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