Chore Time


From Gene Logsdon
Garden Farm Skills

As far back into childhood as I can remember, every morning and every evening I went to the barn to “do chores.”  “Chores” on the farm then (and now) meant feeding the chickens and livestock, gathering the eggs, and milking the cows. This work must be done every day come hell or high water—- especially come hell or high water. I did chores even in seminary college— I  much preferred being in the barn than in chapel. That’s how it finally dawned on me that the priestly life was not for me, so I can say with all honesty that doing chores guided me to my true place in life.  I am still doing chores although I have bowed to age and given up everything except sheep and chickens.

In childhood, I didn’t always go to the barn happily, but now, except in the coldest weather, I still prefer my barn to any church or any public meetinghouse. Farm animals are so appreciative of getting fed and watered and when you get to know them well, they make good company. They are always glad to see me and do not try to tell me how to vote or pray. If you have only a few of each, they become your friends or at least your close acquaintances, each with his or her own personality. When I shell a little corn off the cob by hand to feed to the hens, one of them, always the same one, parks herself right between my feet to get the first kernels that fall. More than once I have stumbled on her. Our golden-feathered rooster is so utterly vainglorious that when I watch him strut about the barnyard, I can’t help but think of Donald Trump.

Keep reading Chore Time at OrganicToBe.org→

FDR Welcoming Hatred of the Fat Cats


““We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace — business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering. … Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me. And I welcome their hatred!”

Pink Friday


From Annie Esposito

3/16/09 Ukiah, North California

Friday the 13th was Pink Friday all over the state – including Mendocino County.  Teachers and supporters wore pink to protest the pink slips being given to teachers.  About 60 teachers here could be affected.  A crossing guard wearing a pink muffler, a teacher on traffic duty with a pink necktie – made a rosy picture.

But of course the big picture is not.  And teachers face the brunt of the steady decline in enrollment and the budget crisis.  Superintendent Lois Nash promised to take the same cuts as everyone else.  But one teacher noted that it’s different when you get in the negotiating room:  A lawyer represents the superintendent in negotiations.  And teachers are on their own.  Cutbacks could include school closings – and Hopland could lose its local school.

A spirited group of teachers “pinked” in front of the County Court House; they got loud support from cars traveling past the scene.  The teachers marched to Grace Hudson museum for a party and to hear announcements.  They will be waiting for the May Budget Revise to learn more about their fate.  Teachers are asking for creative ways to save money – other than the quick and easy axe.
~~

Lipsticking The Pig – Masonite Monster Mall


From Dave Smith

3/15/09 Ukiah, North California

Letter To The Editors

Our community is gearing up once again to keep the Masonite site available for living-wage jobs as a light industrial site, rather than permitting DDR to change its zoning so they can impose a Monster Mall on our citizens, colonizing our county, sucking revenue and profits out to distant absentee owners from our small towns and communities, devastating our locally-owned, independent businesses, crushing our small business entrepreneurial  spirit, and reducing our job seekers to non-living wages with no benefits. Two County Supervisors have lost their jobs, and several City Council candidates were defeated, for supporting this travesty. What part of our resounding NO don’t DDR, and its local enabler Ruff and Associates, understand?

Corporate retailers have so eroded our sense of community that they think they can sell it back to us in the form of superficial design concepts. To overcome opposition on the part of city planners and elected officials, DDR has made a big show of redesigning their original Monster Mall plans “to better fit the community” by adding amenities, like pockets of “green space” and pedestrian walkways that snake alongside parking lots to add a suggestion of walkability to their project built entirely for cars, and solar powered parking lots. This is standard operating procedure that mall builders have used to hoodwink communities for many years.

These revisions are presented to us as major concessions and meant to make county planners feel as though they are doing their jobs by holding a tough line with the developer and even forging a legitimate compromise with citizens who oppose their project. But they are obscuring the real issues by putting lipstick on the pig. You can’t put cosmetics on a bad concept and expect it to work. It won’t work, and we’re not going to allow the project.

Another common ruse is to depict themselves as responsible and involved members of the community by donating to various local causes and charities, then manipulate the publicity to further the corporation’s goals. One community charity  in another town celebrated with one of those blown-up checks from Wal-Mart for $500. That Wal-Mart store was doing upwards of $100 million in sales, a big chunk of it stolen from downtown merchants.

The most critical question about corporate retailers charitable giving, rarely asked, is whether their donations actually make up for the contributions lost when locally owned businesses close in their wake. WalMart donated $170 million in 2004, which actually works out to less than one-tenth of 1 percent of revenue, the equivalent of someone who earns $35,000 a year giving $21 to charity. Why did Target, with no local presence, recently donate to a local charity?

We will vote NO on any initiatives DDR puts on the ballot to change the zoning on the Masonite property. History has moved on, malls are dinosaurs, and our community will defend itself and create its own unique future.

[Thanks to Big Box Swindle for some of the above info. -DS]
~

See also The Mall Man’s Dreams For Ukiah at The AVA→

…and More Big Box Marts Coming To Ukiah?→

…and The Wal-Mart Dilemma

…and Muy Mall Meltdown

…and DeadMalls.com

…and what about the malls here soon to be abandoned?
The Parable of the Shopping Mall
(Alexander Cockburn) at Creators.com→
Hat tip Jim Houle

Images Credit: Evan Johnson
~~

The Mall To Nowhere – Mendocino Crossings (Masonite Monster Mall)


From Cliff Paulin

3/16/09 Ukiah, North California

”Mendocino Crossings”:
A Metaphor for Our Time in the Ukiah Valley & Mendocino County

Much has been made of the proposed regional retail shopping center, Mendocino Crossings, being proposed by Developers Diversified Reality (DDR) at the former Masonite site just north of Ukiah.  While the name Mendocino Crossings was likely chosen by DDR to represent the Ukiah Valley as the county’s center of trade, the name also reflects the fact that our community faces a major decision concerning the direction we want to see our valley move in.

In the direction proposed by DDR, we have a model that promotes suburban sprawl: a development outside the city limits and urban core of Ukiah that requires conversion of valuable industrial land into an island of retail in a sea of parking lots.  This is a model that undermines local business, brings low wage service sector jobs, puts strain on city and county resources, brings increased traffic, and causes further homogenization of the unique character of our county.

In the other direction is community self determination that builds on local assets by constructing an infrastructure that will provide sustainable economic growth for the future via the reactivation of light industry, value creation for local products, the creation of living wage jobs, and the relocalization of our economy which is so vital in these uncertain times.

Living in the wasteland of the free – Iris Dement


We got preachers dealing in politics and diamond mines
and their speech is growing increasingly unkind
They say they are Christ’s disciples
but they don’t look like Jesus to me
and it feels like I am living in the wasteland of the free

We got politicians running races on corporate cash
Now don’t tell me they don’t turn around and kiss them peoples’ ass
You may call me old-fashioned
but that don’t fit my picture of a true democracy
and it feels like I am living in the wasteland of the free

We got CEO’s making two hundred times the workers’ pay
but they’ll fight like hell against raising the minimum wage
and If you don’t like it, mister, they’ll ship your job
to some third-world country ‘cross the sea
and it feels like I am living in the wasteland of the free

Living in the wasteland of the free
where the poor have now become the enemy
Let’s blame our troubles on the weak ones
Sounds like some kind of Hitler remedy
Living in the wasteland of the free

We got little kids with guns fighting inner city wars
So what do we do, we put these little kids behind prison doors
and we call ourselves the advanced civilization
that sounds like crap to me
and it feels like I am living in the wasteland of the free

We got high-school kids running ’round in Calvin Klein and Guess
who cannot pass a sixth-grade written test
but if you ask them, they can tell you
the name of every crotch on MTV
and it feels like I am living in the wasteland of the free

We kill for oil, then we throw a party when we win
Some guy refuses to fight, and we call that the sin
but he’s standing up for what he believes in
and that seems pretty damned American to me
and it feels like I am living in the wasteland of the free

Living in the wasteland of the free
where the poor have now become the enemy
Let’s blame our troubles on the weak ones
Sounds like some kind of Hitler remedy
Living in the wasteland of the free

While we sit gloating in our greatness
justice is sinking to the bottom of the sea
Living in the wasteland of the free
~

Our Town

And ya know the sun’s settin’ fast
And just like they say, nothing good ever lasts
Go on now and kiss it goodbye
But hold on to your lover ’cause your heart’s bound to die
Go on now and say goodbye to our town, to our town
Can’t you see the sun’s settin’ down on our town, on our town
Goodnight.

Our Town – Iris Dement on YouTube→
~~

The Wal-Mart Dilemma


From Dave Pollard (2003)

Please read this thorough and extraordinary article from Fast Company entitled The Wal-Mart You Don’t Know. If its length discourages you, read the following excerpt (emphasis mine), and you’ll want to go back and read the rest:

If Levi [Strauss] clothing is a runaway hit at Wal-Mart, that may indeed rescue Levi as a business. But what will have been rescued? The Signature line–it includes clothing for girls, boys, men, and women–is an odd departure for a company whose brand has long been an American icon. Some of the jeans have the look, the fingertip feel, of pricier Levis. But much of the clothing has the look and feel it must have, given its price (around $23 for adult pants): cheap. Cheap and disappointing to find labeled with Levi Strauss’s name. And just five days before the cheery profit news, Levi had another announcement: It is closing its last two U.S. factories, both in San Antonio, and laying off more than 2,500 workers, or 21% of its workforce. A company that 22 years ago had 60 clothing plants in the United States–and that was known as one of the most socially reponsible corporations on the planet–will, by 2004, not make any clothes at all. It will just import them.

The article brilliantly describes what I call the ‘Wal-Mart Dilemma’, which is represented by the cycle diagrammed at above in red.

The intervention in blue that can stop this ‘race to the bottom’ is anathema to ‘free’ traders. It says simply that if a product can reasonably be produced domestically, then duties and other regulations should be imposed to protect domestic producers. In other words, the alternative to ‘free’ trade is not no trade, but rather regulated trade, regulated to protect the economy and social fabric of the regulating country. That switches the cycle shown in red to the cycle shown in green.

Of course, it’s not all black and white, or we would have resisted the globalization extremists and wouldn’t be facing this dilemma today at all. In the red vicious cycle, the seduction is:

  • lower prices ‘every day’
  • low inflation

and the downside is:

  • low wages
  • low product quality
  • high unemployment
  • high poverty levels

The green cycle also is not perfect. Its seduction is:

  • high wages
  • high product quality
  • lower unemployment
  • lower poverty levels

and its downside is:

  • higher prices
  • higher inflation

You pays your money and you takes your choice. In my biased opinion, the vast majority of people are ahead with the green cycle, and the very rich few are ahead with the red cycle. Guess who’s lobbying and bribing governments for untrammeled globalization and ‘free’ trade? Contrary to what most of us are taught in school, modest inflation is the single most effective way to painlessly redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor, because it allows debts to be repaid in ‘cheaper’ future dollars. There are environmental and social advantages to the green cycle as well. The use of slave labour is discouraged. Lax environmental laws in third world countries are not exploited as much. And if the red cycle gets out of control (some would argue it already has), a possible consequence is deflation, a terrible threat to the whole economy that we need to avoid like the plague.

Keep reading The Wal-Mart Dilemma at How To Save The World→

See also The Mall To Nowhere

and Wal-Mart chased out of Santa Rosa
Hat tip Steve Scalmanini
~~

The Soil Is Our Liberator – Vandana Shiva


From Vandana Shiva

Excerpted from a lecture
to the Soil Association conference,
One Planet Agriculture, England

There is increasingly reference to the Carbon Economy and I kind of shudder when carbon is addressed because carbon is what we eat also. I’d rather talk and differentiate between the fossil fuel existence of carbon and the renewable existence of carbon in embodied sunshine transformed into all the edible matter we have.

I differentiate between the fossil fuel economy of agriculture and the biodiversity economy of agriculture. One is a killing economy and one is a living economy. Interestingly the word ‘carbon’ is increasingly used as an equivalence term across the board and then everyone is being made afraid of every form of carbon, including living carbon.

If we add up the amount of fossil fuels that are going into food; take production, Pimentel has done all the calculations. We are using 10 times more calories in production of food than we get out as food. And there was a Danish study done some years ago. I remember I was at the conference where the environment minister laid out these figures. For a kilogram of food traveling around the world, it’s omitting 10 kilograms of carbon dioxide. So you are wasting a 10-fold amount in the production and then generating a 10-fold amount of carbon dioxide, all of it totally avoidable because better food is produced when you throw the chemicals out…

The part of GATT that really troubled me was something called TRIPS within it – the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights Agreement – basically an agreement forcing every country to patent life. To me it was a scandal so I went back and started to save seeds and have ended up doing a lot of the work as a result of just, in a way, keeping seed free and in farmers’ hands and not transformed into the property of giant corporations like Monsanto. But even I could not have imagined what we would go through in the decade to come.

One of the things that has taken us totally by surprise is a new epidemic of farmers’ suicides. Indian peasants have been so resilient. I’ve been in villages after disasters of floods and droughts and hurricanes, you have one season of a loss of agriculture, one season of having to struggle, and you are right back again. You rebuild your hut and you’re back on the field and you borrowed some seeds from somewhere and you’re farming again.

But the new industrialised globalised agriculture is doing something different, because it’s not like a natural disaster which you know will not be there in a permanent way. The first step in the globalised agriculture is dependency on what I call non-renewable seed. We’ve even made seed the very embodiment of life and its renewability behave like non-renewable fossil fuel – once and no more. When non-renewable seeds have to be bought each year, that’s a higher cost. Then they are sold as a monopoly with intellectual property royalties linked to it. The genetically engineered BT cotton, for example, costs about 2-300 rupees for a kilogram to produce. But when Monsanto sells it for 4,000 rupees a kilogram the rest is all royalty payment.

The seeds aren’t tested, they aren’t adapted, the same seeds are sold across different climate zones, they obviously don’t perform well. Instead of 1,500 kilograms per acre, farmers get 200, 300, sometimes total failure; add to this the fact that even if they have 300 kilograms of a bad cotton variety because its fiber is of a very inferior quality. And new studies that we have done are showing that there are huge allergies linked to it because what is BT cotton but toxic? 1,800 sheep died last year feeding on the plants. Anyone working in a mill where this Bt cotton is being used is getting allergies. Farmers who are collecting the cotton ball are getting allergies.

Linked to the fact that this is inferior cotton is the fact that in the United States there are $4 billion of subsidies linked to cotton, and now with these so-called ‘open markets’ the price has started to come down. In India, they’ve dropped to half. So your costs of production have gone up two, three, four times, sometimes 10 times, sometimes 100 times depending on what you were farming, and meantime what you are earning at the end of it has fallen to a third.

It’s a negative economy. Farmers get into debt, it’s unpayable debt. The people giving them the credit are the same as the salesmen and the agents at the local level. I don’t know how many of you read the Economist – it has a special article on the farmers’ suicides in India. We have been doing reports since the first farm suicide happened in ‘97. The first report was a 10 pager because only one farmer has killed himself, now there’s 150,000 farmers.