I am back in the beautiful mountains of southern Oregon, the Siskiyou bio-region on the Rogue River watershed. This is where I came when I first moved to Oregon eight years ago. It is a wonderful place, surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty and inhabited by really awesome people. A gathering of like minds has occurred in many regions, but none as dynamic as what I've experienced here as I've gotten to know this community.
The people of Oregon have been very effective at organizing to oppose political measures and maneuvers that further aggress against the people and the land. Activism to draw attention to a cause is one thing, and activism that involves patient, years-long struggles within the current political and legal paradigm is something else. These people are keeping busy, paying attention to what laws get proposed, organizing to raise awareness on key issues, and fighting really hard to maintain some semblance of protection for those few places that still remain where nature is pristine and intact.
The Mount Hood community had a mighty struggle with Nestle, who wanted to start bottling almost 120 million gallons of water a year from Oxbow Springs. The community organized and they successfully banned industrial scale water bottling. Participating in the political process is not something I generally advocate, but in local cases like these, it really makes a difference.
Oregon voters also have a record of defending the rights of the people. Oregon has been a long time reformer in cannabis, allowing people to legally grow and use cannabis for medical reasons as early as 1998. Even for non-medical users, pot was more or less decriminalized in many parts of Oregon. And now, of course, it has been made legal for recreational use. Whether or not you like pot, you can surely understand how much better it is to not be sent to jail for possessing an herb.
Medical suicide is also legal in Oregon. We're still living under the regime of force and violence here, but Oregon is among the most free and permissive states in the union, as far as certain issues go. New Hampshire maybe is a little bit more free, but it's hard to measure these things!
In Southern Oregon in particular, we have a very active and effective community of protectors and organizers. Both Josephine and Jackson counties have passed referendums to ban GMO crops, protecting the many seed growers here who grow heirloom varieties. Both Talent and Ashland have pioneered a program called Bee City USA, working with local government to pass laws against pesticide spraying. Pollinator gardens are promoted, and awareness about the importance of our pollinator allies is being spread.
My friend Kristina Lefever has been instrumental in this effort, running the Pollinator Project Rogue Valley. They promote legislation that protects pollinator species, they monitor areas being sprayed by the county with different kinds of pesticides and herbicides, and they do what they can to bring more properties and land into the no spray zone.
A recent campaign has involved the proposal of a bill to ban the sale of neonicotinoids to non-licensed operators. Essentially, lots of garden and lawn pesticides use neonicotinoids, which are related to nicotine, and aretoxic and addictive. They have proven to be devastating to bee populations, and they really shouldn't be in use at all, but that would be an even harder thing to accomplish, so we take what steps we can.
Bill SB 929 is one step in the right direction, limiting the amount of poisons that are available to regular consumers. Monday March 27th is a hearing before a Senate Committee discussing this bill. A team of people from this area are driving up to Salem to talk to the government folks about why we shouldn't be spraying poison everywhere and killing off the bees.
There are a number of ways you can support this cause, whether or not you live in this area.
- Send a quick form letter, and add in a short paragraph of your own if you like - this will go straight to the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee. http://www.beyondtoxics.org/2017-oregon-state-legislative-bills/need-take-action-save-oregons-bees-now/
- Submit a longer letter - see this link for a number of talking points and the links to the Senator's emails:
- Endorse the bill (for businesses and organizations): (thank you to those who have already done so!)
- Sign the petition to let our legislators know you care!
- Like this FB event page https://www.facebook.com/events/1411003215637573/
and see more posts on PPRV's page https://www.facebook.com/PollinatorProject/
- Go to Salem to bee in the audience! We have a van leaving at 8am on Monday, 3/27 Contact Kristina Lefever
This will be an ongoing effort, and it's but one of many causes that are rallying local support and action. Though I have lived in this area for a long time, I haven't been as involved in these causes as I would like. I was in Texas for most of the GMO ban initiative, and even when I lived near Ashland for a year and half just recently, I wasn't able to put a whole lot of time into volunteering and showing up. I did what I could though. I went to a big event that several different groups created, called the Pollinators and Pesticides Conference, which was very informative and fun.
Also, my family marched with the pollinator group for the Forth of July Parade, and I took the girls to a city council meeting once to thank them for protecting the pollinators in Ashland. A major component of the kind of unschooling we practice involves being active in the community and taking the girls to these kinds of events. It's hard, though, to have time to participate in all that goes on when you run gardens and have three kids to make meals for three times a day.
I love spending time in Ashland. There are so many awesome people here doing great work, and having a good time at it. I wish I had more time here now, but the road is calling me. I keep in pretty good touch with folks out this way though, so even as I'm on tour out east, I'll be posting links to various things happening out here, as I consider the Rogue Valley to be a leader in community rights and organized civic action, and I consider it to be home.
Just the other day there was a big demonstration against a proposed LNG pipeline, with turnout far exceeding the proportions of a town our size. We also saw this at the OMMP hearing that took place last year, which I covered on Permagora. Those who run the corrupt institutions of force hope more than anything for us to be a concupiscent population, too lazy or ill-informed to stand up and call them out.
Around here, you've got to get up pretty early in the morning to get a drop on the community leaders and the army of ordinary folks who can be mobilized like minutemen to stand for a worthy cause. If every community in this country, or heck, even a tenth of them, developed this kind of vigilance, the machines of power that control our world would grind to a halt, and the movement towards freedom and self-determination would then be unstoppable.
So don't just sit there. Get out and do something about it. Find the local groups in your community. If there aren't any, start one. With the internet, you can find like minded people for just about any pursuit or interest, so reach out and see who else might be out there. Everyone single one of us has work to do in order for this whole story to turn out okay. So let's get to it!