In 2010, I retired from public school teaching after 25 + years of service and started writing my novel about pesticide exposure near schools in the Pajaro Valley. This December, I learned that a long-time friend/colleague of mine who’s been teaching adjacent to strawberry fields in Watsonville for 30 years has been battling cancer. When she realized she couldn’t complete her teaching contract, I was asked to step in and finish this school year for her.
Returning to the district where my pesticide activism was “born”, I’m surprised to find that many people are unaware and unconcerned about the danger of pesticide exposure, and those who do understand the threat are still timidly requesting the same buffer zones and drift monitoring that we demanded 20 years ago. At this point, so much more than inadequate buffer zones and “further study and monitoring of drift” are needed!
As Naomi Klein writes in This Changes Everything, “Unless our culture goes through some sort of fundamental shift . . . how do we honestly think we will ‘adapt’ to the people made homeless and jobless by increasingly intense and frequent natural disasters? How will we treat the climate refugees who arrive on our shores in leaky boats? How will we cope as fresh water and food become ever more scarce?” There is NO Doubt that Climate Chaos is upon us. Going forward, chemical intensive monoculture driven by the petrochemical multinationals is not a sustainable way to produce our food. Not only to protect ourselves and our loved ones from the dangers of pesticide exposure, but also to ensure the very continuation of a viable food supply, we need to seize power from the corporations raping and poisoning our land and transition quickly to completely different economic and food production systems.