Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Food for Thought: Stand Against Hunger, 9/1, 5 p.m. downtown

Food wasteImage by ★keaggy.com via Flickr
UPDATE: Instructions for tonight:

Please ask people to join our line on the West side of Liberty Street between Court and Chemeketa by 5:00 p.m. We are asking our volunteers to wear red or orange if possible, not only for Women Ending Hunger, but to make the line as visible as possible. They may bring their own empty plates (paper is fine) or our block captain will have some extra to share.

The plan is to stand for 20 minutes, then people can either go home to supper or head on downtown for all of the First Wednesday festivities. As part of FOOD FOR THOUGHT, Women Ending Hunger will also be hosting a reception and silent auction from 6:00-7:30 p.m. in a temporary gallery space on the lower level of Salem Center mall near Nordstrom’s. Several area artists have donated beautiful art plates that we will auction to benefit Marion-Polk Food Share. Come and enjoy some light refreshments and the art if you have the time.

Thanks again. I’ll be looking forward to seeing you there!

Kat Daniel
Community Partnerships, Women Ending Hunger
503.581.3855 x322
1660 Salem Industrial Drive NE, Salem OR 97301

Dear Friends and Neighbors in Salem,

My name is Kat Daniel and my job is ending hunger as one of the two Community Partnerships/Volunteer Program managers at Marion-Polk Food Share. It is also my privilege to be the “champion” for the Food Share’s auxiliary program, WOMEN ENDING HUNGER. For those of you who may not be familiar with that organization, we are a grassroots movement of women—and men—committed to “serving as catalysts of social change, working together with all to end hunger by engaging, educating, and empowering our community.”

Nothing is more deserving of our attention than the fact that we have 37,000 children in Marion and Polk counties who may be relying on their free or reduced-price lunches at school as their only full, healthy meal of the day. When we relate that fact as we are talking with family, friends, and neighbors, we find that most of them can’t believe that hungry is as rampant as that, right here where we live. We are not talking about Africa or Indonesia. We are talking about Salem, Keizer, Stayton, Jefferson, Scotts Mills, Detroit, Idana, Gervais, St. Paul, Woodburn, and every other community in our two-county footprint. And I’m sure I don’t have to tell you what childhood hunger means in terms of a child’s ability to succeed in his or her life. Doesn’t every child deserve the best chance at life that we can give them?

We feel like this is a message that we need to shout from the rooftops: 37,000 hungry children is 37,000 too many. WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?

You’ll see from the reverse side of this message, that we are determined to do ONE thing to get the message across: on Wednesday, September 1, from 5:00-5:20 p.m. we propose to create a line of empty plates from the State Capitol through six blocks of downtown Salem to show Salem, at least, what 37,000 children look like. Okay, we won’t exactly have 37,000 people standing in a line, but can you imagine what 3,700 people holding empty plates would look like? We think that image could have significant impact.

Can you help? Please come downtown on September 1 and stand with us for twenty minutes on behalf of our hungry kids! Families and children are welcome; our route is all on the sidewalks and kid-safe. At 5:20 everyone can go home to supper or go on to enjoy lots of special back-to-school festivities as part of Go Downtown Salem’s FIRST WEDNESDAY monthly event. We understand there will be lots of sidewalk sales, high school marching bands/cheerleaders/sports teams at a big pep rally, and Reading for All is even raffling off a car! As part of our FOOD FOR THOUGHT project, we will be hosting a small reception and silent auction of some beautiful art plates being created by local artists to benefit Marion-Polk Food Share in the lower level of Salem Center mall near Nordstrom’s. We’d love to see you there.

Anyone who can come to join our line can contact me at Marion-Polk Food Share at 503-581-3855 ext 322 or via e-mail at kdaniel@marionpolkfoodshare.org. I will send you instructions about where to go to join the line and what you should bring with you.
If you have anywhere to post the flier on the reverse, or can hand out copies to help spread the word, I would greatly appreciate it. 3,700 volunteers are a lot to recruit. I could really use your help. Thanks in advance for your support!

Kat Daniel, Marion-Polk Food Share and Women Ending Hunger
Be there, aloha.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Saturday, August 28, 2010

UPDATED: Tell DEQ to Stand Up Against Climate Terrorism and force Boardman shutdown in 2014

Boardman Turbine Coal Plant near Boardman, Ore...Image via WikipediaUPDATE:

Today, Sept. 1st, DEQ opened a 30-day comment period on proposed emission controls and closure options for Portland General Electric’s coal-fired power plant in Boardman. DEQ’s three options outline the pollution controls necessary for plant closure in 2015-16, 2018 or 2020. PGE has also submitted a new alternative 2020 closure plan for comment. PGE’s alternative proposal for 2020 is similar to DEQ’s 2018 option. DEQ invites comment on both its rule proposal and PGE’s alternative proposal.

The comment period ends Oct. 1, 2010, at 5 p.m. There will be five public hearings held later this month. For more information on this proposed rulemaking, hearing locations, and how to submit comments, please visit our DEQ Regulation of PGE Boardman web page.


PGE has shown its true colors now, neatly cutting through all its many layers of greenwash and self-promotion for its "green power" plans that are minuscule next to its coal power portfolio.

The private utility is now threatening to attempt to keep running the Boardman coal plant, the single largest Oregon source of the CO2 that is destabilizing the global climate RIGHT NOW, until 2040.

The definition of a terrorist is someone who uses violence and threats of violence against noncombatants in order to persuade opponents to give in to the terrorist's demands.

Because disrupting the climate is already leading to deaths and aggravating the conditions that accompany and worsen global violence (famines, droughts, collapse of fisheries, depletion of aquifers, etc.), PGE's conscious, premeditated threat to keep running Boardman for decades after the company's own analysis shows that it should be closed is simple extortion, extortion that threatens harm to billions of people if carried out. In other words, it's simple terrorism.

Here in Salem, we have a PGE corporate director among us, the President of Willamette University, which likes to promote itself as environmentally hip and advanced. I hope every single Willamette alum, faculty, staff, parent, and student who wants to have a shot at a stable climate, for themselves and for any children they care about, will ask Dr. Pelton why they should bother with any of that when the state's biggest polluter --- the firm he directs --- chooses to keep sending millions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere rather than see power rates increase a whole four-tenths of a cent per kWh.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Friday, August 27, 2010

Throwing garbage on people's porches -- perfectly OK if you're a corporation

Doesn't that brick of dead tree and petroleum-derived plastic junk add to the beauty of the lavender?

Here at LOVESalem HQ, we're pretty conscious of using less stuff and less energy. We work hard at reducing waste, conserving energy, and reducing intake of new stuff that would become waste and require energy to make, move, and remove.

So we're pretty aggressive about signing up for every stop-the-junk-mail service there is, including the services that promise to stop the yellow pages dead-tree-phone-books.

But, once again, as if to prove Ambrose Bierce's observation that a corporation is just a device for capturing private profit while avoiding private responsibility, Verizon has just graced LOVESalem with a totally unwanted piece of garbage, a phone book that will never be used, made from heavy paper. Making that piece of crap and ferrying it to my door in a plastic bag made of petroleum has consumed a huge amount of energy and caused a huge amount of pollution.

WHY IS THIS LEGAL? If I go to a Verizon store and dump my trash in the store, I risk a civil penalty, if not arrest for disorderly conduct.

Why does Salem not have an ordinance that requires anyone putting unsolicited materials on my porch to come pick those materials up if they haven't been accepted (i.e., taken inside) in two days? What is it going to take? I'm looking at you, City Council. For those who are afraid of the First Amendment boogieman, let's review:

There is no First Amendment right to litter.

Any neutral city ordinance -- one that does not make content-based distinctions but simply regulates the time, place, and manner of delivery and requires that anyone distributing unsolicited materials collect them if they are not accepted --- will survive a corporate challenge.

In fact, an ordinance that prohibited distribution of junk like that without a positive "opt-in" request from residents would likely be upheld too. It would be pretty straightforward to require that anyone who plans to distribute anything more extensive than a single-sheet or card would first have to mail or deliver a request form to the targeted addresses (on paper or online), and only deliver the ultimate object to those residences that complete and return the request form or request the object online.

But hey, it's just the health of the environment -- who give a rip about that compared to Verizon's profits?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Greybeards in Feedcaps: another reason to preserve public farmlands

Wendell Berry speaking in Frankfort, IndianaImage via WikipediaBecause the biggest barrier to young people getting into farming is access to affordable land. Thus, when places like Salem sell an easement that will prevent farming 200+ precious acres of fabulous farmland located right in the City, they sold out young farmers. As Wendell Berry says, "Eating is an agricultural act."

WORD: Why the (vanishing) sea ice matters

Arctic Sea Ice ExtentImage via WikipediaWhy the disappearance of the sea ice matters to Salem.

(Or, "Why it matters that the President of Willamette University sits on the board of the utility that is Oregon's biggest polluter and biggest emitter of gases that are causing the ice to vanish and how that is going to screw Willamette students' future.")
Enhanced by Zemanta

Salem Progressive Film Series Fall 2010 Schedule

Thursday, Sept. 9
7 PM

"Before being dubbed the Motor City, Detroit was once home to the nation's most extensive streetcar system. In fact, it was that vast network of streetcars that carried workers to the area's many car factories. And it was the cars made in those factories that would soon displace the streetcars in Detroit — and in every major American city.

Over the last 30 years, much of the world has moved on, choosing faster, cleaner, more modern transportation and leaving America — and Detroit — behind. Viewers are taken on a journey beyond Detroit's blighted urban landscape to Spain, home to one of the world's most modern and extensive transit systems; to California, where voters recently said yes to America's first high speed rail system; and to Washington, where Congress will soon decide whether to finally push America's transportation into the 21st century."

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Golden Pioneer, Improved Edition

Barb Palermo has worked tirelessly to try to bring about a return to common sense in a very unforgiving and wearying setting, the labyrinth that is public policy making in the City of Salem, Oregon.

The current recall of eggs nationwide -- some half billion or more -- due to salmonella concerns brings home again

a) how insane the industrial food system is
b) how wasteful it is
c) how vulnerable it is

So it's important that we permit ordinary people to go back to what was a pretty common practice everywhere (and in Salem until the 70s!) -- keeping a few hens for eggs and garden upkeep services.

The current backyard hens proposal by the city is a screwy Rube Goldberg set-up of rules driven by unnecessary paranoia and outright race and class bias, but none of that is Barb's fault or the fault of any Chickens in the Yard stalwarts, most of whom live in West Salem (where the neighborhood association overwhelmingly supports backyard hens, and where the City Councilor, Dan Clem, has adamantly opposed them).

CITY folks have devoted themselves to helping the rest of us, and we should be grateful. The image above will be on the new version of CITY's extensive research report on the ins and outs of backyard henkeeping. If you feel like tossing a few bucks into the hat -- and getting some cool swag in return -- you can do so here.

The passive voice was used

Passive voiceImage by catheroo via FlickrOne of the great losses with the collapse of newspapers is the end of editors. Newspapers are stretched so thin that the editing function has essentially disappeared or is being handled by unqualified people or, worse, software. This creates a vicious cycle, where the product put onto the page is so poorly crafted that readers conclude that there really is no reason to pay a corporation for stale news. When the writing in the only daily in town wouldn't cut it in the local high school paper, you know things are in a bad state. Today's example:
"A Salem man has been arrested for allegedly shooting another man during an apparent attempt to steal medical marijuana Monday."
I bet being allegedly shot doesn't hurt a bit. The writer makes a hash of the lede by casting it into the passive voice, which is why "alleged" -- a fifty-cent word for "said" that journalists clearly don't understand and toss into all their police and legal stories haphazardly -- has to be converted to the bizarre modifier "allegedly," which makes no sense when attached to "shooting."

You know what's great about the active voice? It immediately points up what's missing from that lede (which is pretty much everything in this instance). Good journalism answers this question: Who did what to whom. Convert that lede to active voice and the gaps stand out:
(Jurisdiction) police arrested a Salem man, (name), on (date) (in place, if not same as jurisdiction or is otherwise significant). Police believe (name) shot (victim's name) while trying to steal (victim's last name)'s medical marijuana. . . .
The original garbled lede is 20 words of nonsense. Recast in the active voice and with the gaps filled in, it takes just 23 words to deliver a whole lot more news:
Salem police arrested a Salem man, Scott Farler, on Tuesday. They believe Farler shot Jamison Nguyen, while trying to steal Nguyen's medical marijuana. . . .
Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The terribly rude thing to bring up

M. Lee PeltonImage via WikipediaThe NYTimes ran a big story about the University of Oregon's sustainable city project that has picked Salem as its project for the year. In the story, they lavish the kind of love on Willamette University that gets PR folks promotions:

Karen Arabas, a professor of environmental science at Willamette University in downtown Salem, said private schools such as hers share that mission. She points to the 168-year-old institution's motto: "Not unto ourselves alone are we born."

"We have a strong sense of service on campus, and sustainability transcends every field," Arabas added. "When students graduate, these are some of the skills and knowledge they'll need in the world, whether they go into law, business or medicine."

Willamette -- which topped a 2008 National Wildlife Federation ranking of U.S. schools that engage in sustainability activities -- uses its Center for Sustainable Communities to foster campus-community collaboration. The 2,600-student university began hosting regular sustainability retreats for students, faculty and administrators in 2005 and is now working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to restore habitat in a 300-acre research forest west of Salem.

The school looks at everything from how much locally harvested, organic food it serves to how many tons of greenhouse gases it emits.

Having a small environmental footprint is a big bragging right in these parts.

The Princeton Review and U.S. Green Building Council ranked Willamette, the University of Oregon and four other Oregon universities among the top 286 "green" colleges for 2011, based on the schools' practices, policies and curricula. The mere existence of such a list is evidence that universities, students and prospective employers are paying increasing attention to sustainability issues, said David Soto, the Princeton Review's director of college ratings.

The publisher surveyed 12,000 college applicants and parents earlier this year, and 64 percent of respondents said they would value having information about a school's environmental commitment. Almost a fifth of those respondents said such information would "very much" influence which school they choose.

"A lot of schools are starting to give guidance on green jobs -- what a green job is and how to secure one," Soto added.

Of course what they didn't mention is the never-mentioned-secret at Willamette: its President, M. Lee Pelton, sits on the board and collects handsome checks from Portland General Electric, owners of the single biggest polluter in Oregon, the Boardman coal plant, the single largest source of CO2 and (now that the Durkee cement plant is down) toxic mercury emissions.

In other words, everything that Willamette students do right for the environment in their entire careers is wiped out in an hour or two of operations at President Pelton's power plant at Boardman:
As Oregon works to brand the state as a clean-energy trailblazer, an inescapable irony hangs over the Gorge: PGE’s coal-fired power plant in Boardman, the state’s largest source of air pollution, is emitting carbon dioxide, mercury, soot, smog and haze-causing pollutants into a National Scenic Area.

PGE’s Boardman plant pollutes more than 10 protected National Parks, Scenic Areas and Wilderness Areas, including the Columbia River Gorge. Pollution from the plant causes acid rain and fog in the Gorge and is a major source of haze. A study released last year by the Yakama Nation revealed that PGE Boardman is responsible for up to 50% of the air pollution in the Columbia Gorge during times when air quality in the Gorge is at its worst.
Here's what is still the best short video treatment -- made several years ago -- of why this oh-so-impolite point needs to be raised. Every single point about positive feedback loops is coming true with a vengeance -- we've recently seen that phytoplankton is collapsing worldwide, massive, continent scale fires in Asia, drought and flooding in mid-continental regions, intense heat waves, and disappearing sea-ice in the Arctic.

All because utilities -- utilities like PGE, led by President Pelton and his fellow directors -- choose to continue burning coal, and even fighting for the "right" to continue burning coal for decades longer than is sane.

Jus' saying.

What we need to do.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Monday, August 23, 2010

Sharrows: The inferior non-solution

Cycle-tracks -- putting bikes at the curb, protected from traffic by parked cars -- are much better. Why should bikes be put between the cars moving at speed and doors flying open on the drivers' side of parked cars?

Sharrows are a sham solution for bike lanes

These faux-lanes for bikes are ambiguous and do little more than enable politicians to claim more bike miles. Here's a better solution.

Worth your time: How the Criminal Justice Systems Gets it Wrong, Again and Again

Justice and Divine Vengeance pursuing Crime. O...Image via WikipediaLeave aside the human toll if you like -- the lost decades stolen from innocent people, the fact that the real perpetrator is hidden behind the perfect shield (the fact that someone else has already been convicted of the crime) -- and just focus on the staggering fiscal costs to Oregon caused by imprisoning people for serious crimes that they didn't do.

As the layoffs roll out through Salem, one might ask: are we spending enough on making sure we're not spending way-too-much on incarceration of innocent people?
Enhanced by Zemanta


Highways near Minneapolis, Minnesota (USA).Image via WikipediaA perfect description of our ongoing highway-building folly:
Everywhere along the route, shovel-ready highway improvement projects from the late stimulus crusade were now underway, and you wondered exactly what kind of future they were intended to serve -- or was it all a kind of weird national potlatch ceremony in which we were literally throwing away our wealth to memorialize what seemed normal the day before yesterday and never will be again.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Copenhagen Wheel

I'm always skeptical of high-tech solutions as they assume a lot more years of business as usual . . . but still, you have to admire this effort. It would sure be better for the Salem to put money into this than into electric vehicle charging stations.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Silverton, ho!

1967 U.S. postage stamp honoring the National ...Image via WikipediaLOVESalem normally doesn't look too far afield for fun but we do have a soft spot for Silverton, home of the amazing and wonderful Oregon Garden. And now there's a special locavore breakfast coming up, with pancakes and even options for us non-carnivores! Yum.

So, Saturday after tomorrow (August 28) we'll be having breakfast in Silverton at the Grange and then enjoying the Oregon Garden, one of the best things around Salem that isn't in Salem. Then a stop at Willamette Fruit Company's lovely newish store on the way home to round out the perfect "Last Saturday of Summer."
Silverton Grange 50 Mile Breakfast

Aug 28, 2010 -- 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Produced by Silverton People for Peace

Once again, the Silverton Grange is hosting our “localvore” Breakfast. Originally our breakfast featured foods made from scratch with ingredients grown or produced within 100 miles of Silverton. This year we have decided to shrink our reach and to focus on those items within a 50 mile radius. The event is intended to encourage people to consume foods from their local area. There is a $7 suggested donation. Everyone is welcome.

The menu will include buckwheat pancakes, Silverton's own vegan SortaSausage, vegetable frittata, fresh fruit, fruit compotes, sausage, and beverages.

Information and resources will be available at the event to show people the benefits of eating local food and where they can buy local products.

Founded in 1867, the Grange is the nation’s oldest farm organization. The Silverton Grange Hall is located at 201 Division Street, off of South Water Street, in Silverton. For more information about the event or the Silverton Grange, visit us on the Web.
Whoops, almost forgot! Later that day will also be the KMUZ benefit gourmet dinner with high-class acoustic music from Austin, Texas! Shaping up to be an amazing day!
Enhanced by Zemanta

Word: Appoint Elizabeth Warren now!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Random thought for reviving Post Office revenues

Boulder post office boxesImage by Jeremy Burgin via FlickrYou know how, whenever you order something, you get reminded that the Post Office won't let UPS and other private package services deliver items sent to PO Boxes?

Now that the revenue plunge at the Post Office is so bad that they're thinking of killing Saturday deliveries, maybe there's an opportunity there . . .

Why doesn't the Post Office simply accept all deliveries from UPS et al. slated for PO Boxes for a 10% surcharge on the shipping? It would end up being fed back to the PO Box customers, who would then find their PO Box address even more valuable (and create a revenue boost for the Post Office).

Wouldn't be huge -- but wouldn't every little bit help?
Enhanced by Zemanta

Celebrate Community Gardens!

Community gardens celebration set Aug. 22-28

Marion-Polk Food Share will kick off World Kitchen Garden Day and Community Garden Tour Week with a community barbecue from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 22, at Trinity United Methodist Church, 590 Elma Ave. SE, Salem.

The event is held in keeping with the tradition of Kitchen Garden Day, where people gather in their gardens with friends, family, and members of their local community to celebrate the pleasures and benefits of home-grown, hand-made foods. In addition to food and fellowship, there will be a walking tour of Julie’s Garden, a 10,000 square-foot learning garden partnership between Trinity United Methodist, Four Corners Elementary School and Marion-Polk Food Share.

The days following the free kick-off celebration will feature two sets of lunch-hour and evening tours of model community gardens in Salem and Keizer. Each Wednesday and Friday tour covers four gardens. The noon to 1 p.m. tour starts at the Marion-Polk Food Share Edible Landscape Project, 1660 Salem Industrial Drive NE. The 6 to 8 p.m. tour starts at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church Garden, 3295 Ladd Ave. Participants will caravan to the remaining sites. The public is encouraged to attend.

“Our desire is to raise awareness about our Sustainable Community Gardens program and to show folks what great things are possible when people build relationships, help one another and work side by side growing food for themselves and to share with others,” said gardens program manager Jordan Blake. The complete tour schedule is attached.

# # #
Community Garden Tours – Aug. 25 and Aug. 27

Wednesday, Aug.25 and Friday, Aug. 27, noon – 1 p.m.
· Marion Polk Food Share, 1660 Salem Industrial Drive, NE Salem
· Oregon School for the Deaf, 999 Locust St., NE Salem
· Highland Neighborhood Garden, corner of Hazel and Columbia streets, NE Salem
· Salvation Army Garden and Food Box Site

This tour begins at noon with the Marion-Polk Food Share’s Edible Landscape Project that is in its preliminary phase. The next three gardens on the tour route are located within 1.5 miles of Marion-Polk Food Share. They are the 1-acre Food Share Garden located on Oregon School for the Deaf grounds; a garden located on a vacant lot in the Highland Neighborhood; and the Salvation Army Garden coordinated by Sunnyside Organics, a partner of Marion-Polk Food Share. This lunch-hour garden tour will also include a short tour of the Salvation Army Food Bank.

Wednesday, Aug. 25 and Friday, Aug. 27, 6 - 8 p.m.
· St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church Garden, 3295 Ladd Ave., NE Salem
· Northgate Peace and Forgiveness Garden, 455 Biller Ave., NE Salem
· Redeemer Lutheran Community Garden, 4663 Lancaster Drive, NE Salem
· Whittam Community Garden, 5402 Ridge Drive N., Keizer

This tour is designed to highlight four gardens that have started within the last two years: the St. Timothy’s community garden in partnership with Hoover Elementary; the Northgate Peace and Forgiveness Garden, started last fall at Northgate Park in memory of Montez Bailey; and the Redeemer Lutheran Community Garden and Whittam Community Garden, both begun in 2010.

For information, contact Jordan Blake at 503-581-3855, ext. 329.

Beaverton shames Salem City Council's Ponderous Plan for Urban Hens

An A-frame chicken coop in a Portland, Oregon ...Terrifying, eh?? Image via WikipediaYou know it's bad when a place that is the most literal "Geography of Nowhere" hell of a noplace -- a town that's little more than a stark warning to other towns about why auto sprawl is so awful -- gracefully passes a code improvement to allow urban hens that's about 100 times better than the absurdly complex, overpriced, overly bureaucratic, passive-aggressive and sullen proposal that the Salem City Council is straining mightily to pass:
The Beaverton City Council on Monday gave its final approval for a new "urban chicken" ordinance that allows residents to keep up to four hens at most single-family houses in the city. The quickly tallied 5-0 vote came near the end of a 96-minute meeting, prompting a round of applause from Sathler and three other chicken champions -- once they finally realized the new city code had been approved.

"It's exciting," Sathler said later, crediting city leaders for responding to residents' requests for chickens. "For me, this is very much about food security. ... I want people to get local food; I want it to be as close as possible."

The ordinance becomes effective in mid-September. Although it allows residents to raise hens, it prohibits roosters. Other poultry, such as ducks and geese, are not allowed as pets within the city.

A couple of other basics about the new ordinance: Chickens and their respective coops aren't allowed in front yards, and the coops can't be closer than 20 feet to a neighbor's house. Supervised chickens can have the run of a fenced backyard during daytime hours, but at night they're to roost.

The city first began considering urban chickens in April 2009 and the Planning Commission held a well-attended public hearing in November. But the topic stalled politically until after the May primary election, when it was pushed back into the spotlight by community members who gathered signatures endorsing the concept.

Even so, citizen response leading to Monday's vote had been mixed. Some questioned whether allowing chickens in an urban area could be a public health concern, while others pointed to the benefits of local food sources (eggs, not the chickens themselves -- slaughtering is prohibited).
Meanwhile, here in Salem -- new motto "Somehow Managing to Make Beaverton Look Good" -- the City Council is still limping along, trying to pass a passive-aggressive ordinance that's been engineered to be so hostile to would-be henkeepers that it seems more intended to discourage the practice than permit it.
The Public Hearing is Set! – Thanks to all the people who came to Monday night's city council meeting and raised their hands. This big show of support for the proposed chicken ordinance resulted in the councilors voting 7 to 1 to hold a public hearing. I was not permitted to argue for revisions to the ordinance as I had planned, but they assured me I would be able to do so at the public hearing that is set for Monday, SEPTEMBER 20 (SEE UPDATE BELOW) at 6:30 pm. This will be the single most important meeting of the entire process, so please mark your calendars and plan on coming.
UPDATE: The public hearing for the chicken ordinance has been moved to September 20. The time and place remain the same, but the city has decided to hold a “special meeting” on this date (instead of holding the public hearing during the next normally scheduled city council meeting).

I will let you know if anything changes and I will most definitely be sending a reminder as the date gets closer.
Look for an article about the public hearing in the next issue of Salem Weekly (www.willamettelive.com)
UPDATE 2: Meanwhile, those store-bought eggs produced by battery hens in reeking concentrated feeding operations that give new meaning to the word "hellish" sure are yummy ... Mmmmmm, sweet, sweet salmonella.
Wright County Egg, which distributes nationwide under 16 brand names, has sold the American public 380 million eggs with a high risk of salmonella contamination.

But, because food recalls are entirely voluntary, people have been getting sick from these eggs since May. This recall is in response to an FDA investigation, but the FDA can't actually order Wright County to recall the eggs, regardless of the threat to public health. . . .
Enhanced by Zemanta

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Hush! A harbinger of fall already!

Blueberry FieldsImage by Arwen Twinkle via FlickrGot a chill when reading this latest from The (just announced) Official 2010 LOVESalem Coolest Nonprofit, Neighborhood Harvest of Salem.

Those awful words . . . "final blueberry harvest," -- I swear, I thought I smelled woodsmoke for a minute when I read those! Anyway, if you haven't already joined NHS and done your bit -- for yourself and for the Food Share, then get hot.
A final blueberry harvest has been scheduled at a site a few miles east of Salem. It will be this Friday, August 20, from 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm. Sign up for the harvest at http://www.salemharvest.org/harvestlist.php. If you can help us with checking people in or weighing buckets and fruit, please send an email to Lisa at lclark-burnell@salemharvest.org .

Dick Yates, Neighborhood Harvest of Salem
Enhanced by Zemanta

Stopping Dropoff Littering at the Source

Seattle Phone Book SpamImage by edkohler via FlickrMake the litterers pay to clean up their mess.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Save the Date: Rail Now! Sept. 20th, Salem Convention Center

Built in 1918, Salem's passenger train stop se...Image via Wikipedia

You are Invited
"Rail Now!"
Monday, September 20, 2010,

8:30 am - 4:30 pm
Salem Convention Center, Salem, Oregon

"Rail Now!" will explore improving passenger travel, and freight rail, between Eugene and Portland within five years.

"Rail Now!" will continue the Oregon and national conversation about investing in America's passenger rail. The federal government is investing billions in passenger rail development for the first time in American history, moving us toward quality transportation and connectivity which much of the world's population has enjoyed for many years.

"Rail Now!" will provide high quality information and education on this very important issue.

"Rail Now!" brings together a variety of experts to talk about what is needed to improve and increase the number of passenger trains serving the Willamette Valley now, on existing tracks. Oregon must join the progress!

"Rail Now!" will explore the economic and environmental benefits of investing in both passenger and freight rail. We will look at what is happening in other parts of the country, understand how Oregon can pursue a conventional 21st Century Rail Transportation System and create jobs now and in the future.

Our Goal: September will resonate with "Rail Now!" conversations and rail ideas, encouraging new thinking with practical achievable solutions to implement immediately in 2011 !!.

Discover Salem: Come early, enjoy the weekend in Salem. Special events are planned at Willamette University and other sites.


$25.00 includes Continental Breakfast, Coffee Time, and Gala Lunch

Reservations Absolutely Required

Enhanced by Zemanta

Time for some dog-days dots connecting

Northwest exposure of the Pentagon's construct... The Pentagon being built in 1942; Image via Wikipedia In this strange period of Consumer Age War --- real, brutal wars and occupations being conducted by an increasingly tiny sector of society for increasingly surreal and irrational reasons, with the rest of us told to go quietly about our primary job, taking on debt to buy imported things --- Chalmers Johnson has been a unique voice of reason, pointing out that average Americans have much more reason to fear the Pentagon and CIA than we do to fear the Chinese, Russians, or even the Muslims whom we armed and tried to use against the Russians and who, as is the way of human puppet forces throughout history, turned against those who tried to keep pulling their strings a decade or two too long.

As America, Oregon, and Salem stare into the fiscal abyss of job cuts, declining tax revenues, collapsing infrastructure (Courthouse Square anyone?), and declining services, it's helpful to recall now and then why other countries are able to fund those things that America no longer manages to do: because we squander our wealth for generations on an attempt to be the first empire to buck the tide of history . . . which is, actually, of a piece with the tide of history, and has been the preferred mode of almost all empires in history -- with those that refuse to divest themselves of imperial possessions voluntarily suffering the most as a result.

In 1962, the historian Barbara Tuchman published a book about the start of World War I and called it The Guns of August. It went on to win a Pulitzer Prize. She was, of course, looking back at events that had occurred almost 50 years earlier and had at her disposal documents and information not available to participants. They were acting, as Vietnam-era Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara put it, in the fog of war.

So where are we this August of 2010, with guns blazing in one war in Afghanistan even as we try to extricate ourselves from another in Iraq? Where are we, as we impose sanctions on Iran and North Korea (and threaten worse), while sending our latest wonder weapons, pilotless drones armed with bombs and missiles, into Pakistan's tribal borderlands, Yemen, and who knows where else, tasked with endless "targeted killings" which, in blunter times, used to be called assassinations? Where exactly are we, as we continue to garrison much of the globe even as our country finds itself incapable of paying for basic services?

I wish I had a crystal ball to peer into and see what historians will make of our own guns of August in 2060. The fog of war, after all, is just a stand-in for what might be called "the fog of the future," the inability of humans to peer with any accuracy far into the world to come. Let me nonetheless try to offer a few glimpses of what that foggy landscape some years ahead might reveal, and even hazard a few predictions about what possibilities await still-imperial America.

Let me begin by asking: What harm would befall the United States if we actually decided, against all odds, to close those hundreds and hundreds of bases, large and small, that we garrison around the world? What if we actually dismantled our empire, and came home? Would Genghis Khan-like hordes descend on us? Not likely. Neither a land nor a sea invasion of the U.S. is even conceivable.

Would 9/11-type attacks accelerate? It seems far likelier to me that, as our overseas profile shrank, the possibility of such attacks would shrink with it.

Would various countries we've invaded, sometimes occupied, and tried to set on the path of righteousness and democracy decline into "failed states?" Probably some would, and preventing or controlling this should be the function of the United Nations or of neighboring states. (It is well to remember that the murderous Cambodian regime of Pol Pot was finally brought to an end not by us, but by neighboring Vietnam.)

Sagging Empire

In other words, the main fears you might hear in Washington -- if anyone even bothered to wonder what would happen, should we begin to dismantle our empire -- would prove but chimeras. They would, in fact, be remarkably similar to Washington's dire predictions in the 1970s about states all over Asia, then Africa, and beyond falling, like so many dominoes, to communist domination if we did not win the war in Vietnam.

What, then, would the world be like if the U.S. lost control globally -- Washington's greatest fear and deepest reflection of its own overblown sense of self-worth -- as is in fact happening now despite our best efforts? What would that world be like if the U.S. just gave it all up? What would happen to us if we were no longer the "sole superpower" or the world's self-appointed policeman?

In fact, we would still be a large and powerful nation-state with a host of internal and external problems. An immigration and drug crisis on our southern border, soaring health-care costs, a weakening education system, an aging population, an aging infrastructure, an unending recession -- none of these are likely to go away soon, nor are any of them likely to be tackled in a serious or successful way as long as we continue to spend our wealth on armies, weapons, wars, global garrisons, and bribes for petty dictators.

Even without our interference, the Middle East would continue to export oil, and if China has been buying up an ever larger share of what remains underground in those lands, perhaps that should spur us into conserving more and moving more rapidly into the field of alternative energies. . . .

UPDATE: Watch and/or listen to some amazing interviews with Chalmers Johnson here.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Monday, August 16, 2010

Capitol Chess Club -- new night/location

Reprodução - Les Joueurs d'échecsImage by Marcelo Munhoz via FlickrSalem's newer chess club, the Capitol Chess Club, now meets at Borderlands Games (next to the Willamette Humane Society) at 546 High St. NE, Salem OR 97301.

We will meet starting at 6 p.m. on TUESDAY nights.

We have enjoyed meeting at the IKE BOX and wish to sincerely thank Mark and Tiffany Bulgin and the crew at the IKE BOX for graciously welcoming us for our first year of chess. However, it's time to move to a location where we are more likely to encounter more chessplayers or people who want to learn how to play.

Pass the word to anyone you know who plays chess in or near Salem.

Hope to see you at Borderlands on Tuesday nights. And for you parents of kids who might benefit -- which is just about every kid -- there's this at A.C. Gilbert Discovery Village:

Chess Rules!
Starts Saturday, September 25
10 a.m. – noon

Any child who can be taught the alphabet can learn to play chess. In this class, kids will learn game strategies as well as hone their problem-solving and critical thinking skills. Class runs: 9/25, 10/2, 10/16, 10/30, 11/6 and 11/20. Ages 6-12. $42 members / $60 nonmembers.
Enhanced by Zemanta

KMUZ benefit -- August 28


Second Annual
KMUZ 88.5 Backyard Bash Fundraiser

Local/regional surprises and, straight from Austin, Texas… award winning

Dinner by Marc and Concert; Only $25 -- dinner and show (advance purchase advised)

Saturday, August 28, 2010
Garden opens 4:00 – Music 5 - 8 p.m.
A word from the host:
You have all told me how much fun the Backyard Bash is, and this last minute opportunity to create one opened up when I started listening to Betty Soo’s wonderful songwriting and delivery.

Her schedule allowed one date to have a show, and I thought I’d create an event, not just so Salem could get introduced to another fantastic songwriter, but also to raise money for KMUZ 88.5 Community radio, a unique resource that could help change the face of Salem in terms of both entertainment and public affairs!

The station is in its home stretch of fundraising to get a signal on the air by August 2011, and I think once they are on the air, everyone will see what a fantastic opportunity it is to share, promote, and create community over the airwaves, available to all, run by who care. Everyone, including Betty Soo involved with this event is kicking in something back to KMUZ, so join the community and thank Betty for taking less so that more can go to getting KMUZ on the air!!

Betty Soo is a rarity indeed. This second generation Korean-American born with a classic Southern name has taken it to heart and is turning heads and rising to the top of that amazing musical treasure trove that is Austin, winning songwriting awards in places like Kerrville New Folk, Wildflower Festival, and the Chautauqua Big Top songwriter of the year.

Her vocals are clear, pure, and artfully explore many of life’s questions and experiences. Sometimes there are no answers, but there sure are feelings and Betty Soo will bring you to that “ah ha!” moment over and over again, finding yourself thinking, “yes, I was there once.. “ or “I wondered the same thing about my last partner..." (hah!). She takes a look at what makes us tick, both in self discovery and in relationships, and presents her poetry in many accessible forms. She can alternatively rock it, have a bit of twang, deliver a sensitive emotional ballad, or create an edgy almost gritty atmosphere.. That her last album, “Heat, Sin, Water, Skin” was produced by Austin icon Gurf Morlix (Lucinda Williams, etc) speaks volumes. I think she will surprise and delight us all, and I am simply tickled that we will have a chance to hear her amongst the sunflowers, zinnia, allysum, cosmos, leeks and that from-scratch home cookin’ that Marc and some other chefs will dream up for you!!


“Singer/songwriter BettySoo adds sweat-stained confidence to "Heat Sin Water Skin." You’re quickly reminded of the old “book jacket judgment” cliché when you first encounter BettySoo. The petite Korean-American erases any preconceptions the moment she opens her mouth. Her voice is big and expressionistic, sauntering across country-folk arrangements with beauty and wisdom that’s often breathtaking… she explores an earthy, sweat-stained style that recalls onetime Morlix protégé Lucinda Williams. The songs are accompanied by a raw, soul-baring honesty that’s quickly becoming BettySoo’s trademark.” – Chris Parker, Oklahoma Gazette

“If ‘Never the Pretty Girl’ isn’t already an anthem, it should be … Betty Soo isn’t likely to stay confined to a musical style. You can hear sprinklings of blues, soul, gospel and country topping her clear, melodic compositions. She’s already dispelled a few stereotypes. She might as well keep going.” - Mario Tarradell, Dallas Morning News.

“On her 2009 album Heat Sin Water Skin, Austin singer-songwriter Betty Soo has crafted beautiful, heart-wrenching songs that are also edgy and unwavering. That compelling voice sometimes comes as a surprise to Soo’s audiences. On stage, they see a tiny, five-foot frame from which emerges some powerful singing that’s gotten her comparisons to Joan Baez and Ruthie Foster. - Laurie Gallardo, Texas Music Matters.

“I first became privy to BettySoo at the Folk Alliance conference back in 2008, but her recent release Heat Sin Water Skin has been taking great strides to earn her air time on ever more speakers. Considering the amount of attention and praise the disc has earned for this Austin, Tex.-based singer-songwriter, she's likely to be a force in 2010.” - Kim Ruehl, About.com

Folkmusic (#2, Up-and-coming Folk and Americana Artists to Watch in 2010)
“… almost instantly, I was captivated by the voice and accompanying music emitting from my speakers. “Who was this woman?” … I was done for. She had lured me into her clutches with her silky smooth and seductive voice on the very first track, “Never Knew No Love” ... Great lyrics sung by a great vocalist accompanied by great musicians… You can tell after listening to this record that there was a lot of heart and soul poured into the production values. It shows on every track and why wouldn’t it? Gurf Morlix wasn’t just one of the musicians on the record, he also produced it… He takes it to a completely new level… he may have believed in this record almost as much as the artist…This is truly a great record… - Rod Ames, No Depression, the Roots Music Authority

Please join me for an afternoon of great food, community, and ACOUSTIC MAGIC!:

Who: Betty Soo and some LOCALS! – original contemporary music played with passion and beauty.
When: Saturday, August 28 Garden Opens 4:00pm music 5pm-ish to 8pm-ish
Where: Salem House Concerts - 468 21st NE Salem, OR 97301
Cost: $25.00 in advance for dinner and show OR $20.00 for the show only. Same Day show tickets will be available
TICKETS: Checks/cash can be mailed (to Mark Nassar) or dropped off at the address above, or PAY PAL payments can be made to "blueman@teleport.com." Pay Pal payments must add $1.00/ticket service charge.

CONTACT INFORMATION: Marc Nassar 503-378-7704 blueman@teleport.com
BETTY SOO’s website: http://www.bettysoo.com
BETTY SOO’s music: http://bettysoo.bandcamp.com
SALEM HOUSE CONCERT WEBSITE: http://home.teleport.com/~blueman

The gourmet buffet will be available to advance ticket buyers, and to others if we have any left!!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Speaking of encouraging bio solar engineers

Do you know anyone with land meeting the requirements outlined in this Craigslist ad?
Organic vegetable farmers looking to lease land (4-15 acres) with barn/shed in the Salem area. Need good soil, water rights, and area for washing/storing produce. Need at least 10x20 barn/shed with electricity and water to set up our wash station and walk-in cooler, or permission to build shed. Also need to park delivery vehicle beside wash station, store tractor, implements, irrigation pipe, etc... Able to pay monthly or yearly. Need long-term lease (5yrs). Jeff ~ 503-999-7920.
  • Location: Salem Area
  • it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
image 1899583545-0

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Framing farming for the future

Giant SunflowerImage by moonpie dig it via FlickrIt's funny -- Americans, Oregonians not least among them, are constantly seeking (and spending billions on) new, tech ways to accomplish one thing: gathering a little of the solar energy that falls upon us, gratis, every day and converting it to a form that's useful for our needs.

At the same time, Americans are constantly told that the only way for kids to have a secure future is for them to do time in classrooms where they are inculcated with the values and skills of the "knowledge workers," not least of which is the belief that work that involves getting dirty is something best done elsewhere while we give orders, do the selling, and reap most of the rewards.

Meanwhile, right under our figurative noses, world-class, self-replicating, exquisitely complex biological solar engineering systems go right on about their business of gathering solar energy and converting it to myriad forms that are perfectly useful for our needs.

The kid at any Salem-area high school who says she wants to go study to be an engineer and work on improving the yield from thin-film solar arrays or high-efficiency concentrated solar power systems will be given accolades and encouragement, loans, grants, internships, scholarships, and fellowships. Yet if that same young woman or one of her friends says they would like to grow clean and healthy food for her friends and family here -- to learn how to improve the yield from those exquisite biological solar engineering systems we call plants -- our collective response would be to shrug and scratch our heads, wondering why a young gal with so much potential would waste it on farming.

If she's willing to undergo an apprenticeship at the school of High-Input, Fossil-Fueled Agribusiness, she might be able to get a seat in a program at an Ag school such as at Corvallis. Scholarships will be virtually nonexistent, discouragement abundant, and her school loans will leave her unable to afford any land to practice her trade, Salem having decided that pavement and condo towers are a better bet than its young people.

About a year ago, for a pittance, the Salem City Council sold away the rights to farm 200 acres of precious fertile land right here in Salem in Minto-Brown park, because nobody in City Hall had the foresight or wisdom to recognize that farmers need places to farm just as much as cars need places to park. . . . and that we need farmers a lot more than we need more condos.

I wonder if the prosaic name "farming" isn't a huge part of the problem --- kids learn about farms with their "Old MacDonald" song, and there's no glamor in it.

What if we recognized farming for what it is: solar engineering using biological systems, systems that not only harvest the sun's energy and convert it to forms we can use, but that also come with complex chemical engineering subroutines so that the energy is not just made available but also delivered in ways that further the health of energy customer.

What if we recognized that, when all is said and done, most of the energy technologies we use are only "more efficient" than plants on paper and that, when you do a total life-cycle analysis, most engineered systems still fall well below the efficiency, utility, beauty, and value of a bean plant?

Do we have the wisdom to recognize that we don't need more accountants, marketing executives, lawyers, MBAs, and computer scientists nearly as much as we need biological solar engineers? And, given that fact, shouldn't there be well-funded biological solar engineering programs in every high school, community college, and university? Shouldn't smart young people have the chance to learn these crucial skills and enter the biological solar engineering world in the same way that ROTC students get scholarships to enter the military world? Or are we just going to continue acting as if food comes from grocery stores?
Enhanced by Zemanta

Thursday, August 12, 2010

How urban renewal zones screw citizens and make developers rich

Salem's bizarre lust to blow half a million bucks trying to prop up an absurdly ill-conceived real estate venture is only partly explained by the tight, almost incestuous circle of friendships between city officials, the Chamber of Commerce/SEDCOR lobbies, and their real estate cronies.

The missing piece is the eternal question that echoes through City Halls all across America: "Where can we find taxpayer money to give to our friends without letting the taxpayers have a say in it, so we can make our friends happy while cutting basic services?"

Answer: urban renewal zones. The pot of gold that just keeps on giving -- if you're in the right circles -- while diverting money away from all the other taxing districts that depend on property taxes (schools, fire-fighters, county services, etc.). As Woody noted, some will rob you with a gun, others with a fountain pen.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Got too much stuff? Need storage?

You need more stuff to hold all your stuff! See this Salem Craigslist ad for info on how to get $25 off first month's storage rental at Northgate Storage (just north of Pine near Portland Rd.). We rented a unit there for two years while we searched for the perfect place to set up LOVESalem HQ and it was fine. I can't compare it to other places in Salem, but we had no problems there in two years; our 10' x 10' unit was stuffed to the gills and it was clean and dry and seemed plenty secure.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

So great. Watch.

Update: Here's the kind of messages you get once you sign up to help this wonderful organization:
A crop of plums will be harvested this Saturday, August 14, at 9:00 AM (30 pickers). The plum harvest listed below includes 30 trees in Dallas, Oregon. The lowest fruit is about six feet up, but the trees are tall. They may best be picked by shaking branches so that ripe fruit falls. If you sign up for this plum harvest, bring a tarp or an old sheet to catch the fruit and a ladder if you have one. We will have some orchard ladders on the site.

1,100 plants of blueberries a few miles East of Salem will be picked in three harvests:

Friday, August 13, from 6:00PM to 8:30PM (200 pickers)

Saturday, August 14, from 8:00AM to Noon (300 pickers. This harvest is scheduled for four hours. It will help with parking logistics if pickers do not all arrive at 8:00AM. There are plenty of blueberries for those that come later.)

Monday, August 16, from 6:00PM to 8:30PM. (200 pickers)

Sign up for these harvests at: http://www.salemharvest.org/harvestlist.php

Please remember that everyone who signs up must already be a registered picker. If you are already registered then you do not need to register again. If you are signing up someone who is not registered, first go to the picker registration page at http://www.salemharvest.org/pickerinsert.php then to the harvest parties page. Pickers cannot be added to the harvest roster unless they are registered.

Neighborhood Harvest runs entirely on volunteer power. In order to host these blueberry harvests, we need 10-15 intake assistants at each harvest to help with parking, checking people in, and weighing buckets in 30-40 minute shifts. Will you help out? It's easy and you still get to pick when it isn't your turn to help. Please respond to Lisa at lclark-burnell@salemharvest.org if you'd like to help make these harvests happen by being an intake assistant; write "Intake" in the subject line. One perk of serving as an intake assistant is that we will squeeze you into a full or closed harvest as a thank you for helping out. And you get the satisfaction of knowing that you made it possible for 200 people to pick berries and that literally a ton of fresh blueberries will go to hungry families. That's a pretty great feeling.

Hens still struggling to break out of the shell in Salem

View of the new hen houseImage by terriem via FlickrFrom Barb Palermo:

The good news is …… the city is sticking to the promised timeline. Notice has been given to the state (required for pending land use changes), the First Reading of the proposed ordinance is scheduled for this Monday night (Aug 16), and city staff is recommending a public hearing (also required) be held on September 13, along with the Second Reading and final vote. If all goes well, we could be legal 30 days after that!

The not-so-good news is …… the wording of the proposed ordinance has significantly deviated from our original agreement. This Monday night I will vigorously argue for a lower fee, fewer inspections, and no distance requirement pertaining to the coop's proximity to the chicken-owner's house. I will also point out that the 120 square foot requirement should apply only to the coop, not the chicken run. You'll see what I mean by reading the latest version of the ordinance here (pdf file).

Once again, I am requesting your presence at Salem City Hall this coming Monday, August 16, at 6:30 pm (555 NE Liberty St, Room 240). In May we had a huge turnout and as a result, they voted unanimously to reconsider the issue. Let's continue to show our city councilors that public support has not dwindled. This is the night they hash out all the details and vote whether to advance the ordinance to the final step!

Please feel free to email me with any questions and/or to let me know if I can count on your attendance Monday night. Thank you!
Enhanced by Zemanta

Another local gem to treasure and keep healthy

There's been a huge surge of support for Salem Cinema, thanks to the many fine people in Salem who just needed a reminder that this town has some real gems.

(Here at LOVESalem, we're very proud to have played a small part in getting out that vital message. Even if some people got a garbled version that suggested that Salem Cinema was going to close in two weeks -- NOT TRUE! The whole point of rallying the community was to make sure to alert people, so that we could act to head off the disaster that it would be if the Cinema had to close.)

Maybe "gems" is the wrong metaphor though -- gems are pretty much indestructible and don't need tending. Better that we think of these places as rare and wonderful creatures then, creatures that add immeasurably to the pleasure of living here, but which also need regular care and feeding. Luckily, that's the pleasurable part -- the effort to see more movies at Salem Cinema is surely no burden.

And, speaking of exotic and wonderful creatures in Salem needing some support and offering real pleasure in return, meet Tigress Books ("Wildly Independent") -- f/k/a "Tea Party Bookshop" until the apparent connection to the Teabaggers became too much. Located at Liberty and Ferry, Tigress is a great local bookstore. Just as Salem profits immensely from having Loretta Miles and her passion for movies, JoAnne Kohler's passion for books and ideas gives Salem a unique bookstore that doesn't look or feel like any other. And, soon she'll be adding gently used books, meaning you can afford to access more of the great ideas that have appealed to other Tigress fans.

So, keep up with the movie a week, and when you want to read the stories in the great movies, drop by Tigress Books.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Big Lie: Highway Projects Help the US Economy

Net international investment Position of the U...Image via Wikipedia

One of the hardest things to notice is when something that used to be true is no longer.

When America was a young country of abundant natural resources and few people, transportation projects that enabled shipment of goods -- canals, plank roads, and turnpikes -- provided a huge economic stimulus, as those projects enabled those abundant natural resources to reach their markets in the East and in the greater world beyond.

And when America industrialized, transportation projects both fed and profited from our new mechanized prowess. Railroads, heavily subsidized, generated huge returns for their owners and (indirectly) for the nation as a whole, enabling our factories to supply the world with goods, even as the mechanized reapers also began to make the Midwest the granary of the world.

Thus, the mental link was forged in the minds of many: transportation projects create long-term economic benefits.

But note: what is true of a producing country is not true of a country that is primarily a consumer. In America of the late 20th and early 21st Centuries, the country that realizes most of the benefits of our freight transportation projects is China, with Japan, Taiwan, India, and Indonesia following up.

Because today, freight COMES to the US, and containers leave empty. That means that all the hot air that the state and federal highway departments emit about the economic benefits of transportation investments is both true and terribly misleading. Transportation projects continue to help manufacturers and sellers, as they historically have.

What has to change is our willful blindness to our new reality that, as a consuming nation that has offshored its manufacturing base and runs a staggering monthly trade deficit (see graphic), each new project sold for its "freight mobility" benefits is really just another vein being opened in the American national body politic. Spending on highways not only just helps the nations selling us goods more than us, it also strengthens our addiction to petroleum, which further runs up our trade deficits. This way lies madness and economic collapse.

Just up the road in Portland, a gigantic multibillion dollar boondoggle known as the "Columbia River Crossing" is being sold as critical for freight mobility. Even if replacing the existing spans with a megabridge would actually increase freight capacity, it's crucial for us to ask, "Does America benefit when imported plastic crap and cars bought with borrowed money reach US markets faster?" To ask the question is to answer it: of course not.

Of course, none of this matters to the Oregon and Washington Highway Departments, salivating over the prospect of having billions of dollars of contracts to let and administer and lots of jobs for the consulting engineering firms, so you can be sure that they will continue to sell the "freight mobility" benefits of their work, confident that most people won't give it a second thought, even as they help bankrupt the country they claim to want to help.

UPDATE: June 2010 trade deficit wider than expected:
WASHINGTON — The U.S. trade deficit surged in June to the highest level since October 2008 and imports of foreign consumer goods hit an all-time high. But U.S. exports faltered, representing a setback for American manufacturers. . . .

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Fruits of the Voodoo breaking out all over

George HW Bush never said truer words than when he called Reagan's plan to cut taxes for the wealthy as a method of fighting deficits "Voodoo Economics."

But, alas, The Gipper, greatly aided by secret negotiations by GOP fixers like Jim Baker with Iran (to persuade them NOT to release the US Embassy hostages before the election) -- negotiations that should have put them all in jail, rather than the White House -- managed to win the election of 1980, which inaugurated a thirty years of bad Republican policies (Clinton) and worse ones (Reagan, Bush the Elder and especially Bush the Lesser), all of which boil down to trying to please the well-off by throwing money at them while they are busy seceding from America, off-shoring jobs and our US manufacturing base in order to obtain even more lavish profits.

Well, the chickens sacrificed for the Voodoo Economics rituals are walking around, headless and bloody, smearing goo and guts all over the rest of America, which is gradually imploding, thanks to a thirty year-long proof that, when you put government in the hands of people who think government is the problem, they make it ever so true.

All over America, libraries are closing up shop. And we're racing to undo a century of progress on countless other fronts as well. Salem and Marion County are certainly not exempt from the woes being felt everywhere. Worse, we are verging on a deflationary spiral where what was once unthinkable is now the new normal.

Sadly, Barry Obama's a much smaller and mousier president than the times require -- his hope and change turns out to have been little but the forlorn hope that the GOP minority would change, as in stop trying to drive America into a ditch from the backseat so they could blame poor Barry, who constantly acted the poor little puppy, begging to be liked, instead of the President, hired to clean up the world's biggest mess after the eight-year frat party that was the Bush/Cheney administration.

Alas, it seems that Barry missed his moment and we will all rue his unforgivable timidity and his failure to understand that you can't cut deals with people whose only real desire is to see you fail.
There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.