Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Urban hens update

Barb Palermo sends this encouraging update, which ends with some optimism for the makeup of the post-May-2010 council. On that note, there has been a disquieting silence from Anna Peterson, mayoral candidate, who has not replied to several inquiries (to the email address listed on her website and via her campaign website email contact form) about how she feels the urban hen debate was handled, whether there was anything she would do differently. We know that Jordan Blake is good on urban hens and that Chuck Bennett is terrible on the issue -- but at least Chuck gives you the courtesy of letting you know where he stands and why.

And a sincere word of thanks are owed to Barb, Dana, and all the others who have worked so hard to make it possible for people to keep a few laying hens as pets and self-sustainability assets. The economy is only going to get worse, so all the many reasons for allowing residents to keep a few urban hens will all become more and more salient as time goes by. Most of the objections raised are absurd, and the rest can be handled by responsible owners being responsible neighbors.
Our documentary is finally finished! This professional-quality film is about 75 minutes long and chronicles our efforts to join the Urban Chicken Movement here in Salem. We explore the Northwest and interview chicken-keepers in Eugene, Corvallis, and Portland where backyard hens are allowed. We also visit the Urban Farm School in Vancouver and the Avian Medical Center in Lake Oswego where they host classes to teach pet chickens how to do tricks.

The film features a trip to a farm in Canby to emphasize the difference between traditional chicken-raising and urban hen-keeping. Throughout the film, you will see a variety of backyard coops, including one made of straw bales, and those featured in the Portland and Eugene coop tours. We interview illegal chicken-keepers in Salem (with faces blurred) to find out why take the risk. Our travels are intermingled with clips from the nine City Hall presentations we made and reveal the ineptitude of some of our elected officials.

Our documentary will be shown on CCTV local cable channel 21 a total of ten times, beginning at 1:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. For a complete schedule, go to http://www.cctvsalem.org/programs/schedule.php and click on "The Chicken Revolution."

We are hoping to have the film featured on OPB's "Oregon Lens" and through other media outlets. The documentary can be purchased on our new website www.Chicken-Revolution.com (remember to include the hyphen) for just $12! Your help in distributing this film will be greatly appreciated.

Please take the time to explore our new website. It is dedicated to helping people in cities across the country who are interested in trying to change an ordinance. It has a wealth of information to help people get started and they can learn from our experiences by watching the film. Our 60-page research packet is available on the website for anyone to use, as well as exact ordinance wording found in a variety of chicken-friendly cities. There is a table on the website that shows the current status of chicken ordinances throughout Oregon. You will see that Gresham will re-consider a chicken ordinance on December 1st and Hillsboro and Beaverton are expected to consider one in January. We are currently helping people in Independence prepare for their first City Hall presentation, as well.

When I first set out to try to change the law here in Salem, I felt overwhelmed and didn't know where to begin. Remembering that feeling, we put together a website that we think will help people in that very same situation.

While our efforts may not have worked here (yet), they are paying off for citizens in towns nationwide who have consulted us, used our research, and learned from our experiences.

I believe our chances of passing a chicken ordinance next year are very good because the election in May will bring at least three new people on the council board, and if just one of them is interested in a chicken ordinance, we will have the majority vote. I also anticipate a quick and easy process next time because all of the work has already been done.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and I hope you enjoy the film!

PS: If you haven't heard yet, there is a new magazine I highly recommend called "Urban Farm: Sustainable City Living" featuring articles about urban chickens and related subjects. You can find a link on our website under the `Resource' page.