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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

Monday, June 29, 2009

Graton Fire Department Delivers Baby

Sunday, June 28th, 2009 at 9:35pm - Brand new Gratonian!

At 9:35pm last night, Graton Fire responded to a residence in downtown Graton for a mother in labor. As the firefighters walked into the house, the baby was already partially delivered! The baby was breech; after the firefighters completed the delivery of the head, they began resuscitation efforts as the baby did not start breathing immediately. The Sonoma Life Support Ambulance showed up very quickly and everyone worked as a team to get mom and baby into the ambulance. Two Graton firefighters assisted the paramedic with the baby’s care all the way to the hospital.

Delivering a baby is something that Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) are trained to do, but it rarely actually happens. “This was an exciting event for all of us, very different from the typical medical emergencies we respond to,” said Deputy Chief Bill Bullard, who was on the call. “I have been an EMT for 23 years and this was a first.” As of last night, the mother and new baby boy were doing well.

Graton Fire also sends a huge thank you to the Cal Fire engine that was nearby and responded; they did a great job.

Bill Bullard, Deputy Chief
Graton Fire Protection District
3205 Ross Road, P.O. Box A
Graton, CA 95444
707-823-5515 ext. 3
707-823-7251 fax

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Rick Reynolds: Only the Truth is Funny

Rick Reynold at Cinnabar Theater in Petaluma
By Vesta Copestakes

Would I have gone to this show if I hadn't been invited with a Press Pass? Probably not because I'm a workaholic - and that only reminds me of the many experiences I miss while working too many hours. Not seeing Rick Reynold perform at Cinnabar Theater would have been a sad loss. I was impressed, entertained and touched by his wisdom and delivery.

My partner Alan loves stand-up comedy, so on the off-chance that he would say yes - he, too is a workaholic - I forwarded Dave Pokorny's invitation via e-mail. Dave is one of the people who books shows into Cinnebar - each person books their area of expertise and Dave's is comedy. He's known Rick Reynolds for years and admires his work. This was a perfect fit for Cinnabar.

Rick Reynolds lives in Petaluma and is re-emerging after a respite from professional theater/comedy while he raised his children. He opened the show with a testament to the truth in what we were about to experience. The title of his show is “Only the Truth is Funny: Mid-Life at the Oasis.” This show is based on his life experiences and what he has learned over the years. Rick's ability to blend depth-of-life experience with comedy is what impressed me the most. There was so much to personally relate to, all wrapped in Rick's amazing capacity to tell the tale, make it funny, and hit home with the impact of truth.

Right from the start Rick opens with his concept of the three most important truths to life. That if you grew up feeling loved as a child, believe in God and have a fulfilling love is good. And this is the platform from which he springs into snippets of wisdom learned from a profoundly difficult childhood, through marriage and children to where he is today. Along the journey we howled with laughter, felt the sting of hard truths, the nod of recognition of shared experiences, and awe for Rick's ability to deliver a broad range of life experiences told through the lens of laughter.

Both Alan and I came away with respect for Rick Reynold's talent as a performer as well as his intelligence and ability to communicate with his stories. This is a show you should not miss. And yes, you will laugh - Rick is honestly funy.

Rick will be performing at Cinnebar Theater in Petaluma:
June 19, 20, 26, 27
July 2, 3, 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, 23, 29, 30
August 5 and 6 all at 8:00.

$20 presale/$25 at the door

Cinnabar Theater, 3333 Petaluma Blvd. North, Petaluma, CA 94952
Ofc: 707-763-8920 Fax: 707-763-8929

and while you are on the web site - check out the broad range of music/theater/comedy season coming up.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sonoma County Refuse Disposal Site New Hours

Due to Sonoma County budget cuts, there are now reduced hours at all of the of the Refuse Disposal Sites. Sites now have more closed days and in some cases - less open hours. You can print out the schedules by clicking on the image above and printing it out for your convenience.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Day Laborers Train to be Health Promoters

Day Laborers Take Health into their Own Hands

By Christina Zapata
On Tuesday June 16th, West County Health Centers Inc, awarded day laborers certificates for completing a ten -week training on how to be a health promoter.

Health promoters are part of an international phenomenon in which people with little access to medical services, often the poor and elderly, use trained community members as coaches in preventive health.

The group of 10 graduates, day laborers from Centro Laboral de Graton, are eager to get to work. Some workers plan to outreach to other day laborers in the area, such as Cazadero, Fulton, and Guerneville corners.

Carlos López, Health Outreach Worker for Centro Laboral de Graton said, “Workers asked me what the next step is for the newly trained promoters. ‘You tell me’ I responded.” Carlos envisions that the graduates will approach workers at other corners to see if they’re interested in starting soccer teams- “social team building activities such as sports are great ways to begin discussions on health,” López added. “Our intent is not to impose ourselves, we’ll see what direction workers at the corners want to take.”

The good news is that day laborers are ready to put their training into practice. That’s because all of the day laborers completing the training are immigrants. Immigrants are healthier upon arriving to the U.S. and the “immigrant health advantage” declines over time . Immigrants are at higher risk than the general population for diabetes, heart disease and hypertension. Because of the conditions in which they live, they are also at risk for sexually transmitted infections, poor nutrition, and alcoholism. Health promoters are ready to take on, in a small way, the health issues impacting their peers.

In this period of economic insecurity, it’s urgent communities do what they can to avoid costly care. Prevention that is sensitive to the experiences of day laborers through health promotion is really a great way to address continued health and wellbeing.

The trainings were made possible by Centro Laboral de Graton’s partnership with West County Health Centers, Inc. (WCHC). WCHC and CLG promote health through education, access, and care.

Reference: Castañeda, X., Ross, R., Villalobos, J.; Migration, Health, & Work, Facts Behind the Myths, University of California, Berkeley, Secretary of Health of the Government of Mexico and The California Endowment Joint Policy Brief. (2008).

Article Provided by
Graton Day Labor Center

2981 Bowen St
Graton, CA 95444
(707) 829-1864

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

RETRACTION of LETTER Published in the June 18, 2009 ISsue

I printed a Letter to the Editor in the June issue of the Gazette - without reading it prior to publishing - and the author of the letter has requested that I publish a RETRACTION. My personal regret is that I didn't read it (it came in right before I went to press and I simply trusted the author because I know him as a contributor to our community and good guy) - his regret is that he wrote it. Below is his letter of retraction. I won't compound the problem by re-publishing his letter here. My next issue won't come out until July 16th, so this is the best I can do for both of us. - Vesta

The Biggest Mistake of My Life!

By The Shadow

Fueled by anger and concern over the safety of the streets of Forestville, my home, I wrote a letter to Vesta, editor of the West County Gazette. The letter talked about the Forestville Youth Park BBQ, then quickly shifted focus to the Bodean Company gravel quarry. The letter was full of hearsay and rumor, based upon information I gathered around town. I never should have written the letter. Nor did I consider other consequences until I read my letter published in the Gazette. By that time it was too late.

At this point in time all I can do is take full responsibility for what I wrote and was printed in The Gazette under the pen name, The Shadow Knows. I will never write about this subject again and I am truly sorry for the pain and suffering I have caused the Bodean Company, Inc. and anyone else involved with this letter.

This is my responsibility and mine alone. I am the one who is fully accountable. It is Vesta’s policy to publish all letters submitted, and I admit that I pushed her deadline, leaving her no time to check for facts and accuracy. She has faithfully published my letters in the past, and knows that I am The Shadow.

I admit to being emotional about this subject. I will never forget the day I saw a fatality first-hand in a truck accident and was truly trying to prevent another accident. I know this letter was not the correct way to deal with the situation. I cannot undo the past but will try to learn from it. If I have an issue, I will direct my thoughts to the people involved, not the general public. Again, I apologize and retract what I wrote in an attempt to make amends.


The Shadow


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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Sonoma County - Vacation at Home Summer 2009 Part 1

By Vesta Copestakes
Last year we took you on Two Wheel Tours of our back roads and tiny towns. This year we’re expanding the pleasure to include Sonoma County Regional Parks, State Parks with Eco-Adventures hosted by Stewards of the Coast & Redwoods, a group motorcycle ride hosted by Santa Rosa BMW & Triumph, water sports inspired by Suki Water of Water Trek Eco-Tours… and who knows what else will come forth as the summer unfolds.

Water sports will be more challenging as summer heats up because of the low flow regulations handed down from Sacramento. We ask that people conserve water so that our fish and our swimming/boating humans can play in healthy rivers and lakes throughout the summer. The better people are at conserving water, the more opportunities we’ll have to use it for life and pleasure.

Thanks for supporting our local economy by playing at home! Happy Summer!

Enjoy our Treasured State Parks
Michele Luna, Executive Director, Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods
(707) 869-9177,

Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods (Stewards) is very excited to present a number of wonderful opportunities to enjoy our treasured State Parks this summer. We are honored to be celebrating the 75th Anniversary of Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve becoming a State Park. Actually both Armstrong Redwoods and Sonoma Coast were added to the State Park system at the same time. We’re focusing on Armstrong Redwoods this year and planning some great events to commemorate this nostalgic time. We are also providing the community and park visitors with some great educational opportunities through our EcoAdventure Program.
Armstrong Redwoods 75th Anniversary Events:
• Gourmet Hike – July 25, 2009, 1:00 to 5:00 pm
The Gourmet Hike will meander through the old growth redwoods of Armstrong Redwoods. Guests will start their journey in the group picnic area and proceed along the Pioneer Trail where they will stop to partake in gourmet appetizers prepared by a local chef and paired with Sonoma County premier wines & beer. Entertainment along the trail will enhance the magic of the walk through the towering, majestic giants. Docents will also be available along the trail to share some of the natural and cultural history of the park. The final and fifth stop will be the historic Redwood Forest Theatre where birthday cake and champagne will be served as guests listen to music and socialize in a venue that has been used since the 1930s for treasured theatrical and musical events. Restaurant sponsors to date include Applewood and Highland Dell.
Tickets are $30 per person or 2 for $50 and available on our website.
• Old Grove Festival & Family Day in the Park – September 25, 26, 27, 2009
I will provide more details next month. The headliners are as follows and tickets are also available on our website for all shows.
Friday, September 25, 2009, 5:00 pm – Chanticleer
Saturday, September 26, 2009, 5:00 pm – Maria Muldaur’s Garden of Joy Jug Band
Sunday, September 27, 2009, Noon – Don Neely’s Royal Society Jazz Orchestra

• EcoAdventures
Reservations can be made on Stewards website or by calling (707) 869-9177 or by email • Birding on Bodega Head with Hollis and Jerry Bewley
Saturday, July 11, 2009, 9 am to 12 pm at Bodega Head
Join the Bewley’s for a great introductory birding experience. You will see offshore coastal nesting spots quite possibly with chicks ready to fledge. Osprey, egrets, herons and harriers should be abundant. You might even see sea lions porpoising around the Head. Dress in layers and bring binoculars, water and a snack. Limited to 20, $15 per person donation, Stewards members FREE.
• Sunset Paddle on the Russian River Estuary with Watertreks
Saturday, July 18, 6:30 pm – Meet at the Jenner Visitor Center,
$15 per person donation, Stewards members FREE
Join Suki Waters, owner of Watertreks for a grand sunset paddling experience on the Russian River Estuary in Jenner. Dress in layers with a waterproof layer on top,
For reservations contact Suki at, or 707-865-2249,
Kayak rentals - $35 per person, other equipment available for a fee.
• Full Moon Paddle on the Russian River Estuary with Watertreks
Tuesday, August 4, 2009, 6:00 – 9:30 pm – Meet at the Jenner Visitor Center,
$15 per person donation, Stewards members FREE
Join Suki Waters, owner of Watertreks for a grand sunset and full moon paddling experience on the Russian River Estuary in Jenner. Dress in layers with a waterproof layer on top.
For reservations contact Suki at, or 707-865-2249,
Kayak rentals - $35 per person, other equipment available for a fee.

• Willow Creek Photography Hike with Harvey Mendelson
“There’s a Picture in the Picture”
Sunday, August 2, 2009, 10:00 am to 2:00 pm
Join Harvey for a hike on the Islands in the Sky loop trail and learn how to get to the real picture when you photograph nature. Harvey has a beautiful collection of photographs that he took on the John Muir Trail using this technique. Meet at the Willow Creek Freezeout Road entrance. Dress in layers, bring a digital camera, lunch, water, and sun protection. Limited to 20, $15 per person donation, Stewards members FREE.
Other Ongoing Activities:

• Seal Watching – Docents are at Goat Rock beach on weekends all summer to help park visitors view the harbor seal colony. The pups are growing but still distinguishable.

• Tidepooling – Roving Naturalists will be available for tidepooling at Campbell Cove on June 27th at 9:30 am and at Marshall Gulch and Carmet on July 25th at 8:30 am.

• Armstrong Redwoods – Roving Docents will be available mid-day on many Saturdays throughout the summer to interpret the natural and cultural history in the old grove forest. Group tours can be scheduled at least two weeks in advance. Reservation forms are available on Stewards’ website.

Lazy Days on the River

By Donna LaGraffe
Sonoma County Regional Parks

“Up a lazy river by the old mill run The lazy, lazy river in the noon day sun Linger in the shade of a kind old tree Throw away your troubles Dream a dream with me-ee…”

Those famous lyrics written by the Mills Brothers and made famous by Louis Armstrong could have been written while floating down the Russian River in mid summer.

While floods and dangerous currents are common in winter, the Russian River flows much slower in the summer, allowing for an abundance of summer recreation opportunities. Long known as the perfect vacation destination, the Russian River flows south from Cloverdale through Healdsburg, and west to Guerneville, reaching the Pacific Ocean at Jenner.

All along this 65-mile stretch of river you’ll find parks and other access points that allow you to enjoy whatever form of river recreation you choose.

Fishing is popular at Wohler Bridge (seasonal), Forestville River Access, Steelhead Beach and Cloverdale River Park. Types of fish in the river include Large Mouth Bass, Small Mouth Bass, Striped Bass, Bluegill, Catfish and, seasonally, Shad, Chinook, Coho Salmon and Steelhead.

Canoes and kayaks can be put in at several points along the river, allowing for trips of a couple of hours to all day. There are boat launch facilities at Steelhead Beach and Wohler Bridge, and smaller boats can be portaged to the river at Cloverdale River Park, Healdsburg Beach, Forestville River Access, Sunset Beach and Guerneville River Park.

If you don’t have your own boat, there are several outfitters along the river that will gladly rent you a boat and gear to have a delightful day floating downstream. River’s Edge Kayak and Canoe Trips at the Healdsburg Bridge, and Burke’s Canoe Trips in Forestville both offer a buy one – get one free canoe rental with purchase of a Regional Parks Annual Pass by June 30.

There are two new park facilities on the river. Guerneville River Park is located on the south end of the Guerneville pedestrian bridge near the Pee Wee Golf Course, or is accessible by car from Highway 116 to Drake Rd. With a paved parking lot, restroom, picnic sites and river access, this park is wheelchair accessible and is the perfect spot for a summer picnic.

Sunset Beach River Park just opened this month, and has parking and portable restrooms, picnic tables, and a ¼ mile path down to a large gravel beach on the river with a scenic view of the Hacienda Bridge.

Sunbathers love to soak up the rays there and at Steelhead Beach, and lifeguards watch over the swimmers at Healdsburg Beach. Dogs on leash are welcome at all seven Russian river parks operated by Sonoma County Regional Parks.

You can even host a summer party at the group picnic area at Riverfront Park (by reservation), Steelhead Beach, Cloverdale River Park or Guerneville River Park.

Find out more about the wealth of river fun that awaits you here at home by visiting or call (707) 565-2041 weekdays.

Savor the Outdoors

By Suki Waters – WaterTreks EcoTours

This evening before I chose to cook a stir-fry and relax for the evening I joined a friend to photograph the coastal sunset near where I live, at the mouth of the Russian River.
I did not take many photos but instead became much engrossed in the play of nature. The mouth of the river had recently closed and the seals were doing their undulating dance from the river to the sea across the glistening sand bar. Their trek was not long and the waves would occasionally glide across the narrow closure to lick at the still river waters. The sunset was beautiful once again.

Every evening they are a unique glowing touch to the soul. The playful action of the changing colors on the waves had me mesmerized for some time.
The setting sunlight was shining golden with increasing hues of crimson on the waves as they broke and gently slid onto the beach. On their glide up the beach, the now smooth and released power of the waves gave off a shimmer and sparkle across the sand with flashing reflections of the colors of the setting sun.

The smoothness of some seemed to slowly become disconnected from the edges of the ocean water and became separate entities. My friend commented that they seemed to be transforming into wispy ghostly memories of the power that had just released them. And his observation was perfect as they slowly melted into the sandy shoals and disappeared, sinking down to become diluted somewhere in the reservoir of the sand bar between fresh river water and the salty Pacific.

While this visual display was playing out before my eyes I was becoming lost in the rhythm of the voice of the Ocean. The slowly deepening throatiness of a building wave was blended with the simultaneously roar of another, cresting and breaking. And in the background, the hissing higher toned rush of the dying wave’s water running up and between the infinite sand particles on the beach were echoed by a separate hiss of the previous wave’s waters racing to return back through the sand to join the main body of the sea.

It was not only the seeing, but also the hearing of nature, the sensations of the slight temperature changes and immediate drop in temperature the moment the sun dipped beyond the horizon of the sea that touched me. I was deeply aware for a few moments of being one with nature in flux and gently entwined my fingers with his. His acknowledgment was a glowing smile as we both appreciated such a splendid moment shared between dear friends. I retained this memory in writing in October of 2004.

The experience is only one of many that repeatedly touch my soul when working, playing or simply relaxing in the many varied natural habitats we are blessed with here in Sonoma County.
As an outdoor enthusiasts, Guide and west county resident with many generations of ties to our local communities and natural areas, I enjoy sharing my experience, enjoyment and enthusiasm for outdoor activities with county residents and visitors along the Russian River and Sonoma Coast.

In Sonoma County, we are fortunate to have many well established and professional outfitters and guides to provide information and assistance, as well as great volunteer training opportunities in our local parks and through Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods to help maximize your experience, understanding and appreciation of our abundant outdoor areas.

Whether you are interested in fishing or kayaking with wildlife along our Russian River or estuary river mouth, hiking or horseback riding the scenic trails of our river valleys or coastal hills, strolling with squirrels and ferns under our Majestic Redwoods at Armstrong Woods State Park, surfing, exploring tide pools or kite flying along our Sonoma Coast, joining a wildlife ocean charter in Bodega Bay or bicycling or van touring our scenic winery routes, you can’t beat Sonoma County for variety of opportunities and professional providers to assist you.

Check with your local publications, Chamber of Commerce, Visitor Center, or your Lodging Provider for information on opportunities to visit and explore. Welcome and we hope you enjoy our local outdoors.

Watertreks Eco-Tours And Kayak Outfitters

Highway 1, PO Box 39,

Boat Launch Beach Area, Jenner, CA‎

(888) 865-2249‎

Santa Rosa BMW Triumph’s ‘Ladies Only’ Ride

By Suzanna Boogay

Last month, I organized and lead a ‘Ladies’ Only’ ride out of the dealership where I work in Windsor (Santa Rosa BMW Triumph). The route chosen was approximately eighty-five miles in length, and traversed our local back roads. The challenge mapping out the route was not in there being a loss of roads to choose from, but rather the seemingly endless options. Do we take Highway 128 to Boonville? Skagg’s Spring Road to Stewart’s Point? Coleman Valley to the coast? King’s Ridge Road up to Heaven?

You get the picture.

Due to time constraints, the length of the route was limited, however, we were still able to cover quite a few of my favorite Sonoma County back roads, including: Slusser, Vine Hill, Highway 116, Bodega Highway, Valley Ford – Freestone, Highway One to the Town of Tomales, Dillon Beach Road, Franklin School-Valley Ford Road, Bohemian Highway, Occidental, River Road and Mark West Springs Road.

Our group met early in the morning in Windsor at the dealership, ready to roll. It was suggested that everyone show up with a full tank of gas, and join us for hot coffee and a bagel breakfast before kicking off. Ride participants consisted of nine diverse and beautiful women; Holly Berkley, a 52 year old energy medicine therapist who rides a K1200S, Amelia, a 22 year old print specialist who rides a Suzuki GSF 500, Leanne Southard, a 59 year old courier who rides a BMW R1200C, Kimber Sterling, a 44 year old registered nurse who rides a Suzuki SV650, Laura Slater, a 43 year old veterinarian who rides a BMW F650GS, Vesta Copesakes, a 60 year old publisher (of the West County Gazette) who rides a Honda NT650, and lastly myself, who works in sales at Santa Rosa BMW Triumph, age 30 and rides a BMW F800S. Together we had well over one hundred years riding experience!

Because one third of the women had never experienced riding in a group, I made certain to cover some basic tips and guidelines prior to departure. Some of these guidelines included keeping a buffer in front and behind you, riding in staggered formation on straight-aways, keeping one ‘second’ behind the rider in front of you, using turn signals, being responsible for the person behind you, making sure they see where you turn off, etc. Adhering to even these simple parameters really contributes to a much safer experience.

Sunshine would have been our preference, but we had to make do with the cold and foggy conditions, typical of summer months. Thankfully by the time we returned from our ride, the fog had burned off, revealing blue skies. Any local with a heart beat would argue that the scenery west Sonoma County offers is just about unrivaled in beauty. Along our ride we passed all the usual tree suspects; bays, madrones, eucalyptus, and of course the almighty redwood. The other flora of the area mixed with the moist air created an exquisite symphony of smells you’d find only here in Sonoma County.

Highlights of the ride included a stop at Tomales Bakery, where most of the ladies (those who didn’t have bikes with heated grips), warmed their hands by holding onto hot beverages. Even though we just had bagels at the dealership, the temptation of the Tomales Bakery’s luscious pastry offerings was too great to resist. Rider camaraderie flowed thick and fast as the women connected with each other at each stop. Other passer bys were enthused by the spectacle of so many female riders together. After all, women are still a mere 12% of the total riding populace!
Our ride was uneventful, although, we did manage to get lost in the labyrinth of Sebastopol back roads. Fortunately, it was a very scenic error and we quickly got back on track again. In fact, most of the riders in the group would not have known I was lost had it not been for the deceased roadside skunk we passed … twice.

At the end of the ride, we returned to the dealership where Dennis and Chris, proprietors of Santa Rosa BMW Triumph prepared a BBQ lunch for us. Contact information was exchanged around a picnic table. In fact a few rides have already been planned since our first ride together! If you or any other female riders you may know are interested in connecting with this group, and participating in rides in the future, contact me and I will make sure to forward your information on. This is the beginning of something fantastic!

Suzanna Boogay
(707) 838-9100 ext 2

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Saving State Parks from Budget Cuts is High Priority

By Michele Luna, Executive Director, Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods

On Tuesday, June 2nd one hundred State Park supporters attended the Budget Conference Committee meeting to testify against the Governors proposal to cut the General Fund allocation for State Parks. This cut could result in the closure of 223 State Parks including all the State Parks in Sonoma County.

We arrived at 9:30 am to lobby legislators and met with many staff members who were for the most part supportive. We stressed the economic impacts to our communities, the loss of lifeguard services at our beaches, the destruction of this incredible legacy started during the depression, and the loss of education for school children. The California State Parks Foundation did an excellent job organizing this effort in a very short time. We are very appreciative to them.

The Budget Conference Committee meeting started at 1:30. Resources shared the agenda with Prisons and we had to wait for them to present their recommendations and then for the public to testify. When it was time for the Committee to address Resources it was close to 4:30. The Legislative Analyst’s Office recommended fee increases in lieu of State Park closures. We do support fee increases considering the dire situation our state is in but we don’t want to raise fees to the point where the public has to think twice about whether or not they can afford to visit our parks.

When we got our chance to testify, we each had 60 seconds to speak. Testimony lasted until about 8:00 pm. I want to thank Fred Luna, Suki Waters and Clara Bolster who also testified from Stewards.

The Budget Conference Committee is going over all the issues the week of June 8th and we are looking for them to make their recommendation to the Governor’s office by the end of the week. At this time it is not clear as to whether or not their recommendations will go to the Big 5 or directly to the entire legislature. The Governor is pushing the legislature for a budget decision by mid-June since the State is looking at running out of cash by mid-July.

It’s not too late to TAKE ACTION.

Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve
June 21, 2009 – 9:00 am to Noon
FREE event except for parking fees

Join fellow park supporters at a gathering in the historic Forest Theater at Armstrong Redwoods. Experience a campfire program, hear guest speakers and share your own state park stories. Wear green or a green ribbon! Visit for more details.

Write your own personal letters to the Budget Conference Committee Chairperson Noreen Evans and our legislators. Specifically mention your favorite parks in the Russian River area.

Assemblywoman Noreen Evans
P.O. Box 942849
Sacramento, CA 94249-0007

Patricia Wiggins
State Capitol, Room 4081
Sacramento, CA 95814

Wes Chesbro
State Capitol
P.O. Box 942849
Sacramento, CA 94249-0001

Consider these facts when writing to you legislators:
The State of California contributes roughly one tenth of one per cent of its General Fund Budget toward the costs of operating California’s 279 state parks. Yet the parks generate billions in revenue for private businesses, resulting in hundreds of millions in State tax revenue. Over 100,000 private sector jobs are dependent on the spending by park visitors in local businesses.
The 2008-09 budget for California State Parks includes $149 million from the state’s tax-based General Fund. This represents just slightly more than one-tenth of one percent of the state’s total General Fund Budget ($149 million divided by $103.4 billion = 0.13%).

Assuming a $15 billion deficit in the overall state budget, then entirely eliminating the Department of Parks and Recreation and closing all 279 state parks in California would fill less than 1 percent of the need.

At this point, it is important for the public to understand that an examination of the numbers shows that reducing the budget of California State Parks will do little to improve the state budget gap. It would, however, cause significant harm to local economies and reduce the State’s General Fund revenue even further.

State Parks is a critical piece of California’s travel and tourism industry generating more than 75 million visitor days every year

Based on a 2002 study, visitors generate more than $6.5 billion dollars in total output and new sales for private businesses in communities around State parks yearly as a result of visitor spending. The tax revenue from that spending generates $2.35 in General Fund revenue for the State for every dollar of General Fund received by State Parks to operate the system (primarily from sales and income taxes on the travel and tourism industry). [ The Role of California State Parks in the California Economic System, James R. King, JK Inc., December 2002]

Therefore, based on the study, saving $149 million by closing State Parks would cost the General Fund more than twice that amount in lost revenue (more than $350 million). Also, eliminating that $149 million also eliminates the $6.5 billion in profits generated by visitor spending in local businesses around parks.

The clear conclusion is: Cutting parks will reduce the number of park visitors, thereby reducing visitor spending and revenue to private businesses by tens of millions, causing job layoffs and damage to local economies. And in the end, that will reduce tax revenue to the State making the State budget situation worse, not better.

Local Facts:

4.1 million Visitors a year visit Russian River District State Parks.

Closing Armstrong Redwoods could result in a loss of $50 million to the RR Area and up to $80 million to Sonoma County Tourism. (2008 Economic Impact Study)

On June 8, 2009, findings from a recent survey conducted by Sacramento State University were released. The survey found that visitors to California’s state parks spend an average of $4.32 billion per year in park-related expenditures, based on attendance estimates of about 74.9 million visitors a year. The survey found that park visitors spend an average of $57.63 per visit, including $24.63 inside state parks and $33 in local communities. Russian River area State Parks alone attract 4.1 million visitors a year and Sonoma County State Parks attract almost 5 million visitors a year. Do the math and we have further confirmation that closing state parks will devastate our Sonoma County economy to the tune of about $165 million a year.

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Lower Flows on Russian River this Summer

By Brenda Adelman

Water-wise, this is going to be a long and difficult summer. Based on the State Water Board’s recent Order, from July 6th , to October 2nd, Sonoma County Water Agency is expected to lower Russian River flows from Healdsburg to the Estuary to 35-45 cubic feet per second (cfs). Normal summer flows at the Hacienda Bridge are usually three to five times that amount. The entire river will be a sliver of its normal self and those seeking refuge from the heat will probably not be able to canoe or swim in most areas.

What may be even worse is the potential for long-term damage to the lower river environment from both drastically lowered flows and the legalizing of “incidental” summer wastewater releases. The North Coast Regional Board is right now considering legalizing “incidental runoff” of irrigated wastewater. For the last thirty years, summer wastewater discharges of any kind had been illegal due to health and environmental concerns. Now there’s a state-wide push to reuse wastewater, mostly to enhance potable supplies. This would be fine if it were more highly treated.

Unfortunately, there are still many unregulated chemicals in the wastewater. What a double whammy! While these discharges won’t be authorized this year, it is likely they will be for next.

Our prior articles have documented Water Agency and State Board actions leading up to this flow situation. The lower Russian River will be little more than a puddle, except perhaps at Johnson's Beach where a dam will be installed. Numerous officials have reminded us that before the dams, there was almost no flow in the summer. We reminded them that there were also no vineyards and most agriculture was dry-farmed. Sonoma County cities were miniscule compared to what they are now, and some, such as Windsor, did not even exist. To say we can go back to where we were, is a false argument and impossible to accomplish.

There are numerous agencies calling the shots in this decision, and it appears none of them have prioritized the needs of our downstream community. There are too many straws in the stream and everyone is posturing to protect their own interests. We have a new supervisor who is trying to work on our behalf, but the problem is extremely complex and very long standing, and will require a lot more than community meetings to resolve. We wish him well.

We have sat in on hundreds of meetings on this issue, and rather than working together, everyone is looking at what others are doing wrong. The Cities blame the Water Agency and visa versa. Trust levels are pretty low all the way around, and often with good cause. We have talked to many of the players publicly and privately and absolutely everyone thinks that they are doing their share and others aren’t. But guess who’s losing most of their water? Only recently have we been able to get the issue of the dire consequences to the lower river included as part of the conversation.

This problem has been evolving over a very long time and is partly the result of archaic water law. Even if I could, I would not get into this now, but allocations are based on first come, first in right and the newer guys end up steeling water because the State has held up permit application approvals for over fifteen years in some cases.

The Potter Valley Project and Eel River diversions have been the subject of controversy for umpteen years. Recently a new ruling appears to have taken back more than half of the prior diversion to the Russian River (at least during dry years) and that’s partly why we are running so short now.

The Biological Opinion (BO), while ostensibly intended to save the endangered and threatened Coho, Chinook, and Steelhead, is actually calling for much lower flows on a permanent basis. We believe that the real reason for the current low flow regime is an experiment to see what will happen if flows are managed at extremely low levels so the Estuary can remain closed all summer to provide habitat for juvenile fish, which may have a negative impact on the harbor seals, another protected species.

The BO, along with draconian economic problems, and an ostensible lack of cooperation of Dry Creek property owners, is preventing the development of a pipeline to get water from Lake Sonoma, currently over 90% full, down to the Russian River. The National Marine Fisheries Services in the BO, called for six miles of habitat improvements before serious consideration of the pipeline. The goal would be to slow flows down to protect juvenile fish and still allow more water to flow. Urban contractors are worried that this plan will take ten years and may not solve the problem, and in the meantime, there will be no alternative water supply accessible. Oh, what a mess!

Before this year, the Water Agency asked for emergency orders from the State Board in 2002, 2004, and 2007, when they asked for a “dry” designation, bringing flows down to 85 cfs. Water availability in Lake Mendocino is currently only slightly lower now than it was at this time last year, which was considered a “normal” year. (There are complex formulas for determining these designations, but there are so many variables, we believe that much more could have been done to prevent our current situation.)

Since then, there has been very little progress in assuring equitable future flows that consider the environmental, recreational, and economic needs of lower river communities. Current requirements provide extensive water quality monitoring. The State’s “Provisional Order” can be rescinded if weekly meetings of the Regional Water Quality Control Board, State Fish and Game, National Marine Fisheries Service, and Water Agency determine it to be necessary, but no one knows under what circumstances that might come about.

Monitor Impact with Photos

We don’t trust this situation. Since everything that happens this summer can be the precursor to making low flows permanent, as determined in the Biological Opinion, we have decided to conduct a photo project of the area from Forestville to Monte Rio. Our goal is to document current and evolving river conditions. We are particularly worried about the spread of invasive plants, which have been proliferating in many locations in the lower river.

We are calling on photographers to select one to three locations where they will photograph conditions (preferably on weekends so we can see the impact on recreation as well) from the same location every week until October. If you want to help, please contact me as noted below.

We are also looking for people to photograph turf irrigation in the Cities that use Russian River water. The State Board initially banned this use, and then backed off and came up with a voluntary formula for limiting water application. Photographers would need to get out very early in the morning to business parks and other public facilities to photograph runoff, over-watering, etc. and the equipment being used to water.

If you would like to take part please respond by email and we can provide more information.
Brenda Adelman:
Russian River Watershed Protection Committee

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Monday, June 8, 2009

MIX IT UP Magazine for Young Adults

My name is Ed Troxell and I just graduated from Sonoma State University with a B.A. in Communications. I just wanted to let you know about MIX IT UP Magazine, issue 2 is now out. MIX IT UP Magazine is a comprehensive source of information written for young adults on topics that matter most: health, work, travel, and entertainment. We are a publication dedicated to building confidence, expanding perspectives, and shaping a promising future.

MIX IT UP will be the one-stop magazine if you will for young adults both males and females. It is a free, bi-monthly magazine that will be distributed to the North Bay (San Jose to Chico), hitting most of the major colleges and places young adults gather.

I created MIX IT UP Magazine last year as part of my senior project, a graduation requirement for SSU, here in Santa Rosa. Given today’s economy and the way the job market is I decided to create the next step in my life. I have always had a passion for the magazine industry and after working for awhile at Make Magazine out in Sebastopol I realized that I just need to start my own and see where it goes.

I feel that 2009 is the time for change and trying something new. This is the biggest risk I have ever taken and I am facing it head on. The goal is to have advertisers support this so that we can continue to be a free print publication while tying in the web. Online we have videos from stories in the print edition as well as an online version. As we continue to grow we will be putting extras on the website.

It would be great if you could just let people know about MIX IT UP Magazine and spread the word. People like what they see in MIX IT UP and I have made it a personal goal to do everything I can in order to keep it going. While I know everything is going online, there is still a need from consumers for print. They still love to touch and feel things in their hands. That is why I want to continue mixing print and online so that readers can get the best of both worlds.

Feel free to check out our website,, which has all of our information, including our media kit.


Ed Troxell
MIX IT UP Magazine
Publisher / Executive Editor


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Peace Through Justice

A Weaver's Welcome
by Kathy Kelly

Shortly after arriving in Pakistan, one week ago, we met a weaver and his extended family, numbering 76 in all, who had been forcibly displaced from their homes in Fathepur, a small village in the Swat Valley. Fighting between the Pakistani military and the Taliban had intensified. Terrified by aerial bombing and anxious to leave before a curfew would make flight
impossible, the family packed all the belongings they could carry and fled on foot. It was a harrowing four-day journey over snow-covered hills.

Leaving their village, they faced a Taliban checkpoint where a villager trying to leave had been assassinated that same morning. Fortunately, a Taliban guard let them pass. Walking many miles each day, with 45 children and 22 women, they supported one another as best they could. Men took turns carrying a frail grandmother on their shoulders. One woman gave birth to her
baby, Hamza, on the road. When they arrived, exhausted, at a rest stop in the outskirts of Islamabad, they had no idea where to go next.

While there, the weaver struck up a conversation with a man whom he'd never met before. He told the man about the family's plight. Hearing that they were homeless, the man invited them to live with him and his family in a large building, which he is renovating. He offered to put the reconstruction on hold so that the family could move into the upper stories of his building. The weaver was also fortunate to have known, for many years, a family that had sold his art work through a small shop in Islamabad.

Women in this family have been working as volunteers to assist refugees who've come to Islamabad. They and their companions have delivered one thousand "food kits" plus cots, mats and cooking supplies to desperately needy people. Two of the women, Fauzia and Ghazala, invited our small delegation to visit the weaver and his family in Islamabad's Bara Koh neighborhood.

When we arrived, older men and boys were outside, ready to unload a truck delivering mats and flour. The generous building owner invited members of our group into his home on the ground floor where plans were already being made to turn the top floor into a school for the children. Several tots led me upstairs to meet their grandparents. The elderly couple sat cross-legged
on cots.

When we entered, the grandmother stood, embraced me and then softly wept for several minutes. Soon, about 20 men, women and children clustered around the cots. All listened attentively while one of the weaver's brothers, Abdullah Shah, spoke with pride about the school in Fathepur where he had been a headmaster.

The village had three schools and his school was so successful that even Taliban families sent their children to study there. Now, the Taliban has destroyed all of the schools in Fathepur. He and his brothers wonder what their future will be. How and when can they return to their village? And how will they start over? The crops are ruined, livestock have died and land mines have been laid. Most of the shops and businesses have been destroyed. Many homes are demolished.

The trauma endured by the refugees is overwhelming. Yet, numerous individuals and groups have swiftly extended hospitality and emergency aid. We visited a Sikh community in Hassan Abdal, which has taken in hundreds of Sikhs, housing them inside a large and very famous shrine. Nearby, we stayed for several days in Tarbela where families in very simple dwellings have welcomed their relatives. The townspeople quietly took up a collection to support the refugee families.

Some of the townspeople accompanied us to Ghazi, just up the road from Tarbela, where 155 people are staying in an abandoned hospital, relying entirely on the generosity of their new
neighbors. Doctors from Lahore invited two of us to go with them to villages near Mardan where people from the Swat Valley are still arriving.

The doctors were part of a project organized jointly through Rotary Lahore, Pakistan Medical Aid and Jahandan, which has worked with area councils to convert schools into refugee centers. The doctors take turns, several times a week, delivering relief shipments and helping supervise distribution. Generosity in the face of such massive displacement and suffering is evident
everywhere we go. But Pakistan needs help on a much larger scale.

The US has pledged 100 million dollars toward relief efforts. Two other disclosures about money budgeted for Pakistan should be considered in light of the unbearable burdens borne by close to two million new refugees. First, is the decision to spend 800 million dollars to renovate and expand the US Embassy in Islamabad and to upgrade security at US consular offices elsewhere in the country.

Secondly, the US will spend 400 million dollars in 2009 to teach counterinsurgency tactics to Pakistan's military. The 2010 defense spending budget requests an additional 700 million for counterinsurgency training in Pakistan. What would happen if US officials put plans to expand the US Embassy on hold? Suppose the US were to declare that helping alleviate the misery of people forcibly displaced by Taliban violence and the recent military offensive is a top priority, one that trumps spending money on renovating and expanding the US Embassy.

Suppose that the US were to redirect funds designated to train counterinsurgents and instead make these funds available to help alleviate impoverishment in Pakistan. No one seems to know how the Taliban are funded, but they clearly use large sums of money to build their ranks, giving each new recruit 25,000 rupees, a sum that exceeds what a teacher earns in one year. In villages where people don't have enough resources to feed their children, the Taliban would initially move in with plans to build schools and offer two meals a day, plus clean clothes, to the children.

Later, they would exercise increasingly fierce control over villages. But their initial forays into villages were marked by offers to reduce the gaps between "haves and have-nots." Enormous resources will be spent to "crush" the Taliban, and as always happens in warfare, the bloodshed will fuel acts of revenge and retaliation. The relationship that began when a stranger took the risk of offering shelter to a weaver holds a lesson worth heeding.

The weaver and his family will never forget the extraordinary, immediate kindness extended to them when a man put his renovation project on hold, so that he could help them find shelter in his building. The US could help assure that every Pakistani family displaced by the fighting has enough to eat and the security of at least a temporary home. It would be an unusual but sensible Homeland Security initiative within Pakistan. And it would be a signpost pointing to greater security for the United States.

The maxim that guides this idea is simple: to counter terror, build justice. Build justice predicated on the belief that each person has basic human rights, and that we have a collective responsibility to share resources so that those rights are met. This means eliminating the unjust and unfair gap between the "haves" and the "have-nots." It means weaving new relationships that don't rely on guns and bombs for security.

Kathy Kelly co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence. She is visiting
cities and villages in Pakistan.


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Hair Cutters Needed at Sonoma County Juvenile Hall

Help Juveniles Feel Better About Themselves
- if you can cut hair - you can help.

Dear Vesta,

I am writing in hopes that you can let your readership know that we are looking for people who enjoy working with adolescents and can volunteer one afternoon a month to cut hair at Los Guilicos Juvenile Hall. Stylists/barbers must be licensed. Hours are flexible. Weekday hours are from 3:00-5:30. Saturday and Sunday time slots are open throughout the days.

Working at Juvenile Hall, volunteers will feel safe and will leave knowing they are VERY MUCH APPRECIATED by residents and staff. If any of your readers are interested, please ask them to contact me at either (707) 565-6321 or they can e-mail me at

Thank you so much for getting the word out! This is a HUGE need right now.


Nancy Jones
Chaplain/ Volunteer Coordinator

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Water Board Sets and Loosens Limits

State Water Resources Control Board Confirms
25 Percent Reduction in Water Diversions, Loosens Ban on Commercial Turf Irrigation

The California State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) issued a revised order responding to the Sonoma County Water Agency’s Temporary Urgency Change Petition for reduced Russian River flows. The new order modifies an April 10, 2009 order and responds to public concerns and to slightly improved water storage conditions resulting from an early May storm.

The modified order still requires a 25 percent reduction in the amount of water SCWA diverts from the Russian River, but responds to public concerns regarding reducing river flows prior to the July 4 weekend. Lower flows in the river won’t take effect until July 6, instead of the July 1 date in the original order.

“I’m pleased the state board listened to Russian River businesses and made the sensible decision to reduce flows after the July 4 weekend, when the river is enjoyed by thousands of local and out-of-town visitors,” said Sonoma County Water Agency (SCWA) Director Efren Carrillo. “The state board also spelled out a process for addressing any problems that might arise if flows have to be significantly reduced.”

If minimum instream flow requirements are reduced to “critically dry year” criteria, the state order requires SCWA to coordinate weekly conference calls with staff from the SWRCB water rights division, National Marine Fisheries Service, California Department of Fish and Game and North Coast Regional Water Board to discuss water quality, temperature and fisheries monitoring. If problems are detected, agency personnel can recommend to the state Deputy Director for Water Rights actions to alleviate concerns regarding water quality, public health or fishery conditions.

The revised order also changes the measurement used to determine the level of flows in the river. The April 10 order based river flows on the amount of water flowing into Lake Mendocino. The new order bases river flows on the amount of water stored in the lake. If storage levels are at or above 65,630 acre feet on July 1, minimum flows in the Russian River starting on July 6 will be equivalent to “dry year” flows of 75 cubic feet per second (cfs) in Healdsburg and 85 cfs at Hacienda Bridge. There is approximately 57,000 acre feet in Lake Mendocino currently.

“We caught a lucky break with the weather in May. We believe that residents and farmers responded by turning down their irrigation and turning off their sprinklers. As a result, the water levels in Lake Mendocino actually increased a little,” said SCWA director Shirlee Zane. “Yet even with this increase, we should all continue our efforts to significantly cut back on water use."

Sonoma County is not alone. In February, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger called drought related state emergency. In response, the Association of California Water Agencies launched the “Save Our Water” campaign, providing practical tips to Californians on how to cut water use. Go to for more information.

The modified order includes the following requirements:

Commercial Turf Irrigation Reductions: The new order gives businesses the option of significantly reducing the amount of water used to irrigate commercial turf, rather than the outright ban required in the April 10 order. The new order provides a formula that businesses must use to determine the amount of water that can be applied to overall landscape areas including, lawns, median strips and other turf that is planted purely for ornamental purposes. This irrigation regime is enough to keep turf alive, but will require landscapers to keep a tight control on how much water is applied.

The amount (in gallons) is calculated by taking the square footage of the landscaped area, multiplying it by a conversion factor (0.62 gallons per square foot), then multiplying it by 0.75, and then multiplying it by the "ETO" or "reference evapotranspiration" (a standard calculation of the quantity of water transpired by a reference crop and evaporated from adjacent soil surfaces as measured by the California Irrigation Management Information System (CIMIS) of weather stations), which varies by day.

Example: Assuming an office building in west Santa Rosa had 10,000 square feet of landscaped area, and wanted to know what it's "water budget" was for May, it would compute it as follows:

10,000 square feet x 0.62 x 0.75 x 4.73 (the ETO for westside Santa Rosa in May, as found at ) = 21,994 gallons of water on commercial turf during May

Upper Russian River Flows: (From confluence with the East Fork of the Russian River to its confluence with Dry Creek)

• From April 6, 2009 through July 5, 2009, minimum instream flow shall remain at or above 75 cubic feet per second.

• From July 6 through October 2, 2009, minimum instream flow shall remain at or above 75 cfs, if Lake Mendocino storage is equal or greater than 65,630 acre-feet on July 1, 2009.

• From July 6 through October 2, 2009, minimum instream flow shall remain at or above 25 cfs, if Lake Mendocino storage is less than 65,630 acre-feet.

• Instream flow at the USGS gages at both Hopland and Healdsburg on the Russian River shall be increased to 125 cfs, after a cumulative seasonal total of 200 adult Chinook salmon move upstream past the SCWA Mirabel inflatable dam, unless otherwise directed by the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Department of Fish and Game. A lag time of three to seven days for the higher flows to reach Healdsburg is appropriate.

Lower Russian River Flows: (From its confluence with Dry Creek to the Pacific Ocean)

• From April 6, 2009 through July 5, 2009, minimum instream flow shall remain at or above 85 cfs.

• From July 6 through October 2, 2009, minimum instream flow shall remain at or above 85 cfs, if Lake Mendocino storage is equal to or greater than 65,630 acre-feet on July 1, 2009.

• From July 6 through October 2, 2009, minimum instream flow shall remain at our above 35 cfs, if Lake Mendocino storage is less than 65,630 acre-feet.

25 Percent Reduction in Diversions from Russian River: The order requires SCWA to make a 25 percent reduction in diversions from the Russian River to their service area from June 15, 2009 until the expiration of the Order – October 2, 2009. The 25 percent reduction is based on the actual diversion in 2004.

25 Percent Water Conservation for Sonoma County and Mendocino County Russian River Water Users: The April 10 order required SCWA to submit a plan to SWRCB to obtain cooperation and participation of agricultural and municipal Russian River water users to reach a water conservation goal of 25 percent in Sonoma County and 50 percent in Mendocino County for the period of April 6 until October 2, 2009. SCWA submitted the plan on May 6.

About Lake Mendocino:
Lake Mendocino provides water storage for municipalities and agriculture in the upper Russian River and sustains flows in the upper Russian River during the fall - a critical time of the annual chinook salmon migration. SCWA engineers projected that water levels in Lake Mendocino would drop to levels lower than 10,000 acre-feet which would be the lowest levels recorded since the lake was first constructed in 1959. The reduced flow rates allow SCWA to retain additional water storage in Lake Mendocino and improve the likelihood that adequate water supply will be available in the fall to provide chinook salmon expected to return to the river to spawn.

SCWA is the local sponsor for the federal water projects at Lake Mendocino and Lake Sonoma and has authority to regulate water supply-related releases from these reservoirs to meet the needs of more than 600,000 people in Sonoma and Marin counties. A decision by SWRCB in 1986 requires SCWA to release sufficient water from the reservoirs to maintain flows rates above designated minimum values at certain points along the Russian River.

SWRCB Order and SCWA Petition Information: A copy of the SWRCB Order and SCWA Temporary Urgency Change Petition can be found on SCWA’s Web site

Water Conservation Information: A list of water conservation tips, programs and rebates are available at Additional information can be found at

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Sunday, June 7, 2009

Paul Hawken Commencement Speech

Such a beautiful and empowering speech, I wanted to share it with you. It’s about the earth and so much more - our sacred and profound life journeys at this moment in time - said so directly and beautifully…. Enjoy!
Submitted by- Patricia Dines

by Paul Hawken
to the Class of 2009, University of Portland

When I was invited to give this speech, I was asked if I could give a simple short talk that was "direct, neked, taut, honest, passionate, lean, shivering, startling, and graceful." Boy, no pressure there. But let's begin with the startling part. Hey, Class of 2009: you are going to have to figure out what it means to be a human being on earth at a time when every living system is declining, and the rate of decline is accelerating.

Kind of a mind-boggling situation... but not one peer-reviewed paper published in the last thirty years can refute that statement. Basically, the earth needs a new operating system, you are the programmers, and we need it within a few decades. This planet came with a set of operating instructions, but we seem to have misplaced them. Important rules like don't poison the water, soil, or air, and don't let the earth get overcrowded, and don't touch the thermostat have been broken.

Buckminster Fuller said that spaceship earth was so ingeniously designed that no one has a clue that we are on one, flying through the universe at a million miles per hour, with no need for seatbelts, lots of room in coach, and really good food, but all that is changing.

There is invisible writing on the back of the diploma you will receive, and in case you didn't bring lemon juice to decode it, I can tell you what it says: YOU ARE BRILLIANT, AND THE EARTH IS HIRING.

The earth couldn't afford to send any recruiters or limos to your school. It sent you rain, sunsets, ripe cherries, night blooming jasmine, and that unbelievably cute person you are dating. Take the hint. And here's the deal: Forget that this task of planet-saving is not possible in the time required. Don't be put off by people who know what is not possible. Do what needs to be done, and check to see if it was impossible only after you are done.

When asked if I am pessimistic or optimistic about the future, my answer is always the same: If you look at the science about what is happening on earth and aren't pessimistic, you don't understand data. But if you meet the people who are working to restore this earth and the lives of the poor, and you aren't optimistic, you haven't got a pulse.

What I see everywhere in the world are ordinary people willing to confront despair, power, and incalculable odds in order to restore some semblance of grace, justice, and beauty to this world. The poet Adrienne Rich wrote, "So much has been destroyed I have cast my lot with those who, age after age, perversely, with no extraordinary power, reconstitute the world." There could be no better description.

Humanity is coalescing. It is reconstituting the world, and the action is taking place in schoolrooms, farms, jungles, villages, campuses, companies, refugee camps, deserts, fisheries, and slums. You join a multitude of caring people. No one knows how many groups and organizations are working on the most salient issues of our day: climate change, poverty, deforestation, peace, water, hunger, conservation, human rights, and more. This is the largest movement the world has ever seen.

Rather than control, it seeks connection. Rather than dominance, it strives to disperse concentrations of power. Like Mercy Corps, it works behind the scenes and gets the job done. Large as it is, no one knows the true size of this movement. It provides hope, support, and meaning to billions of people in the world. Its clout resides in idea, not in force. It is made up of teachers, children, peasants, businesspeople, rappers, organic farmers, nuns, artists, government workers, fisher folk, engineers, students, incorrigible writers, weeping Muslims, concerned mothers, poets, doctors without borders, grieving Christians, street musicians, the President of the United States of America, and as the writer David James Duncan would say, the Creator, the One who loves us all in such a huge way. There is a rabbinical teaching that says if the world is ending and the Messiah arrives, first plant a tree, and then see if the story is true.

Inspiration is not garnered from the litanies of what may befall us; it resides in humanity's willingness to restore, redress, reform, rebuild, recover, reimagine, and reconsider. "One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began, though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice," is Mary Oliver's description of moving away from the profane toward a deep sense of connectedness to the living world.
Millions of people are working on behalf of strangers, even if the evening news is usually about the death of strangers. This kindness of strangers has religious, even mythic origins, and very specific eighteenth-century roots.

Abolitionists were the first people to create a national and global movement to defend the rights of those they did not know. Until that time, no group had filed a grievance except on behalf of itself. The founders of this movement were largely unknown Granville Clark, Thomas Clarkson, Josiah Wedgwood and their goal was ridiculous on the face of it: at that time three out of four people in the world were enslaved. Enslaving each other was what human beings had done for ages. And the abolitionist movement was greeted with incredulity. Conservative spokesmen ridiculed the abolitionists as liberals, progressives, do-gooders, meddlers, and activists. They were told they would ruin the economy and drive England into poverty.

But for the first time in history a group of people organized themselves to help people they would never know, from whom they would never receive direct or indirect benefit. And today tens of millions of people do this every day. It is called the world of non-profits, civil society, schools, social entrepreneurship, and non-governmental organizations, of companies who place social and environmental justice at the top of their strategic goals.

The scope and scale of this effort is unparalleled in history. The living world is not "out there" somewhere, but in your heart. What do we know about life? In the words of biologist Janine Benyus, life creates the conditions that are conducive to life. I can think of no better motto for a future economy.

We have tens of thousands of abandoned homes without people and tens of thousands of abandoned people without homes. We have failed bankers advising failed regulators on how to save failed assets. Think about this: we are the only species on this planet without full employment. Brilliant. We have an economy that tells us that it is cheaper to destroy earth in real time than to renew, restore, and sustain it. You can print money to bail out a bank but you can't print life to bail out a planet.

At present we are stealing the future, selling it in the present, and calling it gross domestic product. We can just as easily have an economy that is based on healing the future instead of stealing it. We can either create assets for the future or take the assets of the future. One is called restoration and the other exploitation. And whenever we exploit the earth we exploit people and cause untold suffering.

Working for the earth is not a way to get rich, it is a way to be rich. The first living cell came into being nearly 40 million centuries ago, and its direct descendants are in all of our bloodstreams. Literally you are breathing molecules this very second that were inhaled by Moses, Mother Teresa, and Bono. We are vastly interconnected. Our fates are inseparable.

We are here because the dream of every cell is to become two cells. In each of you are one quadrillion cells, 90 percent of which are not human cells. Your body is a community, and without those other microorganisms you would perish in hours. Each human cell has 400 billion molecules conducting millions of processes between trillions of atoms. The total cellular activity in one human body is staggering: one septillion actions at any one moment, a one with twenty-four zeros after it.

In a millisecond, our body has undergone ten times more processes than there are stars in the universe exactly what Charles Darwin foretold when he said science would discover that each living creature was a "little universe, formed of a host of self-propagating organisms, inconceivably minute and as numerous as the stars of heaven."

So I have two questions for you all: First, can you feel your body? Stop for a moment. Feel your body. One septillion activities going on simultaneously, and your body does this so well you are free to ignore it, and wonder instead when this speech will end. Second question: who is in charge of your body? Who is managing those molecules? Hopefully not a political party. Life is creating the conditions that are conducive to life inside you, just as in all of nature. What I want you to imagine is that collectively humanity is evincing a deep innate wisdom in coming together to heal the wounds and insults of the past.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once asked what we would do if the stars only came out once every thousand years. No one would sleep that night, of course. The world would become religious overnight. We would be ecstatic, delirious, made rapturous by the glory of God. Instead the stars come out every night, and we watch television.

This extraordinary time when we are globally aware of each other and the multiple dangers that threaten civilization has never happened, not in a thousand years, not in ten thousand years. Each of us is as complex and beautiful as all the stars in the universe. We have done great things and we have gone way off course in terms of honoring creation. You are graduating to the most amazing, challenging, stupefying challenge ever be quested to any generation. The generations before you failed. They didn't stay up all night. They got distracted and lost sight of the fact that life is a miracle every moment of your existence. Nature beckons you to be on her side. You couldn't ask for a better boss. The most unrealistic person in the world is the cynic, not the dreamer. Hopefulness only makes sense when it doesn't make sense to be hopeful. This is your century. Take it and run as if your life depends on it.


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Saturday, June 6, 2009

Russian River Monitoring Photo Project

As most of you know, the Sonoma County Water Agency plans to diminish flows to the lower river by about 80% from July 6th through Oct. 2nd. Normal summer flows are from 125 cubic feet per second (cfs) at the Hacienda Bridge on up as high as 250 cfs.

This year Lake Mendocino is lower than usual and justify flows of 85 cfs at Hacienda. At that flow, canoers have a very hard time, but can still manage. But SCWA petitioned the State Board for permission to meet "critical" dry conditions of 35 cfs from Dry Creek on down. This will turn the lower Russian River into a puddle, except perhaps at Johnson's Beach where a dam will be installed. We believe it is uncalled for and unfair, since water contractors only have to find 3% NEW conservation over last year's water use.

We are very concerned about water quality in the lower river when this happens, not to mention loss of recreation. There was no environmental review to analyze the impacts of this. The Agency and the Regional Board will institute a monitoring program, but all have admitted that this is a big experiment and no one knows the outcome.

We are very worried about the spread of invasive plants, which have taken hold in many places along the lower river. We want to do a photo project from Forestville to Monte Rio in order to document the impacts and changes. (Next year SCWA will begin the process to make these low flows permanent.) We are calling on photographers to select one to three locations on the river where they will photograph conditions (preferably on weekends so we can see the impact on recreation as well) from the same location every week.

We are calling a meeting for 12:30 pm on Friday, June 12th in Forestville.
Please contact me if you want to take part.

We are also looking for people to photograph turf irrigation in the Cities that use Russian River water. The State Board initially banned this use, and then backed off and came up with a moderate formula for limiting water application. We have no idea who or how the cities will monitor the use. We would like to find people who don't mind going out very early in the morning to business parks and other public facilities to photograph runoff, over-watering, etc. and the kind of equipment being used to water. (large sprays, drip, etc.)

If you would like to take part, but cannot make the meeting, please respond by email and we can make other arrangements.

Brenda Adelman
Russina River Watershed Protection Committee

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Project Censored Update: Sonoma State University

Project Censored is in a major transition year and we need your support to continue and to expand our work of bringing forth the most important news stories that the corporate mainstream media fails to cover.

Effective July 1, 2009, Dr. Ben Frymer will assume responsibility for the Project Censored work at Sonoma State University.

Dr. Frymer has a Ph.D. in sociology from UCLA and is a professor in Liberal Studies at Sonoma State University. He will be working with our students, faculty and staff to produce the annual Censored yearbooks of the most important under covered news stories in the US

In addition to training over 100 university students annually, we are doing many important activities that support media democracy, open-transparent news, and the public’s right to know what is being done in our name.

Because of Project Censored’s work millions of people are aware of the massive death rates of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan (Story #1, 2009) and the continuing undermining of American civil liberties (Story #1, 2008). You will soon see the emerging stories for the Censored 2010 yearbook. The list includes how $3.2 billion was spent on lobbying Congress in 2008, and how the Obama administration, despite contrary campaign promises, is continuing much of the same global military agenda we saw the last eight years.

Eight years ago the Project Censored team formed the Media Freedom Foundation (MFF) to serve as a 501-c-3 non-profit corporation for the perpetuation of Project Censored’s work. The Board of Directors of Media Freedom Foundation recently held a quarterly board meeting and set out plans to continue to prioritize fund raising for Project Censored at Sonoma State University, and to also support the creation of Media Freedom International with affiliate Colleges/Universities all over the world modeled after Project Censored.

May 9, 2009, Media Freedom Foundation Board of Directors (B) and PC Staff (S): Left to Right: Cynthia Boaz-B, Dennis Bernstein-B, Adam Armstrong-S-Web, Mary Lia-B, Peter Phillips-B, Ben Frymer-B, Trish Boreta-S, Carl Jensen-B, Kate Sims-S, Gary Evans-B, Mickey Huff-B, Miguel Molina-B, Bill Simon-B, Board members not shown: Noel Byrne, Judith Volkart, and David Mathison.

We will soon be launching the new Media Freedom International (MFI) website that will feature daily news validated by college/university research teams. Presently we know that only 5% of college students under 30 read a daily newspaper. Most young people get all their news from corporate television, and increasingly from the Internet. One of the biggest problems with independent media sources on the Internet is that people are often suspicious of the truthfulness and accuracy of news postings from non-corporate media sources. We will address this problem by having hundreds of university professors and students research and validate news stories and sources to reinsure Internet users of the trustworthiness of stories and sites. We are already on our way with over 30 affiliate colleges participating. College instructors who would like to include their students in this process should contact us at Together, we can make a difference.

You may already be aware of our daily Validated Independents News (VIN) feeds on our website from nineteen trustworthy news sources Or just click on the PNN button, which can also be accessed from the PC homepage to see daily VIN news.

We are already producing a weekly VIN radio news program airing on the Flashpoints program on KPFA and numerous other stations every Friday at 5:00 P.M. PST.

After 13 years, I am transitioning from being Project Censored director to taking a more active role with Mickey Huff in coordinating our college affiliate Media Freedom International VIN efforts.

I would like to personally ask each one of you to consider making a special gift of support. Our collective efforts require us to raise $50,000 per year through donor appeals, and special fund raising events. Your continuing support is needed to make this transition year a success and continue this work for freedom of information.

We have set a fund raising target of $25,000 for the next five weeks.
You can donate and watch our progress towards that goal on-line at If we are able to raise $25,000 twice a year from you, our supporters, with our other resources—book royalties, special events, speaking fees, direct Censored yearbook sales, web advertising & sales, instructional related activities fees, and the occasional foundation grant—we will be able to sustain and expand our work for years to come.

Please consider making a special gift to support this important work in difficult times. Any amount is perfectly fine. Our average donation is $30. But for this special fund drive anyone gifting $100 or more, will receive an autographed copy of Censored 2010 by the end of the summer signed to you by the editors, Mickey Huff and myself. A free media with open public information brings back the old saying of the 1960s—Power to the People. We know you agree.

Peter Phillips and Project Censored 2009

Mail Tax Deductible Checks to:

Media Freedom Foundation
P.O. Box 571
Cotati, CA 94931

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Monday, June 1, 2009

Sonoma County Offers REBATES to Save Water

Water AND Money-Saving Rebates

If you are hooked into a sewer system and live in the Russian River area, Larkfield-Wikiup, Occidental, Penngrove, Geyserville, or South Park outside the boundaries of Santa Rosa, you may be eligible for rebates to upgrade your clothes washer and toilets to more efficient models.

You can save twice as much water with a front-loading washer than a top-loader and get $125 toward purchasing that new machine. That’s just the start of saving money because your water bill will be reduced as well. Qualifying toilets need to use less than 1.28 gallons per flush in order for you to get the $150 rebate, which is about half the cost of an efficienct toilet.

These rebates are available to businesses as well as homeowners and extend to other water using equipment as well. Log on to for complete details and make sure you do it before June 30th when the program ends.

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