I attended a honeybee gathering recently at a wild place in rural Sebastopol. During my nearly 30 years of organic farming here, I have usually had honeybee hives on my farm. The berries need their pollination.
“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” — French Nobel Prize winner Anatole France
Searching for a dog, I recently visited three animal shelters. At the final one, I saw a dog that I instantly connected to.
I have been contemplating why the growing struggle by rural residents against the expanding, industrial wine industry in Sonoma and Napa counties, Northern California, has touched my heart and soul so deeply.
A loud, crashing sound startles my young farm-hand Emily Danler awake in the dark of the night. She camps out in order to start picking berries at sun-up. My dog, inside, barks. After a physically-demanding day farming, I sleep through it all.
Looking down the boysenberry field to the bottom of Kokopelli Farm the next morning, tears come to my eyes. The tall, old black oak had split right down the middle of its deep, wide trunk. I would never again see its crimson leaves announcing the beginning of Spring. Continue reading
Christmas Eve is when many families gather to celebrate and exchange gifts. But what would you do when a beloved child of your immediate or extended family had been killed two months before?
This Christmas Eve a committee of the Justice Coalition for Andy Lopez met to plan a peaceful, dignified action to support the family whose 13-year-old son Andy Lopez was killed October 22 in Santa Rosa by Sonoma County sheriff’s deputy Erick Gelhaus. They demand a halt to cops killing innocent children and then not being indicted and punished.
Thirteen-year-old Andy Lopez was killed by sheriff’s deputy Erick Gelhaus on October 22, as the boy walked home in his Latino neighborhood in Santa Rosa, California. The Iraq War veteran claims he mistook the eighth-grader’s toy rifle for a real one.
A month later another Army vet, Paul Duffy, took his own life nearby. Duffy, as some friends called him, was found by his wife hanging from a rope in the writer’s cabin he had built outside his Tomales home by the Pacific Ocean. Continue reading
The Watertrough Children’s Alliance (WCA)–mainly mothers with students at schools near where yet another apple orchard is being converted into a chemical vineyard–filed a lawsuit on the afternoon of Nov. 25 against the Paul Hobbs Winery. The next day Hobbs struck back with a press release, promising he “will aggressively fight.”
A new, powerful coalition of Latino, social justice, green, progressive Democrats, student, civil liberties, peace, and other groups has emerged in Sonoma County, California. The killing of 13-year-old Andy Lopez by sheriff’s deputy Erick Gelhaus on October 22 unites them.
The October 22 killing here of 13-year-old Andy Lopez by a hail of bullets from sheriff’s deputy Erick Gelhaus has resulted in daily peaceful marches, prayer vigils and speaking events honoring Lopez and calling for justice, as thousands in the northern California community continue to mourn and express outrage.
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