Last Night’s Town Hall Meeting in Grass Valley

Good on Yolanda Cookson for reporting on yesterday’s Economic Development Town Hall Forum in her blog.

She expresses a portion of her vision for the future in very personal and honest terms:

As a thirty something, I want to be able to go and have dinner at 6:00, then maybe walk around and shop, perhaps do some wine tasting or have a drink at local bar, and check out a band that is not from an era before I was born.

Am I the only one?

I love this vision, and share it!  As a sixty-something, I have even more styles of music to select from in my lifetime!

Here’s more of my vision for the future of our region.

Being a tourist Mecca, Grass Valley should get ready for company by cleaning house, dressing up, preparing some good food and putting some nice music on the stereo.

What does this mean?

Well, we already have lots of terrific food (too many great restaurants to list here) and music (Music in the Mountains, Center for Arts, Celtic Faire, and so much more).

For dressing up and cleaning house, my favorite idea is the Wolf Creek Parkway through downtown Grass Valley. Imagine a green and spacious parkway, featuring pedestrian and bike paths. (Think:  the 25-mile parkway from Pacific Grove through Monterey and Seaside, San Louis Obispo’s Creek Walkway ((“City of San Louis Obispo“)) and the American River Parkway in Sacramento).

In the broadest sense, what makes people want to visit our region is the same thing that makes them want to stay and live here: The nourishing natural beauty and the rich and vibrant culture.

In short, the lifestyle.

What makes it possible for them to stay and live here is at once simpler and more problematic: Jobs!

And for that, here’s the key:

The jobs (the means of staying here) should be integrally linked to the lifestyle (the motive for staying here)!

And that means we need clean, sustainable, hi-tech, energy-efficient industries of the 21st century.

The Depth of Ideas Behind the Tea Party Movement

Cute Science: Study of Babies’ Impulse to Dance (video)

From Science Friday: “In perhaps the cutest study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, psychologist Marcel Zentner and Tuomas Eerola found that babies will spontaneously boogie when they hear music and other rhythmic sounds. The findings suggest babies are not great dancers, but they smile more when they do hit the beat.”

California’s Lost Salmon

“Salmon season in Oregon and California has been closed for an unprecedented two years due to a sharp decline in fish population. As the 2010 season approaches, KQED’s Quest series looks at efforts to protect the coho salmon in Northern California and explores the important role salmon play in the native ecosystem.”

Locally-Produced TV Program Gets Mentioned by E! Online

Today we received the March Peak Moment TV Newsletter from our friends and producers, Robyn Mallgren and Janaia Donaldson.

The newsletter contained these paragraphs:

Peak Moment TV joins the entertainment sphere? Ya gotta admit, a name like “Peak Moment” can be a spammer’s paradise. E! Entertainment TV took the bait with their upbeat post titled “Green Machines: Climaxing on Peak Moment.” An excerpt is below; full review here.

OK, we’re beside ourselves at discovering a TV series on YouTube devoted to sustainability in the era of “peak oil.”… Not dissimilar to your local PBS station’s magazine shows, an earnest host interviews her way around a worm farm, a green building project and a carpool group, as well as hosting roundtable discussions about energy vulnerability, forest management and compost. (More…)

A million online views. Peak Moment shows just passed a million views on YouTube in just over three years. The top two shows? An Experiment in Back Yard Sustainability and Go Electric: Bike Commuting Made Easy.

A Rabbit Family of Five Just Ran Past My Window

More happy signs of spring.

A rabbit family of five just ran past my window.

There used to be only two. Imagine that!

By the time I stepped out on the deck with my camera, all I could see was this guy, maybe looking for his family?

Hey Buddy, Lost Your Family?

Corporations Have Become More Dangerous to Democracy Since Reagan

Barry Lynn, Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation, talks about his book, Cornered: The New Monopoly Capitalism and the Economics of Destruction.

According to Lynn (speaking in the video below), “in 1981 the Reagan administration changed the interpretation of our anti-trust laws. Rather than use these laws to prevent the concentration of economic power, we should use these laws to protect ourselves as consumers. We should use these laws to promote efficiency, not protect liberty. So, in the generation since then, they have used these laws to promote efficiency (supposedly) by creating more and more monopolies.”

Lynn says that one of the worst aspects of monopolies is that they destroy jobs, both as part of the process of concentration and by preventing new business startups, the source of most job creation.

“There’s nothing inevitable about monopolization,” Lynn says. “It’s a political process.”

In his book, Lynn says this:

” … for anyone who is trying to make sense of what is taking place in our nation and thr world today, monopoly is the great missing force. Just as any effort to discuss physics without taking into account the work of Isaac Newton would result in much free=floating nonsense, the same is true of any effort to discuss today’s economics without taking into account monopolization. In addition to helping illuminate such recent phenomena as the cascading collapses in our financial system and gthe near collapse of our automotive industry, monopolization also helps to explain such otherwise mysterious phenomena as the following:

  • Why it’s so hard to launch a successful small business
  • Why so many jobs were moved offshore so quickly
  • Why it’s so difficult to control medical costs
  • Why it’s taken so long to blend cleaner technologies into our cars and our homes
  • Why the quality of our food, drugs and toys is declining
  • Why the U.S. trade surplus is so huge and persistent
  • Why corporate managers outsource so many activities
  • Why corporate profits reached such … heights just before the fall ((Carrie Johnson, “Wall Street, Washington Huddle on U.S. Markets,” Washington Post, Mar. 14, 2007))
  • Why the powerful keep getting more powerful

Not one of these phenomena can be attributed solely to monopolization, yet not one can be understood without taking monopolization into account.”

“We need to break this concentration apart,” Lynn says.

Site of Old Car Dealership Becomes Regional Art Mecca

There’s an excellent article in today’s Sacramento Bee about Grass Valley’s Center for the Arts, once the site of a car dealership:

Grass Valley’s Center for the Arts is a shining example of community support
By Jim Carnes

To look at it now, you’d never guess the inviting Center for the Arts in Grass Valley was once a car dealership.

OK, the lobby is big and grand enough – still – to display several automobiles, but the art on the walls, the three dance studios upstairs and the excellent 300-seat theater at the rear of the room put that sad past to rest.

It took a lot of work, money and community involvement to get the center where it is today – home to local dancers, musicians and theater groups and host to traveling artists with national and international reputations.

The Grass Valley-Nevada City area seems to have attracted an inordinately large number of artists and performers for a place of its size.

Roger Hodgson, founder of the British rock band Supertramp – and one of the first musicians to perform in the center – moved to Grass Valley in 1983, having discovered the place when his band recorded part of its 1979 “Breakfast in America” album there. World-renowned Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser lives in the nearby foothills; star slide guitarist Roy Rogers (a Redding native who established his career in San Francisco) lives in Nevada City, as does composer/harp player Joanna Newsom; Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Gary Snyder lives just north of Nevada City – and that’s just a few of the performing artists that call the area home.


“Something in the water,” Baker said when asked what drew all those talented and art-loving people to Nevada County, with its population of only around 90,000. “What made me think I could live here, having grown up in New York City, was the artistic base, the musicians and literary talents who make up the community.”

Wilson agreed that the Grass Valley-Nevada City area “nurtures the art in people.”

Read full article here.

Why Aren’t the Media Talking About This Racially-Coded Language?

“If we’re able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo. It will break him.” (South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint ((White House Plans to Use DeMint’s “Waterloo” Quote to Rally the Troops.)) ).

Here’s why I listen to Thom Hartmann every day.

Hartmann received emails from several of his listeners in South Carolina and other southern states, asking why no one is talking about the racially-charged language — “dog whistle language,” he calls it — that Senator Jim DeMint used in his now infamous “Waterloo” remark about Obama.

Almost everyone focused on the familiar Waterloo reference, offensive in its own way.

But apparently no one has mentioned the much more inflammatory and offensive implications of the racially-coded term, “break.”

For two hundred years, as Hartmann tells it, “slave breaking” was an industry in the South, a process much like breaking a horse, designed to pacify unruly slaves. It’s all described explicitly in the “Willie Lynch letter.” History has preserved the dishonorable legacy of Lynch, a slave owner and the original “slave breaker,” in the term “lynching.”

I was skeptical as Hartmann began his segment, but convinced by the time he’d finished. He quoted Frederick Douglas, who described the practice of “slave breaking” in his memoir of his slave days:

On one of the hottest days of the month of August, 1833, Bill Smith, William Hughes, a slave named Eli, and myself were engaged in fanning wheat….The work was simple, requiring strength rather than intellect; yet, to one entirely unused to such work, it came very hard. About three o’clock of that day, I broke down; my strength failed me; I was seized with a violent aching of the head, attended with extreme dizziness; I trembled in every limb….

Mr. Covey was at the house, about one hundred yards from the treading- yard where we were fanning. On hearing the fan stop, he left immediately, and came to the spot where we were. He hastily enquired what the matter was. Bill answered that I was sick, and there was no one to bring wheat to the fan. I had by this time crawled away under the side of the post and rail- fence by which the yard was enclosed, hoping to find relief by getting out of the sun. He then asked where I was. He was told by one of the hands. He came to the spot, and after looking at me awhile, asked me what was the matter. I told him as well as I could, for I scarce had strength to speak. He then gave me a savage kick in the side, and told me to get up. I tried to do so, but fell back in the attempt. He gave me another kick, and again told me to rise. I again tried, and succeeded in gaining my feet: but, stopping to get the tub with which I was feeding the fan, I again staggered and fell. While down in this situation, Mr. Covey took up the hickory slat with which Hughes had been striking off the half- bushel measure, and with it gave me a heavy blow upon the head, making a large wound, and the blood ran freely; and with this, again told me to get up … ((Frederick Douglass resists a slave breaker (1845))).

Surely Senator Jim DeMint — and most black people in the South ((A young black American college-educated woman called Hartmann after he finished his segment on “slave breaking” and admitted that she was ashamed of not having heard about the practice until her elderly grandfather recently explained it to her.))  — are aware of the subtext of his message when he talks about “breaking” America’s first African-American president.

Listen to Hartmann:

Health Care Stocks Have Risen 28.35%


Jane Hamsher of describes the myths surrounding the health care debate. Among these myths is the idea that “insurance companies hate this bill:”

Fact: This bill is almost identical to the plan written by AHIP, the insurance company trade association, in 2009.

The original Senate Finance Committee bill was authored by a former Wellpoint vice president. Since Congress released the first of its health care bills on October 30, 2009, health care stocks have risen 28.35%.

This fact alone tells us most of what we need to know about what’s wrong with the current bill: it will not actually reduce costs.

Will this bill be a further health care disaster for the American people?  And, incidentally, a well-deserved political disaster for the Democrats?


Here are a few more of the 18 myths Hamsher debunks:

Myth 3: The bill will significantly bring down insurance premiums for most Americans.

Fact: The bill will not bring down premiums significantly, and certainly not the $2,500/year that President Obama promised during his campaign.

Annual premiums in 2016: status quo / with bill:
Small group market, single: $7,800 / $7,800
Small group market, family: $19,300 / $19,200
Large Group market, single: $7,400 / $7,300
Large group market, family: $21,100 / $21,300
Individual market, single: $5,500 / $5,800
Individual market, family: $13,100 / $15,200

Myth 4: The bill will make health care affordable for middle class Americans.

Fact: The bill will impose a financial hardship on middle class Americans who will be forced to buy a product that they can’t afford to use.

A family of four making $66,370 will be forced to pay $5,243 per year for insurance. After basic necessities, this leaves them with $8,307 in discretionary income — out of which they would have to cover clothing, credit card and other debt, child care and education costs, in addition to $5,882 in annual out-of-pocket medical expenses for which families will be responsible.

Myth 5: This plan is similar to the Massachusetts plan, which makes health care affordable.

Fact: Many Massachusetts residents forgo health care because they can’t afford it. A 2009 study by the state of Massachusetts found that:

21% of residents forgo medical treatment because they can’t afford it, including 12% of children

18% have health insurance but can’t afford to use it

Myth 9: This bill employs nearly every cost control idea available to bring down costs.

Fact: This bill does not bring down costs and leaves out nearly every key cost control measure, including:

Public Option ($25-$110 billion)

Medicare buy-in

Drug re-importation ($19 billion)

Medicare drug price negotiation ($300 billion)

Shorter pathway to generic biologics ($71 billion)

Myth 10: The bill will require big companies like Wal-Mart to provide insurance for their employees.

Fact: The bill was written so that most Wal-Mart employees will qualify for subsidies, and taxpayers will pick up a large portion of the cost of their coverage.

See Hamsher’s complete article, including documented sources, here.

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