Mendo Island Journal — Timely. Useful. Sometimes Cranky.

Posts Tagged ‘mendocino’

Banking on Credit Unions

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

By Ralph Nader

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See also Mendo-Lake Credit Union
~~

Attack on the Front Lawn

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

From Evan Johnson

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

Re-thinking water use? Worried about brown lawns?

Don’t mourn. Eat your lawn!

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

See also TreeHuggerTV: Edible Estates video


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

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

From Jim Houle
Obama-Watch.us

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep reading Obama-Watch.us Eighth Edition


[Update -DS]

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

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

and The obstructionists dilemma at Daily Kos→

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


Mendocino Cooking from the Farmers’ Market

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

From Pinky Kushner
Ukiah

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

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

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

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

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


Top 10 Reasons To Support Universal Single-Payer Health Care

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


How to grow your own fresh air

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

From Ron Epstein
Ukiah

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

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

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


What is Community? – Part 1 of 2

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

From Earl Brown
Ukiah
Part One | Part Two

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

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

Keep reading What is Community? – Part 1


Master Garden Innovator Alan Chadwick

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

From Dave Smith
Ukiah

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

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

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

Keep reading Master Garden Innovator Alan Chadwick


Ukiah Farmers’ Market Saturday 2/14/09

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

From Scott Cratty
Mendocino County

Friends of the Ukiah Farmers’ Market,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


An Ecologically Sane Farm

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

From Gene Logsdon (1989)
Garden Farm Skills

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

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

Keep reading An Ecologically Sane Farm at OrganicToBe.org

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


Update:

Catastrophic Fall In 2009 Global Food Production

Grow yourself some organic potatoes this spring

Historical dry farming revived in Marin


Muddling Toward Frugality – Part 2 of 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep reading Muddling Toward Frugality – Part 2


What about a new bank?

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

From Janie Sheppard
Mendocino County

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

From the document..

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

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

PDF available for download here

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

Start Me Up – Rolling Stones


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

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

From Kevin Murphy
Ukiah

Reflections on facing the reality of dying news functions

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

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

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

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

Keep reading What’s going on around here…


Is No Growth Also Smart Growth?

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

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

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

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

1. There Is No End To Population Growth

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

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

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

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

Keep reading Is No Growth Also Smart Growth?


2/9/09 Jim Kunstler this a.m…

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

Keep reading Poverty of Imagination


Coming Soon In Ukiah Blog – Patrick Ford (Updated)

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

:: PATRICK FORD TALKS ::

Fighting Fires, Preaching Truth,
and Playing the Blues

Now Available Here



Update: UKIAH HOUSE CONCERTS

From Annie Esposito
Ukiah

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

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

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


Our toxic, malnourishing food supply (Updated)

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

From Dave Smith
Ukiah

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

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

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

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

and Co-operatives: The Feeling is Mutual

and The Greenhorn Guide for Beginning Farmers

and Newly Discovered Toxic Chemical Is Common In Cosmetics
~

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

Go to Agriculture and climate change at RodaleInstitute.org


Local Victory Garden Program

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is happening with Victory Gardens today?

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

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

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

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


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

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

From Scott Cratty
Ukiah

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

By BARNABY J. FEDER
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
Hopland

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


Grow yourself some organic potatoes this spring

In Dave Smith on February 4, 2009 at 12:05 am

From Dave Smith
Ukiah

If you’ve ever dug up some organic potatoes you’d planted a few weeks before, cleaned them in the kitchen, fried or mashed them, and eaten them on the spot, you know how superior they are in flavor compared to store-bought. Like everything else prepared right out of the garden, or picked right off the tree, there is a special just-harvested flavor that is not going to be there a few minutes later.

Here’s where to buy organic seed potatoes: Wood Prairie Farm…→

…and here’s how to plant them: Organic Gardening Magazine Video.→

If you really want to be cutting edge, you can grow potatoes from their “true seed.“→

Have at ‘em!
~

“#3. Homemade potato chips, preferably made with thin slices of freshly dug, organic red potatoes (scrubbed, not peeled), fried in homemade lard in a well-seasoned cast iron skillet, and prepared by someone you adore who is willing to stand over a splattering pan of hot oil for an hour or two while you both devour batch after batch of warm, salted chips as soon as they are cool enough to touch. Serve with lots of laughs and plenty of iced tea or cold beer.”

Keep reading Five Things To Eat Before You Die over at FarmGirl Fare
~~
Roasted Potatoes © Cenorman | Dreamstime.com


A chicken coop for a small flock

In Dave Smith, Garden Farm Skills on February 3, 2009 at 8:08 am

From Gene Logsdon (1985)
Garden Farm Skills

A backyard henhouse for only a dozen or so chickens year-round should be commodious, a minimum of around 5 square feet of floor space per hen, which is much more than a commercial poultryman can afford. My henhouse design, based on what I’ve learned so far by building three coops of my own, differs from the standard designs in a few other ways, which you might find interesting to think about when building your own.

1. Predator Proofing. I would have preferred that my latest chicken coop be built on a concrete footing to make it more or less predator-proof. But pole construction was cheaper and easier. The bottom wall boards are of treated wood for rot resistance, and the wall is sunk into the ground 6 to 12 inches. Cats will not dig that far under to get in, and cats have always been my most troublesome predator—not my own, though, which I train not to bother chickens, but feral cats. I keep the dog tied next to the coop for further insurance.

2. The Size. I knew that for part of the year I would house approximately forty-five to fifty chickens, although there would be less than twenty year-round. Every year we buy six Rhode Island Red chicks and about thirty White Rock broiler chicks, the latter for meat, the former to add to the laying flock. The broilers are butchered when about ten weeks old, and later on I’ll butcher some old hens as they quit laying, so that the flock dwindles to around fifteen through winter. We buy chicks in June so have no need for brooder facilities. (The first few nights I might use a heat bulb on the chicks.) Anyhow, by my own idea of space requirement, a 10 by 20-foot building is more than ample. And it is tall enough so I can walk inside without hitting my head, as I did in the old coop.

Keep reading A chicken coop for a small flock at OrganicToBe.org


Do you see what I see?

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

From Janie Sheppard
Mendocino County

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

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

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

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

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


The solution to pollution is dilution

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

From Ron Epstein
Ukiah

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

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

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

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

For the whole story, see Precaution.org


Cooperative Business

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

From Dave Smith
Ukiah

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
Willits

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


Self-Actualizing Work – Abraham Maslow

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

Maslow on Management (Book Excerpts)
Abraham H. Maslow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The gap and the bridge

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


From Dave Smith
Ukiah

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The problems…

Crash Course in Economics

The Automatic Earth

Local solutions…

Mendo Time Bank

Mendo Moola

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


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

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

From Scott Cratty
Mendocino County

Greetings!

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

(http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_16627.cfm) 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 http://www.organicconsumers.org/vilsack.cfm.

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
Ukiah

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

History

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 housing bubble’s long emergency (Updated)

In Dave Smith on January 27, 2009 at 7:46 pm

[You'll have to decide for yourself how predictive this might be, and what effect it will have on you and all of us locally. -DS]

Go to Housing as shelter, not speculation

Update [Quote] And that’s where I disagree. We are not spending $850 billion to save people, we are spending $850 billion to save a system. But that system is fraudulent, and saving that system is wrong. We need to help people struggle through difficult times, and then we need to reinvent ourselves. Spending to save the system does nothing to create a new, sustainable, viable system.

So then, what’s the alternative? I believe that the federal government and the states should stop trying to save the banks and other financial institutions, should stop providing trillions in taxpayer dollars to institutions that are already bankrupt and who do not in any way serve the public interest, and should instead use any federal monies to subsidize social support programs during this economic depression. I think that the federal government should admit that the perpetuation of a system of globalization based upon usury is neither moral nor in the public’s best interest. In its place the federal government should provide support and training and funding for projects that recognize the following realities: (1) That the age of growth is over. We have entered the age of sustainability. (2) That saving the system of ‘money-as-debt’ only serves to further incarcerate the people, not liberate them. (3) That the banks and other institutions who have used deception and duplicity and Ponzi schemes to make billions in profits should be held to account.

The bottom line is this: spending money to save a system that has crashed because it is in debt is false. Like with a flooded lawnmower engine, throwing more gas into the tank isn’t going to help the cause. Vermont’s $1 Billion will not fundamentally change the lives and futures of the citizens of the state for the better. It will only, at best, temporize the pain for a brief time. But the system that keeps us in debt-servitude, and that compels us to “consume” when in fact the survival of our planet demands that we learn how to “sustain”, persists.

More of this analysis and context at The Automatic Earth


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
Excerpts
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
Ukiah

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 (CNU.org) 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


Fahrenheit 451 – The temperature at which books burn

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

From Dave Smith
Ukiah

Ray Bradbury, 1950

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

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

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

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

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


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!


CFAR Pushes Masonite Site Environmental Review

In Guest Posts on January 24, 2009 at 7:54 pm

From Antonio Andrade
Citizens For Adequate Review

As DDR was not being responsive to our lawsuit and claiming refuge for their activities claiming they were simply implementing the site remediation plan signed off on by the North Coast Regional Water Quality Board’s (NCRWQB), it prompted Citizens For Adequate Review (CFAR) to review an early communication directed to the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) and to reframe some of those issues and follow-up with other issues that had not been addressed in the remediation process.

We did not go public with the communication when it was sent in late summer. We did not want to negatively impact our negotiations with the County or DDR. Now that the suit is settled, it is important that the City, County, local agencies and Boards who have oversight responsibilities continue to press for comprehensive remediation of the site. My conversations with Environmental Health Director John Morley were not encouraging in this respect. It was John’s position that his Department has no oversight responsibilities for the site and that his Department was mistakenly listed in the NCRWQB-approved remediation plan as a secondly agency who should be coordinated with for remediation of the site. Isn’t the site located in Mendocino County? Don’t they oversee the buried fuel containers for gas stations in the county and didn’t they oversee the remediation process for leaky fuel tanks?

Right now the focus needs to be on getting a response to this communication and/or getting DTSC in on the oversight…

Continue reading CFAR


Supervisors! Bring Our County CEO To Heel!

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

From Dave Smith
Ukiah

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Biodynamics – The Original and Future Organic

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

From Dave Smith
Ukiah

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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
Ukiah

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Sean White
General Manager
RRFC


Citizens For Adequate Review Settles with Mendocino County and DDR

In Dave Smith on January 21, 2009 at 2:38 pm

[Action quote, last paragraph. -DS]

PRESS RELEASE

January 21, 2009

Contacts:

Citizens for Adequate Review (CFAR)CFAR Member Antonio Andrade (707) 462-4930

Rachel Mansfield-Howlett, Attorney representing CFAR, Provencher & Flatt, LLP  (707) 284-2380

As a result of a law suit filed by Santa Rosa attorney Rachel Howlett on behalf of Citizens for Adequate Review (CFAR), CFAR, Mendocino County, and Diversified Developers Realty (DDR) have reached an agreement which requires environmental review prior to DDR proceeding further with their proposed Mendocino Crossings Development on the old Masonite site north of Ukiah. Under the terms of the settlement agreement between the parties, the existing slabs, buried footings, underground utilities and other improvements at the site of the demolished Masonite facility will remain in place and be included in the scope of environmental review for the proposed Mendocino Crossings Project.

This is an important victory for local control of our community’s development. This agreement confirms that, prior to work beginning, all development proposals must be reviewed, that sites be safe and clear of toxics prior to any permitted use, and that County approval must be obtained.

The issue emerged In July of 2007 when the County issued DDR a permit to demolish the Masonite facility. CFAR asserted the demolition was the first stage in the development of the site for commercial purposes, stating this was a piecemeal approach to development, and a violation of California environmental law. Validating DDR’s investment in the demolition by issuing the permit was setting a precedent to keep moving forward with the project. Concerned community groups and residents found it appalling that the demolition was able to proceed at all when the County had full knowledge commercial development in this area was controversial, including opposition by the City of Ukiah.

DDR identified the site as ‘under construction’ in their filings with the Federal Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC), had a project application on file with the County, was holding public meetings promoting their project, and advocated for the project before the Board of Supervisors. Demolition was step one of a multi-staged project that the County should have known required review under California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA.) The County Planning and Building Department ignored the magnitude of the structures on site, the air quality impacts from demolishing these improvements, the proximity of the demolition to a school, and also did not send the application to demolish the historic structures to all relevant County departments and agencies for review and comment.

Rather, they treated the demolition as similar to a homeowner wanting to take down a garage, claiming they simply issued a valid ministerial permit with no environmental review being required. Without benefit of a clear and comprehensive review of its potential deleterious impact to the environment, and the community, the County abdicated their responsibility to protect the environment. There was no recognition by the County that by issuing the permit they were effectively eliminating existing manufacturing capacity for future use, and opening the door for DDR to move ahead with a project in an area not zoned for retail commercial use.

CFAR thanks all those who demonstrated their commitment to the quality of life in the Ukiah Valley by funding this costly effort. With the public being taxed by the County to fund its oversight responsibilities and services, an enormous burden was created when citizens had to then undertake suing the County to compel compliance with state law.

Hopefully, with a newly constituted Board of Supervisors, Mendocino County will put aside a ‘development at any cost’ mentality, cohesively organize County departments and agencies so they do not piecemeal their review but rather systematically and comprehensively apply legally established 21st century environmental standards to projects. We live in a beautiful environment characterized by small town values and our governing bodies need recognize its inherent value, and to become vigilant, conscientious stewards.
~

See also The People’s Business


The Work That Reconnects – Joanna Macy

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

From Earl Brown
Ukiah

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

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

Continue reading The Work That Connects


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


Art Happenings in Ukiah – January 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Printing our own money?

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

By George Monbiot 1/20/09
Excerpts

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

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

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

Also see Mendo Time Bank

and Mendo Moola


Free The Journal!

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

From Dave Smith
Ukiah

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

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

Free The Journal!
~
Image Credit: Evan Johnson


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.

Update:

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

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

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

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

Sean White
General Manager
RRFC

Continue reading Water, Then and Now


Let’s Get Solar – Part Three

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

From Michael Laybourn
Hopland
Parts One and Two

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

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

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

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

and so forth…

Hey we’re going in the wrong direction!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


American Aid To Israel – A Libertarian Perspective

In Guest Posts on January 15, 2009 at 8:35 am

[We welcome a wide diversity of political opinion on Ukiah Blog, although we would like to keep it primarily local. I was not aware that libertarians all must sign the statement "I do not believe in the initiation of force to achieve political goals" in order to join their political party. -DS]

From Virginia Macintosh
Ukiah


The current conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza is the most recent incarnation of an ancient, and endless war between Jews and Arabs. The expectation that a greater show of force by one side or the other, such as Israel’s newest push into Gaza, will finally solve the problem for once and for all, is, of course, a delusion; America’s continuing support of Israel, the lone democracy in the region – but with its own strong army – prolongs another delusion that somehow, with our help, the rest of the middle east will calm down.

In a recent commentary, Andrew Davis of the Libertarian Party notes, “There are several complications with U.S.foreign aid going to Israel. One, it makes the United States culpable for the actions of Israel that many times come with international condemnation. Secondly, it opens up the United States to cries of extreme bias in favor of Israel – a main catalyst for terrorism against U.S. interests at home and abroad.”

Libertarians have long criticized not just aid to Israel, but any type of intervention into the political policies of all nations, believing that 1, It is not in our national interest;  2, it invites consequences never envisioned; and 3, there are better ways of creating friendly relationships with the world’s nations.

The complications of intervention were of concern to early political thinkers who formed this country. In his first inaugural address,Thomas Jefferson set out to define what he thought were the essential principles of government. The words most often quoted from the list are, “peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations; entangling alliances with none.” Our alliance with Israel is a perfect example of the kind of entanglement Jefferson warned against.

What does a policy of non-intervention do for us and can it be justified morally? Far from abandoning our friends, trade, commerce and friendship, are powerful forces of good will. Direct financial aid to other nations, rarely goes where it is most needed, often buying arms or lining the pockets of the country’s rulers. But honest and fair practices of commerce and trade devoid of import taxes, price supports or blockades create an even playing field in which pure trade – value for value – a fair exchange of goods and services, enrich all parties concerned.  We should be open to trade with, and be free to visit all countries including Cuba and all other “axis of evil” countries. One of the worst aspects of the Israeli conflict in Gaza is the forced closure of Gaza’s borders which stops any chance for trade with the rest of the world – a requirement for any new or established country for stability and growth.

In his January 7th post, Watching the torching of Gaza, Jim Houle properly asked if the majority of Americans feel we have an obligation to support Israel in their battles with Hamas, or, in parallel, Hezbullah. A good question indeed. One might also ask if Americans knowingly support the “entanglement” of our military presence in 135 countries, or 70% of the worlds countries, not counting territories. How can this huge military presence in the rest of the world be tolerated by the American public?

Disengaging from the quagmire of political alliances, by ending all financial and military aid to Israel and others would create real change in U.S. policy for the better. Tourism, trade, and commerce, with bias to none, supports Jefferson view of “honest friendship,” and removes the threat to all. By doing this, we do not turn our back on the rest of the world, but instead, encourage prosperity and stability. This change would serve us in the long run and help bring back the respect we once deserved.


Her name is Polly…

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

From Annie Esposito
Ukiah

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

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

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


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