Nehelam

mmm, good morning world. I had a great adventure yesterday and am feeling revived and refreshed by it. I spent the day with Duane and Melani who run Summer Lake Hot Springs Resort in Paisley, Oregon. We traveled together to Nehelam where Duane wanted to show me land he had purchased 14 years ago and which he’ll learn more about the fate of today when he meets with investors who supported the purchase. It’s about 10 acres and it has a view of Saddle Mountain and the coastal range looking north. We drove out rt. 53 to get there, and stopped along the way to look at a cavernous creek in some light rain. Being in the Tillamook State Forest reminded me of why I spend time trying to defend the place. It’s such a magical land of creeks, rivers, logging roads, ferns, hemlock and undergrowth. And the rain just makes it all the wetter and greener – so magical.

The Tillamook State Forest is Oregon’s biggest and is the subject of much discussion around the area as it has a special place for many. A number of times in the 20th Century the forest burned and because it was the depression there was the CCC and many others (students, particularly) who traveled to the burned areas and replanted the forests.  People in Oregon have a special relationship with this forest. Nowadays, the forests are clear-cut by local timber companies and some of the money goes to fund local schools and government services. Unfortunately, due to the lack of nearby mills and market forces the logs mostly are cut and shipped directly overseas, to China, I believe.  Since the profits from the logging are tied to local services there is pressure to cut more and more trees thus leaving a landscape that looks trashed.

Photo by Danielle

Lately, our Governor has stated that he is in favor of a more balanced approach that would also take into account environmental factors (there are landslides everywhere) – other species (it’s Spotted Owl and Marbled Murulet country)(and lots of salmon and other fish species) – and recreation (fishing, hiking, camping, white-water rafting).  Unfortunately, it’s quite an uphill battle due to the fact that the Oregon Board of Forestry which sets policy for the forests is mostly made up of timber company owners and representatives.  I’ve testified before the group numerous times in Salem, and they are not swayed by public opinion at all.

More background on this issue can be found here.  And if you’d like to join my Facebook cause page, click here.

We arrived at Duane’s land near Nehelam in a downpour and put on our raingear and bushwhacked through the property, climbing amongst overgrown blackberry brambles and small trees and bushes. I’d seen pictures of the property in sunshine and I believe the views to the north and west are stunning, but yesterday the view was a wall of rain.  And, it felt so invigorating to wander around and be human bushhogs!  After about an hour we were all pretty soaked and we got back in the van and made our way to Manzanita with a detour to the town’s “rebuilding center” which is a collection of recycling and 2nd hand store which was a fun side trip.

We followed this up with lunch in Manzanita and then a wonderful drive home full of conversations about land, business, relationships and our personal stories. Duane and Melani are living a dream – living in the Oregon high desert and meeting interesting travelers from all over the world.  They both have great perspectives on life and are positive, evolved people.  It was such a nice combination to have great conversations and be out in the wilderness and I feel lucky today to have had the adventure!  Here’s to life, may we live it big and large and lusciously!  And, please join me in learning more about the Tillamook State Forest and how to protect it from greed.

100 Year Weather Event, or the future of life in the Pacific Northwest?

My heart goes out to everyone in the Pacific Northwest who is being adversely affected by the current rains.

In the Pacific Northwest we’re used to heavy rain and all that it entails. But the recent rains have led to a level of flooding and hardship that people are calling a “100 Year Event”. I most recently heard people talking about this at Breitenbush where I spent new years and learned that two of the newly built bridges that span trails there had been washed out. Next up have been the January rains which have led to roads washing out, peoples’ houses being flooded and lots of landslides. Some towns like Vernonia, Oregon, seem to be having repeat flood events and the recent news is of thousands having to leave homes around the state, car accidents and lots of property damage.

My main question is “is this global climate change and its effects?” If so, are those who are calling this a “100 year event” actually missing the possibility that this may be how life here will continue to be from now on – rainy, with more and more rain and displacement.

I’ve long been following demographic trends around population growth and have been making the connection between our increased numbers and our effect on the environment. More pollution, species loss, rapid glacier melt, and running out of resources like oil have all been shown to be happening on an upward trend for years. What is less obvious is how all of this effects our world in places like Oregon, where we’re in a situation like the frog in the slowly heating water – we probably won’t change what we’re doing until the heat is turned way up, otherwise, the frog, in this scenario slowly boils and dies. Now, with the current rain, we have a warning sign that can’t be ignored.

Will we be smart and move towards actions that will slow global climate change or will we continue to adjust to its adverse effects and grin and bear it? Some smart moves that I think Oregonians could take that might increase our chances of experiencing a better future would be to plant trees and stop clear-cutting the ones we have. This would improve our (and the rest of the world’s) air quality, help control storm water and erosion problems and keep hillsides from sliding. I also think it would make sense for there to be some sort of program to move people out of floodplains and onto higher ground.

If there’s a chance that this year’s rains might repeat regularly what other moves should we as a society consider to avoid the high costs of the damage and to keep us all safe and dry? I’m sure there are hundreds. Should we be removing any extra pavement that exists as the group Depave works to do? Should we be planting millions of fruit and nut trees to make ourselves more food self-reliant and cut down on shipping costs of food? Are millions of new community and backyard gardens in our future? I’d love to see a state-wide or bioregion-wide analysis done of how we currently use our land and other resources and plug in possible weather events into the equation. I’m sure that would shed light on how prepared we will be for any future contingencies.

Will we learn from the current weather event? I suggest we treat it not like a “100 year event” but plan for the possibility that it may happen again next week, and next year. Let’s plan for the future not be run over by it.

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I posted this article on Daily Kos and there have been 100+ comments in one day. It’s a very interesting discussion of this topic. I highly recommend giving it a read – some very cool analysis, ideas, links and videos on the topic.

Election 2010 – Register to Vote and more

October 12th is the last day to register to vote in Oregon. Moved recently? New in town? Here’s the link to register on-line. https://www.osbar.org/public/vote/Voting.htm

I am trying hard to think what to say about this Fall’s election. It’s the most important election of our lifetimes. And that leads me to the thought that every election is the most important. Here’s why this one is important and why I hope that everyone I know will do whatever they can to encourage everyone they know to register to vote, to help good candidates out (financially, if possible – in person, putting up a yard sign, whatever!!!), and to cast your ballot.

In Oregon: we’re electing a new governor. The choices in this race are stark. As in the presidential race, when you elect the head cheese, you’re basically electing thousands of people – from the heads of various departments, commissions, and all of their various staffs. It’s a big deal – and it generally turns out to be a popularity contest – and that is helped along by fundraising – and now there are no holds barred on that fundraising – it can come from anywhere, at any level. So, please, look closely at this race and others and see where the money is coming from and what the candidate and his minions will be about. My hunch is that the State House and Senate will stay in Dem hands. Having an R governor will make it much harder for the legislative body to do much of anything (The Gov signs off on most of what is passed, and I don’t trust an R Gov to support what the Dems in the Legislature put forward). So far the Dems in the House and Senate have been doing a better and better job (IMHO) and I’d like to see them continue to govern the state without hindrance. Also, Kitzhaber has been a leader in healthcare issues nationally and I’d like to see what he’ll do on this front. Dudley? Can’t get much of a read on him, but so far am underwhelmed. But please, take a look at this race, it’s important to those who live in Oregon and beyond.  I decided to fully back John Kitzhaber and donated money via this website to his campaign: https://www.actblue.com/entity/fundraisers/22914

Oregon Portland area? Metro Council President. Bob Stacey (happy birthday, Bob), and Tom Hughes. Metro makes a lot of decisions that effect those who live in the Metro area – beyond the zoo and expo center, there’s lots of decisions about land-use planning. Stacey was the former head of 1,000 Friends of Oregon and will be a more careful steward of something I love – something that makes Oregon stand out around the country, and that’s the Urban Growth Boundary. When you leave the Metro area you hit countryside. I like that, and believe that Stacey will be a better steward of our rural areas and keep them from turning into industrial parks. There is a huge emphasis on bringing more jobs to a place via building industrial parks. I don’t buy it, and would prefer that we work with what we have – there is tons of land that is vacant within the urban growth boundary; there is tons of vacant office space – IMHO we don’t need to turn our farmland into more of anything but farmland. But that’s another discussion for another day. I’m an environmentalist. I work to preserve farmland, forests and other natural things. Everyone I know in that world is backing Stacey which has made this an easier decision for me. Again, look at this race and make your own decision, but know that it’s an important one.

For Mult Co. Commission Seat #2 there are two great women working, I’m leaning Kollymore partly because I’ve worked with her in the past and she’s been encouraging me on my anti-idling public awareness campaign, but both women would probably be great here.

Initiatives? Yes, we’ve got plenty. Parks and Wildlife? I’m for it. Med Marijuana – hell yeah! Increasing jail sentences? Nah.  In PDX: Voter Owned Elections? YES! And there are more – please spend some time learning about them, and we’ll have a voting party where we’ll discuss these sometime before the election once people have their ballots.

Beyond the OR boundaries? Well, there’s a lot going on and a lot at stake. Here’s where a call to arms is really warranted.

My good friend, Brian Hasset, a Canadian, follows US politics closer than anyone I know in the US – puts is clearly at the end of this message.

My friend, Mike, sent me this article yesterday detailing what the R’s will do if they gain control of the House and/or Senate. https://www.slate.com/id/2268442/

And, if you want to get more inspiration read some Michael Moore. Or, think it over yourself.

Yes, Obama has not been all that many of us had hoped for. But he’s also done a ton, and there’s a possibility that a ton more will get done (see my comment above about what happens when you elect the head cheese….). Ie, things are happening in executive departments – regulation of industry is coming back into fashion, the EPA is getting back into the business of protecting us again, and we have a new healthcare reform that will make sure that people get healthcare.

That said, there are many disappointments, and we all know them – the economy, wars, don’t ask don’t tell, etc. But none of this will improve with the R’s in control of either legislative house. The stew that is our legislative branch will turn into cement/gridlock, call it what you will.

So, what can you do? Well, if you live in SW Washington, you can vote for the Dem. If you live in Salem or thereabouts, you can vote for Schrader (D). Yeah, that’s my recommendation, that you and everyone you know vote for the Dem in every House and Senate Race in the Country. There may be a rational Republican out there that I don’t know about – but lately they’re becoming more and more tea-partyish/Palinesque (and not the Monty Python sort) – and that’s not the country we want to live in. So, until the Republican party wrests itself back from the fear-mongering, irrational, fascistic mess that its become, they shouldn’t be encouraged by being given the power to legislate.

Thanks for listening to my thinking. I know it’s not perfect, and somewhat simplistic, but the main point I want to stress is: vote. Research what’s going on in this election, and encourage others to do so. And then vote. Make sure your friends are registered to vote. Take a moment and help them do it – soon. In Oregon, October 12th is the last day to register, but don’t wait that long.

Thanks,

Albert Kaufman

https://albertideation.com/2010/09/12/this-falls-elections-are-important-please-dont-sit-them-out/

Brian sez: “If you don’t vote, you ARE voting for Sarah Palin.

If you whine that somebody isn’t progressive enough, you ARE voting for Agent Orange to control the House.

If you vote for a third party, you’re voting for the Third Reich to retake control.

If you think you’re too cool to vote, you’re voting for hell to freeze over.

If you think the Democratic candidate isn’t perfect enough for you, you’re voting for the repeat criminals to take over the asylum again.

If you’re thinking you’re beyond all this petty voting stuff, then you should be in a petting zoo.

This is between Democrats and war criminals, between a party that wants health care and one that wants waterboarding.

If you think you’re too good for politics, then you aren’t good enough to be an American.”

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Albert Kaufman