Rural Matters

Redwood Valley

July 23, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino County, North California

From the RUPRI Center for Rural Entrepreneurship: Regional Technology Strategies and its partner in the Alliance for Creative Advantage, Mt. Auburn Associates, has recently completed a series of reports in Arkansas, Colorado, Wyoming and North Carolina that show how creativity and creative enterprises help rural regions develop their economies more effectively.

By the creative economy, RTS strays from the pop-economic notion of the “creative class” that too often sees metropolitan areas, with their high concentration of people with advanced degrees, as the only places where creativity is taking place.  Applying the creative economy to a class of workers rather than to an actual set of industries misses a crucial component of economic development. Rather, we define “creativity” to a select group of businesses that produce and distribute goods and services and for which the aesthetic, intellectual and emotional engagement of the consumer adds value to products in the marketplace. This can range to traditional arts and crafts made by residents to high-end manufactured products that depend on design for their appeal.  In particular, we see the creative economy being made up of:
•    Individual artists who are the talent and source of creativity
•    Non-profit cultural institutions and commercial businesses that take the original ideas of these artists

and produce creative goods and services
•    The businesses and institutions that bring the creative products to the marketplace
•    The institutions and commercial businesses that depend on creative talent to survive and prosper
•    The support system that nurtures and sustains the creative economy

Ukiah Farmer’s Market Saturday 7/25/09

Sitka, Alaska


July 23, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino County, North California

Friends of the Farmers’ Market,


We should have another market not to be missed this Saturday. Don Willis will be playing.

At about 10 you will want to meet Jini and Charlie will start a shopping expedition through the market to gather ingredients for their salad dressing cooking demonstration at about 10:30. It is the perfect way to kick-off National Salad Week.

Other happenings this Saturday include a 10:30 reading for children by Ukiah Children’s Librarian Ina Gordon, a nutrition information booth by the Ukiah Unified School District, a table benefiting our local quilt guild, a table
with information about water conservation and a table at which you can get advice from our local UC Davis Master Gardeners.

I also expect at least one new vendor.

In other news, please consider attending the Fifth Annual Pure Mendocino Organic Celebration. It is the Premier Organic Food & Wine Adventure in the Known World, and it happens right here. There are two events to enjoy:

A Seminal Moment?

From David Kurtz
TPM Blog

Just to mention something that is obvious, but hopefully not overlooked, i.e., if this country cannot pass a bill which insures that every citizen has access to medical care, which every developed country has managed to do (and got done many many years ago), there is something very fundamentally and structurally wrong with this country.

Such an event, in my mind, would confirm that we live with a completely corrupt and dysfunctional form of government. Forty nine states, each with bicameral legislative bodies, some of which have distinguished themselves recently with unabashed levels of incompetency and cluelessness. Then, graft a federal government over that, which is also bicameral, the non-representative portion of it being filled with officials who are certifiable morons and/or who are bought and sold like whores by wealthy contributors.

Talk about a Waterloo.

This is a defining moment in our history. Do we fulfill our supposed status as a “shining city on a hill” or continue our long slow decline into a second rate oligarchy?

I am not one prone to hyperbole.

I believe this to the depths of my soul.
Thanks to Janie Sheppard

What about The Transition Initiative?

From Orion Magazine

July 22, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino County, North California

Changing the scale of change

A while ago, I heard an American scientist address an audience in Oxford, England, about his work on the climate crisis. He was precise, unemotional, rigorous, and impersonal: all strengths of a scientist.

The next day, talking informally to a small group, he pulled out of his wallet a much-loved photo of his thirteen-year-old son. He spoke as carefully as he had before, but this time his voice was sad, worried, and fatherly. His son, he said, had become so frightened about climate change that he was debilitated, depressed, and disturbed. Some might have suggested therapy, Prozac, or baseball for the child. But in this group one voice said gently, “What about the Transition Initiative?”

If the Transition Initiative were a person, you’d say he or she was charismatic, wise, practical, positive, resourceful, and very, very popular. Starting with the town of Totnes in Devon, England, in September 2006, the movement has spread like wildfire across the U.K. (delightfully wriggling its way into The Archers, Britain’s longest-running and most popular radio soap opera), and on to the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. The core purpose of the Transition Initiative is to address, at the community level, the twin issues of climate change and peak oil—the declining availability of “ancient sunlight,” as fossil fuels have been called. The initiative is set up to enable towns or neighborhoods to plan for, and move toward, a post-oil and low-carbon future: what Rob Hopkins, founder of the Transition Initiative, has termed “the great transition of our time, away from fossil fuels.” Part of the genius of the movement rests in its acute and kind psychology…

Keep reading at Orion Magazine

See also Ukiah’s Transition Timeline

The Aim is Joy

Upper Sandusky, Ohio

July 22, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino County, North California

I’ve taken lovely vacations over the years, but the latest one, at an exclusive hideaway we were lucky enough to know about, had to be the best ever.

My idea of a good vacation is one that combines natural wonders with good food (the greatest natural wonder of all), hopefully convenient to exhibitions or programs of art or history not yet widely publicized, and so removed from the possibility of crowds and traffic jams. Places that offer such a rare combination are few and far between, and simply discovering this magical retreat was a keen pleasure.

I don’t know where to begin in telling you the delights of this vacation. We awoke on Saturday morning to a pervasive silence, broken only by the song of a wood thrush outside our window. We dined on an upper deck, where a flaming orange and black Baltimore oriole scolded us from a huge oak tree whose limbs reached out almost to our table.

At one point, the blue flash of an indigo bunting streaked across the orange flame of oriole, and I jumped in delight. That so startled the lovely lady vacationing with me that she lost the strawberry she was spooning from her saucer, and the fruit bounced into the cream pitcher. Giggle, giggle. The strawberries came directly from the establishment’s own garden. Yeasty homemade bread also originated in the kitchen, and the eggs were fresh from a nearby barn—we could actually hear the hens cackling. The thick strips of drug- and hormone-free, hickory-smoked bacon came from hogs raised in that barn, too.

We decided to go bird-watching that morning, encouraged by the variety of birds we saw just from the breakfast table. We did not see the bobolinks rumored to have returned to the fields behind the hideaway, but I did spot a stocky lestes (Lestes dryas), a species of damselfly, resting in the meadow grass. Though lestes is not exactly an uncommon species in these parts, I had never seen this striking insect before.

Wait just a minute! (Answer to UDJ Letter to the Editor)


July 21, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino County, North California


Wait just a minute!

I don’t mind being called “ignorant” or being accused of trying to scare people “just like Bush and Cheney” or that I “want to be Amish” (Letter to Editor: What’s wrong with Capitalism? UDJ 7/20/09 – see below). But when someone who lives in Lower Lake comes over here and calls Downtown Ukiah “an armpit” — that’s just going too far!

It’s especially offensive during these hot, hundred plus temperatures when everyone is doing their best to stay cool. After all, we in Mendoland don’t have the ability, like Lake County folks, to take those crisp, clean dips in Clear Lake algae water to stay freshened up and re-fragranced!

But it was only when I read on and found “please people (sic), quit whining about marijuana” that I realized the writer had mistaken the aroma of our number one crop, now maturing on the landscape and in boarded-up houses, for our personal lack of good hygiene.

Can’t we import some Monsanto scientists to genetically modify our main crop with some aromatherapy oils? It could save our personal reputations, not to mention our tourist industry… tourists must think we’re just a bunch of yokels and hippies up here who don’t bathe!

Who knew?

What’s wrong with capitalism?

MONDAY, JULY 20, 2009
Ukiah Daily Journal
To the Editor:

Dave Smith and all the people who think big box stores are so bad because they send local money overseas are ignorant. Let me explain the cycle of selling widgets.

Take Action! Healthcare Reform Now!

Ukiah Valley

July 20, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino County, North California

How can we get real healthcare reform NOW?

Not next year, not in five years when the economy may have recovered, but now.  We want single payer healthcare by the end of August.

For a succinct discussion of the health care policy debate, go to Wikipedia here.

We are stuck with two reluctant reformers:  Dianne Feinstein, Senator, and Mike Thompson, Representative.  So far as I know Barbara Boxer is not a problem.

Thompson gets campaign money from the “health sector”, to the tune of $254,625 in 2008.  He does, however, profess to be in favor of the public option (second best after single payer).

Our job is to turn him to single payer.  Here’s his contact information:

E-Mail Mike Thompson

231 Cannon Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-3311
Fax: (202) 225-4335

430 North Franklin Street
PO Box 2208
Fort Bragg, CA 95437
Phone: (707) 962-0933
Fax: (707) 962-0934

Feinstein’s website tells us nothing about her position on health care.  Let’s force her to play her cards. What does the Senator think?  I asked:

Dear Senator Feinstein:

As your constituent, I would like to see your position on health care reform posted on your website.

Take Action! Training Tonight July 21 to stop the Monster Mall

Mendocino Environmental Center

July 20, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino County, North California

We all want to help the environment, but it can be hard to make the time and work out the best things to do. The Mendocino Environmental Center (MEC) is a hub for local environmental advocacy, working on issues that affect Ukiah Valley residents and beyond.

Ukiah is a place blessed with stunning surroundings and varied habitats, and the MEC strives to protect this environment and work with the community to minimise our global footprint. I encourage all members of the community to join us and let us know what issues are important to you. Together we can take effect.

One of the most prominent issues currently being tackled by the MEC and other community groups is the possible re-zoning of the Masonite site which will be voted on in November. The MEC’s main concern regarding the rezoning and plan for the site is the lack of an ‘Environmental Impact Report’. It is imperative that an independent report be carried out before planning decisions are made. The methods which have taken this issue onto the ballot avoid the requirement to carry out such an EIR but we believe that the community has the right to know what environmental impacts any development may have before it is agreed. We therefore encourage voters to vote against the re-zoning in November.

MEC is encouraging all those who are against the re-zoning of the site, or who would like to learn more, to join us at a training event led by Richard Shoemaker from SOLE (Save Our Local Economy). The event will be held at the MEC, 105 West Standley Street, downtown Ukiah on Tuesday, July 21 from 6-7pm. Light refreshments will be provided.

Those wishing to attend should e-mail to reserve a place. The event is free but donations to the MEC are gratefully appreciated.

Why I will never buy a Kindle

From tristero
Via Hullabaloo

July 20, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino County, North California

This is why I will never, ever buy a Kindle:

On Friday, it was “1984” and another Orwell book, “Animal Farm,” that were dropped down the memory hole — by

In a move that angered customers and generated waves of online pique, Amazon remotely deleted some digital editions of the books from the Kindle devices of readers who had bought them.

Unacceptable, and on so many levels, I don’t know where to start.

Actually, I do. I’m buying, as I have for a long time now, only from a local bookstore, and I’m buying only real books…


I own a Sony ebook reader. I use it to read freely available content online. Only occasionally (when going on a vacation etc) do I actually purchase any reading content from sony. On those rare occasions I feel ripped off because I have no physical ownership of an actual book. I can buy the same book in a store and then re-sell it, lend it to anyone etc. etc. The finances behind buying ebooks is just all off. I’m also the person that owns an Ipod and love it…but I still buy my music via an actual CD that I can download on my computer and own…ie: can re-sell, lend etc.

Until ebook readers all work on the same format….offer ownership in the form of re-sell value etc. I think there will always be those hardcore book owners like myself. Come see my shelves….its far far more exciting than me handing you an electronic device and saying “you really should see my library!” What a downer that truly is….

…those are great points. I agree with you – as Sony Reader owner, myself. I use it when I’m traveling, especially on free e-books that can be downloaded because of expired copyrights or other freebies given away on the web.

I will never, never give up my books and will keep adding to them until the day I die, I suspect. E-books are kinda cool but they are not really books and they never will be.

Ukiah’s Transition Timeline

The Book Dealer – Larry McMurtry’s Grand Obsession

Ukiah Valley
Originally appeared in…
The Redwood Coast Review (pdf)

July 17, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino County, North California

Larry McMurtry is one of the most prolific and successful modern American writers. Primarily a novelist—The Last Picture Show, Terms of Endearment, Lonesome Dove and twenty-seven others—he has also written eight books of essays, a biography, numerous books reviews and, by his count, 70 screenplays (most notably, with Diana Ossana, the Golden Globe and Academy Award winning Brokeback Mountain). But to hear him tell it, in Books: A Memoir, all this scribbling has been merely a sideline to his primary pursuit—the buying and selling of books.

From his early days as a graduate student at Rice University and as a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford—in the famous class with Ken Kesey, Wendell Berry, Peter Beagle and others—McMurtry was in the habit of “book scouting,” prowling local used book shops for bargains he could sell elsewhere at a profit. Malcolm Cowley, a visiting professor at Stanford in the fall of 1960, writes about this in his memoir, The Flower and the Leaf:

“It was a pretty brilliant class that year, including as it did some professional writers

How Masonite Monster Mall’s Developer DDR Treats Small Town Folks Like Us

From Daily News of Newburyport

July 17, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino County, North California

Town sued on denial of Monster Mall Plans

SEABROOK — An Ohio-based shopping center giant is suing the town over the Planning Board’s denial of its proposal to build a 500,000-square-foot retail outlet in town.

The shopping center, which planned to have a Target store as its anchor, would have been the largest in Greater Newburyport, and more than twice as large as Newburyport’s Port Plaza. It would have been located just to the northeast of the busy intersection of Routes 1 and 107.

The town was served notice of the lawsuit yesterday. The more than 60-page brief and its attachments were filed with Rockingham County Superior Court on June 17, according to the stamp on the document, within the 30-day appeal window of the Planning Board’s May 19 denial.

In the brief, Developers Diversified Realty attorney Malcolm McNeill Jr. wrote: “The Planning Board in denying (DDR’s) request for site review approval for its retail shopping center was unlawful and unreasonable and the product of bad faith by the Planning Board, and was arbitrary, capricious and confiscatory.”

Where I lived, and what I lived for – Henry David Thoreau

From Henry David Thoreau

July 16, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino County, North California

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion. For most men, it appears to me, are in a strange uncertainty about it, whether it is of the devil or of God, and have somewhat hastily concluded that it is the chief end of man here to “glorify God and enjoy him forever.”

Keep reading at The Thoreau Reader

The Agrarian Standard – Wendell Berry

From Wendell Berry
Orion Magazine

July 16, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino County, North California

The Unsettling of America was published twenty-five years ago; it is still in print and is still being read. As its author, I am tempted to be glad of this, and yet, if I believe what I said in that book, and I still do, then I should be anything but glad. The book would have had a far happier fate if it could have been disproved or made obsolete years ago.

It remains true because the conditions it describes and opposes, the abuses of farmland and farming people, have persisted and become worse over the last twenty-five years. In 2002 we have less than half the number of farmers in the United States that we had in 1977. Our farm communities are far worse off now than they were then. Our soil erosion rates continue to be unsustainably high. We continue to pollute our soils and streams with agricultural poisons. We continue to lose farmland to urban development of the most wasteful sort. The large agribusiness corporations that were mainly national in 1977 are now global, and are replacing the world’s agricultural diversity, which was useful primarily to farmers and local consumers, with bioengineered and patented monocultures that are merely profitable to corporations. The purpose of this now global economy, as Vandana Shiva has rightly said, is to replace “food democracy” with a worldwide “food dictatorship.”

To be an agrarian writer in such a time is an odd experience. One keeps writing essays and speeches that one would prefer not to write, that one wishes would prove unnecessary, that one hopes nobody will have any need for in twenty-five years.

Keep reading at Orion

Death of the Category Killers

By Stacy Mitchell
New Rules Project

July 15, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino County, North California

Borders Books is on “death watch,” according to one industry observer. Virgin shut down its last U.S. record store this month. Office Depot and Staples are struggling. Circuit City is gone. Best Buy has launched a desperate ad campaign.

The specialty chains that grew so aggressively in the 1990s and early 2000s — the so-called “category killers” that bankrupted thousands of independent businesses — are now themselves rapidly losing ground to a handful of giant mass merchandisers, namely Wal-Mart, Amazon, Target, and Costco.

While the decline of independent businesses has leveled off and many are finding ways to survive and even thrive by building local business alliances and emphasizing their community roots, the rest of the retail sector is undergoing dramatic consolidation as a small number of massive companies become ever more dominant. This is an ominous trend for manufacturers and consumers, and it exposes serious flaws in U.S. antitrust policy.

Books as Loss Leaders

“For much of 2008, the industry focused its attention on the viability of the struggling Borders, but Barnes & Noble faces many of the very same issues,” wrote Peter Olson, the former CEO of Random House, earlier this year in Publishers Weekly. Olson predicts that the two chains will continue to lose ground, struggle to finance their inventories, and be forced to close outlets.

Big-box mass merchandisers, like Wal-Mart, Target, and Costco, have taken over 30 percent of the book market. These chains are now selling as many books as Barnes & Noble and Borders.

‘Localwashing’ Corporations Move to Co-opt Consumers Desire to Buy ‘Local’ & Sustainable Products & Services

By Stacy Mitchell
New Rules Project

With Americans’ new focus on buying products made close to home, corporations are moving quickly to co-opt the term “local.” But if everything is local, is anything local?

[This is why we use the terms “locally-owned” and “independent”, and why we need a local currency that circulates only in locally-owned, independent businesses. -DS]

July 15, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino County, North California

HSBC calls itself “the world’s local bank,” which belies the intent of the “local” movement, a campaign to urge consumers to buy locally produced goods and support independent businesses in their hometowns.

HSBC, one of the biggest banks on the planet, has taken to calling itself “the world’s local bank.” Winn-Dixie, a 500-outlet supermarket chain, recently launched a new ad campaign under the tagline, “Local flavor since 1956.” The International Council of Shopping Centers, a global consortium of mall owners and developers, is pouring millions of dollars into television ads urging people to “Shop Local” — at their nearest mall. Even Walmart is getting in on the act, hanging bright green banners over its produce aisles that simply say “Local.”

This new variation on corporate greenwashing — localwashing — is, like the buy-local movement itself, most advanced in the context of food. Hellmann’s, the mayonnaise brand owned by the processed-food giant Unilever, is test-driving a new “Eat Real, Eat Local” initiative in Canada. The ad campaign seems aimed partly at enhancing the brand by simply associating Hellmann’s with local food.

Ukiah Farmer’s Market Saturday 7/18/09 – Food Bank Drive


July 17, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino County, North California

Friends of the Farmers’ Market, Greetings!

This weekend is the Saturday Farmers’ Market week to adopt the Ukiah Food Bank. Community group Yes, We Can! is pitching in to help get the word out and will be collecting donations under the pavilion along Clay St.  Please consider buying a bit extra to donate or bringing along a can of veggies that you can live without.  Tough times are made a bit easier when we share the load. Please pitch in and come find out about Yes, We Can!  Spread the word.

New hot food vendor Harbor Lights from Lake Co didn’t quite make it last week, but they are planning to join us this weekend with Native American fry bread (with various toppings), fruit cups, clam chowder and fried cinnamon roll surprise.

Anyone in the area growing excess greens?  The Westside Renaissance Market is looking for a local supplier of lettuce and/or salad mix. Now, for your reading pleasure, the Lazy Gardener Blog

Forget Shorter Showers: Why Personal Change Does Not Equal Political Change – Derrick Jensen


July 15, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino County, North California

[We often hear about change starting from within.  We change ourselves and it manifests outward in ripples that begin change for the world.  But the reality is that no matter how virtuous we are as individuals, or think we are, effective change needs to be systemic.  Ecologist Derrick Jensen is circulating an essay making that point – we need to go after corporate power to create real change.  And it’s dangerous, but necessary. -AE]

[Todd Walton and Annie exchange comments about this article in the Comments section below. Your thoughts? -DS]

Would any sane person think dumpster diving would have stopped Hitler, or that composting would have ended slavery or brought about the eight-hour workday, or that chopping wood and carrying water would have gotten people out of Tsarist prisons, or that dancing naked around a fire would have helped put in place the Voting Rights Act of 1957 or the Civil Rights Act of 1964? Then why now, with all the world at stake, do so many people retreat into these entirely personal “solutions”?

Part of the problem is that we’ve been victims of a campaign of systematic misdirection. Consumer culture and the capitalist mindset have taught us to substitute acts of personal consumption (or enlightenment) for organized political resistance. An Inconvenient Truth helped raise consciousness about global warming. But did you notice that all of the solutions presented had to do with personal consumption


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