Colorful Aztec dancers lead a few hundred chanting, slow-moving people of all ages on a march from the Latino neighborhood of Roseland to Santa Rosa, California’s downtown square on October 30. They demanded justice for the killing of 13-year-old Andy Lopez on October 22 by sheriff’s deputy Erick Gelhaus.
Another child has been killed. Andy Lopez was playing with a toy on Oct. 22 near his home in a Latino community in Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, Northern California. A sheriff’s deputy pulled the trigger and hit the 13-year-old seven times, fearing that his toy assault rifle might be real. His partner, sitting next to him in the car, held his fire. That patience was a better approach. Who is responsible for this death?
Do not be deceived by the thin perimeter of a few live apple trees remaining next to Apple Blossom School and the five nearby schools on Watertrough Road with 700 students in the Sebastopol countryside in Sonoma County, Northern California. A glorious, historic 47-acre orchard that nurtured people, wildlife, and the environment thrived there for many decades. Then chain-sawed trees languished on their sides with dying green apples, which will never ripen to red, cut down on June 14. Witnessing this slaughter was enough to make a grown man weep.
Half a dozen mothers from small town and rural Sebastopol in Northern California quickly rallied hundreds of people to their side to challenge Sonoma County’s Paul Hobbs Winery. He wants to convert a 40-acre apple orchard into a vineyard that would use pesticides; it borders five schools on Watertrough Road, including Apple Blossom and Orchard View. Together they have around 700 children, as well as many teachers, staff, neighbors and wildlife.
The Case of Sonoma State University
The new Center for Ethics, Law, and Society at Sonoma State University in Northern California has caused quite a stir among our academic community during the first week of classes, as well as from those outside SSU. Its funding and the further corporatization of public higher education have been questioned.
The notorious insurance monolith AIG provided two-thirds of the Ethics Center’s $16,000 first year budget. What might AIG’s intentions have been for funding the Center? Continue reading
On Christmas Eve, when most were at home with family and friends or out-of-town, a summons was served at the Sebastopol City Hall. The giant CVS Pharmacy sued the City and its elected officials.
Sebastopol’s recently elected City Council voted unanimously, 5-0, on Dec. 18 to enact a temporary, 45-day moratorium against drive-through operations. CVS seeks to nullify that moratorium and proceed with plans that it has been working on since 2009, but which have not been fully approved and permitted, to build two stores with drive-throughs.
by Shepherd Bliss
December 13, 2012
The creation of the Mario Savio Speakers’ Corner this semester was my favorite event during my five years at Sonoma State University. It was a good example of what is taught in SSU’s Foundations of Leadership course, UNIV. 238, which I taught for three years.
The dynamic Savio was a beloved teacher at SSU from 1990-1996. He is best known as a leader of the Free Speech Movement in the mid-sixties, while a student at the University of California, Berkeley. That movement galvanized students around the U.S. against the American War in Vietnam. The Savio memorial committee wanted to inspire people, as Savio did, “to act upon conscience to insure justice.”
Trees transform, shield, shade and provide oxygen, fruit, and beauty. They offer many other gifts. Without trees, humans would not survive. Through the magical process of photosynthesis, tree leaves and other green plants release oxygen by transforming carbon dioxide and water.
As our human learning community walks into the woods here beyond the Dominican University of California, I invite you to experience the plant community. Continue reading
“Sustainability” has become a buzzword. But what does “sustainability” really mean? One definition is that it requires a triple-E bottom line—economics, the environment and equity. However, this word sometimes is used to “green-wash” and promote things that are not sustainable. Genuine sustainability must be evidence-based. But language can be used to conceal rather than reveal.
Small town Sebastopol residents in Northern California have been waging a fierce David vs. Goliath struggle against the powerful Chase Bank, CVS Pharmacy, and Armstrong Development for over two years. The implications of this struggle extend beyond this one town, as big business continues to seek to expand its wealth.
I’ve operated the small, artisan Kokopelli Farm, which grows mainly berries, for the last 20 years. It is located a couple of miles from small town Sebastopol’s downtown commons in Northern California. Our town has less than 8000 people and is the economic center of what is called the West County of the coastal Sonoma County. We historically have had a vibrant local economy, which is now being threatened by the desires of big businesses to further concentrate their enormous power and drain the agrarian wealth out of the land and people.
“Occupy.com, which means to occupy the commons, will go online later this month,” reported Michael Levitin, a 35-year-old founding editor of the Occupied Wall Street Journal. He spoke on March 16 at an event in Santa Rosa, California, hosted by the forthcoming Occupied Press—North Bay/Prensa Ocupada—Bahia Norte.
I have been active in the historic Occupy movement since it first erupted onto public space. I have attended numerous meetings, rallies, teach-ins and other events, as well as written supportively about it. Since the Sept. 17 opening at Occupy Wall Street in New York, I have been excited and ignited by this incredible uprising.
Recently I have become frustrated by some of its hostile interpersonal dynamics. We could benefit from more tolerance, compassion, and respect for differences within the millions of members of the 99% that we claim to represent.
The Sonoma County daily’s Press Democrat Feb. 1 editorial “Occupy Movement in Ashes” is wishful thinking. Our phoenix will rise during this month. You wait. You watch. You see.
Occupy is still an infant, having been born in New York Sept. 17 with Occupy Wall Street. It is not even five months old and already the local daily tries to editorialize it into ashes. Rumors of our death are premature. We have made mistakes, including in Oakland. We’re learning and experiencing what one activist calls “growing pains.”
Sonoma County’s Occupy movement in Northern California opened 2012 by two well-attended events—one outside in the streets and another inside. Around 140 people attended a county-wide Town Hall on Occupy at Sebastopol’s United Methodist church on Jan. 9. Over 400 people marched on and peacefully shut down two Wells Fargo Bank branches in Santa Rosa on Jan. 6.