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Archive for February, 2009|Monthly archive page

The Iraqi Pullout Hoax

In James Houle on February 28, 2009 at 9:34 am

2/28/09 Ukiah, Northern California

From Jim Houle

The New York Times suggests that Obama has made a statesmanlike compromise between his campaign pledge to “get out of Iraq in 16 months” and the Pentagon Brass pushing for 23 months: he split the difference at 19 months (September 2010). Most Americans had thought on Election Day that this meant all troops would leave Iraq but we have been disabused of this naïve notion. America will continue to have “a residual force” stationed at the four large desert bases (often referred to as crusader castles) for an undefined number of years.

This “continuing presence” after August 2010 has been called Advisory Training Brigades. Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell conceded on Feb. 24th that some would continue to “conduct combat operations,” and Iraq would still be considered a war zone. The rest would be what he described as “enablers.” The issue is why will we need them there? We can only conclude that Obama has not let go of what had been the over-riding justification for the invasion of Iraq back in 2003: to dominate the region militarily. The objective was then and continues to be: to control Iraq’s oil resources, to assure the continued security of the corrupt medieval monarchies in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, and to utilize the Persian Gulf as our private lake. The four crusader fortifications we have built with their huge airfields and weapons stockpiles can serve as a launching pad for any bombing raids found necessary in future years to keep in line those ‘Seven Stans” of Central Asia: Kazakh, Uzbek, Tajik, Turkomen, Kirghiz, Afghani and Pakistani along with those unreliable Persians and any Palestinians that might acquire a modern weapon. It’s all part of the unworkable and unaffordable program called “full spectrum global dominance” back at the Pentagon and that has already run us near to full spectrum bankruptcy. The administration intends to call those remaining troops a “transition force” – apparently to guard us as we move to a Pax-Obama future. None of the Iraqi political parties support any continued US presence after the year 2011, as had been agreed during the Bush administration.

Even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is a bit confused: “I don’t know what the justification is for 50,000,” she said on MSNBC February 25th. “I would think a third of that, maybe 20,000, a little more than a third, 15,000 or 20,000.” As of February 26th, Obama’s people are putting the size of the residual force at 35 to 50,000. Obama just budgeted $130 billion to fund the wars costs for Iraq and Afghanistan for the fiscal year starting June 2009. Pentagon Spokesman Geoff Morrell has now further parsed his words: “while Iraq would remains a war zone, most of these remaining forces would not do anything that resembles fighting. But just because these troops would carry a sidearm, as all U.S. troops do in theater, that should not be confused with them having a combat mission”. What is this? Will two mile long runways be defended by residual forces with sidearms?

Keep reading→

Local Sierra Club Chapter Attacks County General Plan/Draft EIR A “Failure”

In Dave Smith on February 28, 2009 at 8:29 am

Sierra Club
Mendocino Group, Redwood Chapter
13 February 2009

Mendocino County Board of Supervisors
Low Gap Road
Ukiah, CA

Re: Final EIR and General Plan
A Different Approach on the Water Sections

Members of the Board;

We are enclosing three comment letters that address the water sections of the Draft Environmental Impact Report. We urge the Board to take a careful look at what is being proposed by the Planning Group and their professional consultant. These comment letters from the Sierra Club, our attorney, and the Mendocino County Water Agency concur on the gross inadequacy of the draft water sections of the EIR and General Plan. A review of the comment listings shows that agencies such as the Department of Fish and Game and the Regional Water Control Board share our critical evaluation of the draft documents regarding water resources.

Based on our experiences over the last three years, we do not expect the final EIR and General Plan (now due out on the 26th) to be meaningfully different from the inadequate draft presented. Those who have created the draft documents do not seem to have the understanding or motivation to create:
• An accurate description of the present degraded conditions of our water resources, or
• A comprehensive identification of the environmental issues, or
• A detailed plan to fix the problems.

Attorney Paul Carroll states:
The general plan and its EIR are expected to comprehensively analyze the availability of water to the environment and the potential adverse effects of its depletion. This obligation includes identifying future water sources and analyzing the impacts of their procurement. Under these criteria, the County’s updated General Plan/Draft EIR is a failure. Among its deficiencies, it fails to address the greatest threat to the County’s rivers and streams, namely the depletion of streamflows from diversions, many illegal; it fails to consider the availability of groundwater in connection with the demands of future development; it proposes to address water quality impacts with mitigations that do not apply to the problem at hand or that will apply for years to come; it eliminates mitigations deemed necessary by the current General Plan, such as a riparian protection/grading ordinance; and it evidences a fundamental misunderstanding regarding cumulative impacts, positing that they can be readily controlled by project-level permits and best management practices.

The Mendocino Water Agency comment letter raises six pages of material deficiencies and questions such as:
Why does this EIR not discuss the effects that lack of a Grading Ordinance for the last 25 years has had on water quality and riparian corridor conditions?

Why does this EIR not require the adoption of a Grading Ordinance as a mitigation measure?

How do policies provide mitigation when they do not have implementation measures, state what department is responsible, or have a timeline?

Since the EIR correctly points out that the County currently has no codes or ordinances that provide mitigation for construction activities and none are proposed in the EIR, how is the EIR conclusion that no mitigation measures are required justified?

How does policy language that involves “promoting”, and “supporting” result in implementation sufficient to justify the EIR conclusion that no mitigation is necessary for development impacts?

The EIR states that “lack of current knowledge…impacts are considered significant and unavoidable”. The mitigation measures are listed as “none available”. Is not a reduction in the development
patterns that would affect groundwater supplies, a mitigation measure?

The Sierra Club comment letter raises water issues missed or avoided in the EIR such as illegal diversions:

The Division of Water Rights has the opportunity to consider the environmental effects of applications for diversion prior to any taking or the construction of storage facilities by the applicant. However, the current situation is that growers have built dams onstream and later applied for their permit. The result is an administrative logjam of noncompliant diversion dams. This results in a very significant illegal taking of water with environmental effects to water supply and water quality that is not been addressed in the DEIR. The county has a legitimate interest in regulating construction of these projects and an obligation to limit the adverse environmental consequences. These diversions, being taken without right of law, diminish the opportunity for other development by those who would comply with water rights laws and county building codes.

While the DEIR acknowledges the problem of illegal construction of dams, it dismisses the issue without further examination or response in the document. At page 4.8-2 it states:

“…there are many illegal diversions and impoundments of surface water occurring in the unincorporated area of the county; however, the amount of water being diverted and the extent of diversions countywide are currently unknown.”

Keep reading→

Greater Ukiah Localization Project Report (GULP)

In Guest Posts, Mendo Island Transition on February 26, 2009 at 11:51 pm

From Cliff Paulin

2/26/09 Ukiah, Northern California

Greetings GULPers,

Well it’s been a while since we’ve met but I just wanted to let you know that localization efforts continue to bubble in different realms. It’s been heartening to see the localization banner being carried on in so many different circles.  If you have other activities you’d like to share with the group, please send me an e-mail: cliffpaulin@hotmail.com

Be well,

Cliff

Time Bank
A very exciting service has been brought to Ukiah thanks to the work of Julia Frech. It’s called Time Bank, and is a way for people to exchange services locally via the web.  You can sign up on the website or you can call 489-1388.  This is a great way to put your talents to use and get assistance from your local community.

Year Round Farmers Market
In case you haven’t noticed the Saturday Farmer’s Market in Ukiah is thriving through the winter.  Featuring the finest in local produce, meat, seafood, honey, cheese, eggs, and crafts the market is open under the pavilion at Alex Thomas Plaza every Saturday morning. You can also pick up another local currency there, the wooden $2 piece, which you can start tipping your wait staff and paperboy with.

Shop Local Card
The Mendo Lake Credit Union and the Mendocino Savings Bank will be rolling out a shop local credit card in the near future. This is another great way to ensure that our dollars stay local. Keep your eyes out for future developments.

Boosting Local Farms Conference
Mendo Food Futures (MFF) and STEPS to a local food economy will be hosting their annual meeting again this spring and the theme is “Growing the Next Generation of Mendocino Farmers”.  The vision is to have current, beginning, and aspiring farmers connect with the resources (land, labor, capital, knowledge) that they need to start producing more food locally. The tentative date is set for April 8th. If you are interested in attending please contact Cliff Paulin at cliffpaulin@hotmail.com

New Local Food Market
Scott and Holly Cratty, ever the stalwarts of the localization movement, have recently purchased the Westside Market on Clay Street. They are looking to feature locally grown Mendocino Renegade Certified Organic food and local crafts. If you have items you would like to sell through the market please contact Scott at cratty@comcast.net

Rent a Local Artist
The Ukiah Art Center, our own cooperatively run gallery located at 201 and 203 S. State Street will be offering the chance for you to feature a local art in your home by renting it. Attend the next First Friday Art Walk on March 6, or stop by anytime to find out more info.  For a list of ongoing activities you can go to their website: www.artcenterukiah.org

Shop Local Campaign
You may have seen the proliferation of shop local banners and placards around town recently.  A group of local business owners, lead by Spencer Brewer of the Ukiah Music Center have done a wonderful job of raising the profile of our locally owned businesses. You can show your support for  their efforts by stopping into a local business next time you are in need of a new acquisition.

Bulk Organic Grain Share
Following in the footsteps of Community Supported Agriculture, Mendo Food Futures (MFF) are offering a Grain and Bean Share. You can purchase shares for $10, which will entitle you to 11 pounds of pinto beans, brown rice, white rice, or 17 pounds of Triticale (a hybrid of rye and wheat). You can contact MFF at mendofoodfutures@gmail.com to purchase shares, and if we get enough interest in Ukiah we may be able to get them to attend the Saturday Farmer’s Market.

Mustard Seed Project
A group of local medical, financial, and policy individuals have been meeting to devise a strategy to maximize the impact of state and federal funding for physical and mental health in the county.  During these times of challenging financial reality these organizations are working in concert to best serve the residents of Mendocino County.

Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Conference
The City of Ukiah will be hosting a Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Conference at the Ukiah Conference Center on May 5, 2009.  Stay tuned for details.

Anything Else?
If you know of any other efforts or projects underway or envisioned please e-mail Cliff Paulin at cliffpaulin@hotmail.com so we can get the word out.

Ukiah Farmers’ Market Saturday 2/28/09

In Dave Smith on February 26, 2009 at 10:10 pm

From Scott Cratty

2/26/09, Ukiah, Northern California

Friends of the Farmers’ Market,

Greetings.  The latest forecast for Saturday is “Cloudy with a few showers” and a balmy (for winter) 61 degrees.  Once again perfect weather for keeping your vegetables fresh, so make sure you remember to get to the market … and come early.  The crowds have been falling off sharply after noon and many of our vendors are getting into the habit of packing up a bit early.  So, if you arrive right at 1 pm you may find your favorite vendor already pulling out.  Next season we will close the winter market at noon.

I do not expect any significant changes this week relative to last. The Fords will again be absent (it is the second and final week of their vacation) and The Apple Farm will probably not be back for another week.  Otherwise you can expect the same great array of vendors.

Thanks to all for making our first winter market so successful.

Check Friday’s UDJ for the exciting conclusion of the Tale of Two Chickens.

On to your weekly dose of local food news

- Holly found this nice blog called Organic on a Budget. When I looked last week there was a list of tips for getting the best food at the best price.  Care to guess what is #1 on the list?  If you guessed shopping at the farmers’ market, you are correct.

- The Anderson Valley Foodshed Group is preparing the republish the excellent Mendocino  County Local Food Guide that they created in 2007. It will be updated with producers who were not included before, as well as new info from those previously included.  If you are aware of any county food producers that were not included before please ask them to drop me a note so that I can forward the survey for the new edition.

- Ron Epstein passed along the following link to an interesting interview about commercial juice.  It turns out that juice in cartons may not be as fresh as you think: What you’re really pouring from that carton of orange juice

- In case you just cannot get enough information about local food and small farms, you can check out the Organic Consumers Union‘s new farmer TV. The episodes explore the business of small family farms, and the health benefits derived from eating organic, not to mention the economic benefits to the community from supporting local farms.  So far there are two of these half-hour programs.  Watch how one family starts up their own small farming operation from scratch. In the second episode, watch how a group of people begin volunteering one day per week when they start getting involved helping out at a local sustainable farm.  This Friends of Farmers episode does a good job of recapping the spectrum of reasons for supporting local food farms.  It is at: Organic Consumers Union

Regards,
Scott Cratty
Ph: 707-462-7377

How do horse slaughterhouses work?

In Around the web on February 26, 2009 at 9:17 am

From Ron Epstein

The Montana state legislature endorsed a bill Tuesday that would allow the construction of a horse slaughterhouse. It would be the only such plant in the country—the last three, two in Texas, one in Illinois, were shut down in 2007.

How do horse slaughterhouses work? A lot like cow slaughterhouses. Horses arrive on trucks and trailers, usually after being purchased at one of the many horse auctions across the country. They proceed down a ramp, into a feeding pen, and finally through a chute that leads to a small, brightly lit room. That’s where an employee holds a pressurized gun called a “captive bolt pistol” up to the horse’s forehead and shoots a 4-inch piece of metal about the size of a roll of quarters into its brain. Workers sometimes need to shoot three or four times before the horse stops moving. The horse is then dumped out a side door and strung up by its feet, at which point workers slit its throat and drain the blood. The body is then cut up and sent off to a meat company, usually in France or Belgium, where horse meat is a delicacy. (See a video of the whole process here.)

Keep reading They Shoot Horses Don’t They? at Slate magazine

See also Equine Protection Network

and Equine Advocates

an Unwanted Horse Coalition

and The Humane Sociey

Hat Tip Jan Allegretti

Image Credit: WIkipedia Commons


An urgent call to ‘buy local’

In Dave Smith on February 25, 2009 at 10:35 pm

From The Christian Science Monitor

[Many of us remember the "debate" that Michael Shuman had here in Ukiah, which DDR refused to attend, during our fight to save the Masonite site for future jobs. Michael has just been appointed the position of Director of Research and Public Policy for Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) - DS]

Job developer Michael Shuman seeks to rebuild struggling communities with home-grown businesses.

For Michael Shuman it was the equivalent of an earthquake. Seeking cheaper labor in Canada, Toronto-based Branscan Corp. threw 1,400 people out of work by closing two paper mills in Millinocket, Maine, in 2002. The unemployment rate in this region of central Maine skyrocketed to Depression era levels of nearly 40 percent.

Mr. Shuman, an economist and job developer, was called in for damage control. Aided by an $8 million federal grant, he and his colleagues at Maine’s Training and Development Corp. were able to help most of the laid-off workers get back on their feet. But the experience convinced Shuman to do what any sensible person might do after such a calamity: Build something that’s earthquake-resistant.

To him, that involves locally owned businesses.

For the past five years, Shuman has been barnstorming across the United States, preaching the gospel of economic “localism.” It’s an appeal to community values as well as economic self-interest, a call to support locally owned businesses that don’t outsource, don’t pack up their businesses and leave on a moment’s notice, and who recycle their customers’ dollars back into the community.

Shuman describes his effort as “a political campaign that never ends.” He speaks mostly in small rural communities, often desolate landscapes with shuttered mills and boarded-up storefronts. His campaign has put him in the epicenter of a debate about what’s best for the economic health of a community: Locally owned businesses or large, multinational chain stores.

Keep reading An urgent call at CSM

Harlan Hubbard – Painter, Writer, Agrarian Homesteader

In Dave Smith on February 25, 2009 at 10:48 am

From Gene Logsdon

I found Harland Hubbard in an article in the National Geographic in the early 1960s. He and his wife, Anna, were what was called at that time modern homesteaders who had first become well-known for building their own shantyboat and floating down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to bayou country, a trip that lasted over a year. Now they lived on the banks of the Ohio in a house they had built themselves, mostly out of lumber cut from their own woodland or snagged as it floated by on the river. They did not have electricity. They cut their own wood for fuel. They raised all their food, or caught it from the river, or traded for it with neighbors. The only steady income they had was rent from a house Harlan had built in town in younger years. Their life was both rigorous and elegant. Harlan made some money from his paintings and his books. The couple provided their own entertainment: nature watching, reading, and music.

For a while, I talked about living the same way, causing Carol’s parents some consternation.In their first years of marriage, they had lived much like the Hubbards but viewed with alarm the idea that their daughter and grandchildren might have to do likewise. I was reminded, more than once, that, unlike the Hubbards, I had children to raise. So I went to Philadelphia, accepted the manacles of financial security, and forgot about the Hubbards.

Fourteen years later, Wendell Berry introduced me to the Hubbards. They lived only a few miles from his farm. Wendell and I were both writing for the Rodale Press, whose publications were seeing a dramatic rise in circulation. This was the golden age of Organic Gardening magazine. Literally millions of people were subscribing to it because they had gotten the audacious notion that they wanted more control over their lives. The magazine was suggesting ways to gain that control. Like the Hubbards, these readers thought that they wanted to go where they could own a little land free and clear, live more healthfully, more at nature’s pace than the nine-to-five regime, produce their own food, do for themselves what they had been paying others to do for them, and make enough money at some small business or craft to get by. In other words, they were motivated by the same kind of idealism that had influenced the early pioneers. They were agrarians. They found in the publications of the Rodale Press the kind of information they were looking for.

It was in this heady atmosphere of hope that, at Wendell’s suggestion, I was assigned to write an article about Harlan and Anna Hubbard. I remembered them from the National Geographic article and accepted the assignment eagerly.

Keep reading Harlan Hubbard at OrganicToBe

Buddhist Economics – E F Schumacher

In Books, Dave Smith, Small Business Skills on February 25, 2009 at 6:20 am

By E.F. Schumacher
Small Is Beautiful (1973)

“Right Livelihood” is one of the requirements of the Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path. It is clear, therefore, that there must be such a thing as Buddhist economics…

Economists themselves, like most specialists, normally suffer from a kind of metaphysical blindness, assuming that theirs is a science of absolute and invariable truths, without any presuppositions. Some go as far as to claim that economic laws are as free from “metaphysics” or “values” as the law of gravitation. We need not, however, get involved in arguments of methodology. Instead, let us take some fundamentals and see what they look like when viewed by a modern economist and a Buddhist economist.

There is universal agreement that a fundamental source of wealth is human labour. Now, the modern economist has been brought up to consider “labour” or work as little more than a necessary evil. From the point of view of the employer, it is in any case simply an item of cost, to be reduced to a minimum if it can not be eliminated altogether, say, by automation. From the point of view of the workman, it is a “disutility”; to work is to make a sacrifice of one’s leisure and comfort, and wages are a kind of compensation for the sacrifice. Hence the ideal from the point of view of the employer is to have output without employees, and the ideal from the point of view of the employee is to have income without employment.

Keep reading→

Exposing the links between doctors and Big Pharma

In Around the web on February 25, 2009 at 6:10 am

From Ron Epstein

Republican senator Chuck Grassley has made it his mission to shake up the cosy relationship between doctors, researchers and the pharmaceutical industry. Now he is introducing legislation to force drugs companies to disclose the payments they make to doctors. He tells Jim Giles why he has chosen to be a troublemaker

Does it really matter that some academics and doctors “forget” to declare their income from drug companies?

The public relies on the advice of doctors and has a right to know about financial relationships between those doctors and the companies that make the pharmaceuticals they prescribe. The same goes for leading researchers, as they influence the practice of medicine. If the payments are transparent, I believe that people who have close connections with a company will be a little more cautious about the extent to which they push one drug over another. US taxpayers should also know as they spend billions of dollars on prescription drugs and devices through Medicare and Medicaid.

Last year, you made claims about a psychiatrist using grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to test a drug. You alleged he had not properly disclosed the stock he held in the company that owned the drug – claims which he has denied and which his employer has cleared him of. Can you tell me about that?

I am not able to comment on the specifics of any cases. But I can say that my discovery of undisclosed financial relationships between drug companies and researchers has put pressure on the NIH. It’s a trustee of $24 billion in federal grants each year. It needs to make sure that those receiving its grants manage conflicts of interest.

Keep reading Exposing the links at New Scientist

I see mankind as a herd of cattle – Tolstoy

In Dave Smith on February 25, 2009 at 6:03 am

I see mankind as a herd of cattle inside a fenced enclosure. Outside the fence are green pastures with plenty for the cattle to eat, while inside the fence there is not quite grass enough for the cattle. Consequently the cattle are trampling underfoot what little grass there is and goring each other to death in their struggle for existence. I saw the owner of the herd come to them and when he saw their pitiable condition he was filled with compassion for them, and thought of what he could do to improve their condition. So he called his friends together and asked them to assist him in cutting the grass from outside the fence and throwing it over the fence to the cattle. And they called that charity. Then, because the calves were dying off and not growing into serviceable cattle, he arranged that they should each have a pint of milk every morning for breakfast. Because they were dying off in the cold night he put up beautiful well-drained and well-ventilated cow sheds for the cattle. Because they were goring each other in the struggle for existence he put corks on the horns of the cattle so that the wounds they gave each other might not be so serious. Then he reserved a part of the enclosure for the old bulls and the old cows over seventy years of age. In fact, he did everything he could do to improve the conditions of the cattle. And when they asked him why he did not do the one obvious thing—break down the fences and let the cattle out—he answered, “If I let the cattle out, I should no longer be able to milk them.”


Shelf Life

In Around the web, Books on February 24, 2009 at 7:36 am

From NY Times
Excerpts

I felt so fortunate to attend a special presentation the other night: William Stout, owner of the eponymous architecture and design bookstore in San Francisco, had been invited to talk about his favorite books at Linden Street, a casual salon of sorts that aims to foster the design community in the city…

Stout is a collector in the best sense of the word. Though he joked that he began acquiring books when he realized he’d never have a 401k, it is probably more accurate to say that Stout is in complete thrall of the smell of ink, the feel of paper, the intellectual and physical heft of the literary object, the near-indiscernible sound of the turning of pages…

Scanning the bookshelves of others is a favorite pastime, and sitting here canvassing my own makes me fully understand why Stout recently left his San Francisco house to move into a warehouse: he wanted to be surrounded by not just some but all of his books, to feel among the living. As one who has lugged an ever-increasing number of boxes of books from apartment to apartment, city to city, unable to part with nary a one, I feel the same way…

Keep reading Shelf Life at The New York Times

We need a new myth

In Dave Smith on February 23, 2009 at 11:24 pm

by Richard Heinberg
Post Carbon Institute
Extracted from an interview in Acres USA, March 2007

Over the past 200 years the human population has grown from under one billion to now over 6.5 billion. That’s an extraordinary rate of increase—completely unprecedented in all of previous history. There are verious ways of explaining how and why that has happened, but certainly it could not have happened without cheap fossil fuels with which to grow more food and to transport that food from where it’s abundant to where it’s scarce. I think it’s fair to say that there are somewhere between 2 and 4 billion people alive today who probably would not exist if it weren’t for fossil fuels. That’s a little worrisome to think about when one realizes that oil production globally is set to peak any year now, and global natural gas production will not be far behind. If we’re going to avoid to die-off of much of humanity through starvation and disease, we’re going to have to find ways of feeding people without fossil fuels or with a lot less fossil fuel use—and that really means redesigning out entire food system. It means growing more food locally, for local consumption, it means using smaller farm machinery and less of it, it means more people being involved in the process of producing food, and it means growing food with fewer chemicals and fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. Fortunately, over the past few decades we have developed information, knowledge, experience and techniques that are capable of growing food intensively, organically and ecologically. Those techniques, those methods desperately need to be expanded and replicated and made the basis for our national and global food system.

The whole chemicals industry arose starting with coal, but natural gas is now the basis for the modern pharmaceutical and agrichemical industy, and that’s a very worrisome situation here in North America because we’re seeing natural gas production turning down. Therefore we’re seeing high natural gas prices, and therefore high fertilizer prices, because, of course, fertilizer is made from natural gas. Most of the North American chemicals industry is fleeing for other shores where natural gas is cheaper. We’ve lost something like 100,000 jobs in the chemicals industry over the last two years, but we don’t read that on the business pages of the newspapers.

What [leaders] most need to understand is our systemic dependency on fossil fuels and the fact that fossil fuels are about to become much more scarce and expensive. I don’t think that simple fact has penetrated the consciousness of our officials. They have been led to believe that business as usual will continue indefinitely, that the way we are doing things now is somehow the way they’ve always been done and always will be done, which is simply not the case. We live in an extraordinary moment in history.

Keep reading→

Sanderson update…

In Around the web on February 23, 2009 at 11:19 pm

From Don Sanderson

2/23/09 Ukiah, California I was incorrect about the value of bonds to be sold this week, but ….
From Bloomberg a few minutes ago:

The Treasury Department plans to auction $40 billion of two-year notes Tuesday, a record $32 billion of five-year securities Feb. 25 and a record $22 billion of seven-year debt Feb. 26.

“With all the supply coming, people are taking it as an opportunity to short the Treasury market,” said Charles Comiskey, head of U.S. Treasury trading in New York at HSBC Securities USA Inc., one of the 16 primary dealers that are required to bid in Treasury auctions. To short is to bet the price of a security will fall.

The U.S. will probably borrow $2.5 trillion during the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, according to primary dealer Goldman Sachs Group Inc. The figure is almost triple the $892 billion in notes and bonds the Treasury sold in the previous 12 months.

“We’re dealing with a huge boatload of supply,” said Kevin Flanagan, a Purchase, New York-based fixed-income strategist for Morgan Stanley’s individual-investor clients. “We feel it will continue to hover over the market for the entire year.”

U.S. yields indicate bets on inflation have been rising over the past three months.

Fed policy makers have debated whether to purchase longer-term U.S. debt to help lower consumer borrowing costs, an option raised by Bernanke late last year.

“Buying Treasuries is not on the Fed’s front burner,” said Thomas Roth, head of U.S. government bond trading in New York at Dresdner Kleinwort, another primary dealer. “It’s something that would be a last resort type of thing. People are still hoping.”

Elsewhere, Bloomberg reports that dividends have fallen far below bond yields, ao the stock market has become uninteresting to investors. Look for a big stock market drop and 401Ks and other pension funds to disappear.

And, away we go …

A Captive Obama

In James Houle on February 23, 2009 at 5:33 pm

From Jim Houle
Obama-Watch

2/23/09 Ukiah, Northern California The military holds Obama captive to its strategy for maintaining US security and continuing the supposed war on terrorism. After Bush Administration sold Congress and much of the American public for 8 years on the necessity of preventing another 9/11, Obama now finds it impossible to change the paradigm, declare the war over, cut our defense budget in the face of national bankruptcy, and withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan without being immediately accused of leaving America at risk. Further, the pressure upon him by Republicans and some Democratic lawmakers makes it extremely difficult to pass truly progressive legislation that does not have the approval of those who finance these law-makers. These financiers include the war-machinery manufacturers, the mass media and the financial community. They have everything at stake in this economy that spends 50% of tax revenues on making war. My God, what would happen if peace broke out? Where will we sell our cluster bombs?

Thus Obama can at best withdraw slowly and carefully from Iraq and then only if he can guarantee the war machine that it will still be able to bomb anywhere at will in the Middle East from secure bases or with conscienceless drones. Should he make any moves that threaten the “existing world order” he will confront the type of blockage he just encountered in the US Senate where Republicans and even some Democrats whittled away at his economic stimulus plan, not because they had real alternatives to offer, but merely to show they were still around and had muscle.

OUR INTEL ADMIRAL DISCOVERS ECONOMICS
Retired Admiral Dennis Blair, our new director of national intelligence, warned the Senate Committee on Intelligence Feb. 12th that the deepening world capitalist crisis posed the paramount threat to US national security and warned that its continuation could trigger a return to the “violent extremism” of the 1920s and 1930s. This frank appraisal, contained in the “annual threat assessment” on behalf of 16 separate US intelligence agencies, represented a striking departure from earlier years, in which a supposedly ubiquitous threat from Al Qaeda terrorism and the two wars launched under the Bush administration topped the list of concerns. Reported by Bill Van Auken Global Research, February 14, 2009. Admiral Blair declared: “The primary near-term security concern of the United States is the global economic crisis and its geopolitical implications. The crisis has been ongoing for over a year, and economists are divided over whether and when we could hit bottom. Some even fear that the recession could further deepen and reach the level of the Great Depression. Of course, all of us recall the dramatic political consequences wrought by the economic turmoil of the 1920s and 1930s in Europe, the instability, and high levels of violent extremism.” Keep Reading→

Banks, Technocrats and the Oligarchy – Bill Moyers

In Dave Smith on February 23, 2009 at 11:05 am

[Scale and greed are the problems. Break them up. -DS]

Go to Bill Moyers Journal

Also see The Baseline Scenario

Hat Tip Dave Pollard


What is a Transition Town?

In Dave Smith, Mendo Island Transition on February 23, 2009 at 7:41 am

It all starts off when a small collection of motivated individuals within a community come together with a shared concern: how can our community respond to the challenges, and opportunities, of Peak Oil and Climate Change?

They begin by forming an initiating group and then adopt the Transition Model (explained here at length, and in bits here and here) with the intention of engaging a significant proportion of the people in their community to kick off a Transition Initiative.

A Transition Initiative is a community (lots of examples here) working together to look Peak Oil and Climate Change squarely in the eye and address this BIG question:

“For all those aspects of life that this community needs in order to sustain itself and thrive, how do we significantly increase resilience (to mitigate the effects of Peak Oil) and drastically reduce carbon emissions (to mitigate the effects of Climate Change)?”

After going through a comprehensive and creative process of:

* awareness raising around peak oil, climate change and the need to undertake a community lead process to rebuild resilience and reduce carbon
* connecting with existing groups in the community
* building bridges to local government
* connecting with other transition initiatives
* forming groups to look at all the key areas of life (food, energy, transport, health, heart & soul, economics & livelihoods, etc)
* kicking off projects aimed at building people’s understanding of resilience and carbon issues and community engagement
* eventually launching a community defined, community implemented “Energy Descent Action Plan” over a 15 to 20 year timescale

This results in a coordinated range of projects across all these areas of life that strives to rebuild the resilience we’ve lost as a result of cheap oil and reduce the community’s carbon emissions drastically.

The community also recognizes two crucial points:

* that we used immense amounts of creativity, ingenuity and adaptability on the way up the energy upslope, and that there’s no reason for us not to do the same on the downslope
* if we collectively plan and act early enough there’s every likelihood that we can create a way of living that’s significantly more connected, more vibrant and more in touch with our environment than the oil-addicted treadmill that we find ourselves on today.

\\!! Final point Just to weave the climate change and peak oil situations together…

* Climate change makes this carbon reduction transition essential
* Peak oil makes it inevitable
* Transition initiatives make it feasible, viable and attractive (as far we can tell so far…)

Keep reading What is a Transition Town?

Creating a Cottage Garden

In Dave Smith on February 22, 2009 at 10:16 pm

By Rosalind Creasy (1985)
Edible Landscaping

The early Puritans left their mark on us in a number of ways, some of which make life a series of joyless tasks. Sometimes I think their devotees must write garden books. The tone of many of the how-to books reeks of rules, admonitions, and dicta. How about a garden that is programmed to give you joy, to take care of you? The cottage garden is an outright celebration of what a garden can do for every part of you: colors to see, textures to touch, fragrances to smell, bird calls to hear, and myriad tastes for the palate. And, of course, we can’t forget the most important part, your soul. You will experience the renewal of life, that primordial urge to believe in the future. You will put your fingers on the emerging carrot seedlings, anticipate the taste of the first tomato, and feel delight when the hummingbird visits the sage and the monarch butterfly sips from the dew collected by the nasturtium leaf.

I am suggesting that you plant a rather hedonistic variation of the traditional mixed border. Put it where you usually see a conventional shrub or flower border—along a fence line for instance, or along a walk or driveway, next to the patio, or along shallow hillsides. Fill it with joy, with colors, tastes, fragrances and even tactile pleasures—a swath of flowers and foliage.

The mixed border, sometimes called the perennial border since it usually includes a large number of perennially blooming plants, has been in fashion since the late nineteenth century. It has its roots in the English cottage garden, and, at its best, the border is a subtle work of form, texture, and color—all used to together to delight the soul. Properly planned, the border changes with the seasons.

Traditionally the staples in the mixed border were non-edible flowers, mostly perennials, with a sprinkling of annuals for quick color. Popular perennial flower choices for this type of ornamental border were iris, peony, phlox, dalia, dais, chrysanthemum, poppy, and the like. A new variation in today’s perennial border is the addition of beautiful edibles such as ruby chard and flowering kale; plus a number of savory and attractive herbs such as variegated sage and dill; edible flowers such as nasturtium and carnation for your salads and desserts; and, to add still another dimension, fragrance, choose sweet-smelling lavender and stock. For many more choices, see the lists of flowers and beautiful edibles below.

Keep reading Creating a Cottage Garden at Organic To Be

Ukiah Tree General Public Meeting Tuesday 2/24/09, 5:15 pm (Updated)

In Dave Smith on February 22, 2009 at 8:50 pm

From Linda Sanders
Friends of Gibson Creek

2/19/09 Ukiah, California (updated) I just finished this amazing book by Thomas Pakenham, Remarkable Trees of the World. A self described “tree hunter” and renowned botanist traveled to the remotest parts of the world and to teeming metropolis’s to capture unique, rare or endangered trees with his 30 lb. Linhof camera. Pakenham winnowed down hundreds of pictures and chose sixty individual/groups of trees using three principles. Each tree must be on its feet, dead or alive, have a strong personality, and have a good face. Seven of those pictures were taken in California. Those trees you’ve gazed upon, talked to or maybe even hugged are in this book.

What about the lovely, stately and unique trees in our little town? Well there are less of them now. The Ukiah Community Forest Management Plan calls for protection and maintenance of our urban forest. Wednesday night, the Ukiah City Council voted 4 to 1 to change the language in the animal code from owner to caretaker. Essentially, the caretaker is responsible for their dog or cat. The impetus for this change was to increase compassion towards animals, by changing the language you change human behavior. The original request was to move from “owner” to “guardian” but the Council determined “caretaker” was the least controversial term. My dictionary defines caretaker as a person employed to look after or take charge of goods, property, or a person. I think guardian is a much better word choice. One who guards, protects or defends creature, person, tree.

Is the City of Ukiah a responsible caretaker of our urban forest? Please come to a public meeting between Friends of Gibson Creek, ReLeaf, and the City this Tuesday, February 24th at 5:15pm at the City Annex (on the North side of the Civic Center), it will be an opportunity to clarify existing City policies regarding trees and chart any new directions. Council member Mary Anne Landis is facilitating the meeting. If you wish to attend and want to review the City tree-related documents ahead of time then send me an e-mail and I will forward them to you. kaderli@juno.com

~~

Banking on Credit Unions

In Around the web on February 21, 2009 at 1:28 pm

By Ralph Nader

While the reckless giant banks are shattering like an over-heated glacier day by day, the nation’s credit unions are a relative island of calm largely apart from the vortex of casino capitalism.

Eighty five million Americans belong to credit unions which are not-for-profit cooperatives owned by their members who are depositors and borrowers. Your neighborhood or workplace credit union did not invest in these notorious speculative derivatives nor did they offer people “teaser rates” to sign on for a home mortgage they could not afford.

Ninety one percent of the 8,000 credit unions are reporting greater overall growth in mortgage lending than any other kinds of consumer loans they are extending. They are federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) for up to $250,000 per account, such as the FDIC does for depositors in commercial banks.

They are well-capitalized because of regulation and because they do not have an incentive to go for high-risk, highly leveraged speculation to increase stock values and the value of the bosses’ stock options as do the commercial banks.

Credit Unions have no shareholders nor stock nor stock options; they are responsible to their owner-members who are their customers.

There are even some special low-income credit unions-thought not nearly enough-to stimulate economic activities in these communities and to provide “banking” services in areas where poor people can’t afford or are not provided services by commercial banks.

According to Mike Schenk, an economist with the Credit Union National Association, there is another reason why credit unions avoided the mortgage debacle that is consuming the big banks.

Credit Unions, he says, are “portfolio lenders. That means they hold in their portfolios most of the loans they originate instead of selling them to investors….so they care about the financial performance of those loans.”

Keep reading Banking on Credit Unions at Common Dreams
Hat tip to Janie Sheppard and Dan Hamburg

See also Mendo-Lake Credit Union
~~

What shall we eat?

In Around the web on February 21, 2009 at 10:00 am

From Don Sanderson

2/20/09 Ukiah, California At the beginning of the week of Feb. 14, George Wills loosed a column entitled “Dark Doom Sayers” informing us that global warming is a myth, disdaining Energy Secretary Stephan Chu’s comments on the effects resulting desertification would have on our food supplies, and mocking Science Advisor John Holdren who has similar concerns. Wills asserted he had scientific foundations for his conclusions, so who can dispute with him? We want to believe. Indeed, it doesn’t require much effort to find Wills is preaching nonsense.

Wills began by referring to a report from the University of Illinois’ Arctic Climate Research Center (ACRC), global sea ice levels now equal those of 1979 and that Arctic sea ice had been rapidly increasing. The ACRC staff quickly replied on their web site: “We do not know where George Will is getting his information, but our data shows that on February 15, 1979, global sea ice area was 16.79 million sq. km and on February 15, 2009, global sea ice area was 15.45 million sq. km. Therefore, global sea ice levels are 1.34 million sq. km less in February 2009 than in February 1979. This decrease in sea ice area is roughly equal to the area of Texas, California, and Oklahoma combined.” Arctic sea ice expanded at near-record rates of October and November, which Wills’ claimed supported his points. In fact, the rate than slowed and present coverage is somewhat less than last year at this time, roughly 13 million sq. km.

He then quoted the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) to the effect that global temperatures had not increased in the last twenty years. In fact, the WMO reported “The global mean surface temperature for 2007 was estimated at 0.41°C/0.74°F above the 1961-1990 annual average of 14.00°C/57.20°F.” “In January and April 2007 it is likely that global land surface temperatures ranked warmest since records began in 1880, 1.89°C warmer than average for January and 1.37°C warmer than average for April.”

Keep reading→

Next week could be really big – 2/21/09

In Around the web on February 21, 2009 at 8:43 am

From Don Sanderson

2/21/09 Ukiah, Northern California Next week, some economically/financially important events are unfolding that well may portend a rapid economic dive off the cliff for the United States, much more quickly than anyone is predicting that I’ve seen reported in the usual media. But, the tracks are there. It concerns the U.S. Treasury bond market where Obama must go to get his stimulus funds and, increasingly, much of the rest of the money he needs to operate the government and fight his wars. Some background:

A good way to track the economy, given the amounts of money the U.S. government is spreading around, is to follow the yields of U.S. Treasury bonds. Whenever the U.S. spends money it hasn’t collected from taxes and fees, it must first get from the sales of bonds.

Some background: When one invests a certain amount of money in a bond, say $1,000, at an annual return of 15 percent, it is said that the bond has yielded 15 percent or $150. If the bond is then sold for, say, $800, the buyer still gets an annual return of $150, but that is a rate of return of 18.75 percent, the bond now yields 18.75 percent. So, if you read that U.S. Treasury bond yield has increased, this should tell you that the market for bonds has fallen, much as the stock market falls. Bond yields have been steadily growing.

The U.S. Treasury sells both short term, say 5 year, and long term, say 20 year, bonds. Those who invest in short term bonds may be uncertain with the future and don’t want to bet long term. So, the relative yields of the two types of bonds should give one an idea of how much faith investors have in America’s financial future. In fact, short term bond yields are low in historical terms relative to long term ones, indicating bond holders feel insecure. Keep reading→

Exclusive! DDR Signs First Tenant Contract For The Masonite Site (Parody)

In Dave Smith on February 20, 2009 at 11:02 am

[Retail leakage occurs when members of a community spend money outside that community or when money spent inside that community is transferred outside the community. Chain stores and franchises have high leakage rates due to the transferring of sales revenue and profits to a corporate headquarters. Start enforcing anti-trust laws and get these leakage piggies out of our community. Our local entrepreneurs are eager to serve our community and keep our dollars circulating locally. -DS]

What is Community? – Part 2 of 2

In Dave Smith on February 19, 2009 at 10:25 pm

From Earl Brown
Part One | Part Two

02/20/09 Ukiah, California
In Part 1 of my discussion of community I stated pretty clearly that I do not believe we live in one. I suggested that a community may not be something that can be defined any more than any other principle, or ideal, and could be viewed as a process, or self-organizing system. We all have our own definition of what community is and I recognize I am no different; my definition is just that, my definition. This is also the point; if we each have a different definition of what a community is then do we really know what a “community” is? If community appears differently to each of us, how do we recognize when we are in one? Do we carry it around with us as a personal viewpoint, or, is it the average of all our viewpoints? In this offering I will attempt to bring additional information and insight into the discussion of community.

To me, a community is more than a given area on a map, or political boundary, such as a supervisorial district, neighborhood, or county, and the people who live within it. I believe this is the general way people think about community, an area and its people, but when they use it in their speech I think they are referring to those who agree with their views and opinions; what I would call cliques and special interest groups. For me, community is relationships. The health of relationships is dependent upon the health of the people having them. Living in a society where depression is the most common condition among its population, where one-in-four citizens have a significant mental disorder, where teenage suicide is at an unprecedented high and political ethics are at an all time low, where business is ruthless on the people, where the poor, homeless and disadvantaged youth are the first to be sacrificed on the altar of corporate greed and excess, I see little of healthy relationships.

Keep Reading→

Oil Is Dumb

In Dave Smith on February 19, 2009 at 8:40 pm

February, 2009 No-Brainer:  Use a Little Less Water at the Faucet

About 15% of your total home water use is at the faucet.  And about 73% of that is hot water.  Did you know that just a little thoughtfulness while using your faucet can save half of that water?  And much of this isn’t even painful.  All you have to do is remember to turn off the water when brushing your teeth or shaving.  So here’s the challenge.  Agree to try out the 5-second rule at your kitchen and bathroom faucets this month.  This means you’ll remember to let the water run for only 5 seconds at a time, and you’ll win $10 in the time it takes you to type an email.  If you take a picture of your faucet with a reminder sign next to it, we’ll put you into a drawing for $50.

See link below for official rules and instructions.  Challenge ends February 28, 2009.

Link:  February, 2009 No-Brainer

See also Felton, California Overthrows Corporate Giant For Control Of Their Water

and Water for People and Nature: The Story of Corporate Water Privatization

Image: Hat tip to Evan Johnson


Ukiah Farmers’ Market Saturday 2/21/09

In Dave Smith on February 19, 2009 at 7:00 am

From Scott Cratty

2/19/09 Ukiah, California
Friends of the Market,

Greetings.  Looks like another rainy Saturday … remember, when it is a bit chilly and damp for us, it is perfect for our vegetables.  Just think of the farmers’ market on a rainy Saturday morning as a more realistic version of what they try to simulate in grocery produce cases when the misting nozzles come on and the fake rain/thunder sounds.

Our local farmers need support rain or shine.  Please note that Ford Ranch Natural Beef  will be absent for two weeks, and back in March.  Fish may be low as well due to the rough seas … then again, last week was one of the few times we did not sell out of at least a few of the available varieties before the market closed. Because farming and fishing are not entirely predictable, neither is the market. Consider it part of the fun to come see what is there. Perhaps before too many months pass we may have a local shopping resource on-line that allows us to post what is available at the market in near real time so that you can check before heading out … but there is much work to do before that will be a reality. Let me know if you have time/resources to contribute.

Speaking of the connection between food and weather, tomorrow morning at 9 am on the KZYX&Z radio program Wildoak Living, “Chef Laura Stec and climate researcher Eugene Cordero will explore the connection between what we eat and our climate.  They encourage us to rediscover our relationship to the land, to the people who provide our food and to the art of cooking.”  I am not familiar with these speakers but the topic sounds as if it might be of interest to farmers’ market enthusiasts.

At the market this Saturday make sure your pause to enjoy Jerry Krantman’s eclectic acoustic music. Those of you who cannot get enough of local food issues may want to consider attending the March 1-3, 22nd Annual California Small Farm Conference. It is the state’s premier gathering of small farmers and those who support them. The three day educational conference includes on-farm tours, focused workshops, general educational sessions and opportunities for peer networking.  See California Small Farm Conference for specifics.  I will not be attending so would appreciate getting a report from anyone who does.

See you at the market.

Scott Cratty
Ph: 707-462-7377

“Grazing” The Trees On Your Garden Farm

In Dave Smith, Garden Farm Skills on February 19, 2009 at 6:11 am

By Gene Logsdon
Garden Farm Skills
OrganicToBe.org

To reach its full potential, a garden farm should embrace four areas: garden, pasture, tree grove, and the watery domain of pool, pond or creek. Only then will the full compliment of the food chain and the full orchestration of natural beauty be achieved. Of the four parts, the tree grove usually receives the least attention from garden farmers, which is why I have been writing about it so much, plus the fact that in winter that’s where most of the action is. We graze our pastures and gardens in summer; we should be “grazing” our woodlots in winter. And of you don’t have one, start one. Your children will honor you in the latter days. Any timber that needs to be cut and moved out of the woods should be completed now, before mud time. The maple syrup season has begun now. And as the days get above freezing and no ice lingers in the bark to dull chain saw blades, it is now comfortable to cut firewood, fence posts and furniture wood.

Two weeks ago in this space, I mentioned an unusual way to graze trees, using juniper berries to flavor a meat sauce. We finally got around to making that sauce, using a recipe from Bon Appetit in the October, 2008 issue, and substituting juniper berries from our red cedar trees (Junipera virginiana) for the larger and more succulent berries of other juniper trees that the recipe called for. We had to improvise other ways too— we did not have fresh rosemary, so used dried. But we did have fresh thyme from the garden, surprisingly green where the February snow had just melted away. The meat sauce was recommended for venison, but we put it on barbecued steaks. Since our juniper berries from red cedar were smaller than other junipers, I handpicked sixteen of the plumpest ones I could find to substitute for the eight the recipe called for. The sauce turned out to have a subtle, piquant taste different from anything I had experienced before. The flavor of the red wine dominated the more delicate juniper berry flavor a little too much, I thought, but the combination was very tasty. I’m fairly sure that the juniper berry flavor would have been more pronounced if we could have used the bigger berries of other junipers.

Keep Reading→

California’s Deadbeat Republicans

In Around the web on February 18, 2009 at 3:41 pm

From Crooks and Liars

[The 2/3rds rule is simply dictatorship by the minority. -DS]

The Republicans in the California legislature are trying to close down the entire state. As everyone across America watches with awe how f*&ked up these idiot Republican politicians are acting, finally we hear someone step up to the plate and get at the root of the problem.

Lt. Gov Garamendi: I’ve been listening to what you had to say about Republicans in the Senate and Congress, we have an infection here and it’s a Republican infection that’s really spreading across this nation. Just what do they propose to do? Shut everything down? They did that with Newt Gingrich. They seem to want to do that in California and we’re saying no way, no how. We’re gonna build, we’re going to go with Obama.

He linked these deadbeat Republicans to the Newt Gingrich led Congress that got embarrassed by shutting down the federal government.

And Arnold Schwarzenegger gets a free pass from the California and national media time and time again. He was Enron’s chosen boy to oust Gray Davis and he’s almost single handedly led us down a path to ruin. The CA media needs to start looking in the mirror on this one.

And as the Garamendi explained, California has this super majority requirement on any vote that entails raising taxes in place that stalls all legislation.

We do have a two thirds vote….And then when you have Republicans that have taken a no new tax pledge and seem to just want to throw this state and really the nation into chaos and further decline in the economy, then we have the gridlock that we see. We need to change our constitution.

We need to hold these Republicans accountable…

It’s a joke. California residents need to start taking action. We can’t just sit around and watch these morons sleeping in their chairs because of obstructionist Republicans.

As Julia points out:

The 2/3rds rule is the reason why we can’t pass a budget. We are one of three states that requires a 2/3rds vote. If we don’t change that rule we will be right back here in 2010.

Cox and Moldanado are the ones to call. Here is our Moldanado action: http://couragecampaign.org/action/229/save-california-tell-senator-abel-maldonado-to-vote-yes-on-the-budget

They’ve received over a thousand calls. We can do better than that. Flood their lines.

UPDATE:

Sign the pledge to repeal the 2/3rds rule to pass a budget

Garamendi’s plan of a 55% vote is way off base too.
..
d-day has an excellent post up about California’s situation.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is irrelevant and a failure. State Democrats are spineless jellyfish. The death-cult Republican Party is a collection of flat-earthers bent on destruction. All well and good. Yet all of these discrete groups are enabled by a political system that does violent disservice to the people of the state and the concept of democracy. We must have a return to majority rule as soon as possible. For the sake of accountability…read on


The future is Amish, not Mad Max

In Dave Smith on February 18, 2009 at 8:15 am

by Bart Anderson
Energy Bulletin
Interview Excerpts

A change in worldviews may be more possible than it seems at first. When conditions are ripe, people’s ideas can change very quickly.

During the last century, China went from a backward feudal society, to an epic struggle with a military invader (Japan), to an ultra-left Communist society under Mao, to a spectacularly successful neo-capitalist power.

For us to change to a more sustainable way of life actually is a less extreme transition than what the Chinese went through. Many of the ideas and technologies for sustainability are already developed. Traditional forms of sustainability are still present and can be revived.

A couple of years ago, I sat down with Julian Darley, co-founder of the Post Carbon Institute, and wrote our ideas down on a napkin. Our program, so to speak:

  1. Energy decline is inevitable.
  2. Big energy is not the way out.
  3. Reduce consumption and population.
  4. Start from where you are.
  5. Produce locally.
  6. Relish the power of symbolic seeds.
  7. Honor public service.
  8. Anyone is welcome. (non-sectarian, not promoting any political party)
  9. Hope and reason. (no rants, not fear-based).

If there were one suggestion I could make, it would be: “Take your time and go deeply into the subjects of depletion and sustainability.” In the light of peak oil, our common ideas about progress, economics, science and politics are in drastic need of revising,

Sometimes it feels like the words of the song: “Everything you know is wrong.”…

The old-fashioned virtues should be making a comeback in a low-energy world. For example:

  • Being able to be happy with few material possessions.
  • Self-reliance and do-it-yourself skills.
  • Loyalty to family, community and place.
  • Relationships rather than The Market.
  • Prudence and thrift.
  • Honesty, hard work and sobriety.
  • Some belief system, whether it be religious or political.

It does sound like a traditionalist’s wish list, doesn’t it? A strange thing happens when people begin imagining a world after cheap oil. One realizes that these characteristics have a survival value.

Keep reading The Future Is Amish at Energy Bulletin→

See also Transition United States


Patrick Ford Talks – Chapter 1: The first longhair in town

In Dave Smith, Patrick Ford Talks on February 18, 2009 at 1:30 am


From Dave Smith

2/18/09 Ukiah, Mendocino County, North California

If you’re an old timer around these parts, you know the Ford family, and the four Ford boys, Steve, Patrick, Robben, and Mark. The brothers are locals and have played music around here and elsewhere since high school under the names of The Charles Ford Band, and The Ford Blues Band, among others, and travel the world playing music together and separately. They most recently played here in Ukiah at Sundays In The Park this past summer, 2008.

When he’s not on the road, touring America and Europe with his band, Patrick runs his record company Blue Rock’It Records in Redwood Valley where you can buy their own albums on-line along with his other recording artists. Robben’s website is here ; and, hopefully, Mark will be the subject of a future feature.

(See links to rest of the story below)
~

During World War II, Mom was working at the phone company, in the evenings when she got out of school, one of those girls plugging in the cords just to help with the cause… and there was this move to “write letters to the soldiers overseas.” … and they were given names of soldiers to write. She wrote a letter to my Dad who was stationed in Alaska, and he wrote her back, and they started writing back and forth until he wrote that he was going to get some leave and was going to come down to see her… and they were soon married.

My dad came from a really tough childhood growing up in Indiana during the depression. His mom and dad split up when he was 7 or 8. He had an older brother and younger sister, and they were dropped off by his mom at an orphanage. It was supposed to be only temporary until she got settled and back on her feet, and she did, in fact, come back and see them on a couple of occasions. She came once, picked Dad up, bought him a new suit, went to a movie, brought him back, told him she would be back, and he never saw her again. He was taken to live on an uncle’s farm where he was physically (not sexually) abused, kind of a work slave. A tough life.

My mom came from a strong, tight, religious family in the San Joaquin Valley, Church of Christ attendance three times a week… my dad just loved her family. I, too, idolized my mom’s parents growing up. They were the best of people. Eventually our family moved up here to Ukiah when my dad found work in the lumber mills. I was three years old at the time.

We grew up in a house in Empire Gardens on Elm street just as that neighborhood was being built. The only homes built when we moved in were on one side of Arlington and Elm streets. All the other blocks were just empty fields. We would gradually lose the fields we could walk across and fly our kites in as houses were built and more families arrived. I remember gathering wild flowers in those fields for my “May Basket” and hanging it on the front door, knocking on it, running to hide, and my mom opening the door and exclaiming “Oh, who brought me these beautiful flowers?” The butterflies were just thick back in those days. Millions of them. Dragonflies, frogs, praying mantis’, salamanders… all those critters you just don’t see anymore.

We were always referred to as “those four Ford boys”… I heard that all my life. My oldest brother, Steve, was always proper, held himself very erect. He got a job at Roscoe’s Five and Ten here in town. He always had a job. There was a show on TV then called Bat Masterson. Bat wore a three-piece suit, round hat and cane, and my brother Steve saved and saved and bought this jacket and pants and this white vest with all this golden stuff all over it, and the round hat and cane with a silver knob on it. He was a freshman in high school and everyone was looking at him and saying “what in the world?” and he was stylin’! He was always like that.

I was actually the first long-hair in town… first it was combed to the side like the surfers. Then in the early sixties when the Beatles got popular I went into the barber shop and said “I want a Beatle cut” and the barber said “What the heck is a Beatle cut?” I said it was kind of like that guy in the Three Stooges and I went to school the next day and was just ridiculed, and the track coach kicked me in my rear end and said “Get your hair cut.” I took all kinds of abuse for that.

Since I was a little kid, my visual hero was Wild Bill Hickok. I had a picture of him hanging on my bedroom wall. He had the big long curls, and the buckskin coat, and this mustache and little goatee… that was the coolest looking guy there ever was. I always wanted to look like that. Even in elementary school they said my hair was getting too long and I would whine “I want to look like….” and they’d say no, no, no… and my Dad would just clip it, but even then I wanted it longer. Then in high school this whole hippie movement started and I just let my hair grow and started getting in trouble all the time… this ongoing saga. My mom would visit the Superintendent who would say “He’s a good boy, but…” and I really was a good boy, got good grades, didn’t cause my teachers much trouble. When I had a surfer look, they’d just say “get your hair cut” but when the hippie movement got going, people had a name they could call me. I just kept letting it grow, and the school kept giving me a fight about it, and the football coach would grab it coming out of my helmet and pull me down… it was just awful, the abuse I got from those people. And that was when drugs started coming noticeably into town, and many adults were sure it was I who was bringing it into town… because I was the first long-hair.

I would give my band mate Mike Osborn a ride home, and I would have to drop him off a block away so his parents wouldn’t see him riding with me. No matter how many times he told them “Pat doesn’t do drugs!” they would not believe him. I was, after all, “that long haired boy.” The funny thing is, I never did do any drugs, and I’ve never been a drinker either.  When I was young, I had several friends whose parents would get into verbal fights and there was always drinking involved. I saw the fathers slap their kids and cuss like it was the only language. I knew then I never wanted to be like that. I never wanted to be out of control. But then I was also lucky to have two wonderful parents who were always in our corner.

I met my wife Sharon in Junior High, and when she came into high school as a Freshman, and I was a Sophomore, we started dating and have been together ever since. We went together 6 years and have been married 38. I don’t know how she’s managed to put up with me this long, but I’m sure glad she has: she’s my partner.

I thought growing up in this valley was pretty spectacular. We could get to the ocean, get to the city, go to the mountains, and we took advantage of it on many different levels.
~~

Chapter 1 – The first longhair in town
Chapter 2 – Playing the blues
Chapter 3 – Fighting fire with fire
Chapter 4 – Preaching the truth


Attack on the Front Lawn

In Books on February 17, 2009 at 7:47 pm

From Evan Johnson

2/15/09 Ukiah, California
Canada geese feed as water trickles across lake bed into Lake Mendocino.

Re-thinking water use? Worried about brown lawns?

Don’t mourn. Eat your lawn!

Found this delicious little book, Edible Estates: Attack on the Front Lawn. Includes digestible essays on law’n’ order, but then a happy, photo-filled hands-on demonstration project revisioning America’s largest agricultural industry, with an eye on conserving resources, feeding body ‘n’ soul while growing community.

See also TreeHuggerTV: Edible Estates video


A new way of life is waiting…

In Around the web on February 16, 2009 at 12:29 pm

by Jim Kunstler
author of The Long Emergency

The reality we can’t face is that one way of life is over and a new one is waiting to be born. It’s been waiting, really, since the early 1970s, when God whacked the USA upside its head to announce that we’d outgrown our once-stupendous domestic supply of oil. I remember those fervid months following the OPEC oil embargo of 1973 (I covered the story as a young newspaper reporter.) The basic message was this: from now on we’ll be running this show on other people’s oil so we better start doing things differently. Back then, the not-yet-lost-in-a-fog-of-greed Baby Boom generation rolled up its tie-dyed sleeves and got to work doing a lot of forward-looking things: micro hydro-electric, passive solar houses, rural homesteading, the next generation of public transit (BART, the D.C. Metro), the first wave of urban gentrification….

Then, in 1979, the Ayatollah tossed out the Shah of Iran, we got another dose of oil problems, and a year later, President Jimmy Carter’s clear-eyed view of the oil situation as “the moral equivalent of war” got overturned in favor of Ronald Reagan’s dreadful Hollywood nostalgia projector. As usual in times of severe social stress, the public got delusional. Mr. Reagan was very lucky. During his tenure, two of the last great non-OPEC oil discoveries came into full production — Prudhoe Bay, Alaska and the North Sea — and took the leverage away from the Islamic oil nations who had been making us miserable with their threats, embargos, price-jackings, and hostage-takings.

Americans drew the false conclusion that Ronald Reagan was an economic genius (a similar thing happened in Great Britain with Margaret Thatcherism). The price of oil went down steeply while they were in office. Britain could kick back and enjoy it’s last remaining industry, banking, on a majestic cushion of energy resources. The USA resumed its major post-war industry: suburban sprawl building. Reaganism got elevated to the status of a religion, though it was little more than a twisted version of Eisenhower-on-steroids. Under Reagan, WalMart embarked on its campaign to destroy every main street economy in the nation. The Baby Boomers came back from the land, clipped their pony tails, discovered venture capital, real estate investment trusts, securitization of “consumer” debt, and the Hamptons. Greed was good. (No, really….)…

Now we’ve arrived at the moment of wreckage. Meanwhile, Barack Obama sailed into the White House on a tide of “hope” for “change.” The change was unspecified, by both Mr. Obama and the general public (and the news media that audits its thinking). What is dogging many of us who supported Mr. Obama is the delayed entrance of much-vaunted change. At this moment of “stimulus” and TARP-II, it seems to have been about a desperate attempt to preserve the hypertrophic debt economy of “miracle” mortgages, blue-light-special shopping on credit cards, and endless happy motoring at all costs. And by “all costs” I mean literally bankrupting our society at every level to keep on living as if it were still 1999. This naturally alarms those of us who perceive a need for more drastic reprogramming in American life…

Keep reading President’s Day
~
See also A Commodity Called Misery by Joe Bageant
Hat tip Dave Pollard


Prepare for the best

In Around the web on February 16, 2009 at 12:24 pm

From Philadelphia Citypaper

As usual, the future will be different. Philadelphia’s responses to global warming and market cooling, high fuel and food prices, health unsurance, mortgages, student debt and war will decide whether our future here becomes vastly better or vastly worse. Whether we’re the Next Great City or Next Great Medieval Village. Imagine Philadelphia with one-tenth the oil and natural gas.

But to hell with tragedy. Let’s quit dreading news. Take the Rocky road. There are Philadelphia solutions for every Philadelphia problem.

Imagine instead that, 20 years from now, Philadelphia’s green economy enables everyone to work a few hours creatively daily, then relax with family and friends to enjoy top-quality local, healthy food. To enjoy clean low-cost warm housing, clean and safe transport, high-quality handcrafted clothes and household goods. To enjoy creating and playing together, growing up and growing old in supportive neighborhoods where everyone is valuable. And to do this while replenishing rather than depleting the planet. Pretty wild, right?

Entirely realistic. Not a pipe dream. And more practical than cynical. The tools, skills and wealth exist.

Mayor Michael Nutter foresees we’ll become the “Greenest City in the United States.” So it’s common-sensible to ask, “What are the tools of such a future?” “What jobs will be created?” “Who has the money?” “Where are the leaders?” “How will Philadelphia look?” “What can we learn from other cities?”…

As President Barack Obama says, “Change comes not from the top down, but from the bottom up.” Philadelphia’s chronic miseries suggest that primary dependence on legislators, regulators, police, prisons, bankers and industry won’t save us. They’re essential partners, but the people who will best help us are us. As stocks and dollars decay, most new jobs will be created by neither Wall Street nor government. We and our friends and neighbors will start community enterprises; co-operatives for food, fuel, housing and health; build and install simple green technologies to dramatically cut household costs. Then we can have fun…

Some of the proposals sketched here can be easily ridiculed, because they disturb comfortable work habits, ancient traditions and sacred hierarchies. Yet they open more doors than are closing. They help us get ready for the green economy, and get there first. Big changes are coming so we might as well enjoy the ride. You have good ideas, too — bring ‘em on…

Keep reading Prepare for the Best
Hat tip Energy Bulletin

See also Mendo Time Bank

and Mendo’s Garden Project

and Mendocino County’s Farmers Markets

and Willit’s Economic Localization


The obligation

In Dave Smith on February 15, 2009 at 10:59 am

By Seth Godin
Business Guru
from his book Tribes

Not too far from us, a few blocks away, there are kids without enough to eat and without parents who care. A little farther away, hours by plane, are people unable to reach their goals because they live in a community that just doesn’t have the infrastructure to support them. A bit farther away are people being brutally persecuted by their governments. And the world is filled with people who can’t go to high school, never mind college, and who certainly can’t spend their time focused on whether or not they get a good parking space at work.

And so, obligation: don’t settle.

To have all these advantages all this momentum, all these opportunities and then settle for mediocre and then defend the status quo and then worry about corporate politics–what a waste.

Flynn Berry wrote that you should never use the word “opportunity.” It’s not an opportunity, it’s an obligation.

I don’t think we have any choice. I think we have an obligation to change the rules, to raise the bar, to play a different game, and to play it better than anyone has any right to believe is possible.


From Dave Smith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more local currrency success stories from the US and abroad at Mendo Moola


Is this a change (of) team we can believe in? (Updated)

In James Houle on February 13, 2009 at 8:26 pm

From Jim Houle
Obama-Watch.us

Ukiah, California 02/13/09
Dave Lindorff, reporter for Salon, the Nation and Businessweek,/ writes: ”Just two weeks after his historic inauguration ceremony, Obama’s presidency is lurching towards failure, and not because three of his administration picks have been found to be tax cheats, but because nearly all of his administration picks are corporate whores and shills”. Lets look at the list:

William Lynn: A former Raytheon Co. lobbyist, confirmed today as deputy secretary of defense, (the department’s chief operating officer – which includes overseeing acquisitions). He has agreed to sell his stock in the military contractor but will not be forced to step back from decisions related to Ratheon, the Defense Department said Friday. Instead, Obama wrote Lynn a special permission slip to exempt him the new revolving door ban. Allowing Lynn to do business with his former employer makes a mockery of Obama’s new ethics rules.

Tom Daschle: Nominated as Secretary of H&HS – dropped out after acknowledging that he had belatedly paid more than $128,000 in taxes owed to the federal government.

Nancy Killefer: Intended to become the government’s first “chief performance officer”, bowed out, after admitting she never paid payroll taxes for her household employee.

Timothy Geithner: a key official of the Bush years, has now been confirmed at Secretary of the Treasury, although he admits not having paid the Social Security and Health Care taxes he owed to the US Treasury., while working at the IMF. He had avoided paying them, despite his signed acknowledgement that he owed these taxes and hid behind the 3 year statue of limitations, thus had saved himself $41,000. He only paid up after his nomination was confirmed. And this guy will supervise the IRS?

Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH) dropped out after having accepted the job of Commerce Secretary. A deeply conservative man, he is opposed to the very existence of the Commerce Department he will head. To top it off, Obama had worked out a deal to have the Democratic governor of New Hampshire fill Gregg’s vacated Senate seat with a Republican appointee, thereby forfeiting the right to add a Democrat to the Senate and eliminate any chance of Republican filibusters. Gregg explained that he didn’t like Obama’s economic stimulus program. It sounds like his ego got ahead of his ability to keep current on the news.

Tom Vilsack as Secretary of Agriculture: A Strong supporter of Monsanto’s genetically-engineered crops and of unsustainable ethanol manufacture from corn and soy beans.

Senator (D-Co) Ken Salazar, Obama’s choice for Secretary of Interior: a loyal servant of the big ranching, and mining interests. Energy stocks climbed over 10% on expectations that his taking charge of Interior would assure continued opening up of federal lands for minerals exploitation”. WSW.org 12/18/08. However, on February 10th, he surprised us by extending the review period for oil and gas leases in western states by 6 months. Should we wait and see if this leopard changes his spots?

Arne Duncan (currently CEO for the Chicago Public School System) will become Education Secretary. He is seen as a strong supporter of the “No Child Left Behind” initiative of the Bush administration.

Dr. Steven Chu has headed the Lawrence Berkeley Labs these past 4 years and is a scientist, not a businessman. His lifelong support for the nuclear power industry is why he’ll be DOE Secretary.
~

Keep reading Obama-Watch.us Eighth Edition


[Update -DS]

See also Obama and Liberals: A counter-productive relationship by Glenn Greenwald, Salon

and An Open Letter To President Obama About Republicans (From a Former Republican)

and The obstructionists dilemma at Daily Kos→

and They Sure Showed That Obama by Frank Rich, NYT→


Mendocino Cooking from the Farmers’ Market

In Guest Posts on February 12, 2009 at 9:58 pm

From Pinky Kushner
Ukiah

Last week was no exception to the rule that great treats can be gotten at the Ukiah Saturday Market.

Here’s what I was just delighted to find: Small, plump white turnips, complete with their little green tops freshly pulled from the ground by our friends the Ortiz family. Now some of you might say, “What? Turnips? Give me a break.” Let me tell you about turnips. These little treats are not the big muddy balls that you may have seen in an old Dutch painting, although even the big ones can be very special. Here in California, baby turnips ‘turn up’ as a spring specialty at high-end restaurants like Chez Panisse. Grab them now while they are young and being thinned from the field to make room for the later, larger summer crop.

What to do with these little ones? First wash them thoroughly—plunge them into a large bowl of cold water (which you recycle in the yard onto a thirsty plant, right?) and agitate for a few minutes. Then, drain and from the bulb, cut off the skinny little root and all but an inch of the greens.

Steam the turnips in a vegetable basket. After 3 minutes add the greens that have been chopped into 1-inch pieces. After 3-5 more minutes, pull the steaming basket out and pour the water from pot, reserving for later use. Dump the cooked turnips and greens back into the pot with a tablespoon of olive oil and a tablespoon or two of the reserved liquid. Heat over low flame a few more minutes and serve. The cooking time is a total of 8 to 10 minutes.

Freshly steamed baby turnips go with almost anything, from rice to pasta pomodoro to grilled chicken or fish. The reserved liquid can be added to water for rice or almost anything else that might use a stock. The joy of turnips is their mild sweet/bitter taste and their reputation as excellent nutrition. They are thought to have originated as cultivated food about 2000 BC in northern Europe and spread south and east over the next 3500 years. The Romans prized them highly. I will share my favorite recipe for the big guys in the summer.


Top 10 Reasons To Support Universal Single-Payer Health Care

In Around the web on February 12, 2009 at 1:05 am

  1. Everybody In, Nobody Out. Universal means access to health care for everyone, period.
  2. Portability. If you are unemployed, or lose or change jobs, your health coverage stays with you.
  3. Uniform Benefits. No Cadillac plans for the wealthy and Pinto plans for everyone else, with high deductibles, limited services, caps on payments for care, and no protection in the event of a catastrophe. One level of comprehensive care for everyone, regardless of the size of your wallet.
  4. Prevention. By removing financial roadblocks, a universal health system encourages preventive care that lowers an individual’s ultimate cost and pain and suffering when problems are neglected and societal cost in the over-utilization of emergency rooms or the spread of communicable diseases.
  5. Choice. Most private insurance restricts your choice of providers and hospitals. Under the U.S. National Health Insurance Act, patients have a choice, and the provider is assured a fair payment.
  6. No Interference with Care. Caregivers and patients regain their autonomy to decide what’s best for a patient’s health, not what’s dictated by the billing department. No denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions or cancellation of policies for “unreported” minor health problems.
  7. Reducing Waste. One third of every private health insurance dollar goes for paperwork and profits, compared to about 3% under Medicare, the federal government’s universal system for senior citizen healthcare.
  8. Cost Savings. A guaranteed health care system can produce the cost savings needed to cover everyone, largely by using existing resources without the waste. Taiwan, shifting from a U.S. private health care model, adopted a similar system in 1995, boosting health coverage from 57% to 97% with little increase in overall health care spending.
  9. Common Sense Budgeting. The public system sets fair reimbursements applied equally to all providers, private and public, while assuring that appropriate health care is delivered, and uses its
    clout to negotiate volume discounts for prescription drugs and medical equipment.
  10. Public Oversight. The public sets the policies and administers the system, not high priced CEOs meeting in private and making decisions based on their company’s stock performance needs.

Call Congress, and the President
Congressional switchboard: 202-224-3121
(ask for your representative’s office)

If your member is a current co-sponsor, thank your rep. and ask him or her to stand firm for HR 676 and actively seek additional co-sponsors.

If your member was a co-sponsor in the last Congress, ask him or her to sign on immediately as a co-sponsor in this Congress.

If your member has yet to co-sponsor HR 676, ask him or her to please become a co-sponsor, select one or two talking points here.

Urge your member to accept testimony from panelists to explore the serious flaws in the Massachusetts health plan and examine why it cannot serve as a national model for providing universal and comprehensive care.


How to grow your own fresh air

In Around the web on February 11, 2009 at 9:11 pm

From Ron Epstein
Ukiah

Kamal Meattle reported the results of his efforts to fill an office building with plants (video), in an effort to reduce headache, asthma, and other productivity-sapping aliments in thickly polluted India. After researching NASA documents, he concluded that a set of three particular common, waist-high houseplants—areca palm, Mother-in-Law’s Tongue (shown above), and Money Plant—could be combined to scrub the air of carbon dioxide, formaldehyde and other pollutants.

At about four plants per occupant (1200 plants in all), the building’s air freshened considerably, and the health and productivity results were staggering. Eye irritation dropped by 52 percent, lower respiratory symptoms by 34 percent, headaches by 24 percent and asthma by 9 percent. There were fewer sick days, employee productivity increased, and energy costs dropped by 15 percent.

Next stop: a larger-scale experiment in a 1.75-million-square-foot office tower, featuring over 60,000 plants.
~
Image Credit: Wikipedia Commons


What is Community? – Part 1 of 2

In Dave Smith on February 11, 2009 at 8:50 pm

From Earl Brown
Ukiah
Part One | Part Two

There has been a lot of talk about community lately and there is bound to be more as we move farther into the collapse of Industrial Society. There are discussions on its importance, the need for it and the benefits of it, how it is the answer to our problems and how it is the basis of localization efforts. Everyone seems to have their own definition of what community is and we all seem to recognize its importance but, what is it, really? Can community be defined or, is it an ideal than can be strived for yet never achieved, like perfection and democracy? Do we live in one? How do we know? Is it a lump of land and people, a principle, or is it a self-organizing system?

This topic came up while I was driving a home from San Francisco with a friend the other day, just ahead of the northbound, homeward commute. The insanity of the freeway was taking the form of weaving vehicles, angry drivers, tailgating, speeding, but luckily, no accidents. “How would you describe a community”, he asked. “Well”, I said, “take our current situation. Our community is comprised of ourselves, these other drivers sharing the freeway with us and the species of plants and animals in the vicinity. Our car is our local environment and the freeway is the larger environment. Our success in getting home safely, actually everybody’s success in getting home, is dependent upon how we drivers work together, share the road and obey the principals of caution while navigating the environment of the freeway. If any one person, or group of people, chooses to ignore the rules of conduct and act without regard to everyone else’s safety then, collectively, everyone’s chances of getting home would be reduced. So our current community is the drivers and people in the other cars, all the factors and relationships effecting the drivers and how they worked together, or not, moving through the freeway environment, to reach their goal, to get home.” I’m not sure if my friend was impressed with my example but the idea that a community could be described in ways other than people and property lead to fresh ideas and a deepening of the conversation.

Keep reading What is Community? – Part 1


Master Garden Innovator Alan Chadwick

In Dave Smith on February 11, 2009 at 12:02 am

From Dave Smith
Ukiah

In 1967, a massive buildup of troops in Vietnam occurred, along with the hippie Summer of Love in San Francisco. The culture was in chaos, at war in Vietnam and at war with itself. Big agriculture was destroying family farms and growing bigger, ever bigger.

During that year, Alan Chadwick, an artist, violinist, Shakespearean actor, and master gardener, was hired to create a Student Garden Project on the campus of the University of California, Santa Cruz. Working only with hand tools and organic amendments, Chadwick and his student assistants transformed a steep, chaparral-covered hillside into a prolific garden, bursting with flowers, vegetables, and fruit trees.

The informal apprenticeships that students served with Chadwick would eventually lead to the development of the current Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, where over a thousand apprentices have been formally trained in what he called “the method.”

Keep reading Master Garden Innovator Alan Chadwick


Ukiah Farmers’ Market Saturday 2/14/09

In Dave Smith on February 11, 2009 at 12:02 am

From Scott Cratty
Mendocino County

Friends of the Ukiah Farmers’ Market,

Greetings. This week the market falls on Valentines Day. For those who may have missed our advertisement in the Ukiah Daily Journal’s Valentines Day special sections, the basic text was: Selecting fine, fresh food and cooking it together is romantic. Start your perfect Valentines day by planning a meal together at the farmers’ market

It’s true. Why not try it on Saturday. In additional to our usual array of fine local crafts vendors Lee Sabin will be bringing her abalone jewelry from the coast for anyone in need of a last minute gift. Perhaps some of Joanne Horn’s Afterglow Natural body care products would also be appreciated by your special someone.

While the rain is much need, it also makes for choppy seas. That means that the fresh fish from Fort Bragg that we have relied on all season will probably be in short supply or missing this week.

In case you didn’t notice, Mendocino Organics was actually selling some of their great produce at the market last Saturday. If they are selling again, they will be in the Southeast corner of the market. We also had a record three vendors with local eggs – Johns Family Farm, Lovers Lane Farm and Shamrock Artisan Goat Cheese. Once you have tried a fresh local egg it is hard to go back.

John Johns wanted me to give everyone a heads-up that it is nearly time to get your gopher purge in the ground. He will have plants for $5.00 and seeds for $3.00 per 20 count pouch. In John’s own words: “The time is almost here to have the plants in the ground to freak out those nasty rodents when they show up…”

Look for the return of Josh Madsen playing for us at the market this Saturday.

On to the propaganda. In case you thought it was just me prattling on about the benefits of a local food system, check out the video at Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Thanks to Terry Nieves for forwarding the link.


How Popular Anger Grew, 1929 and 2009

In Around the web, Books on February 10, 2009 at 11:42 pm

The “Best Men” Fall
How Popular Anger Grew, 1929 and 2009
By Steve Fraser

Obtuse hardly does justice to the social stupidity of our late, unlamented financial overlords. John Thain of Merrill Lynch and Richard Fuld of Lehman Brothers, along with an astonishing number of their fraternity brothers, continue to behave like so many intoxicated toreadors waving their capes at an enraged bull, oblivious even when gored.

Their greed and self-indulgence in the face of an economic cataclysm for which they bear heavy responsibility is, unsurprisingly, inciting anger and contempt, as daily news headlines indicate. It is undermining the last shreds of their once exalted social status — and, in that regard, they are evidently fated to relive the experience of their predecessors, those Wall Street “lords of creation” who came crashing to Earth during the last Great Depression.

Ever since the bail-out state went into hyper-drive, popular anger has been simmering. In fact, even before the meltdown gained real traction, a sign at a mass protest outside the New York Stock Exchange advised those inside: “Jump, You Fuckers.”

You can already buy “I Hate Investment Banking” T-shirts on line. All the Caesar-sized salaries and the Caligula-like madness as the economy crashes and burns, all the bonuses, dividends, princely consulting fees for learning how to milk the Treasury, not to speak of those new corporate jets, as well as the government funds poured down the black hole of mega-mergers, moneys that might otherwise have spared citizens from foreclosure — all of this is making ordinary Americans apoplectic.

Nothing, however, may be more galling than the rationale regularly offered for so much of this self-indulgence. Asked about why he had given out $4 billion in bonuses to his Merrill Lynch staff in a quarter in which the company had lost a staggering $15 billion dollars, ex-CEO John Thain typically responded: “If you don’t pay your best people, you will destroy your franchise. Those best people can get jobs other places, they will leave.”

Apparently it never occurs to those who utter such perverse statements about rewarding the “best people,” or “the best men,” that we’d all have been better off, and saved some serious money, if they had hired the worst men. After all, based on the recent record, who could possibly have done more damage than the “best” Merrill Lynch, Wachovia, Wamu, Citigroup, A.I.G., Bank of America, and so many other top financial crews had to offer?

Keep reading How Popular Anger Grew at TomDispatch.com


An Ecologically Sane Farm

In Dave Smith, Garden Farm Skills on February 10, 2009 at 9:19 am

From Gene Logsdon (1989)
Garden Farm Skills

The chief “product” of his business is mammoth jacks, but they are not the only animals he raises and sells. As we walk over the 180 acres, my astonishment grows. I have been on thousands of farms from the East Coast to the West, and never before have I seen such a variety or number of animals grazing per acre: not only the eighty head of mammoth jack stock, but about a dozen draft horses, a couple of lighter harness horses, a few dairy cows and calves, a bunch of fattening steers, a flock of sheep, a barnlot full of hogs, a barnyard full of turkeys, peacocks, ducks, geese, guineas, dogs, cats, and a genetic explosion of all kinds of chickens. Every niche of the farmstead is filled with animal life, and in reaction to anything unusual, a chorus of squawks, gobbles, quacks, whinnies, bellows, bleatings, and barking erupts, all drowned out by a crescendo of ludicrous-sounding hee-haws from the jacks and jennets. Jack Siemon’s farm is a celebration of the earth’s vital forces.

Siemon got interested in mammoth jacks seriously right after World War II in which he served. His wife owned a farm in Arkansas, and for a few years he tried to do the impossible: raise cotton in Arkansas and corn in Ohio at the same time. “I learned real fast that in weeding cotton, a good man and a mule could do a better and much more efficient job than a tractor weeder. But there were no good mules around. The army had bought most of them at the beginning of the war, and with the rapid adoption of tractors and trucks, mules just disappeared. So I started raising mammoth jacks to get some good mules back in circulation.”

Keep reading An Ecologically Sane Farm at OrganicToBe.org

Also see Small Farms Surge as Demand for Local Food Changes Agriculture Industry


Update:

Catastrophic Fall In 2009 Global Food Production

Grow yourself some organic potatoes this spring

Historical dry farming revived in Marin


Muddling Toward Frugality – Part 2 of 2

In Books, Dave Smith on February 9, 2009 at 11:39 pm

From Warren Johnson
Covelo, Mendocino County
Muddling Toward Frugality -1978- Sierra Club
Extensive excerpts, with permission of the author
Part 1 | Part 2

More and more, the key to economic survival will be to learn how to get by with less income. There are many opportunities to make a modest income; they will become economically viable opportunities to the first people that are able to get by on the small income generated. It is frugality that has allowed the Briarpatch network, a group of small independent entrepreneurs doing what they want to do on reduced incomes, to flourish in the San Francisco Bay Area. It is also what has allowed the Amish to thrive and expand on small farms all during the period when most small farms were going out of existence. A low income is the heart of frugality.

It takes a highly motivated and creative person or family to undertake the risk of developing his own work while getting by with less and learning how to become more self-sufficient. For the first pioneers, it can be lonely and difficult work in unfamiliar territory. The frequently heard criticism that says these people are “dropouts,” and that they do not contribute their skills and energies to solving society’s problems, is totally wrong. They are doing a task that is essential for our future, developing new skills and ways of living that will provide models for others as necessity pushes more of us in that direction. Nothing could be more important. The pioneers are opening up new economic territory where subsequent settlers can join them.
~

The commune movement was a discouraging one, on the whole. The best that can be said for it is that it demonstrated a good deal about what was practical and what was not. It showed, most significantly that it is not possible to have the best of all possible worlds—combining togetherness, sharing, and simplicity with complete freedom in personal relationships and sexual matters, and asking for no sense of duty to stick out the hard times or to be on good terms with one’s neighbors. That vision of the good life, in which there were to be huge benefits at practically no cost, has, at least for the time being, been put to rest…

A better basis than communes for decentralized groups would seem to be communities—for example, a community organized under the auspices of an established organization. A community based on a known organization, philosophy, religious faith would be more apt to receive financial support and local acceptance. Bureaucracy has its usefulness too. Established organizations could better assure the continuity of the community and would be more likely to attract members from all parts of society than just the affluent young, the main group involved with the communes. The Black Muslims and CORE, the Congress of Racial Equality, have both developed cooperative economic activities in the south, since they concluded a long time ago that northern cities would never provide a good life for poor blacks. Cooperatives are also an attractive alternative to what is often experienced as the lonely and threatening world of commercial competition. Individuals with land or economic enterprises could work them cooperatively, if they felt strongly enough about the particular philosophical basis on which the cooperatives were organized.

Any alternatives that might evolve, whatever their form or function, will make a major contribution to the economy and to the choices available to people. If their numbers were to increase substantially, it is possible that the shortfall in jobs could be reduced, greatly easing the adjustment to scarcity. But whatever their numbers, successful communities will be valuable additions to the range of models available to others in the future. New communities may have to struggle for a long time before getting firmly established, but this should not be held against them; it is characteristic of the muddling process. Such tasks are not easy and straightforward.
~

Keep reading Muddling Toward Frugality – Part 2


What about a new bank?

In Around the web on February 9, 2009 at 11:34 pm

From Janie Sheppard
Mendocino County

The Obama administration is about to disgorge the second half of TARP (Troubled Assets Relief Program) money ($350 Billion Dollars) to bail out the banks. The first $350 Billion didn’t do the trick, the second won’t either. But wait, before once again dumping that much money into unsound banks, here’s another idea. This idea isn’t mine, and if it gets some attention, I’ll again ask permission to disclose its origins. For now, we’ll just focus on what I understand to be the substance.

Forget existing banks. Why not leave them to sink or swim? The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) was created to clean up banking messes, and it has a good record. Let it do its job.

Instead, ask Congress to appropriate money for a NEW BANK. In its charter would be a mandate to extend credit, something no amount of TARP money alone will do, as we have seen.

The NEW BANK would not be burdened with toxic assets like mortgage-backed securities that turned out to have no value and were a bad idea in the first place.

The NEW BANK would not have greedy shareholders demanding dividends from government bailout money. The shareholders would be us, the taxpayers. Instead of dividends going only to rich shareholders, taxpayers would see the benefits in the form of readily available credit. What would this mean? Ordinary people could finance cars, houses, businesses, and get lines of credit. With the increase of economic activity created by the loosened credit, employment would increase. Instead of losing hundreds of thousands of jobs each month, there would be a gradual turnaround.

What else would this mean? No more huge bonuses for executives more concerned about their pay and perks than the welfare of the country. No more incentive to produce short-term stockholder dividends. The NEW BANK’s profits would come from the interest on loans, not from fraudulent financial instruments that through the deceptive magic of “bundling” hid huge losses. This game of “hot potato” went on while the bundlers sold the instruments to our pension funds and, amazingly, to each other.

Congress would set the salaries for NEW BANK employees and managers. Bonuses would be tied to the health of the economy, not bolstered by phony recommendations of executive pay consultants. This could be in the legislation, if we demanded.

There are plenty of people in the federal government who could run the NEW BANK. Recall that the Resolution Trust Corporation and the FDIC employ plenty of smart people. Bankers who made the mess would be prohibited from employment, if we demanded.

To get the NEW BANK going requires a popular revolt. Unless we tell the Congress, loud and clear and with street demonstrations, if necessary, that we’re fed up and not going to take it anymore, the TARP money will be spent, banks will continue to go bankrupt, and the likes of you and I will not see any benefits while the unemployment numbers keep going up.

If you’re fed up, let President Obama know, let Mike Thompson know, let Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein know, and share this idea with your friends. Don’t take it anymore!

See also Good Bank/New Bank vs. Bad Bank: a rare example of a no-brainer - Financial Times

and I am as mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore – YouTube


Transition Network’s ‘Who We Are and What We Do’ Document Available

In Around the web on February 9, 2009 at 9:55 am

From the document..

Peak oil and climate change have  rapidly moved up in people’s  awareness in recent years, but  often, particularly in relation to  peak oil, solutions tend to be thin on the ground. Since its initial emergence in Kinsale in 2005, the Transition idea1has spread virally across the UK and increasingly further afield, serving as a catalyst for community–led responses to these twin challenges. As the Transition network has grown, questions have been raised regarding how this emerging movement might structure itself, which this document is the first formal attempt at answering. We have already been seeing a structure emerging organically over the last two years and what we propose in this document is based on a deepening and a supporting of this emergent model, on the principle that self- organisation, innovation and action are to be encouraged and supported where they arise, supported by a distinct set of principles and clear guidelines.

This document has arisen from a process of extensive consultation across the Transition network, including face-to-face meetings, the use of on-line tools and fora. It will remain work in progress and be reviewed on an ongoing basis.

PDF available for download here

[Hey Cliff! We need GULP now more than ever! -DS]

Start Me Up – Rolling Stones


What’s going on around here, and how are we going to find out?

In Guest Posts on February 8, 2009 at 6:50 pm

From Kevin Murphy
Ukiah

Reflections on facing the reality of dying news functions

Dave Smith reminded me recently of an inexorable truth coined by Stewart Brand, the original publisher of the Whole Earth Catalogue, that “information wants to be free.” Alas, the world is a much more jumbled place and our need for information in the modern world more complicated. Presumably in heaven information is free and instantaneous. Here and now, however, the situation is a bit different.

I believe it was Thomas Merton who wrote that the only place communism could be expected to actually work was the monastery. Likewise, a great deal of commitment would be needed in the perfect communication model. If, among your friends and acquaintances there was compelling consensus about what was most important and how information needed to be shared, and everyone willingly dedicated a part of their energy to that whole, we wouldn’t need newspapers or news feeds or RSS, assuming our community of friends and acquaintances was large enough that someone was involved in all the communities or organizations where there was important public information (and we all talked to each other enough). I suppose that’s the sort of thing which the Googlezon mythology describes, the creation of a global blogosphere, distilled down to each person’s interests and delivered by digital robots, providing all the information we need at the touch of a button, culled from what every one had offered. Again, that heaven, if that’s what it would be, ain’t here yet, either.

An old saying in the newspaper business is “If advertising isn’t going to pay for the news, who will, the tooth fairy?” Sharp business minds understand that waiting for the tooth fairy is a less appealing business plan than selling advertising. Thus we arrive at the professional consensus that a newspaper is first of all a retail merchandising tool, and only secondarily a means of supporting democracy. The critical value of the availability of reliable news about public affairs, a life blood of democracy, it seems to me, should be judged as only a bit less important than civility, mutual respect and enforceable legal agreements regarding how the public’s business is to be conducted. (The presumed goal being to assure, at least, the tyranny of the majority, and one hopes, significant consideration to minorities. While some readers would have the discussion at this point veer off toward the necessary demise of the two party system, please allow me to make a different point.) Like education in California, the way the purpose of our news is married to its funding doesn’t make sense; the funding structure doesn’t reflect the importance society places on it. (Or, perhaps, it does.)

I can envision a local news organization that appeals to the realization that getting the kind of quality information about the public’s business is not best left to the whims of advertising budgets, especially at a time like this. If in heaven, or sometime before, information will finally get its wish and become entirely free, there’s still however, before those final revolutions of love and truth, some smaller, but necessary preparatory revolutions. Perhaps like the extreme revolution I am proposing. We must consider that we will have to pay for the news, or we won’t be getting it reliably, especially at the local level.

Keep reading What’s going on around here…


Is No Growth Also Smart Growth?

In Dave Smith on February 8, 2009 at 6:41 pm

[Mayor Phil Baldwin sent the following to us noting "I found this a telling bee for our bonnets. Why is Williamson's argument marginalized or nonexistent in Mendo (and most American) environmental circles?" -DS]
~

[Chris Williamson offers four arguments that planners can use to argue that "No Growth" policies are valid positions to take.]

Most local planners view some accommodation of projected population increases as the “right thing to do” and reluctantly support “No Growth” policies when forced to by their elected officials and/or voters. Many of us work and/or live in communities with growth pressure where some of the amenities and quality of life that residents enjoy are threatened by growth. Following are four arguments to respectfully offer the “No Growth” alternative as an arguable position for local planners.

1. There Is No End To Population Growth

In California, planners talk about “the next 15 million Californians by 2020″ as if that is the sum population to accommodate with housing and jobs and water, and then we’re done. But five years from now we’ll be talking about “the next 15 million Californians by 2025″; and five years later, “15 million by 2030.” There is no foreseeable end in site to growth in California and, to varying degrees, in many other areas of the Nation.

Based on the Census Bureau’s national population projections over your lifetime and children’s, any desirable area is going to see continuous demand from internal growth, intra-state migration (as increasingly digital job-holders seek out desirable places to live), and international migration.

If your city or county develops housing and jobs to meet 20-year projections, the No Growth argument is that it will only encourage more people in the long-term as well. The analogy is an added freeway lane — there is a temporary reduction in traffic volume which attracts more drivers and congestion returns.

Arguably, there are really only two future scenarios for communities in desirable areas: 1) high housing costs with some preserved open space and agricultural and 2) high housing costs without open space and agriculture. Accommodating growth never ends, therefore the rational choice is to draw the line now while you still have something to save, no matter the consequences.

Keep reading Is No Growth Also Smart Growth?


2/9/09 Jim Kunstler this a.m…

If this nation wants to survive without an intense political convulsion, there’s a lot we can do, but none of it is being voiced in any corner of Washington at this time. We have to get off of petro-agriculture and grow our food locally, at a smaller scale, with more people working on it and fewer machines. This is an enormous project, which implies change in everything from property allocation to farming methods to new social relations. But if we don’t focus on it right away, a lot of Americans will end up starving, and rather soon. We have to rebuild the railroad system in the US, and electrify it, and make it every bit as good as the system we once had that was the envy of the world. If we don’t get started on this right away, we’re screwed. We will have tremendous trouble moving people and goods around this continent-sized nation. We have to reactivate our small towns and cities because the metroplexes are going to fail at their current scale of operation. We have to prepare for manufacturing at a much smaller (and local) scale than the scale represented by General Motors…

Keep reading Poverty of Imagination


Coming Soon In Ukiah Blog – Patrick Ford (Updated)

In Dave Smith, Patrick Ford Talks on February 7, 2009 at 5:22 am

:: PATRICK FORD TALKS ::

Fighting Fires, Preaching Truth,
and Playing the Blues

Now Available Here



Update: UKIAH HOUSE CONCERTS

From Annie Esposito
Ukiah

The little network of house concerts is one of many things that makes Ukiah wonderful. Acoustic singer-songwriters passing along the 101 corridor find Ukiah a good place to stop over. A half dozen local people host them.

The musician gets a meal, a place to stay, a chance to sell some CD’s and pick up some gas money. In return, they perform in the garden or parlor of their host. Appreciative friends and neighbors have a pot luck and an evening of intimate live music. These house concerts are sporadic, of course. People can check the website ukiahhouseconcerts.com to find out when they’ll be happening.

At the Clay Street House Wednesday evening about 30 people enjoyed original music from K.C. Connor. K.C. was passing through on his way to Bellingham, Washington. There was even an opener with local singer-songwriter Alicia Littletree.


Our toxic, malnourishing food supply (Updated)

In Dave Smith, Industrial Agriculture on February 6, 2009 at 7:24 am

From Dave Smith
Ukiah

Toxic food? Toxic lipstick? Toxic assets? Ponzi schemes? Comes from the same mindless mind-set: suck out the  life at each step along the supply chain, but keep claiming value, not poison, is being added. Last trusting person at the  end of the chain? Oops, sorry about that! Ah, well… I got mine.

We are blessed in our town to have a thriving, locally-owned, democratically-controlled, organic- and local-farm-oriented, 100% organic produce, cooperative food store, Ukiah Natural Foods… along with farmers’ markets and organic, biodynamic, CSA farms (listed in Localizing Links below). If you are local, and not a member of our co-op, you should be—for many reasons. A main reason is shown in the graphic above from an old post by Dave Pollard, Eat Shit and Die, which expands on the topic with details… if you can stomach it.

We have also banned GMO plants from our county, and certify or own organic farmers locally under the Mendocino Renegade label thanks to the Mendocino Organic Network.

One of our local organic farmers, Charles Martin, when asked why organic foods are pricey says simply: pay for healthy food or pay your Doctor… your choice.
~
Update:
See also Staying Organic During Tough Times at OrganicToBe.org→

and Co-operatives: The Feeling is Mutual

and The Greenhorn Guide for Beginning Farmers

and Newly Discovered Toxic Chemical Is Common In Cosmetics
~

A distinguished panel tells a packed room of environmental journalists that the way we grow our food matters to a heating planet…

Go to Agriculture and climate change at RodaleInstitute.org


Local Victory Garden Program

In Guest Posts on February 5, 2009 at 10:21 pm

From Julie Fetherston
4-H/Youth Development and Human Resources Advisor
UCCE Mendocino County

On Saturday, January 17th, twelve Mendocino County Master Gardeners put together a class called “Creating Your Own Victory Garden.” The class was held in Ukiah and was open to the general public. The response was tremendous with 60 people attending the class. Everyone had a wonderful time. The class was the first in a three part series that will take participants through planning, planting, harvesting and using the bounty from a Victory Garden.

What is a Victory Garden and why do I want to plant one?

Victory Gardens first appeared during World War I. As the conflict on the war front made it difficult for European farmers (those that weren’t off at war) to bring their crop to maturity and market, a food shortage ensued. Canada and United States’ efforts were needed to supplies our European allies with food. The U.S. government, concerned at how the food shortages might affect the home front, began a campaign to encourage citizens at home to grow their own food as part of the war effort. The gardens were called Liberty Gardens and growing food quickly became an act of patriotism. An emblematic poster from that era is a picture of Lady Liberty sewing garden seeds. The program was a success and supplied many communities with adequate food through the difficult times during and directly after World War I.

Victory Gardens regained their popularity during World War II as a patriotic answer to food shortages and rationing. Across the country Americans were encouraged to “grow their own.” It is often cited that 40% of all produce consumed in United States during World War II was grown in Victory Gardens. This was also the beginning of school gardens with the Bureau of Education’s formation of the United States School Garden Army. Our colleague 4-H and Master Gardener Advisor, Rose Hayden Smith has compiled wonderful information on this interesting era. To learn more explore her Victory Grower website.

What is happening with Victory Gardens today?

With United States involved in two wars and Americans feeling economically insecure, a movement has started across the country to revive Victory Gardens, encouraging citizens across the country to grow a portion of their food. This includes the Eat the View campaign led by Roger Doiron, who is trying to build support for replacing a portion of the White House lawn with a vegetable garden. While the thrill of raising a crop of cauliflower in your kitchen garden cannot be denied, the attention surrounding the Victory Garden revival is most likely tied to several very American traits: self-sufficiency, independence, and tenacity. Certainly, this is a difficult time economically and culturally. The global economy is in the worst economic crisis for decades. Rising food and transportation costs, coupled with job loss and the housing crunch, are creating hardship across the country and Americans are looking for a way to make a difference in their own lives and the lives of their communities. Taking matters into their own hands, many people are addressing some of these issues by growing a local solution, literally.

Growing your own vegetables has many benefits. For starters, it can increase the quality and quantity of vegetables in your diet for less than you would pay at the market. In Mendocino County we are blessed with a mild climate that allows for year round vegetable gardening. If you plan right, you can avoid having zillions of zucchini, and enjoy a wide variety of vegetables from artichokes and chard, to spinach and watermelons.

Growing your own vegetables can also reduce your carbon footprint. If the average food item travels 1,500 miles from farm to plate, then reducing your vegetable mile by approximately 1499 miles, 5,100 feet will definitely impact your carbon footprint. If you tear out lawn and replace it with your vegetable garden, you can most likely boost your impact by reducing water consumption, fertilizers etc…

Finally, gardening is healthy! Anyone who has double dug an asparagus bed or pulled weeds from a radish patch knows that gardening is good exercise and generally gives you a better outlook on life. Whether you are new to gardening and need some help getting started, or you are an experienced gardener looking for new ideas and camaraderie, please check our  Mendocino County calendar of events at UC Davis Cooperative Extension for our next scheduled class in the “Victory Garden Program.”


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