Saturday, October 30, 2010

Salem: Map the Commons

Do you appreciate local parks and national forests? What about clean drinking water and your public library? Do you find the internet useful?

Welcome to the commons. Some things are no one's private property — they belong to all of us. They not only enhance our lives; our very existence depends on them. They are priceless and in need of defending.

Oregon Commons, a project of Onward Oregon, is presenting a series of workshops this fall as a step toward our larger goal of strengthening active stewardship of the commons — the gifts of nature and civilization we share across generations.

» Confirm your spot at "Mapping the Commons" workshop (no charge)

Join us for "Mapping the Commons," a fun and interactive workshop designed to help grow our awareness, our network and our commitment to serving the common good. Together, we'll explore the many facets of the commons and identify opportunities to become more active as its caretakers.

This workshop will be at 10:15 a.m. November 13th, at the Main Library in Salem. It's free and open to all, but advance registration is required.

» Sign up now for "Mapping the Commons" workshop

The Team at Onward Oregon

"Mapping the Commons" workshops will be offered:

Saturday, Nov.13th
10:15 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.
Salem Main Library
Salem Plaza Room
585 Liberty St NE

» Sign up now! (no charge)

Mailing Address:
Onward Oregon
P.O. Box 15132
Portland, OR 97293

Contact Name: Lenny Dee
Telephone Number: (503) 609-0340

Monday, October 25, 2010

Getting into this Chicken Outfit

A backyard chicken coop with enclosed run in S...Image via WikipediaGreat roundup of notes from Barbara Palermo, spark plug of the "Chickens in the Yard" (CITY) group:
Habitat for Hens:

A family has been chosen to be the recipient of our first Habitat for Hens event! The family consists of a grandma, grandpa, daughter and son-in-law, along with six kids (most of whom are adopted), and two part-time foster children. They live near the fairgrounds in a home with a large backyard, garden area, and a perfect place for a chicken coop. Some of the adopted children come from very troubled homes and I
believe they would benefit from "chicken therapy." I am very excited to help get this family started raising chickens and I hope you can help.

Jon Henderson, owner of the Old Mill Feed & Garden Store in Dallas, has kindly offered to donate an adorable ready-made chicken coop for this family. We will need to assemble it, attach a nest box, and build a sturdy, predator-proof chicken run surrounding it. We plan to do this, with the help of volunteers, on a non-rainy Saturday or Sunday as soon as possible. Potential dates are October 30 or November 6, 7, 14, 20, or 21. The date will be totally dependent upon the weather, so we may
not be able to give you a lot of notice.

If you are able to help, here's what we could use:

People to help carry things, hold things, hammer things, fasten things (please bring shovels, staple guns, hammers, cordless screw gun, if you have them).

Materials needed: 2x4 lumber, 4x4 lumber (at least 6' long), hardware cloth, bags of cement, 3" screws, joist hangers, bricks or pavers, straw, pine shavings, waterer, feeder.

If you can donate materials and/or labor please contact Kristi at and let
her know what you have to offer as soon as possible. THANK YOU!

Chicken-Raising 101 Class:

There are a few seats left for our first chicken-raising class scheduled for Saturday, November 13 at the West Salem Public Library. Even if you've raised chickens before, you might be surprised by what you can learn. Class is from 9:00 – 11:00 am, and will be immediately followed by a visit to a backyard coop, also in West Salem.
Participants will need to pay $5 at the door (kids under 13 are free) with cash or check. For a list of topics covered and further details, go to and click on the Events page.

Chicken Coop Tour:

Just as they do in Seattle, Portland, Austin, Madison, and Las Vegas. . . Salem residents will be able to show off their backyard chicken coops in our first annual coop tour! The self-guided tour is tentatively scheduled for Sunday, June 19, 2011. If you are interested in having your coop included on the tour, contact Shannon at Also, if you own a business and are interested in selling the coop tour booklets on our behalf and/or advertising in the booklets to help offset the cost of printing, please let Shannon know that as well.
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Sunday, October 24, 2010

The bosses of LOVESalem HQ take a breather

When the temps drop, they remember how nice a friend is.

They hired us to cater to their every need 10 months ago; we auditioned at Salem Friends of Felines and apparently passed muster -- Simon (the black one) took one look at the Mrs. and knew he had found a real sucker --- I mean, sweetheart. Gus was (and remains) quieter; he came up to me quietly and jumped in my lap, settled down, and began purring, letting me know he had picked me. Both were older cats and, therefore, were less likely to be adopted.

The Mrs. was at SFOF recently dropping off a donation, and she said she had to avert her eyes because they are overrun with unwanted cats and kittens, and are bursting at the seams. :^(

If you need more love in your life, go see them. But you can't have these guys, they're taken.

Rebecca Solnit, Invasion of the Democracy Crushers

Common falsehoods pollute the airwaves

Eight False Things the Public "Knows" Prior to Election Day

Friday 22 October 2010

by: Dave Johnson   |  Campaign for America's Future | Report

There are a number of things the public "knows" as we head into the election that are just false. If people elect leaders based on false information, the things those leaders do in office will not be what the public expects or needs.

Here are eight of the biggest myths that are out there:

1) President Obama tripled the deficit.
Reality: Bush's last budget had a $1.416 trillion deficit. Obama's first budget reduced that to $1.29 trillion.

2) President Obama raised taxes, which hurt the economy.
Reality: Obama cut taxes. 40% of the "stimulus" was wasted on tax cuts which only create debt, which is why it was so much less effective than it could have been.

3) President Obama bailed out the banks.

Reality: While many people conflate the "stimulus" with the bank bailouts, the bank bailouts were requested by President Bush and his Treasury Secretary, former Goldman Sachs CEO Henry Paulson. (Paulson also wanted the bailouts to be "non-reviewable by any court or any agency.") The bailouts passed and began before the 2008 election of President Obama.

4) The stimulus didn't work.
Reality: The stimulus worked, but was not enough. In fact,according to the Congressional Budget Office, the stimulus raised employment by between 1.4 million and 3.3 million jobs.

5) Businesses will hire if they get tax cuts.
Reality: A business hires the right number of employees to meet demand. Having extra cash does not cause a business to hire, but a business that has a demand for what it does will find the money to hire. Businesses want customers, not tax cuts.

6) Health care reform costs $1 trillion.
Reality: The health care reform reduces government deficits by $138 billion.

7) Social Security is a Ponzi scheme, is "going broke," people live longer, fewer workers per retiree, etc.
Reality: Social Security has run a surplus since it began, has a trust fund in the trillions, is completely sound for at least 25 more years and cannot legally borrow so cannot contribute to the deficit (compare that to the military budget!) Life expectancy is only longer because fewer babies die; people who reach 65 live about the same number of years as they used to.

8) Government spending takes money out of the economy.
Reality: Government is We, the People and the money it spends is on We, the People. Many people do not know that it is government that builds the roads, airports, ports, courts, schools and other things that are the soil in which business thrives. Many people think that all government spending is on "welfare" and "foreign aid" when that is only a small part of the government's budget.

This stuff really matters.

If the public votes in a new Congress because a majority of voters think this one tripled the deficit, and as a result the new people follow the policies that actually tripled the deficit, the country could go broke.

If the public votes in a new Congress that rejects the idea of helping to create demand in the economy because they think it didn't work, then the new Congress could do things that cause a depression.

If the public votes in a new Congress because they think the health care reform will increase the deficit when it is actually projected to reduce the deficit, then the new Congress could repeal health care reform and thereby make the deficit worse. And on it goes. 

All republished content that appears on Truthout has been obtained by permission or license.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

More like this please!

Hat tip to for the heads up on a cool event. OMSI has a lot of groveling to do before it merits forgiveness for attempting to raid the Energy Trust weatherization fund a few years back -- this is a good first step.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"Living Downstream" -- Thursday, 10/21, Salem Cinema

The Earth flag is not an official flag, since ...Image via Wikipedia"And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books [there is] no end; and much study [is] a weariness of the flesh." -- Ecclesiastes, 12:12

There are many many many books on the environment, and many many many more on health.

And, with few exceptions, nearly even one of those wearying books pales before the disturbing, poignant and powerful book by ecologist and poet Sandra Steingraber, author of, most prominently, "Living Downstream: An ecologist's personal investigation of cancer and the environment."

Haven't seen the movie yet, but it's at the Salem Film Festival Thursday night, and if it's 1/1000th as good as her book, it would be a crying shame to miss it. Support the Salem Film Festival and its work in bringing important movies to Salem -- come see "Living Downstream," and remember that, as Steingraber shows in her moving, unforgettable book, we all live downstream.

Great interview with her here.
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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Another look at a local gem and "A Movie a Week" reminder

As a proud film host sponsor through my job (see logo), went to the Salem Film Festival today* with my bride and the crazy neighbor -- saw an excellent trio of short films all connected by the theme of aging and approaching the end of life. Just another day for the Salem Cinema, bringing lil' ol' Salem, Oregon some of the finest films in the world, for peanuts.

(*still going all week -- see you at "Winnebago Man" tomorrow night and "Living Downstream" Thursday night!)

As Salem Cinema owner Loretta Miles quoted some film-maker or other as once saying, "Nobody ever made a movie and said 'Damn, that's going to look great on the small screen.'" And that's exactly right -- TV and DVDs and streaming videos to HD are still nowhere close to the cinematic experience of sitting in a dark, quiet room with other film lovers, all knowing that you're sharing an experience of wonder and discovery together.

Got me to thinking that I wished I had saved all my Salem Cinema tickets since I started going -- but then I realized that Loretta archives all the showings on the website. So here is all the movies I've enjoyed at the Salem Cinema so far. With your help -- your regular attendance at Salem Cinema -- we'll be able to do this again in a year and for many years after that, keeping track of our unbelievable luck to have Salem Cinema and Salem Film Festival bringing us these gifts. (Looking through these archives is amazing -- there are SO many great movies that I missed! My punishment will be having to watch them on DVD, a pale imitation of the real movie experience.)
[Asterisks are my personal rating only, from * (meh) to * * * * *(speechless)]

Young@Heart United States. 2008. Documentary. * * * *

The Counterfeiters Austria/Germany. 2007. * * *

Son of Rambow UK. 2008. * * * *

Then She Found Me United States. 2008. * * *

The Fall United States/India. 2008. * * *

Religulous United States. 2008. * *

Slumdog Millionaire UK. * * * * *

I've Loved You So Long France. * * * *

The Class France. * *

The Great Buck Howard United States. * * * *

The Brothers Bloom United States. 2009. * * *

Goodbye Solo United States. 2009. * * * *

Sugar United States. 2009. * * *

Food, Inc. United States. 2009. Documentary. * * *

Sita Sings The Blues United States. 2009. Animated. * * * * *
(rating is on the big screen --- * * * on a TV)

In the Loop UK. 2009. * * * * *

The Ghost Writer UK. 2010. * * * *

A Town Called Panic France. 2009. Animated. * *

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Sweden. 2010. * * * *

Solitary Man United States. 2010. * * *

Cyrus United States. 2010. * * * *

The Secret in Their Eyes Argentina. * * * * *

Ondine Ireland. 2010. * * * *

I Am Love Italy. 2010. *

Mid-August Lunch Italy. 2010. * * *

The Girl Who Played With Fire Sweden. 2010. * * * *

Get Low United States. 2010. * * * *

Winter's Bone United States. 2010. * * * * *

Micmacs France. 2010. * * * * *

The Tillman Story United States. 2010. Documentary. * * * *

How about you? What is the best film you've seen at Salem Cinema?

Friday, October 15, 2010

As should Salem and Marion County

Plastic bottles before processingImage via Wikipedia
9. Oregon county bans bottled water
Multnomah County became the first in Oregon to ban bottled water from all county meetings and functions. From now on, the county will serve pitchers of cool liquid from the tap -- and save itself thousands of dollars. Oregonian 10/14/2010

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Word: Recognizing the elephant in the doctor's office

From The Lund Report:

It‚s Time for Doctors to Reclaim Ownership of Their Profession We can't sustain rising healthcare costs and, more urgently, we can't sustain the aftershocks of a healthcare bubble bursting

By: Dr. Kris Alman . . .

It must be understood that doctors no longer own their own shingle. When post-World War II America ceded healthcare to employers, insurance companies inherited a cash cow. Individuals, families and businesses now realize that insurance companies cannot deliver a product that can be consumed for their benefit when profits are involved. The conundrum is very basic. Health is a societal investment and not a commodity that can be consumed and marketed as healthcare. For-profit healthcare creates perverse incentives for those who profit from the unhealthy and the worried well. Employers, tired of insurance companies profiting from their employees, are marketing a new paradigm of managed care through self-insuring. Consumers should be wary of "roadmaps" for employer health management and value-based benefit designs. Values will be compromised for the sake of value. Market-based healthcare demoralizes the doctor. I left my career as an internist and endocrinologist over ten years ago, when I was at my prime. My integrity was too compromised by the compromises the market demanded of me. Many of my physician friends envy my good fortune married to a radiologist who gives me that choice. But I still mourn the loss of my career especially since I know there are critical needs for primary care doctors. Market-based health care won't work. Quality healthcare depends on a trusting relationship between the doctor and patient, an art that that is unquantifiable. Yet we're reassured that healthcare reforms will be evidence-based. Even a spoonful of sugar doesn't help swallow "evidence-based" research cooked by PhRMA and medical device companies. Healthcare reforms were adopted from the evidence-based playbooks of No Child Left Behind. I assure you doctors will be treating to the HEDIS test. This approach is impersonal and non-specific. . . .

We already have rationed care. The question is who should who should determine how we ration care: doctors or employers and insurance companies? Doctors must reclaim ownership of their profession and demand full transparency of healthcare costs. They'll better grasp the inherent inequities that arise from the multiple payers and deniers of employer-based healthcare. In doing so, doctors can reassert true value to the care they give and to healthy values we, as patients, must embrace. We can't sustain rising healthcare costs and, more urgently, we can't sustain the aftershocks of a healthcare bubble bursting. ================== Dr. Kris Alman retired from healthcare to become a citizen activist for a healthier democracy. She advocates for fair taxation to invest in our common goods--prioritizing education, renewable energy, campaign finance and healthcare policies and laws.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Seattle shows the way: Bans phone book littering

Truck load of ponderosa pine, Edward Hines Lum...Image by The Library of Congress via FlickrAwesome. Salem City Council folks, are you taking notes and drafting ordinances yet? If not, why not?
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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Using land to feed cars -- like burning down the house to get some light

GrainPrices US farm corn wheat soy 1990 2008Image via WikipediaFrom the ASPO-USA Peak Oil Review weekly newsletter:
Last week the USDA released a revised estimate for US grain production this year that shocked observers. The new report cut US harvest projections from corn, soybeans and wheat. The reduction in terms of bushels was the largest in nearly 40 years. Although the harvest is expected to be the third largest ever – 12.7 million bushels – the increasing call on US agriculture to make up for shortfalls around the world should lead to much higher prices as more nations move to restrict exports.
As we saw two years ago, the imposition of food export bans by governments fearful of the domestic unrest that could result from grain shortages led to higher food prices around the world.

The conversion of corn into ethanol for motor fuel is using up US corn reserves which are expected to fall to the lowest level in 15 years. In the past four years, the US has had its four largest corn crops ever and supplies are still tight. Due to the rapid expansion of the corn to biofuels program that began in earnest five years ago, there is little spare farm land that can be brought into production. This suggests that high corn prices could lead to shortages of other crops as farmers react to high corn prices. Given the bad economic conditions, US food companies say they are reluctant to pass on price increases to retail consumers.

Ironically, the price surge comes just as the government is expected to approve the marketing of 15 percent (E15) ethanol blend for use as a motor fuel. This move could, in theory, increase the demand for corn-based ethanol from its current 12-13 billion gallons every year by 50 percent. There is, however, a possibility that the government could restrict its use to vehicles built in the 2007 model year and later. This would greatly complicate the marketing of the product as retailers would have to install new tanks for the E15 and might have to eliminate self-service pumps to ensure that the right blends get into the right vintage cars. All this suggests that it may be some time, if ever, before E15 comes into widespread use.
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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Megabridges are Megadisasters

Someone who cares did a great job warning the powers that be about the upcoming disaster if plans to build a megabridge over the Columbia proceed (pdf).

We need a similar study for the ongoing waste of money called the Salem River Crossing, a dreamed-of third auto bridge.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Seen near the Capitol, Part Deux

Speaking of insane lobbyist power, there's this sign, a perfect commentary on what Salem and Oregon find worthy of exaltation and glory. This plaque is perhaps in the most prestigious spot imaginable -- dead center in front of the Capitol, just on the other side of the fountain, centered on the Capitol mall greensward, we find

a) a monument to, a hero or heroine from Oregon's storied history?
b) A tribute to the brave fallen from the wars?
c) A gentle encouragement to better citizenship?
d) A plaque glorifying a parking garage for cars?

Of course you knew it was d) all along. Truly, we can know a people by what they honor.

Seen near the Capitol

Tobacco lobby missing a beloved pet?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Please note, sign, and forward a link to the petition to the right

Please click on the petition to the right and consider it carefully as we approach the National Work Day on climate, 10/10/10.

Here's what the best thinking is on climate, in a nutshell: humans will use all the oil and gas we can get our hands on, and it's irrelevant to climate stability as to who uses it. And even so, we have a good chance of getting a grip on climate. What we can't survive is coal use, whether mined, or fractured to get at the coal-bed gas.

And we have zero chance of persuading others to forgo coal use unless we lead by example. Oregon is the perfect place for leadership, because we have just one coal plant (Boardman) and it's such an inefficient and dirty pig that we'll see tremendous benefits from its closure or conversion to other fuels.

But its main owner, PGE, is playing the terrorist, pointing a gun at the planet and saying "Yo, here's the offer, you leave us alone and don't make us spend any money on cleaning up this pig and we'll agree to shut it down in 2020 or else" with the "or else" being that they will fight to keep the plant open to 2040 or beyond.

Just as with so many other steps towards environmental sanity, the business fighting progress is the very one that will benefit the most from the measures that they're fighting. It has happened again and again and again, so much so that it's practically an iron law: given any proposed environmental restriction that has costs and benefits, businesses grossly overestimate the costs of environmental improvements, downplay the benefits, and ignore the followup benefits that accrue to society in general (like, you know, a livable planet).

PGE is in an interesting spot because their PR machine is all about being green, even as they operate the single biggest polluting facility of any kind in Oregon. You practically need a microscope and a Ph.D in research to find the word "coal" on the PGE website, so adverse is the utility to admitting that it's a filthy polluter that uses the atmosphere as a sewer for tons of CO2, NOx, particulates, and mercury (not to mention polonium, lead, and a host of other nasties, all of which coal plants emit in tremendous quantity relative to any other source of exposure for society).

So the petition offers a deal: Make the bastards richer for doing the right thing (getting off coal by 2014) than they are getting from doing the insane thing (continuing to burn coal). We shouldn't have to pay people to act sensibly, but that's the way it is. The other side of the bargain is that, after 2014, nobody could make a dime -- not even recover their costs -- for burning coal or selling imported electricity derived from coal.

We can't afford zero progress on coal until 2020 -- and if places like Oregon don't lead the way, that's exactly what we're going to see, zero progress globally. I'm starting into the back nine of life, so this won't affect me too terribly much, but if you have kids or grandkids you care about, then you owe it to them to understand the world PGE plans to unleash on them and why that's not a world you should want to leave them.