More on Net Neutrality

Here’s a link to the best article I’ve found yet on Net Neutrality, a measure that is about to come to a vote in front of the full Senate.

The Telecom Giants emphasize their need to recoup financial investments, but fail to mention that “To date, the U.S. government has provided more than $200 billion to these companies as an incentive to upgrade their networks to the international norm.“

I’ve already contacted my Senators expressing my opinion several times, hope you will, too.

Berry’s Another Turn of the Crank

Shelley recently sent me a book of short Wendell Berry essays called Another Turn of the Crank, which suggests I may be doing a good job of sharing my values in this blog because it’s a book that appeals to some of my core values.
The short opening essay “Farming and the Global Community? sets forth several of Berry’s main premises:

We need to make our farming practices and our food economy subject to standards set not by the industrial system but by the health of ecosystems and of human communities.

I have long believed that the mass production of crops, necessitating large amounts of insecticides and petro-chemicals is a recipe for disaster, benefiting neither small farmers nor consumers. As a result, I started raising “organic? vegetables in my garden nearly thirty years ago and bought organic food whenever available.

As a city boy, I’ve only recently become aware of how important farmlands are to local wildlife and how, with a few exceptions, wildlife and farmers coexist quite well. As I’ve begun to explore wildlife refuges, though, I’ve discovered that farmland provides a vital buffer between urban areas and wilderness areas. Many kinds of wildlife benefit from farmland and coexist peacefully with farmers. You’re as likely to spot wildlife in neighboring fields as you are in refuges since animals don’t recognize such arbitrary boundaries.

I suspect, though, that Berry’s view of a healthy human community and my own might differ considerably, since I’ve always thrived in a rich, diverse, metropolitan community. Though I’m sometimes appalled by how little I know about my neighbors, I doubt I’d fit well into a small, rural farming community with my liberal ways.

An even more important Berry premise is that

If communities of farmers and consumers wish to promote a sustainable, safe, reasonably inexpensive supply of good food, then they must see that the best, the safest, and most dependable source of food for a city is not the global economy, with its extreme vulnerabilities and extravagant transportation costs, but its own surrounding countryside. It is in every way in the best interest of urban consumers to be surrounded by productive land, well farmed and well maintained by thriving farm families in thriving farm communities.

I’m convinced the best food is the food I grow in my own backyard, but if I had to survive on the food I’ve grown there I’d have starved to death long ago. Next best, is food grown locally, picked fresh and delivered to local markets. Depending on food grown thousands of miles away is courting disaster, particularly when doing so drives local farmers out of business and leads to farmlands being sold for more suburban sprawl.

I’ve always thought it was a sin that the rich, productive land once farmed by Japanese truck farmers south of Seattle was gradually turned into malls and industrial complexes while food was shipped in from California, and, increasingly, from outside the country.

I finally quit buying vegetables or fruit from Safeway because they seemed to make no effort to buy from local farmers. The small market I finally settled on doesn’t always buy locally, but at least they label the fruit and vegetables by location so I can make an informed decision.

My daughter has purchased shares from a local farm and had them delivered weekly, but I didn’t like the idea of having to take what was available that week rather than choosing what I wanted to eat. I might eat vegetables I couldn’t stand to avoid wasting food, but it wouldn’t be long before I’d abandon that concept. Still, I believe such links to farmers and ranchers are a good idea, benefitting both farmers and consumers.

Love The One You’re With

Mike took me to Hylebos Wetlands yesterday, and I was looking forward to getting some great pictures. Unfortunately, we didn’t see many birds, and most of the plants were so close to the boardwalk that I really couldn’t manage to get a good picture with my 400mm telephoto, the only lens I brought.

Afterwards, though, he took me to see the Weyerhaeuser campus, which is quite beautiful, even though I only got to visit a small part of it. They had a huge pond with tall iris lining it:

It was, in turn, surrounded by natural grasslands, where wildflowers bloomed profusely:

and a Red-tailed Hawk circled overhead,

which, strangely enough, reminded me of Stephen Still’s “If You Can’t Be With the One You Love, Love the One You’re With.

Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge

Summer began with a bang this weekend, with temperatures reaching the low 90’s for the first time this summer. I decided it was past time to visit the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge,and for awhile it seemed like nearly everyone in the Pacific Northwest decided the same thing. The nearly six miles of beach was crammed with people walking or playing on the beach.

The walk was still delightful, but confirming the law that that the number of animals seen is always in inverse proportion to the number of people seen, our wildlife sightings were minimal, though the handout we received at the entrance suggests it’s possible to see more birds and animals here at different times of year than at nearly any other site in the state.

Unfortunately with the exception of the interesting Pigeon Guillemot all we saw was a baby harbor seal and his mother, who seemed to be urging him to swim by himself.

Still, since I had no idea that we even had auks or puffins in the Pacific Northwest, I was more than happy to spend nearly a half hour watching them swim and dive in the surf .