The Work That Reconnects – Joanna Macy


From Earl Brown
Ukiah

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


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: www.artcenterukiah.org 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 www.artcenterukaig.org 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 www.jeannievodden.com.

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?


By George Monbiot 1/20/09
Excerpts

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…”



Technical Notice

From Ron Epstein
Ukiah

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.

The USA


Free The Journal!


From Dave Smith
Ukiah

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



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

From Dave Smith
Ukiah
(Excerpt)

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


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.

Update:

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
RRFC

Continue reading Water, Then and Now


Let’s Get Solar – Part Three


From Michael Laybourn
Hopland
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



Energy Independence and Global Warming


green-for-all

From Mary Anne Landis
Ukiah

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


From Ron Epstein
Ukiah

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


From Evan Johnson
Ukiah


American Aid To Israel – A Libertarian Perspective


[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
Ukiah


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…

From Annie Esposito
Ukiah

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


post-carbon-logo

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


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?


amish-harvest

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


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 www.kzyx.org.

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


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


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


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


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