Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The tip of an iceberg we'll be seeing a lot more of

A roll of glossy, grey duct tape.Image via Wikipedia

As the carburban development model becomes increasingly harder to duct-tape together, it's going to drive (ho ho!) lots more cuts like this. Cars are the elephant in the living room--the huge expense that no one ever talks about and that consume so much of our wealth that we feed them whole other programs.
To Whom it may Concern:

The City of Salem has to make cuts in funding, due to the bad economic times. They feel the neighborhood and community parks of Salem is the place to make most of the cut backs by laying off FOUR permanent park maintenance operators from an already skeleton crew of workers. We can barely keep our heads above water as it stands. Once these positions are eliminated, the parks will be severely undermanned for maintenance. Their intentions are to use inmates from state corrections and part time summer seasonal help. If the communities of Salem want to keep our parks safe, usable and in good appearance, we won't let this happen. We believe there are other options to find funding for our parks. In past years the city council has found a way to keep our parks department staffed just enough to keep our parks a place the people of Salem and visitors can use and feel safe in and be proud of. If you have concerns for our parks, please pass the word on to everyone you know and make your voice known. There is a city council meeting that the community is invited to on Wednesday, March 31st at 7:00pm. It is at the Wallace Rd Roths Grocery store in the conference room. If you can not make it, please e-mail your city counsel members with any questions and concerns. You may also email me for information or questions.

Thank You
Rick Rue
City of Salem Parks
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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

An enlightening nascent blog from Doug Parrow

Put The Fun Between Your LegsImage by kk+ via Flickr

Doug Parrow is one of our unsung Salem advocates for a saner, better transportation system. He has a blog that he describes as "nascent" and he comments on that thusly:
One definition of nascent is "just coming into existence and beginning to display signs of future potential." Certainly the blog is consistent with the first part of that definition. Time will tell whether that also is the case with respect to the second part of the definition.
If a few of the posts are up to the standard he sets here then it's already shown and delivered on some great potential.
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Another must-see from Salem Progressive Film Series

Salem Progressive Film Series

Thursday, April 8, 2010, 7 p.m.
Grand Theatre-191 High Street NE, Salem (corner of Court and High St)


This film is about the vast, invisible world of government secrecy. By focusing on classified secrets and the government’s ability to put information out of sight if it would harm national security, this film explores the tensions between our safety as a nation, and our ability to function as a democracy. Secrecy can throw into the dark our system of justice and derail the balance of power between the executive branch and the rest of government. And we have learned that under the veil of classification, even our leaders can give in to dangerous impulses.

Guest Speaker: Steven T. Wax, Federal Public Defender for the District of Oregon

Mr. Wax represented Portland attorney Brandon Mayfield, who was accused of bombing the communter train in Spain in 2001. And Mr. Wax represented men held as "enemy combatants' in Guantanamo.

For more information: or 503-385-1876 or 503-779-5288

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Unsolicited Plug 2010-2: 13th St. Nursery

Salem has a wonderful close-to-downtown nursery just a block east of the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store: The 13th St. Nursery at 13th & Wilbur. The nursery is a wonderful place and with the Re-Store right there, you've got yourself a happy Saturday afternoon of treasure hunting.

A number of their plant starts and some gorgeous raku plant pots (for bamboo) are making their way to LOVESalem HQ this year, and they've got a number of really nice garden art things that would be here if we could afford as much beauty as we'd like. Check it out.

UPDATE: The brains at LOVESalem HQ (she provides the brains; my role is to have a strong back to go with the weak mind) picked out some lovely cold-hardy gardenias, star jasmines, and daphnes today in the rain today. Somehow fitting to pick plants for Salem in a nice afternoon rain.

Wonderful new gleaners group: Neighborhood Harvest of Salem

Neighborhood Harvest of Salem welcomes you!

You are invited to join a new community organization, Neighborhood Harvest.

Our volunteers gather unused fruit from Salem’s backyards, share the bounty with families who are hungry, and take home free produce, grown right here. We seek to create community and strengthen neighborhood friendships, alleviate hunger, create awareness of our abundant edible landscapes, and promote sustainable lifestyles.

We are affiliated with Friends of Salem Saturday Market and linked to Marion-Polk Food Share through donations of produce.

Urban foraging is part of a growing movement that connects unused backyard fruit trees with people who have the time and energy to harvest them.

The basic idea is simple: Home owners register trees, vines or berry bushes that produce more fresh fruit than they can use. Volunteers join harvest parties to gather the fruit that might otherwise drop to the ground. We deliver half of each harvest to neighborhood food pantries affiliated with the Food Share, and harvesters take home the other half for their pantries.

Harvest parties begin in July with the cherry season, but for now we are seeking energetic, responsible volunteers. Sign up to be a harvest leader, neighborhood coordinator or site scout. We’ll show you how to organize a fruit-picking adventure while meeting neighbors and new friends.

To volunteer, contact Katherine.

Register your tree, vine or berry bush using our online form, or contact Dick.

For information visit our website or contact Lisa.

Free tour: the parts of the Library you normally don't get to see

Library artImage by Jason McHuff via Flickr

Libraries are one of the most, if not the most, important civic offerings there are. Salem's impoverished library system is still a gem, albeit a very tiny one that's hard for most people to access and that offers very scant and limited hours. With all the vacant commercial space in Salem, every single one of Salem's 19 neighborhoods should have a library or library outpost where people can access library materials and offerings at least 84 hours a week. Alas, we're nowhere near that yet. But part of the reason is that not enough people know what libraries do or how they work. You can rectify that next month:
Public invited for Behind-the-Scenes tours at Salem Public Library

There’s more going on than meets the eye at Salem Public Library. Curious visitors have the chance to find out exactly what this is during National Library Week when Salem Public Library staff offers three Behind-the-Scenes tours at the Central Library.

Guided tours will begin at the Information/Reference Desk at:

10:30 a.m. Thursday, April 15
4 p.m. Friday, April 16
2 p.m. Saturday, April 17

The one-hour tours are designed to give visitors a look at how books and other materials are handled from purchase to preparation, the processes behind holds, check out, check in, and reshelving, and to share insights about library services, programs, and the facility. There will be plenty of time for questions and answers along the way.

Space is limited, so interested members of the public are asked to pre-register at the Information/Reference Desk in person or by phone at 503-588-6052.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Sonja Somerville, Salem Public Library Community Relations Coordinator, (503) 588-6083,

Speaking of the library: Got overdue fines?
Sunday, March 28-Saturday, April 3 only, both Salem Public Library locations will forgive fines for customers who bring in donations of non-perishable food items and other household necessities for donation to Marion-Polk Food Share.

Food donations are accepted during all open hours at the Central Library, 585 Liberty St. SE, and at the West Salem Branch, 395 Glen Creek Rd. NW. Hours and information are available at

A $1 credit will be applied for canned items 12 ounces or larger. This applies to fines due only and does not include lost book charges, rental fees, video/DVD fees, collection fees, or fee cards. Donors are particularly encouraged to consider these high-need items:

· Soup (canned or dry)
· Chili
· Cereal
· Tuna
· Beans (canned or dry)
· Juice (canned or bottled)
· Canned fruit
· Canned vegetables
· Pasta sauce
· Pasta products (20+ ounces)
· Rice (20+ ounces)
A greater credit of $3-5 will be given for these larger high-need items:

· Laundry detergent
· Laundry softener
· Cooking oil
· Peanut butter (8+ ounces)

To be used, items must be factory-sealed, commercially processed, dent and rust free, and bear a future expiration date. Top Ramen products cannot be accepted.

The need at Marion-Polk Food Share is particularly high this year. Community members are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity. Food donations will also be gratefully accepted from those not owing fines, but simply wanting to help build needed supplies at Marion-Polk Food Share.

More information is available from the Library’s Circulation Division at 503-588-6090.
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Concerned about water? You should be. Pay attention.

Graph of the locations of water on EarthImage via Wikipedia

The good folks at Onward Oregon sent out a notice about some important water resources planning workshops coming up. The one in Salem is on Tuesday, June 8, at Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Office, 3406 Cherry Avenue, N.E.
All open houses are from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM
The program begins at 4:00 p.m. with a project overview and discussion and repeats again at 5:30 p.m.

Help Plan Oregon's Water Resources

Available water supplies have diminished across the West, and increased population and development are creating greater demand. Meanwhile, Oregon has been one of the few States without an integrated water strategy. Until now.

In the last session, the legislature passed the Water Investment Act (HB 3369), which includes a plan to make a plan — that is, the bill directs the Water Resource Department to develop a water strategy.

To inform that strategy, the Department is hosting ten Open Houses around Oregon to hear from you. We urge you to make your voice heard. The Department needs to hear that you are (choose one or more) concerned about
  1. growing water demand,
  2. protection of aquifers,
  3. maximizing public value from state investment,
  4. stream quality,
  5. irrigation,
  6. water supplies,
  7. global weirding/climate change,
  8. in-stream flows, or
  9. something else.
You can find the schedule at: Preliminary Workplan.

Citizen responses helped pass the original bill. Now make sure that Water Resources Strategy is responsive to the people of the state.

Times and locations are available at Background Documents.

Water is our most important resource. Let’s make sure we plan smartly and for the public benefit.

The Team at Onward Oregon

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Saturday, March 27, 2010

A poignant story: the $618k death

Happier note: Friends of Salem Saturday Market springing back into action!

Composite image to illustrate the diversity of...Image via Wikipedia

Salem's Saturday Market is a gem, and the Friends of Salem Saturday Market are helping polish it to make it even more attractive. This great group offers neat tours of market vendor operations, which really helps you connect with and understand how market crops and produce come about. Here's a preview of some of the early season action this year -- join the Friends and take part!
Thank you for your support of Friends of Salem Saturday Market! Our first season was a great success, and we couldn't have done it without you. We've got even more free classes, events, and programs planned for 2010. We value your support, and we hope you continue to find value in our mission!

As an FSSM a member, you are invited to our exclusive behind-the-scenes tours of local farms and facilities. Your [2009] membership expires on April 1. Please renew today so you can join us on the spring tours detailed below. Return the form that you received in the mail, or find it here:

Send a reply email with your RSVP for these wonderful member-only events:

Hamblin Nursery: Sunday, April 25, at 1 p.m. --- We will visit John Hamblin's Nursery in Dallas. John has been a longtime vendor at Salem Saturday Market. He and his wife, Calene, sell vegetable & flower starts, hanging flower baskets, and potted flowers. At the tour, we'll see how the nursery operates, how to grow such beautiful plants, and more. The Hamblins will provide a tour, and then you'll have an opportunity to ask John questions while enjoying snacks. The nursery is 20 miles from the Saturday Market. Please let us know if you would like to carpool with other members. RSVP for this tour by Saturday, April 17.

Fairview Farm Dairy: Sunday, May 16, at 10 a.m. -- Do you know how goat cheese is made? Now's your chance to find out! Laurie & Terry Carlson invite Friends of Salem Saturday Market to their dairy in Dallas, where they make a variety of handmade goat cheeses. You'll see how the goats and other lifestock are cared for on this Animal Welfare Approved dairy. (And you'll learn what "Animal Welfare Approved" means!) The tour will include a walk around the property and the cheesemaking facilities, a look at baby chicks, a chance to bottlefeed baby goats, and a taste of that fabulous cheese. The dairy is 17 miles from the Saturday Market. Please let us know if you would like to carpool with other members. RSVP for this tour by May 1. (Space is limited, and a second tour may be added if needed.)

We will email you directions once we receive your RSVP & membership renewal.

Thanks, and we look forward to seeing you again!
Board of Directors,
Friends of Salem Saturday Market

PS: The FSSM booth will be open at the Market on April 17. Stop by to say hi or to renew your membership in person! We will return every Saturday beginning May 8.
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Speaking of insanity: Why you should never back another Salem-Keizer Schools money measure

In the great tradition of the corporate pirates want to build monstrous boondoggles over the Willamette and Columbia Rivers and pave over French Prairie, the unguided missile known as Salem-Keizer Schools has condemned land in West Salem once owned by Governor Bob Straub (you might recall the gift he and his wife made that became the wonderful Straub Environmental Learning Center in the heart of Salem).

There is no justification for this project whatsoever except in the cozy world of contractor-school district relations, where spending money on boondoggle edifices and sports facilities is about the only thing administrators can do to feel like they've made a difference. The schools continue to operate on a model of a factory and a calendar of a farm, while failing to attain anything like the efficiencies of either.

A school district with its students' interests at heart would recognize that they are setting their students up for failure with their antiquated butts-in-seats-in-schools model of instruction and the huge expenditures on infrastructure -- shiny new buildings built with lots of shiny new money that ultimately does nothing but promote sprawl and the illusion that we're going to have a carburban future just like we've had for the past 50 years.

We won't. And the school district is guilty of gross malfeasance and willful blindness in condemning the Straub land. Of course, the present senior administrators will all be happily into their comfortable retirements before the chickens come home to roost on this one, and they'll get to be giving the tours for the shiny new buildings and they'll get to write the glowing press releases about how wonderful the buildings are and how they'll "facilitate enhanced world-class linkages and learnings" and other jargon-laden bs that is the distinctive hallmark of Edspeak, the language of a bankrupt elite. So it's all good for them -- even as Oregon and Salem's finances are swirling around the drain, they'll get to plow a bunch of money into shiny new buildings and when, later, there's no money for maintenance of the older buildings, their successors will cry poor and ask voters for more money "for the children."

Enough. The era of factory schools served by fleets of buses and armadas of parents ferrying their little snowflakes around is O.V.E.R. No more school buildings until the schools adopt a year-round, two-shift calendar and makes full use of the existing buildings and establishes small neighborhood school centers in the many vacant commercial buildings and school outposts in workplaces all over town.

Stop the Insanity: Protect French Prairie!

w:French Prairie southeast of ChampoegFrench Prairie s. of Champoeg -- now wouldn't that look much better with a fricking highway through it? Image via Wikipedia

One of the common traits of collapsing societies is a weird disconnect between what the elites do and what their societies needed in the final years before total collapse --- thus, you see in history once-mighty empires that dissolved into dust because the elites at the top would not do something simple and obvious, like safeguard the food or water supplies rather than spend their wealth on monuments to their own egos.

All over Oregon you can see this effect, where the elites propose ever-more grandiose highway schemes to destroy ever-more scarce resource land, even as the portents and omens saying that the end of the "happy motoring" years is here. Now comes this message of an absurd proposal to build a highway across one of the most beautiful and valuable lands in Marion County . . . a road that would be, like the pyramids, nothing but a gigantic sinkhole for wealth. Insane. Hunger is ravaging ever more people in Marion County and the rich see nothing in French Prairie but an opportunity to pave ever more farmland.

As Marie Antoinette supposedly said, "if they have no bread then let them eat cake." In Oregon it's "If they have no health care, if they have no job, if they have no food security, well, let them drive on roads destroying the land that could provide them with food and jobs and health."

Many of you have heard of a new development threat to French Prairie, namely the Coastal Parkway project--a proposal for a private, toll-road, freeway across French Prairie.

While there are east-west traffic problems, and this type of idea has come and gone over the past twenty years, the current one has some significant financial backing, and the promoters are hard at work trying to build support in local communities, with the county and the State.

Friends of French Prairie (FOFP) just put up a web page that contains all the info we've been able to collect to date, and we urge you to read it.

The promoters have scheduled a working session with the Marion County Commissioners on April 15, and we are running a petition campaign to deliver at that meeting showing opposition to this project from local farmers and residents.

Please contact us if you are willing to sign the petition.

All the best

Ben Williams
Friends of French Prairie

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Garden Champions Unite!

This is so important. If you want to attend, you'll be re-energized. If not, at least contact Marion-Polk Food Share and ask them about how you can contribute to their matching gift campaign, where their board members have pledged to match up to $24,000 in contributions, and these will also be matched in part by a national challenge campaign. (Click for full size image.)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Salem's Northeast Neighbors Association (NEN) Resumes Urban Hens Debate

eggs of many colorsImage by woodleywonderworks via Flickr

Finally, Salem's NEN neighborhood association is going to revisit the urban hens question on April 20. About time. All the details on the NEN website including a nice map to where the NEN group meets. If you're a NEN resident and want to help reverse the wrongheaded neighborhood opposition to urban hens, please turn out.
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New Yorker writes about

No matter how much we'd love to buy all the books we want from our local booksellers, like Tea Party Bookshop, it's just not possible. And there's those books that you want to find good homes for -- how can you do it? Easy -- join and become part of one of the coolest things on the Interwebs -- a book giving and receiving service that operates in a useful, intuitive way without much stress. You simply list all the books you have that you'd like to give away, and browse the many books on offer from other Bookmoochers -- for every book you give (in the US) you get a point; for every book you mooch, it costs a point (2 for international mooches). That's it -- you get to maintain a wishlist so that, when someone lists a book you've been wanting, you get an email telling you it's available. And you get a tenth of a point for each book you offer, and you get a couple points to get you started when you first join (by listing ten books you are offering).

It's as cool as can be, so check it out.

Spring Break Week Treat

Yelm Library Community Read-AloudYelm Community Library read-aloud. Image by Timberland Regional Library via Flickr

Story times for adults -- which are also perfect for precocious middle school and older teens too, in my view -- is happening at the Salem Public Library next week. Most readers got that way because someone read to them, and we never lose the joy of hearing a well-read story.
This week, on the big stage in Loucks Auditorium on Tues, at 10:10 a.m., a reading of "Mr. Sumarsono" by Roxana Robinson, a deceptively simple tale in which "A family headed by a vastly hospitable mother serves dinner to an Indonesian diplomat, striving to make a good impression and changing the way her family sees her." Library opens at 10, story begins at 10:10, over by 11.

I know many of you will be at work next week, or (even better) on a Spring Break adventure, but if you're looking for something to do on Tuesday morning, or are out and about already, grab a coffee and come on down! And if you can't make it, but know someone who might enjoy this, please let them know about it. Grownup Storytime is every Tuesday at 10:10, at Salem Public Library.

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Friday, March 19, 2010

Unsolicited Plug 2010-1: SolarSkyLite & Nash Built Construction

There hasn't been an Unsolicited Plug here in a while, and I realized that I had one I should share, despite my deep hatred of phony spellings like "Lite" and "Nite" and "Donut" etc.

The plug goes to SolarSkyLite.

This is also the first unsolicited plug that discusses a national product rather than a Salem-made product or service -- a solar light port kit that would probably install pretty easily and does a very nice job lighting up an otherwise dark, windowless hallway that often needed a light on during even the brightest days, just because of the way the house was laid out. I wouldn't actually know how hard it was to install, because, at least in my case, the savings on the kit (just $200 at Costco) are better used having a real pro do most home improvement projects.

And the pro I can suggest is Paul Nash of Nash Built Construction. Paul did a LOT of work here at LOVESalem HQ in 2009 by framing around the _outside_ of the house to add 2" of thick thermal insulation panels and then hang hardiplank(TM) siding. He and his helper Vince did good, solid work for weeks and helped make LOVESalem HQ much more energy-efficient and comfortable, not to mention much, much, much better looking. He does a fair amount of work in Salem so I'll consider him local even though I think he gets his mail in Sublimity.

If you install one of these SolarSkyLite jobs in 2010 you can write off 30% of the cost on your federal taxes and, I think, probably also write something off your Oregon taxes too (though I haven't checked that part out, so don't quote me). Now that Paul has done one, he could probably pop one in for you pretty quickly, and I doubt you'd regret it. We have a similar solar light port in another dark room of the house and it was terrific this winter.

A vital measure: Deny Corporate Personhood

The inscription Equal Justice Under Law as see..."Additional charges may apply; Void where prohibited by law." Image via Wikipedia

The phony conservatives and Faux patriots who always whine about "judicial activism" have been delighted to remain silent about the Supreme Court's latest act of supreme self- debasement before corporate power in defining corporations as persons with free speech rights that trump election laws, thus permitting unlimited corporate spending on any election. Mussolini proudly defined his system of fascism as corporatismo, the merger of the power of the state and corporations, and the corporate servants on the court (Roberts-Alito-Scalia-Thomas-Kennedy) have given them a great victory.

That's why we must amend the Constitution to guarantee that the fictional persons (corporations) don't further snuff out the rights of real people:
Motion to Amend

We, the People of the United States of America, reject the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United, and move to amend our Constitution to:

  • Firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights.
  • Guarantee the right to vote and to participate, and to have our vote and participation count.
  • Protect local communities, their economies, and democracies against illegitimate "preemption" actions by global, national, and state governments.
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Thursday, March 18, 2010

The must-read as we debate whether we can afford health care reform

An F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, marked AA-1, lan...Image via Wikipedia

Tomgram: William Astore, You Have No Say About Your Military

By William Astore
Posted on March 18, 2010, Printed on March 19, 2010

When was the last time you saw the headline, “Cost of [Pentagon-weapons-system-of-your-choice] halved”? Probably never. Still, the thought came to mind when this recent Associated Press headline caught my eye: “Pentagon: F-35 fighter jet cost doubles.”

Here’s the story behind it: Since 2001, when an F-35 Joint Strike Fighter was expected to cost an already hefty $50 million, the plane’s cost has soared into the stratosphere (despite the fact that the aircraft itself has barely left the ground). The estimated cost today is $113 million per plane. Yes, that’s per plane. This supposed future workhorse of the U.S. military is now priced like the planet’s most precious gem. It’s also 2 ½ years behind schedule. Keep in mind that the Marines, the Air Force, and the Navy are planning to buy a combined 2,450 of them for what’s now an eye-popping $323 billion. And if you think the costs are likely to stay in the $113 million range, given the history of Pentagon cost overruns, then I have a nice little national security bridge to Brooklyn I think the U.S. public might love.

In other words, if all goes well from here (an unlikely possibility), a single future weapons system is now estimated to cost the American taxpayer almost one-third of what the Obama administration’s health-care plan is expected to cost over a decade. You could even think of the Pentagon’s weapons procurement process as the health-care system of the national security state. Its costs just never stop rising. In fact, the Government Accountability Office pegs major weapons systems cost overruns since 2001 at $295 billion, another near third of the cost of the health-care bill supposedly coming to a vote this week.

And here’s what’s remarkable: You barely hear about such overruns. They’re almost never front-page headline news, even though the money’s being taken from not-so-deep taxpayer pockets. And when truly terrible news, as with the F-35, comes in, all that happens in Washington is that a few politicians mutter a little. John McCain, for example, offered this less than stirring quote on the F-35: “The taxpayers are a little tired of this. I can’t say that I can blame them”; and an irritated Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said: “We cannot sacrifice other important acquisitions in the DOD [Department of Defense] investment portfolio to pay for this capability.” (Bet you didn’t even know that future weapons were part of a Pentagon “investment portfolio.”) In the case of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, he’s planning to hold back $614 million in “performance bonuses” from the plane’s lead contractor Lockheed Martin. (And you thought only bankers and financial wheeler-dealers got performance bonuses!) But it’s striking that there are no tea party movements out in the streets of America demanding our money back or claiming that we’re going to be broken by this.

Here’s an American reality: the Pentagon is our true welfare state, the weapons makers our real “welfare queens,” and we never stop shoveling money their way. Somebody should raise a few tough questions about the Pentagonization of our country and its finances. Fortunately, TomDispatch has retired Lt. Col. William Astore, historian and regular contributor to this site, to take on the task. Tom

The Pentagon Church Militant and Us
The Top Five Questions We Should Ask the Pentagon
By William J. Astore

When it comes to our nation’s military affairs, ignorance is not bliss. What’s remarkable then, given the permanent state of war in which we find ourselves, is how many Americans seem content not to know. . . .

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Don't Miss It!

Mark your calendars now.

If this isn't April Fool's Day come early than it's Fan-Fricking-Tastic

A NY-standard yield-to-peds sign on Roosevelt ...A sign usually noted only in passing, at high speed, while pedestrians dodge out of the way. Image via Wikipedia

Amazing news from US Department of Highways and occasionally other things, if forced, a/k/a USDOT.

Secretary LaHood has made the following announcement via his blog:
"Today, I want to announce a sea change. People across America who value bicycling should have a voice when it comes to transportation planning. This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized.

"We are integrating the needs of bicyclists in federally-funded road projects. We are discouraging transportation investments that negatively affect cyclists and pedestrians. And we are encouraging investments that go beyond the minimum requirements and provide facilities for bicyclists and pedestrians of all ages and abilities.

"To set this approach in motion, we have formulated key recommendations for state DOTs and communities:
  • Treat walking and bicycling as equals with other transportation modes.
  • Ensure convenient access for people of all ages and abilities.
  • Go beyond minimum design standards.
  • Collect data on walking and biking trips.
  • Set a mode share target for walking and bicycling.
  • Protect sidewalks and shared-use paths the same way roadways are protected (for example, snow removal)
  • Improve nonmotorized facilities during maintenance projects."
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Thoughtful letter from Silverton Granger re: urban hens

Urban Hens: Much to Cluck About
By Gus Frederick

A very important part of the Silverton Grange's mission, is the promotion not only of local agriculture, but also local sustainability. Most may think that we mean these terms to apply to outside the City limits, in what would traditionally be viewed as "agricultural" land. However, town and city folk have always had a tradition of some sort of personal "agricultural," endeavor; whether a small garden plot in the back yard, or a couple of hens to provide fresh eggs.

Over the years, our society has seen an increase of available commodities, often shipped in from hundreds or even thousands of miles away. This centralized approach to supplying our day to day substance has altered how we view our food and where it comes from. Post war America encouraged this, while at the same time discouraging many of the traditional approaches that rural and small town people had used to supplement their nutritional intake with local food. From the 1950s on, we saw many municipal codes change, that while often well-meaning, had the effect of stifling local sustainable practices.

We, as a Grange have consciously sought to reverse this unhealthy trend. We not only see it as a good idea to promote local nutritional sustainability, but also as essential for our future survival as a community and as a country.

So when we read the front page story in the February 24 edition of the Silverton Appeal-Tribune, about the Council voting on the "Chicken Issue," our interest was piqued. Several of our Grange members, including myself, attended the March 1 City Council Meeting to present facts in support of this proposal. I managed to get in and grab a seat and agenda from the table.

The place was packed full of supporters of the Silverton Skate Park. In fact, some of our members were turned away due to the large numbers. No where on the agenda was the "chicken" vote mentioned. At the opening portion of the meeting, when the Mayor asked for a show of hands for various issues, and he read through the agenda items, and again, "chickens" were never mentioned. In the chaos, we assumed that the chicken issue, for what ever reason, would not be addressed that
evening, so we left.

Imagine our shock and surprise when opening the paper the following week to read that yes, it was voted on and was voted down. We of course, learned too late that the "chicken Issue" promoted with such fanfare in the paper was in fact a small portion of Silverton Development Code Revision. Our bad for not researching the issue further. And the fact that the newspaper article likewise failed to mention the SDC, but
rather referred to a "Chicken Ordinance," also contributed to the confusion. But many of us thought it odd that at least some mention was not given in either the agenda or during opening comments.
After viewing the award-winning documentary video "Chicken Revolution" about the same issue in Salem, I was struck by the outright animosity shown by the Mayor and several Salem Councilors, towards this group of concerned citizens. They simply wanted to be within the law, and have three hens, (no roosters). The Salem Council shot back time and again with more hoops to jump through, more meetings, more proposals, more delays.

The irony in the Salem situation, as shown in testimony from the Salem chicken supporters, is that this issue has been addressed by many towns and cities, including Eugene, Corvallis, Portland and even Lake Oswego. Some hens allowed. No roosters. It is in fact, an easily addressed issue, that even the Salem City staff supported.

What did Salem's Council accomplish during this time? In almost two years of bureaucratic run-arounds, they managed mainly one thing: It soured a large group of people towards participatory democracy in general, and City Government in particular.
I would hope that our Council would be different. More along the lines of other, more level-headed communities that have adopted logical chicken ordinances.

The bottom line is that several of us were there on March 1 to make a case for this to the Council. We apparently were swept away by the "Skater's Waltz." We feel that this issue should be revisited, and we would hereby request the opportunity to make our presentation to the Council on the matter of "urban hens," and that the Council reconsider the issue with facts that we were and remain ready to present. And this
time, address it specifically, so that we all know what is happening. Instead of hiding behind obscure revisionary development code ordinance titles.


Gus Frederick
Silverton Grange No. 748
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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Perceptual framing

Terrific demonstration of the power of bias to alter the perceived reality -- thanks, JPN!

It's surprisingly easy to "sense" something that isn't there:

Down-to-Earth Vertical Gardening

The always-excellent "Low-Tech Magazine" points to a terrific link on vertical gardening for the rest of us. Too cool.

The reason we have to schedule "Community Conversations" about our budget

When the conversation is actually going to consist of variations on "Bend over and grab your ankles, this is going to hurt," it's funny that the folks who kept selling growth-growth-growth as the panacea never mention how well their last Big Thing worked out.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Catering to the Automobile is helping bankrupt Salem

Fire Extinguisher For The Budget MindedImage by Sister72 via Flickr

Now we get to learn how bad the collateral damage will be. The low-budget model fire extinguisher to the right is just an example of the kinds of creative adaptations we'll be experiencing in Salem for the foreseeable future.

Here's a more global look at how various states are faring and what we can expect as the double-dip of the Great Recession really gets underway. Forecast: Severely grim. And we all know how closely tied Salem's economic situation is tied to the overall health of Oregon's budget. Which is to say, Forecast: VERY severely grim.

Best Salem politics joke of 2010 thus far: Mayor Taylor, resolutely mum during the failed Cherriots bond campaign last year, attacking Cherriots for having cut Saturday service entirely.
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Sunday, March 7, 2010

One Fair World's "Pennies for Peace"

address lineOne Fair World
Asks for your help in the
"Pennies for Peace" Project
Dear Walker,
Just a quick note to let you know One Fair World is sponsoring a "Pennies for Peace" drive to raise money for education projects in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The effort is being organized by a girls 6th grade writing class at Parrish Middle School in Salem. The teacher behind it all is Sue Luft.
This class was inspired by their study of the young reader's edition of Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson. They have learned that pennies (or larger amounts) make a real difference, as follows:

1 penny = a pencil

2-3 pennies = an eraser

15 pennies = one notebook

$20 = one child's school supplies for one year

$50 = one treadle sewing machine and supplies

$100 = maternal healthcare supplies for one year

$300 = one advanced student's annual scholarship

$600 = one teacher's annual salary

$5000 = support for existing school for one year

$50,000 = one school building and support for up to

five years

Children in over 400 mountain villages in remote northern Pakistan and Afghanistan are on the waiting list, hoping to learn in a new school. The hope is to help build a bridge of peace, one penny at a time, offering alternatives to the cycle of terrorism and war.

If you would like to contribute to this project, please come in to One Fair World and add your pennies to the donation can, which is hand-decorated by the girls in the writing class. The drive will run through March 31.

Thank you for your consideration.

From all the volunteers at One Fair World, 474 Court Street NE (downtown Salem), 503-585-1636.

Check out Salem's best Neighborhood Association website

Thanks to Kristi and Matt Neznanski, Northeast Neighbors has one of Salem's best neighborhood association websites. Check it out.


Cavalry bugler backgroundImage by mharrsch via Flickr

"It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets." -- Voltaire
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A LOVESalem foreign correspondent sends: "I just bought me a rat . . . "

Landmine Clearing Efforts in Democratic Republ...Image by United Nations Photo via Flickr

Her message was headlined: "The most awesome charity thing ever."
I just bought me a rat . . .

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Another beauty - from Going Around in Circles is a Good Thing

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Important Ebert blog post: A glimpse at Salem's future

HDR Experiment: A Gathering StormImage by lassi.kurkijarvi via Flickr

From Roger Ebert's blog (where there are much cooler storm pix):
. . . As Thomas Friedman phrased it so elegantly in The New York Times, our free lunch is over. The United States caroused like a drunken sailor in the postwar years. If you were doing well, that could mean two cars in every garage. A bedroom for every family member, and an office or den, and a living room, plus maybe a family room, plus a dining room or "area," and a finished basement and a deck and a kitchen full of appliances. Yes, America has poor people -- way, way too many. But the household I just described, which in 1950 would have been a rich family's mansion, became a reality for a many middle-class families, and you know it.

Not long ago I revisited my own childhood home and found it to be, gee, a lot smaller than I remembered. Chris Jones in Esquire, who paid a visit to my home town, described 410 E. Washington as "little." It didn't seem little then. And if we never paid to have a concrete driveway poured, my dad said gravel made for better traction in the snow. Anyway, I'm not thinking about how we lived. I'm thinking of how we're all not going to live. You know about the economy and the housing crisis. Now I read an additional four million suburban families are facing not only foreclosure but in many cases actual homelessness. Not in their worst nightmares did these people imagine such a future.

The best part:

As it now stands, if it's any more watered down, Obamacare will be homeopathic. It incorporates so many compromises with the Republicans that anyone voting against it isn't opposing the language -- they're just opposing Obama. We can't afford that. The American voters are pretty smart, and they're figuring that out.

For more warnings, try this sobering look at our condition.
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Monday, March 1, 2010

Calendar: 3/12-14: Friends of the Library Book Sale

FOR MORE INFO, CONTACT: Sonja Somerville
Phone: (503) 588-6083
Friends of the Library Spring Book Sale coming up March 12-14
Great deals are easy to find at the Friends of the Library Spring Book Sale, coming up soon, March 12-14. Book lovers can load arms and bags with low-cost reading and all the proceeds go to support special programs and projects at Salem Public Library.

Sponsored by the Friends of the Library and operated entirely by volunteers, the Spring Book Sale will be open from
  • 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Friday, March 12 and Saturday, March 13.
  • The best bargains of all are available from 1-4:30 p.m. Sunday, March 14, when shoppers can fill a bag to take away for just $3.
The sale takes place in Anderson Rooms A&B at Salem Public Library, 585 Liberty St. SE

Spring sale offerings include thousands of excellent books sorted by genre and topic to make it easy for readers to find what they're looking for. Categories include mystery, biography/autobiography, travel, cooking, fantasy, Westerns, hobbies and crafts, romance, large print, and more.
Prices are, as always, excellent, with paperbacks and children's books for 50 cents each; hardbacks for $1. A long list of AV items is available, including CDs, tapes, records, videos, posters and more, all for 25 cents each. Romance paperbacks are also 25 cents each.
Twice annually, the Friends host a major sale, offering thousands of books sorted by genre. Items available are a combination of books donated by library supporters for this purpose and items that have been withdrawn from the library shelves. All incoming books are sorted for quality and type to ensure quality offerings at the sales. Used books and other items are also sold year-round by the Friends of the Salem Public Library in the Friends Book Store, located on the main level of the Central Library, 585 Liberty St. SE.
More information about the sale, the book store and the Friends organization is available at 503-362-1755 or online at

WORD: An apt description of our "health care" "system"

. . .
We are left, finally, with a so-called health care system so cruel and unjust that the Devil himself in consultation with the most demonic lobbyists, and perhaps a little input from historical politicians such as Caligula, Ivan the Terrible, Heinrich Himmler, and Pol Pot could not construct a worse way of deploying the fruits of modern science. It has gotten to the point for most of us where we dread a visit to the doctor more for the bureaucratic consequences than the health issues themselves. Your gall bladder may have to come out, but it's much harder to face the booby-trap clause in your health insurance that will result in you getting stuck with a $123,000 bill for surgery and attendant procedures (including the $500 tylenols). Three months later, of course, the re-po man is towing your car and the mortgage "servicer" has foreclosed on your house, and your life (even without that pesky gall bladder) has become a permanent camping trip next to a drainage ditch. . . .