2014


Fear

Television’s Tea Party blondes and their masters have been working overtime to keep Americans confused and scared. White Americans believe them because they are the antithesis of those scary, protesting African-Americans and those ebola-infected, swarthy ISIS terrorists who are even now swarming across “The Border”. The Mexican border matters because there’s a bunch of foreign-speakin’ brown-skinned people beyond it. Nobody mentions the 5,500-mile border with Canada, or our twelve thousand miles of open coastline.

A touring Kenyan choir of orphans was turned away from a Midwest venue because they’re from the ‘country of Africa’. Election-year dirty tricks like this, designed to embed the meme of fear of Africans, Latinos and African-Americans (such as our President), are typical disinformation tactics of an imperial state that needs its citizenry ignorant, preoccupied with trivia and paralyzed by irrational fear.

The system relies on force, greed and lack of empathy. It is a strident backlash to the rise of women in society, a rise that our book Seduction Redefined and our film series, An Activist’s Undying Dream, promote. The pressing need is for more empathetic women, secure in their Feminine strength, not suppressing it and playing the boys’ game, to be acting in partnership with men in all endeavors.

Rites of Passage

Throughout our history as a species we have been community-building, social animals. We value altruism and loving relationships. For hundreds of thousands of years, we lived in egalitarian groups in which warlike behavior was an extreme anomaly. Even now, despite the obscene amounts of money spent on killing one another, most of us live peaceful lives in which we get along with our neighbors and form close-knit communities. We value the empathic Feminine in our humanity.

The lust for war, super-aggressive and destructive actions as a cultural norm and the predatory greed of sociopathic capitalism are all based on skewed ideals of masculinity. After millennia of male dominance, the most aggressive traits are exaggerated and revered. The powerful Feminine that once restrained antisocial behavior has been suppressed, replaced by a dysfunctional Feminine that supports dysfunctional men.

Our species’ hope is the revival of the Feminine in all of us, in partnership societies, not hierarchies, and in rites of passage for young men; to teach service to others, strong character, trust and trustworthiness, discipline without blind obedience, curiosity, responsibility, inventiveness, bravery without foolhardiness, empathy and concern for all beings – all the traits that once won female attention to prospective mates.

 

Tourists

Seeing the traffic that snails along Highway One, we have to assume that most people do not live where they want to be. Give them a day off and they’re driving somewhere else.

And who can blame them for coming here? The Park Service takes credit for attracting ALL the tourist dollars spent in West Marin, but then there are the visitors who stay on the eastern side of Tomales Bay – the people who come to kayak and bike, to drive and sightsee, to eat oysters, pastries, veggies, meats and cheese, to chill out and meet the eccentric people livin’ la vida local.

We do our best to satisfy the latter, striking up conversations with total strangers wherever we find them. In fact, we’ve talked to so many visitors that we humbly take credit for all tourist dollars spent from Point Reyes Station to Valley Ford!

GoogleMaps are useless in Marshall, so visitors have to use their own navigational instincts or ask for directions. And we’re glad to encourage them to lose their urban social detachment and chat for a while.

If only more of them glanced in their rearview mirrors while they’re dawdling along with a train of cars behind them…

Bidet

We are ready with sponge and chamois for the next big rains, so that we can wash our car. We like the idea of sparing our spring-water supply by allowing our vehicle to develop a West Marin patina. And we like not showering every day for the same reason, only doing so when we develop a patina of our own! But our greatest pride in water-saving (and paper-saving) is the Bidanit bidet attachment on our toilet.

It’s simple, cheap and durable. We’ve had ours for over ten years, and it still leaves us refreshed and in much less need of a shower. If we visit somewhere now that doesn’t have a bidet, it seems primitive and unsanitary not to be able to wash ourselves easily after pooping. And imagining the unclean state of Americans’ nether parts is a bit disquieting. Not to mention the amount of shower water they use or the toilet paper needed to achieve lesser results than a bidet attachment provides.

There are more complicated bidets available (hot and cold, air-drying), just as there are carwashes instead of sponge and bucket. But we prefer the simple cleaning method and installation of our cold-water bidet. Very invigorating, especially in winter!

Good News

Cultural Potholes are the hidden facets of culture that affect daily life; the big or small, good or bad things that seem immutable or are simply ignored because of their enormity or familiarity.

From Mow&Sow’s anti-pesticide, sustainability campaigns, through Baring Witness and Wargasm’s pro-peace actions, to revealing the physical markers of left and right-brain influence in BrainLines, and to Seduction Redefined, applying evolutionary theory to relationships, all our activism has been about Cultural Potholes.

In one of our archived video interviews, we recently listened to the hopeful message spoken by Geoffrey Miller, Ph.D., professor of evolutionary psychology. He said that the way out of the nightmare of patriarchal societies with their emphasis on individual power, wealth and aggression is through women’s mating preferences.

If women collectively decide that they will only accept certain traits in their mates – e.g. kind, intelligent, empathetic, magnanimous, creative, supportive, good dads, as opposed to warmongers who get status through aggression, coercion, domination and greed – men’s priorities would change in very short order.

Every so often, amid the seemingly relentless campaigns by sociopathic corporations and fanatics to bomb, spray and poison us out of existence, we are heartened by such glimmers of hope from Mindful Males.

Making a Mark

While we were away from home for a few days, the swallows departed, the godwits returned to Marshall Cove and caterpillars feasted on our kale. Time and tide, migrations and life carried on. A small, salutary lesson that the other species will get along just fine, maybe better, without us.

As the prospect of our disincarnation looms larger, sometimes we wonder what will have been our impact upon Earth. For most of us, a few members of our own species might notice our absence, but in the larger landscape, who or what has been changed by our presence?

When a beloved celebrity dies, or an unsung teenager is killed, their passing might inspire sadness, rage, introspection, vengeance or examination of principles.

Humans tend to seek tangible evidence that we have made a difference. Some do their utmost to leave their marks or stains on the world. Some will be remembered for good or bad deeds for, at most, a few human generations.

But at the quantum level, every step, every breath, every thought alters something in the universe. All of us create ripples in the universal energy field. There, everywhere, our chosen positive or negative influence can create infinite change.

The Homegrown Nuclear Threat

This is the anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the only time that nuclear weapons have been used ‘in anger’ against human beings.

General Electric developed the Nagasaki bomb at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation on the Columbia River, WA. Decades of nuclear dumping made Hanford the most toxic site in the U.S., which also houses the Columbia Generating Station, with GE nuclear reactors.

The nuclear power industry has a history of brave whistle-blowers, the primary safety control in an industry that produces the most toxic substances known. For example, the “GE Three” were engineers who exposed the design flaws in GE’s reactors. GE continued to build faulty reactors, at Fukushima and twenty-three sites in the U.S., in earthquake, tsunami and flood zones.

Profits always win against safety, especially at GE. This fourth-largest global conglomerate pays no U.S. taxes on its billions in profits, indeed it has received billions in refunds. Their business is not providing safe power, but making money.

Perhaps this is a fitting time to consider a class-action suit against GE for damages to health and the environment and to get them to clean up their mess?

Join the first community discussion on everything nuclear at the Dance Palace Church Space on Sunday, August 10th at 5.30 p.m. Learn to protect yourself!

The White Man's Myth of 'Wilderness'

‘Wilderness’ is a white man’s fantasy of pristine Nature. It’s a construct that lets the Department of the Interior flaunt its governance of ‘wilderness’ areas while declaring other parts of the natural world unworthy of such care. Some of the worst polluters and extractors are permitted to have their way with what are deceptively called ‘public lands’.

As Mark Dowie illustrates in his book, Conservation Refugees, the sainted John Muir considered the Miwoks in Yosemite “unclean”, therefore they had “no place in the landscape”. Thus these survivors of earlier ethnic cleansings were evicted from their Valley, even though they had for millennia tended crops, shaped the landscape and prospered, while causing little more harm than their fellow species.

The ‘wilderness’ concept was exported anywhere that local people were deemed unworthy of gaining livelihood from their lands. ‘Wilderness’ was cleared of all shabbily-dressed, swarthy workers so that gallant explorers in stylish microfiber can enjoy the view of ‘pristine’ Nature; a Nature constantly groomed by personnel, pesticides and machinery.

We still have a chance to burst this fantasy bubble and admit that humans engaged in sustainable agriculture have always had a place in ‘wilderness’. Our species was formed there. We can re-learn that humans and Nature can co-exist without harm, especially with oversight, partnership and care.

Pro-Degradation

One of the nightmares of activism of any kind is the burnout that occurs when we’re overwhelmed by the enormity of the forces ranged against us. Even if we’re successful in one issue, another huge problem will crop up. Activists sometimes have to change tack for a while, just to maintain sanity.

We recently found archives from 2002 of an interactive installation we hung on the Grandi Building, called “Pro-Degradation”. It created lots of public interaction, and even front-page insults (“lumpenproletariat out-of-towners”) from David Mitchell, then owner of the Point Reyes Light. But even bad publicity helps get the message out.

It lifted our spirits back then, when lies were justifying war, to do something so tongue-in-cheek as a reminder of the danger of unconscious acceptance of the status quo.

The show encouraged maximum consumption (“Drive more, breed more, war more, flush twice…”) in order to save other species by making life untenable for our own.

While the tone was ironic, the question was serious. Should the apparent death-wish of our species be granted, if it’s the only way to reduce our inevitable impact on the biosphere?

Pro-Deg still lightens our hearts during frustrating times. Rather than telling humans NOT to do something, it recommends they DO MORE!

Extinction by Population

Every day there are 227,000 more of us, and every day dozens of our fellow species become extinct.

Our proliferation and profligacy are the main causes of Earth’s current mass extinction. Species are dying out at a rate of over 1,000 times the natural rate of extinction.

Humans are accustomed to striving for excess, stuck in our destructive consumptions, too proud of our ‘progress’ to think of easing back. That rapacious pattern was formed when there were far fewer humans
and continues even though there are now over 7 billion of us, with far more damaging tools and weapons.

The Human Touch is everywhere – our nuclear fallout and carbon footprints, our toxins and trash, our ravaged landscapes, our insatiable thirst for resources and disregard for ‘lesser’ species. The ‘civilized’ world plundered its ex-colonies, but the rulers of  ‘developing’ countries yearn for the lifestyle that is accelerating the current wholesale extinction of planetary life.

Should we just sit back and watch nature documentaries about disappearing animals, enjoying our own creature comforts that our great-grandchildren will hear of only in legend? Or defy tradition and our male gods and make contraception freely available to all women everywhere?

Women free to choose are cultural change-makers.

The Human Brain - Frightening & Enlightening

The human brain gives us a lot for which to be grateful and fearful. Its ability to imagine gives us constantly shifting boundaries to cross, even if we often cross them without considering the consequences of our actions. It made us clever, social, emotional, imaginative and dangerous.

The human brain drew heroes and animals in the night skies and turned tribal campfire tales into religions to help formalize the concept of our superiority over every other species.

We pictured ourselves as the center of the universe and became the prime predators on Earth. We invented souls and spirits to give us a sense of immortality, and devised weaponry to put others’ immortality to the test.

Just as we put humans above everything but our gods (whose ‘divine word’ we edit to our own benefit), we put the male half of our species above the female half. We appreciate our brain’s ability to dull chronic pain when we’re talking and laughing.

We love its mirror neurons that create empathy and we love the love that it makes us feel. So care for it by feeding it with new neural connections, and talk, laugh and love more every day.

Most of all, don’t get old in your mind!

Childfree - the otherhood of Mother's Day

Last Sunday was Mother’s Day, and Cultural Potholes celebrated mothers and non-mothers. Childless women are a growing population, according to a survey called “Shades of Otherhood”, conducted by the PR company DeVries Global to inform their clients about this growing consumer base. We think we can trust their figures, since they stand to gain enormously by their accuracy.

The report found that 47% of U.S. women between the ages of 20 and 44, that’s 19 million women, do not have children.

Contrary to media stereotypes, they don’t blow their savings on expensive shoes, they are not all career-obsessed, unhappy or lonely. They are independent, decisive about their life paths and seek financial stability and freedom of movement before, perhaps, deciding to have children later.

Currently, one fifth of women enter menopause without having had children, and that number is rising.

Childfree women do have children in their lives – offspring of friends and family – but 80% of The Otherhood say they could lead a happy life without kids of their own.

As Womanhood is separated from the ‘norm’ of Motherhood, we can honor those single, partnered or married, straight or lesbian women who have chosen not to add to our population.

The report is at http://bit.ly/SYxBeP .

Expecting - the Worst

From politics to partnership, expectations can be problematic. In the casino of Wall Street, analysts’ expectations must be met or woe betide the company that disappoints. At the beginning of a romance, a young woman entranced by ‘eros’ might fantasize a rosy future together with her lover, complete with children and unending romance. She will be devastated when the companion of her dreams succumbs to his innate fear of long-term commitment and disappears.

How can unfulfilled expectations be avoided?

In new relationships, stay in The Now. Even if you have dreams of a future together, don’t expect him to overcome his fear until much more ‘time and materials’ have been invested.

In politics, rife with corruption and deceit, we have all learned to take candidates’ pledges with a pinch of salt. Yet we have expectations that their promises will be kept. Is that wishful thinking or are we truly being betrayed?

Is it possible that the ‘boys’ have been in majority power for too long?  Is it possible that if more women were voted into office there might be less corruption, more cooperation and greater accomplishments?

And are pessimists happier than optimists, since their expectations are always met or exceeded?

Nature Soul

As some celebrate their religious rituals, we celebrate the return of the swallows and shorebirds, the flawless mating plumage of the herring gulls, the swimming deer, the beetles, butterflies, spiders and even the aphids and caterpillars that share our food plants.

None of these creatures possesses a “soul”, we are told by those who “know”, and none of them depends on a capricious god to tell them “right” from “wrong”. They continue their existence despite Man’s best efforts to “improve” and “manage” them, and some of their species will still be here after we have made life untenable for everyone else.

Our constant rapture over Nature in all its complex glory was reinforced recently by an urban film crew, filming us as “just another species”.* Their cameras and fresh, wondering eyes rekindled the thrill of being part of life here in our precious and imperiled home.

The incredible complexity and interconnectedness that we cannot see, and therefore forget, too easily becomes a backdrop against which we try to live our fullest lives. We suggest pausing for a while, being grateful for the fleeting ability to appreciate it with our physical senses before we disperse into Nature and become part of it all.

*Film subtitle: There are only two problems on the planet: men and women.

Chemicals, Evolution, and God

The use of pesticides on crops is insidious. Not only does the poison affect the land and all life-forms where it is applied, the residue in food, feed and seed affects every organism that eats them. For instance, conventionally-grown hay, even if it’s non-GMO, is sprayed with pesticides in the field and treated with drying agents and preservatives when harvested.

Livestock cannot see these chemicals, nor can we. Haybales are fun for kids to play on and for parents to sit on during barn dances or, ironically, during presentations by environmentalist authors. Meanwhile, chemical loads in our bodies are increasing, and incidences of cancer are rising in our pets, livestock and our children.

Product safety testing is usually done by university labs funded by Big Ag/Chem/Pharma. But some countries, e.g. Brazil, are moving to ban glyphosate – the active ingredient in RoundUp. Not the U.S., where an ex-Monsanto executive heads the USDA.

Damage to our bodies and the planet from pollution, radiation and chemicals are avoidable, yet we seem determined to continue doing harm. Evolution cannot keep up with our “progress”. Or perhaps the Intelligent Design was faulty.

Is it time for a product recall? How about a class action suit against God?

BrainLines

Body language says a lot, if you can translate it. Horoscopes, Enneagrams, Myers-Briggs Types and Jungian archetypes give us ways to examine and understand behaviors. But what if it were as simple as looking someone in the face to read their personality?

Aging shows itself in aches and pains, experiential knowledge, perhaps wisdom and definitely in wrinkles. Millions are spent each year in combatting wrinkles, especially those frown lines between the eyebrows. But what if there were a reason for the existence of those lines that goes beyond worrying and squinting?

We’ve been thinking about these questions for many years, and believe we have an answer for both, one that can help us all know ourselves better. We refer to those vertical ‘frown lines’ as BrainLines, because they are the physical markers of left- and right-brain propensities, the foundation of personality. They are formed by the action of our brain hemispheres on the musculature at the center of the forehead. That’s why, when we look at childhood photos, we see the same BrainLines we now have. We are born with them!

We suggest that you don’t paralyze your face with Botox, but learn to love your BrainLines. They’re not wrinkles, they’re thinkles!

Progress

“Why does he act this way?” a woman friend recently asked, about her boyfriend. Men’s behavior patterns are based on mating displays that were successful in the past.

Men messed up their evolution by creating a patriarchal stranglehold on selection of mates through arranged marriages, male selection of females and the suppression of women. Men could act as they wished, since women’s preferences now meant so little. The criteria for mating suitability were skewed away from female choice towards male preferences, which then became exaggerated and accepted as the norm.

Hence our ‘Alpha Mask’ society, in which men pursuing aggrandizement at any cost are admired, violence is entertainment and sociopathic corporate interests corrupt government. Alpha Mask men are those men desperate to be on top of the pile, but without the innate leadership skills of true Alphas. Left to their own reckless devices, they push every envelope they can find without regard for the consequences, other than personal gain. “Progress” becomes more destructive than supportive of life, hence industrial assaults on the environment, advanced weaponry and the plethora of diseases exacerbated by human activities.

When the Feminine guiding principle regains its equal role in collaboration with the Masculine, human endeavors will once again advance, not impede true progress.

Love

We just celebrated Valentine’s Day, a saint’s day that even the irreligious celebrate, because it’s about the human need for loving partnership.

When we are in the powerful grip of eros – fueled by tsunamis of hormones – we often project expectations on the object of our passion. How often have we met the “love of our lives” during an all-consuming affair and imagined a rosy future together? And how often, once the rush simmers down, do we find ourselves wondering, “Who is this person?”

When we survive the intoxication of eros and actually commit, we begin the soothing but challenging glide into agape – long-term loving companionship. This is often when doubts set in, especially if we have taken religious vows of undying love.

Expectations of eternal passion disappear as we learn each other’s different quirks in day-to-day reality. Dreams of a perfect life together dissolve. Children are born. Parental love replaces lover’s love. Priorities change, complications mount, but in a solid partnership agape love becomes deeper. In relationships built on passionate dreams the “time and materials” needed to maintain agape may become too onerous.

We’re a loving species, despite evidence to the contrary. Love’s rewards are the foundation of life. But it’s work!

Aging & Death

Nobody taught us how to age. Especially how to keep shuffling around, but not off, this mortal coil, while others move on, sometimes, tragically, way too soon. There’s a nagging whisper of guilt in our remaining here, complaining about the inevitable deterioration of our bodies, when someone vibrant and loved is whisked away.

As we age, we ever more frequently witness the passing of those who are dear to us. In the past week, the past year, the past decade, we have seen disease and the torments of inexpressible despair take away too many lights of our lives. With each one, the world seems a little darker. Yet we persist.

We wake in the morning to the beauty of the world and go about the chores and delights of the day, while the deep-seated memories of each of them live on. We know they are everywhere now, pure energy, unencumbered by incarnation. And the very dust of them floats on the wind.

Memory is as real to our minds as the input from our senses. So the beloved will always be right here, a part of us all, and every so often a warm gust from the heart and a catch in our voice will remind us.

Water

The drought had us concerned about our water supply. Our Marshall spring is never more than a trickle, so we imagined the worst. But a quick inspection before doing laundry showed it to be flowing faster than during last year’s rains.

So, clean, comforted and grateful to the spring gods, are we about to become profligate water consumers? Hardly. We are waiting for the next rains to wash our car, which sports a gorgeous layer of spiders’ webs and oyster dust. We do not shower every day, or even every other day (a bidet helps!).

The hydrogeology may be mysterious, but once the water appears above ground, the knowledge of its tenuousness makes us conscious of our consumption year-round. All water systems, rural or urban, need regular maintenance. We know ours from spring to drain.

Over-consumption of resources, especially in cities, comes from a lack of understanding of life-support systems. It’s only in times of shortage that many of us even think about them.

Right now we’re all hoping for rain, but just wait – after a couple of weeks of storms, media weather-presenters will again be talking about “bad weather” as free, fresh water falls from the sky.

2013


Drones!

So the boys are playing with their toys this week as the Feds bring their drones to Tomales Bay.

From the picture of the drone on the December 5th front page of the Citizen, it looks like a single-cylinder gasoline engine with a fan attached to it. If Inverness residents thought leaf-blowers were a pain, how about flying leaf-blowers?!

Will there be any noise limits, or will drones be like Harleys – the louder the better? At the end of the article it mentions “silent drones”(which this model is not), which is even more troubling if they are used for less benign surveillance than bird-spotting.

Do the Feds really need to count birds from the air at all, with drones or planes? Isn’t the Xmas bird count accurate enough for agencies to decide how many birds they deem can be killed – sorry, managed – next year?

Is it just cool tech that they can’t resist and that justifies their budgets? The drone-gamers speak of easier monitoring of inaccessible areas.Fair enough, but Tomales Bay hardly qualifies.

Rolling out drones for bird counts is just, or not even, the beginning, of course. We’ve heard secondhand that a group of motorcyclists were followed by a drone as they rode through Lucas Valley. We’ve seen a couple of, we suppose, private ones in and around Marshall.

So, yes, the drones are coming, and, because they’re such groovy gizmos for the guys, will become ubiquitous eyes-in-the-sky for government agencies, police and private snoopers alike. They will certainly make enforcement easier and they’ll make, for example, aerial pesticide spraying easier – you can bet the Marin-Sonoma Mosquito boys are thinking about drones!

With Google, Facebook, spy satellites, Homeland Security, the NSA and others scrutinizing all our lives, the New Normal is the acceptance of daily surveillance. A couple of drones flying around with cameras might not seem like a big deal,but it’s just the thin end of the wedge. When there are ten, fifty, a hundred unregulated government and private drones buzzing around,where will we draw the line then? When do we begin to think about regulating them? How about right now?

Can we set up No-Drone Zones? How do we enforce privacy issues? Will there be low-altitude restrictions?Instead of shooting ducks out of the sky, can we shoot down drones that are bothersome? We like to think of the sky as a commons(even though it’s governed by the FAA), but if the sky is buzzing with drones, can we who enjoy open skies and open windows do anything to be free of them? When all the people who want to take a cool shot of Drake’s Estero ‘Wilderness’,or of that totally awesome house on the Mesa, send drones up to take videos, will there be any restrictions on noise,numbers, distance or altitude? Will they, for example, be allowed to fly close to seal colonies during pupping season,or close to bedroom windows during mating season?

The time to consider this is before it gets out of hand, not to spoil the boys’ fun, but to preserve at least a semblance of peace and privacy in our lives; to deal with it sooner rather than too late. West Marin is renowned, even reviled, for having residents who think outside the box. If we do nothing to question drones and a drone-filled future, it will be like saying that we don’t care;and if we don’t care, well then, bring on the unrestricted drones.

The concern is not about having something to hide, it’s about not having to feel watched (like sitting ducks) AS IF we had something to hide.It’s about being proactive and forward-thinking. And it’s about peace and quiet in Nature.

Thanks-living Day!

We can always find something to fear or complain about. And then, waking in the morning and looking out the window at where we are lucky enough to live, we remember to be thankful right now.

Although elsewhere Thanksgiving might be just the beginning of the Cargo-Cult Season, we want to share thanks for this place and the people in it. This is meant to be a time of community celebrating the earth and partying before winter sets in.

When our plans for Thanksgiving dinner were changed, we wanted to carry on the tradition of friends and neighbors (even those whose opinions differ) sharing food and thankfulness together. We decided on a Potluck for those who are feeling left out, or are looking for something different to do, or who don’t want to contribute to the huge carbon footprint of holiday travel, or who can’t afford to travel, or who haven’t talked to their neighbors in a while. In short, the Turkey Day refugees.

It’s called the Thanks-Living Potluck, and it will be at the Old Western Saloon (sorry, no kids!) from 4pm on November 28th. Drop in, bring a dish, (we have plates etc.) and Live the Thanks!

Fukushima and the male brain

Nuclear reactors are a product of the ingenious male brain. Nuclear power generation in Japan is a result of male-dominated postwar U.S. policy to force the only country to be bombed “in anger” by nuclear weapons to accept nuclear reactors from the country that bombed them.

The Fukushima nuclear power plant’s faulty design is a result of male-dominated corporate greed and lack of foresight. At the time of its design by General Electric, one of their engineers revealed that it had dangerous flaws. GE’s response was that having to redesign reactors might jeopardize their profit margin, so nothing was changed.

When it became clear that Fukushima could become a catastrophe that would affect us all, offers of assistance from other countries were rebuffed by Japan, a result of centuries of their male-dominated culture’s dread of ‘losing face’ by admitting any need for help.

Cultures that operate on strict male hierarchy and prefer their women to be ‘obedient’ become dangerously dysfunctional.

Corporations whose sole obligation is profit become sociopathic.

Brilliant, focused male brains operating without brilliant, holistic female brains to give balance and a sense of consequence and connection can endanger the planet.

We see all this in play at Fukushima.

The Coast Guard in West Marin

We have essentially a military base in the heart of West Marin, yet we rarely hear mention of the women and men who work and live there.

Out on Point Reyes Peninsula stands the US Coast Guard Communication Area Master Station Pacific (CAMSPAC). It is part of a network that handles communications for military and civilian vessels throughout the Pacific. The Coast Guard is a branch of the armed forces, but operates under the Department of Homeland Security.

With 105 women and men working at this site and at a transmitter site in Bolinas, it is one of the biggest employers in Marin. In Point Reyes Station there are 36 family-housing units, which we suppose means that there are at least 72 residents (about one-twelfth of the official population of the town) whom we cannot recognize as Coast Guard personnel, since the only time we see them in uniform is for about an hour on Western Weekend.

We guess there are Coast Guard spouses working for local businesses, and we suppose we must be mixing sometimes with Coast Guard personnel in town.

We invite any Coast Guard personnel and spouses to introduce themselves. We’d like to get to know this community-within-a-community.

Wildfowl 'management': If it flies, it dies

October 18th is here, and that means Duck Hunting, sorry, we mean Wildfowl Species Management Season!

All over the Bay Area, Licensed Wildfowl ‘Managers’ are buying ammunition, cleaning their 12-gauge Management Tools, training their retrievers and preparing to head for the Tomales Bay Ecological Reserve.

This Reserve adjoins the Giacomini Wetlands, which was created to be a safe haven for bird species, especially the ducks and geese that spend winters here. It’s a favorite with Wildfowl Managers because its convenient location makes it easy for them to shoot the ducks as they fly, unsuspecting, into their protected winter home.

Thanks to generations of dedicated Management, we will never again have to witness gangs of unruly ducks darkening our skies by their sheer numbers. The days of being woken by incessant quacking and honking are gone, replaced by the reassuring sound of shotguns and the splash of dead birds falling to the water.

The Wildfowl Management motto, “If it flies, it dies”, helps us imagine a future when perfect peace will reign in the wetlands and no shot-riddled duck carcasses will wash ashore at Millerton Point.

Meanwhile, don’t wear that silly duck hat while kayaking. You might get Managed!

Fukushima

We who live on a faultline are accustomed to the threat of catastrophe. But the possibility of a Fukushima meltdown is different from a natural disaster. Its prevention relies on humans to do something extraordinary without making any mistakes! And there’s very little public attention being paid to this Pothole.

The operators of the Fukushima nuclear plant, TEPCO, are about to try to remove crumbling fuel rods from a cooling pond 100 feet above ground in a damaged and tilting building, with inadequate equipment. If one of those rods touches another rod in the process, or loses its cooling, an unstoppable meltdown will begin.

In that event, within a few days, our farms and reservoirs will be contaminated by airborne radiation. We will have those few days to leave, or, as the Japanese government advised, seal all doors and windows and “stay indoors for a few days”. But the radioactive plume could continue for decades. That would affect the entire atmosphere, but our West Coast would be affected first.

Nuclear experts from other countries and their equipment should be in Fukushima, helping with the removal process, but the men of TEPCO are saving face and going it alone.

There’s a petition for involvement of worldwide expertise at http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/the-world-community-must .

Display and damage

What personal damage is caused by the Cultural Potholes of fear and misunderstanding?

Women who have lost faith in their innate ability to guide men; who knowingly entrap unwitting men into fatherhood, even though women’s knowledge of their cycles makes them truly responsible; women so pummeled by Guy Culture that they play along with it, despite their loss of identity.

Unbridled, primeval male mating displays translate into cultural habits – men making noise for its own sake; the glittery maw of mass marketing culture; playing the field as a postmodern Lothario; men displaying violence in their personal lives and on an international scale.

Is the polarization taking the place of reasoned discourse based on the same foundation as these dysfunctional behaviors?

We believe the root of patriarchal culture is the male fear of the female. Perhaps that Original Fear has allowed our natural wariness of the unknown to mutate our vital differences into intransigent “red lines”.

The fear and the frustration of our not understanding our differences – male/female, pro/con the issue du jour – is corrosive to all relationships and counters our species’ social nature.

Our strengths are the co-creative feminine and masculine and the differences that unite us.

Plan the ban on abuse of women and children

One of the deepest Potholes in society is the abuse of women and children. It is hidden and perpetuated by fear and blaming of the victims. Damage from violence and sexual abuse passes down through generations until it becomes a tacit cultural norm.

Could West Marin become an example of how to prevent this pervasive cultural illness?

West Marin resident Kate Kain has been working for 16 years as a director of the Center for Domestic Peace, and violence against women and children in Marin County has dropped dramatically. But domestic violence is still the number one violent crime.

Kate gave a rousing presentation at our West Marin Rising event in February. Now she has an ambitious, achievable plan to ban abuse in West Marin within three years. It is called BreakFree West Marin, a project of her nonprofit AmericaNew.

Kate’s expertise makes a cultural shift in West Marin possible, and our area will be a shining example in rejecting, ruling out and replacing abuse.

Please join Kate Kain and us for an exciting evening to “Plan the Ban”, 6.30 p.m. on September 11th at the Point Reyes Presbyterian Church, 11445 Highway One, Point Reyes Station.

Free admission.

Completely preventable: cervical cancer; Completely avoidable: circumcision

Cervical cancer is an easily detectable and preventable cancer that kills over 280,000 women worldwide every year, with the highest death rates in Africa and Latin America. In the USA, the highest death rate is in the Latina population. Regular pelvic exams, Pap smears and, if necessary, removal of abnormal cells are all that is needed to stop this killer.

West Marin locals Joyce Goldfield and Toni Littlejohn have been volunteers for PINCC (Prevention International: No Cervical Cancer) in Central America and Africa. On August 22, at 6.30p.m., Toni will present a fifteen-minute video of PINCC’s work in Africa and Joyce will speak about her Nicaraguan experiences.

Then Marilyn Milos, R.N., founder/director of the National Organization of Circumcision Information Centers (NOCIRC) will talk about the health myths surrounding male circumcision. Cervical cancer risk is often cited as a justification for circumcision, but simple hygiene and safe-sex practices are the obvious alternative to this unnecessary primal wounding.

August 22nd 6.30 – 8.30 p.m. at Point Reyes Community Presbyterian Church, Point Reyes Station. This event is free.

Man Trails

We like to say that women can ‘see’ bacteria. We know it’s not literally true, but it does highlight the general differences between women and men in matters of cleanliness.

Perhaps it’s partly because boys generally are encouraged to go and rough-and-tumble in the dirt, while girls are generally encouraged to play and learn inside. Whatever the cause, when we ask a woman if the man in her life cleans the bathroom “properly”, she generally laughs and shakes her head.

Men generally ‘leave a trail’, perhaps sawdust, fish scales, newspapers, engine oil, smoke, noise or dirty socks. But it gets more serious when we think of some of the companies, corporations and governments created and run by men that leave trails of pollution, destruction, disease and death.

Occasionally some corporation might make a multi-million-dollar settlement for some egregious violation, but they rarely admit wrongdoing even then. Perhaps it’s because we expect, even encourage, such behavior.

Perhaps it’s time to expect men and their institutions to operate mindfully, without making such a mess, to admit mistakes (a major Pothole!) and to make it right by ‘cleaning up properly’ after themselves.

Perhaps we shouldn’t accept that degradation is the price of ‘progress’.

Affordable housing

Many of us out here on the rims of our tectonic plates are living on the edge in more ways than one.

Some of the brightest lights of our community – the vibrant young movers and shakers, young parents and singles, young entrepreneurs and artists, the effervescent spirit that this area so urgently needs, with their brilliance and community consciousness – are struggling to find permanent rental housing.

They will be the future of West Marin, but only if they are given a fair chance to live and work here.

This is increasingly a place of empty second homes, B&Bs and vacation rentals. Apart from the few owners who come and live in them whenever they are unrented, these are exacerbating a dearth of full-time affordable housing for hard-working people with great energy and small bank accounts.

CLAM does terrific work to create solutions. But how about convincing our neighbors who only spend three weekends a year in their “cabin” to help by renting it out, perhaps with three weekends reserved for their use?

How about the Grandi, Ken Wilson?  How about less single occupancy, more sharing?

How about permitting sustainable clusters of pod-homes, Steve Kinsey?

Or is it time to Occupy?

Senior Sex

Women over fifty who are living alone often ask how they can possibly inspire someone to be romantically interested in them. They may be fairly content being alone, while also feeling a need for companionship and sex. Usually the idea of engaging in Senior Sex stops them cold.

AARP and the media now enthusiastically advocate seniors’ sexual experimentation, not sedimentation. Aging boomers are in the market for advice, and the advice is, “use it or lose it!” It’s good for body and mind.

The idea that women in their sixties and beyond can still ‘turn on’ is an inspiration. Women discover that there is sex waaay after menopause! It’s cringeworthy for some younger folks, thinking about grandparents in bed. After all, the effects of gravity on flesh, prostate cancer, hip surgeries and sex are strange bedfellows. But they’re part of life for the post-middle-age – pre-mortem set.

And “you can’t feel wrinkles!”

The practicalities of Senior Sex are certainly more challenging than the comparative falling-off-a-log ease of young adulthood. Joints, organs and glands may be more recalcitrant than responsive, but that can make The Act more inventive and imbue it with a heightened sense of achievement that makes it all worthwhile.

Driving to Walk

Driving along one morning, we saw a neighbor taking a brisk walk on Highway One. We waved, then compared our driving a mile each way to take a walk at our favorite place, while our neighbor was happy to stride purposefully alongside the road.

We like where we walk. It’s a mix of flat and hilly, there’s no traffic to be wary of, the loudest noise comes from ravens, not unmuffled Harleys. We get a good half-hour’s huff’n’puff in serene surroundings.

On balance, we felt we could justify, on aesthetic, health and safety grounds, our driving a mile for good daily exercise, especially when it’s combined with heading to town for a synchronized list of clinic, shopping and socializing.

We pass cyclists and wonder how far they drive their cars to carry their bikes to take a ride. We see dog-owners’ cars at Millerton Point, driven from all around the bay. For some, that’s a 20-mile round-trip – 600 miles a month – to walk their dogs.

Exercise in our string-of-pearls hamlets, whether swimming, cycling, kayaking, yoga-ing or walking, has a carbon footprint. Is it justifiable? Or simply ignorable – until we’re forced to face the problem?

Mindful Males

We recently read the following quotation, attributed to Larry Summers when he was Chief Economist for the World Bank, “I’ve always thought that under-populated countries in Africa are vastly under-polluted.” (Summers later helped pave the way for global economic collapse.)

From our point of view, such hubris is a disheartening effect of runaway mating display traits in those Alpha-Mask Males who recognize no limits, have no conscience and do not accept responsibility for their actions. It is encouraged in our winner-take-all culture and exemplified, for example, in Monsanto branding itself “A Sustainable Agriculture Company”. (A sad irony.)

The antidote is to find examples of Mindful Males, those who, by nature and the nurturing given them, are more conscious of how their livelihoods are made and of the effects of their actions.

We don’t have to look far. Our little bubble of West Marin is filled with Mindful Men working in their own ways to alter our rapacious culture, to lead simpler, more sustainable lives and to be examples of “Real Men” with real empathy, purpose and consciousness.

To all Mindful Men here and everywhere, we thank you (and your parents!) for all you are doing for all of us.

Mothers and childfree women on mother's day

This Sunday is Mother’s Day, and responsible parenting certainly deserves honoring.

When even accidentally expectant mothers are congratulated for becoming pregnant and baby-bulges are universally admired, the sacrosanctity of motherhood can also inspire unprepared, immature young women to gain some kind of self-worth through pregnancies. Children bestow social status and life purpose sufficient unto itself. The subordination of a mother’s own needs and creativity to those of her offspring becomes a moral high ground.

Those who by choice, circumstance or sexual orientation have not added to the population bear some stigma of being barren, selfish, pitiable women who care little about the future and deserve ostracization.

Yet it is possible that childfree women are able to feel empathetic connection to every being, not just their own bloodline. They have time for creative and useful activities and can even help heal the damage inflicted on children by dysfunctional parents.

Mothers and childfree women alike can celebrate this Mother’s Day in West Marin. There will be a celebration of, by and for all women, all day at the Dance Palace, called Women Now.

Part of the afternoon program will be a conversation for non-mothers about their active, satisfying (or not!) lives.

Glyphosate

We recently stopped to take a walk in the Open Space on Lucas Valley Road and discovered six young women and men with backpack herbicide sprayers. They were being taught how to spray glyphosate by Pete Frye, Vegetation Specialist for Marin County Parks.

We were saddened but not surprised by this cavalier show of Monsanto’s influence over government, accustomed as we are to rationalizations by County, State and Federal officials about the use of toxic chemicals on public lands.

We know that superb marketing by Monsanto et al promises easy, clean eradication to officials and major landowners wanting a quick ‘fix’ (until next year).

And we understand that tracts of land require different techniques than a back yard. But not necessarily.

Many local gardeners and landscapers use the same herbicides on their flowerbeds as do Marin Parks, National Seashore and MMWD on their huge acreage.

A recent study, published in the journal Entropy, concluded glyphosate “contrary to being essentially nontoxic, may in fact be the most biologically disruptive chemical in our environment.”

Dirt under fingernails trumps toxics in your garden. We suggest to everyone that wishes to bend Nature to their will, that they use natural means to do so.

Feeding Birds Poisoned Seed

One billion pounds of pesticides are used in the USA every year. Around 672 million birds come into contact with pesticides each year, and 67 million of them die immediately. Longer-term effects on the remainder have not been studied.

Wild birds are exposed to pesticides in crop fields and also at backyard bird feeders, which well-meaning birdlovers fill with grain from those contaminated fields. Here in West Marin, where organic has become the byword for healthy human food, organic bird seed is not available in our stores, only the pesticide-laden kind.

From April 26th to 28th, birdlovers from far and near will attend the Point Reyes Birding Festival, hosted by Environmental Action Committee of West Marin. The attendees will take part in presentations and field trips to the many habitats of West Marin.

We suggest that a special effort be made by EAC and the naturalists involved to inform attendees about the danger of feeding toxic, pesticide-laden birdseed to the birds they want to attract. It seems only fair that any wildlife we feed should not be poisoned at the feeder.

We also suggest that anyone wishing to feed birds ask local stores to stock organics, or buy online.

Subliminal deception

We all like to think that we are clever enough not to be duped, but how many of us, seeing a price tag reading “$14.99”, recognize immediately that the item costs almost $15, not $14?

Gas stations post prices such as “$3.39.99”, but how many of us really see the .99 of a cent tacked on the end?

We saw a house listed for “$1,399,995”, as if that $5 would make a difference to a buyer.

Television is full of manipulative devices, like laugh tracks, teleprompters and lip-synching. The most common background color in TV studios and talent shows is a gaudy neon blue. (We only see TV when away from home, so that unnatural blue is particularly jarring.) When did that color become ubiquitous? Is it merely an imitative habit that networks have fallen into, or is there something attractive and hypnotic about the glitzy color of it that they are exploiting?

If we thought about such small deceptions and manipulations, we’d say they had no influence. But although commonplace, they are not accidental or random, and they can pave the way for greater deceptions.

The subliminal has power to influence us, until we recognize it as a ‘Pothole’.

Rain

While driving, we heard AM radio forecasts of impending “bad weather” – two days of rain. How ironic that when water, an essential ingredient for life, is about to fall – free – from the sky, it is considered “bad”!

People who are far removed from growing their own food or from agriculture detest rain, but pay for it in bottles. Suburbanites choosing to live in rain-free deserts divert water from rivers and wetlands like the Sacramento Delta. Corporations grow year-round crops on semi-arid lands, irrigating so much that the soil is poisoned with salts.

Few American homeowners catch water, because water comes from faucets, so it seems infinite, rather than a recycling system. Water is polluted by almost everything humans do, such as the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers and petroleum products. We wash our cars (too often!) with drinking water. Millions of gallons of fresh water are turned into fecal soup every day by our toilets.

We’re searching for water on Mars, while our own planet’s hydrological cleansing cycle is almost overcome by our pollutants.

That miraculous cycle of evaporation from surface waters to the skies brings clouds of glorious, life-giving, free rain. Let’s call it GREAT WEATHER!

Ban the Botox!

We’ve both been visiting dermatologists recently to repair some of the skin damage done by lifetimes in the sun and on the sea. As we sit in waiting rooms, we laugh at cartoons in past issues of The New Yorker and then reluctantly pick up the ubiquitous promotional leaflets for Botox.

“Before” and “After” pictures illustrate the madness of a culture in which a woman will spend hundreds of dollars every few months to paralyze the muscles of her face, so that she cannot show “frown lines.”

Looking at so many expressionless, Barbie-smooth faces – and, on the Web, the horrific pictures of Botoxing gone wrong – has inspired us to try to help women and men gain a new appreciation of their “frown lines” and save them from self-mutilation.

We like to say, “They’re not wrinkles, they’re Thinkles!”

After years of research and interviews, we call those vertical lines between the eyebrows BrainLines, because they are physical markers of innate left- and right-brain propensities, and therefore markers of basic personality.

Once you understand what BrainLines are, it’s possible to find the beauty in them and impossible not to “read” everyone you meet!

Ban the Botox!

Corporatocracy

The US Postal Service is being dismantled by corporations and their congressional shills in order to privatize all mail and package delivery.

Oil and chemical companies convince ‘stewards of the land’, government departments and consumers that we all need toxic chemicals on our land, in our homes, water and food.

Gas prices “spike” as if some immutable Act of God made them increase, rather than traders driving oil futures higher simply to get richer without producing anything valuable.

Corporations spend millions to convince us that government by elected officials doesn’t work, that ‘free-market’ principles, sociopathic obsession over profits and faceless corporate bureaucracies with no accountability for their actions can take its place.

We’re dancing puppets on corporate strings, pretending that stock markets are something more than rigged crap games played by high rollers at our expense.

The Winner-Takes-All masculine hierarchical culture makes democracy a sham, promotes global and domestic violence, creates cultures in which women are marginalized and threatens life on the planet.

Curbing the relentless pursuit of power will require a shift to partnership of the strengths of female and male brains – holistic empathy and creative focus – looking at the world as a home, not a battleground.

Experts amoung us

West Marin has a vast pool of talent and expertise on almost any subject. The trick is to access that expertise, especially if we find ourselves in dangerous situations. The cultural pressure to keep certain things quiet can be deadly, and that is definitely the case with violence against women and girls, rape and incest. The culture that allows these things to continue is the culture that keeps them hidden by blaming victims and threatening their lives.

It is our good fortune that Marin County has one of the most effective programs to counter that violence. The Center for Domestic Peace, home of the Marin Abused Women’s Services, has a 35-year, stellar record in helping victims. And we are fortunate that its Deputy Executive Director, Kate Kain, lives in West Marin, and will speak about the origins of and solutions to violence from 5 p.m., Friday February 15th at the Dance Palace.

Following Kate’s presentation there will be choreographed dances, your finger foods, and dancing to music by Maria Muldaur and Tenientes del Norte!

We urge everyone to attend this free event, because, as Eve Ensler wrote, “one billion women violated is an atrocity; one billion dancing is a revolution!”

Violence against women

One in three women will be raped or beaten in her lifetime.

Yes, even in West Marin, abuse, rape and incest occur on as large and as secret a scale as elsewhere. And that means our community is part of the problem. But West Marin is seeking the causes.

This is a challenging subject to discuss, because secrecy and the unwarranted shaming and blaming of the victims keep it hidden from public attention. We invite Marin’s “Mindful Males” to partner with women in solving this most dangerous of all cultural potholes. When such brutal acts are allowed to continue, the cancer of violence spreads throughout society and affects us all.

Eve Ensler, founder of the V-Day movement to stop violence against women worldwide, has created “One Billion Rising”, a global dance protest, on February 14th.

Our own West Marin Rising will take place at the Dance Palace on Friday, February 15th.

Kate Kain, of the Center for Domestic Peace, will make a presentation on the causes of violence against women. The entire evening will be a bilingual event, with Spanish-speaking interpreters, short videos, finger foods, a community dance-prayer led by Taira Restar, and dancing to live music by Tenientes del Norte.

Music, Dance, and Romance

One of the greatest resources we have in West Marin is live music. We have world-class musicians here of every kind. Classical, bluegrass, rock, retro, reggae, hip-hop… you name it, we’ve got it. There’s even a hang master here.

Yet they are often called upon for fundraisers and other events to entertain us with little or no financial return. Perhaps it’s because we audience members get so much joy from their music that we expect them to perform for the love of performing. (We’re as guilty of that as any event organizer, and we want to apologize. It’s one of our potholes!)

After years of dedication to their art and of lugging equipment to noisy venues, many musicians give us the benefit of their expertise for just a hurried free dinner, a couple of drinks and scant attention.

At the very least, we audience members owe musicians the courtesy of listening to their music as we socialize, of applauding every song and adding as much as we can afford to their tip buckets.

Our thanks to every player and singer for the joy they have brought through the years.

Music, dance and romance – we can’t imagine life without them.

Noxious invasives

How to distinguish a useful introduced organism from a “noxious invasive”? It takes one to know one. We have proven ourselves to be the most noxious invasive species on the planet, yet we think of ourselves as useful. We introduce organisms (more an invitation than an invasion) and we ‘improve’ Nature. Gorse hedgerows; ornamental pampas grass; eucalyptus windbreaks; European grasses for cattle; cats for companionship; non-native oysters, etc.

The air teems with microbes, seeds, spores and insects. Ballooning spiders land on top of mountains. Yeasts drop into bread dough. Who decides what’s invasive and what’s ‘natural’? The troops in the official War On Weeds with their arsenal of chemicals, toxic to everything.

European thistles are “noxious”, but European grass is not, even though the grass has done far more damage to the native landscape. Could noxiousness be merely about what humans find useful?

Even Integrated Pest Management, less toxic than Shock-and-Awe spraying, is a huge financial boon to agencies and chemical companies. Futile attempts to eradicate the increasing hordes of “noxious” invasives are big business. Could that be why they’re increasing?

We ‘manage’ Nature because it’s lucrative, not because we’re so good at it.

Watch the skies. It’s aerial spraying season!

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! An easy sentiment, and perhaps possible to fulfill, with some attitude adjustment.

As THE issue out there in the “wilderness” came to a head, we heard that it was splitting this community and breaking friendships. We were told that holding a dance to support the soon-to-be-unemployed workers was just plain wrong, if it was held under the same banner as the 10th anniversary of Baring Witness, the peace movement that started here.

We suggest that those workers are not to be blamed for a squabble among the comparatively well-to-do of West Marin.

For 2013, we suggest some perspective in our relationships with each other. The Interior Department awards California public-land leases to fracking companies, even as fracking opponents shake Salazar’s hand for driving a family business out of “wilderness”. There is no “black or white” anywhere.

Disagreements themselves are not destructive, unlike hating friends who disagree and fighting as if your life depended on it. The lives at stake are not the squabblers’ (those arguing over semantics and data), but the workers’.

We are all neighbors, and neighbors may disagree strongly, but can still dance together and support each other in hard times.  Happy New Ear!

2012


Thanks!

In this week of giving Thanks with a capital T, we want to express our gratitude for the differences between each human being and the next. It can seem like a Thankless occupation at times, being human.

But each of us contributes in some way to the workings of everyday life, from the movers and shakers to the anonymous, from the conscientious altruist to the slackest inactivist, from the thorn in one’s side to the nurturing caregiver, from artist to scientist.

It is those differences between every human and the differences between the sexes that made the human species the most adaptable and successful mammal there is. (We have to give Thanks to the more prolific and often ignored species, especially among the insects and bacteria, that have helped us along the way, despite our efforts to reduce their numbers!)

As our species becomes more homogeneous in its external consumer-society trappings, the infinity of innate dissimilarities still can help us function as a connected system working for sustainable existence.

Could our apparent predilection for self-annihilation be connected to our propensity for demonizing our differences? Will Dr. Louann Brizendine help answer this on December 1st at the Presbyterian Church? Thankfully, yes!

Women in leadership positions

BRAVA! – A new wakeup call this week was the voting activity of women in the Presidential election. This led us to think about celebrating West Marin’s powerful and community-involved women.

We have an uncelebrated fact that West Marin could be a model for leadership Partnership. To name just a few organizations with female leadership (with the active support of mindful men): MMOB, Marin Organic, FreeSkool, FoodShed, CMCM, Mow&Sow, EAC, CLAM, KWMR, ESPG, Disaster Council, Watershed Council, West Marin Commons, Gallery Route One, Pt. Reyes National Seashore, Senior Services, many businesses, of course our two newspaper editors, and, and…..(would someone please make a full list?)

SAVE the DATE to celebrate these years of progress with our primary ‘Cultural Designers’ of female empowerment, our BARING WITNESS members.

Women and men are invited to the Dance Palace on Saturday, December 22 to speak, dance and watch themselves in historic videos in honor of their global and local successes.

Surprising? No, we have all done what comes naturally. With the help of men, women are filling the world’s largest Cultural Pothole – the lack of women in leadership positions.

Women and men in partnership can be the solution to problems on the planet.

Expectations

From politics to partnership, expectations can be problematic. At the beginning of a new political term, expectations are the main topic of conversation. At the beginning of a romance, a young woman entranced by ‘eros’ might fantasize a whole story of a future together with her lover, complete with children and unending romance. She will be devastated when the companion of her dreams succumbs to his innate fear of long-term commitment and disappears.

How can unfulfilled expectations be avoided?

In new relationships, stay in The Now. Even if you have dreams of a future together, don’t expect him to overcome his fear until much more ‘time and materials’ have been invested.

In politics, which is rife with corruption and deceit, we have all learned to take candidates’ pledges with a pinch of salt. Yet we have expectations that their promises will be kept. Is that wishful thinking or are we truly being betrayed?

Is it possible that the ‘boys’ have been in sole power for too long? Is it possible that if more women were voted into office there might be less corruption and more cooperation?

And are pessimists happier than optimists, since their expectations are always met or exceeded?

Emergency preparedness

During these glorious Fall days it’s hard to imagine the storms of Winter. But come they will, and perhaps more ferociously than ever. Downed power lines, fallen trees and floods are all part of the regular fun. We’re accustomed to hunkering down with flashlights and kerosene lamps for a day or so. We have the Disaster Council with five-day emergency plans for all our communities.

But what if the Fault suddenly jumps to life? What if the perfect storm hits here and more populous areas? Survivors may be cut off from supplies for longer than five days. Perhaps it’s appropriate to think about stocking up for the rough times. Not a bad idea anyway, with predictions of economic collapse, urban food distribution shutdowns and crowds of tourists stranded here.

A great insurance policy against disaster is a barrel of grains and legumes, a garden full of hardy greens (like tree collards) and gravity-fed water. Add some basic survival equipment to keep you warm, dry and fed and you can concentrate on doing what needs to be done, like holding “empty-the-dead-freezer” barbecues!

Check out the Food Shed in Inverness for bulk food and, soon, look for tree collard starts.

Sexual selection

There is no human activity as simultaneously nerve-racking, time-consuming, pleasurable, rewarding, frustrating and mysterious as the search for a mate. Unfortunately, it is also obscured by myths and fears created by lack of proper information, from movies, peers and parents. Add to that the damage caused by past rejection and it can seem impossible.

Many people, especially women, are intimidated to the point of giving up their search for partnership. Women and men wait for their prince or princess to magically appear. One of the most important decisions in their lives is left to fate. Perhaps that is partly why 27% of American households are single-occupant.

Charles Darwin’s sexual selection theory, the basis for evolutionary psychology, states that in most species the male displays and the female selects the male with the most attractive display. Darwin wrote that selection by the female was as powerful a driver of evolution as natural selection.

Does that apply to the human species? Are women capable of choosing the ‘right’ partner? What if it were a biological imperative that they do so, for the sake of the species?

What if, rather than waiting for men, women actively made the choice and the first advances? Donna did!

Hunting

West Marin is now between deer hunting and duck hunting seasons. Every year, men are out in the hills and by the water, blazing away at other living beings for sport.

In a month’s time in Point Reyes Station, there will once again be V8 pickup trucks from Sacramento and beyond, emblazoned with Ducks Unlimited decals and bumper stickers like, “If it flies, it dies.” Really.

Most of the hunters shooting ducks on Tomales Bay will not be locals who are having a hard time being able to feed their families, which has been one rationalization. They will mostly be “sportsmen” from over the hill and far away, who know that the Giacomini Wetlands, south of the hunting area, will once again attract weary migratory birds, which fly into shotgun range on their glidepath to a ‘safe’ haven.

Like shooting fish in a barrel, and what could be more sporting?

In consideration of the current hard economic times, and the prospect of even harder times to come, how about giving wildlife a break from being slaughtered, so that, when greater need arises, there will be more meat available for those that really need it to survive?

Ducks are not Unlimited!

Women & Men's brains

As often happens, a woman recently told us how upset she sometimes gets with her male partner. Such as when she talks about the problems she has encountered during the day, and he interrupts with his solutions to those problems, instead of simply hearing her out and commiserating.

In  “The Male Brain”, Dr. Louann Brizendine wrote, “Essentially, men remember facts and figures, but women record not only the facts, but also every detail of the emotion that they’re feeling.”

A woman deals with the emotional stresses of the day by explaining her problems in detail to someone. She just wants to verbalize everything so that her brain can process the information and her emotions.

A man generally is perplexed by this and will try to ‘fix’ her problems. While doing so, he may appear not to be listening, which makes her even more upset. But for most men, voicing their problems to someone else means they want to hear solutions.

It’s easy to blame each other for lack of communication.

How about if we see our different operating modes as complementary?

We have invited Dr. Brizendine to the Dance Palace to hear firsthand the brain science that allows that understanding.

Gossip

When information about other people is transmitted via the media, it is called news. When it is transmitted by word of mouth from one person to another, it is called gossip.

But gossip has become synonymous in our culture with malicious rumor and backbiting, neither of which is about processing community news.

Gossip in its original sense is a necessary means of communication when it is impossible to physically connect with everyone we know.

In a rural community, often the only way to get news of neighbors is through word of mouth. For example, we heard from mutual acquaintances about a friend’s death and another friend’s accident. That was personal information, and in neither case could we verify the facts from the person.

Was it gossip?

City-dwellers can maintain near-anonymity in the crowd. Out here, we can ask friends to respect our privacy in very personal matters, but also expect people to talk about us.

Our lives may depend someday on knowing our neighbors and their habits, and on their knowing ours. If someone is in crisis we need to know enough to be able to offer help.

What if we call gossip the Informational Commons that glues community together?

Dancing in the Streets
The need for organic feed

Over Labor Day weekend, we attended two community events – Tomales Founders’ Day and Bolinas’ Labor Day BBQ. The similarities were obvious. Both events were fundraisers for community centers, the main roads were closed, there was great live music, good food and liquid lubrication, hugs and lively conversations.

Unsung volunteers gave their all to make each day a safe, joyful and community-gluing success.

What was striking was the main difference between the two – in Bolinas, women, men and children were dancing to the music in the street, and everyone had day-long smiles on their faces.

What if there were more occasions to dance in the street in West Marin? What if, instead of sitting in chairs at a concert, men and women got up and danced?

The joy of dancing, or, for the less-mobile, of watching and wiggling, is infectious. Do most of us not dance because we are embarrassed that we don’t dance “properly”? The freeing facts are that there are no judges on the sideline, it’s not a competition, and moving to music is as natural as breathing.

And how about thanking personally all the volunteers and underpaid musicians for bringing comfort and joy to our lives?

Genderizing the language

The U.S. Constitution begins with “We the People”. Back then, that meant “We, the White Men”.

The word “people” is a useful shorthand for “men and women”, but its use in news reports helps us ignore the differing behaviors of the sexes.

“Casualties” and “victims” are also useful words, but what if news services did the research to find the numbers of males and females victimized by a drone strike, for example? And what if, instead of citing the destructive machinery used by (mostly) men, such as guns, fighter jets, bombers, drones (as in “a drone strike killed thirty people”), it were stated what sex the pilot or drone operator was?

What if we knew who gave the orders? It might jar our brains into understanding that the language we use gives cover to the men that continue the violence.

Or perhaps we’d find out that it is usually women that are doing the killing!

And it’s not just about war. “People” is too often used in history, medicine, archaeology, etc., partly because they used to be all-male disciplines.

The balance is changing, but the “people” habit remains.

Noise-pollution

Is that the rumble of storm-driven breakers on the shores of Point Reyes? Or is it a group of Harley-Davidsons with illegal, barely-muffled pipes?

Motorcycles are required by EPA regulations to put out less than 81 decibels and to have plates on the exhaust system stating that it conforms to that law. The first thing riders do is to replace their stock mufflers and use or remove baffles to customize the noise they make.

How many of you would like to hear the noise laws obeyed? How about signs for Low-Decibel Zones, or a campaign for Mufflers in Marin?

Round-Up

The gardens of West Marin are blooming with gorgeous flowers and herbaceous borders.

Landscapers move purposefullyfrom bed to bed, tending, watering, removing dead foliage and spraying RoundUp to maintain their clients’ delight at the order introduced into the chaos of Nature.

“Wait. RoundUp? I don’t use RoundUp,” we hear you say. Well, Someone is using RoundUp in West Marin, because it’s still flying out the door of Point Reyes Building Supply.

After all, if nobody were buying it, they wouldn’t have it on their shelves. If anyone asked them to stock an alternative that others would buy, they would do that, too.

But most of us choose to ignore the unmistakable odor wafting from the south-east corner of the store, where all the poisons are displayed that so many Someones believe are indispensable to human life.

What would happen if everyone that entered the store asked them to stock Burnout II, or 20% vinegar?

What if there were a concerted effort to stop the sale of RoundUp?

What if we told our hired gardeners that we don’t want them to use RoundUp?

Some landscapers might tell their clients what they think they want to hear, so asking them if they use it isn’t enough. Check what they do. Get down on your hands and knees and check for the smell of chemicals.

And what if we mulched, pulled ‘weeds’ by hand, got our hands covered in life-giving soil instead of deadly poisons?

New resolutions to fulfill

As the calendar flips to 2012, I too am going through transitions. My mind keeps coming up with ideas, but my body is less able to put them into action. So I’m declaring my semi-retirement from activism to concentrate on promoting our film and book “Seduction Redefined” (available at Point Reyes Books).But there are a few “cultural potholes” that Paul and I would love to see filled by other friends in the community. Some of them have to do with the trust we all have that institutions that profess to be guarding our welfare are doing so. We are confident that all is well until we hit the pothole.

Pothole #1: Aerial Spray in the Watershed. The first and most difficult of all is the usage by you, your neighbors, your landscapers, the county and the National Park of pesticides (which includes herbicides) in our watershed. Perhaps some of you felt that our nonprofit, Mow&Sow, or some other organization had been able to eradicate toxic chemicals from “organic” West Marin. But no, the invisible, and therefore disregarded, dangers are still here.There is no organization that monitors the runoff of pesticides into Tomales Bay. Every year, around the headwaters of Walker Creek, helicopter spraying of restricted herbicides 2,4-D and Transline is permitted by the Marin County Agricultural Commissioner, Stacy Carlsen.Even Tomales Bay Watershed Council, whose mission is to document water quality, does not test for these two carcinogenic endocrine-disruptors. Children swimming and boating at Walker Creek Ranch’s Outdoor School, the fish, shorebirds and all organisms that inhabit the bay and creeks may be exposed to the toxic runoff. But nobody knows, because no member- and grant-funded organization (e.g. TBWC, Environmental Action Committee, Tomales Bay Association, Marin Agricultural Land Trust, Marin Organic) has undertaken the work. WE SUGGEST that one of these steward organizations make this a priority. The aerial spraying season is January through April. Spray permit records are available from the County Ag Department.

Pothole #2: Hand Spray in the Watershed. Then there’s the hand-spraying of restricted pesticides like 2,4-D, and unrestricted RoundUp and other pesticides that occurs everywhere, from ranches to flower gardens, from patios to Divide Meadow. This is a huge problem, as there are no restrictions on how the public uses over-the-counter pesticides. A local woman’s neighbor regularly sprays herbicide on poison oak, yet she has never talked to him about it. OUR SUGGESTION for anyone in a similar situation – rather than getting silently angry and hating your neighbor, engage in a non-confrontational chat, explaining your concerns and suggesting alternatives.

Pothole #3: Pesticides on Birdseed. Many people feed wild birds with birdseed approved by the Audubon Society and Cornell Ornithology Lab, trusting it is healthy for the birds. But few people consider the pesticide residues on conventionally-grown seeds. Audubon Society chapters raise funds through birdseed sales, and Cornell actively promotes bird-feeding. We all trust that the promoting organizations and vendors are selling healthy feed, but pesticide residues in songbirds’ bodies cannot be healthy. WE SUGGEST that the local Audubon chapter and Point Reyes Bird Observatory begin promoting organic birdseed, and that customers ask Toby’s to stock organic birdseed (and more organic hay!)

Pothole #4: Noise Pollution. We hear more than ever before the noise of unmuffled motorcycle exhausts, especially on Harley Davidsons. At weekends one can hear the roar of straight-pipe Harleys echoing all around the bay. Bikers like to say that loud pipes save lives, apparently meaning that vehicles will drive right over them were they to use the factory-installed pipes! An EPA regulation limits exhaust systems to 81 decibels or less and requires a plate welded to the exhaust to show that the pipe conforms. That is the first thing to go when the factory exhaust pipe is removed. It is illegal to do this, yet no police officers will enforce the law. They do not even have to hear the noise, only check for the plate and write a ticket if it has been removed. WE SUGGEST contacting riders’ clubs to tell them that straight pipes make all motorbikes less welcome, and we suggest that law enforcement officers actually enforce this law.

Pothole #5: Hunting on Tomales Bay. As the migratory ducks and geese arrive, Tomales Bay becomes a bird-hunter’s paradise. The Tomales Bay Ecological Reserve is the preferred killing ground, on the flyway to the Giacomini Wetlands. It’s a perfect, narrow corridor for maximum kill as the birds glide in to their ‘safe’ haven. The limit is a possible 15 birds per hunter per day. WE SUGGEST a moratorium, a public hearing organized by Tomales Bay Association, public documentation of numbers of birds killed, by whom and where the carcasses will be consumed (if at all).

Pothole #6: Deer Roadkill. We use deer whistles on our cars and have never hit a deer. We can’t hear the whistles, but apparently deer can. Instead of running into the road, deer usually stand still and watch us go by. WE SUGGEST you buy deer whistles at Building Supply (about $6) and mount them on your front bumper.

Pothole #7: “I’m Not Political”. Over the years that we’ve been involved in environmental issues, we’ve heard people who trust others to stand up for their rights say that they’re not “political”. If you drive on a paved road, if you send a child to school, if you drink water and breathe air, you are involved in the politics that control the resources you use. WE SUGGEST more dancing, potlucks and general assemblies with your neighbors. Political issues discussed in person, calmly and with consideration for the possibility that none of us is omniscient, may avoid the kind of discord that has affected our corner of paradise. We suggest less armchair ranting and more interpersonal involvement.We suggest that there be a continuing section in this newspaper for newly-discovered ‘potholes’ and the measures that are being taken on the existing ones.

The Giving is the Getting. Happy 2012.

Donna Sheehan & Paul Reffell