Instead of a Monster Mall


August 31, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino, North California

To The Editors:

I’m continually baffled by a few of the locals who are promoting the Masonite Monster Mall. When I hear them speak, in one breath they talk about how much they love living in our rural small town, and in their next breath they talk about how great it will be to have a Monster Mall here so they don’t “have to drive to Santa Rosa to shop.”

Yet, they never bridge the gap between what we have, and what we would become. They never say “I’m looking forward to the sprawl and traffic and pollution and sirens and hubbub just like they have in Santa Rosa.” Or, “I want our town to look just like all the other towns and cities south of us. Wouldn’t that be just too cool?”

Instead, I want something else entirely. And Wendell Berry says it better than I can:

“In this difficult time of failed public expectations, when thoughtful people wonder where to look for hope, I keep returning in my own mind to the thought of the renewal of the rural communities. I know that one resurrected rural community would be more convincing and more encouraging than all the government and university programs of the last fifty years, and I think that it could be the beginning of the renewal of our country, for the renewal of rural communities ultimately implies the renewal of urban ones.

“But to be authentic, a true encouragement and a true beginning, this would have to be a resurrection accomplished mainly by the community itself. It would have to be done, not from the outside by the instruction of visiting experts, but from the inside by the ancient rule of neighborliness, by the love of precious things, and by the wish to be at home.

Is it either/or? Yes, I think it is.

Thank you for voting NO ON MEASURE A to preserve our unique, locally-owned businesses, neighborly small town values, and livable human-scale communities.

The Fallacy of Climate Activism

From Adam D. Sacks
Grist Magazine – Excerpts

August 31, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino, North California

…the battle against greenhouse-gas emissions, as we have currently framed it, is over.

It is absolutely over and we have lost.

We have to say so…

If we climate activists don’t tell the truth as well as we know it—which we have been loathe to do because we ourselves are frightened to speak the words—the public will not respond, notwithstanding all our protestations of urgency.

And contrary to current mainstream climate-activist opinion, contrary to all the pointless “focus groups,” contrary to the endless speculation on “correct framing,” the only way to tell the truth is to tell it.  All of it, no matter how terrifying it may be…

If we live at all, we will have to figure out how to live locally and sustainably.  Living locally means we are able get everything we need within walking (or animal riding) distance. We may eventually figure out sustainable ways of moving beyond those small circles to bring things home, but our track record isn’t good and we’d better think it through very carefully.

Likewise, any technology has to be locally based, using local resources and accessible tools, renewable and non-toxic.  We have much re-thinking to do, and re-learning from our hunter-gatherer forebears who managed to survive for a couple of hundred thousand years in ways that we with our civilized blinders we can barely imagine or understand.

Living sustainably means, in Derrick Jensen’s elegantly simple definition, that whatever we do, we can do it indefinitely. We cannot use up anything more or faster than nature provides, we don’t poison the air, water, or soil, and we respect the web of life of which we are an intricate part.  We are not separate from nature, or above it, or in any way qualified to supervise it. The evidence is ample and overwhelming; all we have to do is be brave enough to look.

How do we survive in a world that will probably turn—is already turning, for many humans and non-humans alike—into a living hell? How do we even grow or gather food or find clean water or stay warm or cool while assaulted by biblical floods,

Take Action! We Have the Hope. Now Where’s the Audacity?

From Peter Dreier and Marshall Ganz
Common Dreams

August 31, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino, North California

On Aug. 25 last year, Sen. Edward Kennedy strode onto the stage at the Democratic National Convention in Denver and announced to a roaring crowd of party faithful the beginning of a new generation in American politics.”I have come here tonight to stand with you, to change America, to restore its future, to rise to our best ideals and to elect Barack Obama president of the United States,” he said. Comparing Obama to his slain brother, John F. Kennedy, the senator shouted: “This November, the torch will be passed again to a new generation of Americans. . . . Our country will be committed to his cause. The work begins anew. The hope rises again. And the dream lives on.”

Eight months into the Obama administration, as we mourn the senator from Massachusetts, many of us retain the hope, but we are wondering what happened to the audacity that is needed to move the country in a new direction. In recent weeks, many progressives have expressed concern that Obama’s bold plan to reform health care may be at risk. A defeat on this key issue could undermine other elements of his agenda. We don’t believe that the president has changed his goals, but we wonder whether he underestimated the power necessary to bring about real change.

Throughout the campaign, Obama cautioned that enacting his ambitious plans would take a fight. In a speech in Milwaukee, he said: “I know how hard it will be to bring about change. Exxon Mobil made $11 billion this past quarter. They don’t want to give up their profits easily.”

He explained what it would take to overcome the power of entrenched interests in order to pass historic legislation. Change comes about, candidate Obama said, by “imagining, and then fighting for, and then working for,

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness (Part 3)

Mendocino County

Parts |1|2|3|

August 28, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino, North California

In the East, Gandhi was assassinated, as was his dream for India. Vandana Shiva has described so poignantly what is happening there at this moment, but not just there. I don’t believe that we have any hope in reversing this in our own present governmental context. Is it not evident that we need a revolution. But, how so? As Thoreau finished his essay, “All men recognize the right of revolution; that is, the right to refuse allegiance to, and to resist, the government, when its tyranny or its inefficiency are great and unendurable. But almost all say that such is not the case now. … All machines have their friction; and possibly this does enough good to counterbalance the evil. … But when the friction comes to have its machine, and oppression and robbery are organized, I say, let us not have such a machine any longer. In other words, when a sixth of the population of a nation which has undertaken to be the refuge of liberty are slaves, and a whole country is unjustly overrun and conquered by a foreign army, and subjected to military law, I think that it is not too soon for honest men to rebel and revolutionize. What makes this duty the more urgent is the fact that the country so overrun is not our own, but ours is the invading army.” I urge you to read “slaves” as “illegal immigrants, many working for slave wages”. Who but Thoreau can say it better? Thoreau scared people – and still does.

Those in power in this country and increasingly in the world have no respect for hard physical labor; accordingly, following our leaders, neither do Americans at large. So, we depend upon the mostly illegal Latinos to do the physical work to feed us. A distant acquaintance from this group, who has lived here many years, has a fine family, and has a responsible job running field machinery for a farmer that is a far distant giant global corporation, had to return south because of this mother’s illness.

The Economics of Organic Food

From Avery Yale Kamila
Portland Press Herald (Maine)
Via Organic Consumers Association

August 28, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino, North California

Only rich people can afford to eat locally grown, organic food. Have you heard that one before? I have, and it’s sure to come up during the “Can Maine Feed Itself?” keynote discussion taking place at next month’s Maine Fare festival in the midcoast.

The panel brings together a number of movers and shakers from Maine’s food scene for a conversation centered on how the state can become more self-reliant when stocking our grocery stores and filling our dinner plates.According to well-known organic Maine farmer and author Eliot Coleman, who farms year-round in unheated greenhouses and will participate in the panel, the No. 1 barrier preventing more Mainers from eating food grown and raised locally is the competition from cheap eats trucked in from California.

A whole book could be written (and has been) about the reasons factory farms and agribusinesses can produce food that costs so little. However, the simple answer, as Coleman pointed out, includes physical scale, illegal immigrant laborers, polluting farm practices and government subsidies.

At the same time, the idea that only the well-off can eat fresh, locally grown eats ignores the obvious and inexpensive solution of growing your own garden. You can’t get any more local than food grown steps from your kitchen. And with seeds that sell for pennies apiece and with compost an essentially free fertilizer that anyone can make from table scraps and dried leaves, it becomes clear that price alone is not the true issue.

I’d argue that the real barrier is psychological. Part of this can be traced to the American obsession with animal protein.

Meat, dairy and eggs are all expensive ways to include protein in our diets, and these ubiquitous staples of our national cuisine can be produced cheaply (think a dozen eggs for $1.69 at the grocery stores versus $4.50 at the farmers’ markets)

We’ve Been Going “Back To The Land” For A Long Time

Upper Sandusky, Ohio

August 27, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino, North California

Here are some quotes you expect to see regularly in the media these days.

“Today, from press and pulpit, from publicists and legislators, comes the cry, ‘Back To the Land’! The problem of the “small farm” is becoming a very interesting one. The cry is ‘Back To the Land’ but the drift is away from the land.”

“The question of the big farm versus the small farm is very hotly debated… Good farming must perish with the breaking up of large farms, contends one side. Not so, replies the other side.”

“Two classes of people enthusiastically advocate the ‘Back To The Land’ movement… editors of our city papers and the high-cost-of-living sufferers… The metropolitan editors usually say: ‘Be independent. Be good citizens. And by quitting the city for the farm, you will become both.”

But those quotes appeared in print in 1921. Almost a century ago. The writer was James Boyle, his book, Agricultural Economics. At that time, the first big wave of gigantic farming in the United States, called bonanza farming, was breaking up on the shoals of economic reality. Some of those farms were over 10,000 acres in size, powered by cheap hired help and hundreds of teams of horses. There was a great hue and cry both for and against them. If the reader replaces the word ‘bonanza’ with ‘big’,  many of Boyle’s quotes read exactly like quotes today.

“Mr. Budge says there are several bonanza farms in North Dakota and mentions one of above seven thousand acres. He adds that he would like to see them all out of the way. They take up so much space that it hurts the school districts. The owners ship in supplies from the East. They ship their men in and out too.” Keep reading at OrganicToBe

Take Action! Yo-Ka-Yo Cooperative Gardens Now Organizing

Mendocino County

August 27, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino, North California

This is to let you know that John Johns, one of the farmers at Ukiah’s Saturday Farmer’s Market, has been collecting names and contact info for local folks interested in a cooperative of backyard gardeners/farmers.

I’ve volunteered to spend some time on the tech stuff, setting up a way for those who signed his list plus other interested people to start conversing about what they’d like this project to be and do. We’ve set up a yahoo group (functions, just like the mendocommunity bulletin board and the mendobirds list, as an email group) at as a way to share questions and input.

What we have as a starting point is:

Where are the Yo-Ka-Yo Cooperative Gardens? They could be in your backyard, or maybe your neighbors…

If you look around the Ukiah area, there are a lot of trees producing fruit that is falling on the ground, perfectly good food going to waste. Many family gardeners are finding they either have more vegetables than they need or don’t have the time to maintain everything as they’d like. Meanwhile, there is a growing demand for quality local food.

Yo-Ka-Yo Cooperative Gardens is being established as a cooperative membership organization for “backyard” gardeners and farmers in the Ukiah Valley. Our goals are:

1. Establish a networking and mutual support network for members that will include gardening advice, seed trading, bartering of goods and services.

2. Establish a distribution conduit for excess produce, which may include donations to local non-profits and/or sales to the public.

“But, Mom? Where would the monster get its water?” “It would TAKE it from US, dear.”

(with emphasis added)

August 26, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino, North California


[This report clearly shows us that the DDR Measure A plan is asking you to vote against your neighbors and possibly yourself if you need water. The DDR plan is also inaccurate and clearly states that the plan is to bypass any laws or careful thinking about how much water is needed or will be used. This is not about politics, it is about resources and there is not enough water. For the complete report go to -ML]

The proposed project will not be subject to the level of review required under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) because it is being proposed by initiative.  Therefore, a groundwater analysis is not required to occur and thus any potential impacts to the groundwater will not be fully investigated and reviewed by the County prior to approval of the project.

Water and Millview County Water District (MCWD)

The Ukiah Valley is presently overbuilt to its available water resources. Any new growth will severely impact our existing circumstances. Even in non-drought years we have a water availability problem and are barely able to provide water services to existing development. Drought years therefore cause the requirement of extreme measures such as reduction by 50 percent or more of water consumption. Consider the following: Every time we increase development, we decrease our ability to survive a drought.

Take Action! Sing-Along To DDR Monster Mall Promoters Tonight Wednesday 8/26/09 Redwood Valley (Updated)

Mendocino County

August 25, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino, North California

The Bronnettes singing group strikes AGAIN and all others that would like to participate, are welcome to copy the words below, which (loosely) goes to the Ernie Ford song Sixteen Tons.

DDR is planning a Community Town Hall meeting tonight, 6:15 ish or 6:30 is when we plan to sing.

The place….Redwood Valley Grange, 8650 East Road, near the Fire Station I’m told. Please feel free to make as many copies as you want… pass them around… an unofficial “No on A anthem”? Come sing with us, bring friends, we’ll have a few copies there to pass around too I believe. By the way, I find that snapping my fingers keeps a steady beat through out this piece plus I believe there will be guitar to keep us all “mostly together”.

Vote No on A Anthem
[Original lyrics here.]

some… people say a town is made out of shops,
but a good town has a lotta mom and pops,
mom and pops – not yer great big box –
the money stays here on our own sidewalks

with a DDR mall, what do you get –
another credit card and deeper in debt.
if there’s enuff water for a great big mall
you can be sure that they’ll take it all.

DDR’s too broke to develop what it owns,
that’s why they want us to pass a re-zone,
they can turn around and sell it to a bigger guy,
and no one knows if the project will fly.

now… other comp’nys work with the peoples plan,
but these carpetbaggers do whatever they can,
we’ll be stuck with it even if it ain’t right,
as we stop on State at the seventh stop light

The Practicality of Morals – Wendell Berry

A Continuous Harmony (1972)

August 25, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino, North California

…there is only one value: the life and health of the world. If there is only one value, it follows that conflicts of value are illusory, based upon perceptual error. Moral, practical, spiritual, esthetic, economic, and ecological values are all concerned ultimately with the same question of life and health. To the virtuous man, for example, practical and spiritual values are identical; it is only corruption that can see a difference. Esthetic value is always associated with sound values of other kinds. “Beauty is truth, truth beauty,” Keats said, and I think we may take him at his word. Or to say the same thing in a different way: beauty is wholeness; it is health in the ecological sense of amplitude and balance. And ecology is long-term economics. If these identities are not apparent immediately, they are apparent in time. Time is the merciless, infallible critic of the specialized disciplines. In the ledgers that justify waste the ink is turning red.

Moral value, as should be obvious, is not separable from other values. An adequate morality would be ecologically sound; it would be esthetically pleasing. But the point I want to stress here is that it wold be practical. Morality is long-term practicality.

Of all specialists the moralists are the worst, and the processes of disintegration and specialization that have characterized us for generations have made moralists of us all. We have obscured and weakened morality, first, by advocating it for its own sake—that is, by deifying it, as esthetes have deified art—and then, as our capacity for reverence has diminished, by allowing it to become merely decorative, a matter of etiquette.

What we have forgotten is the origin of morality in fact and circumstance; we have forgotten that the nature of morality is essentially practical.

A Low Impact Woodland Home

From Simon Dale

August 24, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino, North California

You are looking at pictures of a house I built for our family in Wales. It was built by myself and my father in law with help from passers by and visiting friends. 4 months after starting we were moved in and cosy. I estimate 1000-1500 man hours and £3000 put in to this point. Not really so much in house buying terms (roughly £60/sq m excluding labour).

The house was built with maximum regard for the environment and by reciprocation gives us a unique opportunity to live close to nature. Being your own (have a go) architect is a lot of fun and allows you to create and enjoy something which is part of yourself and the land rather than, at worst, a mass produced box designed for maximum profit and convenience of the construction industry. Building from natural materials does away with producers profits and the cocktail of carcinogenic poisons that fill most modern buildings.

Keep reading here

Report From Eureka: Bayshore Monster Mall

Mendocino County

August 24, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino County, North California

Driving to Oregon and wanting to break up our trip, Bill and I stopped at Eureka’s Bayshore Mall.  I wanted to see how the economic downturn was affecting the mall.  Maybe there were some lessons for Mendocino County voters as Election Day approaches for Measure A.

We were surprised to see the parking lot practically full.  Maybe things weren’t so bad after all.

The mystery deepened once we entered the mall because it was practically empty on a Thursday afternoon.

What about all those cars in the parking lot?  We did not solve the mystery, but we did take a few pictures before a very imposing guard informed me that taking pictures was prohibited.  Why? I asked.  Because, he said, there were concerns about trademark infringement, what with all those logos (of extinct businesses?) and store names right out there for anyone to copy.

What It Means To Buy Local – Letter To The Editors


August 24, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino County, North California

To The Editors:

Over the past 50 years, the expansion of national businesses into local domestic markets with Big Box Stores, Chain Stores, Franchises and Monster Malls has diverted and redirected local circulating money to centralized corporate coffers. There it is spent on large capital outlays, national advertising, overseas goods, executive salaries, loan repayments, and dividends to Wall Street investors.

This interception of funds has depleted local towns and cities across our nation of an important source of funds: recirculated income.

To draw attention to this problem and save their small, locally-owned businesses, towns and cities have instituted Buy Local campaigns. They have been somewhat successful, so the giant international corporations are using big buck propaganda campaigns to claim they are “local” businesses.

One of the world’s largest international banks is now claiming to be “The World’s Local Bank” and Lay’s Potato Chips is seizing on citizen’s desire for locally-grown food with a “Lay’s Local” advertising campaign.

And, sure enough, the Masonite Monster Mall folks are also claiming that passing Measure A will be supporting Buy Local. Ha! Because they say it does not make it so! The Monster Mall can mail a million pamphlets, and make a million local phone calls, but the Masonite Monster Mall with Measure A is the antithesis of buying local and will sweep up even more of our money and send it elsewhere.

Buying groceries at Ukiah Natural Foods Cooperative, locally-owned by its members, is buying local.

A little daft?


August 24, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mandocino, North California

The word was out. It would be better to not have a green lawn.

Thirsty home landscaping, particularly lawns, will suck up an increasingly burdensome amount of water in California over the next 25 years unless big changes are made, according to a new report by the Public Policy Institute of California. “Do the math,” said study co-author Ellen Hanak, Landscaping currently accounts for at least half of all residential water demand, according to the report.

Even at the state level, Victoria Whitney, a deputy director of the state Water Resources Control Board, justified the staff proposal to ban irrigating commercial turf, a statewide issue that the water board has had on its radar as a way to save water. “A third of urban water use is irrigation,” Whitney said. “Given the issues that they face, it seemed now was the time to point out to folks this is an easy fix.”

So this drought is the real deal and the City of Ukiah orders mandatory water rationing.

As I was driving around looking at ways to redesign my own grassy yard and saw all the many civic minded people not watering, redoing the landscaping if there was enough money, I thought: “Good Citizens”.  Refreshing, so to speak.

But maybe not to Ukiah residents who did their good deed and now face an increase in water bill rates, because they stopped using so much water causing a 35% drop in water use revenue. Just like they were advised to do by the City of Ukiah. It surely seems ironic or maybe even daft to punish the people doing the right thing. I hope to soon read in the Ukiah Daily Journal or Anderson Valley Advertiser that “We wouldn’t think of raising the rates for water use, at least for people that have cut their water use.”

It would make a lot more sense for Ukiah and the County to arrange low cost loans for those wishing to landscape with native plants, providing jobs and real revenue.

Our House Frog Liked Beethoven

Upper Sandusky, Ohio

August 21, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino, North California

Living close to nature, I learned long ago there were mysteries as yet unexplained by science or even by the art of farming. Or maybe I just don’t read the right books. Anyway one of those things that science calls a phenomenon occurred again this morning. We have witnessed this occurrence so many times that it can’t be happenstance. When the hummingbirds run out of sugar water in their feeder right outside our kitchen, one of them flies up to the window and gently bumps it. Doesn’t run into it as if by accident, but hovers right at the pane and deliberately bumps it. The hummer seems to be saying: “The feeder is empty, you dolts. Get with it.” And they never bump the window unless the feeder is empty. They know. How do they know?

But a stranger mystery occurred last winter when a frog got into our house. It happened this way. We have a Christmas cactus that as far as we can figure is at least a hundred years old. My grandmother owned it and cussed it. Then one of my aunts owned it and cussed it. Somehow we inherited it. And cuss it. The pot it grows in is almost as big as a bushel basket and that’s why we cuss. Plant plus pot equals at least eighty pounds. All of us being inveterate farmers and gardeners, none of us have had the steel courage to get rid of it. We have tried starving it to death to no avail. It will not die. We time its movements into the house as winter approaches and back out as summer arrives when our son and son-in-law are visiting. Now they cuss it too.

Anyway, the frog evidently burrowed into the the Christmas cactus pot one summer and was still in it when we brought the plant inside. We never did see it— it being a tiny, tan creature that takes up very little space— but its song came loud and clear from the depths of cacti leaves and roots.

Keep reading at our food and farm blog OrganicToBe

Local Currency Directory U.S.

From E. F. Schumacher Society

August 21, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino, North Californa


Humboldt Exchange
Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap
P.O. Box 858
Eureka, CA 95502
First issue:
January 2003
“Humboldt Community Currency” is a paper local currency in Eureka. Individual participants agree to accept half payment for their goods and services in a local currency made just for Humboldt. Many local businesses also accept Community Currency.
67 businesses.
Information updated March 26, 2009


BerkShares, Inc.
Asa Hardcastle, President of board
Susan Witt, Administrator
P.O. Box 125
Great Barrington, MA 01230
(413) 528-1737
First issue:
September 29, 2006
BerkShares are a paper currency printed in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, and 50 and are traded in the southern Berkshire region of Massachusetts. They are distributed by local banks and are backed by federal dollars. They are purchased at $0.95 per BerkShare from the bank, spent at a value of $1 per BerkShare with participating individuals or businesses, and traded back for federal currency at $0.95 per BerkShare, providing a financial incentive for both individuals to get and spend them in the first place and for someone who has recieved BerkShares in a transaction to spend them again rather than return them for federal currency.

Keep reading at the E. F. Schumacher Society

Letters to the Editor: Another better idea for the Masonite property


August 21, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino, North California

Ukiah Daily Journal
To The Editor:

I have heard many ideas for the use of the old Masonite property and have given it much thought myself. I know many think it’s perfect for a shopping mall, but I disagree.

A mall uses a great deal of natural resources, only supplies minimum wage employment that cannot support a single person let alone a family, and encloses an area for crime and loitering.

I propose that we look into a retirement facility that addresses aging “baby boomers.” Mendocino County does not have enough graduated health facilities and the need for such is an important and necessary reality. Plus, the employment in this avenue offers wages that can support a family. More fast food and fast shopping is not what we need.

Let’s take another look at our future in Mendocino County and do the right thing by allowing those who have lived here, worked here, and paid taxes here have the opportunity to stay here in their hometown. Mendocino County is growing and we need to choose a responsible and profitable way to utilize the property.

Supervisors, give another thought about the realities of our future here and look beyond the same run down decisions. There is so much more to quality of life beyond immediate gratification.
Thanks to Steve Scalmanini

An Interview with Gene Logsdon

From A Nation of Farmers (2009)
by Sharon Astyk & Aaron Newton

August 20, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino, North California

Along with [his good friend] Wendell Berry, Gene Logsdon has been a central leader of the American agrarian movement for decades. He is the author of many books, both practical and philosophical, and it is impossible to read any of his writing without being overcome with the desire to grow food.

Spring 2008

ANOF: Given the rising cost of fossil fuels because of their declining availability, the climate change associated with using those fossil fuels, the problems of soil erosion and water degradation and all the other problems with the way we grow food and eat it at this point in history, what do you think is the biggest challenge facing the American agriculture? And how can we address it?
Gene: The biggest problem in my opinion is that our society, our culture, does not understand that food is everyone’s business. We have decided, as a society, to let a few people worry about our food while the rest of us worry about money. And so food production has more or less become the domain of a few very large international corporations. The only cure for it is what is now happening. Food prices and food shortages and fuel shortages will force people to take back their lives. There’s an old saying that goes “People won’t do the right thing until they have no other choice.” I’m afraid that is true for the majority.

ANOF: Do you think it makes sense to grow food in the suburbs — in former farmland turned neighborhood? And do you have any suggestions for people interested in this sort of suburban homesteading?
Gene: Yes, this kind of “homesteading” is possible and admirable, and if you watch what is happening as food prices climb, it is taking place more and more.

The Great Work of Making Meaning


August 18, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino, North California

Excerpt from The Elegance of the Hedgehog
(Author Muriel Barbery’s eagerly awaited follow-up, Gourmet Rhapsody, due in stores next week)

I open the door.

Monsieur Ozu is standing there.

“Dear lady,” he says, “I am glad that you were not displeased with my little gift.”

In shock, I cannot understand a word.

“Yes, I was,” I reply, aware that I am sweating like an ox. “Uh, uh, no.” I am pathetically slow to correct my stumbling reply. “Well, thank you, thank you very much indeed.”

He gives me a kindly smile.

“Madame Michel, I haven’t come here so that you can thank me.”

“No?” I say, adding my own brilliant rendition of “let your words die upon your lips,” the art of which I share with Phaedra, Bérénice, and poor Dido.

“I have come to ask you to have dinner with me tomorrow evening,” he says. “That way we shall have the opportunity to talk about our shared interests.”

“Euh…” A relatively brief reply.

“A neighborly dinner, a very simple affair.”

“Between neighbors? But I’m the concierge,” I plead, although whatever may be inside my head is in a state of utter confusion.

“It is possible to be both at once,” he replies.

Holy Mary Mother of God, what am I to do?

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness (Part 2)

Mendocino County

Parts |1|2|3|

August 18, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino, North California

Soon after it was published in the early seventies, I grabbed Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals off the shelf. Every few years since, I’ve reread it and continue to find jewels. Alinsky was firm that if we are to succeed in community organizing, we must be cognizant of history, have a sense that our actions fit into a larger context, that we aren’t alone. As you have seen in Part 1, we are not the first who have confronted these problems, though ours have become more threatening in very broad Earth-wide terms. Allow me to take you back further.

Not long ago the great majority of Americans lived on farms or in small villages supporting those farmers. Almost all of them had personal gardens and fruit trees and raised chickens. Even within the villages, not a few owned a few goats and the yearly pig. I recall it well when the first “supermarket” came to my home town in the fifties. My farmer parents never raised another garden except for a couple of tomatoes. Instead, they concentrated on modernizing their farming methods beginning with buying expensive equipment, which required Mom to work in town, as Dad did as well in the winter repairing tractors. My ancestors’ sustainable family farms became shrouded in tales recounted at increasingly rare family gatherings. Because of soaring farming costs, children scattered and the old mutually supportive extended families withered.

So, I’m a romantic. In my first decade, I lived on the place that my great, great grandparents (one set) had settled. My great, great grandfather was an expert carpenter, likely apprenticed as a fishing boat builder on the Isle of Jersey and the Gaspè Peninsula. He had also learned blacksmithing from his father. Though the farm was wasting away in my time,

Take Action! on Navy War Games: Marine Mammals and Other Sea Life to be Decimated by the Millions from Sea to Shining Sea

Redwood Valley

August 18, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino, North California

Update on June 5th Report: 5-Year U.S. Navy Warfare Testing Programs Located in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf of Mexico

The United States Navy will be decimating millions of marine mammals and other aquatic life, each year, for the next five years, under their Warfare Testing Range Complex Expansions in the Atlantic, Pacific, and the Gulf of Mexico. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS under NOAA), has already approved the “taking” of marine mammals in more than a dozen Navy Range Warfare Testing Complexes (6), and is preparing to issue another permit for 11.7 millions marine mammals (32 Separate Species), to be decimated along the Northern, California, Oregon and Washington areas of the Pacific Ocean (7).

U.S. Department of Commerce – NOAA (NMFS) Definition: “TAKE” Defined under the MMPA as “harass, hunt, capture, kill or collect, or attempt to harass, hunt, capture, kill or collect.” Defined under the ESA as “to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct.” Definition: Incidental Taking: An unintentional, but not unexpected taking (12).

The total number of marine mammals that will be decimated in the Atlantic, Pacific and the Gulf of Mexico for the next five years is unknown. The NMFS approvals will have a devastating impact upon the marine mammal populations worldwide and this last Navy permit, which is expected to be issued in February 2010, for the “taking” of more than 11.7 million marine mammals in the Pacific will be the final nail in the coffin for any healthy populations of sea life to survive.

Rural Matters

Redwood Valley

August 18, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino, North California

From “The New Crucible of Innovation”, a presentation by Brian Dabson/RUPRI to the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City in April, 2009

This is an extraordinary time for rural America to make new contributions to national prosperity in four main areas:

  • § Growing and processing food – quantity, quality, and sustainability
  • § Energy independence – extractive and renewable
  • § Realizing economic value of nature’s services – stewardship
  • § Protecting and managing rural experiences – natural, cultural

And the three powerful strategies:

  • § Regionalism – cooperation and collaboration across jurisdictions, sectors
  • § Assets – building on unique strengths, triple bottom line
  • § Entrepreneurship – conversion of assets into economic opportunity

Editorial Comment: The ideas expressed above read like economic developments in Mendocino County during recent decades.  An example of each in order:

  • § Farmer’s Markets throughout the county are supplied largely by local small farms and ranches and the diversity of products is growing
  • § Feasibility studies are being conducted to assess the potential for biomass and pellet manufacturing
  • § If initiated these technologies will contribute to fire safety and forest stewardship

Announcing – Mendo Moola Circulating Now


August 17, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino, North California

The more money is used locally and kept circulating locally, the more jobs are created and the wealthier a local community becomes (see Why NOT To Shop In Santa Rosa below).

Mendo Moola is smart money… a local currency, issued by locally-owned merchants and circulated only within Mendocino County. It is accepted in payment by participating, locally-owned merchants. The first merchant to issue its own currency is Mulligan Books in downtown Ukiah using wooden coins as change for purchases, and as “gift certificates”.

By using Mendo Moola in trade – face-to-face, hand-to-hand – money does not leave our community as it does using Federal Reserve Notes and Credit/Debit Cards.

Communities across the country and around the world issue local currencies to protect themselves against “tight money” and “credit crunches” that kill jobs and local economies. See Mendo Moola website for more info and a growing list of local businesses and services accepting it.

Mendo Moola Proposed Rules:

1. Mendo Moola (MM) as a Local Currency can initially be issued by any merchant, in branded wood coins or paper, with a store front that stocks inventory. It is then backed by the full faith and credit of that particular merchant’s inventory and cash flow, and by the health of the community’s local trade. (Eventually, any business or service could issue its own currency.)
2. MM will always be redeemed for cash by the issuing merchant upon request by either customers or other merchants, although using MM to purchase products is preferred.
3. MM will only be issued into circulation as change, direct exchange for cash (not sold as a taxable product), or as “gift certificates”.
4. MM will not be issued into circulation by being “spent” by the issuing merchant for products or services, i.e. merchants will not use their own issued currency from storage to purchase products themselves.

Letter to the Editors: Monster Mall Measure A Creates Environmental Nightmares


To the Editors:

August 17, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino County, North California

It is obvious why DDR’s Measure A eliminates the requirement for the California Environmental Review Act (CEQA) that is usually an automatic requirement for a project this size.  Big Box retail parking lots rank among the most harmful land uses in any watershed. During rain storms, parking lots deliver a hefty dose of toxic pollutants leaked by vehicles or deposited from the atmosphere — including phosphorous, hydrocarbons, heavy metals, herbicides and pesticides — into our nearby water bodies.

While a 200,000 square-foot mall covers 4 acres and consumes another 12 for parking, the same amount of retail spread over two floors in a Main Street-style setting with shared parking takes up only 4 acres. The Masonite Monster Mall is four times  that size (800,000 square feet). In some cases, permits for big-box projects have been denied on the grounds that they would add additional pollution to a nearby river. DDR has eliminated that possibility and denied the democratic control of our own environment with Measure A.

Instead of creating more disastrous car-dependent sprawl, the solution is to revitalize what is already here — our own walkable, bikeable downtown business district. Compact downtowns that have multi-story buildings, multi-story parking, and support a mix of uses, take up far less land and create far less polluting runoff.

Measure A is an attempt by slickster outside corporations to colonize our valley and override our zoning requirements with big bucks and pretty pictures… while insisting that, somehow, their Monster Mall, full of boring Big Boxes, Corporate Chains, and Industrial Food Restaurants, just like everywhere else, will be “shopping local”. Ha! What a bad joke!

A Realistic Plan and Time Line for Your Survival Homestead

From The Oil Drum

August 17, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino, North California

[For all you remaining Back-To-The-Landers here in Mendo, it may be interesting to compare what you did back in the sixties and seventies to what you might do now. I am not a survivalist, nor do I think the survivalist family going it alone makes any sense. If things do go bad, it will be collaboration and cooperation, in the city and in the country,  at the homestead and in the town house, that will get us through. -DS]

This plan assumes that you will be starting with raw land with no improvements. The advantage is that you can tailor things specifically to your needs while allowing time for your skills to develop. Yes, you could buy an old farm. However, I believe that old farms will ultimately cost you more and require significantly more time to rehabilitate than starting from scratch. Further, trying to fix up old stuff is more difficult than new construction. Things are rotted, out of square, foundations and roofs are shot or lack insulation.

The plan also assumes that all property is owned by a single family and that the work will be done by that family (a husband and wife or partner). I know a lot of people believe that a sharing/commune-type structure is the way to go. However, a community timeframe will be little different from that of a family and my experience is that most communities eventually fail.

I’ve learned a lot of lessons since moving to the country over 30 years ago. I should add that I also lived in a rural area until I was 12. However, I sure as hell don’t know everything and some of my suggestions are guesstimates. For example, I grew up around my neighbor’s draft horses but I’m not a teamster. There are thousands of others out there who live far more self-sufficiently (self-reliantly) than my wife and I. But, I’ve also had the opportunity to observe the successes and failures of other people. Keep reading at The Oil Drum


Denmark: A Modern Beacon – Thom Hartmann

From Thom Hartmann

August 13, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino, North California

Excerpted from Threshold: The Crisis of Western Culture

Our best hope, both of a tolerable political harmony and of an inner peace, rests upon our ability to observe the limits of human freedom even while we responsibly exploit its creative possibilities. ~Reinhold Niebuhr, The Structure of Nations and Empires (1959)

If it’s happening in Danish politics (or, for that matter, Scandinavian or European politics), Peter Mogensen knows about it. An economist by training, he’s the chief political editor of Denmark’s second largest national newspaper, Politiken, and for four years (1997-2000) he was the right-hand man (“head of office” and “political advisor”) to Denmark’s then prime minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen. A handsome man of young middle years, he also plays in a “Bruce Springsteen look-alike” rock band, and cuts a wide swath through Danish popular society.

So it was particularly interesting to see this normally unflappable man with a slightly confused look on his face.

We were in the studios of Danish Radio (their equivalent of BBC or NPR) in downtown Copenhagen, where I was broadcasting the week of June 23-27, 2008, and I’d just asked Mogensen how many Danes experience financial distress, lose their homes, or even declare bankruptcy because of a major illness in the family.

“Why, of course …” he blinked a few times, “none.”

I explained how every year in the United States millions of families lose their jobs and their homes,

My Clunker Pickup Is Too Old To Junk

Garden Farm Skills

August 13, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino, North California

Of all my old, junk machinery, I like my pickup truck the best. I could not function without it. I use it to haul hay, straw, manure, mulch, lambs, rams, calves, pigs, chickens, corn, wheat, grandkids, apples, firewood, logs, cans of gas, rototillers, dirt, lawnmowers, water tanks, fencing, gates, posts, lumber, chainsaws, shovels, forks, concrete blocks, trash for the recycler, gravel, rocks, railroad ties. To name a few. In the process, I also use it to back into trees, sideswipe gate posts, run into stumps, drop a front end loader on (insurance paid for one new side of the truck bed), and take incoming stones on the windshield (only one chip out of the glass so far).

I thought I was the wise guy, see. I should have traded the poor old thing in long ago, but I was sure a financial collapse was coming. No society could live as crazily as ours and not suffer retribution. So I decided I would wait until the second Great Depression hit and then I would drive a real hard bargain on a trade-in and get a new truck at a five or even ten thousand dollar savings.

So the collapse finally came. I waited patiently for the car companies to cut prices drastically. Nothing much happened except they moaned and groaned until the government gave them billions of dollars. The price of the pickup that I wanted did not go down one farthing. Oh yeah, a rebate here and there. The old maneuver. Jack up the price several thousand dollars and then give the poor dumb buyer a fifteen hundred dollar rebate and he’s supposed to dance around the showroom in utter bliss.

Keep reading at our sister blog Organic To Be

The Wheels of Justice


August 13, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino, North California

Six years ago, with a great amount of noise, federal agents stormed the Coyote Valley Reservation in Redwood Valley.  They arrested then-tribal chair Priscilla Hunter at gunpoint in front of children, charged her with embezzlement, conspiracy, and obstruction of justice, drove her from office, threatened her with imprisonment, and forced her to live under a cloud of criminality.  This week charges were dismissed. (Except for one misdemeanor failure to file one income tax return)

Hunter released this statement about her ordeal:


The family of Priscilla Hunter, want to thank the many good hearted people who submitted support letters on her behalf  requesting the Federal District  Court render a lenient sentence in her sentencing hearing  on Thursday  Aug 6 in the Northern District Federal Court.  Priscilla  pled guilty to one misdemeanor charge of failing to file a tax return, whereas she was charged with misappropriation of tribal casino revenue, obstruction of justice and criminal conspiracy and the U.S Attorneys  spent over six years in the investigation and pre-trial litigation of the case.  All of the charges  except the failure to file a tax return charge  were dismissed.

As stated by local press the investigation and charges that were leveled against the former Tribal Council were the first effort of a joint federal and state Task Force established to fight crime in Indian Country and they may have started with a bang but “ended in a whimper”.

Monster Mall: More letters to the Editor

Upper Lake

Ukiah Daily Journal

August 12, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino, North California

DDR and development

To the Editor:

It seems to me that the main issue with DDR is whether a community wants a developer who has no ties to that community to come in and override local planning. If this is allowed, any developer with a great line and money could change the face of your community.

It is not about Costco. There are other sites for Costco. It is not even about development per se. I have not met anyone who expects Ukiah and Mendocino to remain a lost “hippie paradise.” But this is your community. You live here. You pay taxes. The elected officials are elected by you and live amongst you and are accountable to you.

DDR will never be accountable to you, only to their shareholders. That is their job, to make money for their shareholders. And especially if this proposition passes, they do not have to be in any way accountable to you.

This is not a game of monopoly. This will not be a hypothetical free pass. This will be a totally free pass to either develop your community the way they want to or to sell the land to some other developer.
Thanks to Steve Scalmanini

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness (Part 1)

Peter Kropotkin

Mendocino County

Parts |1|2|3|

August 12, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino, North California

They hang the man, and flog the woman,
That steals the goose from off the common;
But let the greater villain loose,
That steals the common from the goose.

seventeenth century anonymous

The Grand Inquisitor, in Dostoyevsky’s “The Brothers Karamazov”, challenges Christ: humanity is “weak, vicious, worthless, and rebellious … in the end they will lay their freedom at our feet and say to us, ‘make us your slaves, but feed us.’” Christ remains silent.

As Michael Pollan, Vandana Shiva, Gary Paul Nabhan, Gary Taubes, and others have chronicled in great detail, we Americans and increasingly those living elsewhere are enslaved by a food production system that is notorious for the waste of natural resources, destruction of environment, social decay, and damaging to health. This is only one symptom, although a major one, pinpointing that our society is sick both emotionally and physically. We are sliding toward a chasm edge beyond which these food sources and all the other goodies of our modern society will slip from our grasp. I won’t beat this drum any further and assume it is a given. If you can’t agree or at least imagine so, if you aren’t mad as hell and unwilling to stand it any longer, if you don’t care, don’t bother to read further.

Our overriding questions: how did we get in the fix and how do we escape? Southwestern writer Edward Abbey captured the answers in a nutshell:

“Money means power, not merely wealth. Money gives us power over others – to command their labor, their minds, even their souls. Even their behavior, conduct, attitudes.

Creating a Resilient, Natural Economy

How To Save The World Blog

August 11, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino, North California

My friend Dale and I have been conversing about my recent post concerning why so many entrepreneurs want to be sole proprietors, when, historically, committed partnerships (of people with a shared purpose and complementary skills) tend to be far more resilient, sustainable, and joyful. I’d been writing about our modern aversion to accepting responsibility for other people, and Dale suggested it was this fear of responsibility, more than any of the ten fears of entrepreneurship* I write about in my book, Finding the Sweet Spot, that keeps so many of us in the thrall of wage slavery. Dale wrote:

What keeps people from starting startups is the fear of having so much responsibility. And this is not an irrational fear: it really is hard to bear…This really fits with my own experience.  I had plenty of opportunity to expand my business creating software products and sharing software development expertise. The thing that always held me back was knowing the responsibility that I had for everyone else.  I was also nagged by the thought that this great burden that I was taking on would not be respected, or worse, would be taken advantage of.

I was chatting about this this afternoon with Tree (a very successful sole proprietor, doing work as an independent professional facilitator), who has challenged me before on whether “the work we’re meant to do” really should preferably be in partnership with others. I had lamented that most of the people who had written to me to tell me that thanks to my book they had found their sweet spot (the work they’re mean to do), also told me that this work involves writing or personal coaching or some other individual enterprise.

Keep reading here

What it takes…

Small Farmer’s Journal

(Farming with Draft Animals)

August 11, 2009, Ukiah Valley, Mendocino, North California

[This is the Editorial in the Spring 2009 issue, from Lynn Miller, Editor and Publisher. For those of us whose grandparents and great grandparents were farmers, and because of distorted US farm policies, find ourselves totally removed from farm life — that would be millions and millions of us — this essay brings us back in touch with the care, beauty, and poetry of true farm life… in these times that try men’s and women’s souls. Amidst the insanity and greed, there are traditions still being lived and written about. Read this and weep for what has been lost. And if there be hope, this is where hope lies. If small farm tradition and sensibility becomes lost, all is lost. -DS]

Some will remember how it was that Dad never explained, just expected you to know. “No, not that way. To the left, to the left! Haven’t you been paying attention?”

Instruction was a ludicrous concept. Water in the nose, fire on the skin, ridicule in the gut, dizzy with pain, nauseous with anxiety, dull with confusion: these were the ways to learn. Those days, for some they may still be today, if you didn’t allow yourself to be pulled along you were left behind. And behind was nowhere, no flow, no connection, no justification, no ladders, no doors, no coupon, no pay, no stay, no return.

“Why would I waste myself explaining to a kid or a greenhorn how the thing is done? It’s an invitation to questions, the answers to which invite more questions. The work doesn’t get done that way. And the kid doesn’t learn that way.

Monster Mall Developer DDR becoming a mere shadow…


Letter to the Editor
Ukiah Daily Journal

August 11, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino, North California

When Developers Diversified Realty announced payment of $30.5 million in second quarter dividends (at $0.20 per share) on July 17, its stock dropped 9.41 percent on the New York Stock Exchange, closing at $4.33 per share. Its historic high was $72.33 in February 2007.

It was hardly reassuring that DDR paid dividends with $3.1 million in cash and $27.4 million in common stock. Stated otherwise, each 20-cent dividend was for two cents in cash and 18 cents of corporate wall paper.

But what else could it do?

DDR was one of the first commercial mortgage-backed securities peddlers to line up for Federal Reserve bail-out money earlier this month. A column in “The Economist” magazine in July noted, however, that while the Federal Reserve’s program had “extended to commercial mortgage backed securities, … many are or will become ineligible under its present rules because of ratings downgrades.”

Since all three rating services have downgraded DDR to junk bond status, the corporation’s hand-out hopes, not to say its swaggering in our neighborhood, seem like just so much whistling in the dark.

Does anyone, including DDR’s directors, believe this derelict will be capable of developing more than a local disaster in this county?

SPIN Farming


August 10, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino, North California

SPIN stands for S-mall P-lot IN-tensive

SPIN-Farming is a non-technical, easy-to-learn and inexpensive-to-implement vegetable farming system that makes it possible to earn significant income from land bases under an acre in size. Whether you are new to farming, or want to farm in a new way, SPIN can work for you because:

  • Its precise revenue targeting formulas and organic-based techniques make it possible to gross $50,000+ from a half- acre.
  • You don’t need to own land. You can affordably rent or barter a small piece of land adequate in size for SPIN-Farming production.
  • It works in either the city, country or small town.
  • It fits into any lifestyle or life cycle.

SPIN is being practiced by first generation farmers because it removes the two big barriers to entry – land and capital – as well as by established farmers who want to diversify or downsize, as well as by part-time hobby farmers.

SPIN-Farming’s learning guides detail the concepts and practices of sub-acre farming and offer specific models of operation you can use to create your own independent farm business. Each guide builds on the next so that your understanding grows along with your ability to put SPIN into practice. You can work through the learning series at your own pace. And the authors are available by email to answer your questions every step of the way!

SPIN Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to questions we’ve been asked the most since we began pioneering sub-acre farming in 2001. Some are posed by aspiring farmers short on cash or land or both. Some come from concerned citizens looking to make their communities more farm-friendly. Others are asked by reporters who know a good story when they see one. Still others are asked by policymakers who are realizing that sustainability is more than just a buzz word. If what’s on your mind is not covered here, contact us, and we’ll either answer your question or make you even more curious.

The single most important way we each can save our planet from Climate Change

From Sharon Astyk & Aaron Newton
A Nation of Farmers (2009)

August 10, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino, North America

After all [the] deeply depressing news… there are some reasons for optimism. One of them is that the transition to organic, sustainable, small-scale agriculture by millions of people in the US and billions world wide could do an enormous amount to mitigate the consequences of climate change. Becoming a small farmer is not just a good idea for your own security, you might actually save the planet doing it. As agrarian activist Vandana Shiva has put it, all of our emphasis on lowering carbon fails to recognize that we need more carbon — in soils — and that the power of locally adapted agriculture is the “only adaption strategy that gives us any hope.”

There are a number of ways in which small-scale, relocalized, sustainable agriculture can help sequester carbon and prevent it from being put into the atmosphere to begin with. The first, and most obvious, aspect is that the transportation of food over long distance makes a tremendous contribution to burning carbon. Delicate produce is often shipped by air from Israel to the US or New Zealand to Britain. Air travel, besides emitting large quantities of carbon, creates contrails that increase the effects of global warming. When your kiwi fruit or grapes travel from overseas, it is as if someone drove them to you in a low-mileage Hummer with the windows open and the A/C on.

Whether flown or trucked, all industrial food has a heavy carbon impact. Food is fertilized with fossil fuels, including artificial nitrogen, which creates the potent greenhouse gas nitrous oxide. Pesticides are manufactured with and from petrochemicals. Soil amendments are trucked around the world, then added to soils with carbon-spewing tractors. The food is often harvested mechanically, packed into warehouses cooled with fossil fuels,

Top 10 Reasons To Grow Your Own Organic Food

From Foodmatters

August 10, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino, North California

Many studies have shown that organically grown food has more minerals and nutrients that we need than food grown with synthetic pesticides. There’s a good reason why many chefs use organic foods in their recipes—they taste better. Organic farming starts with the nourishment of the soil, which eventually leads to the nourishment of the plant and, ultimately our bodies.

Growing your own food can help cut the cost of the grocery bill. Instead of spending hundreds of dollars and month at the grocery store on foods that don’t really nourish you, spend time in the garden, outside, exercising, learning to grow your own food.

The average child receives four times more exposure than an adult to at least eight widely used cancer-causing pesticides in food. Food choices you make now will impact your child’s future health.

The Soil Conservation Service estimates more than 3 billion tons of topsoil are eroded from the United States’ croplands each year. That means soil erodes seven times faster than it’s built up naturally. Soil is the foundation of the food chain in organic farming. However, in conventional farming, the soil is used more as a medium for holding plants in a vertical position so they can be chemically fertilized. As a result, American farms are suffering from the worst soil erosion in history.

Water makes up two-thirds of our body mass and covers three-fourths of the planet. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates pesticides – some cancer causing – contaminate the groundwater in 38 states, polluting the primary source of drinking water for more than half the country’s population.