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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Swine Flu Pandemic – Fact or Fiction?

Sent in by a reader to help you stay informed:

Critical Alert: The Swine Flu Pandemic – Fact or Fiction?

American health officials declared a public health emergency as cases of swine flu were confirmed in the U.S. Health officials across the world fear this could be the leading edge of a global pandemic emerging from Mexico, where seven people are confirmed dead as a result of the new virus.

On Wednesday April 29th, the World Health Organization (WHO) raised its pandemic alert level to five on its six-level threat scale,1 which means they've determined that the virus is capable of human-to-human transmission. The initial outbreaks across North America reveal an infection already traveling at higher velocity than did the last official pandemic strain, the 1968 Hong Kong flu.

Phase 5 had never been declared since the warning system was introduced in 2005 in response to the avian influenza crisis. Phase 6 means a pandemic is under way. WHO now openly states it is not possible to contain the spread of this infection and recommends mitigation measures, not restricting travel or closing borders.

However, a pandemic does not necessarily mean what you think it does, it is NOT black-plague carts being hauled through the streets piled high with dead bodies. Nor does it mean flesh eating zombies wandering the streets feeding on the living. All a pandemic means is that a new infectious disease is spreading throughout the world.

The number of fatalities, and suspected and confirmed cases across the world change depending on the source, so your best bet -- if you want the latest numbers -- is to use Google Maps' Swine Flu Tracker.

Several nations have imposed travel bans, or made plans to quarantine air travelers2 that present symptoms of the swine flu, such as:

* Fever of more than 100
* Coughing
* Runny nose and/or sore throat
* Joint aches
* Severe headache
* Vomiting and/or diarrhea
* Lethargy
* Lack of appetite

Top global flu experts are trying to predict how dangerous the new swine flu strain will be, as it became clear that they had little information about Mexico's outbreak. It is as yet unclear how many cases occurred in the month or so before the outbreak was detected. It's also unknown whether the virus was mutating to be more lethal, or less.

Much Fear Mongering Being Promoted

I suspect you have likely been alarmed by the media's coverage of the swine flu scare. It has a noticeable subplot - preparing you for draconian measures to combat a future pandemic as well as forcing you to accept the idea of mandatory vaccinations.

On April 27, Time magazine published an article which discusses how dozens died and hundreds were injured from vaccines as a result of the 1976 swine flu fiasco, when the Ford administration attempted to use the infection of soldiers at Fort Dix as a pretext for a mass vaccination of the entire country.

Despite acknowledging that the 1976 farce was an example of “how not to handle a flu outbreak”, the article still introduces the notion that officials “may soon have to consider whether to institute draconian measures to combat the disease”.

Fortunately some respectable journalists recognize this and are seeking to spread a voice of reason to the fear that is being promoted in the majority of the media

WHO and CDC Pandemic Preparedness Seriously Broken

The pandemic warning system has failed as it simply doesn't exist, even in North America and Europe. To improve the system, massive new investments in surveillance, scientific and regulatory infrastructure, basic public health, and global access to common sense interventions like vitamin D optimization are required.

According to the Washington Post, the CDC did not learn about the outbreak until six days after Mexico had begun to impose emergency measures. There should be no excuses. The paradox of this swine flu panic is that, while totally unexpected, it was accurately predicted. Six years ago, Science dedicated a major story to evidence that "after years of stability, the North American swine flu virus has jumped onto an evolutionary fasttrack".

However, maybe this is precisely what public health authorities desire.

This is NOT the First Swine Flu Panic

My guess is that you can expect to see a lot of panic over this issue in the near future. But the key is to remain calm -- this isn't the first time the public has been warned about swine flu. The last time was in 1976, right before I entered medical school and I remember it very clearly. It resulted in the massive swine flu vaccine campaign.

Do you happen to recall the result of this massive campaign?

Within a few months, claims totaling $1.3 billion had been filed by victims who had suffered paralysis from the vaccine. The vaccine was also blamed for 25 deaths.

However, several hundred people developed crippling Guillain-Barré Syndrome after they were injected with the swine flu vaccine. Even healthy 20-year-olds ended up as paraplegics.

And the swine flu pandemic itself? It never materialized.

More People Died From the Swine Flu Vaccine than Swine Flu!

It is very difficult to forecast a pandemic, and a rash response can be extremely damaging.

To put things into perspective, malaria kills 3,000 people EVERY DAY, and it's considered "a health problem"... But of course, there are no fancy vaccines for malaria that can rake in billions of dollars in a short amount of time.

One Australian news source,3 for example, states that even a mild swine flu epidemic could lead to the deaths of 1.4 million people and would reduce economic growth by nearly $5 trillion dollars.

Give me a break, if this doesn't sound like the outlandish cries of the pandemic bird-flu I don't know what does. Do you remember when President Bush said two million Americans would die as a result of the bird flu?

In 2005, in 2006, 2007, and again in 2008, those fears were exposed as little more than a cruel hoax, designed to instill fear, and line the pocketbooks of various individuals and industry. I became so convinced by the evidence AGAINST the possibility of a bird flu pandemic that I wrote a New York Times bestselling book, The Bird Flu Hoax, all about the massive fraud involved with the epidemic that never happened..

What is the Swine Flu?

Regular swine flu is a contagious respiratory disease, caused by a type-A influenza virus that affects pigs. The current strain, A(H1N1), is a new variation of an H1N1 virus -- which causes seasonal flu outbreaks in humans -- that also contains genetic material of bird and pig versions of the flu.

Interestingly enough, this version has never before been seen in neither human nor animal, which I will discuss a bit later.

This does sound bad. But not so fast. There are a few reasons to not rush to conclusions that this is the deadly pandemic we've been told would occur in the near future (as if anyone could predict it without having some sort of inside knowledge).

Why a True Bird- or Swine Flu Pandemic is HIGHLY Unlikely

While in my opinion it is highly likely factory farming is responsible for producing this viral strain, I believe there is still no cause for concern.

You may not know this, but all H1N1 flu's are descendants of the 1918 pandemic strain. The reason why the flu shot may or may not work, however, from year to year, is due to mutations. Therefore, there's no vaccine available for this current hybrid flu strain, and naturally, this is feeding the fear that millions of people will die before a vaccine can be made.

However, let me remind you of one very important fact here.

Just a couple of months ago, scientists concluded that the 1918 flu pandemic that killed between 50-100 million people worldwide in a matter of 18 months -- which all these worst case scenarios are built upon -- was NOT due to the flu itself!4

Instead, they discovered the real culprit was strep infections.

People with influenza often get what is known as a "superinfection" with a bacterial agent. In 1918 it appears to have been Streptococcus pneumoniae.

Since strep is much easier to treat than the flu using modern medicine, a new pandemic would likely be much less dire than it was in the early 20th century, the researchers concluded.

Others, such as evolutionary biologist Paul Ewald,5 claim that a pandemic of this sort simply cannot happen, because in order for it to occur, the world has to change. Not the virus itself, but the world.

In a previous interview for Esquire magazine, in which he discusses the possibility of a bird flu pandemic, he states:

"They think that if a virus mutates, it's an evolutionary event. Well, the virus is mutating because that is what viruses and other pathogens do. But evolution is not just random mutation. It is random mutation coupled with natural selection; it is a battle for competitive advantage among different strains generated by random mutation.

For bird flu to evolve into a human pandemic, the strain that finds a home in humanity has to be a strain that is both highly virulent and highly transmissible. Deadliness has to translate somehow into popularity; H5N1 has to find a way to kill or immobilize its human hosts, and still find other hosts to infect. Usually that doesn't happen."

Ewald goes on to explain that evolution in general is all about trade-offs, and in the evolution of infections the trade-off is between virulence and transmissibility.

What this means is that in order for a "bird flu" or "swine flu" to turn into a human pandemic, it has to find an environment that favors both deadly virulence and ease of transmission.

People living in squalor on the Western Front at the end of World War I generated such an environment, from which the epidemic of 1918 could arise.

Likewise, crowded chicken farms, slaughterhouses, and jam-packed markets of eastern Asia provide another such environment, and that environment gave rise to the bird flu -- a pathogen that both kills and spreads, in birds, but not in humans.

Says Ewald:

"We know that H5N1 is well adapted to birds. We also know that it has a hard time becoming a virus that can move from person to person. It has a hard time without our doing anything. But we can make it harder. We can make sure it has no human population in which to evolve transmissibility. There is no need to rely on the mass extermination of chickens. There is no need to stockpile vaccines for everyone.

By vaccinating just the people most at risk -- the people who work with chickens and the caregivers -- we can prevent it from becoming transmissible among humans. Then it doesn't matter what it does in chickens."

Please remember that, despite the fantastic headlines and projections of MILLIONS of deaths, the H5N1 bird flu virus killed a mere 257 people worldwide since late 2003. As unfortunate as those deaths are, 257 deaths worldwide from any disease, over the course of five years, simply does not constitute an emergency worthy of much attention, let alone fear!

Honestly, your risk of being killed by a lightning strike in the last five years was about 2,300 percent higher than your risk of contracting and dying from the bird flu.6 I'm not kidding! In just one year (2004), more than 1,170 people died from lighting strikes, worldwide.7

So please, as the numbers of confirmed swine flu cases are released, keep a level head and don't let fear run away with your brains.

So is the Swine Flu Getting More or Less Dangerous?

On Sunday, April 26, The Independent reported that more than 1,000 people had contracted the swine flu virus in Mexico, 8 but by the afternoon that same day, Mexican President Calderon declared that more than two-thirds of the 1,300 thought to have contracted the disease had been given a clean bill of health and sent home.9

Additionally, the number of actual confirmed cases appears to be far lower than reported in many media outlets, leading me to believe that many reporters are interchanging the terms "suspected cases" and "confirmed cases."

Interestingly Mexico is the ONLY country in the world where someone has actually died from this disease.Mexico has reported 159 fatalities in flu-like cases in recent days, seven of which have been confirmed as swine flu. Another 19 patients have been confirmed as having swine flu but surviving. Although some insiders at WHO believe these numbers are seriously inflated and could be as low as single digits.
By contrast, the United States has had 109 confirmed cases, five hospitalizations and no deaths from US Citizens. On April 29th CNN reported the first swine fatality in the US, however this was actually a child from Mexico that died in Texas.

According to the World Health Organization's Epidemic and Pandemic Alert and Response site; as of April 30 there are:

* 109 in U.S. -- 1 death (from Mexican child that died in Texas) (reported by CDC as of April 30)
* 26 in Mexico -- 7 deaths
* 19 in Canada -- 0 deaths
* 13 in Spain -- 0 deaths
* 8 in United Kingdom -- 0 deaths
* 3 in Germany -- 0 deaths
* 2 in Israel -- 0 deaths
* 1 in Switzerland -- 0 deaths
* 1 in Austria -- 0 deaths
* 1 in Netherlands -- 0 deaths

Additionally, nearly all suspected new cases have been reported as mild.

Personally, I am highly skeptical. It simply doesn't add up to a real pandemic.

But it does raise serious questions about where this brand new, never before seen virus came from, especially since it cannot be contracted from eating pork products, and has never before been seen in pigs, and contains traits from the bird flu -- and which, so far, only seems to respond to Tamiflu. Are we just that lucky, or... what?

Your Fear Will Make Some People VERY Rich in Today's Crumbling Economy

According to the Associated Press at least one financial analyst estimates up to $388 million worth of Tamiflu sales in the near future10 -- and that's without a pandemic outbreak.

More than half a dozen pharmaceutical companies, including Gilead Sciences Inc., Roche, GlaxoSmithKline and other companies with a stake in flu treatments and detection, have seen a rise in their shares in a matter of days, and will likely see revenue boosts if the swine flu outbreak continues to spread.

As soon as Homeland Security declared a health emergency, 25 percent -- about 12 million doses -- of Tamiflu and Relenza treatment courses were released from the nation's stockpile. However, beware that the declaration also allows unapproved tests and drugs to be administered to children. Many health- and government officials are more than willing to take that chance with your life, and the life of your child. But are you?

Remember, Tamiflu went through some rough times not too long ago, as the dangers of this drug came to light when, in 2007, the FDA finally began investigating some 1,800 adverse event reports related to the drug. Common side effects of Tamiflu include:

* Nausea
* Vomiting
* Diarrhea
* Headache
* Dizziness
* Fatigue
* Cough

All in all, the very symptoms you're trying to avoid.

More serious symptoms included convulsions, delirium or delusions, and 14 deaths in children and teens as a result of neuropsychiatric problems and brain infections (which led Japan to ban Tamiflu for children in 2007). And that's for a drug that, when used as directed, only reduces the duration of influenza symptoms by 1 to 1 ½ days, according to the official data.

But making matters worse, some patients with influenza are at HIGHER risk for secondary bacterial infections when on Tamiflu. And secondary bacterial infections, as I mentioned earlier, was likely the REAL cause of the mass fatalities during the 1918 pandemic!

Where did This Mysterious New Animal-Human Flu Strain Come From?

Alongside the fear-mongering headlines, I've also seen increasing numbers of reports questioning the true nature of this virus. And rightfully so.

Could a mixed animal-human mutant like this occur naturally? And if not, who made it, and how was it released?

Not one to dabble too deep in conspiracy theories, I don't have to strain very hard to find actual facts to support the notion that this may not be a natural mutation, and that those who stand to gain have the wherewithal to pull off such a stunt.

Just last month I reported on the story that the American pharmaceutical company Baxter was under investigation for distributing the deadly avian flu virus to 18 different countries as part of a seasonal flu vaccine shipment. Czech reporters were probing to see if it may have been part of a deliberate attempt to start a pandemic; as such a "mistake" would be virtually impossible under the security protocols of that virus.

The H5N1 virus on its own is not very airborne. However, when combined with seasonal flu viruses, which are more easily spread, the effect could be a potent, airborne, deadly, biological weapon. If this batch of live bird flu and seasonal flu viruses had reached the public, it could have resulted in dire consequences.

There is a name for this mixing of viruses; it's called "reassortment," and it is one of two ways pandemic viruses are created in the lab. Some scientists say the most recent global outbreak -- the 1977 Russian flu -- was started by a virus created and leaked from a laboratory.

Another example of the less sterling integrity of Big Pharma is the case of Bayer, who sold millions of dollars worth of an injectable blood-clotting medicine to Asian, Latin American, and some European countries in the mid-1980s, even though they knew it was tainted with the AIDS virus.

So while it is morally unthinkable that a drug company would knowingly contaminate flu vaccines with a deadly flu virus such as the bird- or swine flu, it is certainly not impossible. It has already happened more than once.

But there seems to be no repercussions or hard feelings when industry oversteps the boundaries of morality and integrity and enters the arena of obscenity. Because, lo and behold, which company has been chosen to head up efforts, along with WHO, to produce a vaccine against the Mexican swine flu?

Baxter!11 Despite the fact that ink has barely dried on the investigative reports from their should-be-criminal "mistake" against humanity.

According to other sources,12 a top scientist for the United Nations, who has examined the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in Africa, as well as HIV/AIDS victims, has concluded that the current swine flu virus possesses certain transmission "vectors" that suggest the new strain has been genetically-manufactured as a military biological warfare weapon.

The UN expert believes that Ebola, HIV/AIDS, and the current A-H1N1 swine flu virus are biological warfare agents.

In addition, Army criminal investigators are looking into the possibility that disease samples are missing from biolabs at Fort Detrick -- the same Army research lab from which the 2001 anthrax strain was released, according to a recent article in the Fredrick News Post.13 In February, the top biodefense lab halted all its research into Ebola, anthrax, plague, and other diseases known as "select agents," after they discovered virus samples that weren't listed in its inventory and might have been switched with something else.

Factory Farming Maybe Source of Swine Flu

Another theory as to the cause of Swine Flu might be factory farming. In the United States, pigs travel coast to coast. They can be bred in North Carolina, fattened in the corn belt of Iowa, and slaughtered in California.

While this may reduce short-term costs for the pork industry, the highly contagious nature of diseases like influenza (perhaps made further infectious by the stresses of transport) needs to be considered when calculating the true cost of long-distance live animal transport.

The majority of U.S. pig farms now confine more than 5,000 animals each. With a group of 5,000 animals, if a novel virus shows up it will have more opportunity to replicate and potentially spread than in a group of 100 pigs on a small farm.

With massive concentrations of farm animals within which to mutate, these new swine flu viruses in North America seem to be on an evolutionary fast track, jumping and reassorting between species at an unprecedented rate.

Should You Accept a Flu Vaccine -- Just to be Safe?

Watch the video above to see ridiculous 1976 commercials promoting Swine Flu shots.

As stated in the New York Times14 and elsewhere, flu experts have no idea whether the current seasonal flu vaccine would offer any protection whatsoever against this exotic mutant, and it will take months to create a new one.

But let me tell you, getting vaccinated now would not only offer no protection and potentially cause great harm, it would most likely be loaded with toxic mercury which is used as a preservative in most flu vaccines..

I've written extensively about the numerous dangers (and ineffectiveness) of flu vaccines, and why I do not recommend them to anyone. So no matter what you hear -- even if it comes from your doctor -- don't get a regular flu shot. They rarely work against seasonal flu...and certainly can't offer protection against a never-before- seen strain.

Currently, the antiviral drugs Tamiflu and Relenza are the only drugs that appear effective against the (human flu) H1N1 virus, and I strongly believe taking Tamiflu to protect yourself against this new virus could be a serious mistake -- for all the reasons I already mentioned above.

But in addition to the dangerous side effects of Tamiflu, there is also growing evidence of resistance against the drug. In February, the pre-publication and preliminary findings journal called Nature Precedings published a paper on this concern, stating15:

The dramatic rise of oseltamivir [Tamiflu] resistance in the H1N1 serotype in the 2007/2008 season and the fixing of H274Y in the 2008/2009 season has raised concerns regarding individuals at risk for seasonal influenza, as well as development of similar resistance in the H5N1 serotype [bird flu].

Previously, oseltamivir resistance produced changes in H1N1 and H3N2 at multiple positions in treated patients. In contrast, the recently reported resistance involved patients who had not recently taken oseltamivir.

It's one more reason not to bother with this potentially dangerous drug.

And, once a specific swine flu drug is created, you can be sure that it has not had the time to be tested in clinical trials to determine safety and effectiveness, which puts us right back where I started this article -- with a potential repeat of the last dangerous swine flu vaccine, which destroyed the lives of hundreds of people.

Topping the whole mess off, of course, is the fact that if the new vaccine turns out to be a killer, the pharmaceutical companies responsible are immune from lawsuits -- something I've also warned about before on numerous occasions.

Unfortunately, those prospects won't stop the governments of the world from mandating the vaccine -- a scenario I hope we can all avoid.

How to Protect Yourself Without Dangerous Drugs and Vaccinations
For now, my point is that there are always going to be threats of flu pandemics, real or created, and there will always be potentially toxic vaccines that are peddled as the solution. But you can break free of that whole drug-solution trap by following some natural health principles.

I have not caught a flu in over two decades, and you can avoid it too, without getting vaccinated, by following these simple guidelines, which will keep your immune system in optimal working order so that you're far less likely to acquire the infection to begin with.

* Optimize your vitamin D levels. As I've previously reported, optimizing your vitamin D levels is one of the absolute best strategies for avoiding infections of ALL kinds, and vitamin D deficiency is likely the TRUE culprit behind the seasonality of the flu -- not the flu virus itself.

This is probably the single most important and least expensive action you can take. I would STRONGLY urge you to have your vitamin D level monitored to confirm your levels are therapeutic at 50-70 and done by a reliable vitamin D lab like Lab Corp.

For those of you in the US we hope to launch a vitamin D testing service through Lab Corp that allows you to have your vitamin D levels checked at your local blood drawing facility, and relatively inexpensively. We hope to offer this service by June 2009.

If you are coming down with flu like symptoms and have not been on vitamin D you can take doses of 50,000 units a day for three days to treat the acute infection. Some researchers like Dr. Cannell, believe the dose could even be as high as 1000 units per pound of body weight for three days.

However, most of Dr. Cannell's work was with seasonal and not pandemic flu. If your body has never been exposed to the antigens there is chance that the vitamin D might not work. However the best bet is to maintain healthy levels of vitamin D around 60 ng/ml.

BUT to keep this in perspective the regular flu, not the swine flu, has killed 13,000 in the US since January. But there is strong support that these types of figures are grossly exaggerated to increase vaccine sales. However, the fact remains that the regular flu at this point in time is FAR more dangerous than the swine flu and were you worried about the regular flu before the media started talking this up?

* Avoid Sugar and Processed Foods. Sugar decreases the function of your immune system almost immediately, and as you likely know, a strong immune system is key to fighting off viruses and other illness. Be aware that sugar is present in foods you may not suspect, like ketchup and fruit juice.

* Get Enough Rest. Just like it becomes harder for you to get your daily tasks done if you're tired, if your body is overly fatigued it will be harder for it to fight the flu. Be sure to check out my article Guide to a Good Night's Sleep for some great tips to help you get quality rest.

* Have Effective Tools to Address Stress . We all face some stress every day, but if stress becomes overwhelming then your body will be less able to fight off the flu and other illness.

If you feel that stress is taking a toll on your health, consider using an energy psychology tool such as the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), which is remarkably effective in relieving stress associated with all kinds of events, from work to family to trauma. You can check out my free, 25-page EFT manual for some guidelines on how to perform EFT.

* Exercise. When you exercise, you increase your circulation and your blood flow throughout your body. The components of your immune system are also better circulated, which means your immune system has a better chance of finding an illness before it spreads. You can review my exercise guidelines for some great tips on how to get started.

* Take a good source of animal based omega-3 fats like Krill Oil. Increase your intake of healthy and essential fats like the omega-3 found in krill oil, which is crucial for maintaining health. It is also vitally important to avoid damaged omega-6 oils that are trans fats and in processed foods as it will seriously damage your immune response.

* Wash Your Hands. Washing your hands will decrease your likelihood of spreading a virus to your nose, mouth or other people. Be sure you don't use antibacterial soap for this -- antibacterial soaps are completely unnecessary, and they cause far more harm than good. Instead, identify a simple chemical-free soap that you can switch your family to.

* Eat Garlic Regularly. Garlic works like a broad-spectrum antibiotic against bacteria, virus, and protozoa in the body. And unlike with antibiotics, no resistance can be built up so it is an absolutely safe product to use. However, if you are allergic or don't enjoy garlic it would be best to avoid as it will likely cause more harm than good.

* Avoid Hospitals and Vaccines In this particular case, I'd also recommend you stay away from hospitals unless you're having an emergency, as hospitals are prime breeding grounds for infections of all kinds, and could be one of the likeliest places you could be exposed to this new bug. Vaccines will not be available for six months at the minimum but when available they will be ineffective and can lead to crippling paralysis like Guillain-Barré Syndrome just as it did in the 70s.


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ART STREET in Healdbsurg


Plaza Arts Center hosts Celebrate the Arts on "ART STREET" on Saturday, May 9 as part of Celebrate Healdsburg 2009, a food, wine & art event on the plaza and surrounding streets.

Join Plaza Arts Center on this special day when Plaza Street is transformed into "ART STREET" complete with an Art Fair, Art Raffle and Art Demonstrations, Art Education, activities and fun for both children and adults.

Events on "ART STREET" from noon until 6 p.m. on May 9 include:

"Own Original Art for $5" - Art Raffle:

This is your opportunity to own an original piece of art or jewelry for $5 a chance. Each ticket is $5 or $20 for 5 tickets. Tickets can be purchased at the gallery or from any of the gallery Artists. There are 12 beautiful works of art and jewelry available for you to select from. Each of your purchased raffle tickets will apply towards a separate drawing on one of these works. So, you can buy tickets for as many artworks as you like. Stop in at the gallery at any time to view the artwork or visit "ART STREET" during Celebrate Healdsburg. The raffle drawings will be held at 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 9 at the gallery.

Art Fair: Plaza Arts Center Resident and Associate Artists, Members and invited guests will be displaying their artwork, jewelry and crafts at the Art Fair.

T-Shirt Painting: There will be a t-shirt painting in a booth for children and adults. $15 includes a t-shirt and all the painting materials.

Mural Painting for Children: We will have a free mural painting activity for children. Late afternoon, we will auction off the mural!

Plaza Arts Education Program: Free demonstrations and activities promoting our summer art classes.

In the gallery: The annual Plaza Arts members show themed, "As You Like It" is on display in our gallery. There are over 60 members exhibiting in this show. The works of our Resident and Associate Artists are also on display in the gallery.

Plaza Arts Center is a non-profit, community gallery and arts center dedicated to enriching the artistic life of our community through art classes for youth and adults, gallery shows and social events, and support of local school art programs.

Plaza Arts Center is located at 130 Plaza Street, Healdsburg is open daily from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. Beginning May 1, we will be open on the first Friday of every month for ArtWalk from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. For more information, please visit our website at or contact the gallery at (707) 431-1970.

Oil Painting by Gerald Stinski for Raffle.

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Fundraiser for Sebastopol Public Schools


SATURDAY, MAY 16, 2009, 5:30 – 11:00 pm
‘On the Green’ at O’REILLY & ASSOCIATES, 1005 Gravenstein Hwy North, Sebastopol


A local favorite and legendary paella chef for Hollywood celebrities, as well as the highlight of the Occidental farmer’s market, he uses only local farm fresh produce and fresh seafood. Gerard is wonderfully engaging and entertaining, sharing the rich its history while cooking his famous two hour layered paella. Guests will have a choice of paellas – seafood, chicken or vegetarian.

An extensive and unique collection of wines is available as part of the Spanish Fiesta Auction on May 16 – from a signed magnum of Merry Edwards’ famous Pinot Noir to the Korbel champagne used at Obama’s inauguration and more! Preview our growing list at

Enjoy a no-host bar featuring sangria, as well as fine local wines and beer.
Delicious appetizers and spectacular desserts are included with the price of admission.

Pronounced just like the alcohol ‘gin’, similarly clear and strong, DGIIN is a wildly popular North Bay band with a unique style that brings together various cultures and influences with songs sung mainly in French with an intoxicating beat: French-Gypsy-Funk with a twist of Flamenco and Django.

Thrill to the excitement of live fire dancing by the ALCHEMYSTICS who will perform a wild and original Flamenco dance.

Endowing Sebastopol and beyond with a legacy of original, fun, witty and intelligent sculptures, Patrick Amiot (pronounced ah –me-o), has long supported Sebastopol public schools by donating the sales of his famous annual calendar. This is your chance to meet and honor him and his family at the event.

April 23 – May 9, 2009
Go to
Bid on awesome stuff for the necessities of your home, garden, recreation, and body.

$50 per person, before May 1
$45 per person when reserving a table for eight, before May 1
$60 per person on or after May 1
To purchase tickets go to: for the Spanish Fiesta on Saturday, May 16.
For more information call or email: 707-824-0361 or

*All proceeds benefit Park Side, Pine Crest and Brook Haven School

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

GoLocal Economic Summit September 18 and 19

This will be a very interactive, "roll-up-our-sleeves" event focused on
Economic Localization.

It will be held at the Petaluma Community Center and we will be joined by Michael Shuman, an expert in Economic Localization.

We have already received many exciting "Big Ideas" for the idea gallery.

If you or your organization is working on a project that will help stimulate the local economy, create local green jobs and or localize goods and services, please submit your idea to present at the Summit. You can learn more at

Please mark your calendars for September 18-19th.

Thank you!
Kelley & the GoLocal team

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VOLUNTEERS NEEDED at Forestville Cemetery

The Forestville Historical Society needs volunteers for a cemetery cleanup. It will be held at the Forestville Cemetery on Saturday, May 16 between 9:00 am and 12 noon.

There will be trimming, pruning, picking up and other chores.

The Forestville Historical Society will furnish ammonia for spraying and cleaning headstones. If you are able to attend call Phil Marcucci at 544-4789 for more information

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Monday, April 27, 2009

iWalk Guerneville - Community Walks for Health

Come Join Us On A Community Walk!
The WCHC Wellness Committee
along with other enthusiastic members
of our community will be taking you on a walk.

Look for our tent at the
Sonoma Nesting Company
16200 Main St, Guerneville
Saturday, May 16 @ 10:00am

Come join us for a walk around downtown Guerneville
or take the 4 mile walk to Armstrong Woods and back!

Enjoy complimentary water provided by local businesses.

Sonoma County Health Action is launching iWALK, the first initiative under the Health Action umbrella for improving the health of Sonoma County residents.

Any community is welcome to become an iWALK community for the purpose of celebrating and expanding our population’s commitment to healthy living.

The goals are to …

• Mobilize significant numbers of people to join existing walking groups or form
new ones, or just walk
• Increase the availability of walking groups in Sonoma County communities
• Increase the walkability of communities all over the county

For more information:

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Bill Moyers Interviews William Black about our Economy

Dear Vesta,
I've just watched the 15 minute PBS Bill Moyers interview with William Black, former fraud advisor to the US government, link below. It tells a pretty dire story about our financial mess, but at the end, William Black gives some very optimistic hopeful advice about how we can regain our integrity. If you get a chance to watch it, you may find it useful, and you may find a way to let your readers know about it. I haven't watched the other film about Argentina as yet. - Dee

Ask not for whom the bell tolls...

In 1900, Argentina was one of the richest, most promising countries in the world.

Just 100 years later it was, well... Argentina, a beautiful, cultured, wonderful place that's such an economic basket case that many of its promising young people emigrate to Mexico to find work and opportunities.

What happened to this country so rich in natural resources?

The bankers squeezed it dry is what happened.

Could such a thing happen in the US?

If you're talking about the future of middle class America, yes.

And not only that, it is happening.

In just under 15 minutes Adrian Saibuchi, a financial analyst from Argentina, explains how what happened to his country is now happening to ours, and what the outcome will be:


And if you missed Bill Moyers' interview with William K. Black, former director of the Fraud Prevention Institute, who explains in more detail how the financial sector has deliberately defrauded the entire world you can watch it here:

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Water Conservation Alert - ACTION NEEDED!

We need YOU and your friends to write a letter to the State Water Board by April 24 and speak up for protecting water quality in the River! We will be urging the Board to modify the low-flow order to better protect the River during what will be a long, hot summer.

The State Water Board is about to act on water conservation policy that will impact Russian River communites when it sets madates for river flows. The deadline for letters to be included in their packets of decision-making material is April 24th - BUT - you can stil send letter of your concerns if you miss that particular deadline. Keeping the water board informed of impacts their decisions have on or communities is vital to the health and well-being of many.

Please see that sample letter below and re-write it according to your own concerns. You can copy it from this page. I'm also giving you a link to the Russian Riverkeeper web site so you can get a WORD document of ths letter and learn more on our river and water issues.


Thanks for being a participating member of our home.

Template of letter

(Insert Date)

Jeannie Townsend
Clerk to the Board
State Water Resources Control Board
1001 I Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

Randy Poole
General Manager/ Chief Engineer
Sonoma County Water Agency
PO Box 11628
Santa Rosa, CA 95406
(E-mail &

RE: Comments for May 6th Workshop on Order WR 2009-0027-DWR

Dear Chairman Hoppin and Members of the Board,

I am writing to express my concern regarding impacts related to Order 2009-0027- DWR and modifications in permit terms that would reduce those impacts. The reduction in flows will cause severe impacts to water quality, recreation, community water systems, over-summering juvenile salmon and Steelhead as well as the lower River economy that depends on a healthy Russian River.

Your personal story here…..make it personal, include your history on the river and why ensuring a healthy river is important to you.
For example:

I have lived along the Russian River for 25 years and spend most days at the River swimming with our family. I am concerned that without additional protections this flow reduction will result in the river not being clean enough for my family to swim in this summer.


I have lived in the lower River area for 15 years and have seen how the past low water years of 2004 and 2007 caused the river to become filled with algae and warmer than a bathtub. Talking to some friends in town their businesses suffered from less visitors because people were staying away due to the low flows. The lower river economy depends on summer visitors to make it through each year and this flow reduction will harm local businesses.

In order to reduce the impacts from reduced flows under Order 2009-0027-DWR we urge you on May 6 to take action to protect water quality and beneficial uses in the Russian River.
Specifically we urge you to:

- Increase frequency of chemical water quality monitoring to every two weeks with results posted promptly on a public website to proactively prevent water quality problems such as algae blooms from increased nutrient concentrations

- Include new provisions in the order to require flow changes in response to violations in water quality standards or as needed to protect juvenile ESA listed fish over the summer, the water agency released water to protect grapes from frost on April 14 to 16th so we expect increases to protect water quality as well

- Installation of additional gauges as needed to ensure instantaneous flow compliance levels are maintained, in 2004 and 2007 compliance levels were violated under previous orders

- A minimum of 25% mandatory conservation for SCWA customers and all users downstream of Dry Creek to to help maintain flows and conserve water in case of multi-year drought.

- Mandatory conservation by all permitted water diversions upstream of Dry Creek including agricultural and rural residential diversions and streamside wells pumping underflow

- Additional prohibitions in the Order on diversions that are not permitted in critically dry conditions or if needed a separate order restraining those unpermitted diversions to protect water storage in Lake Mendocino and maintain higher flows

- Keep order prohibition on commercial turf irrigation in SCWA service area and expand to include all commercial turf using water from the Russian River

We believe that modifying the order to include these provisions will improve protection of water quality, juvenile endangered fish and likely result in somewhat higher flows due to reduced diversions. We greatly appreciate your consideration of our comments.


(Your name)

BACKGROUND INFORMATION - from Russian Riverkeeper Don Mc Enhill

Friend of the Russian River,

We need YOU and your friends to write a letter to the State Water Resources Control Board, if possible before April 23rd, to let them know about the severe impacts that will result from reducing flows under their recent Order 2009-0027-DWR.

Due to reduced rainfall and poor management we are facing the lowest levels in Lake Mendocino in 32 years. This caused the Sonoma County Water Agency to petition to reduce flows to conserve water in the Lake to provide for flows all summer and for fall king salmon migration. The State Water Resources Control Board issued Order 2009-0027-DWR to allow SCWA to reduce flows this summer. This order was signed without a public meeting so Riverkeeper objected and a meeting will be held on May 6th in Sacramento to listen to public comments and potentially modify the order. The Board can change the order as a result of the workshop and Riverkeeper and others will be giving comments at the hearing and your letters will help support our calls for the State Board to do the right thing and improve the order to better protect the river and provide the best flows possible in this difficult year.

This decision will reduce flows to critically dry year levels of 35 cubic feet per second (cfs) or a 72% reduction from a normal water year and a 59% reduction from a dry water year. Part of this is due to lack of rain and part is due to lack of proper water management. A flow reduction down to 35 cfs could mean more algae blooms that harm juvenile salmon and river recreation, increases in pollutants that will harm recreation and could impact local wells and severe impacts to the local economy that depends on a healthy Russian River.

There are ways the State Water Board can reduce the impacts on the lower Russian River community and your letter will help them make a good decision for the health of the River and our endangered fish. We need people to inform the Board members how bad the impacts will be and what they will mean to you personally either due to impacts on your families recreation or impacts to river wildlife and water quality.

We need you to support calls for:

- Increase frequency of chemical water quality monitoring to every two weeks with results posted promptly on a public website to proactively prevent water quality problems such as algae blooms from increased nutrient concentrations

- Include new provisions in the order to require flow changes in response to violations in water quality standards or as needed to protect juvenile ESA listed fish over the summer; the water agency released water to protect grapes from frost on April 14 to 16th so we expect increases to protect water quality as well

- Installation of additional gauges as needed to ensure instantaneous flow compliance levels are maintained, in 2004 and 2007 compliance levels were violated under previous orders

- A minimum of 25% mandatory conservation for SCWA customers and all users downstream of Dry Creek to help maintain flows and conserve water in case of multi-year drought

- Mandatory conservation by all permitted water diversions upstream of Dry Creek including agricultural and rural residential diversions and streamside wells pumping underflow

- Additional prohibitions in the Order on diversions that are not permitted in critically dry conditions or if needed a separate order restraining those unpermitted diversions to protect water storage in Lake Mendocino and maintain higher flows

- Keep order prohibition on commercial turf irrigation in SCWA service area and expand to include all commercial turf using water from the Russian River

We have provided a basic template e-mail but if you have time please do write a personal letter of your own.

Try and include some information about the impact the flow reduction would have, how it would impact you specifically and what you want the State board to do (list above). It won't hurt to have some people asking for an increase in flow levels, unfortunately there isn't much more than water they can add but they still need to hear that request especially as the SCWA works to permanently reduce flows in the future.

Deadline for including in Board members meeting packets Friday April 24th - if you talk to friends after the 24th letters still go in the record and make a difference but if at all possible getting them in before the 24th is best. As per Board procedures on water rights we have to also send a copy to SCWA. Be sure to include Order 2009-0027-DWR in your subject line.

Addresses: -Letters:
Jeannie Townsend
Clerk to the Board
State Water Resources Control Board
1001 I Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

Randy Poole
General Manager/ Chief Engineer
Sonoma County Water Agency
PO Box 11628
Santa Rosa, CA 95406

In case you want to include the individual board members as addressees they are:
Charles R. Hoppin, Chair
Francis Spivey-Weber, Vice-Chair
Arthur G. Baggett Jr.
Tam M Doduc

E-mail &
Fax: SB - 916-341-5620 & scwa 707-544-6123
Call Riverkeeper at 433-1958 f

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

IMAGE GALLERY: El Molino Little League Opening Day '09

El Molino Little league Opening Day
April 2009
at the Forestville Youth Park in Forestville

And the parents who cheer their children on...

And the volunteers who work the Snack Shack that brings in funding for Little league

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IMAGE GALLERY: Forestville's Easter Egg Hunt 2009

The Great Easter Egg Hunt 2009
Sponsored by the Forestville Chamber of Commerce

For Kids of all ages...

Coloring Contest Winners:

The RACE is On!

Our Easter Bunny...

More than the candy is sweet!

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

EFREN CARRILLO: Hot, Cool and Green

APRIL 2009 ISSUE COLUMN - scroll down for previous columns...

On March 25th, The Sonoma County Energy Independence Program (SCEIP) opened its storefront (Energy Store) inside the Water Agency headquarters with a large crowd in attendance. That day, our County became the first in California to launch an innovative and exciting way for homeowners and businesses to retrofit their properties for energy and water efficiency. According to the Climate Protection Campaign’s Action Plan, retrofitting 80% of Sonoma County properties by 2015 will be one of the steps needed to reach our carbon footprint goals.

Here are some of the highlights:
The big news is that financing for your improvements will be an assessment on your property, which can be paid off over a 5-20 year period. Using an assessment to finance means that the amount borrowed does not show as consumer debt or affect your credit rating. It shows on title searches to the property, and would remain with the property during changes in ownership.
Hopefully, this encourages people to seriously consider retrofitting, which should save money, energy, and water over the lifetime of the improvement.

Tax dollars are not being used to finance the program. Instead the investment by the County treasury in helping people retrofit will be revenue neutral, with interest paid (currently 7%) to cover program overhead and costs of future bond funds.

The minimum advance is $2500, with the maximum advance limited by property values.
Use of SCEIP funding is limited to energy or water efficiency improvements which are permanently affixed to the property. These include, but are not limited to:

• high efficiency windows
• solar or tankless water heaters
• solar panels
• upgrading wall and roof insulation (including cool roofs)
• duct sealing and high efficiency heating and cooling systems
• ‘smart’ irrigation systems (see next section!)

Other options can be proposed and approved if an efficiency value can be proven.
The Energy Store reports that there has been a great deal of interest in the program. They are already processing applications, and took in 5 the first day! That really says something about how excited people are to have this option, as there is some planning involved. You will need to have current property taxes, clear title to the property (mortgages are not a problem), and know the amount of funding needed, which means obtaining estimates and permits.

Go to to find out more about the program.

Water Tips:
During this dry year, we all need to be conscious of our water usage. Well users must strive to conserve the water table for their neighbors. Did you know that over 300 gallons of water can be used in an hour of inefficient watering? Here are a few simple steps to make your water usage more effective and spare:

• Install and use an automatic sprinkler system. Then, calibrate your system by measuring your sprinkler output. A simple method for this and many other useful tips can be found at
• Water only in the morning…this is the best time for both water consumption and your plants.
• Most importantly, be mindful when watering by hand or with sprinklers of what the needs are for the health of your landscape…don’t over water.

If you see your neighbors wasting water, be sure to provide information when asking them to change bad practices.

Update on COBRA insurance coverage for the unemployed
Thanks to Bill Hannant of Hannant Insurance Services for keeping our office updated on new information about the Federal Stimulus Funding for COBRA health insurance. Currently, emergency legislation (AB23) is in the works to extend the Federal assistance to laid-off/terminated workers to those who work for small employers covered under Cal COBRA. (2-20 employees) Legislation is expected to be passed by the time this paper is in print.

We also discovered that if you are eligible for insurance from any other source (spouse’s coverage for example) that will make you ineligible for assistance. You must have no other option available to you. A more detailed set of information may now be found at:

March 2009 Column - scroll down for previous column

AB885 Actions…

On February 24th, following public meetings held by the State Water Control Board to thousands of concerned local residents, the Board of Supervisors passed a resolution in opposition to the proposed AB885 septic tank regulations. While the County lauds the intent of this legislation to maintain groundwater quality, the proposed regulations place some unreasonable and costly requirements on septic system owners. Unfortunately, a one-size-fits-all approach to regulating systems is impractical with potential to be extremely burdensome to rural property owners and our local agencies that will be mandated to enforce the rules.

During the coming months, the State Board will be working on the proposed regulations, and has pledged to consider comments from the public during this process.

Forestville's Roundabout…

As mentioned in Vesta’s article, many of you turned out for a public meeting about the roundabout proposed for Highway 116 and Mirabel Road. It was my privilege to be part of the mostly positive commentary on the design presented. This is a work in process, but it does seem to be the most effective solution for both the community and the intersection. I look forward to working with Forestville on this roundabout on making this option a reality.

Here’s the 2-1-1…

On February 11th, Sonoma County partnered with the United Way, Community Foundation, and Volunteer Center to launch 2-1-1. This wonderful new, free, confidential, 24-hour information and referral service is available to anyone in Sonoma County. Calls are handled by trained specialists with resources for community services ranging from child and elder care, health and mental health services, alcohol and drug abuse treatment, food, shelter, counseling, and immigration assistance.

Calling 2-1-1 is the best way to connect with volunteer opportunities. Whether there is a natural disaster, such as a flood or earthquake, or your interest is finding the best way to use your skills to help your community as a volunteer, 2-1-1 can help you to make a difference.

Other helpful *-1-1 numbers: 4-1-1 directory assistance, 5-1-1 traffic and transit, 6-1-1 AT&T repair, 7-1-1 California relay for hearing impaired, 8-1-1 “call before you dig” (underground utility lines) and of course,
9-1-1 life-threatening emergencies…

Help for the unemployed…

How does the economic stimulus help you?

This is a frequent question, often asked with a certain amount of despair. Many of us in Sonoma County have been personally affected by the recent economic travails…from record home value decline, to business closures or reductions in force brought about by the recession. Unemployment numbers are increasing locally, and if you are one of those affected, there is help for you in the new stimulus bill.

If you are eligible for COBRA continuation of your health insurance, but think that you can’t afford to keep your health insurance…reconsider. One direct result of the stimulus bill is that the Federal government will pay 65% of your COBRA health insurance premiums for 9 months beginning February 17, 2009.

Sound too good to be true? That’s why it is so important to spread the word about this. Employers are still finding out the details, so information may not get to all of those who are eligible for this help. If you or someone you know was laid off after September 1, 2008 (Yes! Eligibility goes backwards! But only if your employer has a group of 20 or more) you can elect to enroll in your Cobra health insurance and pay 35% of the premium.

Here are some FAQ’s…

1. Who is eligible?
Anyone who was involuntarily terminated between September 1, 2008 and December 31, 2009.

2. How does the premium payment work?
Employers can contact the IRS at Premiums are taken as a credit against federal payroll taxes on the quarterly report 941, which has been revised. The 35% premium co-pay is paid to the employer.

Another helpful link:

3. What about the premiums that I paid before February 17th?
Unfortunately, there is no “look back” or payment for insurance prior to February 17, 2009.

Additional assistance for those seeking work or improving their job skills can be found at Sonoma County Job Link's web site. ( This site is a full service link to job search assistance, business services, training & labor market information. The free services available to job seekers and the services for employers are described at this website. Job Link's <>Job Seeker Center is located at 2245 Challenger Way in Santa Rosa, and the <>
Employer Resource Center is located at 606 Healdsburg Avenue in Santa Rosa.

Febraury 2009 Column:

Budget, Water, and Health Care: Facing a Drought!

My first month has been a whirlwind. Even before taking office, I attended briefings on our County’s dire budget position. Our General Fund deficit is projected at over $22 million in the coming year. Administrators began the process of analyzing our position and planning action earlier this year than ever before. As a result we’ve already begun the difficult budget process, balancing our dwindling resources with our ongoing commitment to vital public services.

While Sonoma County finds itself in better financial shape than many other County governments in California, we still face difficult decisions. Working with community members, we will ensure that we emerge from this process preserving needed services and with an honest budget that reflects our citizen’s priorities.

One bright light at this difficult time is Sonoma County’s ongoing leadership in advancing climate protection efforts. The Board has begun its process for launching the Sonoma County Energy Independence Project. Under legislation that passed last year (AB811), Sonoma County is poised to be first in California to establish an innovative and wide spread renewable energy generation and water and energy conservation program for residential and commercial buildings.

This effort, which will not cost tax payers one dime, will allow home and business owners new access to green technology that save energy, water, and generates green house gas free energy. This program will also provide green jobs employing our residents. I’ve just returned from meeting with Obama Transition Team members in Washington, DC about securing funds for this innovative program.

Sonoma County has a broader climate protection agenda which includes reducing green house gas levels by 25% of 1990 levels by 2015.

Without a torrential downpour in the next month, we are heading into what has been dubbed the most severe drought in California history. A February 2nd news conference held by the Sonoma County Water Agency (SCWA) raised the red flag that reservoir storage levels in Lakes Sonoma and Mendocino are at or near historic lows.

Also announced was the lowering of Russian River water releases to Federally mandated minimum flows in order to protect Coho and Chinook salmon and steelhead trout, which are listed on the endangered species list. Agriculture, recreation, and tourism also depend on water releases and will be affected by drought conditions.

Preparing for worse case scenarios, SCWA will call for a minimum 30% rationing order by early March.

This drought will affect us all. If we do not heed a call for reducing water usage, Lake Mendocino levels are projected to reach a level so low that portions of the Russian River may run dry! Urban water users consume about half of the water taken from the Russian River, while agriculture consumes the rest…and in the West County, many of us depend on private wells for our water.

SCWA is working with grape growers in the Russian River watershed to develop irrigation best management practices which will help reduce water use, and is working to implement a volunteer monitoring program of water levels throughout the Sonoma Valley basin to evaluate how the drought is affecting groundwater.

Reduce the amount of water you use starting right now!

Health Care:
Health programs have been targeted for reductions due to the State of California’s projected $41.6 billion deficit this fiscal year. The Governor proposes many actions including eliminating the California Children and Families Commission and eliminating 50% of local funds paid to support children’s programs.

The Sonoma Children and Families Commission (Sonoma First 5), is a valuable and effective resource which has expanded local enrollment in quality early childhood education programs, increased children’s access to health insurance and pediatric dental care, and provided parent education and support.

Fortunately, President Obama signed the State Children’s Health Insurance Program reauthorization which will expand health coverage to approximately 12,000 children in Sonoma County. Making sure that every child in Sonoma County has access to affordable health care is critical to children, their families, and our community. For more information about the Healthy Families program, contact: Access to Health Care at 565-4471 or (Spanish speakers) 565-4476

I am truly enjoying my work for the Fifth District. If you have any concerns or questions, you’re welcome to contact my office at 565-2241-kindly, Efren

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On Christmas day forty-one years ago this photo of “Earthrise” over the lunar horizon was taken by the Apollo 8 astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and William Anders. They had become the first humans to leave Earth orbit. In a historic live broadcast that night, the crew took turns reading from the Book of Genesis.

The view of the Earth, whole and complete, stunned the world’s consciousness. To see our home in all its glory and fragility floating in the colorless void made environmental converts out of many of us. In September 1969, Senator Gaylord Nelson announced that on April 22nd of 1970 there would be a nationwide grassroots demonstration on the environment – Earth Day.

Today, the view from space has lost much of its visceral impact but we should look again. There is still much we have to learn. Imagine the earth not as a planet but as a fish bowl. Like one you may have won at a church bizarre with a lucky toss of a ping pong ball and brought home with a bright eyed goldfish anxiously darting within. And now complete that story by remembering the lesson that fish taught you; the iron rule of nature, that the waste of one organism must be the dinner for another. Not knowing this rule, you probably “over fed” your fish and it suffocated in its own waste.

This is the core lesson that the “global warming deniers” simply don’t get. The issue is not whether the planet’s temperature is changing, but that the human population is spewing forth more waste, in this case CO2, than the planet can metabolize. We don’t know in detail what the full repercussions will be. Quite likely the added CO2 will have more impact on humanity by chemically turning the ocean more acidic than in its effect on climate. That acid makes it very hard for animals who live in shells and who are the base of the food chain. When they die, the ocean dies we are all in really serious trouble.

Look again at the earth in space. Now see that globe, not as a fish bowl, but as a carefully crafted aquarium. One in which just the right plants and animals have been placed so that they are in perfect balance. Creating such a miniature ecosystem is a typical project in biology courses. When properly done they can be tightly sealed and will live longer than their builder. This is what ecologists call self-sustaining systems. Our world and our economy are similar systems. When carefully made they can be “sustainable.”

Take a final look at the earth. If you could take that picture today, the polar caps have visibly shrunken, the tan deserts are larger, storms more powerful, and the infernos of regional fires could be seen. In four decades man has literally changed the face of the earth.

This is the first regular GoLocal column. A goal of this column is to provide ideas to help us redesign our “fish bowl” so that we can stop, and then begin to reverse the changes we are making to this precious place.


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LISTENING 2 CHILDREN - The Journey into Rightness

The Journey Into “Rightness”

Have you ever stepped back from a situation in your life and looked at it with fresh eyes? And then asking, “Why did I do that?” Perhaps it was some happening that took place…and you re-look at it and the way it was handled. Many years ago, I heard the term “Auto-Pilot”, in reference to one who just responds as if they were “programmed”. With so much to handle in today’s world, going into a state of automation, has its advantages. The main one being, it’s one less thing to think about, so we respond in a certain way time and time again.

Before you proceed reading this article,
I invite you to ponder the following.
Do you have an on-going question that you ask yourself?
It could be about your personal life, or your parenting or your work.

Before proceeding, please take time to ponder this and write down the question/s you ask yourself on an on-going basis.

When I first came across this concept, I did not think I was asking myself a question. However, upon closer observation, I discovered I was. Following are a few examples of questions I’ve heard being asked by people.

Why don’t I earn more money?
Why don’t the kids go to bed on time?
Why aren’t I happy?

Do any of these resemble the question/s you ask yourself? I invite you to consider if the above form resemble yours or not. Was your question looking at what’s wrong or what’s right? I believe that many times we are on “Auto-Pilot” and have just become accustomed to looking for the problem not the solution.

Kurt and Patricia Wright, in their marketing book, Breaking the Rules, introduce the concept of asking the “RIGHT QUESTION”. The one they invite readers to ask themselves is: “What are you and I like at our very best?” They feel that when the right question is asked, the result is one of getting on a roll toward high performance. If you are interested in their work, they are on line at

As I’ve taken this into my life, I find that asking a question that focus on “What’s Right” in any particular situation, truly creates a momentum in an up-hill direction.
So I invite you to consider asking such a question about your world in relationship to the children in your life. Following are some possible questions.

What’s working in the way I listen to children?
What’s working in the way the children listen to me?

For so long I sense that our focus has been on the problem, not the solution. It’s something that has been ingrained in our consciousness so deeply that we just naturally think about looking at the problem. Could we expect new and better results if we begin to focus on the least little bit of goodness or rightness in a situation and allow that to flourish? It’s not an easy journey to make the switch and focus on ‘rightness’; however, I do believe it’s a journey worth traveling!

Children, and adults for that matter, thrive on acknowledgment and encouragement. As we see the ‘rightness’ going on with our children and acknowledge that, more emerges. Children enjoy attention. So, acknowledging them for the positive encourage more of that! Calling attention to the negative behavior will encourage more of that! It’s so easy to think we need to address the problem, and at times, that is necessary, but many other times, I think a focus on what’s right, can create more “rightness”.

I invite you to take the “Journey into “Rightness” and see if a little rightness grows into more rightness. The areas that this can be practiced in are so numerous. I’d love to hear from you regarding the “rightness” in your world.

What’s Right about our family?
What’s Right about our dinnertime?
What’s Right about our home?
What’s Right about my lifestyle?

Sharon Ann Wikoff holds two California Teaching Credentials and is an EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) Practitioner. She hosts the Radio Programs, Heart 2 Heart Listening and The Voice of Change on For many years she’s had a small business teaching piano to children and adults. She now holds Teacher Trainings for individuals wanting to create a small business, teaching children from their passions and life experience. She can be reached at

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