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Welcome to the Sonoma County Gazette ARCHIVE of PAST EDITIONS. Our NEW WEBSITE is up and running, so GazExtra is serving as your path to archived articles. Thanks for being part of our Sonoma County community...stay in touch...e-mail me - VESTA

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Marriage - a Matter of Equal Rights for ALL

By Vesta Copestakes

This battle for Human Rights gets weary, like so many other battles for Human Rights. To have one segment of the human population tell another segment that they are not worthy of sharing the same rights is beyond understanding. But so many aspects of life are beyond understanding. Love seems so simple, so pure, and so much a part of everyday life. How can it be a battleground?

Protect Our Families
The argument that by denying the rights of marriage to gay and lesbian members of our family will protect our children, and therefore our families, is perhaps the least understandable argument of all. What part of commitment to love and a sense of belonging is dangerous to children?

Every parent knows the desire to protect our children and every parent knows that it's impossible on a grand scale. Our children are separate from us. They make their own decisions right from the start and they pay consequences for those decisions and therefore learn from them. Being homosexual has been proven to NOT be a decision. It's a BIOLOGICAL FACT.

Yes, there are some people - more women then men - who choose to love someone of the same sex out of frustration and anger as much as out of love. But even those people have to feel love in order to cross the boundaries between lust and love, between dating and commitment.

Learning that homosexual couples have sex is not enough to make a person homosexual. They either are or are not. So the argument that same sex relationships will be taught in our schools is ludicrous. Sex is taught in our schools only with the permission of parents. If parents don't want their children to lean about sex at school all they have to do is fill out a form and the kid won't be in that class.

But life - that's another issue entirely. How do you shelter a child from reading the newspaper, watching television or engaging in conversations? You don't. At some point in a child's life they will learn that people of the same sex fall in love just like heterosexuals. Love is love…period. Attraction brings people together, and from all the statistics on marriage, homosexuals have a much better commitment history than heterosexuals - by far! Peraps it's because they have fought such a hard battle just to love in the open that when they make the commitment, they do it with more conviction than male/female couples.

A Matter of Time
I was encouraged to see that Marie Osborn has came out in favor of same sex love. Her daughter or sister - or someone in her family, is homosexual. That's a real challenge for Mormons because homosexuality is, in essence, against their religion. Pity. They have such large families. Someone is bound to be homosexual. Do they reject each family member who is? Cast them out into the world as rejected? If religion is about strength of families and homophobia is as well, then this is not very comforting.

I read that Gavin Newsom's father, a judge and Catholic, has been profoundly against homosexual relationships and same sex marriage. I'm pretty certain he didn't raise Gavin with the concept that he should grow up to be a leader in the same sex marriage revolution. But even this man finally came to believe that he was wrong. Was it the inlfluence of son on father or just a matter of time.

Time is always on our side. Take any subject where people are filled with hate, rage, etc. and over time, sometimes hundreds of years, minds change. Experience is the great teacher. In this case sooner or later the haters will love someone who is homosexual. Not sexual love - family love. It makes them take a differnt look. Some do. Some don't. But the more people look at other people in terms of our similarities and less in term of differences, the more there is hope that marriage will be free to everyone who loves. Laws chnaged to allow differnt races to marry. Laws will change to allow different sexes to marry.

We still have a lot of work to do to bring peace to our families - and ultimately to our planet.

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Under One Roof - HIV/AIDS Education and Support

...helping to generate unrestricted funds for agencies that provide HIV/AIDS education and support services.

The Under One Roof Story

Under One Roof is the only non-profit retail store of its kind in the entire world, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars annually for San Francisco Bay Area men, women, and children living with HIV/AIDS.

Under One Roof inspires and unites community volunteers, donors, staff, sponsors and merchant supporters to support of our common cause: generating unrestricted funds for non-profit agencies that provide HIV/AIDS education and support services, including promoting positive, healthy lifestyles.

Since 1990, Under One Roof has donated more than $4 million in unrestricted funds to approximately 30 participating San Francisco Bay Area HIV/AIDS service organizations (“ASOs”).

As the AIDS epidemic changes and public funding sources diminish, Under One Roof's mission has become more critical than ever.

How Under One Roof Works

Under One Roof raises funds by selling items in our San Francisco store and via our website. For about 85% of the items we sell, we purchase wholesale merchandise. We then sell these items via our retail and online stores. Approximately 15% of our items are donated by retailers and vendors, the proceeds of which help cover our operating costs. We also raise funds by sponsoring a variety of ­special events.

After covering our operating expenses, we distribute 100% of our profits back to our participating agencies, allowing them to raise funds without any expenditure of operating funds, staff or marketing — a significant benefit in an era of diminished public sector funding. Our favorable payment terms, freight terms, and pricing from wholesalers, as well as generous merchandise donations, allow us to give higher profit margins back to our participating agencies. On average, each participating HIV/AIDS organization receives a 40–50% annual return on their investment.

A Modest Start — A Bright Future

Under One Roof was born in San Francisco in 1990, when a group of friends, wanting to help fight the AIDS epidemic ravaging their friends, family and community, had an idea: Create a small retail shop and donate all the profits to local HIV/AIDS service organizations. That first year, they simply sold gifts and wrapping paper during the winter holiday season from a little corner of the Names Project’s storefront on Market Street in the Castro district. Customers were thrilled they could support people affected byHIV/AIDS simply by giving gifts. And so began an enduring Under One Roof tradition — “giving the gift that gives twice.”

Several years later, Under One Roof blossomed into a year-round retail store on Castro Street. The new store was a truly collaborative effort: Agencies came together to sell merchandise, volunteers ran and staffed the store, corporate partners provided funding, vendors and retailers donated merchandise, and customers shopped their hearts out. All together, all “Under One Roof.”

In 2008, 18 years and more than $4 million in ASO donations later, Under One Roof moved across the street to 518A Castro Street — to a storefront triple the size of its previous location. In addition to retail in-store and online sales, Under One Roof now sponsors a variety of in-store and offsite fundraising events.

“The gift that gives twice.” From a few holiday gifts and some wrapping paper has emerged one of San Francisco’s most-recognized and beloved non-profits dedicated to helping people living with HIV and AIDS. As long as there’s a need for these services and thanks to your support, Under One Roof will be here to help.


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Balancing the Budget with Common Sense

Budget cuts need to SOLVE problems - not make new ones.

By Vesta Copestakes

I understand the need to balance the budget - and I also understand the urgency. And I even understand that by now legistors are swamped with people making pleas for what is important to them personally.

In the case of our state parks, although there are millions of people who use them, there are equally millions who never set foot on park land.

Millions never need food stamps. Millions never need in-home care. Millions never need alcohol and drug detox programs. Millions never need prison support services.

Pick a subject where cutting costs will save money and you will hurt some severely, while not touching the lives of others.

It seems that much can be accomplished by trimming fat out of every part of the state budget. Yes, that takes time and a profound attention to detail, but broad strokes may have immediate results, then in the long run, will probably cost more money. We can't think only in the NOW any more. We have to consider our future, plan well for it, and ponder the consequences of our actions before we embark on a path.

Closing parks won't keep people from using them anyway, but there will not be enough personnel to police and maintain the land. Partying youngsters on a hot summer night could easily start fires. Close restrooms and people will use the forest floor. Do you actually think that a gate and fence will keep people out?

Rather than harp on all the reasons to keep parks open without offering a solution, I'd like to suggest a few ways to accomplish our goals for balancing the budget - or at least keep it from collapsing, while making improvements on how our state handles money.

One of the facts that came out of last year's proposal to close state parks, is that every $1 that funds the state park system returns $2.35 to the state's General Fund, largely through economic activities in communities surrounding state parks.

I happen to live in one of those communities that would be negatively impacted. I can't think of a community in our state that wouldn't feel a negative impact. Los Angeles? If people can't come to the parks, they also won't be stopping at stores for gear and supplies, and that means they won't be paying sales taxes. So individuals save money but the state, and communities, lose money! This is a lose/lose.

I honestly think that there are ways to cut costs without sinking any one ship. For example, Government jobs and retirement plans are notorious for employing people over many years, with automatic pay raises whether they work to deserve them or not. Government also pays retirement pensions at remarkably high levels and then gets no work in return for that money. If the governments were run like a business, people would only keep their jobs if they worked hard, and well, and if the company couldn't afford raises, no one would get one. Retirement? That's up to the individual to take care of. Beyond Social Security, people need to be responsible for their own lives. It's like that in the private sector - why not government?

Mini-budget cuts that add up. How many departments could be streamlined through changing how things are done. There's hardly an aspect of life where you couldn't look at a situation and make it more efficient. Working efficiently costs less. Some government programs cost more than if the same task were performed by a private sector company. People are still employed but all the benefits, pensions, etc. are not a government expense. Many government jobs are no different from people on entitlement programs. There's a lot of money going out for very little energy and effort coming in. No private sector business could survive this way.

Generate income through legalizing marijuana and taxing it the same way alcohol is taxed. People like to get high. It's silly to allow one form of inebriation and not another. Tax revenues generated though addictive substances is part of our income stream. Pot is considerably less harmful than alcohol and cigarettes yet both are highly additive, as well as costly to society. Not only would the state have increased revenue, it would also have drastically reduced costs fighting this losing battle. This one item could go a long way toward actually balancing the budget.

I believe strongly that there are many ways to come to terms with this financial crisis. Treating the state the same way we treat our home and family budgets, and our private sector business budgets, would help tremendously. It may take time, but in the long run, we have a solution that could change the way we function for the better.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Russian River Water Crisis - YOU can HELP!

Continuing drought and probable flow reductions in the Russian River have left us in the middle of a “water crisis!”
Lack of water will greatly affect our drinking water supplies
and endangered salmon such as Coho.

Come learn how to test stream flow at The First Saturday Cleanup on June 6th at the Pierson Street Bridge on Santa Rosa Creek at 10 am! So we can keep ourselves and local government aware of exactly how our watersheds are doing! This information will help guide our daily water use and will help agencies make informed decisions regarding water policy. Great skill to learn for anyone interested in green and water focused jobs!

This training is part of First Saturday Cleanup (FSC), which is a great mentoring and stewardship program where youth of Chops Teen Center work with the community in cleaning up Santa Rosa Creek. The teens and supervising adults pick up trash, plant native vegetation, and remove graffiti. We will conclude the training and cleanup with a potluck lunch, so bring your favorite dish to share.

For more info about FSC visit
This will be the first of many presentations and workshops hosted by Community Clean Water Institute thanks to the Royal Bank of Canada’s Blue Water Project!

Check them out at

For a list of upcoming workshops and events go to

Stream Flow Monitoring Guide

What is stream flow?
Stream flow is the movement of an amount of water over a designated point per a determined period of time. It is usually measured in cubic feet per second (ft3/sec).

Why is it important?
Flow rates have a significant effect on wildlife presence and diversity, and the habitat and water quality of a stream. As the volume of water in a stream increases, so does the velocity, resulting in a healthier waterway that is more resilient to pollution. Certain types of organisms are dependent on these fast moving streams, while others need isolated pool habitats.

Fast-moving streams often have higher levels dissolved oxygen, as the currents help to aerate the water. When sediment enters a slow-moving waterway, either through runoff or bank erosion, the particles fall right through the water column to the bottom. This can create challenges for salmon as the sediment settles into the crevices within a gravel bed, covering food and filling in hiding and resting spots for fry.

Streams with lower water volume are prone to increased water temperatures. Water at higher temperatures contains more kinetic energy, which inhibits its ability to hold on to gasses such as oxygen. Warmer stream waters can also have higher conductivity levels. Conductivity is the ability of water to conduct an electrical current through dissolved ions in the water, and is a secondary indicator of pollution.

Monitoring stream flow reveals how much water is moving off the watershed into the waterway, which is influenced by the weather conditions of the region as well as how pervious the surrounding land is. Stream flow levels are also affected by human activity; water withdrawals for irrigation or industry can deplete flow levels, and dams block the flow of a stream and create altered flow patterns.

Rainstorms can cause in an increase in stream flow, while summer and fall months often have lower and sometimes even no flow. Shortage of rainfall, high evaporation rates, along with increased use of water by riparian vegetation are all natural causes of low stream flow during the summer and fall, with the lowest during the months of August and September.

Terrance Fleming
Community Clean Water Institute
Program Coordinator
707/824.4370 v
707/824.4372 f

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Monday, May 25, 2009

Global Student Exchange Promotes International Relationships

A Grassroots Approach to International Relations

By Jasper Oshun

Our world has never seen a time of greater need for human compassion, understanding, and tolerance. Human to human interactions have declined in favor of technological distractions that promote a shorter attention span. More people have access to more information than ever before, yet international relations are dominated by heads of state and CEO's of multinational corporations. I believe that at the local level, we have the potential to recognize commonalities across cultural lines, and collaborate with foreign communities to find solutions to local and global problems. Our objective, at the Global Student Embassy (GSE), is to foster communication between communities that promotes and solidifies grassroots international relations through the world's greatest untapped resource: the youth.

It is an unfortunate reality that high school students are often disregarded as potential agents of social change. Tremendous potential exists for social change to come from a mobilized and directed youth movement. GSE promotes service learning by empowering young people to become leaders in their community. Our student ambassadors learn hands-on skills while making a meaningful contribution to the global community. I believe that our ambassadors represent a growing shift in consciousness that will encourage young people to invest more time in both their local and global community.
GSE is expanding, both locally and internationally over the next 8 months. Windsor High School will incorporate GSE's curriculum into its Nueva Arts School. Service projects such as the community garden GSE has created at the Village Park in Sebastopol would benefit from an artistic eye. We look forward to seeing GSE thrive within the creativity and openness of the Windsor High curriculum.

Lucas, Yasha Mokaram (a third director of GSE), and I recently returned from a 6 week recruiting mission to Tanzania and Kenya. The educational structure of Tanzania (where we are establishing a scion of GSE) is daunting. The highly centralized Ministry of Education, which prides itself on position of power, has little connection to its high schools, yet retains all the decision making power.

Overcoming the necessary red tape in Tanzania is counter to our philosophy of grassroots organizing, yet we still believe in the tremendous potential of GSE in Morogoro, Tanzania. Over a week and a half of meetings with students, professors, administrators and teachers from 4 different high schools, the Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), and the regional office of education, we were excited to have an action plan for a new model of GSE.
We selected two rural development students, Rogers and Godfrey, who—assuming we find adequate funding—will enroll in a Master's program in which they will develop and coordinate an unprecedented university to secondary school partnership in accordance with the philosophy of GSE.

Four local high schools are forming GSE clubs that will send 10 delegates to meet with Rogers and Godfrey at SUA once a week. These students will discuss international relations, learn basic computer skills, communicate with their counterparts in Perú, Argentina, and Sebastopol, and research, plan and develop service projects that will benefit their community.

After meeting with local students, Rogers, Godfrey, Lucas, Yasha, and I were extremely impressed by the articulation, energy, and commitment of Morogoro high school students. Four to eight students from Morogoro, and one to three each from Perú and Argentina will travel to Sebastopol as delegates in January 2010.

In the meantime, we are fundraising in preparation for this June’s service projects to Argentina and Perú. Lucas will be leading 5 students from Analy, Nonesuch and Windsor high schools to Santa Fe, Argentina. The Argentinean students and teacher who traveled to Sebastopol last January are planning activities such as an on-field ceremony during Santa Fe's most anticipated soccer game of the year (Colon v. Boca Juniors), fishing trips up the Paraná River, and family barbeques. GSE is planning to establish Pasta para Progreso, a pasta making business whose proceeds will benefit an underfunded school.

In June, I will lead a group of students, and talented young adults to Zurite, Perú. We will contribute our labor, as well as $7,000 towards a $60,000 irrigation canal project. The municipality, the association of farmers, and GSE are teaming up to support the completion of the 2.5 km canal and irrigation system that will enable 150 families to cultivate their fields year-round.

We ask for public support of our international projects and the travel of student ambassadors. Please join us for a night of community investment beginning at 6:30 pm May 29th, at the Sebastopol Community Cultural Center. The gathering will include dinner, live music, updates of our projects and overall vision, a silent auction, and a chance to meet like-minded activists in your community. I invite you to learn more at

Global Student Embassy
7910 Swartz Ave
Sebastopol, CA 95472

Global Student Embassy - Morogoro, Tanzania

Morogoro is an underdeveloped city 2 hours west of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. The community of Morogoro is known for its commitment to education. In February, Jasper, Lucas, and Yasha traveled to Morogoro, teaching cultural and educational workshops to secondary (high school) level students. They were successful in creating GSE clubs at four secondary schools in the Morogoro Area. The clubs will meet regularly with student coordinators from Sokoine University of Agriculture, and discuss political, cultural, and social issues at the local and global level.

With financial, organizational and spiritual support from GSE the Tanzanian students have proposed to build a youth center in Morogoro that will sustain itself through the business of providing internet services and computer classes to members of their community. The Morogoro Youth Center (MYC) will be a place for students to share ideas and collectively organize community service projects in a community with an approximate average annual GDP per capita of only $400.

In January, 2010 students from Morogoro’s GSE branch will visit the local communities of Sebastopol and Windsor, helping to implement community development projects here in Sonoma County. In June of 2010, students from Sonoma County will complete the exchange, visiting the Morogoro community and investing themselves in the realization of the proposed community development projects.

Students in Morogoro lack some of the basic school materials that we take for granted here in the United States. Participants in the Global Student Embassy in Morogoro still have no public place to gather and exchange ideas. The lack of affordable internet prevents them from accessing the global community. Please help us to create the very first Morogoro Youth Center, a place for the youth of Tanzania to become future global leaders!

Global Student Embassy - Santa Fe, Argentina
Pasta para Progresso

Directed by Edit Chalita, the GSE students in Santa Fe have begun to fundraise and work with their family and friends to support their vision for rebuilding a poorly funded local primary school. Our community project in Santa Fe includes building a playground at the school, painting the school, and establishing a business to provide a sustainable source of funding for the school and the operation of GSE Santa Fe.

The five Argentineans who traveled to Sebastopol (Edit, Sebastian, Fiama, Natalia and Matias) are currently at work setting up a small pasta business. With GSE funds they will purchase a pasta-pressing machine. Students and parents will have part time employment producing raviolis, spaghetti, pene, and empanadas. The production will take place in the kitchen of the school after school hours. 50% of the profits generated from sale of the pasta will go toward supporting travel and participation in the Global Student Embassy. The other 50% of the profits will go directly towards the school for books, supplies, and other costs.

The Sebastopol and Santa Fe students will work together to build a playground with a basketball hoop and small soccer goals. The supplies for this project will be provided by GSE. The funds were raised in communities in both Santa Fe and Sonoma County. Over the course of 4 weeks the students will build the playground support the pasta business while living with their host families in Santa Fe. After the work Sebastopol students will have 18 days to travel and see different cities in Argentina.

We greatly appreciate any support you can offer towards the realization of our goals!

Global Student Embassy - Zurite, Perú

Zurite is a rural pueblo of 1,000 inhabitants located on the western edge of the Anta plain. The plain, a lake until drained by the Conquistadores, is now filled with pastures, familial agricultural plots, and small settlements. Most of Zurite’s inhabitants live a semi-subsistence lifestyle. Families work their fields, own a small store, raise guinea pig, work as day laborers, teach at local schools, or perhaps hold a municipal position. Most families consume a portion of their harvests and sell the remainder. The agricultural fields yield quinoa, potatoes, maize, large bean pods, and alfalfa. Zurite has a high school, a central plaza, a couple of stores selling groceries and household essentials, a police station, church, and soccer field. GSE, Zurite is directed by Tomás Ruíz López, a religious studies professor, and Uriel Villena, a dentist and local restaurant owner.

Tomás and Uriel have worked hard with student ambassador Yeni Sihua Quispe to work with the community of Zurite in developing a proposal for an irrigation canal. The project will be a joint venture with costs shared by the Global Student Embassy, the Municipality of Zurite, the Farmer’s community, and the Commissioner’s Office of Zurite.

The irrigation canal will be built of concrete, .5m x .5m, and will reach a distance of 2.5km. The $60,000 canal project will allow for the irrigation of 40 hectares and will benefit 150 families, a total of 450 people. The canal will allow for year round agriculture.

The Objectives of the Canal
1) Improve the crop yield and productivity of local agriculture.
2) Increase the economic investment of the beneficiaries and elevate the level of life.
3) To sustainably use the local water and land resources.
4) To reduce the risk and vulnerability of crop loss in high altitude farming.
5) To develop an organized system of efficient distribution of water and good management of the irrigation infrastructure.
6) To extend the reach of irrigation to new croplands.
7) To decrease the percentage of those aged 16-30 leaving Zurite in search of employment in the cities.

GSE ambassadors and staff plan to complete this 2.5km irrigation canal in June-July through a commitment of manual labor and $7,000.

You can support our efforts by purchasing sections of the canal for $25/meter
I invite you to learn more at

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Friday, May 15, 2009

Sonoma County Water Shortage Dilemma: Lawns or Canoes?

Low flows and water shortage spell severe limits for recreation season…..

By Brenda Adelman

Urban water use in Sonoma County and Marin is at least twice as great in summer as in winter. Coupled with high temperatures, it drives the water drawdown up. Much of that extra water goes to watering urban lawns.

The Russian River is now experiencing one of the worst water shortages since the Sonoma County Water Agency (SCWA) came into being in the early 1950’s. It’s a complex story, and for those of us downstream, it’s profoundly unfair, since lower river residents themselves use far less water in summer than their urban friends.

In the last few years, diversions from the Eel River to Lake Mendocino through the Potter Valley Project dropped at least 60%, which was double the expected amount. This meant that about 100,000 acre-feet LESS flowed into Lake Mendocino each year and is now about 20,000 acre feet lower than it was in 2007, another water short year. For many years, the Potter Valley Project has been a major source of our summer water supply, and in dry years, the shortage is likely to now be permanent.

On top of that, the Biological Opinion, the new Federal law governing flows for threatened fish species, requires that flows down Dry Creek from Lake Sonoma stay below 110 cfs, in order to protect juvenile salmonids from encountering rushing streams they could not withstand. This means we cannot make up the difference from Lake Sonoma right now, which is about 90% full. The Agency and National Marine Fisheries Service are planning a habitat restoration that will slow the flows for the fish, and allow more water to be released from Lake Sonoma to serve urban and lower river needs. It may be as much as ten years however, before that is complete.

Consequently, the combination of greatly decreased Eel River and limited Dry Creek releases, dry weather conditions much of this last winter, and legal and illegal draw-downs from agriculture (especially for frost protection), combined with a lack of permit enforcement (responsibility of State Water Board), has lead to the prospect of greatly diminished lower river summer flows.

Of course, none of the main stem flows are natural. They are manipulated by the Army Corps of Engineers in the winter for flood control and by the Sonoma County Water Agency in the summer for water supply. PG&E controls the releases to Lake Mendocino from Lake Pillsbury. And all of it is regulated under extremely complex water laws.

A Permanent Problem
In 2007, the Water Agency was also granted an Emergency Order to cut lower river flows to 85 cfs. That was bad enough. This year, the County Water Agency, claiming another emergency, petitioned the State Water Board again to allow lower flows this summer. Everyone recognized that this was the fourth emergency request in seven years and the “emergency” was really a management problem. State Water Board staff said as much and declared that this Order was really a template for next year’s hearings on an application requesting to PERMANENTLY CHANGE DECISION 1610, THE STATE LAW THAT GOVERNS RUSSIAN RIVER FLOWS.

The State Board demanded that stringent conservation requirements be imposed on the Agency customers and all dam releases lowered by 25%. The goal this time was not only save water in the summer so it would be available to migrating fish in the fall as now required by Federal law, but also to have enough water for all uses. The recent Order required, among other things, that water agency customers achieve 25% conservation based on 2004 baseline data. Board staff also called for cessation of watering commercial turf in the urban areas and insisted that ground water not be used to achieve conservation.

The urban contractors are being asked to cut back 25% over 2004 use, which is really 10% because they will get credit for prior savings of 15%. There was almost no new savings in 2008. And now they are “kicking and screaming” about new conservation requirements because they have already done so much. And it’s true that they have developed many conservation programs. It’s just that the situation requires that they do a lot more. But they are very angry that the State Board wants them to eliminate watering commercial turf entirely and are indicating their resistance.

The State Board also ordered the Water Agency to develop a water right accounting procedure and a method for determining when the Russian River is being supplemented by project water. This will help identify illegal agricultural water users.

While normal flows in the lower Russian River are at least 125 cubic feet per second (cfs), and can actually run over 200 cfs, the Emergency Order calls for flows of 85 cfs before July 6th and 35 cfs after July 6th. This is as much as a 75% decrease and probably means there will be no canoeing or swimming. It may mean no beach use altogether. The Water Agency will be required to do a lot of water quality monitoring, and if bacteria counts get too high, beaches may have to be closed. Since the 1950’s, we have heard that there has never been a sustained period when Russian River flows were as low as 35 cfs for an entire summer.

Great concerns about water quality were expressed in many of the letters Board staff received from lower river citizens. There was strong support for the ambitious monitoring and reporting program recommended by the North Coast Regional Board. While no other river business people attended the State Board workshop in Sacramento on May 6th, Linda Burke spoke eloquently on behalf of not only her own canoe business, but the whole lower river economy. She vividly conveyed the hardships that businesses and recreationists would experience if the 35 cfs were sustained.

Towards the end of May, the State Board will be distributing a revised Order that will spell out their expectations on the fulfillment of the above requirements. State Board members had listened very intently and respectfully to all speakers at their meeting on May 6th in Sacramento. In spite of fervid requests to lower conservation requirements and do away with the ban on commercial turf watering, they showed strong support for meaningful limits. We are running out of water and we no longer have a choice. We must conserve, or we will literally end up with nothing coming out of our taps.

Brenda Adelman can be reached with questions at

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Peace in Medicine of Sebastopol, Safe & Secure Dispensary

As you approach Peace In Medicine, Sebastopol’s nonprofit, healing center and medical cannabis dispensary, you can expect to be greeted with a friendly “Hello, can I help you?” by one its Security Hosts. The welcoming, nonconfrontational mantra of the facility starts right there. This atypical style of security is representative of the community it serves, and it has earned the respect and confidence of the members of City Council and members of the business community. The Chief of Police has called more than once to commend the Security Hosts on their cooperative, low profile professionalism at events like the annual Harvest Dance. In the 18 months that Peace In Medicine has been open, there have been no occurrences involving local law enforcement, and no complaints from neighbors, both of which are unusual for a cannabis dispensary.

Safety and Security at Peace In Medicine
By Linda Stokely

Peace in Medicine was conceptualized in 2007 by Robert Jacob, a Sebastopol resident and activist. Mr. Jacob envisioned a grassroots, community-based healing center that would provide support and resources for health-challenged residents to take control of their healing process. The response from the community in the form of volunteers, investors, and board members was inspiring, and on October 2nd, 2007 the facility opened its doors and began offering free classes to its patients. The popularity of the classes resulted in Peace in Medicine adding a 900 sq. ft. space just 18 months later.

The Education and Healing Center provides a wide variety of classes and services aimed at helping people manage their own health, a few of these are free Chinese herbal medicine consultations, nutritional consultations, yoga and Tai Chi classes, acupuncture, and massage therapy. In addition, it hosts support groups for patients living with cancer or chronic pain, and the facility provides free meeting space for local nonprofit and environmental groups. On occasion there are talks by authors, hypnotherapists, and other alternative medicine experts. It truly is a model facility for what medical cannabis dispensaries can be.

One of the key factors contributing to its successful integration into the community has been its safety and security staff, known as “Safety Hosts.” These individuals, while trained in accordance with the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services, also receive training in active listening, diplomacy, compassionate security, legal integrity, and how to de-escalate situations. Heading up Peace In Medicine’s team of Safety Hosts is Morgan Manlopig, a Monte Rio resident who grew up in the Bay Area, but spent summers in Sonoma County with his family. Morgan has spent many years in security working nightclubs and bars before working for dispensaries. As an activist and security professional, the opportunity to work in close cooperation with the Chief of Police and local officials, is a dream come true. In addition, Morgan recently completed CERT training and was welcomed onto Sebastopol’s Community Emergency Response Team. Morgan’s team of Safety Hosts includes an EMT, former Civil Air Patrol helicopter dispatcher, and an 8 year veteran Black Rock City Ranger. Safety Hosts deal with everything from senior citizens arriving there directly from a chemotherapy treatment, battling for their lives to young people looking for alternative modalities for their medical needs.

Jen Thille, former Sebastopol Planning Commissioner and Council Member knows Peace in Medicine well because of her interactions with the nonprofit. She had this to say about them, “Robert Jacob has proven his dedication to the safety and security of our community from the very beginning. Peace in Medicine is a first rate medical dispensary that provides invaluable services to local residents and I have nothing but admiration for what Robert has accomplished.”
Peace in Medicine firmly believes in the importance of supporting the community and providing patient access to alternative medicine, information and education in a safe environment. Peace in Medicine is an active member of the Chamber of Commerce and has sponsored, and/or participated in, over a dozen community events, as well as anonymously funding many local schools, city parks and events for children and young adults. The experience of visiting Peace in Medicine is totally unlike that of the majority of dispensaries; here customers are treated like the patients they are.

Peace in Medicine is located in Gravenstein Station at 6771 Sebastopol Ave. in
Sebastopol, California. Its hours of operation are Monday through Thursday 10:30am-
7:00pm, Friday and Saturday 10:30am-9pm, and on Sundays from noon till 7:00pm. A calendar of monthly events can be viewed at Peace In Medicine’s entire services are available to the general public, with the exception of dispensary access, which requires a letter of recommendation. Senior citizens, cyclists, and U. S. Veterans always receive a discount.



Peace in Medicine is a nonprofit, educational healing center that provides a wide variety of classes and services aimed at helping people manage their own health. It offers free Chinese herbal medicine consultations, nutritional consultations, yoga classes, acupuncture, and massage therapy. The facility hosts support groups for patients living with cancer or chronic pain, and provides free meeting space for local nonprofit and environmental groups. It sponsors talks by authors, hypnotherapists, and other alternative medicine experts, and it is a role-model facility for the dispensing of medical cannabis.

Peace in Medicine was conceptualized in 2007 by Robert Jacob, a Sebastopol resident and activist. Mr. Jacob envisioned a grassroots, community-based healing center that would provide a much needed nexus of support and resources for health-challenged residents to take control of their healing process. The response from the community in the form of volunteers, investors, and board members was inspiring. On October 2, 2007 Peace in Medicine opened its doors in Sebastopol, and already serves over 5000 members.

The nonprofit has a unique business model firmly based in 2 overarching tenets: the importance of local support and supporting locally; the belief in patient access to alternative medicine, information and education in a safe environment; and an unwavering adherence to environmental integrity.

1) Peace in Medicine is an active member of the Chamber of Commerce and has sponsored, and/or participated in, over a dozen community events, as well as anonymously sponsoring many local schools, city parks and events for children and young adults.

2) The calming, professional, medical office décor coupled with its well-trained, customer service oriented staff makes Peace In Medicine a model for facilities designed to implement the legal dispensation of medical cannabis in compliance with Prop. 215. The experience of visiting Peace in Medicine is totally unlike that of the majority of dispensaries. Customers are treated like the patients they are.

Peace in Medicine is located in Gravenstein Station at 6771 Sebastopol Ave. in Sebastopol, California, (707) 823-4206. Its hours of operation are Monday through Thursday 10:30am-7:00pm, Friday and Saturday 10:30am – 9pm, and on Sundays from noon till 7:00pm. A calendar of monthly events can be viewed at Peace In Medicine’s entire services are available to the general public, with the exception of dispensary access. Senior citizens, cyclists, and U. S. Veterans always receive a discount.

For further information members of the press can contact Linda at Peace in Medicine at (707) 981-4407.

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Economic Optimism - Looking on the Bright Side

By Vesta Copestakes

It’s not all gloom and doom, recession and depression, job loss and misery. I know all about the difference between optimists and pessimists, dreamers and people whose feet are planted firmly on the ground. And I know on which side of that picture I stand. But even optimistic dreamers can have a firm grasp on reality…and I can prove it.

The Culling Process
My neighbor Marty looks at how I live and work – all the time – and wonders why I don’t get a job so I can pay my bills and have time off to play. “Look at all the skills you have! Anybody would want to hire you!” Not so, Marty.

There are those among us who simply can’t work for someone else. We’re the “gotta do it my way”… “I have to be free” risk-takers. And we pay a price for all that, it’s true. But we’re the ones who create the jobs others enjoy. You don’t get to have a job unless some person is willing to take full responsibility for not only their own lives, but everyone’s life who works for them as well. Some dreams can’t be accomplished by one person. It takes a team of people. That team are employees.

And the person at the top of that heap has to be a brave individual and think like a leader, putting themselves on the line all the time. They make decisions large and small and live with the consequences. In this economy, many people in business are trying to survive and they take one of two paths…risk-taking or playing it safe.

Playing it Safe
Leaders on this path cut back on expenses and some times that means laying off employees. They take a look at their big picture and decide where to make cuts so they can meet the bottom line and survive. What they hope for is to come out the other side of this recession alive. Many will stop promoting their businesses to save money, pull back into their shells and hope to weather the storm. This is the mama hen calling her baby chicks to huddle under her wings while she shuts her eyes to the rain and hunkers down. Some chicks don’t fit so they get left out in the rain.

Taking Risks
Other leaders look around and see wide opens spaces being revealed as competitors seem to disappear into the fog. They turn their lights on and shine it into the darkness. Anyone out there? That bright light attracts attention! A little crowd gathers around the light seeking brilliance and the comfort of confidence. These are the leaders who announce to the world that all is going to be just fine…you wait and see. They move, they expand, they paint their world in bright colors and they smile. It’s a genuine smile – not put on their face for appearances. These are the people who see opportunity in challenge and can’t help themselves but want to be part of the rising tide.

Drum Roll Please…
Economists are telling us that the Recession never became a Depression and it looks like the tide is turning. So some of the playing-it-safe leaders may survive long enough to come out to play again while others might not make it through the storm. Time will tell.

Let me introduce you to some of these bright lights to prove my point. I’m certain this is but a fraction of leaders who are rising to the top, they just happen to be people I know and admire. You may know others and you can blow their horn for attention any time in these pages. Just write me a letter and I’ll spread the word.

In downtown Sebastopol there are a few bright lights I’m especially proud of. Margaret and Sabina of Art & Soul art supplies managed to grab the space next to them when the children’s store closed. They are putting the final touches on making this their Children’s Art Annex and will even be offering office supplies, which gets many of us excited so we don’t have to go to the big box stores!

On the same side of the street Uncarved Block opened up with Pu and Paul selling both carved as well as uncarved stones, beads, etc. and an amazing collection of Grateful Dead memorabilia. Bo at People’s Music tell me that sales are UP 10% over last year, so don’t try to convince him its all a bummer. Maybe more people need to entertain themselves with music. Who knows. It’s working.

Donna at Miller’s Candy Emporium opened up in the middle of all this recession and people are flocking to her store. Hey, for $3.00 you can get a very entertaining bag of licorice. Kids just love picking out their favorites, putting them in baskets and having the tiny treasures weighed. They learn a lot about money management in the process! Donna is smart, she also offers special events and Mama Goose story telling on Saturday mornings. Icing on the cake for customers!

Right across the hall – but not for long – is Janet Rodina of Silk Moon. Janet travels for treasures and brings them home to her store. It’s a rainbow in there! From inexpensive jewelry to sparkle your wrists and ears to beautifully crafted clothing, rugs, art objects. The store is a delight to browse – but too small for all Janet wants to offer! Now that Wendy Powers of County Home has decided to move on, Janet is moving across the street to bigger digs. And if you think it’s a bummer that Wendy closed her store, you should run into the beaming-happily woman I hugged the other day!

In my little town of Forestville, we have some happy tales to tell as well! Renee of Scissorhands dog grooming decided it was time to retire and play Nana to her grandkids, She called Toni who used to be Renee’s partner and Toni moved back down from Washington to carry on the business. She cleaned the place so it’s sparkling, took over Renee’s customers and her husband planted flowers outside (he’s a landscaper for hire). Everyone is happy including the dogs Toni grooms. It’s a win/win.

And speaking of dogs, Kim and Sherry opened Almost Home Doggie Day Care in the depths of winter and the recession and are doing just fine thank you very much! Dogs get to play with others dogs all day long and owners don’t feel guilty about leaving them alone at home. Not only that, the dogs spend so much time with other dogs, they aren't aggressive when they see another dog like so many used to be! It’s good for everyone!

On the corner downtown, Sean Loundigan took over Circuit Fitness from Robert Zalenka (who still does personal training there). Sean decided the building, and town, needed to be brightened up so he and his daughter gave it a new color scheme – bright yellow and red! And Sean is just so cute (he’s single, girls!), with such a big, confident smile – you can’t miss the place now! My gym and I highly recommend it!

In downtown Guerneville, they’re playing musical chairs like they did in Duncans Mills last year. Nexus Organic Design & Floral moved into the space Memories that Linger vacated (Jennifer moved on to West County Heath), George from Guerneville Printing is moving down to the space Nexus vacated (across from Safeway), Chef Patrick is leaving Pat’s Restaurants’s small dining room and expanding into the Charizma space cross the street (everyone is happy about that!) and Jill Baba is opening up a pet supply store soon where River Mist used to be. Mixed up? Just go to downtown Guerneville and wander around. Oh yes, and on the community side, Suzanna Mayo got motivated and started the Guerneville Labor Center up at the Park and Ride on the west end of town, to encourage people to hire skilled day laborers from the center instead of off the street. This helps everyone!

In Duncans Mills, Jamie & Tom re-opened the Blue Heron, gave it a new logo and wonderful menu and brought back live music to the bar and our favorite, Sunday afternoon music on the patio. Jim Raidl of Jim & Willies Antiques decided that adding events to the Duncans Mill schedule would be a good idea, so he brought in Marla Steele pet psychic for a big event in May. And Christina of Thistledown Antiques is kicking up her catering business, Scrumptious, with special buffets at the Blue Heron (Mothers Day Brunch was incredible!)… her next one is a Solstice Dinner in June. My fave, Gloria at Weavers & Dreamers decided that in addition to expanding her children’s department in her store, she added an New2-U section, scattered throughout the store, where she sells bargain items and donates the money to local schools.

Another town getting all excited is the tiny village of Bodega where the has two Mikes (one is the new owner) two Matts and a Martin. Matt says they make a yummy hot soup, which is catching on quickly! Some of these 5 Ms will be cooking on the patio of the Bodega Country StoreCasino this summer. Elizabeth and Greg are waaaay excited to have this fresh input into town. They’ve added Open Mike Night on Thurdays and have all kinds of fun activities planned for the summer.

You want contact info for these businesses so you can see why they are such optimistic people? Scroll down and I'll provide it for you.

Oh yeah – speaking of optimistic business owners – me! I publish a monthly newspaper. All we read about is how people are going to the internet and paper newspapers are dying. Well, one of my competitors closed their doors, the Russian River Monthly, but heck, they’re happy. No more late nights meeting deadlines – they get lives now and are moving on to other ventures. There’s calm in their faces!

Me, I can’t help myself. I love what I do. People tell me all the time how much they appreciate this newspaper – and yes, they like to hold it in their hands. It’s quiet. They can read it in the garden or in the bathtub. I love the net as well, but sitting in front of a glowing screen is how I make a living. Reading is leisure. And yes, I’m expanding circulation (24,000 copies now) and reaching more communities all the time.

Taking risks. It’s what entrepreneurs do. Well – some of us. We‘ll see how it works out in the long run for those that seek shelter vs. those that jump into the storm. You know that some of us storm-chasers will get hit by lightening just as much as some shelter-seekers will get buried. You never know unless you try.

Art & Soul of Sebastopol
156 N. Main Street
Sebastopol, CA 95472

Uncarved Block
110 North Main Street
Sebastopol, CA 95472

People's Music
122 N. Main Street
Sebastopol, CA 95472

Miller's Candy Emporium
186 N Main Street Ste 120
Sebastopol, CA 95472

Silk Moon
186 N Main Street
Sebastopol, CA 95472

Henweigh Cafe
4550 Gravenstein Hwy North
Sebastopol, CA 95472

6553 Front St
Forestville, CA 95436

Almost Home Doggie Day Care
4925 gravenstein Hwy North
Sebastopol, CA 95472

Circuit Fitness
6559 Front Street
Forestville, CA 95436

Nexus Organic Design & Floral
16218 Main Street
Guerneville, CA 95446

Guerneville Printing
16442 Main Street
Guerneville, CA 95446

Chef Patrick
16236 Main St
Guerneville, CA 95446
(707) 869-9161

Guerneville Labor Center

Blue Heron
25300 Steelhead Blvd
Duncans Mills, CA 95430
(707) 865-9135

Jim & Willies Antiques
25193 State Hwy 116
Duncans Mills, CA 95430
707 865-9672

Thistledown Antiques
25171 Highway 116
Duncans Mills, CA 95430
(707) 865-1628

Weavers & Dreamers
25200 Highway 116
Duncans Mills, CA 95430
(707) 865-2715

Bodega Country Store
17190 Bodega Hwy
Bodega, CA 94922
(707) 377-4056

The Casino
Bodega Hwy
Bodega, CA 94922

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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Lesa Tanner of Graton: Images of America

Graton's own Lesa Tanner, author is "Images of America: Graton" is a finailist in the Via Magazine "Best Travel Day Ever!" contest! Her story, one of six, really is the best - a story of redemption through the magic of nature.

Please go to this web site and vote for Lesa, if you wish - her's is essay #4. Votes must be in by June 1st. .

Please send this message on to as many others as you can! What fun to support someone from Graton! - HolLynn

Available locally at the Graton Gallery and Willow Wood in Graton and Copperfield’s Books in Sebastopol, Images of America: Graton,” written by native Gratoneer Lesa Tanner, is a must buy. (Also available at In particular, those with a Graton state of mind, the Grateronians will find the book invaluable in explaining exactly how Graton came to be the great social experiment that it is.

What is striking, looking at the old photographs of 1906 Graton, is the fact that there were few trees or other plants in the Graton environs, compared to the urban forest it is today. Only the Baker buildings on the south side of Graton Road remain as remnants of the old Graton. Sonoma County Regional Parks has expressed an interest in restoring the Baker buildings and creating a museum in honor of the Bakers. In the meantime, it’s wonderful to have the old buildings providing a sense of history to enrich the Graton environ, though it is sad to watch them decay.

The book has 205 photographs and a story for each one, such as the one about the bear in the tree house at Handy's corner and the “Graton Girls” baseball team of 1935. What a opportunity to find out about Graton’s colorful history, from being “hops and apple central” to its somewhat notorious 70's days as a dangerous den of brawling bars to the revitalized small town that it is today.

History of Graton revealed
Local author releases new book featuring stunning collection of vintage photographs

New from Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America series is Graton. In over 200 vintage photographs, local author Lesa Tanner along with the Graton Community Club share the history of Graton in this new book.

The town of Graton is located in the beautiful and fertile Green Valley, which was first settled in the mid-1800s by pioneer families such as the Sullivans, Gregsons and Winklers. When the railroad came through the area realtor James Gray and banker J. H. Brush bought land and created one of the first subdivisions in Sonoma County. They named the streets after themselves and their children and in 1905 Graton was born.

Along with the agricultural industry in California, the town thrived until the 1970s and then declined only to be reborn in the 1990s. Throughout all of Graton’s phases, Oak Grove School (1854), the Pacific Christian Academy (1918) and the Graton Community Club (1914) remained vital. Graton is now part of a premiere wine-growing region, and visitors as well as locals are attracted to its vibrant downtown businesses, award-winning restaurants and artistic community.

Meet the author:
May 30th from 2-4pm
2825 Santa Rosa Ave, Santa Rosa

Available at area bookstores, independent retailers, and online retailers, or through Arcadia Publishing at (888)-313-2665 or

Arcadia Publishing is the leading publisher of local and regional history in the United States. Our mission is to make history accessible and meaningful through the publication of books on the heritage of America’s people and places. Have we done a book on your town? Visit

You can find the book for sale at the following locations:
Copperfield's Books in Sebastopol
Willow Wood Market, 9020 Graton Rd., Graton
Graton Gallery, 9050 Graton Rd., Graton
Far West Trading Co., 9060 Graton Rd., Graton
West County Museum, 261 S. Main St., Sebastopol
Pacific Christian Academy, 8877 Donald St., Graton

by Lesa Tanner, Graton Community Club
Images of America series
Price: $21.99
128 pages/ softcover

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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

UPDATE on Tiger Salamander Protection in Sonoma County

This article comes from the North Bay Business Journal - so it has a business perspective. This kind of information is important to WCG readers, so I'm passing it along. - Vesta

Regulators settle salamander-protection suit

Tuesday, May 5, 2009
# County governments coordinate climate-change solutions
# Draft climate rules released for projects

SONOMA COUNTY, May 5, 2009 -- The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity reached a settlement that will reopen consideration of 74,223 acres of central Sonoma County as "critical habitat" for the California tiger salamander, potentially turning back the clock on a several-year local effort to avoid such a result.

The settlement, approved in a Sacramento federal court today, was not unexpected, given the decision by cash-strapped local governments last June to halt implementation of a "cooperative conservation" strategy for protecting the salamander and a few protected plants in central Sonoma County while allowing some construction in the area to continue, according to a wildlife service spokesman and a consultant involved in the creation of the strategy.

"Generally, our attorneys would agree that it made our case a little less vigorous than it could have been," said wildlife service spokesman Al Donner.

The wildlife service, other regulatory agencies and several local governments issued the Santa Rosa Plain Conservation Strategy in December 2005. The wildlife service, under a court order to declare critical habitat for the salamander by the end of that year, decided to suspend that designation pending the implementation of the strategy. The plan called for 4,000 acres of conservation areas on the plain to be set aside for the amphibian and a few protected plants, funded by purchases of mitigation "credits" by builders in the habitat area.

Local governments involved in the implementation committee – mainly the county of Sonoma and the cities of Santa Rosa and Rohnert Park – will have to decide whether a critical-habitat designation is something undesirable enough to overcome funding problems, according to Marc Kelley of the Santa Rosa-based firm Kelley Wasem. Such a designation can trigger greater scrutiny of the impact of construction projects on that habitat.

"It's essentially putting the community on notice that if they don't want critical habitat they are going to have to hustle," he said.

Santa Rosa City Manager Jeff Kolin this afternoon said he was not aware of the settlement. He noted that the implementation committee hasn't met for a while and didn't have plans to do so in the immediate future.

Rohnert Park councilman Jake Mackenzie said that the implementation committee likely will get together after the wildlife service republishes the critical-habitat proposal.

"It seems extremely unlikely anything will go forward in the next 90 days," he said.

Mr. Mackenzie said he hoped the mapping and conservation strategy would be retained from the document.

"To think years of work will be abandoned is distressing to me personally," he said.

The settlement directs the wildlife service to submit a proposal by early August for the same critical habitat proposed in August 2005, according to the agency.

That area is bounded by the Laguna de Santa Rosa on the west, Windsor Creek on the north, on the south by Skillman Road northwest of Petaluma and by the hills east of Santa Rosa. The map is posted at

Under the settlement the wildlife service must complete its habitat designation action by July 1, 2011, but is not bound by how much land must be designated in the final rule, according to the agency.

Though the critical-habitat acreage to be proposed in the settlement is the same as in August 2005, the conservation and economic situation is different, according to Mr. Donner. First, homebuilding virtually has halted in the southwest Santa Rosa area where several salamander breeding areas were identified, relieving pressure on habitat from development. Second, an interagency mitigation-bank task force has approved a handful of mitigation banks with salamander and wetland credits available for purchase in the past 18 months, relieving a shortage of credits during the building boom that busted in mid-2006.

The wildlife service will be taking new comment on the ecological and economic situation in public hearings to be scheduled after the proposal is republished, according to Mr. Donner.

Copyright 2009 - North Bay Business Journal
427 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa, CA 95401
Phone: 707-521-5270 - Fax: 707-521-5269

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Hanging Tough - in the Current Economy

This essay is so in-line with my thinking - I just have to pass it on to readers. - Vesta

Hanging Tough
by James Surowiecki
Published in the April 20, 2009 The New Yorker

In the late nineteen-twenties, two companies—Kellogg and Post—dominated the market for packaged cereal. It was still a relatively new market: ready-to-eat cereal had been around for decades, but Americans didn’t see it as a real alternative to oatmeal or cream of wheat until the twenties. So, when the Depression hit, no one knew what would happen to consumer demand. Post did the predictable thing: it reined in expenses and cut back on advertising. But Kellogg doubled its ad budget, moved aggressively into radio advertising, and heavily pushed its new cereal, Rice Krispies. (Snap, Crackle, and Pop first appeared in the thirties.) By 1933, even as the economy cratered, Kellogg’s profits had risen almost thirty per cent and it had become what it remains today: the industry’s dominant player.

You’d think that everyone would want to emulate Kellogg’s success, but, when hard times hit, most companies end up behaving more like Post. They hunker down, cut spending, and wait for good times to return. They make fewer acquisitions, even though prices are cheaper. They cut advertising budgets. And often they invest less in research and development. They do all this to preserve what they have. But there’s a trade-off: numerous studies have shown that companies that keep spending on acquisition, advertising, and R. & D. during recessions do significantly better than those which make big cuts. In 1927, the economist Roland Vaile found that firms that kept ad spending stable or increased it during the recession of 1921-22 saw their sales hold up significantly better than those which didn’t. A study of advertising during the 1981-82 recession found that sales at firms that increased advertising or held steady grew precipitously in the next three years, compared with only slight increases at firms that had slashed their budgets. And a McKinsey study of the 1990-91 recession found that companies that remained market leaders or became serious challengers during the downturn had increased their acquisition, R. & D., and ad budgets, while companies at the bottom of the pile had reduced them.

One way to read these studies is simply that recessions make the strong stronger and the weak weaker, since the strong can afford to keep investing while the weak have to devote all their energies to staying afloat. But although deep pockets help in a downturn, recessions nonetheless create more opportunity for challengers, not less. When everyone is advertising, for instance, it’s hard to separate yourself from the pack; when ads are scarcer, the returns on investment seem to rise. That may be why during the 1990-91 recession, according to a Bain & Company study, twice as many companies leaped from the bottom of their industries to the top as did so in the years before and after.

Chrysler’s fortunes in the Great Depression are a classic instance of this. Chrysler had been the third player in the U.S. auto industry, behind G.M. and Ford. But early in the downturn it gave a big push to a new brand—Plymouth—targeted at the low end of the market, and by 1933 it had surpassed Ford to become North America’s second-biggest automaker. On a smaller scale, Hyundai has made huge gains in market share this year, thanks to a hefty advertising budget and a guarantee to take back cars from owners who have lost their jobs. Those gains may turn out to be temporary, but in fact the benefits from recession investment are often surprisingly long-lived, with companies maintaining their gains in market share and sales well into economic recovery.

Why, then, are companies so quick to cut back when trouble hits? The answer has something to do with a famous distinction that the economist Frank Knight made between risk and uncertainty. Risk describes a situation where you have a sense of the range and likelihood of possible outcomes. Uncertainty describes a situation where it’s not even clear what might happen, let alone how likely the possible outcomes are. Uncertainty is always a part of business, but in a recession it dominates everything else: no one’s sure how long the downturn will last, how shoppers will react, whether we’ll go back to the way things were before or see permanent changes in consumer behavior. So it’s natural to focus on what you can control: minimizing losses and improving short-term results. And cutting spending is a good way of doing this; a major study, by the Strategic Planning Institute, of corporate behavior during the past thirty years found that reducing ad spending during recessions did improve companies’ return on capital. It also meant, though, that they grew less quickly in the years following recessions than more free-spending competitors did. But for many companies recessions are a time when short-term considerations trump long-term potential.

This is not irrational. It’s true that the uncertainty of recessions creates an opportunity for serious profits, and the historical record is full of companies that made successful gambles in hard times: Kraft introduced Miracle Whip in 1933 and saw it become America’s best-selling dressing in six months; Texas Instruments brought out the transistor radio in the 1954 recession; Apple launched the iPod in 2001. Then again, the record is also full of forgotten companies that gambled and failed. The academics Peter Dickson and Joseph Giglierano have argued that companies have to worry about two kinds of failure: “sinking the boat” (wrecking the company by making a bad bet) or “missing the boat” (letting a great opportunity pass). Today, most companies are far more worried about sinking the boat than about missing it. That’s why the opportunity to do what Kellogg did exists. That’s also why it’s so nerve-racking to try it. ♦

© James Surowiecki

For other essys by James Surowiecki - follow this link

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Sunday, May 3, 2009

Destroying the Horse We Rode In On: Mustangs in Danger

Deanne Stillman with Bugz, survivor of the 1998 Christmas massacre
of 34 wild horses outside Reno.

Photo by Betty Lee Kelly.

Deanne Stillman, the author of "Mustang: The Saga of the Wild Horse in the American West," an LA Times "best book 08," winner of the California Book Award silver medal for 2008, and widely praised from the Atlantic Monthly to the Economist, is in Sebastopol for a signing at Copperfield’s Books on Thursday, May 14, at 7 p.m.
She will also be at Readers’ Books in Sonoma on Tuesday, May 12, at 7:30 p.m.


By Deanne Stillman

It’s not news that America is a cowboy nation but it may surprise many that we are destroying the horse we rode in on. I refer specifically to the mustang, the animal that blazed our trails, fought our wars and serves as our greatest icon.

Since 1971 wild horses have been protected under the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Protection Act, a hard-won law spearheaded by Velma Johnston, aka Wild Horse Annie, a classic Nevada character whose life was changed when she saw blood spilling out of a truck, followed it down a desert highway, and then witnessed injured and dying mustangs being offloaded at a slaughterhouse. From that morning in 1950, she led a battle to stop the cruel round-ups, resulting in the passage of four laws, with the final one signed by Richard Nixon.

Under the federal law, horses were to be “considered in areas where presently found, as an integral part of the system of public lands.” Their management fell to agencies inside the Department of the Interior, primarily the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management, which carry out periodic round-ups to cull the herds since most of their natural predators are gone from their ranges. Once taken, the horses are funneled into the adopt-a-horse program, which sometimes works for horses and people alike, and sometimes doesn't, resulting in fatal mishaps and other cruel disasters.

At the beginning of the 20th Century, there were about two million mustangs in the wilderness; today, according to the BLM, there are about 20,000 on public lands in the western states, with more than half in Nevada. Because the animals have been removed – or “zeroed out” – from at least 100 of their 300 official herd areas, contrary to the law’s provisions, they are on the brink of no return.

Ranching outfits often graze their cattle and sheep on lands where horses make their living, and many stockmen have long regarded wild horses as “pests” that steal food from their herds. They have tried to dismantle the wild horse and burro law through five administrations, while at the same time lone actors head into the wilderness to whack wild horses as well as burros (protected under the same law), yet are rarely found or prosecuted.

Under the Bush regime, large-scale corporate ranching operations had almost reached their goal of a mustang-free America, thanks to a rollback in the law in which culled horses that haven’t been adopted on the third try through the government’s controversial adopt-a-horse program – criminalized “three-strikers” – can be sold to the lowest bidder, along with mustangs over ten (not old for a horse). This meant a ticket to the slaughterhouse - and the rule still prevails. The rollback was aggravated by a media that often parrots the view that the mustang is an invasive species. In fact it is native to this continent, linked by mitochondrial DNA to horses of the Pleistocene.

Beyond that, horses are North America’s gift to the world. They evolved in the West, then crossed the Bering land bridge and died out on their native turf in the Ice Age, but not before they had established themselves in many other lands. They returned with conquistadors in the 16th century, and it was as if they had never left. For the next 300 years, their descendants were pressed into noble and bloody service. By the end of the 19th century, the West was no longer wild, and it was time for them to go.

A hydra-headed horseflesh industry arose and flourished until Wild Horse Annie came along. Self-valorizing mustangers ripped into the herds, trapping the horses in remote areas and then selling them for chicken feed, dinner in France, or wars. So many horses were taken from 1920 to 1935 that the era is known in some circles as “the great removal.”

But the round-ups didn’t stop then, and there are now more wild horses in the pipelines than on the range. Last year, the BLM announced that it was planning to "euthanize" 30,000 stranded mustangs because there's not enough money in the budget to keep them. Madeline Pickens came forward and offered to save them, yet so far, the BLM has not permitted her plan to move forward.

Many of these horses should not have been taken from the land in the first place, and in my travels across the country, I have learned that if there's one thing Americans are happy to spend their tax dollars on, it's the preservation of wild horses. They understand that our greatest road trip car is not called the Mustang for nothing and what it says about us if we can't take care of the real thing. To that end, a new bill was recently introduced to make sure that the wild horse has a permanent home on the range. It's HR 1018 and it's coming up for debate on the House floor soon. “We need the tonic of wildness,” Richard Nixon said, quoting Thoreau when he signed the law. “Wild horses merit protection as a matter of ecological right – as anyone knows who has stood awed at the indomitable spirit and sheer energy of a mustang running free.”

Meet the author of “Mustang” at Copperfield’s Books

Critically acclaimed author Deanne Stillman comes to Copperfield’s Books, 138 N. Main St. in Sebastopol on Thursday, May 14, at 7 p.m to sign her latest book, "Mustang: The Saga of the Wild Horse in the American West" (Houghton Mifflin).

"Mustang" is a narrative nonfiction history of the wild horse on this continent, from prehistory through the present, with chapters about Cortes and the 16 horses that launched the conquest; the Battle of the Little Bighorn and the horse that survived it, and the ongoing war to wipe out the wild horse by way of massacres and round-ups. The LA Times named "Mustang" a "best book 2008," and it’s a winner of the California Book Award silver medal for 2008. It has gotten great reviews in the Atlantic Monthly, Orion, Economist, Seattle Times, NPR's On Point, and many other places. Michael Blake ("Dances with Wolves") calls it "stunning" and the late Tony Hillerman called it "remarkable."

Stillman began work on "Mustang" in 1998 after learning that 34 wild horses had been gunned down outside Reno at Christmas time. At the time, she was finishing up her book "Twentynine Palms: A True Story of Murder, Marines, and the Mojave," an LA Times "best book 01" which Hunter Thompson called "A strange and brilliant story by an important American writer." There was an arrest in the horse massacre; three of the accused were Marines and one was stationed at Twentynine Palms. Having grown up around horses, Deanne was drawn to the story. She spent 10 years on the wild horse trail, following it across time as it evolved in North America, went extinct and returned with conquistadors, partnered with Native Americans, fought our wars, blazed our trails, and continues to serve as our greatest icon of freedom.

"Mustang" has been a driver in the grassroots campaign to preserve wild horses and burros and is one of the things that led to the introduction of HR 1018, the new bill that seeks to expand wild horse and burro protection for the first time since 1971. Stillman has been traveling the country since her book was published, and has learned that when it comes to the mustang, most Americans agree: we must preserve our heritage.

Stillman will also be appearing at Readers’ Books in Sonoma on Tuesday, May 12, at 7:30 p.m.

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Wastewater Not Clean Enough for Vineyard Irrigation


North County residents, grapegrowers, and conservationists agree:

THE NSCARP PROJECT -- proposed by the Sonoma County Water Agency -- would be a huge system of 17 reservoirs, 111 miles of pipeline, and 16 pumping stations disposing of more than 4 billion gallons of partially-treated municipal effluent annually across 21,000 acres of premium vineyards stretching from Forestville to Cloverdale.

Sewage plants for NSCARP do not remove all contaminants. Studies show that this insufficiently treated wastewater risks polluting drinking water supplies -- as well as the Russian River and Dry Creek. It could have detrimental, long-lasting, and potentially dangerous repercussions for residents, farmers, public health, and endangered salmon.

But the project's environmental impact report (EIR) glosses over many real concerns from highly qualified scientists and government agencies charged with protecting water quality.

On May 12, the project's EIR will be considered for approval by the Board of Directors of the Sonoma County Water Agency (the Board of Supervisors). Take Action! Make your concerns known to your Supervisor. While recycling is a laudable concept, the impacts of the NSCARP proposal must be fully studied before approval. Since this has not been done, the Board should reject the EIR in its current form.


It's easy:

Send an email to your Supervisor at one of the addresses below:

First District
Supervisor Valerie Brown

Second District
Supervisor Mike Kerns

Third District
Supervisor Shirlee Zane

Fourth District
Supervisor Paul Kelley

Fifth District
Supervisor Efren Carrillo

Or: Call your Supervisor at (707) 565-2241 - and leave a message,

Or: Write a letter using the sample template and add your own remarks.

Download it here.

Urge your Supervisor to protect Sonoma County's drinking water, agriculture, economy, and ecology by voting No on certification of the NSCARP final EIR in its current form. Ask them to instruct staff to fully analyze all of the impacts.

Not sure whose district you live in?

Click here for a map.

The final EIR will be presented to the SCWA/Board of Supervisors on May 12, 2009 at 8:30 am at 575 Administration Drive, Santa Rosa, CA 95403. All interested parties are encouraged to attend!

What’s wrong with NSCARP?

Studies show that the level of treatment applied to this wastewater is insufficient for safe use on the thin, porous soils of the Alexander, Dry Creek and Russian River Valleys – it’s not clean enough.

Contaminants will pass virtually unabsorbed into drinking water sources. Wells could become unusable in 8-13 years or require expensive local treatment equipment.

Chemicals and nutrients in the wastewater pose measurable public health concerns, especially for infants, pregnant women, and nursing mothers.

Endocrine disruptors and pharmaceuticals not removed in treatment will move into creeks and rivers, interfering with efforts to restore populations of threatened steelhead and salmon.

Competing wine growing regions may exploit the “yuck” factor associated with sewage; in the future vintners could be required to disclose on labels that vines were cultivated with wastewater.

Government can require farmers to use wastewater if it is made available, and could control the timing and amount of wastewater use. Water rights may be at risk.

The EIR is inadequate in many other respects. For example, two dams, together holding 593 million gallons of wastewater, would be built over an active earthquake fault in Alexander Valley.

Submitted by
Clean Water Coalition of Northern Sonoma County
Founded in 2007, the Clean Water Coalition of Northern Sonoma County is an alliance of community groups and individuals representing a total membership of over 2,500 local residents, winemakers, environmentalists, farmers, elected officials and representatives of the business community in and around Healdsburg, Geyserville, Windsor and Cloverdale. Organizational members include the Alexander Valley Association, the Dry Creek Valley Association, the Westside Association to Save Agriculture and the Russian Riverkeeper.

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