Ukiah Screed: Following the Money in Mendocino County


From DAVE SMITH
Ukiah

June 30, 2009 Ukiah, Mendocino County, North California

Mendocino County has not yet been hurt badly by the financial crisis – for three reasons. First, because marijuana is our number one product; second, because that product, unlike timber, is bought and sold in cash; and third, we were not on the fast-track, high-growth frenzy that had captured other areas in the state south of us.

We have heard for many years the constant whining, frustration and fury by developers that it is nigh impossible to get anything through our local planning departments. We may want to stop a minute and thank our bureaucrats for being so grossly slow and inefficient.

The Monster Mall folks finally gave up and put their dumb growth project on the ballot. They’re determined to suck the lifeblood from our county and send it who knows where, to who knows who. Citizens in Windsor, San Diego, and San Joaquin Valley had very high throughput planners to help in their building frenzies and big box growth, and now they’re suffering horribly for it. They might want to send their planners up here for seminars on how to drag their feet.

But what of our local future? A slow squeeze has begun on another of our major sources of income: decent- and good-paying (thanks to Unions) local and regional jobs supported by taxes such as teaching, police and fire, public services, etc. Unless teachers get into outlaw agriculture, growing bud is not going to take up the slack. As cash becomes scarce, small businesses will suffer, local stores will close, tax income will go down further, more jobs will be lost… and we will join the death spiral that many other communities are experiencing.

Then we will start asking hard questions about why we are spending money at big box and chain stores that send our money out of our county; about why some locals would want to welcome even more occupiers in to plunder what little money we have; and how shopping local circulates our money around and around here at home, creating jobs, rather than taking leave for parts unknown.

We will also then consider creating our own local currencies, as other communities are doing, that stays local, purchasing food from our own farmers and restaurateurs; purchasing goods from our own merchants, makers and suppliers; purchasing entertainment from our own neighbors and local talents rather than watching it on the boob tube.

And you’ll be thankful you did because what you spend and send around locally, comes back to you and our community’s common wealth in so many ways.
~
See also Mendocino’s Local Economy: Weed, Wine, Wood, and Water

…and When Whiners Whine About Whining Whiners
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As The Monster Malls Die: Retrofitting Our Towns


From The Christian Science Monitor

As it once sucked the life out of Main Street, the suburban mall is being reconsidered – or torn down – as towns move back to the concept of a multiuse town center.

June 30, 2009 Ukiah, Mendocino County, North California

Lakewood, Colo.

Few here have forgotten the Villa Italia, the hulking, whitewashed mall that once spilled across the skyline of central Lakewood. Unveiled in 1966, the Villa was the largest indoor shopping center west of the Mississippi River and east of California. The gaudy main hall – ornamented to evoke the charms of old-world Europe – played host to hundreds of after-prom parties, first dates, and all-day festivals. In its heyday, in the 1970s and ’80s, the Villa anchored this large, affluent Denver suburb, which never had a Main Street to call its own.

Then in the ’90s, like hundreds of malls nationwide, the Villa began to lose its luster. First went the jewelry stores and the luxury-goods boutiques. By 2001, destination department stores such as Montgomery Ward and JCPenney had vanished, too, and with them, most of the foot traffic. The kids who hung out in the food court decamped for more vibrant locales; the corridors grew hushed. The once-great mall became a cemetery of dollar stores and a glorified walking track for senior citizens. In 2003, it was mercifully reduced to a pile of rubble.

For at least a decade, Americans have been regularly reminded that the indoor mall was hurtling toward obscurity. The causes were manifold: the rise of Internet shopping, the sharp spikes of an ailing economy, the success of Wal-Mart and its big-box kin, the fading relevance of mall culture.

Welcome to 2009, the year that the mall, the staple of so many childhood memories and a longstanding pillar of suburban commerce, could finally and truly go bust. From west to east, shopping centers stand darkened, the hulks of Circuit Citys boarded up, the parking lots of Linens ‘n Things deserted. Malls are posting the highest vacancy rates in a decade, and retail rental rates are plummeting, according to Reis, a New York firm that studies trends in commercial real estate. And the slope is precipitous:

Food, Inc. – Movie reviews from Acres USA and Roger Ebert


From Chris Walters
Acres USA

June 29, 2009 Ukiah, Mendocino County, North California

Every weekday the public radio station where I live carries a program called Marketplace, ostensibly devoted to all things economic. The reporters and commentators on Marketplace sound a little more despondent every day, which is understandable. As bad as the economic news may be these days, the most depressing job at that show must be reading the name of its corporate underwriter, Monsanto, followed by a catchphrase including the term “sustainable agriculture.”

If everybody at Marketplace doesn’t yet realize what a horrible lie they are promoting in exchange for money, they will after they see Food, Inc. In an era when paid flacks, viral marketing specialists and the like know how to divert vast amounts of media oxygen, if you oppose one industry’s agenda, then it’s not at all cynical to note that your propaganda has to be better than their propaganda. Thus it is no slam at all to call Food, Inc. a work of superbly efficient and appealing propaganda.

As director Robert Kenner would doubtless agree, it helps when you have the facts on your side. The movie’s target is industrial agriculture, and industrial agriculture is a disaster of staggering proportions… The movie’s virtues lie in the skill, sometimes even the beauty, of its execution. Kenner mimics corporate-ag TV style with lush helicopter shots of endless rows of crops extending into the horizon like God’s own corduroy — except he lingers on shots a lot longer than any television spot ever could, and the prettiness of the image breaks down and turns unsettling.

Then there are the people, especially chicken grower Carole Morison, who is infinitely tired of the deceit she’s had to tolerate over many years in business with Big Poultry, and Joel Salatin [photo above], whose good humor and pleasure in his work takes over the screen. Salatin [see video below] has the physical authority of somebody absolutely at home in his skin, a quality that cannot be faked in front of a movie camera.

Part of Kenner’s agenda, like the books of Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser (who act here as de facto narrators), is to connect viewers to the sources of their food. Here is where Food, Inc. is an unqualified success. Kenner somehow got permission to shoot inside a plant where hamburger meat is doused with an E. coli killer and turned into a gray slab for boxing, and he shows us CAFOs [Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations] and slaughterhouses. City dwellers will flinch when they see Salatin and his crew killing chickens by hand in their open-air facility, but only for a moment. It’s a wholesome and cheerful scene alongside the industrial horrors that have come before.

A few caveats need mentioning. Kenner confronts the issue

Organic Nutrition – The Latest Science


From Mark Keating
Acres USA

June 29, 2009 Ukiah, Mendocino County, North California

“If I were asked to sum up the results of the work of the pioneers of the last 12 years or so on the relation of agriculture to public health, I should reply that a fertile soil means healthy crops, healthy livestock, and last, but not least, healthy human beings.” So wrote Sir Albert Howard in 1945.

Sir Albert’s concise assessment of the human health benefits of eco-agriculture may be the first recorded response to the enduring question, Are organic foods better for you? For Howard, the nutritional superiority of organic foods was a direct consequence of the comaptibilit between eco-acriculture and the Earth’s first and most efficient farmer, Mother Nature. He perceived good health as the birthright of all living creatures and concluded that disease was inevitably connected to disruptions of the natural order, most frequently in the form of improper nutrition. Howard stated clearly and repeatedly that consuming an organic diet would impart human health and fitness in the same manner that crops raised on properly fertilized soils repel pests of all kinds.

Howard’s perspective was indeed shared by many of his pioneering peers, including Lady Eve Balfour, Sir Robert McCarrison, J.I. Rodale and Weston Price. Catalyzed by these visionaries, the emerging grassroots organic movement reflected an explicit rejection of the industrialized food production and processing system then transforming the American diet and landscape. Concern that an industrialized food supply would be nutritionally inadequate to promote human health drove the organic movement from its inception. For example, Lady Balfour wrote after her coast-to-coast trip across the United States in 1953, “The overall health picture of America is bad… Food is even more over-processed and sterilized than in England; much of the soil on which it is grown is more depleted; and there is an even wider use of poison sprays.” Imagine her reaction to the factory farms and rest stop food courts along a similar expedition today!

Howard attributed the nutritional superiority of organic food to the abundance of mycorrhizal fungi found in biologically active soils sustained by compost, crop rotations and cover crops. These fungi penetrate the fine root hairs of neighboring plants in a mutually beneficial relationship that facilitates nutrient uptake in both. Howard surmised that soluble, protein-rich compounds in the fungi were also absorbed by the plant and then incorporated directly into growing tissue. He saw these compounds as the building blocks for optimal amino acids and more sophisticated proteins that imbued organically raised plants with exceptional physical characteristics including resistance to disease. Howard also thought that these characteristics were transmitted through subsequent relationships in the food web, such as livestock grazing on healthy pasture and humans consuming food from organically raised crops and animals. Conversely, Howard postulated that a microbiologically weak soil would yield deficient amino acids and proteins that would invite disease in the plants and animals that consumed and incorporated them.

With the publication of Rachel Carson‘s Silent Spring in 1962,

Join Mendo Time Bank in Ukiah!


You can earn help for yourself or your family by helping others in your community!

From JULIA FRECH
and SUSANN CARLO
Ukiah

June 28, 2009 Ukiah, Mendocino County, North California

What is a Time Bank?

A Time Bank is a community currency system and a network of local people and organizations that support each other. When you provide a service for another Time Bank member, you earn one Time Dollar for each hour spent providing that service. Spend each Time Dollar you earn on having somebody else do something for you. There is no money involved — the only currency is your time.

How can Mendo Time Bank work for me?

In times of economic and environmental hardship, when jobs, social services, and money are scarce, the best resource we have is our community. Mendo Time Bank helps community members get to know their neighbors and share their skills. We offer orientation sessions and monthly potlucks. Be a Mendo Time Bank member and be part of the change you want to see in our community!

What can you buy with Time Dollars?

natural building lessons • garden bed digging • water-wise landscape design • child care • tutoring • party planning • wood work • photography • housekeeping • massage • animal care • overnight getaways • organic vegetables • and more

Learn how to get involved.

Visit MendoTimeBank.com
~
See also Mendocino’s Local Economy: Weed, Wine, Wood and Water

…and Mendo Moola – Local Money Coming Soon For Ukiah

…and Reinventing the Informal Economy
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Ukiah’s business park purchase: more dumb growth?


From DAVE SMITH
Ukiah

June 28, 2009 Ukiah, Mendocino County, North California

In its Editorial Opinion, Sunday, June 28, 2009, the Ukiah Daily Journal calls our city’s purchase of vacant retail and commercially zoned land in the Redwood Business Park a “smart move.”

The Op-ed goes on to support the opinion by stating “The bottom line for the city’s residents is the potential for tax revenues that land represents. Vacant it represents nothing. Bundled and sold or leased for a major retail project it has the potential to increase annual property taxes by between $7 million and $11 million and bring in new sales taxes of $1.7 million… The question is whether the economy revives enough in the next couple of years to lure a major big box chain to construct a new store in Ukiah.”

This seems like nothing but dumb growth based on dumb oil, and we would expect a newspaper owned by some distant conglomerate to be supportive of the same old crap that wants to monitize every last bit of the commonwealth (“vacant it represents nothing”) which is destroying nature and community. That statement, in and of itself, pretty much sums up the moral and financial stupidity that has gotten us into the  environmental disaster that we share. And despite allegedly being our source of important news, does our local newspaper  know what’s really going on in the world?

We renew our call for local entrepreneurs to purchase the UDJ so it is locally-owned with responsive ownership that gives a damn for something other than its own bottom line.

Meanwhile:

Every increment of added population, and every added increment of affluence invariably destroys an increment of the remaining environment.

We hear a lot today about “smart growth,” as though “smart growth” was the magic key to the achievement of sustainability. A central ingredient in “smart growth” is regional planning; regional planning encourages more population growth, and population growth is unsustainable. It is thus clear that “smart growth” can’t solve the problems.

No Growth is the Smartest Growth


From Kirkpatrick Sale

Let’s Get Rid of the Economy of Growth

June 27, 2009 Ukiah, Mendocino County, North California,

It’s getting worse and worse, and the wizards don’t have a clue. They don’t even know the economy is broken—and can’t be fixed. That’s why they keep doing more of the same with the same old solutions and same old people.

Nothing could be more obvious, and I think most sentient people in the land know this in their hearts. And nothing could be more obvious than the need to overhaul that economy entirely—which is indeed the opportunity we have now.

I don’t mean we have to scrap the capitalist system entirely, but we do have to reign it in. We have to fit it in to the limits of the real world. We have to understand that economics is a subsystem of the overall ecosystem. We have to realize that continuing to base it on the concepts of growth and consumption—and encouraging, “stimulating,” more of that—will lead to the collapse not only of the global economy but probably the industrial civilization it serves.

Isn’t it obvious that the Keynesian idea of growth at all costs, particularly growth fostered by large governments that can print money, has failed? Isn’t it clear that we can’t keep on throwing money at this failed economy and that something quite different is needed? The U.S. economy has been devoted exclusively to the idea of perpetual growth since the end of World War II, and it has allowed any number of evils—environmental destruction, greenhouse gases, pollution, resource depletion, military expansion, government inefficiency and corruption, corporate political domination, unregulated financial institutions, immense inequality, a perpetual underclass, the decay of public education, and that’s just for starters—in its pursuit. Isn’t it obvious that it doesn’t work and that the current Great Recession is the proof of that?…

The alternative? Nothing complicated: a non-growth economy. A human-scale economy. A steady-state economy.

Read whole post Let’s Get Rid of the Economy of Growth

See also the moralities of scale at Orion→

…and this wonderful website on Thomas Jefferson
All via Energy Bulletin
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Financial Shock and Awe


From Bill Ayers

June 27, 2009 Ukiah, Mendocino County, North California

The mother of all bail-outs is upon us– approaching a trillion dollars in federal funds, that is, in tax-payer’s money, to get the big gamblers and hustlers and sharpies off the hook– and it’s way beyond global. Let’s call it galactic or stratospheric. It is awesome, and the questions just keep on coming:

When the big guys were raking in super-profits, we were not invited to the table to share the wealth, so why are we now told we must share the pain?

Isn’t this socialism for the rich?

If “government is the problem” and the genius of the “free market” the solution to everything from health care and education to national defense and public safety, why are the marketeers in line with their hands out?

We were told repeatedly by the powerful that there wasn’t enough money for decent health care for all, wonderful schools for poor kids, and support for a life of dignity and purpose for the elderly, so how did a trillion dollars suddenly materialize?

Further if full and generous funding for education and health care would turn ordinary, hard-working citizens into lazy, dissolute louts– that’s what they said– then what can we hope for the moral well-being of the financial wizards?

Is the government of the people, by the people, for the people, or has it finally become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Big Finance, Big Oil, and Big Pharma?

We were reminded that our patriotic duty required that we support a war-of-choice costing $500,000 per minute, but who profits, and who suffers in war?

I’m just asking…
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Calling Rep. Mike Thompson! Photos from Universal Health Care, Ukiah Demonstration, Courthouse 6/25/09


From JANIE SHEPPARD
Mendocino County

June 26, 2009 Ukiah, Mendocino County, North California

Thirty-five inland Mendocino County residents demonstrated in the noonday sun to show Congressman Mike Thompson that there is strong support for single payer health care reform in his Congressional district.

Demonstrating were a small business owner, politicians, a doctor, several retirees, and members of the Ukiah Valley Democratic Party.  In other words, people from all walks of life came together to show their support for single payer health care reform.

The ambiance was friendly; there were no hecklers, unlike Friday evening demonstrations for peace where a couple of hecklers can be counted on to shout epithets at the demonstrators.  Could there be more support for health care reform than for peace?  That’s what it looks like.   Perhaps it’s because, as one demonstrator’s sign showed, health care is an out of pocket expense whereas war is covered by our taxes.  We don’t see the tax money; we do see the health care money go to insurance companies that thrive by overcharging and cherry picking whom they choose to insure.

To put health care on the same footing as war, it would be paid for with tax revenues.  Everyone would receive the benefits, not just those with lots of money who have never been sick.  Is that so much to ask?  We don’t think so, Congressman Thompson.

Support H.R. 676, the bill that, if enacted, would give all your constituents health care without worrying about paying for it.