As Marijuana tanks Community Resurges

I live in a small rural community in Northern California. I have a view of a pot farm out my back window. This one grew here as it did all over Humboldt County and many other rural communities in the last ten years, like mushrooms after a warm spring rain, overnight. As pot farms proliferated community standards were wiped away. The back-to-the-landers that arrived here in the 70’s and started homesteading here, got into growing a patch of weed in amongst their vegetables, found a profitable cash crop that supplemented often meager incomes.

In the 80’s and 90’s government raids with helicopter, in this part of the world called CAMP, kept a lid on things by busting and threatening to bust the more ostentatious grows. However, CAMP (campaign against marijuana production, I think) seemed to cease in the 90’s and less people were busted. With prices sky high and the risk of being busted very low people streamed into Humboldt and bought up ranches and rural properties. Greed prevailed. For many enough was never enough. Grows became bigger and bigger, community values seemed to go out the window. The environmenthal and community values, that the back to the landers so strongly held dear seemed to be unimportant to this next generation of home grown and carpetbagger pot growers.

People were making money, having good times and mostly not getting busted. Areas that didn’t have the infrastructure became major industrial pot grows. Big trucks, big fences, and huge greenhouses or plastic farms as I see them, sprung up. People brought in truckload after truckload of bagged soil, every year. It has been a disposable economy. Money was good and long term planning lacking. Trees were knocked down, tractors pushed dirt around for grow flats. For me it has been painful. The economy has benefited in many ways. People had money, but the community and ecology have suffered.

With the wave of state legalizeations from Colorado to Washington, Oregon and now as of 2018, California, pot is being grown in a lot of places, not just Humboldt County. We seem to have reached a saturation point. There is just too much of this magic plant out there. With legalization means regulation and taxation and this combined with lower prices due to saturation of the market means that the profit margins are now very thin.

However every negative seems to have a silver lining. The downturn in the pot economy is painful to Humboldt in many ways. Last year, the once great Reggae on the River festival that seemed to grow and prosper along with the pot economy was a bust and the Mateel organization lost a whopping $700,000 dollars as attendance and concession fees were way off. Also the land boom seems to have cooled dramatically and many pot farms are going out of business. This is painful to those going through it no doubt, but I have noticed a resurgence of community values that is heartening.

I am hearing anecdotal stories about people growing lettuce and other kitchen table crops in their greenhouses. People are taking time to go to farmers markets and do more community activities. People are diversifying their farms. Many more land parcels are available for purchase and though prices have yet to come down much, the signs are out there that they will, which may allow regular folks and families, not supercharged with gangster pot money, to buy land and keep the community vibrant.

It is a time of change and challenge in Humboldt County but to me and many other folks who have been through the boom, things couldn’t go on as they had. It was just too much impact on the community and ecology. Now we start the slow road back to community values and environmental healing. Hopefully we are a little wiser, though possibly a bit poorer.

Israel fires on Palestine Protesters– What can be done?

Yesterday in the Times Standard newspaper I read that in Israel Palestine, the Israeli army had opened fire on protesters, protesting land expropriation, I believe. It was a fairly short story, but this is the Times Standard and not the New York Times. I read in the Times Standard article that thirty-five people were killed outright, and 750 people were hit with live rounds. Today it is reported on the Times Standard website that there were only 18 killed. So, we don’t really know, but it is a lot.

These numbers floored me. I was thinking about it on and off all day. The higher number approaches some of our worst mass killing events in this country and the 750 shot with live ammunition is unbelievably horrible. I believe it is even more than were hit by the horrible attack at the Los Vegas hotel and the country music show a few months ago. However, it was Israel doing it and it was done to quell unruly protesters.

Can you imagine someone opening up with automatic weapons on protesters? Seven hundred and fifty people were shot. Every person is important and deserves life. I don’t even have words for fully explaining this. It is so awful. Why is this happening? This is a merciless, deadly outrageously excessive response to protest. In this country at least, protesting is supposedly protected by the first amendment. But our rights are being undermined, eroded. Same seems to be happening in Israel and Egypt and China and Philippines. There has to be push back or the oppression, the killing will continue. I feel like at a basic level Israel is acting like a big bully and feels they can get away with land expropriation and with the subsequent violent response to the understandable push back from land theft. If a bully is unchallenged they will continue to bully. If a killer is unchallenged will they not continue to kill?

In this country the push back for police killing of unarmed black men has been strong and justified and I believe is having an effect. The same must be done for attacks on Palestinians in Gaza.

It is anti-Semitic or racist to say what Israel does is to be condemned and is terrorism of a civilian population? I think the anti-Semitic charge is a red herring. All lives are valuable not just Jewish life. Just because Jews have suffered and have been exposed to racism and mass killing during the Nazi regime in the 30’s and 40’s doesn’t give Israel a pass when they kill and mistreat others. There are double standards in our media and from our government. We are all humans with hopes and dreams and a right to live and protect what is ours, including land.

Island Sustainability

I recently watched a couple of great shows on Island Sustainability on Netflix.
One is called South Pacific and the other is called Islands of the Future.

Both of these shows show that when people live in a small to moderately sized mostly closed system, they tend to want to take care of it. When we see the impacts of our energy use, our trash, our land use we tend to get the quick feedback that tells us if we are living in harmony with our home.

On the show Islands of the Future each episode highlights an island that is trying to move towards energy and food independence. The first couple islands highlighted are in the Canary Islands. The first show is outstanding. A forward thinking engineer wants the island of Fierro to stop importing diesel and to use wind turbines and the power of potential energy in water to power their island. He wants to create a battery system where wind turbines create energy and move water into a high reservoir. Then release the water to a lower reservoir and in doing so run it through turbines and power the island.

It takes twenty five years but they do it. It was incredible that they had footage of parts of this whole journey and how the public perception changed and everyone eventually gets behind it. The idea was quite clever and it was implemented. It can be done. They are starting to encourage specially designed electric cars and their local president is out in front driving the first one.

All the episodes are great and each has a slightly different twist on sustainability.

The other show named South Pacific, looks at some of the island groups in the South Pacific and how people, nature, and natures creatures survive together. I won’t go into it much but it is well worth seeing. With sea all around people realize their place and live more in harmony. Check it out!

Why can’t we share?

In the past year I have spent time in Eastern Iowa, Northern California, the San Francisco Bay area, Costa Rica and the Boulder/Denver area of California. In the populated places the human animal definitely is king. However the human animal has it’s heirarchy to be sure. Some people live under bridges and some live in mansions.

In the areas where there are no towns on maps I used to have the idealized thought or hope that that’s where the animals live, that’s where nature lives. In the midwest this is just not the case. This is the land of chemical farming and massive machines to torture the earth and kill its burrowing creatures. Its bleak, in my opinion. It is many miles of either barren land waiting to be tilled and planted or land growing principally gmo corn or soy plants, broken up with straight as an arrow access roads and highways. I keep thinking, where do the animals live?

There used to be ranging creatures upon these great plains. Great herds of buffalo. Large groups of deer, antelope, elk. Great prairies as far as the eye could see. Native peoples and native hunting creatures, foxes, wolfs, coyotes and hunting cats. These are much diminished if not outright gone. Why can’t we share? Must we have it all. When we do get it all will we finally be happy? Not a chance. Not a chance. We already see that when resources are scarce war can break out we turn on each other.

Is there just not enough for both man and beast? This is a question we might ask. With our large and growing populations one could say so. We might need to start asking, is population control appropriate? How might we do this? I have some ideas but won’t much go into this now.

As I wrote about previously, capitalism eats the earth. I believe this. We must come to a spiritual understanding that man is just one of Gods creatures and our aim is to live in harmony on this great planet not dominate all around him.

In January I found myself driving from Des Moines east on Highway 163 and I came to a town called Prairie City. There was a nature reserve where native bison were said to be living. This is called the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge. I pulled off the highway and drove into the reserve. Rolling frozen fields cut by straight roads and a few low trees in the gullies were what I saw. I drove several miles and across a gentle valley I saw them, a group of about 10 or 12 shaggy bison looking cold and forlorn mostly sitting on the ground. I know I shouldn’t read too much into their emotions. Maybe they were happy. I don’t think so. They were boxed in with only a few square miles in which to roam. Their population small. This group as I said was only 10 to maybe the low teens. There may be other groups living in the small reserve. However a sense of sadness and loss filled me. “Why can’t we share?” went through my mind.

Most of the midwest is farmland that grows food for animal feed. It is used to fatten up animals for our fast food meals, pulled pork, burgers, steaks and chicken.
This to me is not right, not fair and not kind. Just because we can dominate all, must we dominate all? This thought comes to me again. If we are evolved beings we should know our place. We should limit our burden on the land. We should allow other plants, animals and ecosystems to be as they wish. I am not saying we don’t have a right to be as well. We can be but not as much as we are now. We are too much. We tread to heavily. We box in what little we choose to say is natures area.

At this point the solutions would need to be a revisioning and a restructuring of what we want for the land. People “own” most of the land. Who will compensate landowners if we decide that say half the land should be home to the rest of Gods creatures. That the big open spaces in the midwest should once again be home to the buffalo, the sage grouse, the antelope the bear, the wild wolf, the prairie dog, the coyote and all the rest.

How can we return to balance? How can we go back to the garden?

Thank you for reading and caring. Much love.

Plastic kills sea life

I am trying to get this published in Humboldt County

Letter to Editor
A friend of mine recently returned from a Hawaiian vacation. She went to Oahu. I know her as someone who loves the water and the beach. I asked her how she enjoyed her trip and curiously she said she didn’t enjoy or go in the water that much. I asked her why and she said there was so much plastic on the beach. The beaches around hotels are cleaned but she favored less frequented, less touristy beaches.
I have long deplored the insidious encroachment of plastic into our world. The commercial interests have decided that any product we buy should have a hard or soft layer of protective plastic. Some packaging is even worse. They combine plastic and metal in the new resealable pouches such as mylar and a thousand other Frankenstein concoctions.
These packages and the materials they are made from are good at protecting their contents, for a long time. In a short-sighted way, it works well for products made a long way away and a long time ago, cause the package does not degrade (for many years) and the “product” is protected from germs and from oxidation. However, these benefits conferred on the product and the convenience of it for manufacturers then turns into an absolute horror for the earth.
The product may be enjoyed for 5 minutes, a day or a week but the package may stay with us for a thousand years or longer. They don’t degrade well. They are not meant to. They are meant to protect the product, for a long time. However, after the product is consumed we are left with these horrible packages that blow into, are dumped into or somehow find their way into the ocean, waterways as well as on streets and parks. Even when they go to landfills they sit there mostly not degrading and slowly polluting the land and water.
We are very numerous. We create a lot of trash with our eating of potato chips, vegan energy bars and jerky sticks. Is the convenience of a fast snack worth the wrapper that may stay around for a thousand years? I am raising this issue consumers, yes. We can do better. Try to buy in bulk or fresh or from farmers markets. However, we all know the plastic and plastimetal materials concocted in labs by chemists and material scientists ARE EVERYWHERE. They are hard to avoid. Often there is no choice, or no good-choice at the grocery store. The choice may be forgoing something we really want or getting the wrapped product.
I would like to say we should demand our local stores not carry these pouches, that they not carry non-recyclable or non-degradable packaging. But it is so pervasive. We can grow our own or go to farmers markets for part of our purchases but we all know in our fast-paced world a grocery store is essential.
We should demand manufacturers fundamentally change the attitude and materials that are used to protect our foods. I don’t exactly know how to do it. What do you think? Is a debate and organizing on this issue important?
What I do know is that if the beaches of Oahu are being littered with pieces of plastic and mylar food packaging something has got to change. Oahu is in the middle of a very large ocean, quite far from the American landmass, quite far from the Indonesian archipelago and quite far from China. But lots of plastic is ending up on Hawaiian beaches.
I ask that we take this issue on. It is not a side issue. It is a matter of global survival. Do we want an ocean that can support life? Do we want to leave a clean world to our children or is the entire world our garbage dump, meant to be used and abused by the humans and left polluted, choking and dying?
Andrew Nash, Petrolia

Plastic Bag Phase out begins

Well that was the headline for one store in Australia called Harris Farm. Can we do it here. The plastic that wraps up pallets and crates of six packs and building materials and most everything else that gets shipped in trucks or on boats and then is presented to us is contaminating the oceans.

Lets all demand an end to this lazy crazy practice. It aint right for a momentary convenience to have such a crazy heavy impact. There must be truly biodegradeable cellulose or mushroom plastic out there. Lets ask for it or tell stores we can not support them.

I know it will take a bit of time but the planet can’t wait.

Beyond Petroleum?

Wasn’t the symbol of BP about ten years ago remade into a starburst and the BP of British Petroleum rechristened Beyond Petroleum? Then Corporate heads must have nixed deep sixed or otherwise canned this forward thinking idea. Damn. For a minute there one there was some hope from the oil companies.

Then came the Deep Water Horrizon, the most polluting and most costly oil spill in history. Maybe it was Karma kicking them in the gut over their “safe” decision?