Mendo Island Journal — Timely. Useful. Sometimes Cranky.

Archive for January, 2009|Monthly archive page

Dear President Obama…

In Around the web on January 30, 2009 at 11:48 am

By Jason Bradford

Dear President Obama…

…How You Could Give Me Hope

I know heaps of ridiculously high expectations are being placed upon you, but allow me to give you five simple, inexpensive and immediate ways that you could provide hope.

1. Convert White House lawns to food gardens. In addition to an assortment of vegetables (imagine fresh arugula whenever you are at home), go ahead and include hens, a beehive, and perhaps a dairy cow (I think you have the space). I am a farmer so I know that getting your nails dirty would be a great compliment to a basketball workout and is fantastic for mental relaxation and acuity. A walk through the garden would likely help during tense negotiations, whether foreign or domestic. But most importantly, this move would give people the message that some degree of self-reliance is good for them and their country.

2. Bring House Rep. Roscoe Bartlett over to your office for a special presentation of his energy talk, make sure your cabinet is there, and present him with an appropriate Presidential Medal of some sort. He’s a Republican so this would be a great bipartisan move. He is also a bona fide scientist who can speak with authority on the “source” side of the equation with respect to fossil fuels.

3. Invite James Hansen and his wife to stay in the Lincoln bedroom. Keep him around long enough to personally be assured that you understand his positions and reasoning. He believes substantive changes in energy policy need to happen within your first term or the planet is toast. Unfortunately, I think he’s right.

4. Place Herman Daly as a key economic advisor. So far your economic team looks to me like the same folks who created the mess. I have absolutely no confidence in them. Much of the banking system is a black hole that is insolvent and unredeemable. By contrast, the hundreds of billions (soon to be trillions?) of dollars wasted in shoring up banks could help pay down our ecological debts if allocated wisely. Maybe you are going to tell these guys to do a pirouette and reform themselves and their ilk?

5. Develop a “Securing the Basics” plan. With the economy tanking, the risk of civil unrest, both here and abroad, is real. Because we are mostly a society of urban and suburban consumers, households in the U.S. must pay for basic goods. The extreme income inequity in the U.S. is an additional vulnerability. Lack of self-reliance means that if oil imports are cut off suddenly or commerce falters due to a cascade of credit failures, the very necessities of life such as food, water, and shelter may be lost to tens of millions of citizens. If the population knew that a credible plan existed to mitigate for such a catastrophe, ensuring fair and timely distribution of goods, it would reduce the likelihood that panic would set in. Over the long-term, a society that is not so import-dependent, especially for food and energy, should be a policy goal.

Read the whole letter at The Oil Drum

Hat tip to Meca

Self-Actualizing Work – Abraham Maslow

In Books, Dave Smith, Small Business Skills on January 30, 2009 at 10:07 am

Maslow on Management (Book Excerpts)
Abraham H. Maslow

A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What a man can be, he must be. This need we may call self-actualization… It refers to man’s desire for self-fulfillment, namely to the tendency for him to become actually what he is potentially: to become everything that one is capable of becoming…

To do some idiotic job very well is certainly not real achievement. What is not worth doing is not worth doing well.

The test for any person is—that is you want to find out whether he’s an apple tree or not—Does He Bear Apples? Does He Bear Fruit? That’s the way you tell the difference between fruitfulness and sterility, between talkers and doers, between the people who change the world and the people who are helpless in it.

…seeking for personal salvation is anyway the wrong road to personal salvation. The only real path [is] salvation via hard work and total commitment to doing well the job that fate or personal destiny calls you to do, or any important job that “calls for” doing… This business of self-actualization via a commitment to an important job and to worthwhile work could also be said, then, to be the path to human happiness (by contrast with the direct attack or the direct search for happiness) — happiness is… a by-product, something not to be sought directly but an indirect reward for virtue… The only happy people I know are the ones who are working well at something they consider important… Or I can put this very bluntly: Salvation Is a By-Product of Self-Actualizing Work and Self-Actualizing Duty.

…most people prefer no work at all to meaningless work, or wasted work, or made work… In self-actualizing people, the work they do might better be called “mission,” “calling,” “duty”, “vocation,” in the priest’s sense… For the truly fortunate worker, the ideally enlightened worker, to take away work (mission in life) would be almost equivalent to killing him.

All human beings prefer meaningful work to meaningless work. This is much like stressing the high human need for a system of values, a system of understanding the world and of making sense out of it. This comes very close to the religious quest in the humanistic sense. If work is meaningless, then life comes close to being meaningless. Perhaps here is also the place to point out that no matter how menial the chores—the dishwashing and the test-tube cleaning, all become meaningful or meaningless by virtue of their participation or lack of participation in a meaningful or important or loved goal.

Enlightened management is one way of taking religion seriously, profoundly, deeply, and earnestly. Of course, for those who define religion just as going to a particular building on Sunday and hearing a particular kind of formula repeated, this is all irrelevant. But for those who define religion not necessarily in terms of the supernatural, or ceremonies, or rituals, but in terms of deep concern with the problems of human beings, with the problems of ethics, of the future of man, then this kind of philosophy, translated into the work life, turns out to be very much like the new style of management and of organization.

The gap and the bridge

In Dave Smith on January 30, 2009 at 12:08 am

From Dave Smith

What is real anymore? Local neighbors, you and me, struggling to weather a financial tsunami that threatens to take us all down with it.

What is real? Our need as citizens to “put away childish things” and work to find a common ground on which to stand together.

That common ground is local and precious, not national or symbolic. It requires us to trust, not fuss. It moves us back in a direction that we lost long ago when we all decided that the point of life was to stampede through the door and grab all we could before someone else did. And now that the grabbing is over, the bills are coming due in the mail, and in the environment.

Judging another’s values based on our identity as consumers, of various political stripes, has been a favorite pastime writ large by mass media… and it kills community. What will get us through locally will be the virtues we share, not the values we fight over.

Values are legion, symbolic, and divisive. Political values are conservative vs liberal, right vs left, us vs them; economic values are socialist vs capitalist, communist vs fascist, etc. etc., all made moot by their smudging together into a bewildering hodge-podge of muttering and grimacing, point-counterpoint yelling and screaming… then suddenly gone silent with the overwhelming alarms of financial and planetary disaster, and personal tragedy. What now?

Virtues are what is best of who we really are. They are the fundamentals of our individual character, and full of meaning. Although defined most recently by religions, they go back much further in ancient wisdom traditions before religions codified them, and thus are relevant to the secular as well. Faith in each other, hope in the future, justice for all, courage to do what is right, and love for our neighbors. And there are a couple more that we’ve forgotten even existed: Prudence, which is wisdom and sensibleness in practical matters; and Temperance, which means to be moderate in one’s needs… knowing when enough is enough.

It is from this place of responsibility that citizens can expect and demand an open and responsive democratic government, both at the county and national level. Closed off, suspicious, and paranoid government officials, as recently demonstrated by our county CEO refusing access to journalists, are not what a renewed and empowered citizenry requires in this county, and at this time in history.

While we stand and fight for our values, as a democratic society demands that we do as citizens, we will find much more to admire and work with by recognizing each other’s virtues and responsibilities. The measure is how we respect and work together as citizens, neighbors, political representatives, and journalists.

Recognize the virtues in a neighbor, and you’ll find a friend, not a foe. And in a time of fear and trembling, that’s what builds a community.

The problems…

Crash Course in Economics

The Automatic Earth

Local solutions…

Mendo Time Bank

Mendo Moola

Be joyful, though you have considered all the facts. ~Wendell Berry

More Stonewalling: Growth of County Debt (Updated)

In Around the web on January 29, 2009 at 7:46 am

From Janie Sheppard
Mendocino County

Continue to


From Dave Smith

The feeling returns
whenever we close out eyes
Lifting my head
looking around inside.

Facts are simple and facts are straight
Facts are lazy and facts are late
Facts all come with points of view
Facts dont do what I want them to
Facts just twist the truth around
Facts are living turned inside out
Facts are getting the best of them
Facts are nothing on the face of things
Facts dont stain the furniture
Facts go out and slam the door
Facts are written all over your face
Facts continue to change their shape

I’m still waiting…
I’m still waiting…
I’m still waiting…
I’m still waiting…
I’m still waiting…
I’m still waiting…
I’m still waiting…
I’m still waiting…

Crosseyed and Painless – Talking Heads

The Pond at the Center of the Universe

In Dave Smith, Garden Farm Skills on January 28, 2009 at 9:41 pm

By Gene Logsdon (1991)

The man standing stone-post-still on the shoreline of The Pond was watching a muskrat swimming on the water surface, its wake forming a V-shaped ripple of scarlet fading to indigo against the sunset. Without turning his head, which might scare the muskrat into diving underwater and scooting for its den, the man also watched, out of the corner of his eye, a great blue heron drifting down out of the sky toward him.

He was used to seeing the heron on its nightly trip up the creek valley, headed back to the rookery where most of Wyandot County’s herons, silent and solitary by day, gathered to roost. But this time, the huge slate-gray bird, its wingspan over five feet, was doing something wary great blue herons do not normally do. It continued to drift down in the twilight, made a pass over the pond, and then turned straight at him as if to land on one of the posts that held the homemade pier he was standing on. Forgetting the muskrat, but still not moving a muscle, the man watched aghast as the great bird hovered above him, like an avenging angel, and perched right on top of his head.

Not many people would have the steely nerves to suffer, without moving, a great blue heron’s talons gripping his head, but this man, my brothter-in-law, is not known in these parts for reacting to anything in an ordinary manner. He had already realized that no one was going to believe him unless he caught the bird. He started inching his right hand up the side of his body. Slowly, slowly, slowly. Gotcha! With one swift grab, he snatched the heron’s legs in his hand like a chicken thief removing a hen from the roost and bore his prize homeward so that all the neighborhood might see and believe. His family gathered round, ignorant of the danger involved. None of them knew that great blue herons can skewer an unsuspecting human’s eyeball right out of its socket with one lightning stab of its beak. This time, fortunately, its captor wore glasses and when the heron jabbed at him, it only knocked the glasses from his head. When another onlooker reached for the glasses, the heron speared him in the hand, having endured, it seemed, enough human attention for one day. A quick decision was reached. In the case of herons, better two in the bush than one in the hand. The bird haughtily stalked away, looking like the dignified old lady who hoped no one was watching when the wind momentarily blew her dress over her head. Then it regally pumped its wings up and down, slowly lifted itself into the air and flew away.

Continue reading The Pond at the Center of the Universe at

Ukiah’s Saturday Farmers’ Market 1/31/09

In Dave Smith on January 28, 2009 at 8:37 pm

From Scott Cratty
Mendocino County


Looks like another freakishly balmy winter Saturday… take advantage with a trip to the Ukiah Saturday Farmers’ Market. Help us celebrate the mid-way mark for the new off-season market.  When we conclude the market this Saturday we will have successfully extending our farmers’ market season by three whole months with three to go.  Stop by and get yourself a treat. You will be supporting the many fine farmers, ranchers, apiarists, fishers and crafters (how about getting your baby a World Peace Doll or some server dinner on some new locally crafted linens for Valentines Day?) who have toughed out our first winter market and made it a success– helping to create a local market opportunity that can pay dividends for our local economy and personal health for years to come.

Thanks to John Johns for finding Josh Madsen to play for us last Saturday. Keep bringing those musical recommendations, recipes, suggested additions, AG related news items, etc.

This weekend we have one more scheduled appearance by the Julian Trio.

At this Saturday’s market you can expect our usual array of great vendors — come for Caroline, Pedro or Richard’s greens, fish should be in the house, the Ford’s great natural beef, Shamrock Cheese, an array of Olivino oil, baked goods that support the Ford Street Project, Thanksgiving coffee, lots of really great crafts and much more.  We have several new things on the horizon … but not quite ready including a seaweed vendor, jams and jellies from two producers, and …. Mendocino grown wheat! Shamrock promises to start bringing their fresh local eggs, perhaps as soon as this Saturday.

For those of you unhappy with things like mercury in your processed foods

( or our non-organic, commodity and monoculture oriented national AG policy in general, the Organic Consumers Union is one of the groups leading the charge for more farm, food, and eater friendly policies.  You can get a status and find some recommended actions at

See you at the market.

["...studies have shown that including apples in your diet may reduce the risk of cancers of the colon, liver, prostate and lung. The flavonoids in apples were credited with the anti-cancer effects." -DS] See: Apples are beneficial only if organically grown

The Ukiah Latitude Observatory (Updated)

In Guest Posts on January 27, 2009 at 9:59 pm

From Martin Bradley

The International Latitude Observatories were a system of (originally) six observatories located near the parallel of 39º 08’ north latitude.  They were used to measure the variation in latitude that occurs as a result of the wobble of the Earth on its polar axis.  The orginal six observatories were located in:
• Gaithersburg, Maryland
• Cincinnati, Ohio
• Ukiah, California
• Mizusawa, Japan
• Charjui, Turkestan
• Carloforte, Italy


The International Polar Motion Service program was created by the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey in 1899 to study the precession, or “wobble” of the Earth’s axis, and its effect on measures of latitude.  Six separate observatories were created .  The alignment of all six stations along the parallel helped the observatories to perform uniform data analysis.  Twelve groups of stars were studied in the program, each group containing six pairs of stars. Each night, each station observed two of the star groups along a preset schedule and later compared the data against the measurements taken by the sister stations.

Economic difficulties and war caused the closing of some of the original stations.  The stations continued to function until advances in computer technology and satellite observations rendered them obsolete in 1982.  The data collected by the observatories over the years still has use to scientists, and had been applied to studies of polar motion, physical properties of the Earth, climatology and satallite tracking and navigation.

Continue to Ukiah International Observatory Index

Update: The Jason Bradford interview of Bill McKibben on the Reality Report KZYX via Global Public Media (Transcript)

The housing bubble’s long emergency (Updated)

In Dave Smith on January 27, 2009 at 7:46 pm

[You'll have to decide for yourself how predictive this might be, and what effect it will have on you and all of us locally. -DS]

Go to Housing as shelter, not speculation

Update [Quote] And that’s where I disagree. We are not spending $850 billion to save people, we are spending $850 billion to save a system. But that system is fraudulent, and saving that system is wrong. We need to help people struggle through difficult times, and then we need to reinvent ourselves. Spending to save the system does nothing to create a new, sustainable, viable system.

So then, what’s the alternative? I believe that the federal government and the states should stop trying to save the banks and other financial institutions, should stop providing trillions in taxpayer dollars to institutions that are already bankrupt and who do not in any way serve the public interest, and should instead use any federal monies to subsidize social support programs during this economic depression. I think that the federal government should admit that the perpetuation of a system of globalization based upon usury is neither moral nor in the public’s best interest. In its place the federal government should provide support and training and funding for projects that recognize the following realities: (1) That the age of growth is over. We have entered the age of sustainability. (2) That saving the system of ‘money-as-debt’ only serves to further incarcerate the people, not liberate them. (3) That the banks and other institutions who have used deception and duplicity and Ponzi schemes to make billions in profits should be held to account.

The bottom line is this: spending money to save a system that has crashed because it is in debt is false. Like with a flooded lawnmower engine, throwing more gas into the tank isn’t going to help the cause. Vermont’s $1 Billion will not fundamentally change the lives and futures of the citizens of the state for the better. It will only, at best, temporize the pain for a brief time. But the system that keeps us in debt-servitude, and that compels us to “consume” when in fact the survival of our planet demands that we learn how to “sustain”, persists.

More of this analysis and context at The Automatic Earth

The Media’s role in the financial crisis

In Around the web on January 27, 2009 at 1:40 pm

[This article is about why journalism is so important. Locally, the UDJ can never do an effective job until it is independent and locally owned, and also independent internally from its advertisers... as professional, feisty journalism used to be. -DS]

by Dan Gilmor
TPM Cafe
Full article here

Our government’s current operating principle seems to be bailing out people who were culpable in the financial meltdown. If so, journalists are surely entitled to billions of dollars.

Why? Journalists were grossly deficient when it came to covering the reckless behavior, sleaze and willful ignorance of fundamental economics, much of which was reasonably obvious to anyone who was paying attention, that inflated the housing and credit bubbles of the past decade. Their frequent cheerleading for bad practices — and near-total failure to warn us, repeatedly and relentlessly, of what was building — made a bad situation worse…

It’s not as if this is the first time a big issue has had too little discussion while there was still time to fix the problem. Journalism has repeatedly failed to warn the public about huge, visible risks. The media’s complicity in the Iraq War-mongering and 1990s stock bubble were the most infamous recent examples until the financial bust came along, but the willful blindness to reality was uncannily similar…

And even when the reporting was solid, which was rare enough, news organizations didn’t follow up in appropriate ways. If we can foresee a catastrophe, it’s not enough to mention it once or twice and then move on.

That common practice suggests an opportunity. When we can predict an inevitable calamity if we continue along the current path, we owe it to the public to do everything we can to encourage a change in that destructive behavior.

In practice, this means activism. It means relentless campaigning to point out what’s going wrong, and demanding corrective action from those who can do something about it.

So in Florida, Arizona and California, among other epicenters of the housing bubble, newspapers might have told their readers — including governmental officials — the difficult truth. They could have explained, again and again, that the housing bubble would inevitably lead, at least locally, to personal financial disaster for many in their regions, not to mention fiscal woes for local and state governments. How many should have done this, given the media’s at least partial reliance on advertising from those who profited from the bubbles? Any that cared to do their jobs…

Californians are especially practiced at pretending not to see what’s visible in front of them. The state’s fiscal crisis is far worse than most, in large part because the governor and state legislature — with media winks and nods — generated a torrent of new red ink, via borrowing, to cover new spending and earlier debts. The piper is now demanding his payment, and his price threatens to be ruinous. (Will this be our national fate in a few years?)…

Once upon a time, news people went on campaigns when they saw the need. Sometimes this led to yellow journalism, as when newspaper owners used their publications to stir up the populace in dangerous ways. At other times, however, old-fashioned press campaigns led to change for the better; back when editorial pages had more influence in communities, a few courageous newspaper editors in the South campaigned for school integration, and made an enormous difference.

Journalistic activism — precisely what we need despite most journalists’ disdain for the idea — won’t save newspapers that are suffering from a perfect storm of dwindling leadership and advertising losses. But as Online Journalism Review‘s Robert Niles recently wrote, journalists should “accept the responsibility to demand action” based on what they learn when they do their jobs right.

The media’s collective irresponsibility has ill-served its audience. If journalists want to keep the audience they have, never mind building credibility for the future, they need to become the right kind of activists. More than ever, we need what they do, when they do it well.

[The right of freely examining public characters and measures, and a free communication of the people thereon has ever been justly deemed the only effectual guardian of every other right. -James Madison, 1798]

In Honor of Fran Macy

In Dave Smith on January 26, 2009 at 8:04 pm

From Earl Brown

On January 20, 2009, after witnessing the inauguration of President Obama with friends and family Fran Macy crossed back into the Great Mystery. Suffering a heart attack after returning home from the festivities Fran passed in his long time home, surrounded and held by family. I understand it was one of the happiest days of his life, which is very meaningful given the fullness of the life he lived. I believe the election and inauguration of President Obama represented undeniable milestones marking the progress of the Great Turning for Fran, symbolic in so many ways of rising consciousness, proving we can choose to generate the political will and create a sustainable human presence on Earth. I am happy he was with his loved ones and he lived to see this historic moment. I already miss him dearly.

To say Fran was a Renaissance man would not be entirely correct, although he certainly embodied this archetype. Perhaps closer to the truth would be that he gives the term a new definition, a higher benchmark, call it a new upgrade in masculine software to, “Renaissance Man, Planet Addition”. Fran was a visionary who saw how life could be, how it was completely interdependent and yet spectacularly individual in creative expression, each Being unique, a whole, a Holon. Giving and allowing were two of his most outstanding qualities for me and he is and will continue to be my role model on how to be a man during these years of questioning, crisis and rebirth. Just by being himself he has influenced thousands. Those inspired by this loving man have in turn inspired countless others and the ripple effect of Fran’s influence will be shared for generations to come. His devotion and love for our planet Gaia and all her children is well renowned. He was a quiet leader, a passionate warrior for truth, a teacher, a compassionate friend, a mentor and probably the most honorable man I have yet to meet.

I have been working with and learning from Joanna Macy for the past five years and Fran has been ever present supporting her and the Work That Reconnects (WTR). It has been inspiring to watch Fran as he quietly and many times humorously supported Joanna, never seeking control, or dominance, yet leading by not taking the lead. Over the past two years I have had the wonderful opportunity and good fortune to work with Fran, Joanna, and some outstanding men, to begin leading men in WTR workshops. Joanna has been brave and courageous to go into retreat with a bunch of men seeking to know themselves and their place in the world better and Fran has been right there all the way. Instead of playing the “facilitator” and staying aloof from the activities, Fran joined us and approached his masculine nature, his wounds, his weakness, his strength and potential, with vulnerability, honesty and in ways that gave others permission to do the same. Men are usually the minority at WTR workshops and intensives, generally about 20 percent of participants, and Fran knew the importance of getting more men into the work. He will live on as an example of how a man, or men, can take an active role in bringing about the Great Turning, to act on behalf of all life and become, or remain, fully masculine.

When they know it is safe men can be very sensitive, vulnerable, compassionate, nurturing. However, as a man I also know we are not very trained in how to handle strong emotions; they tend to overwhelm our meager defenses once we let them in and rend our hearts. Fran showed me this was not only acceptable but desirable. A man who was not afraid to feel could achieve many things and could not be dominated, or deflected, by fear. With a heart opened to the pain and suffering of others, as well as his own, Fran demonstrated wisdom, strength, grace and a passionate fire for justice. Here are a few words from men who attended our last gathering at Land of Medicine Buddha, in the Santa Cruz Mountains this last November:

Continue reading In Honor of Fran Macy

Bad Faith Economics – Krugman

In Around the web on January 26, 2009 at 11:53 am

By Paul Krugman

As the debate over President Obama’s economic stimulus plan gets under way, one thing is certain: many of the plan’s opponents aren’t arguing in good faith. Conservatives really, really don’t want to see a second New Deal, and they certainly don’t want to see government activism vindicated. So they are reaching for any stick they can find with which to beat proposals for increased government spending.

Some of these arguments are obvious cheap shots. John Boehner, the House minority leader, has already made headlines with one such shot: looking at an $825 billion plan to rebuild infrastructure, sustain essential services and more, he derided a minor provision that would expand Medicaid family-planning services — and called it a plan to “spend hundreds of millions of dollars on contraceptives.”

But the obvious cheap shots don’t pose as much danger to the Obama administration’s efforts to get a plan through as arguments and assertions that are equally fraudulent but can seem superficially plausible to those who don’t know their way around economic concepts and numbers. So as a public service, let me try to debunk some of the major antistimulus arguments that have already surfaced. Any time you hear someone reciting one of these arguments, write him or her off as a dishonest flack.

First, there’s the bogus talking point that the Obama plan will cost $275,000 per job created. Why is it bogus? Because it involves taking the cost of a plan that will extend over several years, creating millions of jobs each year, and dividing it by the jobs created in just one of those years.

It’s as if an opponent of the school lunch program were to take an estimate of the cost of that program over the next five years, then divide it by the number of lunches provided in just one of those years, and assert that the program was hugely wasteful, because it cost $13 per lunch. (The actual cost of a free school lunch, by the way, is $2.57.)

The true cost per job of the Obama plan will probably be closer to $100,000 than $275,000 — and the net cost will be as little as $60,000 once you take into account the fact that a stronger economy means higher tax receipts.

Next, write off anyone who asserts that it’s always better to cut taxes than to increase government spending because taxpayers, not bureaucrats, are the best judges of how to spend their money.

Here’s how to think about this argument: it implies that we should shut down the air traffic control system. After all, that system is paid for with fees on air tickets — and surely it would be better to let the flying public keep its money rather than hand it over to government bureaucrats. If that would mean lots of midair collisions, hey, stuff happens.

The point is that nobody really believes that a dollar of tax cuts is always better than a dollar of public spending. Meanwhile, it’s clear that when it comes to economic stimulus, public spending provides much more bang for the buck than tax cuts — and therefore costs less per job created (see the previous fraudulent argument) — because a large fraction of any tax cut will simply be saved.

This suggests that public spending rather than tax cuts should be the core of any stimulus plan. But rather than accept that implication, conservatives take refuge in a nonsensical argument against public spending in general.

Finally, ignore anyone who tries to make something of the fact that the new administration’s chief economic adviser has in the past favored monetary policy over fiscal policy as a response to recessions.

It’s true that the normal response to recessions is interest-rate cuts from the Fed, not government spending. And that might be the best option right now, if it were available. But it isn’t, because we’re in a situation not seen since the 1930s: the interest rates the Fed controls are already effectively at zero.

That’s why we’re talking about large-scale fiscal stimulus: it’s what’s left in the policy arsenal now that the Fed has shot its bolt. Anyone who cites old arguments against fiscal stimulus without mentioning that either doesn’t know much about the subject — and therefore has no business weighing in on the debate — or is being deliberately obtuse.

These are only some of the fundamentally fraudulent antistimulus arguments out there. Basically, conservatives are throwing any objection they can think of against the Obama plan, hoping that something will stick.

But here’s the thing: Most Americans aren’t listening. The most encouraging thing I’ve heard lately is Mr. Obama’s reported response to Republican objections to a spending-oriented economic plan: “I won.” Indeed he did — and he should disregard the huffing and puffing of those who lost.

[Action: Fill the internet with emails, and the phone system with calls to our representatives. Don't let utterly failed policies or roadblocks screw America over again... -DS]

Veterans For Peace, Depleted Uranium Petition

In Dave Smith on January 25, 2009 at 6:27 pm

From Annie Esposito

So-called “Depleted Uranium” is poisoning our troops, according to the Veterans for Peace.  Mendocino County’s Chapter 116 of Veterans for Peace met Sunday (1/25) in Ukiah to work on a petition to stop use of uranium munitions.

The campaign started in Mendocino County with work by John Lewellan and is now on the agenda of the national organization.  There is a letter to the editor in The Daily Journal, and Bernie MacDonald is editing a press release to go out soon.

Pictured holding the petition against use of “depleted uranium” is veteran Bob Wilkinson of Laytonville.  To the left are VfP President Richard Hincker from Willits and Peter Sears of Fort Bragg; Jamie Connerton is on the right.  For more information, people can contact Connerton at 468-9644

... and from Jim Kunstler today

Putting aside whether this “stimulus” represents reckless money-printing in an insolvent society, let’s just take it at face-value and ask where the “money” might be better directed:

– We have to rehabilitate thousands of downtowns all over the nation to accommodate the new re-scaled edition of local and regional trade that will follow the death of national chain-store retail of the WalMart ilk. Reactivated town centers and Main Streets are indispensable features of walkable communities. The Congress for the New Urbanism ( ought to be consulted on the procedures for accomplishing this and for rehabilitating the traditional neighborhoods connected to our Main Streets.

– We have to reform food production (a.k.a. “farming”). Petro-dependent agri-biz will go the same way as the chain stores. Its equations will fail, especially in a credit-strapped society. That piece of the picture is so dire right now, as we prepare for the planting season, that many crops may not be put in for lack of front-money. This portends, at least, much higher food prices at the end of the year, if not outright scarcities and shortages. And the new government wants to gold-plate highway off-ramps instead? Earth to Rahm Emanuel: screw your head back on.

Read on: State of Change

Fahrenheit 451 – The temperature at which books burn

In Books, Dave Smith on January 25, 2009 at 6:00 pm

From Dave Smith

Ray Bradbury, 1950

[Bradbury has stated that the novel is not about censorship; he states that Fahrenheit 451 is a story about how television destroys interest in reading literature, which leads to a perception of knowledge as being composed of "factoids", partial information devoid of context, e.g., Napoleon's birth date alone, without an indication of who he was. These excerpts: someone underlined them in a used copy found in a bookstore]

“Why aren’t you in school? I see you every day wandering around.”

“Oh they don’t miss me,” she said. “I’m antisocial, they say. I don’t mix. It’s so strange. I’m very social indeed. It all depends on what you mean by social, doesn’t it? Social to me means talking to you about things like this.” She rattled some chestnuts that had fallen off the tree in the front yard. “Or talking about how strange the world is. Being with people is nice. But I don’t think it’s social to get a bunch of people together and then not let them talk, do you? An hour of TV class, an hour of basketball or baseball or running, another hour of transcription history or painting pictures, and more sports, but do you know, we never ask questions, or at least most don’t; they just run the answers at you, bing, bing, bing, and us sitting there for four more hours of film teacher. That’s not social to me at all. It’s a lot of funnels and a lot of water poured down the spout and out the bottom, and them telling us it’s wine when it’s not. They run us so ragged by the end of the day we can’t do anything but go to bed or head for a Fun Park to bully people around, break windowpanes in the Window Smasher place or wreck cars in the Car Wrecker place with the big steel ball. Or go out in the cars and race on the streets, trying to see how close you can get to lamposts, playing ‘chicken’ and ‘knock hubcaps.’ I guess I’m everything they say I am, all right. I haven’t any friends. That’s supposed to prove I’m abnormal. But everyone I know is either shouting or dancing around like wild or beating up one another. Do you notice how people hurt each other nowadays?”…

“…and do you know what?”
People don’t talk about anything.”
“Oh, they must!”
“No, not anything. They name a lot of cars or clothes or swimming pools mostly and say how swell! But they all say the same things and nobody says anything different from anyone else. And most of the time in the caves they have the joke boxes on and the same jokes most of the time, or the musical wall lit and all the colored patterns running up and down, but it’s only color and all abstract. And at the museums, have you ever been? All abstract. That’s all there is now. My uncle says it was different once. A long time back sometimes pictures said things or even showed people.”

…Every hour so many damn things in the sky! How in hell did those bombers get up there every single second of our lives! Why doesn’t someone want to talk about it!… Is it because we’re having so much fun at home we’ve forgotten the world? Is it because we’re so rich and the rest of the world’s so poor and we just don’t care if they are? I’ve heard rumors; the world is starving, but we’re well fed. Is it true, the world works hard and we play? Is that why we’re hated so much? I’ve heard the rumors about hate, too, once in a long while, over the years. Do you know why? I don’t, that’s for sure! Maybe the books can get us half out of the cave. They just might stop us from making the same damn insane mistakes! I don’t hear idiot bastards in your parlor talking about it. God, Millie, don’t you see? An hour a day, two hours with these books, and maybe…”

Els is back on KZYX today Monday 1/26 9am

In Around the web on January 25, 2009 at 5:55 pm

From Janie Sheppard
Mendocino County

After a two-year hiatus, Els Cooperrider (photo), much respected host of two previous KZYX radio shows, The Ecology Hour, and The Party’s Over, will resume her radio career today, Monday, January 26 at 9 a.m.

In a cozy interview in front of the fire at The Brew Pub, her family’s brewery and restaurant, Els talked about the new show to be broadcast every fourth Monday (mostly). She and Jason Bradford, host of The Reality Report, will share the time slot and will be flexible depending on their respective schedules.

Els and her guests will address how human relationships will change when cheap energy runs out. She warns, “None of the techno stuff will matter without human relationships.” Peering into a crystal ball, she sees a return to living in groupings of the extended family. This she said will be a matter of necessity for survival. Cheap energy has made the nuclear family possible, and when that goes away, so will the nuclear family.

She made clear that she was not talking about the intentional communities of the 1970’s, which, she said seemed to fall apart. Instead, she meant family by blood and marriage. Her perspective, she said, was made clearer when she came upon an anthropological concept, “Dunbar’s Number.” Dunbar theorized that an optimal group size for humans would be 150. Expect to hear more about that on Els’ show.

Two books could get us all thinking about these issues, she said. The first is a science fiction novel, World Made by Hand, by James Howard Kunstler, in which he portrays us as living in localized, agrarian communities. The second, Daniel Quinn’s Beyond Civilization: Humanity’s Next Great Adventure, is a series of one-page musings; perfect reading for the bathroom, she noted.

Her first guest will be clinical psychologist, Dr. Richard Miller, already familiar to KZYX listeners as the host of the show, “Mind, Body, Health and Politics.” Be sure to tune in for some intriguing and likely provocative radio.

Welcome back Els!

CFAR Pushes Masonite Site Environmental Review

In Guest Posts on January 24, 2009 at 7:54 pm

From Antonio Andrade
Citizens For Adequate Review

As DDR was not being responsive to our lawsuit and claiming refuge for their activities claiming they were simply implementing the site remediation plan signed off on by the North Coast Regional Water Quality Board’s (NCRWQB), it prompted Citizens For Adequate Review (CFAR) to review an early communication directed to the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) and to reframe some of those issues and follow-up with other issues that had not been addressed in the remediation process.

We did not go public with the communication when it was sent in late summer. We did not want to negatively impact our negotiations with the County or DDR. Now that the suit is settled, it is important that the City, County, local agencies and Boards who have oversight responsibilities continue to press for comprehensive remediation of the site. My conversations with Environmental Health Director John Morley were not encouraging in this respect. It was John’s position that his Department has no oversight responsibilities for the site and that his Department was mistakenly listed in the NCRWQB-approved remediation plan as a secondly agency who should be coordinated with for remediation of the site. Isn’t the site located in Mendocino County? Don’t they oversee the buried fuel containers for gas stations in the county and didn’t they oversee the remediation process for leaky fuel tanks?

Right now the focus needs to be on getting a response to this communication and/or getting DTSC in on the oversight…

Continue reading CFAR

Supervisors! Bring Our County CEO To Heel!

In Dave Smith on January 23, 2009 at 10:44 am

From Dave Smith

UDJ Editor K.C. Meadows writes today (excerpts):

Here at the Daily Journal, in an effort to keep the local citizens informed about the changes at the top of county government as we enter a financial crisis locally, we began this week the process of putting together a Who’s Who of the county’s non-elected department heads. We know that there have been some recent changes in the top slots and we figured the best way to let the public get to know these new and existing leaders is to do short profiles on them which we could run twice a week or so until we got through the list…

What we did not expect was that the county’s CEO, Tom Mitchell, would lead the county government in a blanket refusal to answer our questions.

We were told by one county contact that an email went out this week advising department heads that they should not cooperate. Already we have had an email from County Counsel Jeanine Nadel telling us she will not be getting back to us.

We cannot understand why the county’s top officer perceives this simple request for 10 minutes of his or any department head’s time so threatening. We thought of it as not only a public service but a positive one at that. We realize that some of this information is on the county web site but we wanted to give these county staffers a chance to personalize their responses.

Mr. Mitchell, in a snide email to our reporter, said in response to our request for information that he would like to know who our columnists are and how they get paid and why we don’t do more positive stories about the county.

Mr. Mitchell apparently forgets that he heads a public agency…

We can no longer tolerate such undemocratic and uncivil behavior from our lead “civil” servant. Mark Scaramella’s ongoing series in the AVA on the CEO’s lack of open communication only reinforces our view that we need a much more responsive CEO. Does he know what’s going on? If he has to answer “I’ll get back to you” so often to the Supes, and spend so much money on consultants, is it because he doesn’t have any answers, or are the answers being given “off-line” without citizen oversight in public meetings? Maybe he hasn’t heard that we are transitioning into a new era of openness, transparency and accountability. He needs to hop on the ol’ cluetrain.

The recent change in title from Chief Administrative Officer to Chief Executive Officer is a problem. It feeds the arrogance that an administrator is above the citizens and Supes, and takes its cues from corporate CEO behavior and our recently departed Boy King of the United States. This is top down dominance, not service… and not appropriate for a position answerable to the citizenry. Because administrators run the county like a byzantine firewalled fiefdom, switching back to a more respectful title would help redefine the position appropriately and hopefully open the county to healthy scrutiny. Mr. CEO, tear down this wall!

Action: We need an uproar from our citizenry, asking our county’s elected leadership to force compliance to K.C.’s request.

Turn up the heat! Let the sun shine in!
Cartoon Credit Link

Biodynamics – The Original and Future Organic

In Dave Smith on January 23, 2009 at 9:45 am

From Dave Smith

We are blessed with numerous, pioneering biodynamic vineyards and farms here in Mendocino County. Action: Convert conventional farms to organics, and organic farms to Biodynamic. Here is a brief introduction:

BIODYNAMICS is the original foundation of publicly recognized organic agriculture. It is often called “organic plus” as this method is free of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, but also is minimally dependant on imported inputs and includes proactive holistic farming techniques such as herbal soil preparations, rigorous composting systems, and alignment with a planetary calendar. Avoidance of pest species is based on biological vigor and its intrinsic biological and genetic diversity.

Biodynamic agriculture was conceived in the 20th century by the philosopher Rudolf Steiner (photo). It is a naturally organic, holistic practice that seeks to maximise farm output while ensuring it is also self-sustainable. Special attention is given to balancing the farm with soil, plant, animal and cosmic processes in order to ensure continued harmony. The word “Biodynamics” combines the biology of agriculture with the dynamic aspects of ecological systems. Biodynamic agricultural principles emphasize living soil, the farm as a wholistic organism and acknowledges both the visible and invisible forces that create a healthy ecosystem.

The goal of a Biodynamic farm is to be able to support just the right balance of people, plants and animals, so that no outside inputs such as soil amendments or feed for the animals is needed. This is done by carefully timing planting, weeding, fertilizing and harvesting to coincide with the lunar and celestial phases which will most enhance the farm output. Specially made compost consisting of time-tested doses of plants, minerals and animal manure is applied throughout the seasons to enhance plant vitality and soil fertility.

Biodynamics uses a systematic ecological approach in which the farm is seen as a unique and self-sustaining entity. Any problems that arise are addressed within the confines of the farm itself. This means that fertilizers and pest management substances must be created on the farm.

Biodynamics is the oldest certified ecological farming system and has been an assurance of quality since it’s birth in 1928. When asked why the world was in so much turmoil and why people didn’t seem able to make moral and productive decisions necessary for positive change, Rudolf Steiner responded that our food lacked the etheric life forces to support our will. Steiner believed that the quality of food needed to improve for people to have enough will to be capable of making choices that would lead to a harmonious relationship with nature.

“Naturally grown wines… tell us what is real… These winemakers are basically saying they are prepared to be vulnerable to the rhythms of the earth… Can you taste the Biodynamics? Of course not. But, you can taste courage… you can taste tenderness in the winemaking itself… This is what is real… Now, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, we need that absolutely.” ~~ Matt Kramer, Wine Spectator

More on Biodynamics based on “An Introduction To Biodynamic Agriculture”, originally published in Stella Natura calendar 1995.

What is Biodynamic agriculture? In seeking an answer let us pose the further question: Can the Earth heal itself, or has the waning of the Earths vitality gone too far for this? No matter where our land is located, if we are observant we will see sure signs of illness in trees, in our cultivated plants, in the water, even in the weather. Organic agriculture rightly wants to halt the devastation caused by humans; however, organic agriculture has no cure for the ailing Earth. From this the following question arises: What was the original source of vitality, and is it available now?

Biodynamics is a science of life-forces, a recognition of the basic principles at work in nature, and an approach to agriculture which takes these principles into account to bring about balance and healing. In a very real way, then, Biodynamics is an ongoing path of knowledge rather than an assemblage of methods and techniques.

Biodynamics is part of the work of Rudolf Steiner, known as Anthroposophy – a new approach to science which integrates precise observation of natural phenomena, clear thinking, and knowledge of the spirit. It offers an account of the spiritual history of the Earth as a living being, and describes the evolution of the constitution of humanity and the kingdoms of nature. Some of the basic principles of Biodynamics are:

Broaden Our Perspective
Just as we need to look at the magnetic field of the whole earth to comprehend the compass, to understand plant life we must expand our view to include all that affects plant growth. No narrow microscopic view will suffice. Plants are utterly open to and formed by influences from the depths of the earth to the heights of the heavens. Therefore our considerations in agriculture must range more broadly than is generally assumed to be relevant.

Reading the Book of Nature
Everything in nature reveals something of its essential character in its form and gesture. Careful observations of nature – in shade and full sun, in wet and dry areas, on different soils, will yield a more fluid grasp of the elements. So eventually one learns to read the language of nature. And then one can be creative, bringing new emphasis and balance through specific actions. Practitioners and experimenters over the last seventy years have added tremendously to the body of knowledge known as Biodynamics.

Cosmic Rhythms
The light of the sun, moon, planets and stars reaches the plants in regular rhythms. Each contributes to the life, growth and form of the plant. By understanding the gesture and effect of each rhythm, we can time our ground preparation, sowing, cultivating and harvesting to the advantage of the crops we are raising.

Plant Life Is Intimately Bound Up with the Life of the Soil
Biodynamics recognizes that soil itself can be alive, and this vitality supports and affects the quality and health of the plants that grow in it. Therefore, one of Biodynamics fundamental efforts is to build up stable humus in our soil through composting.

A New View of Nutrition
We gain our physical strength from the process of breaking down the food we eat. The more vital our food, the more it stimulates our own activity. Thus, Biodynamic farmers and gardeners aim for quality, and not only quantity. Chemical agriculture has developed short-cuts to quantity by adding soluble minerals to the soil. The plants take these up via water, thus by-passing their natural ability to seek from the soil what is needed for health, vitality and growth. The result is a deadened soil and artificially stimulated growth. Biodynamics grows food with a strong connection to a healthy, living soil.

Medicine for the Earth: Biodynamic Preparations
Rudolf Steiner pointed out that a new science of cosmic influences would have to replace old, instinctive wisdom and superstition. Out of his own insight, he introduced what are known as biodynamic preparations. Naturally occurring plant and animal materials are combined in specific recipes in certain seasons of the year and then placed in compost piles. These preparations bear concentrated forces within them and are used to organize the chaotic elements within the compost piles. When the process is complete, the resulting preparations are medicines for the Earth which draw new life forces from the cosmos. Two of the preparations are used directly in the field, one on the earth before planting, to stimulate soil life, and one on the leaves of growing plants to enhance their capacity to receive the light. Effects of the preparations have been verified scientifically.

The Farm as the Basic Unit of Agriculture
In his Agriculture course, Rudolf Steiner posed the ideal of the self-contained farm – that there should be just the right number of animals to provide manure for fertility, and these animals should, in turn, be fed from the farm. We can seek the essential gesture of such a farm also under other circumstances. It has to do with the preservation and recycling of the life-forces with which we are working. Vegetable waste, manure, leaves, food scraps, all contain precious vitality which can be held and put to use for building up the soil if they are handled wisely. Thus, composting is a key activity in Biodynamic work. The farm is also a teacher, and provides the educational opportunity to imitate nature’s wise self-sufficiency within a limited area. Some have also successfully created farms through the association of several parcels of non-contiguous land.

Economics Based on Knowledge of the Job
Steiner emphasized the absurdity of agricultural economics determined by people who have never actually raised crops or managed a farm. A new approach to this situation has been developed which brings about the association of producers and consumers for their mutual benefit. The Community Supported Agriculture(CSA) movement was born in the Biodynamic movement and is spreading rapidly. Gardens or farms gather around them a circle of supporters who agree in advance to meet the financial needs of the enterprise and its workers, and these supporters each receive a share of the produce as the season progresses. Thus consumers become connected with the real needs of the Earth, the farm and the Community; they rejoice in rich harvests, and remain faithful under adverse circumstances.

Guiding the Ship of State

In James Houle on January 22, 2009 at 6:24 pm

From Jim Houle
Redwood Valley

Amongst all the euphoria about our entering the Obama Era, I find the sardonic words of Alexander Cockburn somehow appropriate:

Successfully Guiding The Ship Of State During Its Sunset Cruise

Alexander Cockburn writes in Counterpunch 1/17/09 that/: “I’ve always been a fan of George Bush, on the simple grounds that the American empire needs taking down several notches and George Jr has been the right man for the job. On Bush’s Jr’s fitful watch Latin America edged nervously out of Uncle Sam’s shadow. Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Evo Morales of Bolivia boldly assert their independence and thumb their noses at Uncle Sam. Twenty years earlier the ‘strong leadership’ craved by Americans of all political stripes would have seen Chavez and Morales briskly toppled by the CIA and their local right-wing allies.”

“Barely a month went by in Bush Jr’s second term but that some liberal or left pundit would predict a US attack on Iran. It turns out that the Israeli high command made numerous requests for clearance for its planes to overfly Iraq on their way to Iran, but were adamantly nixed by George Jr. “

“Jr’s greatest single triumph in reducing America’s standing was his insistence that the assembly elections in Iraq go forward as planned, in December of 2005. Many seasoned counselors advised Bush to suspend the elections he’d pledged because they would lead to a majority Shi’ite government. Nevertheless, the 43rd president obstinately rejected these counsels, and the elections resulted in a mortal blow to U.S. objectives in Iraq and in the entire region.”

“Somewhere in late 2003, blaming everything on Bush became a national pastime and alibi. He took the hit for fifty years of venal failure by the city fathers of New Orleans and the legislators of Louisiana to protect their city. He’s even had to shoulder the blame for the Wall Street meltdown and the sub-prime crisis, for which Congressional legislators and overseers can far more justly be held responsible.”

“Blessed blunder dogged his every step: He made so half hearted an effort to ‘reform’ Social Security – the last defense of older Americans – that Wall Street, the instigator of the ‘reform’, remembered with profound nostalgia that Bill Clinton was well on his way to destroying Social Security until the Lewinsky scandal forced him to abort the mission. Bush passed his final White House years in morose seclusion, despised by all, obeyed by none – a welcome rebuke to the concept of ‘unitary power’ and an omnipotent executive.”

“Now Obama proclaims his mission of renewing America, always a sinister prospect. We’re heading back into the high country of moral uplift, and dispiriting talk of America’s ‘mission’.”
This is an excerpt from Sixth Edition now available on the Internet:

Also see The Obameter

Ukiah Saturday Farmers Market

In Dave Smith on January 22, 2009 at 3:35 am

farmers market

From Scott Cratty
Mendocino County

Greetings -

Exciting as it is to have some authentic winter weather back with us (much needed for the crops and for us), don’t let it sidetrack you from Saturday’s farmers’ market.  We will be under the pavilion as always with local veggies, the Ford’s famous local grass fed beef, shamrock cheese and much more.

Check Friday’s UDJ for a column about the “hunger moon” season and the farmers’ market.  For an encouraging article about winter season markets and how they can build over time (with your help) and inspire innovative growing, check out: Winter Markets: Extending a Season of Warmth. For encouraging information about farmers markets in general despite all of the problems in the economy (or perhaps, in part, because of them), try: Consumers Continue to Invest in Farmers Markets, Local Food Despite Economy.

Another highlight of the market this Saturday will be the return of special guests the Ukiah High School Spanish Club.  They will host a table with student-baked goods and raffle tickets for sale.  They are raising money to help include as many students as possible in an extra-curricular, non-school funded excursion for students in their 3rd or 4th year of Spanish studies. The trip is planned for the February break and will include lots of culturally and historically significant stops in Spain.  Among the goals of the excursion are to inspire students to travel more and perhaps study abroad and also to see first-hand the mother country of the Spanish language, the birthplace of so many place names we take for granted around us.   Some of the students cannot foot the bill alone, so the club is working to raise money with help from the community.   Please support them as much as you can.

Thanks to all for keeping the market running smoothly last weekend.  In case you noticed that I was missing it was because last Saturday was also the annual meeting of the county farmers’ market association (MCFARM). MCFARM is long in the habit of having its member meeting and board meetings on Saturdays during what used to be the off season, which makes managing a year-round market on Saturday a bit more challenging.  Thanks to great help from market supporters like John Johns, who oversaw and packed up the marketlast Saturday, and Terri McCartney, we can make it happen.

Please consider helping out by sharing favorite recipes featuring meals prepared with foods from the market and by telling your favorite local musicians to come play for us at the market.

Also – I am pondering trying to shift the summer market time up by half and hour and the winter market time back — so that we run a consistent 9 am to 12:30 pm schedule all year.  Does it seem like a good or bad idea to you? Let me know.

See you Saturday.
Image Credit: DS

Did cloud seeding cause our fire disaster and drought?

In Guest Posts on January 22, 2009 at 3:30 am

From Dan Hamburg

When the lightning strikes hit Mendocino County early on a Friday evening last June, at least a few people wondered aloud whether this unprecedented weather event was related to the unusual cloud patterns that appeared earlier that day.

Mid-Friday afternoon, I had noticed five or six bands of clouds running along a north-south axis in a formation I’d never seen before.  On Saturday, as news rapidly spread of the extent of the strikes, I was informed by a friend that one explanation could be the use of the chemical silver iodide in a weather modification experiment.

This week, I received an article from a Mount Shasta newspaper titled “PG&E responds to cloud seeding concerns.”  The article dated November 26, 2008, referred to PG&E’s “intention to conduct a five-year weather modification program in the Mount Shasta region.”  Residents of Siskiyou County, including representatives from the Mt. Shasta District of the Winnemen Wintu Tribe, are expressing concern about the planned cloud seeding which would be achieved by “injecting silver iodide aerosol into already existing storm clouds with the hopes of creating more moisture.”

Despite local concerns, PG&E has assured the public that there is no environmental downside to seeding with silver iodide.

Interestingly, problems with “rainmaking” have been noted since the 1950s.  Dr. Irving Langmuir, “the high priest of scientific rainmaking” [and winner of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1932], warned a half century ago that “those who sow too many rainstorms may reap nothing but droughts.” Langmuir noted that silver iodide particles have many potentially pernicious effects and that “there ought to be a law” controlling the amount of silver iodide fed into the atmosphere.

Evidently, there is no such law in effect today.
See also Too Much Rainmaking in Time Magazine 6/12/1950
and Cloudbuster
Image Credit: Wikipedia

Water Supply Outlook Meeting Tonight 1/22/09 6pm

[Action: Janie's article Water, Then and Now has been updated with the planned meeting date and time. -DS]

It was nice running into you on the trail. Our meeting will be at 6 pm at the Alex Rorabaugh Center (1640 S. State) at 6 pm on Thursday the 22nd. We will be discussing two main issues at this Special Meeting:

1)The upcoming SWRCB License Inspection
2)The Water Supply Outlook for 2009

FYI-Reservoir levels are now the lowest on record for this date. In 1977 we had approximately 52,000 acre feet of storage at this time, it is currently at 33,000…the situation is indeed “gnarly”.

We are are hoping that by beginning water supply discussions early, we can have allocation system in-place if rainfall continues to be insufficient. Thanks for spreading the word and hope to see you at the meeting.

Sean White
General Manager

Citizens For Adequate Review Settles with Mendocino County and DDR

In Dave Smith on January 21, 2009 at 2:38 pm

[Action quote, last paragraph. -DS]


January 21, 2009


Citizens for Adequate Review (CFAR)CFAR Member Antonio Andrade (707) 462-4930

Rachel Mansfield-Howlett, Attorney representing CFAR, Provencher & Flatt, LLP  (707) 284-2380

As a result of a law suit filed by Santa Rosa attorney Rachel Howlett on behalf of Citizens for Adequate Review (CFAR), CFAR, Mendocino County, and Diversified Developers Realty (DDR) have reached an agreement which requires environmental review prior to DDR proceeding further with their proposed Mendocino Crossings Development on the old Masonite site north of Ukiah. Under the terms of the settlement agreement between the parties, the existing slabs, buried footings, underground utilities and other improvements at the site of the demolished Masonite facility will remain in place and be included in the scope of environmental review for the proposed Mendocino Crossings Project.

This is an important victory for local control of our community’s development. This agreement confirms that, prior to work beginning, all development proposals must be reviewed, that sites be safe and clear of toxics prior to any permitted use, and that County approval must be obtained.

The issue emerged In July of 2007 when the County issued DDR a permit to demolish the Masonite facility. CFAR asserted the demolition was the first stage in the development of the site for commercial purposes, stating this was a piecemeal approach to development, and a violation of California environmental law. Validating DDR’s investment in the demolition by issuing the permit was setting a precedent to keep moving forward with the project. Concerned community groups and residents found it appalling that the demolition was able to proceed at all when the County had full knowledge commercial development in this area was controversial, including opposition by the City of Ukiah.

DDR identified the site as ‘under construction’ in their filings with the Federal Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC), had a project application on file with the County, was holding public meetings promoting their project, and advocated for the project before the Board of Supervisors. Demolition was step one of a multi-staged project that the County should have known required review under California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA.) The County Planning and Building Department ignored the magnitude of the structures on site, the air quality impacts from demolishing these improvements, the proximity of the demolition to a school, and also did not send the application to demolish the historic structures to all relevant County departments and agencies for review and comment.

Rather, they treated the demolition as similar to a homeowner wanting to take down a garage, claiming they simply issued a valid ministerial permit with no environmental review being required. Without benefit of a clear and comprehensive review of its potential deleterious impact to the environment, and the community, the County abdicated their responsibility to protect the environment. There was no recognition by the County that by issuing the permit they were effectively eliminating existing manufacturing capacity for future use, and opening the door for DDR to move ahead with a project in an area not zoned for retail commercial use.

CFAR thanks all those who demonstrated their commitment to the quality of life in the Ukiah Valley by funding this costly effort. With the public being taxed by the County to fund its oversight responsibilities and services, an enormous burden was created when citizens had to then undertake suing the County to compel compliance with state law.

Hopefully, with a newly constituted Board of Supervisors, Mendocino County will put aside a ‘development at any cost’ mentality, cohesively organize County departments and agencies so they do not piecemeal their review but rather systematically and comprehensively apply legally established 21st century environmental standards to projects. We live in a beautiful environment characterized by small town values and our governing bodies need recognize its inherent value, and to become vigilant, conscientious stewards.

See also The People’s Business

The Percheron On The World’s Most Famous Farm

In Dave Smith on January 21, 2009 at 2:36 pm


From Gene Logsdon

This is a fairy tale story that is not at all a fairy tale. The story has so many parts to it that I scarcely know where to begin. Louise Kuerner’s horse, Dentzel, the Percheron referred to in the title, lives on the Kuerner farm in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, a farm immortalized on canvas by Andrew Wyeth, widely viewed as America’s foremost living painter and by many art lovers as one of the best artists anywhere in any time. He has used the Kuerner farm’s building, animals, fields and people hundreds of times as subject or models. I might argue that Dentzel is now the most famous draft horse in the world too because recently, Wyeth painted him in a work titled “Karlanna,” and a watercolor study done for the final painting called “Fenced In.”

Dentzel’s other distinction in life is that he is currently the only draft horse to be driven (by Louise) in the enormously popular Parade of Carriages that precedes the Point-to-Point  steeplechase races at Winterthur in the state of Delaware every spring. “At 17.2 hands, he’s the biggest horse in the parade,” says Louise, laughing. “But that’s what I wanted. A big horse. When my first horse, Pony, died, I thought I didn’t want to go through that heartbreak again. But when I found Dentzel, I just had to have him. He was even sick when I first saw him, not a smart way to buy a horse, but we nursed him back to good health and he’s been just splendid ever since.”

Continue reading The Percheron… at

The Work That Reconnects – Joanna Macy

In Dave Smith on January 21, 2009 at 5:50 am

From Earl Brown

We had our first salon introducing the work of Joanna Macy, “The Work That Reconnects” to a small yet enthusiastic group (one person) and we had a wonderful and meaningful conversation. As I was not really expecting anybody at this first meeting it was quite special to have someone there and I am very grateful to that one person for coming. This is how things get started, two people, or a few people, gather to talk from their hearts about what they think and feel.

Over the next few years we will need to learn how to face difficult conditions and unwanted changes that we have no, or little, control over in order to maintain decent living conditions. As much as we claim that we are already working together to solve our problems, it is a false claim. I have been in the “back room” where “environmentalists” argue over who is in control and who is not; who has the “right way” and how all others are wrong. Many meeting go by without the issues at hand being addressed even superficially. Even the Choir is arguing with each other, mostly over power and control, and are unable to truly unite as one concerted body. An example of this is Mendocino County being about 35 years behind our own ordinance to have a viable Grading Ordinance, with nothing meaningful on the horizon. To unite on this level and to make our work as complete, efficient and meaningful, we must learn and experience deep respect for each other and to see the gifts and potentials within our Self, within the Plant and Animal Kingdoms and within Gaia.

Continue reading The Work That Connects

Very Cool!! TONIGHT 1/21/09 6pm The UDJ plans to begin Live Blogging the Ukiah City Council Meetings

Art Happenings in Ukiah – January 2009

In Guest Posts on January 20, 2009 at 11:04 pm

From Rose Peterson Myers
Art Center Ukiah

Did you know that Art Center Ukiah has realized their Founding Members dream to open a center for the comunity to experience art, make art, and participate in artistic appreciation events?

In December, thanks to a generous donation by local attorney Ann Moorman, Art Center Ukiah acquired the building next to the Corner Gallery for an art center. In a flurry of activity, the place was painted and set up for classes. In late December, the City cleared us to open. The first class, a free drawing class for children, was filled and was a hit! Taught by Founding Members Carol Heady and Minnie McQueary and sponsored by Sakura art supplies, the class was a huge success.

More information on our website: click on classes on the left pane from the home page. All classes held at the ACU Education Building 203 South State Street, Ukiah phone (707) 462-1400 for registration and information.

Here are up-coming classes for the next 2 weeks
. Taught by talented local and renown Northern California Artists, the information and instruction will reach the beginning student as well as bring information for experienced artists to a new level:

1/24/09 9:30-4:30: The Zen of Koi: An Art Success Workshop with Rose Peterson Myers. $75 includes all materials; Scholarships available. If you ever wanted to try watercolor, or believed it was too difficult, this is the class for you! You will experience a lesson on the steps to acheive all the watercolor basics while enjoying this fun filled class on painting Koi Fish. Success guaranteed!

1/25,1/31, 2/7/09- 3:30- 5:30- Basket Weaving by Christine Hamilton $60 includes all 3 classes and materials. Local Native basket weaver will teach this introductory class on the coiled basket. Basket weaving is a nearly lost art in America. Don’t miss this chance to learn from a protege of Elsie Allen.

Every Wednesday evening 6:30-9:30 Live Model Drawing Class with Tom Johnson. $20. Live Model session. $20 per week covers model fee.

Open Studio: Second and Last Saturdays each Month 10 am- 2pm; $5 facility fee. Bring your project and join others in camaderie and solve problems by group invitation.

2/7/09, 1:30-3:30; Children’s Drawing: $11 per child snack and materials included. Founding Members Minnie McQueary and Ann Malinte will teach a children’s drawing class. The last class was full, so don’t wait to enroll your child in this class. See Classes for more information and registration

2/14: 10-2: Make Valentines with Tom Johnson all ages

2/28-3/1/09, 9-4:30 ; $155: Renown artist Jeannie Vodden teaches her signature Rainbow Glazing Technique. If you can only take 1 watercolor class this year I recommend this one. Jeannie is an amazing artist and instructor who can help you break through any problems you may have and bring your work to a whole new level.  Visit her website at

More to come for February, March and April: Rug Braiding by Arlene Magarian; Watercolor Traesures by Minnie McQueary; Renown Oil Artist Victoria Brooks on Alla Prima impressionist style paintings; and more live drawing open studios.

See also What 100 Paintings Will Teach You
(via Dave Pollard)

Printing our own money?

In Around the web, Mendo Island Transition on January 20, 2009 at 10:51 pm

By George Monbiot 1/20/09

In his book The Future of Money, Lietaer points out – as the government did yesterday – that in situations like ours everything grinds to a halt for want of money. But he also explains that there is no reason why this money should take the form of sterling or be issued by the banks. Money consists only of “an agreement within a community to use something as a medium of exchange”. The medium of exchange could be anything, as long as everyone who uses it trusts that everyone else will recognise its value. During the Great Depression, businesses in the United States issued rabbit tails, seashells and wooden discs as currency, as well as all manner of papers and metal tokens. In 1971, Jaime Lerner, the mayor of Curitiba in Brazil, kick-started the economy of the city and solved two major social problems by issuing currency in the form of bus tokens. People earned them by picking and sorting litter: thus cleaning the streets and acquiring the means to commute to work. Schemes like this helped Curitiba become one of the most prosperous cities in Brazil.

But the projects that have proved most effective were those inspired by the German economist Silvio Gessell, who became finance minister in Gustav Landauer’s doomed Bavarian republic. He proposed that communities seeking to rescue themselves from economic collapse should issue their own currency. To discourage people from hoarding it, they should impose a fee (called demurrage), which has the same effect as negative interest. The back of each banknote would contain 12 boxes. For the note to remain valid, the owner had to buy a stamp every month and stick it in one of the boxes. It would be withdrawn from circulation after a year. Money of this kind is called stamp scrip: a privately issued currency that becomes less valuable the longer you hold on to it.

Go to If the state can’t save us, we need a licence to print our own money in The Guardian

Also see Mendo Time Bank

and Mendo Moola

Benj Says “Well, yes…”

In Guest Posts on January 20, 2009 at 5:32 pm

Technical Notice

From Ron Epstein

Dear World,

The United States of America, your quality supplier of ideals of liberty and democracy, would like to apologize for its 2001-2008 service outage.

The technical fault that led to this eight-year service interruption has been located, and the parts responsible for it were replaced Tuesday night, November 4. Early tests of the newly- installed equipment indicate that it is functioning correctly, and we expect it to be fully functional by mid-January.

We apologize for any inconvenience caused by the outage, and we look forward to resuming full service — and hopefully even to improving it in years to come.

Thank you for your patience and under- standing.


Free The Journal!

In Dave Smith on January 20, 2009 at 6:20 am

From Dave Smith

The Ukiah Daily Journal is now a mere shadow of its former self. It is being sucked dry by its parent company who takes close to a million dollars annually (by some estimates) out of our community, sending it to parts unknown, and hires people on the other side of the planet to do most of the paid work… apparently hoping that  local volunteer-generated content can fill in the gaps and not harm the cash flow leaving our community. The local staff and employees, troopers all, are not to be blamed for its sad demise under current ownership.

If any community enterprise should be independent and locally-owned it should be our daily newspaper. Chain-owned newspapers are as harmful to a community’s prosperity as big-box chains. Surely there is enough money in our community to buy our newspaper back from distant corporate owners, relocalize its jobs, contextualize its stories, keep its advertising and subscription revenue, and profits, circulating locally… and restore its rich tradition of local news done well.

Free The Journal!
Image Credit: Evan Johnson

The Gift

In Dave Smith on January 20, 2009 at 6:18 am

Barack on Michelle (1996)
Excerpted from The New Yorker Jan 19, 2009

[This says so much about both of them. -DS]

Michelle is a tremendously strong person, and has a very strong sense of herself and who she is and where she comes from. But I also think in her eyes you can see a trace of vulnerablity that most people don’t know, because when she’s walking through the world she is this tall, beautiful, confident woman. There is a part of her that is vulnerable and young and sometimes frightened, and I think seeing both of those things is what attracted me to her. And then what sustains our relationship is I’m extremely happy with her, and part of it has to do with the fact that she is at once completely familiar to me, so that I can be myself and she knows me very well and I trust her completely, but at the same time she is also a complete mystery to me in some ways. And there are times when we are lying in bed and I look over and sort of have a start. Because I realize here is this other person who is separate and different and has different memories and backgrounds and thoughts and feelings. It’s that tension between familiarity and mystery that makes for something strong, because, even as you build a life of trust and comfort and mutual support, you retain some sense of surprise or wonder about the other person.

Ukiah Inaugural Bash
Tonight 1/20 5:30pm
Ukiah Brewing Company & Restaurant

Speech Replay at 6:00pm & 7:30pm

When Barack Obama takes the oath of office on January 20th, the millions who worked to put him in office are going to celebrate. You are invited to watch President Obama’s speech and celebrate what we have all made possible! Bring instruments and good vibes to share, a new era in American history is beginning.

Kids Welcome. No Cover.

Letter To Obama – Krugman

In Around the web on January 20, 2009 at 6:16 am

From Dave Smith

Universal health care, then, should be your biggest priority after rescuing the economy. Providing coverage for all Americans can be for your administration what Social Security was for the New Deal. But the New Deal achieved something else: It made America a middle-class society. Under FDR, America went through what labor historians call the Great Compression, a dramatic rise in wages for ordinary workers that greatly reduced income inequality. Before the Great Compression, America was a society of rich and poor; afterward it was a society in which most people, rightly, considered themselves middle class. It may be hard to match that achievement today, but you can, at least, move the country in the right direction.

What caused the Great Compression? That’s a complicated story, but one important factor was the rise of organized labor: Union membership tripled between 1935 and 1945. Unions not only negotiated better wages for their own members, they also enhanced the bargaining power of workers throughout the economy. At the time, conservatives warned that wage gains would have disastrous economic effects — that the rise of unions would cripple employment and economic growth. But in fact, the Great Compression was followed by the great postwar boom, which doubled American living standards over the course of a generation.

Unfortunately, the Great Compression was reversed starting in the 1970s, as American workers once again lost much of their bargaining power. This loss was partly due to changes in the world economy, as major U.S. manufacturing corporations started facing more international competition. But it also had a lot to do with politics, as first the Reagan administration, then the Bush administration, did all they could to undermine the ability of workers to organize.

You can make a start on reversing that process. Clearly, you won’t be able to oversee a tripling of union membership anytime soon. But you can do a lot to enhance workers’ rights. One is to start laying the groundwork to pass the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it much harder for employers to intimidate workers who want to join a union. I know it probably won’t happen in your first year, but if and when it does, the legislation will enable America to take a huge step toward recapturing the middle-class society we’ve lost.

Go to Krugman’s Letter To Obama in Rolling Stone

Water, Then and Now – UPDATED 1/21/09

In Around the web on January 18, 2009 at 9:20 pm

From Janie Sheppard
Mendocino County

Updated below

A chance encounter while enjoying a stroll on the new trails around Lake Mendocino, Bill and I met Sean White, the Executive Director of the Russian River Flood Control District.  The first person we met, he was enjoying the trails as well.   Not surprisingly, the conversation quickly turned to the water level in the lake.  Sean said it had not been so low on the same January date since 1976-77, and summed up what happened then with one word: “gnarly.”  And, that’s when there were fewer water users than there are now.  Thursday, January 22, he said, there would be a public meeting to inform the public.  Put that date on your calendar and await details to be announced in Tuesday’s Ukiah Daily Journal and here in Ukiah Blog.


It was nice running into you on the trail. Our meeting will be at 6 pm at the Alex Rorabaugh Center (1640 S. State) at 6 pm on Thursday the 22nd. We will be discussing two main issues at this Special Meeting:

1)The upcoming SWRCB License Inspection
2)The Water Supply Outlook for 2009

FYI-Reservoir levels are now the lowest on record for this date. In 1977 we had approximately 52,000 acre feet of storage at this time, it is currently at 33,000…the situation is indeed “gnarly”.

We are are hoping that by beginning water supply discussions early, we can have allocation system in-place if rainfall continues to be insufficient. Thanks for spreading the word and hope to see you at the meeting.

Sean White
General Manager

Continue reading Water, Then and Now

Let’s Get Solar – Part Three

In Mendo Island Transition on January 18, 2009 at 7:36 pm

From Michael Laybourn
Parts One and Two

Keep in mind that the system in Germany has been proven. It works.
The State of California doesn’t appear to be plugged in…
…So what about Ukiah?

First of all, Ukiah owns its own utility. Let your imagination soar…. The city already has a rebate program for installing solar electricity. But it is fairly puny in the sense of Germany, where they were committed to a quick move to alternative energy.

Here is the City of Ukiah program:
“Under SB 1, solar program incentives must decline to zero by the end of 2016 to achieve a self-sufficient solar electric industry within 10 years. The City presently offers a $2.24 per Watt AC incentive for the installation of solar systems. “
Proposed City of Ukiah 10 year declining solar incentive schedule:

Fiscal Yr 2007- 08 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12
Incentive $2.80 $2.52 $2.24 $1.96 $1.68

and so forth…

Hey we’re going in the wrong direction!

The hard part is trying to figure out what the rebate actually amounts to for Ukiah. Take a 2.4 KW system like mine, which supplies most of my electrical. $2.24 * 2.4KW = about $5376 + various tax rebates. Now the state has a different rebate, and I called the state to see if you can stack the rebates. (City and State). I was told no with a chuckle.

The State rebate is relatively pitiful at $1.55 / watt.

Here is the state rebate program with a calculator link:
“The incentive is determined using the NSHP PV Calculator and will be reserved for you at that amount once your application is approved. Later, it will be verified by a field test. This program is called Expected Performance Based Incentive (EPBI) and the incentive amount reduces as installed mW triggers are reached.

Commercial and Existing Residential Systems less than 50kW initially will receive a similar, one time, up front incentive based on expected system performance. This rebate will be administered by the California Public Utility Commission thru your Electric Service Provider. Commercial and Residential rebates are currently $1.55 per watt.”

Or $3720 for the above system. Even adding the two together doesn’t reach the rebate of 5 years ago. As I’ve noted, Guv Schwarzenegger and the California lawmakers haven’t done anything to improve our need to wean ourselves from oil, or make it easier for us to go solar in our homes. Actually they haven’t done much of anything period.

What if?… the City of Ukiah followed the proven German model and provided:
1. Low interest loans for solar conversion.
2. Bought the electricity from solar houses at a rate that would pay back the loans.
3. Gave a larger rebate: 1/2 or more of the system cost.
Certainly, many homes and businesses would elect to go solar. This would give the City an increasing amount of energy that would not have to be purchased from other sources. This energy is not only cleaner, but is more stable and the City would benefit from decentralized and more stable energy sources. It might be somewhat more expensive at first, while the homeowner is paying off the cost of the system, but eventually Ukiah could be creating much of its own power and that energy could be less expensive and not controlled by the so-called free market by companies like Enron, etc.

On top of that, electric autos could be purchased and plugged in at night. Most driving is not over 40 miles and an electric car would take care of local driving. Talk about lowering our carbon footprint!

Where to get the money to do this? Like the Germans, charge a little more energy rates to spread the costs. That cost the German energy user an increase of a dollar of two monthly, which wouldn’t be that expensive.

But now… we live in even more exciting times. This just out a few days ago:

“1/16/2009: The U.S. House of Representatives today unveiled a draft of the $825 billion economic stimulus plan that contains $54 billion in key provisions for the development of renewable energy projects and improving the electric grid, according to published reports. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009 includes $8 billion in loan guarantees for renewable energy and transmission projects, $11 billion to improve the electrical grid, $6.9 billion to improve federal buildings and make them more energy efficient, plus $2 billion in loan guarantees and grants for advanced battery technologies and $1.5 billion in grants and loans to help schools become more energy efficient.”

There will soon be money available for projects such as developing our own local energy. Mendocino County is full of people that know how to write grants and speak the language of government. Keep in mind that this would also be creating jobs and another possible industry: Training people for these jobs. Energy independence. We can show the nation how to do this.

How about it, City Council? Let’s get local with energy production!

See also Congressman Thompson introduces solar energy legislation in today’s UDJ

From Susan Jordan earlier today over the Bay Area 1/17/09

In Guest Posts on January 17, 2009 at 12:54 pm

Energy Independence and Global Warming

In Dave Smith on January 15, 2009 at 7:21 pm


From Mary Anne Landis

This link is to Van Jones’s speech to the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, being given today. All about Green job myths, which he does a good job busting– and funding needs. Practical and inspirational.

Testamony before the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming

See also Transition Towns California

and Solar Living Center Workshops Calendar

From Dave Smith

Author/Radio Host Thom Hartmann offers some economic thoughts for Obama:

Alexander Hamilton’s Advice To The Obama Administration
Alexander Hamilton, in 1791, proposed to the United States our first true industrial policy. We adopted it over the next few years, Abraham Lincoln reaffirmed it fourscore years later, and it was again affirmed by every President of the United States until Reagan began his now-28-year “Reagan Revolution” which has disassembled America’s industrial base and impoverished our nation. For over 200 years, Hamilton’s policy made America the most powerful industrial nation in the world; now – after just 28 years of Reagonomics and Clinton/Rubinomics – we are the largest importer of other people’s industry, and the most indebted nation in the world.

The entirety of Hamilton’s paper is easily found on the web. The first third of it deals with Jefferson’s objections to it (which Jefferson withdrew later in his life), as Jefferson favored America being an agricultural rather than an industrial power in 1791. Once you cut past that, though, Hamilton gets right to the rationale for, and the details of, his 11-point plan to turn America into an industrial power and build a strong manufacturing-based middle class. Ironically, his policies are exactly – EXACTLY – what Japan, South Korea, and China are doing today. And what we have ceased to do.

Hamilton had it right. We must reject Reagon/Bush/Clinton/Bush-onomics and return to what the Founders knew worked. Here are selected excerpts from Hamilton’s 1791 Report on Manufactures to Congress:

First, Hamilton points out that real wealth doesn’t exist until somebody makes something. A “service economy” is an oxymoron – if I wash your car in exchange for your mowing my lawn, money is moving around, it’s a service economy, but no real and lasting wealth is created. Only through manufacturing, when $5 worth of iron ore is converted into a $2000 car door, or $1 worth of raw wool is converted into a $1000 Calvin Klein suit, is real wealth created. He also notes that people being paid for creating wealth (manufacturing) creates wages, which are the principal engine of demand, which drives an economy. And both come from a foreign trade policy.

Continue reading Alexander Hamilton’s Advice To Obama

The top 11 compounds in US drinking water

In Around the web on January 15, 2009 at 5:00 pm

From Ron Epstein

A comprehensive survey of the drinking water for more than 28 million Americans has detected the widespread but low-level presence of pharmaceuticals and hormonally active chemicals.

Little was known about people’s exposure to such compounds from drinking water, so Shane Snyder and colleagues at the Southern Nevada Water Authority in Las Vegas screened tap water from 19 US water utilities for 51 different compounds. The surveys were carried out between 2006 and 2007.

The 11 most frequently detected compounds – all found at extremely low concentrations – were:

Continue reading The top 11 compounds in US drinking water in New Scientist

Body Count

In Dave Smith on January 15, 2009 at 4:47 pm

From Evan Johnson

American Aid To Israel – A Libertarian Perspective

In Guest Posts on January 15, 2009 at 8:35 am

[We welcome a wide diversity of political opinion on Ukiah Blog, although we would like to keep it primarily local. I was not aware that libertarians all must sign the statement "I do not believe in the initiation of force to achieve political goals" in order to join their political party. -DS]

From Virginia Macintosh

The current conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza is the most recent incarnation of an ancient, and endless war between Jews and Arabs. The expectation that a greater show of force by one side or the other, such as Israel’s newest push into Gaza, will finally solve the problem for once and for all, is, of course, a delusion; America’s continuing support of Israel, the lone democracy in the region – but with its own strong army – prolongs another delusion that somehow, with our help, the rest of the middle east will calm down.

In a recent commentary, Andrew Davis of the Libertarian Party notes, “There are several complications with U.S.foreign aid going to Israel. One, it makes the United States culpable for the actions of Israel that many times come with international condemnation. Secondly, it opens up the United States to cries of extreme bias in favor of Israel – a main catalyst for terrorism against U.S. interests at home and abroad.”

Libertarians have long criticized not just aid to Israel, but any type of intervention into the political policies of all nations, believing that 1, It is not in our national interest;  2, it invites consequences never envisioned; and 3, there are better ways of creating friendly relationships with the world’s nations.

The complications of intervention were of concern to early political thinkers who formed this country. In his first inaugural address,Thomas Jefferson set out to define what he thought were the essential principles of government. The words most often quoted from the list are, “peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations; entangling alliances with none.” Our alliance with Israel is a perfect example of the kind of entanglement Jefferson warned against.

What does a policy of non-intervention do for us and can it be justified morally? Far from abandoning our friends, trade, commerce and friendship, are powerful forces of good will. Direct financial aid to other nations, rarely goes where it is most needed, often buying arms or lining the pockets of the country’s rulers. But honest and fair practices of commerce and trade devoid of import taxes, price supports or blockades create an even playing field in which pure trade – value for value – a fair exchange of goods and services, enrich all parties concerned.  We should be open to trade with, and be free to visit all countries including Cuba and all other “axis of evil” countries. One of the worst aspects of the Israeli conflict in Gaza is the forced closure of Gaza’s borders which stops any chance for trade with the rest of the world – a requirement for any new or established country for stability and growth.

In his January 7th post, Watching the torching of Gaza, Jim Houle properly asked if the majority of Americans feel we have an obligation to support Israel in their battles with Hamas, or, in parallel, Hezbullah. A good question indeed. One might also ask if Americans knowingly support the “entanglement” of our military presence in 135 countries, or 70% of the worlds countries, not counting territories. How can this huge military presence in the rest of the world be tolerated by the American public?

Disengaging from the quagmire of political alliances, by ending all financial and military aid to Israel and others would create real change in U.S. policy for the better. Tourism, trade, and commerce, with bias to none, supports Jefferson view of “honest friendship,” and removes the threat to all. By doing this, we do not turn our back on the rest of the world, but instead, encourage prosperity and stability. This change would serve us in the long run and help bring back the respect we once deserved.

Her name is Polly…

In Dave Smith on January 14, 2009 at 4:20 pm

From Annie Esposito

Her name is Polly (on the right above with Terri Lynn McCartney) and her boss gives her the freedom to take off time to go to the Ford Street Project three days a week to feed people. Sometimes Terri Lynn will jump in to give her a hand making dinner for 60 or so people.  An entirely different group shows up for lunch.

Polly sees a gap in services for feeding the homeless and has been trying to plug it.  People using the shelter must check in at 5 and the rule is you can’t leave the shelter once you’ve checked in. Even if you could, it would entail walking the two miles to Plowshares to get a meal – then walking two miles back for shelter.

Polly would like to see better coordination of programs.  She also says that the foodbank has to buy food from the better known Plowshares program – rather than having food donated directly to their own food services.  She will be talking to people about a more efficient flow for the needy in our community.  In the mean time, Polly’s on duty with her pot and ladle.

The Real New Deal

In Around the web on January 14, 2009 at 6:16 am


Via Energy Bulletin

Post Carbon Institute today announced the release of “The Real New Deal: Energy Scarcity and the Path to Energy, Economic, and Environmental Recovery,” a proposal to the incoming Obama Administration.

The plan calls for responding to the current economic crisis with a massive policy and investment shift towards a fossil fuel-independent economy. Noting the urgency to address global fossil fuel depletion and climate change, the “Real New Deal” calls for a series of bold measures to electrify the transportation system, rebuild the electricity grid, relocalize the food system, and retrofit the nation’s building stock for both energy efficiency and energy production.

The plan’s lead author is Post Carbon Institute Senior Fellow Richard Heinberg, author of “The Party’s Over: Oil, War, and the Fate of Industrial Societies” and an internationally recognized expert on fossil fuel depletion. Heinberg said, “While there are many ‘new deal’ plans being offered to President-elect Obama, our plan recognizes that declining fossil fuel supplies and rising greenhouse gas emissions put us at tremendous and immediate risk. Building more roads and bridges as a stimulus for jobs is the wrong tactic. We must re-engineer our country now to deal with the end of cheap energy and to stop catastrophic climate change.”

Bill McKibben, author of “Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future,” remarked, “”The world is up against real limits, limits that will define our future. We’re running out of oil and we’re running out of atmosphere, and those two alone will change the planet. Let’s get ahead of the curve for once.”

Here’s the deal: Energy Scarcity and the Path to Energy, Economic, and Environmental Recovery

Here’s Mendocino County’s energy deal: Green Transition Papers

Visiting Stephen and Gloria Decater, Live Power Community Farm, Covelo, Northern California

In Dave Smith on January 13, 2009 at 11:50 am

From Dave Smith (2005)

[I'm a member of a Community Sustained Agriculture (CSA) farm. In the spring, members invest our fair share of money in the farm, and then, in return, we receive our fair share of the weekly harvest throughout the spring, summer, and fall. This is an interview I did with the farmers, Gloria and Stephen Decater, for my book, To Be Of Use. My photos are included. ~DS]

The Decater family runs a CSA (community-supported agriculture) diversified and partially solar-powered farm that every week supplies its 180 member families in Mendocino County and the Bay Area with fresh, high-quality biodynamic/organic food. They plow and till the land with their four draft horses. Besides growing almost fifty varieties of vegetables, they raise sheep, cows, chickens, and pigs.

We sit on old wooden chairs in the flower garden as the afternoon sun passes its zenith and heads toward the Pacific, miles west of us. Gloria has been flitting around the farm on a bike with a class of third graders from Marin County. Camped out for a four days of hard labor, they are absorbed in various projects organized by several farm apprentices and parents. Stephen has been out around the barn and pastures, working with apprentices who are planting and harvesting greens. Gloria has on old Levi’s and sandals with heavy wool socks; Stephen is in a worn green plaid flannel shirt, heavily soiled Levi’s, and deeply scuffed work boots. Despite their long hours and heavy schedules, they’re relaxed. They begin by describing the beauty and love they found in a garden.…

Stephen: I met Alan Chadwick in 1967 at his garden project at the University of California, Santa Cruz. As a young, idealistic person I saw Alan as an older person doing something that was totally positive for the world … and this was during the Vietnam War with all kinds of awful things happening around us. The adage of beating your swords into plowshares felt real when I was putting my energy in that direction, growing food and flowers. Working in the garden opened this whole world of beauty and culture: the history of different flowers, where they had come from, how they needed to be taken care of, this whole world of activity, with the human being in nature, working in a supportive way. That took my heart and interest and eventually became what I spent all my time doing.

The garden was so vitally alive, and we were immersed in that life. When you are with the flowers for a couple of hours morning after morning, they have a kind of soul expression of the Earth, an expression of love. In Alan’s creation of a garden for people to come into and be immersed in, he was actually trying to create a healing. Those were “back-to-the-land” times, when people were wanting to reconnect with nature. Alan was doing that in a very conscious and cultured way. It wasn’t ”go back to nature by going wild” but rather, go to nature by recognizing the life there and working with the cultural skills that have been humankind’s heredity for centuries. For me it was the raw life-force connection, but at the same time, it was the cultural and artistic beauty a human being could create in the world as opposed to the ways humans destroy life.

So I’ve been trying to create the garden in my own life ever since then, and create it as a garden that is open to people so they have contact with nature, see it, feel it. You can talk about experiencing nature forever, but when someone comes in and their nose is immersed in a living flower, it suddenly hits them with the true expression of life. You are meeting other “beings,” not just human beings. It’s like when you are in relationship with someone and feel the love and caring that comes from them … that is something that is real and has an impact on your spirit and heart. In the garden you experience nature as being alive.

I followed Alan here to the Covelo Garden Project, where Gloria and I met, and we eventually began running our own farm. Everything in nature serves something else: the earth serves the plants, the fruit of the plants serves the animals, the manure from the animals serves the earth. [A screeching “cockadoodle” rings out from the barn area.] We can learn those relationships by becoming part of them. It was critical back in Santa Cruz. … I was bringing my friends into the garden there, and it continues to be critical in this urban-separated world to experience the bounty of food as a Gift.

When we talk with the kids who visit us, we ask them, “Where did this farm come from? Where did the animals come from? Did we make any of those things?” These things come from the wild world, nature, creation, to begin with, but when we bring them into the farm, we begin to culture them. You don’t have a farm without a human being. Without the human being, Mother Nature is taking care of the culture. So on the farm, we are being cocreative with nature, and we experience that relationship. Even though most people are not living on farms today, we are still eating food from farms that are occupying land somewhere. The problem is that now it’s an anonymous relationship. But in order to have real appreciation for the gifts of nature, our relationships with those gifts need to be more conscious. People eating food need to recognize that their partners are the Earth and the people growing the food — not some factory somewhere.

Gloria: Our school classes, which include parents, are here from the Bay Area for four days, and they only fully “arrive” on the farm about the second morning. They may not be able to verbalize their experience necessarily, but at some point in time, for some people immediately and for others after they leave, even ten or fifteen years later, they look back and say “that was the first time I really experienced life, living, the gift of life” — and they’re grateful for it. I’ve heard that from so many. That’s why we continue to share this farm. If I couldn’t feel that, and if there wasn’t that appreciation, I couldn’t do it. But I see the impact. [We can hear one of the Decater sons, Nicholas, pounding nails nearby as he finishes his current tool shop building project.] I’ve heard from quite a few college kids in their twenties who came here in third grade; they say it was the most intense experience in their school education, and they remember everything. When they come as kids, they can be, and succeed, and thrive on the farm in a way they can’t in school — and it can change their relationship with their classmates and teachers. The work they do here is not something made up for them. It’s real, valuable work that helps the farm go forward. It has an impact. They can feel it. They develop a sense of worth that they didn’t have before. And parents, realizing that their spoiled children are very capable of doing things if they’ll just let them, say: “Oh, they can be responsible! Oh, we’ve spoiled them rotten. We’d better change that. The way we’re raising them isn’t right.”

Stephen: Out of that they can see that shoveling up that manure to make compost is something human beings have devoted their lives to for thousands of years. [As Stephen begins to ruminate, Gloria moves nearby for some spontaneous weeding.] I once had an experience where I was totally distraught, worrying about different things, and I couldn’t really work, and finally in frustration I went out and started shoveling manure. All of a sudden it was like hundreds of thousands of people from centuries back in time were standing right there beside me, and I was shoveling manure with them as they had been doing for thousands of years. And it was like, “Okay! I’m not alone. I can do this!” This is where life is at, doing these mundane tasks, but they’re not separated out of time — they’re continuous with the whole of human experience. Our modern world separates us from that connection and that relationship. And the beauty of farming is this universality of life and activity that is flowing through the whole world. When we become part of that we lose our alienation and our separation; we can come together and recognize our relationships.

Gloria [returning]: A farmer’s life is so rhythmical, and that is why farmers can continue to work on and on through the days and years. When you’re doing something in rhythm it’s so much less tiring. For example, scything grain is really a dance form, and when you get going it is so beautiful, so enjoyable. You think to yourself how farmers in the past would get together and scythe all day, and sing, and be joyful, and how they loved it. When you milk a cow, you’re milking two teats at once. If you milk only one teat, you are twice as tired than if you milk two teats at once in rhythm. There’s just no comparison. That rhythm is so joyful.

Stephen: Hard, physical work can be enjoyable and rewarding. The bad rap in agriculture has come because people worked so hard and still couldn’t make a living — they weren’t economically compensated for their work. Eliminating people from agriculture has disconnected us all from the soil and the land. A farmer has two tasks: growing food that is nourishing is one level, but on another level there is a spiritual nourishment that comes only from being in a farm and experiencing the work of a farm. We need farms that can create that opportunity. Even if we could produce all of our food with corporate industrial organic production, although it would be better for the environment than conventional farming with chemicals, it would still leave people largely out of agriculture — we would still not have a culturally or socially conscious agriculture. If it’s going through a regular market system, there is a disconnect with people using that food, knowing where it comes from, how it is grown, whether the farmer’s needs are being met, and if the growing methods are sustainable long-term. This is cultural nourishment and spiritual nourishment that people are missing out on. [An apprentice stops by to ask advice about the harness they will be putting on the draft horses for the afternoon plowing.]

We need a new kind of farm, one that is not only market-oriented, as simply a producing unit, but a farm that is also an oasis that people can come into and experience the culture of their agriculture. It is too fundamental a part of human life to be left out of one’s existence. Large machinery and monocropping blocks that potential. In a given area of land that one large farm occupies, many small farms can produce equally, if not more food per acre, with more energy efficiency. It’s been proven over and over. If we human beings are to reconnect with the Earth and the life of the Earth, and sustain and heal that life, it is going to mean we need to create smaller farms that the community can have relationships with.

We run what is known as a community-supported agriculture, or CSA, farm. Family members pay a monthly or annual fee and then divide up the weekly allotment that comes from the farm. I view the CSA concept as a completely different economic process than we are used to thinking of traditionally as “market agriculture.” Historically, in market agriculture, we can see that the “market” has not maintained its farmer population. If the market system worked for farmers, you would see more of them prospering. [Several jabbering kids hurry by, on the way to their next project. They pass two of their classmates, who are pushing wheelbarrows stacked high with freshly scythed hay.]

When someone goes to the supermarket to buy food, only ten cents or less goes to the farmer. The only way to survive on that is to grow ten times more product, which is not possible without large capital inputs. So farming has become a system run by banks and large industrial corporations, subsidized by our taxes, that keeps food artificially cheap, driving out the small farmer who is not subsidized and can’t compete with their prices.

There is no future for the family farm under that system. So we need an approach where the people eating the food work directly with the people growing the food. If we want to create a local agriculture that is not so totally dependent on banks for capital, fossil fuels for energy, toxic chemicals for pest problems, and chemical fertilizers, and not burdened by the environmental destruction that comes from all that, we need to bring it back to a food system that works locally. We will need local farmers who have economic support that can sustain them and respects the Earth. We worked in market agriculture for several years. … We had a small farmer’s market locally in Covelo and sold to natural food markets in the county. There were not enough stores for us to be sustainable. We were only able to squeak by on limited income because we were growing all of our own family’s meat, milk, and produce. But it was impossible to do any of the capital improvements — build fences, lay pipelines — that we needed to take it to an economically viable level…

Stephen: In 1988 we heard about the CSA approach. As soon as we heard that idea, we knew that this was the way it should be: having a relationship with the people eating our food rather than a market relationship where we come to market with our produce, get people excited enough to buy something, and have to move the prices around to compete with our neighbor or other growers. In the conventional market the most important thing is that the food is cheap. That’s the best deal. But if that means the Earth gets shafted producing it, and the farmer gets short-changed and disappears, have we really gained any advantage? Farmers become an expendable resource, unrecognized as critically valuable people in the community. When the community supports the farm and farmer directly, then instead of getting ten cents from a dollar spent on the food, the farmer is getting eighty or ninety cents that can really be utilized on the farm. And that makes all the difference in the world to create economic viability. Even going to the farmer’s market makes it difficult to survive because we have to load all the food, get it to the market, sit there and sell it, and if it isn’t sold, we have to take it back to the farm. So we’re really absorbing some of the middleman’s and retailer’s costs, which makes it difficult.

Gloria: When we grow for our community members, we aren’t looking out in the field of lettuce and thinking, “That’s a dollar a head; next week it may be fifty cents a head; what is somebody going to pay for it?” Instead, we are getting away from the idea of what the vegetable costs, and instead we’re thinking, “Terry Nieves is going to eat this, Marla Anderson is going to eat this.” Their money for that lettuce goes to support the farm, environmentally and socially, and to have a relationship with their food and the farm, to support a farm that invites school kids into the farm. Alan Chadwick used to call it “finding your affinity with nature and life.” Kids visiting a large corporate farm get to see a farmer drive off in a large tractor on a hundred-acre field — not much to interact with.

A unique community supports our farm. We have the farmers, the farmers’ family, the apprentices, the member families from the Bay Area and Mendocino County, and the plants and animals. We have 180 member families. This is our sixteenth year. Maybe half have been with us the whole time. They have raised and educated their families around the farm, changed their diet, changed their budgets. There are things they don’t buy anymore, habits they don’t have anymore because they get their basket every week and learn to cook and eat according to what’s in season, and they have been thrilled with that — particularly in how that develops their relationship with their children. Many of the families’ children come to the farm, make compost, work on the farm, and develop a different relationship with food, and vegetables, and money. When they get their basket, many of the families lay it out on the table and think about what they’re going to eat for the next few days.

Some people can’t adapt to that of course. They’d rather go to the store or the farmer’s market and pick what they want, when they want it, and the quantity they want, and that’s perfectly fine. But we want people to be concerned about community and coming to the farm and seeing the farm and working with us and being concerned about the challenges and successes on the farm.

Stephen: We need that flexibility on the farm because we don’t know what nature is going to do each year. This year we planted fifteen hundred plants of broccoli and cabbage about three weeks ago, right before the late deluge of rain we had this year. In all the twenty-odd years we’ve been growing here, that has never happened. We got so much water in an already saturated ground that the rootlets just sat there smothered in water, unable to grow. They’re dead! We’ve never before lost a whole crop like that at one time. In a market format, the farmer is just out of luck at that point. If you are monocropping, with only one crop like corn, instead of a diversified farm of many crops, and you get a bad year where you lose a crop, and you’re on a weak economic footing, that can be the end. It can mean the foreclosure of your land. [A parent stops by to ask Gloria when they will need to have the evening meal prepared. Another parent is cutting flowers nearby for the table.]

Instead, CSAs humanize the economic process. Schumacher called it “economics as if people matter.” In the market, everybody is trying to find a new niche, a niche that works — which is great for a year or two until every other farmer finds the same niche, and then it’s off to finding another new niche to compete with. In this county, hops were the niche, then it was sheep, then pears for awhile, now it’s wine grapes. I don’t want to constantly fight that process; I simply want to grow good food. And I want to have lots of other farms around us growing good food, too. I don’t want to be in competition with them, finding niches or underpricing them. I just want to serve our community, meet their needs, and meet my family’s needs out of that relationship.

It takes only 180 households to support a small family farm. This is the opportunity for people today to make real change. Community farms can be initiated by a group of eaters finding a farmer to work with or by a farmer seeking out a group of eaters. We could be much less dependent on fossil fuels from the other side of the world by farming this way locally. By growing a lot of the food that is now coming from other parts of California and the world, we could have a healthy, diversified agriculture that feeds us. Being on the farm helps each of us understand the agricultural process, what our part in it is, and what is healthy for us all in the long run.

[There are those who denigrate the sixties and seventies as worthless excursions into mindless hedonism and excoriate the flower children and everything they stood for. The organic food movement and the small organic farms we are blessed with started with the flower children dropping out from what was... wanting to live healthier, more peaceful lives. They’re the ones who felt the problems, went back to the land, and relearned how to work with nature. And it will be their little islands of sanity and health, now matured into productive farms through hard work, that will be revealed to have been the better, more sustainable way after all: the "poor" inheriting the Earth. ~DS]

Live Power Community Farm Website

Did the Amish get it right after all?

In Dave Smith, Garden Farm Skills on January 13, 2009 at 11:50 am


By Gene Logsdon

There is an interesting development in mainstream U.S.A that just might have significant relevance for garden farming. Record numbers of people are acquiring pets. The dog and cat business is not at all depressed by the recession. (If you are wondering what all this has to do with the Amish, bear with me.) You see evidence of the trend everywhere, especially in advertisements where dogs are shown licking the cheeks of children— this in a society that has an almost manic dread of germs. Pets are the in-thing. Apparently our society is so enmeshed in its mechanical and electronic gadgetry that the human psyche is seeking solace in real life, as in the ancient loving connection that we have always enjoyed with animals.

The modern pet craze is not limited to cats and dogs but embraces many animals, especially horses. (Now you see how the Amish are going to get into this discussion.) Statistics say there are 6.9 million horses in the U.S. involved in various activities from racing, showing, pleasure riding, polo, police work, farming and ranching. The horse business or hobby adds about $112 billion to the GNP. Horses generate more money than the home furniture and fixtures business, and almost as much as the apparel and textile manufacturing industry. In other words, while we generally think of Old Dobbin as a step backward in time in agriculture, horses are very much a part of our modern economic and social lives today.

Continue reading Did the Amish get it right after all? at OrganicToBe

Friends of the Market

In Dave Smith on January 13, 2009 at 11:49 am

From Scott Cratty
Mendocino County

Greetings.  This message is a day early for two reasons — but don’t let that lull you into forgetting to come to the market Saturday. Mark your calendar now.  It should be another, almost freakishly, beautiful day at the Farmers’ Market this Saturday.  Plus Don Willis will be back to entertain us on the accordion.

The important reason for getting this message out early is to alert you to what promises to be a worthwhile radio listening opportunity — featuring one of our very own market vendors as the host — happening tonight.  Join Doug Mosel for an exploration of what can be done to encourage and support small farms and farmers.   Its tonight on the Agriculture and Ecology Hour, when host Doug Mosel brings you the story of the New England Small Farm Institute.  The Institute is dedicated to supporting sustainable small-scale agriculture and beginning farmers.  Listen in to learn what they are doing to grow new farmers in New England.  Tuesday at 7 p.m. on KZYX & Z radio (90.7, 91.5 or 88.1) or  online at

A less important reason is that Holly & I will be busy attending Professional Food Manager Certification Training tomorrow, but that is an entirely different adventure.

Pinky Kushner has been busy of late sitting for her daughter, who is in turn touring the country to support her — fantastic and successful book, Telex From Cuba.  Head to your local bookstore today to get a copy.  But, she made it to the market last Saturday and wanted to share a discovery with all of you:

I just wanted to tell you about an absolutely scrumptious find at the Market last weekend—Romaine lettuce from the Ortiz Brothers. Now, I know Romaine is considered fairly common these days, what with red oak leaf lettuce and fancy bibs available, but, seriously, the head I found last Saturday of this tried and true classic had the most fantastic taste and after-taste of any Romaine I have ever eaten. Even the core, which usually is bitter, was spectacular—after I tasted it, I cubed it and threw it into the salad.  I don’t know if it is the time of year, the lack of rain or the magic wrought by the Ortiz Brothers.  And culinary note: be sure to taste it before slathering it with a heavy dressing.   The taste is so amazing that it really doesn’t need anything other than a good olive oil (local please) and a dash of Meyer lemon or mild vinegar.   Please alert others to this find.

Thanks for the tip.

Get home on Saturday and make something wonderful with your market goodies? Why not share it with your neighbors.  Drop me a line with a description and the recipe.  I will start featuring recipe tips from recent markets on this list and in my Friday UDJ column.

See you at the market.

Ukiah Planning Commission Meets Tonight, Wednesday 1/14, 6pm

In Dave Smith on January 13, 2009 at 10:15 am

From Linda Sanders
Friends of Gibson Creek

Tree Friends,

You have yet another opportunity to express your opinion about our urban canopy. Come to the Planning Commission meeting this Wednesday (14th) at 6 pm in City Hall.

A public discussion will focus on examining existing City tree protection and planting policies. Commissioners will review the General Plan Open Space Conservation Element, Community Forest Management Plan, Tree Protection & Enhancement Policy, Commercial Develop Design Guidelines, Tree Planting and Maintenance Recommendations, Landscaping and Streetscape Design Guidelines, and Article, Ch 5 Ukiah Code: Street Tree Policy, Purpose and Intent.

The commission will also look at developing a method or procedure for using these existing policies and directives when reviewing proposed development projects in the future.

The Greenhorn’s Guide for Beginning Farmers

In Around the web on January 12, 2009 at 9:13 pm

via Energy Bulletin

This is a guidebook for beginning farmers. It is written to help you plan your professional trajectory into the field of sustainable agriculture. In this 30-page guide, we cover some of the major areas of institutional support for young farmers, some likely venues of learning and useful references. You should come away with a sense of how to approach the many hurdles with style, persistance, and improvisational zip.

Greenhorn’s Guidebook for Beginning Farmers

Mendocino Organics CSA Blog

Draft Proposal for a Mendocino Community Based Farming Network (Live Power Community Farm)

A Fifty-Year Farm Bill by Wes Jackson and Wendell Berry, NYT

Fifty Million Farmers, Richard Heinberg at Energy Bulletin

Watching the growth of WalMart across America

In Around the web, Walmart Blues Series on January 11, 2009 at 9:37 pm

Via Energy Bulletin

Watch it grow in front of your eyes

[I don't know... reminds me of films I've seen from high altitude bombers... DS]

It matches up well with the Climate Time Machine

Also see Big Box Swindle – The True Cost of Mega-Retailers and the Fight for America’s Independent Business

…and Major Flaws Uncovered in Study Claiming WalMart has Not Harmed Small Business

The Saturday Walking Group’s 20th Birthday

In Around the web on January 11, 2009 at 8:30 pm

From Janie Sheppard
Mendocino County

The Saturday Walking Group is almost 20 years old. This enthusiastic group meets every single Saturday morning at the Redwood Health Club (membership NOT required) to carpool to the intersection of Boonville and Robinson Creek roads. From there the group walks, rain (well, mostly) or shine, about 3 miles up Robinson Creek Road and turns around.

It’s not boring: every week is different. Maybe there are wildflowers, a Pileated woodpecker, a screaming hawk, deer, snow, a gushing creek, a dry streambed, tiny fish, or a turtle. This is a social group as well: talk turns to grandchildren, children, politics, books, movies and food. Almost always, there is an appetite-stimulating discussion of food.

The pictures tell the story…

Continue reading The Saturday Walking Group’s 20th Birthday

Artists reimagine poster art of the Great Depression

In Around the web on January 11, 2009 at 8:25 pm

See and download all 5 posters: Poster Children at

Crops absorb livestock antibiotics, science shows

In Around the web on January 10, 2009 at 8:29 am

From Ron Epstein

Is this a serious problem anywhere in Mendocino County? In organic produce consumed here? How do we find out?

Consumers have long been exposed to antibiotics in meat and milk. Now, new research shows that they also may be ingesting them from vegetables, even ones grown on organic farms.

January 6, 2009
For half a century, meat producers have fed antibiotics to farm animals to increase their growth and stave off infections. Now scientists have discovered that those drugs are sprouting up in unexpected places. Vegetables such as corn, potatoes and lettuce absorb antibiotics when grown in soil fertilized with livestock manure, according to tests conducted at the University of Minnesota.

Today, close to 70 percent of the total antibiotics and related drugs produced in the United States are fed to cattle, pigs and poultry, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. Although this practice sustains a growing demand for meat, it also generates public health fears associated with the expanding presence of antibiotics in the food chain.

Continue reading Crops absorb livestock antibiotics at Environmental Health Service

The Transition Town Movement: Embracing Reality and Resilience

In Books, Dave Smith on January 9, 2009 at 9:05 am

By Carolyn Baker

For several months I have been meaning to write a review of Rob Hopkins’ The Transition Handbook: From Oil Dependency to Local Resilience, but other things got in the way-like a planetary economic meltdown and out of control climate change that exceeds some of the most dire predictions by climate scientists. I should have spoken out earlier in support of this movement, but I didn’t. Now, as we commence this new year, I am.

I will begin this book “review” by telling you that I find nothing-absolutely nothing wrong with The Transition Handbook. If that then makes this article into a commercial for the book instead of a review, so be it.

For nearly a year I have been emphasizing in my writing that a positive vision must be held in consciousness alongside all of the abysmal events unfolding around us. Even as I have been insistent on staring down the collapse of civilization, I have embraced at the same time, what could be and have held in my mind and heart the threads of the new paradigm that so many of us are working to create…

The Handbook concludes with these remarkably uplifting words:

While Peak Oil and Climate Change are understandably profoundly challenging, also inherent within them is the potential for an economic, cultural, and social renaissance the likes of which we have never seen. We will see a flourishing of local businesses, local skills and solutions, and a flowering of ingenuity and creativity. It is a Transition in which we will inevitably grow, and in which our evolution is a precondition for progress. Emerging at the other end, we will not be the same as we were: we will have become more humble, more connected to the natural world, fitter, leaner, more skilled, and ultimately, wiser.

Continue reading The Transition Town Movement at

See also via Energy Bulletin Local Currency in the Wall Street Journal?

Let’s Get Solar – Part 2

In Mendo Island Transition on January 8, 2009 at 8:56 pm

From Michael Laybourn

After advising Obama the way to go (see Solar Letter To Obama), I thought that maybe I would write down my reasoning to see how it held together. Time for some research. I knew Germany had created an explosion of alternative energy growth and has now become the worlds most advanced alternative energy country.

So, let’s take a trip to Germany.

How did Germany become the leading country for renewable energy production? It wasn’t fear of power outages or high gas prices but economic incentives that jump-started the solar revolution in Germany. (When I say solar, think renewable energy, including wind, biomass, geothermal, etc.)

“The rocketing growth of solar energy in Germany is the direct result of the German Renewable Energy Sources Act(EEG). The law guarantees that farmers, homeowners, and businesses can connect to the electric grid and the law spells out exactly how much they will be paid for their electricity and for how long.” – -Gerhard Stryi-Hipp of the German Solar Industry Association.

Unlike other mechanisms used to develop renewable energy, the German law asks for the active participation of its utilities, citizens and small businesses. German homeowners typically install solar systems about 3 kilowatt (kW) in size, sufficient to provide two-thirds of the electricity used by an average German home. German government instituted low interest loans and subsidies for alternative energy, then wrote into law that the utility companies had to pay a higher price for this new and clean energy they were getting from all sources, including the solar homes and businesses.

Continue reading Let’s Get Solar – Part 2

See also Passive Solar Design – Part 1 at The Oil Drum

The Bumblebee That Changed The World

In Books, Dave Smith on January 8, 2009 at 9:57 am

From Dave Smith

Excerpted from The Natural Step For Communities-
How Cities and Towns Can Change to Sustainable Practices

Övertorneå — the first eco-municipality in Sweden

In the mid-1980s, the little town of Övertorneå (Eu-vehr-tawr’-neh-aw) in northern Sweden received a national prize as the Municipality of the Year. In his speech at the award ceremony, a prominent county official, Councilman Jan-Olof Hedwtröm, compared Övertorneå to a bumblebee. As lore has it, the famous aeronautic engineer Sikorsky hung a sign in his office lobby that reads: “The bumblebee, according to our engineers’ calculations, cannot fly at all, but the bumblebee doesn’t know this and flies.”

This was the regional and national establishment’s view of Övertorneå. Changes were happening in the town outside the envelope of what was then regarded as business-as-usual community development. The municipal government and its larger community had made a commitment to develop in a way that was in harmony with nature. Övertorneå residents and town officials sought a win-win-win relationship betwen humans, society, and nature. Residents and officials were coming to understand that investing in ecological approaches to meet community needs could also bring about an economically positive future. To characterize its transformation, Övertorneå began to call itself an “eco-municipality.”

Övertorneå was discussing and practicing ideas such as mobilizing people, taking a bottom-up approach to community planning, collaborative community development, cooperating across department and industrial sector boundaries, investing in local culture, and taking into account the local informal economy. Such ideas were foreign to conventional Swedish town planning and community development practices at that time. What the regional and national establishments could see, without understanding why, was that these strange ideas evidently produced remarkable results — for example, over 200 new business enterprises producing several hundred jobs in a small town of barely 6,000 inhabitants. These county and national agencies considered new jobs and businesses to be the most important indicators of successful community development.

Continue reading The Bumblebee That Changed The World


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