Mendo Island Journal — Timely. Useful. Sometimes Cranky.

Posts Tagged ‘Local Community’

Mendocino Cooking from the Farmers’ Market

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

From Pinky Kushner

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.

What is Community? – Part 1 of 2

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

From Earl Brown
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

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

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

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


Fighting Fires, Preaching Truth,
and Playing the Blues

Now Available Here


From Annie Esposito

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 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

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.
See also Staying Organic During Tough Times at→

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

Ukiah’s Saturday Farmers’ Market 2/7/09

In Dave Smith on February 5, 2009 at 8:43 am

From Scott Cratty

Friends of the Market,

Greetings.  Isn’t winter supposed to be the time of year when things are relatively slow? Not this year.  So, I’ll keep this brief.

The drawing for our 2nd Winter raffle basket will be held at about noon this Saturday.  We have not done such a great job selling tickets this time … so the odds of winning are even better.  For a $5 ticket the winner will get a great deal with lots of local hand-crafted items plus some goodies from our local farms like some olive oil, beef, cheese, honey and more.  So far your raffle funds have purchases a small propane heater (that we use on the bitterest of Saturday mornings and one tank refill).  Who know what wonderful things we can do with some more funds …

You are the first to know … by a sizable majority the winter market vendors voted to accept the invitation for the winter market to join the county farmers’ market association.  So, come next November, the Ukiah winter market will be part of that venerable 30 year old institution.  To make things a bit more uniform year round we will probably shorten the winter hours so that we still start at 9:30 but end at noon, the same ending time as the regular season.

If you are quick enough that Saturday you may become one of the first people at the Ukiah market to try the eggs from Shamrock Artisan Goat Cheese.

Hope to see you at the farmers’ market on Saturday.

[Appropriate info for our current water shortage. -DS]

Organic Farming Critical To Deal With Less Water

Published: April 9, 2000

The Rodale Institute’s 330-acre research farm here got something it prefers to a bumper crop when a record drought struck eastern Pennsylvania last year.

Rodale plants crops with the goal of harvesting evidence that organic farming should be the wave of the future in agriculture. After the drought last summer, Rodale’s parched organic plots yielded 24 to 30 bushels of soybeans an acre, well below the 40-bushel average of previous years for the research site, but Rodale could not have been happier. That was because yields on comparison plots just next to them that had been doused year after year with synthetic fertilizers and conventional farm chemicals had plummeted to 16 bushels.

”These are very significant findings for farmers around the world,” exulted Jeff Moyer, Rodale’s farm manager. ”Our trials show that improving the quality of the soil through organic processes can mean the difference between a harvest or hardship in times of drought.”

The results last year also reinforced long-term comparisons, begun by Rodale in 1981, that document how organic farming can be more profitable for small farmers — even if yields are not always as high and, by some calculations, even without the premium prices that organic crops generally receive.

The Alzheimer’s Resource and Information Center

In Around the web on February 4, 2009 at 8:53 am

From Michael Laybourn

A few years ago, a friend of mine found that his spouse needed care — someone to be there all the time. He started looking and I did too, to see where we could find information on giving care for Alzheimer disease. There didn’t seem to be anything at the time in Mendocino and Lake Counties, but there was an Alzheimer’s Association information center in Santa Rosa. I saw then, that there was going to be a great need for help in our county. Think baby boomers about to retire…

Alzheimer’s facts: 1 out of 8 people 65 and older have it. 70% of people with Alzheimer’s live at home cared for by family.

Some people do become forgetful as they get older. That is a normal part of aging. Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging. Alzheimer’s disease affects approximately 5 million people in the U.S. Over time, Alzheimer’s disease gradually destroys a person’s memory and ability to learn and carry out daily activities such as talking, eating or otherwise taking care of oneself. The patient must be watched and cared for all the time.

About the same time, a local group concerned about Alzheimer’s care got together in Ukiah and put on a fundraiser to raise money for local Alzheimer’s needs. The event was packed. Many people that attended, and others caring for their loved ones, convinced the group that there was a great immediate need for a resource and information center in both Mendocino and Lake Counties. I read about the fundraiser and invited some of the participants to give a talk to the Ukiah Rotary Club.

The group found that people needed information first. They began to put together an information center now called The Alzheimer’s Resource and Information Center. AREC is a hub for dispersing information about new research and development… a Center to help define how to care for and understand Alzheimers, and where financial and care assistance may be found. AREC is also a clearing house and referral service to help people find assistance and to help navigate caregivers through various agency systems.

The Hospice Board in Ukiah agreed to be the umbrella board for the center and donated office space. All the other time is volunteer time, including Executive Director Candace Horsely, our retired City Manager. This, to me, is an exceptional example of humans coming together to address a local community need.

In 2008, when the Center was starting up, the Ukiah Rotary agreed to provide a computer and printer for the office. Later in the year I applied for a Rotary district $1500 grant that has been approved. Yesterday, we presented the check to board member Elizabeth Santos.

The Alzheimer’s Resource and Education Center will use this $1,500 to go forward, which will be used as a match with other AREC and other agency funding to host an educational workshop in 2009 designed specifically for caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients. In this workshop, caregivers will learn skills that will enable them to understand and respond to Alzheimer’s and dementia patients with knowledge and compassion. Professional assistance and training will be taught, dealing with typically occurring issues as the loved one descends further into advanced stages of Alzheimer’s.

Think about it. You may experience it some day. It’s good to know that there is a caring group that will be available for help.

The Center is open and anyone with questions or needing information can call Candace Horsley at 391.6188.
See also the national Alzheimer’s Association
Image Credit: State of Orange – T-Shirts Available

Cooperative Business

In Dave Smith on February 2, 2009 at 9:11 am

From Dave Smith

The Mondragón cooperatives of Spain combine credit unions and service cooperatives such as grocery stores with industrial manufacturing cooperatives, research centers, and a university — all as one intergrated unit. As a cooperative corporation, they are “an association of persons rather than an association of capital.” That means one person, one vote rather than votes apportioned to the amount of capital invested. It also means that the individual workers own and control the company they work in. They are the largest worker-owned cooperative in the world, doing many billions of dollars in sales. They own and operate thousands of supermarkets, a travel agency with hundreds of units, and gas stations. They also manufacture automotive parts, domestic appliances, bicycles, and bus bodies.

Although cheap energy has allowed organizations to balloon into huge monoliths that will now have to breakup and scale down into decentralized pieces, it is instructive how well the cooperative model can adapt to financial environments and serve its members. As our giant governments, banks, and corporations flounder trying to save a way of business that will have to change drastically in the years ahead, the cooperative model, along with small-scale private businesses, is a way local communities, such as ours, can adapt to the coming “mandates of reality.”

The Mondragón cooperative model can be compared to the corporate structure as follows:

· Owner-workers are valued as people. Management professionalism, product excellence, and customer satisfaction matter more than the rapid growth of profits.

· Owner-workers participate in management, with salary difference limited to a three-to-one ratio, rather than just being used at the whim of a grossly overpaid management class.

· The social contract commits everyone involved to the development of the business, with member-owner security and partnership with capital, rather than confrontation between labor and capital.

· Profits and losses are shared among all proportionally, rather than profits being internalized and costs being externalized irresponsibly.

Mondragón’s Community Bank, a credit union that serves as the core of its financial system, is owned and controlled by the member-owners of the cooperative. Without their own banking sytem, the cooperative would have failed. The bank invests in the development of new enterprises under the motto “Savings or Suitcases,” meaning members can either invest in their own community or watch their money leave their community to work elsewhere and enrich others. The cooperative also operates their own social security facility, which provides unemployment insurance, medical services, and medical insurance.

The Mondragón consumer cooperative grocery chain, with 264 stores, is run by a general assembly composed of an equal number of consumer-members and worker-members. The assembly elects a board that is similarly balanced, with six employees and six consumer-members, with a chairperson who is always a consumer.

Mondragón principles include (1) openness to all, regardless of ethnic background, religion, political beliefs, or gender; (2) the equality of all owner-workers and democratic control on the basis of one member, one vote; (3) the recognition of labor as the most essential, transformative factor of society and the renunciation of wage labor in favor of the full power of owner-workers to control the co-ops and distribute surpluses; (4) a definition of capital as accumulated labor, necessary for development and savings, with a limited return paid on that capital; (5) cooperation, defined as the development of the individual with others, not against others, to self-manage (managers are elected by the workers) and develop training and skills; and (6) wages that are comparable to prevailing local standards.

According to Don José María Arizmendiarrieta, the founder of Mondragón: “Cooperation is the authentic integration of people in the economic and social process that shapes a new social order; the cooperators must make this objective extend to all those that hunger and thirst for justice in the working world.”

Greg MacLeod, author of From Mondragón to America, writes: “The Cooperative Corporation itself is a moral entity having responsibility at three levels: (1) towards the individual employees, (2) towards the cooperative corporations which make up the Mondragón family, and (3) towards the general society of which it is the basic unit. As a microcosm of the general society, the enterprise must practice all the virtues demanded of the total society such as respect for the members, personal development and educational programs, social security and distributive justice.”

This successful alternative to the classic, top-down corporate model allows thinking outside the box store. Bottom-up democracy works and is the next step in bringing meaning into our work as well as our politics. Some of our politicians love to constantly spout off about bringing democracy to other nations, even if it takes our bombers and infantry to preemptively force it on them. Politicians who love democracy should not stop with politics. Let’s take them at their word, in our own local communities where the action will be in the future, and ask them to help us complete the American revolution by bringing democracy into our workplaces and our economies.

Dear President Obama…

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

By Jason Bradford

Dear President Obama…

…How You Could Give Me Hope

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the whole letter at The Oil Drum

Hat tip to Meca

The gap and the bridge

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

From Dave Smith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The problems…

Crash Course in Economics

The Automatic Earth

Local solutions…

Mendo Time Bank

Mendo Moola

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

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

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

From Scott Cratty
Mendocino County


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

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

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

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

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

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

See you at the market.

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

The Ukiah Latitude Observatory (Updated)

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

From Martin Bradley

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


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

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

Continue to Ukiah International Observatory Index

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

The Media’s role in the financial crisis

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

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

by Dan Gilmor
TPM Cafe
Full article here

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Veterans For Peace, Depleted Uranium Petition

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

From Annie Esposito

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

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

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

... and from Jim Kunstler today

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

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

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

Read on: State of Change

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

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

From Janie Sheppard
Mendocino County

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

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

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

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

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

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

Welcome back Els!

Biodynamics – The Original and Future Organic

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

From Dave Smith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ukiah Saturday Farmers Market

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

farmers market

From Scott Cratty
Mendocino County

Greetings -

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

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

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

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

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

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

See you Saturday.
Image Credit: DS

Did cloud seeding cause our fire disaster and drought?

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

From Dan Hamburg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sean White
General Manager

The Work That Reconnects – Joanna Macy

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

From Earl Brown

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

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

Continue reading The Work That Connects

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

Art Happenings in Ukiah – January 2009

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

From Rose Peterson Myers
Art Center Ukiah

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Printing our own money?

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

By George Monbiot 1/20/09

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

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

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

Also see Mendo Time Bank

and Mendo Moola

Benj Says “Well, yes…”

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

Technical Notice

From Ron Epstein

Dear World,

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

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

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

Thank you for your patience and under- standing.


Free The Journal!

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

From Dave Smith

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

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

Free The Journal!
Image Credit: Evan Johnson

Water, Then and Now – UPDATED 1/21/09

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

From Janie Sheppard
Mendocino County

Updated below

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


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

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

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

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

Sean White
General Manager

Continue reading Water, Then and Now

Let’s Get Solar – Part Three

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

From Michael Laybourn
Parts One and Two

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

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

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

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

and so forth…

Hey we’re going in the wrong direction!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Her name is Polly…

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

From Annie Esposito

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

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

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

The Real New Deal

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


Via Energy Bulletin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Dave Smith (2005)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Live Power Community Farm Website

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

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

From Linda Sanders
Friends of Gibson Creek

Tree Friends,

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

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

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

The Greenhorn’s Guide for Beginning Farmers

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

via Energy Bulletin

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

Greenhorn’s Guidebook for Beginning Farmers

Mendocino Organics CSA Blog

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

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

Fifty Million Farmers, Richard Heinberg at Energy Bulletin

Watching the growth of WalMart across America

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

Via Energy Bulletin

Watch it grow in front of your eyes

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

It matches up well with the Climate Time Machine

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

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

The Saturday Walking Group’s 20th Birthday

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

From Janie Sheppard
Mendocino County

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

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

The pictures tell the story…

Continue reading The Saturday Walking Group’s 20th Birthday

The Transition Town Movement: Embracing Reality and Resilience

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

By Carolyn Baker

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

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

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

The Handbook concludes with these remarkably uplifting words:

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

Continue reading The Transition Town Movement at

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

Let’s Get Solar – Part 2

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

From Michael Laybourn

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

So, let’s take a trip to Germany.

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

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

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

Continue reading Let’s Get Solar – Part 2

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

The Bumblebee That Changed The World

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

From Dave Smith

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

Övertorneå — the first eco-municipality in Sweden

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

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

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

Continue reading The Bumblebee That Changed The World

Art Class Announcement

In Guest Posts on January 7, 2009 at 9:08 pm


From Tom Johnson
Potter Valley

Re-Beginning art program starting up at the educational annex of the Corner Gallery soon.

I am looking for interested people from 8 to 80 to meet for 3-4 hours on a Saturday or a Sunday. Also photographers of all stripes, neo-silver nitrate, nouveau digital, those interested in developing a portfolio, meeting other photographers to share notes and experiences.

Uncertainty required, risk mandatory, come and join in the fun. 203 S. State, or drop in the gallery to sign up, leave your name, etc.

New Housing Enforcement Policy Targets Hand-Made Houses

In Dave Smith on January 7, 2009 at 2:32 pm

From Annie Esposito

Mendocino County went through a housing war against ‘hippies in the hills’ in the 70′s. The issue was the illegality of outhouses – something that isn’t a real problem for anyone. More than a thousand people fought ferociously to save their homes – and they won.

But for reasons that are unclear, the County recently issued threatening letters to several hill home owners in the Comptche area – notifying them that they must evacuate and demolish their homes. Former Supervisor Norman DeVall brought this to public attention on his KZYX&Z public affairs program recently.

So, several decades later, the ‘war against hippies’ has been renewed. It’s difficult to say what’s behind it – is it more fallout from the Measure B people who want to eliminate marijuana? Is it the pressure of development coming north? Is it a job saver for inspectors that don’t have new homes to inspect? Whatever is going on, there are still plenty of people who were active in the fight to save their homes in the first war. And if they have to, they will resurrect “United Stand” and fight again.

One of the leaders of the old United Stand is Anon Forrest of Potter Valley. She has a short history of what happened when their homes were threatened the first time – and people can find her lively article in Richard Johnson’s Mendocino Country newspaper.

The City Council’s Obama Moment – Will it Last?

In Around the web on January 7, 2009 at 8:21 am

From Janie Sheppard
Mendocino County

Monday, January 5, when the Ukiah City Council convened (minus Council Member John McCowen) in a Special Meeting to appoint a new member to fill the remainder of departing McCowen’s term, over 40 people attended.  Seeing so many members of the community interested in its proceedings, the Council did itself and the community proud.

Seven residents of the City of Ukiah filed applications for McCowen’s job.  Among them were John Graff, well-known representative of the Employers Council of Mendocino County, and Mary Anne Landis, respected member of the Ukiah Planning Commission, educator, and prominent proponent of the principles of “Smart Growth.”

Because three of the City Council members were likely to support Landis, and the fourth, Doug Crane, was not, the entire matter could have been handled in a matter of a few minutes.  One of the Council members could have nominated Landis, another seconded the nomination, and a roll call vote could have garnered the requisite three votes.

Instead, the members took their time, after first quizzing Dave Rapport, City Attorney, on possible procedures to fill the remainder of a departing Council member’s term.  Lacking a definite procedure to follow, the members heard the presentations of the seven applicants, asked them a couple of questions, and then heard the presentations of interested citizens.  The citizens spoke respectfully; enunciating criteria they felt were relevant to the selection of a new Council member.  A few endorsed a particular applicant.

After the last speaker, the Council members began deliberations.  Benj Thomas said he believed it was important to measure the applicants against certain criteria, and Doug Crane made a pitch for a conservative-leaning applicant.  Mari Rodin, noting that it sounded “like kindergarten,” spoke up for the qualities of respect and kindness.  She explained that Council members need to be respectful and kind to the City’s staff, other members, and citizens who attend and speak at Council meetings.  “Reaching across the aisle,” as our President-Elect Obama would say (my comment).  When Rodin spoke, a light came on:  rather than bringing the matter to a vote quickly, the members were showing kindness and respect for each other, the applicants, and the speakers.  Ah, I thought, Obama comes to Ukiah.  I get it . . .

So what? a cynic could say.  Well, here’s what:  in the end, Doug Crane voted with the other three Council members, making the vote unanimous.  He had been heard, his candidates treated with respect, but in the end he acted to welcome Landis to the Council.  How in the spirit of Obama I thought.

If the actions by the City Council are indicators of what is to come I foresee the Board acting in harmony in these difficult times.  Thank you Ukiah City Council for showing us the way.

Mary Anne Landis Appointed To Ukiah City Council 1/5/09

In Dave Smith on January 5, 2009 at 7:05 pm

… as of 10 minutes ago.


See earlier post about tonight’s meeting


In Dave Smith on January 5, 2009 at 10:38 am


From Earl Brown

We are the threshold between form and not-form, multi-dimensional in being, poised on the edge of the Infinite and the Void, the event horizon of a conscious Universe.

If you could go backward in time to be witness when our first human ancestors stood at the edge of their forest home, where the protection of the trees and plants blended into the wide expanse of grass savanna, as they saw the great herds and diversity of animals, the vast openness, and hearing the roar of the lions, what might it be like? What would you feel? Would you feel their fear, their curiosity, their apprehension about going “out there” armed only with spears and cunning? Were they in their hearts looking out at their fate, driven by unspoken purpose, or were they in their heads dreaming of conquest and empire? What skills did they have to take with them and what would be discovered out in the great unknown? What pain and suffering awaited them? What joy? Would you, walking forward with their generations, recognize the gifts that were discovered within themselves, or were given by others; by the Spirits, by animals, plants, the Earth and the Cosmos? Could you see how those skills and gifts; fire making, tool making, dance, music, weaving, storytelling, cosmology, agriculture, and more, helped to bring us to this time in place and consciousness?

If you had the opportunity to leave a message for, or speak to, one of your descendents, ten generations in the future, telling them your feelings about war, poverty, wealth, justice, health, sickness, and the dangers of radio activity, or nuclear waste, what would you say? Could you imagine the world in which they must live; tell if their lives were miserable, difficult, or maybe doing well? Would they sing songs to our ability to overcome great odds, or would they be cursing us for using it all and leaving them without? They would surely know about us, about our excesses of power and destructive weaponry, about the poison in the air, water and soil. They would be living with whatever we leave them. What would they say to you, their ancestor? Would they ask how you found the strength and courage to make the needed changes in our society, or would they ask how could you have possibly forgotten them and cursed them with continual suffering?

What if there was an opportunity to be chosen by a non-human entity such as an animal, plant, body of water, or element such as the wind, or sky and speak on its behalf? Could you identify with it deeply enough to allow it to speak through you, listen with its ears (or other senses) and share its wisdom in a counsel of other non-human Beings as well; a “Council of All Beings”? As a surviving old-growth Redwood, a Coho Salmon, Grey Fox, or Polar Bear, what could be said to our Human cousins that would help make a difference, what advice and gifts could be given to help remind them they are not alone, or separate? What inspiration could be left them that would help them to make good choices during this time of great change, this “Great Turning”?

We must hear and feel within ourselves the pain and the suffering of all of the other beings who share this planet with us and even of the planet Itself. This is to say that in order to solve the crises we are in we must find within ourselves our connection to all other things, our “deep ecology”. We must remember we are connected to the Earth, to the plants, animals, and minerals, connected to each other and the cycles of the stars. We are a vital part, or aspect, of the Earth’s body.
Group activities such as “Open Questions” and “Gathering the Gifts of the Ancestors” are designed to help one experience ourselves in deep-time, to feel the connection of our long time association with life on planet Earth. The Earth is now said to be somewhere around thirteen billion years old and having arisen from this planet our history goes back equally as far. All Its potential, including human potential, was created at Its, the Earth’s, moment of conception. Buried deep within our bodies, possibly stored within our DNA, proteins, cell walls, or energy fields, is information encoded from the Beginning. It is there and available to us. This same information is also encoded into everything else, like Pribams “Holographic Universe”, each part contains the knowledge of the whole; we are all connected.

Realizing this deep interconnection we share with all things is critical to the development of strong, healthy, vibrant communities. If we can rest in gratitude we can begin to see ourselves in others as well as in the natural environment and elements. From our stand of gratitude we can allow our hearts to feel and express the truth of how we see and sense the world and our place in it. From there we can see the situation, or event, or crises, from a new perspective having gained information from listening to our individual and collective pain. We can then develop new strategies, methods and means of bringing about the changes we desire from a stand on inclusiveness, cooperation and respect for all Beings.

On Tuesday, January 13, from 3 pm till 9 pm, above Three Sisters at 112 S School Street, Ukiah, there will be an open discussion, Salon style, about Joanna Macy’s, “The Work That Reconnects”. I will be giving an overview of the work and describing basic concepts, purposes and activities. My purpose is to utilize this meeting space for study/activity groups interested in learning together about ourselves, each other and what it means to be in a meaningful, authentic, community.

Other salon discussions:

Thursday, January 22, from 3 pm to 9 pm- The Intention Experiment and the Global Coherence Inititive. Hear about Lynne McTaggart, science investigator and author (The Field and The Intention Experiment), her research in studies of intention and Zero Point Field Theory and her global initiative called, “the Intention Experiment”. Her work is closely related with the HeartMath Institute, in Boulder Creek, and their Global Coherence Initiative, Learn about coherence, how it helps our physical and mental bodies, how we can build personal and group coherence and how to use it with our intentions to help create positive change in the world.

Tuesday, January 27, from 3 pm to 9 pm- Power vs. Force. Open discussion about how the body with its subtle energies is a reliable information that is always correct and how kinesiology can be used to access this information. “Power vs. Force, the Hidden Determinants of Human Behavior” is a book by David Hawkins M.D., Ph.D., who has been researching and lecturing on human mental processes for years.

Ukiah City Council Public Input Tonight 1/5 At 5:30

In Dave Smith on January 5, 2009 at 5:27 am


From Dave Smith

There will be public input tonight at a City Council meeting at which the seat vacated by John McCowen’s County Supervisor election will be filled by appointment.

The candidates are Mary Anne Landis, Mary Elizabeth Tracy Bell, Michael Whetzel, Erika L. Pierce, Brian D. Kornegay, Jeanne K. Metcalf and John Graf.

I hope and expect that the City Council will appoint the best qualified candidate whose values, effectiveness, and track record of public service most closely match those of the person elected, John McCowen, and those of the majority of the City Council. The democratic will of the voters will thus be fulfilled.

For those reasons, and many more, that candidate is clearly Mary Anne Landis.

To somehow argue that a prior election loser should be appointed is to subvert the will of the majority and set the City Council up for the petty bickering, incompetence, and dysfunctionality suffered by the County Board of Supervisors these past few years.

No thanks.

10 Reasons to be Hopeful for 2009, and 3 Reasons to be Terrified

In Around the web on January 4, 2009 at 8:27 pm


From Yes Magazine
by Sarah van Gelder

We’re entering a new year at a time unlike any other in recent memory. Here are 10 reasons I’m filled with hope as I look ahead at 2009—and three reasons I’m terrified.

  1. Young people are stepping up. They know that they formed the backbone of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign and that their work infused the country with the “Yes, we can” spirit. Now that these young people know what success feels like, many will be in it for the long haul.
  2. Election protection is working. Grassroots vigilance, successful lawsuits, and media exposure are making voter suppression efforts less successful. More remains to be done, but the trends are in the right direction. (One terrifying note, though, is the death in a December 19 plane crash of GOP IT expert Michael Connell, who many believe was poised to reveal secrets related to vote stealing.)
  3. There is now overwhelming support for universal health care. This grassroots commitment coupled with Obama’s leadership could make this the year when we finally overcome the roadblocks big insurance and drug corporations have placed in the way of progress. A majority of Americans favor a tax-supported single-payer system like Canada’s. The Obama plan, while it’s not single-payer, is nonetheless a good plan—as long as it retains the option for all Americans to join a public health insurance plan.

Continue reading 10 Reasons to be Hopeful for 2009 at Yes Magazine

Celebrating Ukiah Valley Trail Group’s New Bridge

In Around the web on January 3, 2009 at 3:07 pm


From Janie Sheppard
Mendocino County

The occasion of the best New Year’s Day party in the Ukiah Valley was a celebration of the Ukiah Valley Trail Group’s new bridge near Lake Mendocino.  Hikers carried all manner of delicious homemade goodies to the party, including champagne, sparkling cider, hot tea, coffee, cinnamon rolls, pate, cookies and delicious cakes.  Really, it was a feast befitting the dedication of this gorgeous addition to our local trail system.

Continue reading New Years Day On Ukiah Valley Trails

Introducing Mendo Time Bank

In Dave Smith, Mendo Island Transition on January 2, 2009 at 11:36 pm


[Local community advocate Julia (Dakin) Frech is heading up a local effort to organize a Time Bank. Mendo Time Bank website is here. The link to join Mendo Time Bank is here. How Time Banks work is here. Time Banks are active in many parts of the world and are a very successful way to build community. What a great way to start off a challenging new year here in Mendocino County. What follows is a brief overview. -DS]

Excerpted from No More Throw-Away People
by Edgar Cahn

“Time Dollars” in a “Time Bank” are a local currency, issued locally, and honored locally. Instead of money that flows to the highest return, we need a local currency that will stay put as a kind of safety net. It functions as a reward for sinking roots, staying in place, accepting responsibility, building community, keeping family together. “Co-Production” elevates the non-market economy as the only possible shelter from the vicissitudes of the global market economy. As a complementary economic system based on maximizing self-sufficiency, it represents a buffer in a world where money’s mobility and global interdependence can mean ubiquitous vulnerability.

There is no doubt that money rewards self-interest, greed, ruthlessness and material acquisition. We need an economy that rewards decency, caring, civic participation, and learning as automatically as the market now rewards unbridled self-interest, winner-take-all competion, and runaway specialization. Time Dollars devalue specialization and assert that the most special and important thing a human being can do is to be a Human Being. That is about as unspecialized a job description as one can get. They are a new tool, available as a kind of appropriate technology to enable the nonmarket economy to compete for a larger share of energy, time and talent and to enlist the capacity of those whom the market devalues or excludes.

Time Dollars simply count the hours people put in. But even when people don’t spend the Time Dollars they earn, something else happens. Observers note that turnover in Time Dollar programs is far lower than in volunteer programs. It was less than 10 percent in all of the original programs, and less than 3 percent in the largest Miami based one. The only thing done differently is to count. And people earn Time Dollars without stopping whatever volunteering they are already doing.

Counting counts. Recording something makes a difference. It confers value. It invests an act with a degree of permanence. It means that what is learned or done will not be forgotten. It just might shape the future.

A user-friendly information and accounting system serves two functions. First, it makes knowledge of what people can do into a shared resource. Information is wealth. Shared information is shared wealth of a new kind. This is one kind of wealth that is not diminished by sharing. In fact, it is increased.

Most of us do not know what our neighbors can do. And we don’t ask. But when that information is in a data base, we don’t mind phoning up and saying, “Do you have anyone in the computer who could take care of my dog this weekend or help my child with homework?” That’s not a question we are going to go up and down the street asking. Nor is it information that would normally be volunteered by a neighbor in casual conversation. Information systems create a new social etiquette that breaks down old barriers. Any email user knows that.

Merely the issuing of Time Dollar bank statements operates as a kind of reward. Those of us who enrolled in frequent flier miles programs know how pleased we are to see the mileage grow, even if we know we may not be able to use those miles for months or even years.

Time Dollars as a currency with restricted purchasing power may be inferior for certain purposes, but it sends out a message: Maybe we don’t really want all the things we value most – our future, our fate, our lives – monitized and determined by market value… up for grabs to the highest bidder. And perhaps we need a currency that, regardless of the market, enables us to use our time to secure a kind of self-sufficiency, that can’t be eliminated by cutbacks in Medicare or eroded by inflation.

Time Dollars in a Nutshell

1. Members list the services they can offer and those that they need

2. All agree to both give and to receive services

3. Everyone is interviewed and provides references

4. Every hour giving help earns the giver one credit, a Time Dollar

5. Members ‘buy’ the services they need with their credits

6. The computer matches the task, the giver, and the receiver

7. Every transaction is recorded on a computer ‘time bank’

8. Members receive a regular ‘bank’ statement

9. One hour is one credit regardless of the skills one offers

10. Members can donate credits to friends or to the ‘credit pool’

11. Everyone is seen as special with a contribution to make

12. All activities maintain set standards of care and a code of ethics

Farmers Market News

In Dave Smith on December 31, 2008 at 1:06 pm


From Scott Cratty

Greetings  -

Happy New Year!

This Saturday Ukiah’s 1st farmers’ market of 2009 will almost surely be bigger than the close of 2008 (which was cold, spare and poorly attended … the smallest on record by a wide margin).  Thanks to you hardy few who attended.  My apology to the couple of you who arrived close to 1 p.m. and found us packing up … it was just too cold for a few of the vendors after the propane tank for the heater ran dry.

Lots of good signs for the start of 2009.  Pedro Ortiz should be back from vacation. Mendocino Organics will be back as will most of our other regular vendors (don’t forget to keep up with Paula’s great blog.)  With a bit of luck somewhat calmer waters should also increase the range of fish.

We will have Jerry Krantmanback with his eclectic acoustic music … he might even let you sing along with a tune or two.  Plus, it should be a bit warmer.  Heck, it might even crack 50.  I will be refilling the propane tank just in case.

Don’t forget to get your ticket for our new raffle.  Loads of fine stuff.

As always, the market is in Alex Thomas Plaza on Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Check Friday’s UDJ for part two of my New Year’s food rant.

Community Announcement:

Learn how to create your own Victory Garden.  A free class for beginners presented by Mendocino County’s Master Gardeners that will cover how to choose a garden location, play the layout, prepare the soil, plant, irrigate and maintain a garden.  Bring a picture or map of your yard and a jar with tight fitting lid half full of dirt from the location you wish to plant. January 17, 8:30-noon, 2240 Old River Rd.   To register contact JT via email at jtwilli@ucdavisedu or call 463-4495.

See you at the market.

…and the band played on…

In Dave Smith on December 31, 2008 at 12:41 pm


From Evan Johnson

Media conglomerate owner Singleton has steadfastly maintained his company is financially sound and honoring its financial commitments.

Media company announces employee benefit cuts
Written by Elizabeth Larson
Wednesday, 31 December 2008

LAKEPORT – The parent company of the Lake County Record-Bee [Ukiah Daily Journal, et. al.] gave employees some not-very-happy holiday news this week, telling them that the company is cutting its matching contributions to the 401(k) retirement plan.
Moody’s Investors Services downgraded nearly all of the company’s $1 billion in debt further into junk status, reaching a non-investment grade rating of “Caa3,” which according to an Associated Press report is the third-lowest rating on Moody’s scale.

Moody had previously downgraded MediaNews’ debt in May. Three months later, the company sold its Connecticut newspaper holdings, including the Connecticut Post and seven non-daily newspapers, to Hearst Corp.

The rating downgrades are based on Moody’s lowered opinion of the company’s ability to meet its financial obligations after a 16-percent decline in revenue for the third quarter, and concerns over a revolving $175 million credit facility that comes due in December 2009, according to the Associated Press.

The Associated Press noted that the downgrade also has the impact of making it harder for MediaNews to find new financing because of default concerns.

[Let's get these local newspapers back into local, independent ownership. The $800,000 that leaves our county every year from the UDJ to parts known (Asia) and unknown, would be better used circulating in our community. Also, rumors of The Bullhorn resurrection are encouraging. Go for it, Laura and Sid! -DS]

Whole Lotta Shakin Goin On

In Dave Smith on December 31, 2008 at 5:14 am

From Lisa Mammina
New Year’s Eve Party
Celebrate with Great Music and Good Friends
Appetizers and Drinks
8:00 pm to 1:00 am
Over 21 Crowd
No Host Bar
$20 Per Person
107 S. Oak St., Downtown Ukiah
More Info? Call 707.467.8229

See also Live Hulu Coverage of Times Square 2009


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