Category Archives: spirituality

On the March

After the Women’s March, Women are Still Marching On

mandela

Some say the WOMEN’S MARCH, which took place world-wide the day after Trump’s inauguration, marked a global transition in the consciousness of women and in the men who love and respect women. The Spirit of Standing Rock woke many to this new consciousness, to the realization that  love, peace, and compassion are more powerful revolutionary forces than hatred, fear, and violence.

On the day of the march, women donned their pink pussy hats and owned those disparagingly sexist labels of “pussy” and “nasty woman” with pride. Our march was remarkable not only because of its historic numbers, but also because everyone that day, even the police, honored the Divine Feminine with beauty, grace, humor, peace and love.

But the Divine Feminine is not only a spirit of love, peace and beauty. She is Great Destroyer as well as Mother Creator. Sisters, now is the time to get in touch with all the power of our Divine Feminine. Wipe that pink juicy pussy couture off your face, slip on your warrior armor and rise. Treasonous Trump and his cronies must be stopped before they destroy all that is good, beautiful, innocent and sacred of Mother Earth and her children. Beyoncé said it, right?

Okay Ladies, now let’s get in Formation. Prove to me you got some coordination. Go hard. Go hard. . . I slay. We slay. Slay, Chick, or you get eliminated. ”

We cannot be emancipated by someone else. We must emancipate ourselves, to be truly free and equal. 

Are you WOKE yet? Can you hear me now? Connect the dots: The Women’s Movement, Standing Rock, Black Lives Matter, Sustainability, Climate Change, Banking and Capitalism, Marketing, .  .  .   It’s all connected.

Have you seen that viral Pepsi ad? http://www.vanityfair.com/…/kendall-jenner-pepsi-ad Pepsi trying to co-opt the #BlackLivesMatter movement in order to sell soft drinks. That’s evil. But corporations using marketing to co-opt liberation and justice movements is nothing new.

I think women-hating misogyny in America runs even deeper, and is older, and more virulent than racism. Around a hundred years ago Edward Bernays, Father of Modern Marketing, figured out how to promote the TOBACCO industry by using the Suffragettes (Yes, R.J. Reynolds used those women who risked their very lives to win women’s right to vote, after they’d already helped to win the Black vote – big tobacco used those women’s equal rights campaign to sell cigarettes. )

These marketing corporations have been sticking it to us ever since Bernays figured out how to manipulate us through fear, lust and greed. But not a lot of people paid attention.

Check it out: Have you noticed the way the big department stores are currently selling torn blue jeans for over $100 a pair? Yes, you and your daughter can join the proletariat and sacrifice and struggle to make the world a better place, so poor you can’t afford new blue jeans, or you can pay a lot of $$$ to just look cool – like a radical protestor – in your ripped designer  jeans.

How did this happen? Watch the amazing four-part documentary The Century of Self to understand how corporate capitalism is co-opting our authentic grass-roots movements and manipulating We the Consumers. Wait. We are NOT Consumers. WE are Citizens, and PEOPLE. We are Human. Not slaves born to lift the machine’s GDP. The Century of Self : https://youtu.be/eJ3RzGoQC4s

Here’s the Pepsi ad with hilarious commentary by Stephen Colbert. Be sure to scroll all the way down and watch Seth Meyers’ alternative ending to the ad (it’s sick). http://www.vanityfair.com/…/kendall-jenner-pepsi-ad-stephen…

Stephen Colbert Rips Kendall Jenner’s Ill-Conceived Pepsi Ad
“Luckily, Ms. Jenner, a wealthy young white woman, knows exactly how to handle police at a protest.   vanityfair.com

Until we are all free, none of us will be.

So who’s #45 GOT BY THE PUSSY now? Besides poor zombie Stepford Wife Melania, he’s got  Congressional Representatives Liz Cheney, R-Wyoming and Virginia Foxx, R-North Carolina selling out to SERVE the Master. These token women were photo op’ed at the signing of a Trump executive order rolling back hard-fought victories for women in the workplace.

Trump’s order revokes the 2014 Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces legislation that protected women from sexual harassment in the workplace and guaranteed fair payroll practices. http://www.nbcnews.com/…/trump-pulls-back-obama-era-protect…

How did #45 get Liz and Gini to go along with screwing the women of this country? Maybe we should grab him by the balls and ask him. Snip snip.

170403-donald-trump-mn-1100_1f88b65e117f7acd35ad9b855b36d8eb-nbcnews-ux-2880-1000

And now, Arch-misogynist #periods-for-PENCE and the Republicans have forced the HobbyLobby anti-contraception  Supreme Court nominee Mr. Gorsuch through, with Mitch McConnell’s democracy-destroying “nuclear option” clearing the way for repeal of Roe v. Wade and a future for American women resembling the cultural/socio/political-economic landscape of The Handmaid’s Tale.

By the way, if you haven’t yet read Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, now would be a good time, because we are no doubt in for some sci fi horror playing out in our real lives very soon. Read author Margaret Attwood’s recent illuminating and chilling INTERVIEW in the New York Times for more on this.

If you’re not in the mood to read, you may want to watch the new HULU original series based on the book, season premier April 26, 2017.

handmaid4RESIST!

Come on, Ladies. Let’s get in Formation. Time to March. We’re going to the Tax March. Going to the  People’s March for Science. Going to the Citizens Climate March.

We going to March for Liberty and Justice for All.

Join your local INDIVISIBLE group to find out about the next march, the next action, the next letter or phone call you need to make. DOWNLOAD THE INDIVISIBLE GUIDE. Subscribe to Andrew’s Actions.

Slay, Chick (Pussy), Slay. or you gonna get eliminated.

“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—for ever.”
George Orwell, 1984 

RESIST!  “Being in a minority, even in a minority of one, did not make you mad. There was truth and there was untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad.”
George Orwell, 1984

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Standing Rock Insiders Urgently Request Help as Violence from DAPL Mercenaries Escalates

Standing Rock tepeeDecember 1, 2016
Standing Rock, North Dakota

Dear Friends and Relatives,

In late August I responded to an utterly compelling, impossible-to-refuse Call from Spirit to go to Standing Rock, North Dakota. Since I’ve returned home, everyone I’ve met has expressed a deep hunger to better understand the current situation at Standing Rock and to know how they can help. There is a mainstream media black out. What little information is broadcast on mainstream media is often unreliable. Below, I pass on the following insider information from friends at Standing Rock – urgent calls for help which I KNOW will make a difference for the good right now:

1. Donations to the Standing Rock legal support efforts may be made to:

The Water Protector Legal Collective is the National Lawyers Guild legal support team for those engaged in resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline. It maintains a 24/7 presence on-site at the Oceti Sakowin camp near Cannon Ball, North Dakota.

For updates, visit waterprotectorlegal.org, and follow the WPLC at Facebook.com/WaterProtectorLegal and Twitter @WaterProtectUs.

The National Lawyers Guild is dedicated to the need for basic and progressive change in the structure of our political and economic system. Through its members–lawyers, law students, jailhouse lawyers and legal workers united in chapters and committees–the Guild works locally, nationally and internationally as an effective political and social force in the service of the people.

“The Morton County Sheriff’s Department’s illegal use of force against the Water Protectors has been escalating (throughout the Fall). It is only a matter of luck that no one has been killed. This must stop.”

On November 29,2016, the Water Protector Legal Collective (WPLC-formerly Red Owl), an initiative of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG), filed suit in US District Court against Morton County, Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirschmeier, and other law enforcement agencies for using excessive force against peaceful Water Protectors on the night of November 20, 2016. http://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2016/11/28/water-protector-legal-collective-files-suit-excessive-force-against-peaceful

The class action suit, filed on behalf of persons who were injured on the night of November 20 and early morning of November 21, seeks an immediate injunction preventing the Morton County Sheriff’s Department and other law enforcement from using impact munitions such as rubber bullets and lead-filled “beanbags,” water cannons and hoses, explosive teargas grenades and other chemical agents against protesters.

2. Those concerned are urged to CALL NOW local and federal agencies below to demand (1) immediate end to construction of the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline, (2) the immediate cessation and a full investigation into law enforcement abuses, (3) dropping felony charges against water protectors from the October 27 police raid, and (4) permitting the Water Protectors to stay at their current encampment until the DAPL’s application to drill under Lake Oahe and the Missouri River is permanently denied.

  • White House: 202-456-1111 (ask for “hot line to President”) or 202-456-1414 and/ or sign the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s White House petition standwithstandingrock.net/take-action
    • White House Situation Room, 202-456-9431
    • North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple’s Office: 701-328-2200
    • Morton County Sheriff’s Office: 701-667-3330
    • Morton County State’s Attorney’s Office: 701-667-3330
    • Army Corps of Engineers-Bismarck 701-255-0015 or D.C. office 202-761-5903
    Energy Transfer Partners: the pipeline owner ― Lee Hanse, executive vice president, 210-403-6455; Glenn Emery, vice president, 210-403-6762; Michael (Cliff) Waters, lead analyst, 713-989-2404.

3. U.S. veterans for peace are raising donations on Go Fund Me
< https://www.gofundme.com/veterans-for-standing-rock-nodapl > to help our veterans get to Standing Rock to protect protesters in the threatened “December sweep”. I’m worried the military could get really really violent in attempt to remove people so they can complete the pipe under the water. The water protectors WILL NOT LEAVE unless they are dead or forcibly dragged away, until they are sure the fracked oil pipleline is no longer a threat to the drinking water of millions of people.

http://heavy.com/news/2016/11/standing-rock-veterans-donations-fundraiser-go-fund-me-dapl-dakota-access-pipeline-arm-blown-off-video-photos-amazon-list-facebook/?ref=emailshare WE NEED TO HELP GET THOSE VETS THERE before Dec 4th.

4. Medical support for the camp is desperately needed. The official tribal funding page for this is   https://medichealercouncil.com/volunteer/
To get a better idea of current conditions at the camp, especially if you are considering going there, read the healer’s page and the FAQ.  If you’re not sure you are prepared physically and emotionally to withstand extremely severe winter conditions (6 degrees, 26 mile/hr winds, completely exposed living plus under siege by a military force) don’t go and become a liability on an already stressed community. But if you have the food, arctic clothing, camping equipment, physical stamina and temperament to care for yourself and others, and you feel you should go, Do Not Hesitate! They need you NOW! (no drugs, alcohol, weapons – only strong, peaceful, prayerful hearts)

5. Medical support for Sophia Wilansky, young woman whose arm was blown up by a DAPL  mercenary’s grenade <  https://www.gofundme.com/30aezxs# > Her father speaks about the attack on his daughter:  < https://www.facebook.com/paul.blumekmsp/videos/1115197865202714/>

6. DIVEST any and all of your assets that are invested in Chase, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America – they all own a big piece of the pipeline

 

~ LINKS  ~  LINKS  ~  LINKS ~

* Great overview Fusion video of what’s going on  https://www.facebook.com/fusionmedianetwork/videos/1543459422346697/

* Democracy Now full show Thanksgiving Day starts with now infamous dog attack video then summarizes Standing Rock to date with good new material https://www.democracynow.org/shows/2016/11/24?autostart=true

* For more of the BIG PICTURE: Robert Kennedy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bdvSQaWYk8M&feature=share

* New York Times editorial  http://nyti.ms/2gkKUmB

* Amnesty Int’l and ACLU decry human rights abuses against water protectors https://insideclimatenews.org/news/24112016/police-dakota-access-protesters-aclu-amnesty-international-standing-rock

*FIRE racist, unqualified U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Commander and District Engineer of the Omaha District Colonel John W. Henderson
Read more at Cheyenne River Sioux Chair Calls for Resignation of US Army Corps’ Henderson Cheyenne River Sioux Chairman Harold Frazier demands ouster of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ district commander John W. Henderson after “racist” conversation.  indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com

*Indigenous Environmental Network  http://www.ienearth.org/

* Oceti Sakowin Camp Known as “The Main Camp” at Standing Rock http://www.ocetisakowincamp.org/

* Kandi Mossett Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=Kandi%20Mossett

*Myron Dewey Facebook posts about Why the government is banning Standing Rock indymedia’s drones https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=myron%20dewey%20posts

YES! online magazine has been doing excellent ongoing work of covering Standing Rock with timely, in-depth articles  http://www.yesmagazine.org/people-power/why-the-assaults-on-standing-rock-require-police-from-seven-different-states-and-other-questions-20161031

Thank you relatives and friends. The media is not covering this situation. It’s up to us!

Please share this information as widely as you can.
We MUST stop this pipeline, with strictest legal bindings, Before inauguration day!

Water is Life

"Water Is Life"

“Water Is Life”


 

 

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Rough Cut: The Shipper/Packer/Cooler Industry and the Brown Berets

Rough Cuts: {Watsonville Brown Berets, a snippet from back in the day. This is a true story.}

Sunday morning, August 28, 1998.
Prudenciana Elementary School. Watsonville.

Aurora opened the door to the computer lab. Jose Santos, the new technology assistant, was down on his hands and knees under a shelf of colorful new iMacs, working with a tangle of cables. Aurora smiled at the slender young man with a black moustache. They made a good choice in hiring him. He’d been doing very well as a computer technician, even though he was inexperienced.

“Hey, Jose. Thanks for being willing to meet me here on a Sunday morning. How’s it going?”

“Good. We should have all the software installed, and the computers networked to the new printer by the time we go home today, but we’ll still need an adapter for the overhead projector, and we should have some of those rubber floor covers to put all these wires under, so they aren’t a tripping hazard.”

“Give me a list. I can pick that stuff up. Can I give you a hand with networking the printers?”

Aurora dove under the bank of computers, and Jose oriented her as to what he was doing. “You’ve really learned all this technology stuff fast,” she said.

“Yeah. I’m taking a full load of tech classes at the community college, going for the Cisco networking certification.”

“Brilliant move. I’ll bet networking will be huge in the future.”

Jose sat back on his heels. “That does it. Now, we should test them all.”

Jose and Aurora each took a chair in front of an iMac and turned on a computer.

Aurora navigated to Preferences, selected the new printer, restarted the computer, then opened the word processing app to test the printer connection.

“Where are you from originally, Jose?” Aurora asked while she waited for the app to open. “Did you grow up here in Watsonville?”

“I’m from Mexico. A small village outside of Guadalajara.”

“Your English is excellent. You must have been in the States for a long time.”

“No. I came to California about five years ago.”

“Have you been going to school since you got here?

“No. Working. When I first arrived, I got a job in a packinghouse, here in Watsonville. With Strawberry Bay Berry.”

“What was that like?”

“A nightmare, to tell you the truth.”

The printer came to life, rattling out the test page Jose had just sent. He turned off the computer and moved to the next one on the row against the wall.

“Nightmare? Why?” Aurora moved to the next computer in her row and pushed the on button, enjoying the ta-da sound the new iMac made when it powered up.

“I worked at a conveyor belt that moved fruit to the coolers. We were supposed to inspect for rotten and damaged fruits and pull them off, but the belt moved too fast. We also had to quickly slide a new box under the end of the belt where the fruit fell off, whenever a box was full, without letting any fruit fall on the cement floor. The shifts were ungodly long. No bathroom breaks. By the end of the day, my feet, hands, back, and head hurt, and I could hardly see straight. It was always way too hot or freezing cold. Standing all day on the cement floor just sucked the energy out of your body. You really had to pay attention, to do everything right. Somebody watched us all the time. The foreman came from my home village in Mexico. He knew my parents, and grandparents. My family had obligations to him, and I owed him for helping me get into the States and getting me my job. The man was merciless, kind of a Godfather type.”

“That does sound like a nightmare. But you got out. And now you’re at Cabrillo College and you have this job. Those are huge accomplishments.”

“Yeah. It’s because I started going to meetings of this group, the Brown Berets.” Jose said “Brown Berets” in a whisper, looking over his shoulder.

“Who are they?” asked Aurora.

“A Chicano activist group founded by a radical Episcopal priest in East LA in the late sixties, during the Black and Brown liberation movements, to help young Chicanos develop their political skills. The group decided to wear brown berets as a symbol of unity and resistance against oppression.”

Aurora moved to another computer. Ta-dah. “I’ve been teaching in Watsonville for years, and I’ve never heard of the Brown Berets.”

“The organization kind of died out after the sixties. But in ninety-four, a group of students from Watsonville decided to resurrect it. The gang-related murders of two young people had a lot to do with it. We were just a group of young Chicanos and Chicanas, tired of injustices in the community and the lack of political representation. So we decided to educate ourselves, and take the power of self-determination in our own hands.”

Jose hit the print button and the next test page spun out.

“We couldn’t have done it without our mentors, a high school counselor named Alba and this Ohlone Catholic priest we call El Gecko. It’s a real spiritual group. El Gecko helps us get in touch with our indigenous power, and teaches us the Old Ways.”

Aurora’s heart skipped at the mention of the priest. She started the next computer. Ta dah. She was not surprised to learn that Father Francis was involved in such work.

“So the Brown Berets is a peace keeping group?” Aurora asked as the printer rattled out the next test page.

“A peace building and educational organization. We recognize that Mother Earth has no borders and belongs to all of earth’s creatures. With all our diversity, we’re still all family. We should respect, not exploit and oppress one another. At our meetings, Norteños and Sureños actually meet together, cross the line, and find their brotherhood. There’s no hating. We figure out how to work together for the betterment of our community. To address gang violence, we organized an annual march that passes through all the different barrios in Watsonville, to bring the message of Peace and Unity. We’re even working with the police, to build a positive relationship between police and minority youth.”

“So, what happened to you? How did the Brown Berets help you with your job at the packing plant?”

“Well, like I said, the Brown Berets educate. Through our Education Popular, I learned about the history of the farmworkers struggle in Watsonville. I learned that those packer-shipper-cooler corporations are at the top of the ladder. Strawberry Bay Berry is actually owned, through a venture capital front corporation, by BioGenesis Agrochemical Corporation. Heard of them?”

“Oh, my God, yes,” said Aurora. “I’ve heard that their people go into the rainforest, get indigenous people to show them their traditional medicinal plants, take the plants back to the US and patent them, then tell the native people they can’t use their own plants anymore unless they pay BioGen. And the U.S. government is backing up the corporate theft. And I’ve heard they’re developing genetically modified seeds that have pesticides in their DNA, and they’re suing small family farmers all over the world who save their organic seeds in the traditional way, bankrupting them with legal fees and then seizing their farms.”

“It’s all true.” Jose started up the next computer. “And here, in the Pajaro Valley, the big shipper-cooler companies, with BioGen pulling their strings, tell the growers what to grow, when and how much. They have a huge amount of power. But guess what? I found out I have power, too. I learned that in the USA, workers have rights.”

“Yes, we do. So what happened?”

“One day, a friend of mine was operating a fork lift in a cold storage warehouse. I was there in the warehouse when he was fork lifting some heavy crates onto a high shelf. One of the crates got stuck on the lift. The foreman ordered my friend to climb up and move the crate by hand, so my friend climbed up there and pushed the crate. But when it came unstuck, it released the forklift, which bounced up and knocked him off the shelf. He fell more than fifteen feet down to the cement floor. Landed on his back. Blood pouring out of his nose, and ears. I thought he might be dead. But he opened his eyes, and ­– you know what? – the foreman told him to go home. Told him, if he went to a doctor or told anyone what happened, he might as well not come back to work.”

“That’s horrible. Inhumane. And it’s against the law.”

“Right. But keep in mind that most of these workers have no clue about American labor law. After seeing that, something just snapped inside me. The foreman sent me back to my conveyor belt. When the box filled up, I just watched the fruit fall on the floor. My foreman started yelling at me, but I didn’t care. I just stood there, watching the fruit pile up and roll all over the place. Finally, someone shut off the conveyor belt. I walked away, and never looked back. I went to the Brown Berets. Señor Alba and El Gecko helped me get into Cabrillo Community College and helped me get this job. To me, both those men are like saints. I know a lot of people they’ve helped, besides me.”

“Were there repercussions, when you walked off the job?”

“Oh, yeah. I never got my last paycheck. Some of my family in Mexico is still ticked off at me. And I definitely burned my bridges with that foreman. I’ll never work in the packing industry again. Not that I ever want to go back there anyway. I’m just lucky no one came after me. You know – to beat me up, or kill me.”

“Seriously?”

“Yeah. As a matter of fact, I – ah, I’ve been wanting to talk to you about this. I’ve heard that you teachers are asking questions about the pesticides. Be careful, okay? I mean it. The people behind the strawberry industry in this town don’t like to be messed with. There’s history here, going back to before Cesar Chavez. They’re dangerous. Seriously, Aurora. Watch your back.”

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Organic and Sustainable Agriculture – Re-Designing the Food System

I’ve taken the last 6 months away from my novel to go back to classroom teaching in the Pajaro River Valley. My middle school classroom – a well-equipped computer lab in a state-of-the-art Google Classroom paperless school – is surrounded by agricultural fields. Many of my 7th and 8th grade students are children of freseros – strawberry workers.

I received a call to come back to Pajaro Valley School District for this one semester position because a dear colleague and old friend of mine was unable to finish the year and needed a replacement. She was stricken with a bone cancer linked to pesticides used around the school where she taught for over thirty years.

[Addendum: I wrote this post in May, 2015. I’m very sorry to say my friend and colleague Betty Geesman, died of Multiple Myeloma in June. ]

I feel as though my novel has come alive and I’ve stepped into its pages. The school where I’m teaching is at the epicenter of Fruit of the Devil. The bell of Our Lady of Help Church tolls hourly, just across the highway. And the St. Francis, the Catholic high school built upon the site of an Ohlone burial ground, which provides backstory for one of my main characters, is on the other side of the cyclone fence from my computer lab.

I’ve been shocked to find that so many of my students appear to be in a state of extreme mental and emotional chaos – more so than the average middle school adolescent. Attention deficit, hyperactivity, and Autism spectrum disorders are rampant. There are obviously many factors contributing to this, including poor nutrition and the proliferation of the cell phones, mp3 players, and the Chrome Book laptops to which every student is now constantly connected. But according to recent research findings, it is likely that much of the neurological anomalies we are seeing in the Central California schools are caused by long-term exposure to pesticide neurotoxins.

According to a soon-to-be-released California Health Report article < http://www.healthycal.org/ > Dangerous Drift by Lily Dayton:

In 1999, researchers from UC Berkeley began studying how pesticides affect the health of people living in the Salinas Valley. Researchers have studied hundreds of Latino families
who work in agriculture. Mothers in the study had higher levels of metabolites from
organophosphate pesticides in their urine than women in the general population. Related to chemicals developed during World War II for nerve gas, organophosphates are neurotoxins.
Children of mothers with the highest levels of organophosphates were more likely to have developmental problems, including abnormal reflexes, autism-related conditions, low IQ
and indicators of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, the study found.

Mixtec Immigrant Picking Strawberries

I thought that when I returned to the Pajaro Valley to teach, I’d be able to interest other teachers in the struggle to reform pesticide exposure around the schools. It’s been discouraging to find that everyone is overwhelmed by the stressful demands of the job, and few teachers want to discuss the subject of pesticide exposure or even think about it.

Nevertheless, it was a source of tremendous hope to reconnect recently with Dick Pexiote, the uncle of one of my students 20 years ago when teachers, parents and community members founded Farm without Harm to promote organic agriculture. Dick is the owner of Lakeside Organics, the largest family-owned and operated solely organic vegetable grower/shipper in the US. When I dropped by his Watsonville office one afternoon after school about a month ago, he welcomed me and told me he remembered very well the teachers’ fight to end pesticide drift. He said it was partly our efforts that first got him thinking seriously about going organic. Dick’s courageous transition, when fellow growers told him he’d “lost his marbles”, has not only been an inspiration to many others, but has also turned out to be a very profitable business decision.

In the 1990’s conventional growers were calling Organic Agriculture a “Communist Plot” and telling those of us with the dream of a model sustainable agricultural valley to, “Go back to Cuba”. Today, 30% of Santa Cruz County’s agriculture is organic. When Farm without Harm was founded in the mid 90’s, we teachers  proposed writing grants to help family farmers make the costly transition to organic. Now, there are millions of dollars in state grants available to farmers who want to transition to sustainable food production practices. Societal change can take a long time. But I  hear the voice of my favorite teacher, the late Dr. Kenneth Norris, saying, “Never give up.”

Farm without Harm no longer exists, but Pesticide Action Network, the organization that helped us file pesticide use permit challenges back in the 90’s, is now part of a broad coalition of environmental groups under the umbrella Californians for Pesticide Reform.

The CPR coalition has asked California Department of Pesticide Regulation to focus on development of a statewide policy to protect school children, staff and families from agricultural pesticide use near schools, parks and homes.

This spring and early summer the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) will conduct a series of workshops around the state to solicit public input from the communities most affected by pesticide use near public schools. 

Everyone who is concerned about childhood and community pesticide exposure should take this opportunity to attend a workshop where you can meet face to face with the state regulators. Together we can make real change! Please come out and make your voice heard. We need to fill the halls!

Workshops are scheduled for:

May 28th: Cal EPA Building, Sierra Room  
                  1001 I Street
                  SACRAMENTO, CA 95814
3:00 pm: Grower & pesticide applicator issues
5:30 pm: Community, parent, & teacher issues (with simultaneous Spanish translation)
June 2nd: Cesar Chavez Library
                  615 Williams Rd.
                  SALINAS, CA 93905
3:00 pm: Grower & pesticide applicator issues
5:30 pm: Community, parent, & teacher issues (with simultaneous Spanish translation)
 
June 3rd: Ventura County Govt. Center
                  Board of Supervisors Room
                  800 South Victoria Ave.
                  VENTURA, CA 93009
3:00 pm: Grower & pesticide applicator issues

June 3rd: Rio Mesa High School Library
                 545 Central Ave.
                 OXNARD, CA 93036
7:00 pm: Community, parent, & teacher issues (with simultaneous Spanish and Mixteco (Baja) translation)
June 4th: Kern County Library – Lamont Branch
                 8394 Segrue Rd.
                 LAMONT, CA 93241
3:00 pm: Grower & pesticide applicator issues
5:30 pm: Community, parent, & teacher issues (with simultaneous Spanish translation)

June 9th: City of Coachella Corporate Yard
                 53-462 Enterprise Way
                 COACHELLA, CA 92236
3:00 pm: Grower & pesticide applicator issues
5:30 pm: Community, parent, & teacher issues (with simultaneous Spanish translation)

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New State Report on Pesticide Use Near Schools

I just drove home, on this beautiful full moon California night in June, from a meeting at the AFL-CIO Labor Hall in Salinas with the Safe Strawberry Working Group. When I got home, I said hello to my dogs, poured three fingers of Chivas Regal in my glass, and read over the news and information about the new state pesticide report.

According to the new state study, Agricultural Pesticide Use Near Public Schools in California, authored by the California Department of Public Health, released in April, 2014, “over the past 20 years, incidence of many serious childhood diseases has risen dramatically. Health professionals tell us that we have a ‘silent pandemic’ of learning disabilities and disorders including autism and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Certain childhood cancers – such as brain cancer and leukemia – are increasing, as are rates of childhood obesity and diabetes. On the Central Coast, researchers have demonstrated a link between exposure to pesticides and a reduction in children’s IQ. Science now points to pesticide exposure as a contributing factor – and in some cases, a key driver – of these trends. Over 500,000 students attend school within 1/4 mile of highly hazardous pesticide use; 118,000 students go to schools within 1/4 mile of the heaviest use of these pesticides. There are 137 county schools, with 73,876 students, within a quarter-mile of the highest concentration (319 to 28,979 pounds) of pesticides used.1 in 4 Monterey schoolchildren (the highest percentage in all of California) go to school within ¼ mile of heavy use of highly hazardous pesticides. Latino children are 91% more likely to be in heavy use areas than white children.” ( see Californian article: http://bit.ly/1johQE0    and Herald article http://bit.ly/1lnKTfm )

In response to the report, Monterey County Farm Bureau Executive Director Norm Groot wrote in a Monday column in The Californian, “The report makes no claim that children are being adversely affected by farming activities, but only implies that, by proximity, the use of agricultural chemicals near schools is automatically a bad thing. The perception this report infers is that use equals risk, which is falsely implied by not providing proper context of the regulatory process that exists to protect against exposure incidents.”

Norm’s statement is PURE BULLSHIT. Orwellian doublespeak. Meaningless obfuscation in a belittling tone, intended to confuse and make the listener/reader feel stupid and uninformed. The sentence is nonsense. The report infers a perception?  Non sequitur!   (a report can’t infer anything – utter b.s.)  “…falsely implied by not providing proper context of the regulatory process….”  Go back to English composition class, Norm.

I’m not usually so hard on my English students, but this guy is trying to pull a trick that’s so old it’s irritating; “Talk down to them, use pseudo-scientific/technical language and double talk to make them think they’re dumb and they don’t understand.” Nope. Not buying it. Let me give it to you in plain language, Norm. Here’s the deal: Pesticides are poison. It is insane to poison our kids. The pesticide poisoning needs to stop. Stop pretending you don’t understand, that the context is “improper”, or that you need “more research”. Cut the bull.

This report is nothing new. The issue of pesticide exposure around schools and in residential neighborhoods has been studied over and over again, for decades. See my blog entry on the DPR Permit Challenge Hearing we had in the Pajaro Valley on this issue in the 90’s.

Way back in 1989, Cesar Chavez said, “In the old days, miners would carry birds with them to warn against poison gas. Hopefully, the birds would die before the miners. Farm workers are society’s canaries.  Farm workers – and their children – demonstrate the effects of pesticide poisoning before anyone else.” Whenever people get interested in the issue again, a new study is proposed, then released with hoopla. There is some discussion about the “findings”, and then the issue blows over until next time, when a new study is called for with great fanfare. Then it’s critiqued; then dismissed or forgotten. We’ve had enough studies. We have peer reviewed scientific papers documenting the health effects of pesticide exposure: cancer, brain damage, nerve damage, respiratory failure, miscarriages, birth defects, and death. We need real change. Now. We need to transition completely away from chemical-intensive mono-crop industrial-style agriculture, and move to a sustainable ecological food system as soon as possible.

Eric Lauritzen, Monterey County Agricultural Commissioner, quibbles over details. Timing, he says. Timing schmiming – an hour before or after school? WTF! Never, Norm. Never on school days. Read my lips. Never apply pesticides near schools on school days.  And the ag comish claims that the report “… inflames rather than informs.” Apparently, the report is not inflammatory enough, Mr. Lauritzen, or you would act. You see, People, our agricultural commissioner has the power to mandate much safer practices, immediately – such as buffer zones at least 1/4 mile wide, no pesticide applications on school days,  72 hour pre-notification to all residents, schools, hospitals, and work places within drift range of all pesticide applications, large and clear fog-and-waterproof signs in Spanish and English posted on fumigated and sprayed fields.

Oh, but the ag comish and the Farm Bureau Director were up in Sacramento just as this report was being released, to derail SB1411 – a bill that would have required notification of schools and residents prior to fumigant, aerial and air-blast pesticide applications, and would have required that pesticide “do not enter” signs include the name of the pesticide, the phone number of the local agricultural commissioner and the expiration date of the sign. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, would have provided greater protection to farmworkers and would have assisted first responders in an emergency. The bill was defeated. Shsssss. Don’t tell. Don’t tell people when you’re going to poison them. We don’t want them to know. Does that remind you of anything? Like, the abuser, pedophile, or wife beater, for example, who always says, “shhusssss. Don’t tell anyone.” That’s sick. Yep. It’s about time we scream ’til we’re heard and we get some help. Time to start screaming about this, everyone. This time, don’t stop screaming ’til we get a real, complete 911 rescue from the poison.

Come on. Just do it, Mr. Lauritzen. Mandate 1/4 mile or wider buffer zones, no school day applications, and proper notification. You can do it. You have the power. It would be the right thing to do. You know it. You’re just scared to rock the boat. Right? Sorry, but the boat is going to be rockin’ way more than you may expect, maybe sooner than you think. Did you know that methyl bromide, the fumigant used on strawberry fields, is an ozone depleting chemical, banned by international treaty?  Yet it’s still in use more than a decade after it was banned because strawberries are such a lucrative crop in California that congress grants the growers “critical exemptions” to apply the banned substance. By the way, methyl bromide is also a dangerous greenhouse gas – a serious contributor to global warming.

Here’s something else you need to stop pretending you don’t believe: If we have any chance at all as a species to preserve our global food security and mitigate inevitable mass human die-offs from climate-change induced world-wide famines, we need to immediately redesign and shift our food production as well as our energy systems. Commercial, chemical-intensive strawberry production poisons people and destroys the soil. It relies on dangerous petrochemicals that drive global warming. It’s far too water intensive.  It fosters unjust political-economic conditions. The planet cannot continue to support these unsustainable practices. Big beautiful strawberries will be one of the first things thrown overboard as our boat sinks and over 50% of our biodiversity becomes extinct. “Get out of the way if you can’t lend a hand. The times, they are a’changing.”

Meanwhile, BUY ORGANIC! Go down to the Redman House Farm stand on the way to Palm Beach – or to your nearest Farmers’ Market – and buy some organic strawberries. They are big, they are beautiful, they are delicious, they are NOT poison, and the their workers and the kids nearby weren’t poisoned either.

 

 

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A priest is murdered.

That’s the way the story starts. Death is on my mind tonight. My beloved Godmother, Grace, died on May 3rd. And I just learned today about the deaths of two of my friends.

Cecile, I knew was sick, but it never occurred to me she might die. She did, fairly suddenly, this week.

Barbara, I have gone along holding in my heart, the way we do those people we care about, but don’t often see . Having imagined conversations. Thinking, I should really call her one of these days. “Is Barbara going to be coming to the 1,000 Hummingbirds gathering this weekend?” I asked Jaime today. “Barbara? Oh, my goodness, she died three years ago. You didn’t know?” What a strange feeling, to discover that the connection I’ve felt to Barbara all this time was actually cut off years ago. Like the light from stars – it takes so long to reach us from out in the universe, we might be looking at a star that actually died eons ago.

My friend Cecile and I were talking with each other about the stories we were going to write, last time I saw her. Her story would have been wonderful. But she died without telling it. I feel such urgency to finish writing mine! How much time have any of us got, individually, and as a species? “The hour is getting late,” and we are all stardust.

 

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