I was down in San Francisco this past weekend to participate at OccupySF, staying with my step-daughter. We both had a great Saturday, leading the OccupySF march of approx 1000 militant chanting folk down Market St. with the banner below that I brought down with me from our Mendocino Coast Occupy actions. That's my daughter, Alexei, on the left edge of the banner and me on the right. It was exhilarating! Attended the Fri and Sat OccupySF general assembly's too.
This "Corporate Rule OR Real Democracy" banner was made in FB by Susan Nutter and Karen Knoebber and maybe some others for our MoveToAmend entry in Mendocino's 4th of July parade, where it was preceded by a sign, "It's Time to Choose!" A brief video of last Saturday's march in SF, with this banner in front, can be viewed at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKa4iZ3N0_g
Re-building the local food system in Mendocino County
Despite a plethora of famers markets, CSAs and community and school gardens, despite the fact that Mendocino County is one of the state's more important agricultural counties (number of organic farms, non-GMO county, etc.), the majority of the food we consume is not grown here, according to an analysis of the food system by a prominent consultant. Ken Meter of Crossroads Resource Center in Minnesota addressed a Local Food Summit in Ukiah last month and gave a power point presentation. His analysis showed that the county economy is leaking $300 million a year in farm inputs and food purchases to the outside world. Miles Gordon of the Gardens Project highlighted a dozen or more efforts at localization. What will it take to close the gap? It's an interesting and vital challenge as we hurtle toward Peak Oil. See recent article by 'Mendocino Country' publisher Richard Johnson at www.mendocinocountry.com
THE CHALLENGE OF FOOD LOCALIZATION
AN ALL-FEMALE WORKSHOP GROUP at the Food Summit in May. Richard Johnson photo
Re-building our Local Food System was the theme of the Local Food Summit attended by over 120 local food stakeholders and advocates on May 19th at the Redwood Empire Fairgrounds in Ukiah.
Participants were presented with the losing economics of our current commodity based food system by national local food economic analyst, Ken Meter of the Crossroads Resource Center in Minneapolis. He emphasized that the current globally integrated corporate food distribution system is maximized to suck wealth out of the community.
Ken's presentation posed the data to the Food Summit that Mendocino County farmers spend $128 million to raise crops and livestock that earn only $110 million per year for a loss of $18 million, andspend $68 a year out of the region to buy farm inputs including fertilizers, seeds, equipment, and fuel. Farm labor income is around $40 million per year. Additionally, Mendocino County consumers spend approximately $210 million of a total $230 millionannual food budget buying from outside of the county.
Thus, about $300 million leaves Mendocino County each year to feed the population and operate a losing agriculture.
The challenge is to close the loop and transform local agriculture so it feeds local people and pays farmers and workers a just return for their efforts. Read more...
When one thinks of Paul Dolan, one generally thinks of wine. Dolan and his partners - the Thornhill family - took their combined expertise in agriculture and business and brought sustainability to the wine industry. Parducci Winery - the centerpiece of the Mendocino Wine Company - is the first carbon-neutral winery in the United States. Using protocols established by the California Climate Action Registry, the winery utilizes solar and windmill installations, bio-diesel vehicles and earth-friendly packaging, water conservation, composting and recycling, and purchases carbon credits from environmentally aware companies - setting the green standard for wineries and grape growers worldwide.
And it is no less than the entire world that Dolan is concerned with. Last week, he attended the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in his role as United States board member for the Climate Group - a global organization committed to stopping global warming.
"The Climate Group provides information and research for business and governments. We help generate conversations about investment, innovation and sound public policy," Dolan explains. The London-based organization has offices in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, China, Belgium, India, Hong Kong and the United States. Staff works with member companies and governments to help financial institutions manage risks and opportunities of climate change. They partner with automakers transitioning to electric vehicles, create pilot projects in countries to facilitate transition to LED lighting and provide real-time tracking of greenhouse emissions.
Dolan has investigated for himself and says he is certain that climate change is inextricably linked to global emissions. "In this country, we still seem to believe there's a debate. This is a polarizing dynamic. If you take one position, someone else takes the other. It's party lines. That becomes the context for discussing the eminent crisis."
"Another challenge is consumerism," says Dolan. "Our economy runs on it, thrives on it and expects it. We've made bad decisions thinking this is for the greater good. We've created an environment that operates in service of more stuff - which consumes natural resources. America uses the largest numbers of resources and generates more waste than any other nation. About 5 percent of the world's population produces 80 percent of the waste. We have to get from 40 gigatons of greenhouse emissions to 20 gigatons by 2020. That's huge."
China, says Dolan, will sell more cars than the U.S. next year and produce more emissions than the U.S. is able to reduce. "China will emit incredibly for a period, but they've also recognized they have to come up with alternative energy sources. They are the current leaders in solar and wind power."
"Forty percent of planetary energy comes from coal," says Dolan, "and we must retool our vehicles to eliminate the burning of fossil fuels." The answers are there, he says, but investors and business must see the cost benefits. "If we don't support the playing field, it makes it difficult for business to move forward. They just want to know what the playing field is so they can move into the competitive environment."
"Business is recognizing the reality of carbon costs," says Dolan. "Investors and inventors are lining up to go to work and create new ventures. Governments can get in the way or get behind these projects. If we drag our feet, it's at our own expense."
One of the most stark and shocking facts to come out of Copenhagen was a report produced by the Dutch-based Shell firm. "They are famous for scenario planning and projecting out in time what is possible," says Dolan. Their findings were astounding. "Shell cannot find a scenario in which we are able to overcome the global warming crisis. Their conclusion was that our only hope was the human spirit."
For Dolan, Shell's pronouncement meant the fragile cup filled with the planet's future is still half-full. "If you dig into the downside issues, you can become very depressed. But there are innumerable positive actions, especially when you look at small communities, businesses, families, even small regions. You start to access the hope for the future."
Dolan had an opportunity to meet with the premier of Nova Scotia. "Nova Scotia has the largest tidal movement of any place in the world - one billion gallons each day. If they could harness that, it could literally light up the entire East Coast.
"The technology to solve these problems is available.," he said. "Payback efficiencies for businesses are enormous. Wal-Mart is doing incredible environmental work and will probably end up being the world leader in these areas. We will find ways to use discarded uranium. Cold fusion will be more powerful than nuclear power. These are what businesses are calling radical efficiencies.' People are looking at sustainability in new ways."
For Dolan - the grandson of Edmund Rossi, who ran the Italian Swiss Colony Winery - years of keeping his hands and heart close to the earth have helped him draw the same conclusions about our future as the statisticians and number crunchers at Shell. "We are moving out of the Industrial Revolution into the Green Revolution. Our internal, planetary immune system will kick in and rise to the occasion. We'll see the sense of urgency and we will respond."
Hopland / Mendocino County, California United States
Rebecca Kress receives a Storm Water Proclamation from Supervisor McCowen
The Mendocino County Water Agency (MCWA) has developed an educational program for local schools, t o preserve and protect the Mendocino County’s water resources for current and future generations.
MCWA provides fun and interactive environments to teach students about water science, water management, and stormdrain practices.
Our goal is to increase the awareness within our community of how important one person's actions can be. By making informed decisions concerning state and local water resources, we can protect our environment.
Our education specialist brings to the classroom: games, videos, demonstrations, and many more activities that teach the students about the water cycle, water facts, and various methods to protect our water resources. The educational experiences and materials that MCWA can bring to the classroom are free of charge.
Rebecca Kress is the founder and organizer of the Russian River Cleanup in Mendocino County since 1991. Rebecca's awesome project has removed 5,480 tires, hundreds of tons of appliances, toxics and trash, recycling what was possible. Rebecca has been working for the Mendocino County Water Agency teaching watershed education since 2006, including tree planting and rain gardens.
The last cleanup?
By CAROLE BRODSKY The Ukaih Daily Journal 11/03/2009
The River Lady' prepares for final year
As Rebecca Kress looks at the photos from this summer's 19th annual Russian River Cleanup, she is amazed at what she sees. "It looks more beautiful than I've ever seen it," she muses.
The river looks nothing like it did when Kress was challenged 20 years ago to stop complaining and do something about the garbage and pollutants she noticed. Since then, Kress and a loyal cadre of volunteers have devoted countless hours pulling hundreds, if not thousands of tons of refuse from the watercourse which is the drinking water and recreation area for countless individuals, and one of the most significant wildlife habitats in the region.
Kress is retiring after the 2010 cleanup, and no one involved doubts her water shoes will be hard to fill.
Charlie Kelly volunteered from the beginning. "There were three Rotarians on that first float," remembers Kelly. "We used to find tires and iron thrown into the river, ostensibly for stream bank protection." Early on, it wasn't unusual for each off of 10 cleanup teams to pull 300 tires from the 50-mile stretch of river. Last summer, a total of four tires were removed.
Kelly and Kress speculate what will happen if no one assumes her coordination role after her retirement. "The non-access areas are clean and will most likely stay clean, but from Hopland south there could be a disaster," says Kelly.
Kress is speaking with the Mendocino Environmental Center, an organization many feel would be ideal, both administratively and philosophically, to assume responsibility for future cleanups.
"The MEC is very keen to assure that the great work done by Rebecca is continued - her efforts have shown just what a difference a passionate individual can make," says Hannah Bird, president of the Mendocino Environmental Center.
Conversations between MEC members and Kress are cautiously optimistic.
"I hope very much that this will become a project of the MEC in the future - although of course it will take volunteers from all over to help. The Russian River is one of the few watercourses we have access to and it needs to be respected. We hope to combine raising awareness of water pollution as an issue as well as contributing to cleanups," explains Bird.
Charlie Kelly notes in the past, the MEC has not directly supported the river cleanups, but feels there are many environmentally conscious organizations and individuals who will help out once a leadership group is identified.
Kress is committed to passing on all her knowledge and expertise to incoming organizers.
"I will lead them through every step of the process and turn over all my equipment as well as give them my ideas and suggestions," explains Kress.
The cleanups take advance preparation, and Kress notes traditionally she determined the dates for each cleanup at the beginning of the calendar year- which is coming up quickly.
"We need to begin soliciting donations, obtaining and maintaining our equipment," notes Kress.
Over the years, Kress developed positive and lasting relationships with all the landowners along the river.
"Ninety-five percent of the river areas are privately owned," notes Kress. She says without their support and permission, the cleanups would never have taken place.
Other supporters - Granite Construction, Chief Ken Johnson of the Hopland Fire Department and particularly, Bob Thornsberry of Empire Waste Management, have provided tremendous assistance.
"For 19 years, Bob has taken all our trash, appliances and toxins. He provided porta-potties, dumpsters and a free storage container for all our supplies. The community owes a huge debt of gratitude to Bob and Empire Waste Management," Kress said.
Not all river cleanups have been idyllic. Kress and her volunteers discovered and in some cases removed everything from meth labs to auto scrapping businesses, countless piles of human excrement, diapers and toxic waste- headed, stressed Kress, "into our water supply."
Kress has singlehandedly, with a landowner or with Supervisor John McCowen - who she terms "a true friend of the river" - rousted out transients, found unattended children swimming alone, and removed graffiti from overpasses.
Kelly hopes the continuity and positive relationships Kress has fostered will not disappear.
"If we can keep people from re-trashing the river, we have a chance. Keeping it clean is easier than cleaning it in the first place," he notes.
The MEC, according to Kress, will be much more likely to assume responsibility if others come forward to give them support. Kelly hopes that high school clubs such as Interact might be willing to spend some time on the water.
"All we need is a good dozen to 20 people to come to each cleanup, plus a group to make sure all the T's' are crossed," says Kelly.
Kress will continue her work with schools - informing students of the importance of their water sources.
"I try to find positive ways to give scary news to kids, but always with solutions," says Kress. In the meantime, she hopes that individuals, service clubs, churches and other agencies will consider what they are willing to do to preserve one of the county's most significant and singular resources.
"Let's start the local drive to keep Rebecca's river alive," smiles Kelly.
If you would like more information on helping with river cleanups, phone 707-463-4589.
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