The true meaning of Christmas

From Evan Johnson

See also What is worse than coal in your stocking? Coal in your drinking water (AlterNet)

Happy Christmas (War Is Over)

Click on post title above for full-size video

Workplace democracy our key to future prosperity

From Dave Smith

I’ve long admired the life and thinking of author and talk show host Thom Hartmann (pictured here). He advocates a living wage, not a minimum wage, and a reversal of the gradual decimation of our middle class by raising our national wage so there is prosperity for all, not just the few. History proves his wisdom.

We cannot have full prosperity until our big businesses and institutions  accept the union democratic process of bargaining between equals. Prosperity does not trickle down, it bursts up from a well-paid citizenry. Bashing the unions during these trying times will do nothing but prolong our national financial agony. When Henry Ford grasped the fundamentals of how prosperity works in an industrial economy, he raised his workers wages so they could afford the cars they were building and the auto industry took off. He understood that everyone benefits when labor is paid a living wage… that effective demand is the key.

President Lincoln also understood this:

Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.

In his article Needed: Workplace Democracy, Thom defends the union movement that, even with all its flaws, is fundamental to reversing the financial disaster caused by greed and lack of democratic values at the top, and years of anti-union, anti-regulation, and anti-middle-class policies.

Thom writes:

It took the Republican Great Depression to wake people up. It took Franklin D. Roosevelt to speak the truth. If a politician said the same things today that Roosevelt did in the 1930s – openly accusing big business of being anti-American and antiworker – he’d be accused of socialism and communism. Very few national figures have the courage to speak out today the way FDR did back then.

Roosevelt provided courageous leadership. In his first term, he had sent to Congress the National Industrial Recovery Act, which set standards for wages and working hours and established the right of laborers to organize. This set the stage for labor groups to bargain for wages and conditions. Thanks in large part to FDR’s work on behalf of labor, in the 25 years after World War II the real incomes of the middle class doubled.

Go to Thom Hartmann’s article Needed: Workplace Democracy

Seasoned Greetings

From Evan Johnson

The wisdom of uncertainty

This from Kurt Cobb
via Energy Bulletin

More than 50 years ago author and interpreter of Zen to the English-speaking world Alan Watts wrote a book entitled “The Wisdom of Insecurity.” He made the case that feelings of certainty and security were just that, feelings. Our true and perpetual state as humans is that of uncertainty and insecurity. The world never stops changing and never stops unsettling our settled notions, at least if we pay careful attention to it.

And so, what’s really necessary to feel certainty in one’s life is to be oblivious to what is actually happening. For Watts a good life and a happy life, taken with all its sufferings, is one lived while paying attention. Recent events are forcing more of us to pay careful attention. But to pay attention is to feel more insecure and more uncertain. Still, instead of something to be avoided, insecurity is something to be embraced. It forces us to become more resourceful, to encounter the world as it is and to gain a measure of prudence that can serve us well when we are tempted to believe the optimistic hype of investment advisors, economists, politicians, or experts of any kind.

Continue reading post on his blogsite

Circulating through the blogosphere…

Click on post title above to enlarge

Like Iraq, it’s the leadership at fault, not the foot soldiers…

Disaster Farming

From Dave Smith

It been clear for decades now what a disaster chemical farming is wreaking on our personal health and the health of our planet. From the so-called Green Revolution in developing countries, to the vineyards, golf courses and lawns in our local environs, the use of poisons to grow our food and green our playgrounds has turned our bodies into sacks of toxic landfill; our preventative health systems into obscenely profitable medical drug systems; and our brains into mush… unable to tell the difference between a home to live in and a get-rich-quick scheme, or to accept the science that global warming is caused by our daily activities.

According to 28 years of exhaustive research by the venerable Rodale Institute (videos), we can mitigate a large chunk of greenhouse gas damage by moving to local, small-scale organic farming. The report states that by turning all our farmland in this country to organic practices “where we are putting basically cover crops or compost back into the soil and not using chemical fertilizers, we could mitigate 25 percent of our emissions in this country alone… the biology in the soil wants to pull the carbon and keep it down in the soil…” but synthetic fertilizers kill that biology. Small organic farming can feed the world and help save it from climate disasters at the same time.

There are organic alternatives for farms, vineyards, lawns, parks, and golf courses that are gaining in use across the world. Mendocino County is already a national leader in organic and biodynamic vineyards. As the first county to ban GMO’s, we need now to begin banning the unnecessary and destructive use of chemicals in our local farming, gardening and horticultural practices. Whether or not we use harmful chemicals ourselves, we all inhale and absorb second-hand chemicals wafting through our air and tracked into our homes along with our kids and pets who roll around in neighbors’ chem-saturated lawns.

Local retailers and farm suppliers can be better neighbors by replacing their harmful chemical products with organic alternatives, and begin educating their customers on their application and use.

Greetings, Farmers’ Marketers

From Scott Cratty

Yahoo weather informs me that tomorrow will be the balmy day of the week … it may even be dry!

How fortunate because tomorrow is your last chance to stock up at the farmers’ market for the special triple whammy week of winter solstice, Hanukkah and Christmas.

Come support our new craft vendors and find those last minute gifts … how about a beautiful potted bulb arrangement from Salt Hollow Farms in Redwood Valley?

As a special pre-holiday treat we will have Sweetie Pies from Willits bringing apple/cranberry and sweet potato pies-available as whole pies or by the slice with whipped cream.

We will also have the Julian Trio back for one last fiddle powered romp this year!

In case you did not look have the chance to check it out before, please consider signing on the Food Declaration.

Remember to start using the GreenXchange to share information about all of your gardening and farming plans.

Enough for now … see you at the market.

seasonal words

From Benj Thomas

Yesterday in Mulligan books, I was reminded of this poem by Naomi Shihab Nye, so appropriate for this time of year. I cannot read aloud the last stanza, even to myself, without tears.

I also want to say that I just watched Lars and the Real Girl. A very moving film, as well as improbably funny. Also good for the season. Mature teenagers will get it and like it.

And finally, I did my local shopping in spades the other day, when I bought at Dig Music a disk made by the Charles Ford Band, which is really Robben, Mark and Pat Ford, plus a few others. It is a wonderful disk, if you like lively blues (I do). Highly recommended.


Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and with the breath of life.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then it goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

–Naomi Shihab Nye

Scenario 2020: The future of food in Mendocino County (video)

A presentation by local Jason Bradford originally given to Leadership Mendocino, Nov. 14, 2008. Jason presents from the point of view of the year 2020 on the history of Mendocino county after an energy crisis, describing the rapid changes that followed. A brilliant must-see for county residents…

Continue to video at Global Public Media

Feedback to Obama from Ukiah

From Annie Esposito and Steve Scalmanini

There is a local group forming to send feedback to the incoming administration – as is happening with other groups around the country.  Antonia Juhazs, author of “The Tyranny of Oil,” encouraged people to do this when she spoke in Ukiah recently.  For more information, contact  ruth at

A half dozen to a dozen people gather in front of the court house every Friday from 5 to 6 pm, to urge world peace upon the rush hour traffic.  They report that over the span of time they’ve been there with their anti-war signs, approval rating has continued to climb with more honking and ‘right ons.’   But there was a disturbing change after Obama won the election.  They received racist slurs from several passers-by for the first time.  The overall reaction of the drivers and pedestrians, however, continues to be positive.

Meanwhile there is a new website Obama Watch – put together by Redwood Valley resident Jim Houle.  He is running short reality checks comparing what Obama has promised with what he is doing – both the Beautiful and the Ugly.   Houle also welcomes contributions to the site – but no windy editorials, please.  It’s at and you can contact Jim at And we can celebrate escaping the reign of a President Palin:  The local Democrats will hold a Mendocino version of the Inaugural Ball.  That will  be at the fairgrounds in Ukiah January 20th, 7 pm.  The Democrats will dance while a 65″ screen above the band shows the Ball in DC.  It’s evening attire and costs $35 (to benefit the Mendocino County Democratic Central Committee).  Contact for information – they think it will sell out.

The People’s Business

From Dave Smith

I admire our meeting-people… those who make democracy work by sitting in endless meetings and engaging in the process of finding common ground among diverse personalities and interests, and then making compromises and decisions that will not make everyone happy, but will make forward progress.

The give and take to find consensus or a majority; the standing firm on principle; the willingness to probe another’s reasons and compare it to one’s own… and then to painfully change one’s mind and accept another’s argument, or stand aside for the betterment of community. This is how progress is made in a democracy, and it requires patience, respect, discipline, civility, dignity, forbearance, and many, many hours of listening with attention and empathy… and when required, passionate defense of what is fair and right.

This is all in good working order and in full display at Ukiah City Council meetings. If only we could simply replace the County of Mendocino Board of Supervisors and County Staff with their counterparts in the City of Ukiah, the county might start working again.

With two new Supervisors coming on board, one can hope.

Jefferson quote currently circulating in our community

“I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.”

Tree ordinance City Council tonight 6:30pm

From Linda Sanders
Friends of Gibson Creek

Tree Friends,
Tonight at City Hall near 6:30 pm the Tree Ordinance is the second item on the agenda, see Unfinished Business Item 10a (See City Council Agenda).  Vice Mayor Baldwin says that our item should come up quickly. Friends of Gibson Creek will be asking Council to appoint a tree commission to work on a tree ordinance in 2009, using the City of Davis’ Tree Program as a model for Ukiah . We will also be requesting that all tree activity on City property follow the current policies and procedures that were adopted by city council back in 1994.

Bruni Kobbe’s well written letter to the editor appeared in yesterdays UDJ to highlight the many benefits of the urban canopy.  Thanks Bruni, and to all of you for doing your part on behalf tree protection and healthy communities.     Your support tonight is really important!

What is a Transition Culture?

Rob Hopkins (UK):

This involves looking at what I call the Head, the Heart and the Hands of Energy Descent.

By the Head I mean the concepts of peak oil, arguments for and against localisation as well as any historical examples that we can learn from.

The Heart refers to exploring how to actually engage communities in a positive and dynamic way, how to use peak oil as a tool for empowerment rather than leaving people feeling helpless. This part of the exploration is about how to actually facilitate change, and the dynamics of cultural transformation.

The Hands refers to the practical aspects, could the UK become self sufficient in food and how? How much well managed woodland would it take to heat a town with efficient CHPs? Can local materials be used to retrofit houses?

Continue reading about Transition Cultures

It all starts at the local level…

From the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia via the Energy Bulletin

Creating locally self-sufficient economies and renewing democracy: a friendly vision.

Go to: The Flaw of Western Economies

Ukiah tree ordinance news…

From Linda Sanders
Friends of Gibson Creek

Tree Friends,
We are going back to City Hall this Wednesday.  Fortunately the Tree Ordinance has moved up the agenda ladder to Unfinished Business Item 10a  (See City Council Agenda).  Since 12/3, Friends of Gibson Creek have been very busy meeting with the City Manager, communicating with council members and conversing and e-mailing members from ReLeaf, Main Street Program and City of Ukiah’s Paths Open Space & Creeks Commission.   Ideally, we would like the Council to appoint a tree commission to work on tree protection using the City of Davis’ Tree Program as a model for Ukiah.

Look for Bruni Kobbe’s article in the Ukiah Daily Journal that should run before Wednesdays City Council meeting.  Thanks so much to all of you who came to the last Council meeting on 12/3.  It was a test of patience.  I anticipate a better reception this time but one never really knows.    Your support is crucial, please add your voice on the 17th.

New report on peak oil…

Thanks to the Energy Bulletin:

Britain’s leading green commentator, George Monbiot, tackles the International Energy Authority’s chief economist, who reveals for the first time a startling and worrying prediction for the date of peak oil…

Go to 12 minute interview

Quotes of the day

Quotes from Dave Pollard at How To Save The Earth

  • From Upton Sinclair: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”
  • From Esther Dyson: “Always make new mistakes”
  • From Charles Bowden in Blood Orchid: “We are an exceptional model of the human race. We no longer know how to produce food. We no longer can heal ourselves. We no longer raise our young. We have forgotten the names of the stars, fail to notice the phases of the moon. We do not know the plants and they no longer protect us. We tell ourselves we are the most powerful specimens of our kind who have ever lived. But when the lights are off we are helpless. We cannot move without traffic signals. We must attend classes in order to learn by rote numbered steps toward love or how to breast-feed our baby. We justify anything, anything at all by the need to maintain our way of life. And then we go to the doctor and tell the professionals we have no life. We have a simple test for making decisions: our way of life, which we cleverly call our standard of living, must not change except to grow yet more grand. We have a simple reality we live with each and every day: our way of life is killing us.”

A day at Ukiah’s Farmers Market

From Janie Sheppard

Today’s Ukiah farmers market at Alex Thomas Plaza was beautiful. Because this is one of those “a picture is worth a thousand words” topics, I will dispense with words and just show you what I mean…

These happy people have a basket of winter vegetables from the Mendocino Organics Winter CSA.

Continue reading A day at Ukiah’s Farmers Market


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