comparable to the typical current price of putting solar on a single family dwelling – roughly $20,000. Assuming three people per dwelling, that’d be $18K. Sounds doable to me…

Continue reading


The true meaning of Christmas

In Dave Smith on December 24, 2008 at 12:44 pm

From Evan Johnson

See also What is worse than coal in your stocking? Coal in your drinking water (AlterNet)


Happy Christmas (War Is Over)

In Dave Smith on December 22, 2008 at 9:49 pm

Click on post title above for full-size video


Workplace democracy our key to future prosperity

In Dave Smith on December 22, 2008 at 8:18 am

From Dave Smith

I’ve long admired the life and thinking of author and talk show host Thom Hartmann (pictured here). He advocates a living wage, not a minimum wage, and a reversal of the gradual decimation of our middle class by raising our national wage so there is prosperity for all, not just the few. History proves his wisdom.

We cannot have full prosperity until our big businesses and institutions  accept the union democratic process of bargaining between equals. Prosperity does not trickle down, it bursts up from a well-paid citizenry. Bashing the unions during these trying times will do nothing but prolong our national financial agony. When Henry Ford grasped the fundamentals of how prosperity works in an industrial economy, he raised his workers wages so they could afford the cars they were building and the auto industry took off. He understood that everyone benefits when labor is paid a living wage… that effective demand is the key.

President Lincoln also understood this:

Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.

In his article Needed: Workplace Democracy, Thom defends the union movement that, even with all its flaws, is fundamental to reversing the financial disaster caused by greed and lack of democratic values at the top, and years of anti-union, anti-regulation, and anti-middle-class policies.

Thom writes:

It took the Republican Great Depression to wake people up. It took Franklin D. Roosevelt to speak the truth. If a politician said the same things today that Roosevelt did in the 1930s – openly accusing big business of being anti-American and antiworker – he’d be accused of socialism and communism. Very few national figures have the courage to speak out today the way FDR did back then.

Roosevelt provided courageous leadership. In his first term, he had sent to Congress the National Industrial Recovery Act, which set standards for wages and working hours and established the right of laborers to organize. This set the stage for labor groups to bargain for wages and conditions. Thanks in large part to FDR’s work on behalf of labor, in the 25 years after World War II the real incomes of the middle class doubled.

Go to Thom Hartmann’s article Needed: Workplace Democracy


Seasoned Greetings

In Dave Smith on December 21, 2008 at 3:41 pm

From Evan Johnson


The wisdom of uncertainty

In Around the web on December 21, 2008 at 12:48 pm

This from Kurt Cobb
via Energy Bulletin

More than 50 years ago author and interpreter of Zen to the English-speaking world Alan Watts wrote a book entitled “The Wisdom of Insecurity.” He made the case that feelings of certainty and security were just that, feelings. Our true and perpetual state as humans is that of uncertainty and insecurity. The world never stops changing and never stops unsettling our settled notions, at least if we pay careful attention to it.

And so, what’s really necessary to feel certainty in one’s life is to be oblivious to what is actually happening. For Watts a good life and a happy life, taken with all its sufferings, is one lived while paying attention. Recent events are forcing more of us to pay careful attention. But to pay attention is to feel more insecure and more uncertain. Still, instead of something to be avoided, insecurity is something to be embraced. It forces us to become more resourceful, to encounter the world as it is and to gain a measure of prudence that can serve us well when we are tempted to believe the optimistic hype of investment advisors, economists, politicians, or experts of any kind.

Continue reading post on his blogsite


Circulating through the blogosphere…

In Around the web on December 20, 2008 at 11:29 pm

Click on post title above to enlarge

Like Iraq, it’s the leadership at fault, not the foot soldiers…


Disaster Farming

In Dave Smith on December 20, 2008 at 9:06 am

From Dave Smith

It been clear for decades now what a disaster chemical farming is wreaking on our personal health and the health of our planet. From the so-called Green Revolution in developing countries, to the vineyards, golf courses and lawns in our local environs, the use of poisons to grow our food and green our playgrounds has turned our bodies into sacks of toxic landfill; our preventative health systems into obscenely profitable medical drug systems; and our brains into mush… unable to tell the difference between a home to live in and a get-rich-quick scheme, or to accept the science that global warming is caused by our daily activities.

According to 28 years of exhaustive research by the venerable Rodale Institute (videos), we can mitigate a large chunk of greenhouse gas damage by moving to local, small-scale organic farming. The report states that by turning all our farmland in this country to organic practices “where we are putting basically cover crops or compost back into the soil and not using chemical fertilizers, we could mitigate 25 percent of our emissions in this country alone… the biology in the soil wants to pull the carbon and keep it down in the soil…” but synthetic fertilizers kill that biology. Small organic farming can feed the world and help save it from climate disasters at the same time.

There are organic alternatives for farms, vineyards, lawns, parks, and golf courses that are gaining in use across the world. Mendocino County is already a national leader in organic and biodynamic vineyards. As the first county to ban GMO’s, we need now to begin banning the unnecessary and destructive use of chemicals in our local farming, gardening and horticultural practices. Whether or not we use harmful chemicals ourselves, we all inhale and absorb second-hand chemicals wafting through our air and tracked into our homes along with our kids and pets who roll around in neighbors’ chem-saturated lawns.

Local retailers and farm suppliers can be better neighbors by replacing their harmful chemical products with organic alternatives, and begin educating their customers on their application and use.


Greetings, Farmers’ Marketers

In Dave Smith on December 19, 2008 at 1:58 pm

From Scott Cratty

Yahoo weather informs me that tomorrow will be the balmy day of the week … it may even be dry!

How fortunate because tomorrow is your last chance to stock up at the farmers’ market for the special triple whammy week of winter solstice, Hanukkah and Christmas.

Come support our new craft vendors and find those last minute gifts … how about a beautiful potted bulb arrangement from Salt Hollow Farms in Redwood Valley?

As a special pre-holiday treat we will have Sweetie Pies from Willits bringing apple/cranberry and sweet potato pies-available as whole pies or by the slice with whipped cream.

We will also have the Julian Trio back for one last fiddle powered romp this year!

In case you did not look have the chance to check it out before, please consider signing on the Food Declaration.

Remember to start using the GreenXchange to share information about all of your gardening and farming plans.

Enough for now … see you at the market.


seasonal words

In Guest Posts on December 18, 2008 at 9:56 pm

From Benj Thomas

Yesterday in Mulligan books, I was reminded of this poem by Naomi Shihab Nye, so appropriate for this time of year. I cannot read aloud the last stanza, even to myself, without tears.

I also want to say that I just watched Lars and the Real Girl. A very moving film, as well as improbably funny. Also good for the season. Mature teenagers will get it and like it.

And finally, I did my local shopping in spades the other day, when I bought at Dig Music a disk made by the Charles Ford Band, which is really Robben, Mark and Pat Ford, plus a few others. It is a wonderful disk, if you like lively blues (I do). Highly recommended.

Kindness

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and with the breath of life.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then it goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

–Naomi Shihab Nye


Scenario 2020: The future of food in Mendocino County (video)

In Dave Smith on December 18, 2008 at 3:42 pm

A presentation by local Jason Bradford originally given to Leadership Mendocino, Nov. 14, 2008. Jason presents from the point of view of the year 2020 on the history of Mendocino county after an energy crisis, describing the rapid changes that followed. A brilliant must-see for county residents…

Continue to video at Global Public Media


Feedback to Obama from Ukiah

In Dave Smith on December 18, 2008 at 2:29 pm

From Annie Esposito and Steve Scalmanini

There is a local group forming to send feedback to the incoming administration – as is happening with other groups around the country.  Antonia Juhazs, author of “The Tyranny of Oil,” encouraged people to do this when she spoke in Ukiah recently.  For more information, contact  ruth at rusander1@yahoo.com.

A half dozen to a dozen people gather in front of the court house every Friday from 5 to 6 pm, to urge world peace upon the rush hour traffic.  They report that over the span of time they’ve been there with their anti-war signs, approval rating has continued to climb with more honking and ‘right ons.’   But there was a disturbing change after Obama won the election.  They received racist slurs from several passers-by for the first time.  The overall reaction of the drivers and pedestrians, however, continues to be positive.

Meanwhile there is a new website Obama Watch – put together by Redwood Valley resident Jim Houle.  He is running short reality checks comparing what Obama has promised with what he is doing – both the Beautiful and the Ugly.   Houle also welcomes contributions to the site – but no windy editorials, please.  It’s at http://www.Obama-Watch.us and you can contact Jim at obamawatch@willitsonline.com. And we can celebrate escaping the reign of a President Palin:  The local Democrats will hold a Mendocino version of the Inaugural Ball.  That will  be at the fairgrounds in Ukiah January 20th, 7 pm.  The Democrats will dance while a 65″ screen above the band shows the Ball in DC.  It’s evening attire and costs $35 (to benefit the Mendocino County Democratic Central Committee).  Contact gigi@pacific.net for information – they think it will sell out.


The People’s Business

In Dave Smith on December 18, 2008 at 6:36 am

From Dave Smith

I admire our meeting-people… those who make democracy work by sitting in endless meetings and engaging in the process of finding common ground among diverse personalities and interests, and then making compromises and decisions that will not make everyone happy, but will make forward progress.

The give and take to find consensus or a majority; the standing firm on principle; the willingness to probe another’s reasons and compare it to one’s own… and then to painfully change one’s mind and accept another’s argument, or stand aside for the betterment of community. This is how progress is made in a democracy, and it requires patience, respect, discipline, civility, dignity, forbearance, and many, many hours of listening with attention and empathy… and when required, passionate defense of what is fair and right.

This is all in good working order and in full display at Ukiah City Council meetings. If only we could simply replace the County of Mendocino Board of Supervisors and County Staff with their counterparts in the City of Ukiah, the county might start working again.

With two new Supervisors coming on board, one can hope.


Jefferson quote currently circulating in our community

In Dave Smith on December 17, 2008 at 10:25 am

“I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.”


Tree ordinance City Council tonight 6:30pm

In Dave Smith on December 17, 2008 at 9:51 am

From Linda Sanders
Friends of Gibson Creek

Tree Friends,
Tonight at City Hall near 6:30 pm the Tree Ordinance is the second item on the agenda, see Unfinished Business Item 10a www.cityofukiah.com (See City Council Agenda).  Vice Mayor Baldwin says that our item should come up quickly. Friends of Gibson Creek will be asking Council to appoint a tree commission to work on a tree ordinance in 2009, using the City of Davis’ Tree Program as a model for Ukiah . We will also be requesting that all tree activity on City property follow the current policies and procedures that were adopted by city council back in 1994.

Bruni Kobbe’s well written letter to the editor appeared in yesterdays UDJ to highlight the many benefits of the urban canopy.  Thanks Bruni, and to all of you for doing your part on behalf tree protection and healthy communities.     Your support tonight is really important!


What is a Transition Culture?

In Dave Smith on December 16, 2008 at 8:33 am

Rob Hopkins (UK):

This involves looking at what I call the Head, the Heart and the Hands of Energy Descent.

By the Head I mean the concepts of peak oil, arguments for and against localisation as well as any historical examples that we can learn from.

The Heart refers to exploring how to actually engage communities in a positive and dynamic way, how to use peak oil as a tool for empowerment rather than leaving people feeling helpless. This part of the exploration is about how to actually facilitate change, and the dynamics of cultural transformation.

The Hands refers to the practical aspects, could the UK become self sufficient in food and how? How much well managed woodland would it take to heat a town with efficient CHPs? Can local materials be used to retrofit houses?

Continue reading about Transition Cultures


It all starts at the local level…

In Around the web on December 15, 2008 at 9:00 am

From the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia via the Energy Bulletin

Creating locally self-sufficient economies and renewing democracy: a friendly vision.

Go to: The Flaw of Western Economies


Ukiah tree ordinance news…

In Dave Smith on December 15, 2008 at 6:09 am

From Linda Sanders
Friends of Gibson Creek

Tree Friends,
We are going back to City Hall this Wednesday.  Fortunately the Tree Ordinance has moved up the agenda ladder to Unfinished Business Item 10a  (See City Council Agenda).  Since 12/3, Friends of Gibson Creek have been very busy meeting with the City Manager, communicating with council members and conversing and e-mailing members from ReLeaf, Main Street Program and City of Ukiah’s Paths Open Space & Creeks Commission.   Ideally, we would like the Council to appoint a tree commission to work on tree protection using the City of Davis’ Tree Program as a model for Ukiah.

Look for Bruni Kobbe’s article in the Ukiah Daily Journal that should run before Wednesdays City Council meeting.  Thanks so much to all of you who came to the last Council meeting on 12/3.  It was a test of patience.  I anticipate a better reception this time but one never really knows.    Your support is crucial, please add your voice on the 17th.


New report on peak oil…

In Around the web on December 15, 2008 at 12:10 am

Thanks to the Energy Bulletin:

Britain’s leading green commentator, George Monbiot, tackles the International Energy Authority’s chief economist, who reveals for the first time a startling and worrying prediction for the date of peak oil…

Go to 12 minute interview


Quotes of the day

In Dave Smith on December 14, 2008 at 12:31 pm

Quotes from Dave Pollard at How To Save The Earth

  • From Upton Sinclair: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”
  • From Esther Dyson: “Always make new mistakes”
  • From Charles Bowden in Blood Orchid: “We are an exceptional model of the human race. We no longer know how to produce food. We no longer can heal ourselves. We no longer raise our young. We have forgotten the names of the stars, fail to notice the phases of the moon. We do not know the plants and they no longer protect us. We tell ourselves we are the most powerful specimens of our kind who have ever lived. But when the lights are off we are helpless. We cannot move without traffic signals. We must attend classes in order to learn by rote numbered steps toward love or how to breast-feed our baby. We justify anything, anything at all by the need to maintain our way of life. And then we go to the doctor and tell the professionals we have no life. We have a simple test for making decisions: our way of life, which we cleverly call our standard of living, must not change except to grow yet more grand. We have a simple reality we live with each and every day: our way of life is killing us.”

A day at Ukiah’s Farmers Market

In Around the web on December 13, 2008 at 4:31 pm

From Janie Sheppard

Today’s Ukiah farmers market at Alex Thomas Plaza was beautiful. Because this is one of those “a picture is worth a thousand words” topics, I will dispense with words and just show you what I mean…

These happy people have a basket of winter vegetables from the Mendocino Organics Winter CSA.

Continue reading A day at Ukiah’s Farmers Market


Our daily news sources…

In Dave Smith on December 12, 2008 at 5:35 pm

Quote from Kurt Vonnegut:

Our daily news sources, newspapers and TV, are now so craven*, so unvigilant on behalf of the American people, so uninformative, that only in books do we learn what’s really going on.

*weak, spiritless, cowardly


Draft General Plan Update info

In Dave Smith, Guest Posts on December 11, 2008 at 9:20 pm

Anna Taylor, Anderson Valley, passes this along:

Comment letters received in response to the Draft General Plan Update and Draft Environmental Impact Report documents are available for review on the Planning Team Website.  Attachments, including attached letters, are included although not separately listed. Email addresses have been blacked out. The comment period for inclusion of each comment and response within the Draft Final Environmental Impact Report began with the release of the Draft General Plan Update on July 21, 2008; the Draft EIR on September 18, 2008; the subsequent comment period ending on November 18, 2008.

To view the letters, go to www.co.mendocino.ca.us/planningteam.  Go to “What’s New” on the homepage, or to the “Master Calendar” on the General Plan Update page.

For assistance in accessing this information, please telephone the Planning Team at (707) 467-2569.

Sally Palacio
Administrative Assistant
Mendocino County Planning Team


Greetings, Friends of the Market

In Dave Smith on December 10, 2008 at 9:09 pm

From Scott Cratty

Roots of Change is urging people to sign onto the petition at Food Democracy Now, which urges President-Elect Obama to nominate a Secretary of Agriculture who will be a strong advocate for family farms and sustainable practices. Check it out and join in if you agree. You might also be interested in signing the Declaration for Healthy Food and Agriculture. Roots of Change is starting a campaign to have this petition at every farmers’ market in the state … we will probably have it available at the Ukiah market soon in case you would rather sign on paper.

Keep reading Greetings, Friends of the Market


A dollar spent…

In Dave Smith on December 10, 2008 at 11:53 am

From Dave Smith
See update below…

A local merchant forwards this:

A dollar spent at a locally-owned store is usually spent 6 – 15 times before it leaves the community.

From $1 you create $5 – $14 in value within the community.

Spend $1 at a national chain store and 80% of it leaves immediately.

Thanks for contributing to our sustainable community.

Quote:  Tim Mitchell, first cited in E magazine, article available through the Northwest Earth Institute’s Choices for Sustainable Living discussion course book.
~
Update 12/11/08: The local Chamber of Commerce sent this quote out to their email list today, and soon thereafter a retraction email was sent out and replaced with the same quote minus this part: “Spend $1 at a national chain store and 80% of it leaves immediately.”

H-m-m-m…


The value of decentralizing

In Dave Smith on December 10, 2008 at 10:18 am

From Dave Smith

Jeff Vail:

This post will argue that, when measured from the perspective of the median participant, decentralization offers a superior structure for both economic and political organization, a structure that may prove far more sustainable in a post-peak world than our current, centralized, hierarchal patterns of organization. Suburbia, not as a model for material consumption, but as a legal and social lattice of decentralized and more uniformly distributed production land ownership, has the potential to serve as the foundation for just such a pioneering adaptation—a Resilient Suburbia.

Continue reading A Resilient Suburbia 4: Accounting for the Value of Decentralization


My Wilderness

In Dave Smith on December 9, 2008 at 10:55 am

From Dave Smith

Excerpt from Gene Logsdon post today over at OrganicToBe.org:

I walk from one part of my property to another as through a continuous wilderness. The vegetable rows, the woods, the pasture, the creek bottom, the little grain- and hayfields are all “garden.” They are all part of the Great Garden that once covered the Earth and might cover it again. As I walk, I pass only from one realm of the Great Garden to another. The more indeterminately the borders coalesce, the more assuredly I achieve the oneness of the natural continuum.

Continue reading My Wilderness


Sun this morning, Ukiah

In Dave Smith on December 9, 2008 at 9:12 am

From Dave Smith


“Oh Shit!” moments

In Dave Smith on December 8, 2008 at 11:36 am

From Dave Smith

Over the years, our community has engaged in Buy Local, Shop Local, Localization, Support Locally-Owned Business, and other educational and action efforts with some limited success.

But the timing of individual leadership and our community’s awareness and urgency has never coalesced effectively or long-term around the efforts.

Recently, one of our local merchants realized that his major product was not selling, and he had an “Oh Shit! Moment.” The economy was crashing, local customers were not visiting his store, and it was affecting him personally. He got on the phone and sent out emails and organized meetings and the business community jumped on the bandwagon and created an effective Buy Local campaign in days that woke up the local merchants and the community.

The urgency of one person (the hundredth monkey?), and the response of the community as a whole, created action on a grand local scale… at least for Holiday 2008. And then what? On to Blackholesville?

In the future, there will be Oh Shit! Moments around local food, farming, energy, money, media, water, and more, just like the consumer and credit scares of  this moment. We’ve had several scares in past years — with momentary, urgent action — then the momentum drifted off into black holes somewhere. The energy scare during the seventies certainly created awareness, but the culture as a whole drifted off once again into ignorance when the emergency was over.

Here’s to more epiphanies that create long-term actions for the common good. It looks like this time there’ll be no second chance.


Supporting local agriculture

In Around the web on December 7, 2008 at 7:17 pm

From Janie Sheppard

This is a first installment of reporting on a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).  Bill and I bought half a share in Adam Gaska and Paula Manalo’s Mendocino Organics Winter CSA.  Saturday we picked up our first basket of winter vegetables.

If you don’t already know about CSA’s, here are the basics:

Economics. Non-farmers pay a local farmer to grow their vegetables.  The non-farmers pay up front for the whole season, thereby assuming the risk of crop failure while allowing the farmer to make all his or her seed and equipment purchases without having to arrange for credit, which as the recent economic crisis reminds us, is hard to get.  Extending credit to farmers, especially the small local farmers, has never been easy.  CSA’s solve that problem handily.

Read more of Supporting local agriculture


The making chasm

In Dave Smith on December 7, 2008 at 10:30 am

From Dave Smith

Business Guru Seth Goden recently wrote the following:

Great caption for a cartoon in this week’s New Yorker:

There’s a lot I want to experience, but not a lot I want to actually do.

In my exposure to companies big and small, this is probably the single biggest gulf. Lots of people there for the ride, not so many actually doing.

Doing appears risky, because it exposes you to criticism and perhaps failure. Experiencing is hot right now, being part of the social network, helping maintain that online tribe you belong to.

Getting your ducks in a row is not nearly as powerful as actually doing something with your duck.

How’s your duck doing?


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