Mendo Island Journal — Timely. Useful. Sometimes Cranky.

Posts Tagged ‘Context’

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


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


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


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


Do you see what I see?

In Around the web on February 2, 2009 at 3:56 pm

From Janie Sheppard
Mendocino County

Jeff Adams, the man on the ground for DDR (Developers Diversified Realty, aka, Mega Mall at the old Masonite site) resurfaced recently.  In a January 13, 2009 letter he informed the Governor that DDR intended to create a project that we could be proud of.  Looks like DDR isn’t going away any time soon.  I wonder why not when I contemplate what’s happening locally and on the national scene.  Why doesn’t DDR see what I see?

I see:  Lead article in the New York Times Sunday (2/1/09) Business Section, entitled Our Love Affair With Malls Is on the Rocks.  In the article, the reporter points to the nation’s bad habit of overspending as one of two causes of the economic crisis, the other cause being “mortgage-related financial insanity.”  But, the reporter informs us, because “personal consumption” accounts for 70 percent of the American economy, if we don’t spend, we don’t recover.  The reporter analogizes thusly:  “[T]he mall we married has become the toxic spouse we can’t quit . . ..”  So, why marry the mall?  If we can make DDR go away, we wouldn’t have to marry it and we wouldn’t end up paying alimony if things didn’t work out.  Seems obvious, doesn’t it?

I see:  Windsor Town Green, a mixed retail/housing development between Healdsburg and Santa Rosa, isn’t doing well.  When that development first opened, Laura Fogg and I visited it, describing what we saw  in an article published in the Ukiah Daily Journal (December 11, 2005).  Three years later, I revisited the area to see how it was faring in the face of the current economic downturn, depression, recession, whatever you want to call it.  I found lots of empty storefronts.  Why would DDR’s project, Mendocino Crossings, be different?

I see:  The localization movement is growing.  More and more people don’t like the idea of the money they spend going to distant corporate headquarters, never to be reinvested in Mendocino County.  Local shops reported good holiday sales while big chain stores mostly reported their sales were poor to awful.  We could continue our personal consumption without acquiring Mendocino Crossings, a toxic spouse.  So far as I know, it’s not even immoral to spend money locally . . .

So:  DDR’s matchmakers urge us to get married.  I say the odds are so against such a marriage working out that we should call off the romance.  Jeff Adams seems like a nice guy.  We could remain friends.


The solution to pollution is dilution

In Around the web on February 2, 2009 at 10:09 am

From Ron Epstein
Ukiah

“There seem to be only two possible solutions to our toxic waste addiction: (1) secure above-ground waste-storage in concrete buildings, or (2) detoxifying the economy.

“Secure waste storage could occur in multi-story steel-reinforced concrete buildings, with wastes placed only in the upper stories. The first floor would be left empty so regular inspections could examine for leakage or other signs of structural deterioration. Prompt repairs could sequester wastes for as long as humans were able to pay attention and react. When buildings deteriorated (after perhaps 100 years), they could be replaced.

“Such buildings were designed and described by engineers at the Universities of Alabama and Florida in 1988 and again in 1989. They calculated that such buildings would cost less than equivalent storage capacity in double-lined landfills.

“So why are we still using landfills, guaranteed to leak, instead of the cheaper solution, concrete buildings guaranteed to prevent leakage? The answer must be that underground storage is out of sight and out of mind. We can cover it with a high school, a daycare center, or a housing development and wash our hands of the whole sordid mess. Clusters of huge concrete buildings, on the other hand, would stand as perpetual monuments to our foolish, toxic civilization, permanent headstones memorializing cupidity, stupidity, and failure of imagination.”

For the whole story, see Precaution.org


Self-Actualizing Work – Abraham Maslow

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

Maslow on Management (Book Excerpts)
Abraham H. Maslow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The gap and the bridge

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


From Dave Smith
Ukiah

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The problems…

Crash Course in Economics

The Automatic Earth

Local solutions…

Mendo Time Bank

Mendo Moola

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


The Pond at the Center of the Universe

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

By Gene Logsdon (1991)

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

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

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

Continue reading The Pond at the Center of the Universe at OrganicToBe.org


Fahrenheit 451 – The temperature at which books burn

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

From Dave Smith
Ukiah

Ray Bradbury, 1950

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

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

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

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

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


Supervisors! Bring Our County CEO To Heel!

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

From Dave Smith
Ukiah

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Biodynamics – The Original and Future Organic

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

From Dave Smith
Ukiah

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Did cloud seeding cause our fire disaster and drought?

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

From Dan Hamburg
Ukiah

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Sean White
General Manager
RRFC


The Percheron On The World’s Most Famous Farm

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

gene

From Gene Logsdon
OrganicToBe.org

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

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

Continue reading The Percheron… at OrganicToBe.org


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