Fishes live in the sea, as men do a-land; the great ones eat up the little ones.
-- William Shakespeare
The big thieves hang the little ones. -Czech proverb
1. San Francisco Releases Investment Roadmap for Local Food Systems
2. Comparisons between the animal rights movement and human social justice movements
4. McLaren Park Bioblitz report
5. Commonwealth Club offers large series on Biodiversity, in August
6. News and events from Marin Municipal Water District
7. understand what a poem—or perhaps only the making of a poem, just that moment when it starts, when so much is still possibl
8. GG Audubon autumn birding classes
9. Miscellaneous LTEs
10. Instructions on how to be a writer
11. Ever seen a purple cow? Don’t tell anyone
1. San Francisco Releases Investment Roadmap for Local Food Systems
July 29, 2013
SAN FRANCISCO – Today, the San Francisco Planning Department released a report to help cities develop strong local food systems to create jobs, strengthen local businesses, and increase community access to sustainably grown foods. The report was developed in collaboration with The Wallace Center at Winrock International, Changing Tastes, the City of Minneapolis, the City of Portland, Ore., the City of Seattle, and the City of Vancouver, B.C.
Entitled, “Roadmap for City Food Sector Innovation and Investment,” the report demonstrates how cities can develop a sound local food investment strategy and how to select the best investment opportunities. It also includes a selection of municipal policies and initiatives to support local food entrepreneurs and businesses.
Full press release: http://us2.campaign-archive1.com/?u=7b901b2ee82679ce6edbc9689&id=ca4efa31b6&e=dc9cc57dbc
“I am in favor of animal rights as well as human rights. That is the way of a whole human being.” Abraham Lincoln
DawnWatch: NY Times, Kristof on our "Hypocrisy to Animals," Sunday 7-28-13
The Sunday, July 28, New York Times includes a thoughtful piece by columnist Nicholas D. Kristof in which he draws comparisons between the animal rights movement and human social justice movements including the early slavery abolitionist movement. These are welcome comparison in what is arguably the world's most influential newspaper. His column is titled, "Can We See Our Hypocrisy to Animals?" (Page SR11.)
Kristof juxtaposes the reviews of two new documentaries, "Act of Killing," about the Indonesian fratricide of the mid 1960s, and Blackfish, the highly acclaimed documentary that "looks at the SeaWorld marine park and its (mis)treatment of orcas."
(I urge you to read that Blackfish review at
http://movies.nytimes.com/2013/07/19/movies/blackfish-a-documentary-looks-critically-at-seaworld.html and to see the film.)
He discusses society's evolving attitude towards animals and closes with:
"Look, I confess to hypocrisy. I eat meat, albeit with misgivings, and I have no compunctions about using mousetraps. So what? We have the same inconsistencies, controversies and hypocrisies in dealing with human rights. We may disagree about waterboarding terror suspects, but almost everyone shares a revulsion for genocide, the use of poison gas or the torture of children.
"Now we are plodding along a similar controversial, inconsistent, hypocritical and progressive path on animal rights. We may disagree about eating meat, but growing numbers share a disgust for extreme behavior, like the force-feeding of geese (now banned in California) to produce pâté.
"We as a global society have crossed the Rubicon. We disagree about where to draw the line to protect animal rights, but almost everyone now agrees that there is a line to be drawn.
"May our descendants, when, in the future, they reflect uncomprehendingly on our abuse of hens and orcas, appreciate that we are good and decent people moving in the right direction, and show some compassion for our obliviousness."
Please read the whole piece, in the paper or on line at
It offers a great opportunity for letters to the editor suggesting (in your own words) that we change our treatment of animals rather than hoping our descendants will forgive our obliviousness.
The New York Times takes letters at email@example.com and instructs:
"Letters should preferably be no longer than 150 words and may be shortened to fit allotted space. They must be exclusive to The Times (no prior submission to, or publication in, any other medium, including the Web). They should generally refer to an article that has appeared within the last seven days. We reserve the right to edit letters. To be considered for publication, letters MUST include the writers name, address, current location (where you are writing from) and daytime and evening phone numbers at your current location (for verification, not for publication)."
Man fined for giving away baby turtles as prizes - SFGate
And there was another bust yesterday, selling baby red-eared sliders over the internet. Likely the tip of the iceberg.
There are other articles: GOOGLE "baby turtles," then act accordingly.
We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. Remote from universal nature and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate for having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein do we err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with the extension of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings: they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.
--Henry Beston, The Outermost House
On Jul 26, 2013, at 3:44 PM, maryjane.schramm wrote:
What about me! It's my birthday, too (and Carl Jung's, Mick Jagger's, and that of the US Postal Service).
So, there should be dancing in the streets, right? That’s one thing we have Sunday Streets for. Come and join, a few days late.
I’m holding off the Post Office celebration; gotta hold off its death day first.
At my age, Jake, rather than dancing I and my age-cohorts do, at best, a lively hobble. I'll think about Sunday Streets ... have never been to one!
And I agree re: postal service ... and that day may not be too far in the future.
Thanks - as always - for keeping us apprised of nature nooze (and other fascinating things)!
Nancy Pelosi is available to hear your protests regarding Post Offices and SF Central Subway give aways. Bernie Choden
On Jul 26, 2013, at 3:36 PM, ML Carle wrote:
I think there are inaccuracies in your last newsletter regarding the Ivanpah solar project. I know someone who worked on the EIR for quite a while. There were 50 biologists/botanists surveying the area. Water will not be used in cleaning the panels. Here's a site that gives information your might want to debate, but it sounds to me like the builders are not ripping up the land and despoiling everything which your correspondent seems to believe. Here's the site:
Granted it's written by the company, so if disbelief still reigns. then there needs to be more thorough research on the part of the disbelievers. We have to pick our battles with facts in hand, so we don't look like a bunch of crazies.
Thanks for the feedback, ML; I will post it.
Yes, disbelief still reigns. I do not have first-hand knowledge of this project, but I have read quite a bit about it and other similar ones. In addition, the CNPS state conservation director, Greg Suba, has been devoting enormous amounts of time to this and other solar projects. Ideally I would check with him before writing this, but he is so busy I hate to ask for his time. Fast-tracking by President Obama, Jerry Brown, and the CA Legislature weakens the ability of conservation organizations to protect the resources.
I have seen many PowerPoint images of the various projects, including this one. Yes, the Ivanpah facility is very compact, thus not eating a lot of land. Other projects are taking more land. But that may be misleading and doesn’t take into account ancillary damage, including roads, and its presence in a fragile and sensitive area. The site was chosen, I understand, without consideration for the value of the natural resources. It is welcome news that there are 50 biologists/botanists involved, but their work can’t compensate for the damage done by improper siting. It is also good news that water is not required for cleaning panels--although a lot is required for cooling, and I wonder where that will come from or what its consequences will be.
Don’t take my word for any of this, because details of what I say may not be correct; I am not close to the subject. I, and probably you, have seen too many projects having enormous political and financial power behind them bully their way over the objections of small organizations that have knowledge but little power.
More to be said, but enough for now.
I don't know much about the project either. It's pretty hard to have the big picture. But I don't like to see us with egg on our faces.
I used to live in Baker in the late '70's, not far from the project. I was quite startled to see the several story high hotel and casino near the Ivanpah project when I visited there a couple of years ago. It was even more shocking to see what the 2005 huge fire had done because of the spread of cheat grass and other small nonnative plants (spread primarily by cows I believe) that had filled in the distance between shrubs with fuel. When I lived there in the late '70's the ground was pretty much bare between the shrubs and other native plants. Many indigenous plants were not fire adapted. Many of the the Joshua trees and junipers over thousands of acres destroyed by the hot fire were never going to come back. Motorcycle races and RV damage have increased. All of it on sensitive land. I don't know why Ivanpah is any different than other places in the desert. Ripped off.
I love the article about the Night Witches in your last newsletter. It brings back lots of memories. My mother was a pilot who got her license during WWII with the goal of being a WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilot). The WASPs were disbanded just as she was ready to join, but she had many friends who were WASP pilots & was invited to go with them around 1980 to Russia for a special get together to meet the Night Witches with whom they had so much in common. According to Mom, the two groups hit it off & had a memorable time. I still have her book "Night Witches" by Bruce Myles with the title page signed in Russian by several of the Russian women pilots.
Shortly after the war Mom & two friends bought a Stearman biplane which is very similar to the Po-2 flown by the Night Witches. Wartime pilots had to be experts in aerobatic maneuvering so the flexible Stearmans were used as training planes by the military. After the war there was a surplus of the planes available, but few civilians knew how to do aerobatics. Pilots coming home from the war would drive by the grass field, see the plane & be itching to take a ride. Mom was happy to oblige providing they taught her aerobatics in return. She excelled at aerobatics. We lived in Florida at the time & one of my earliest memories is flying aerobatics over the beach strapped into the rear seat of the open cockpit Stearman, watching the horizon roll & trying to keep my head up.
Many thanks, Jake, for producing your unique newsletter.
Jake, here's a grasshopper relative I saw in the lower Drakensberg Mts of South Africa - Ted Kipping
(Sorry, this picture and the following (of lichens) should have been posted awhile ago, near when the original items appeared--do you remember that red, white, and blue grasshopper? See: http://www.wunderground.com/wximage/DesertDog9/22?gallery=EDITORSPICK)
Jake, July, 13, 2013 San Bruno Mt.
A couple of photos of your favorite lichen, Caloplaca. This was taken on the PG&E access road west of the ridge. The obelisk marks a gas line. We also photographed wood rose, and a grasshopper shedding old skin, which is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Talk about sheer luck to even see this small insect attached to a rock! It struggled for a good 10 minutes to free itself, and it took awhile to pump up its wings and use its hind legs.
camouflaging hummingbird nest
4. McLaren Park Bioblitz report
see organisms in browser: http://us2.campaign-archive1.com/?u=5ff62aeea73f0bd950b2c268e&id=326970de69&e=f29cb98f71
Thanks for your chuckle-inducing other-worldly interpretation of our nerdly McLaren Park bioblitz back in May, and double thanks for spending a long afternoon helping us find so many interesting plants in Zone 1. My head still spins every time I consider what we accomplished in those three hours, and in the on-line species-confirming efforts afterwards. Here's a pictorial view of the day's observations, including a final tally of the day's numbers -- 1310 observations, 248 species, 43 observers. The event even inspired a few of us locals to keep up observations on our own -- the McLaren Park species list on iNaturalist is now up to 303, and counting. (Here's the main McLaren Park page with species guide, maps, observations, and more).
Dan Rademacher's KQED blog post spells out the implications of these numbers pretty well, and they are very encouraging in a world of rapidly changing climates and constantly-invaded biosystems, coupled with shrinking research budgets to figure it all out. Fortunately, this bioblitz was only part of a new groundswell of technology-enabled citizen science here in the Bay Area and beyond.
To wit, Nerds For Nature is sponsoring a "Project Speed Dating" party in Oakland (Friday, August 16, 6:30-9:00 p.m.) to spark up new citizen science efforts. Are you a naturalist or park advocate, teacher or nature educator, public or private land manager, newbie citizen scientist or professional researcher who is interested in open source and crowd-sourced technology? Or are you a technology expert interested in making exciting new citizen science projects happen? Then this is the event for you!
Project teams include DIY air monitoring sensors, smartphone-powered bioblitzes, nature and technology workshops, water quality and other "big data" analysis and mapping, and much more. Got another idea? Create your own team!
Technologists, programmers, hardware hackers, and nature experts from a wide array of specialties will be on hand to discuss your ideas and help you get started on your own citizen science projects. The event will feature “speed dating” project tables to encourage new collaborations. Raffle prizes and t-shirts will be for sale to raise funds for future efforts. The next six months (and longer!) will be about even greater openness, creative action, and awesome events. Join the Nature Nerds in launching this next phase of citizen science in action!
Location: TechLiminal, 555 12th Street, Suite 110
Time: 7pm-9pm / doors open at 6:30pm
Food: Light appetizers and beverages served
I was also lucky to recently join a couple of dozen other nature advocates and science professionals at an informal citizen science discussion sponsored by the California Academy of Sciences. As you may know, they have a staff of several folks working on citizen science efforts already, and seem very interested in providing forums and support for various local projects. The discussion was great, and the energy generally positive about the potential to not only help "real scientists" figure out real-world problems (although there is a long laundry list of issues in making sure the data collected by random strangers is reliable enough to use for solid research) but perhaps more importantly, as a venue for inspiring and training new naturalists and scientists, as well as helping average folks become better informed about the nature and environment that surrounds them. There is another gathering being planned for September, so watch for more info soon, or contact Alison Young at Cal Academy for more information.
Finally, I'd like to pass along information about two upcoming Commonwealth Club events that will cover new citizen science ideas and developments:
Commonwealth Club Citizen Science programming
Tuesday, August 6, 6 pm: The Snake, the Seeker and the Smartphone: Can Tech Save Biodiversity?
How are bold new technologies helping in the fight to retain global biodiversity? Google's Tanya Birch will talk about the life-and-death consequences of empowering indigenous peoples in Brazil and Africa to monitor their biodiversity. Scott Loarie and Ken-ichi Ueda will share the goals of iNaturalist, an online social network for naturalists, and discuss ways social media and mobile technology can bring the power of crowds to the problems of biodiversity.
Monday, August 26, 6 pm: Backyards, Beaches, Birds and Bees: Citizen Science
Public participation in scientific research, also known as "citizen science," is a burgeoning practice that is more accessible than ever. As the world is confronted with growing challenges, from climate change to political upheavals, the individuals' ability to record observations to help assess the health of people and ecosystems is a valuable asset. Citizen science programs help empower communities to understand threats to their landscapes and well-being. They also help people understand science and how it is applied.
Professor Gretchen LeBuhn of SFSU directs the world's largest citizen science undertaking on pollinators, The Great Sunflower Project, which enjoins regular people to make observations of bees in their own backyards. As one in every three bites of food each of us takes depends on pollinator services, she asserts that it is imperative to understand what is causing current bee declines.
Professor Heidi Ballard of UC Davis is at the forefront of finding out how citizen science works and why it matters, and her work emphasizes citizen science that empowers communities to ask their own questions and thus to more directly serve their own needs.
These two leading intellectuals will discuss the ways in which people, technology and crowd-sourcing are making a difference.
(JS: The following site includes the above talk, plus much more.)
An August Commonwealth Club series is coming up on biodiversity - animals, climate, habitat, water, soil, the oceans - from a variety of perspectives ranging from environmental sciences to psychology to music. A special focus will be on how personal technology has revolutionized the ability of the individual be a "citizen scientist" by observing, recording and submitting data on the natural world to be aggregated into research findings. Learn how you can be a citizen scientist.
Click on each of the 21 program titles below for complete information about the speaker, topic, date and location and to make a reservation. See you there!
THE COMMONWEALTH CLUB PRESENTS
When you see the right thing to do, you'd better do it. – Paul Newman
6. Volunteer Opportunities - Mt. Tamalpais Watershed AUGUST 2013
Mickey O'Brien & Simmons Trails
Saturday, August 3, 9 AM to 2 PM
Join our volunteer trail crew and help improve tread and drainage plus trim vegetation on the Mickey O'Brien and Simmons trails.
Meeting time and location: Meet at 9 a.m. at Laurel Dell parking area on Ridgecrest Blvd., 1 ˝ miles west of Rock Spring parking lot. A casual jaunt down Laurel Dell Fire Road will lead us to our work site under a dappled forest canopy.
Saturday, August 17, 9 AM to Noon
Restore oak woodland and native grassland habitat by removing outcompeting Douglas-fir trees near Lake Lagunitas. Help preserve oaks, madrones and associated species before they become shaded out by the Douglas-firs.
Meeting time and location: Meet at 9 a.m. at Lake Lagunitas parking lot, located at the end of Sky Oaks Rd. in Fairfax.
40th Anniversary of Endangered Species Act
Tiny, Translucent and Endangered by Eric Ettlinger
California freshwater shrimp (Syncaris pacifica)
One of the most diminutive and charisma-challenged local endangered species that you will likely never see is the California freshwater shrimp (Syncaris pacifica). Measuring less than 2.5 inches long, with a translucent body and a unicorn-like barb, they are found in slow water habitats throughout lower Lagunitas Creek, downstream of MMWD's watershed lands.
Read more about these elusive creatures and what we can do to help them survive:
Join the 20 Gallon Challenge and reduce your water use by 20 gallons per person per day: http://www.savingwaterpartnership.org/20gallons/
Registration & Event Information
To pre-register or for more information about the above volunteer events, call 415-945-1128 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our Volunteer page on our website.
by Lawrence Raab
For a long time I was sure
it should be "Jumping Jack Flash," then
the adagio from Schubert's C major Quintet,
but right now I want Oscar Peterson's
"You Look Good to Me." That's my request.
Play it at the end of the service,
after my friends have spoken.
I don't believe I'll be listening in,
but sitting here I'm imagining
you could be feeling what I'd like to feel—
defiance from the Stones, grief
and resignation with Schubert, but now
Peterson and Ray Brown are making
the moment sound like some kind
of release. Sad enough
at first, but doesn't it slide into
tapping your feet, then clapping
your hands, maybe standing up
in that shadowy hall in Paris
in the late sixties when this was recorded,
getting up and dancing
as I would not have done,
and being dead, cannot, but might
wish for you, who would then
understand what a poem—or perhaps only
the making of a poem, just that moment
when it starts, when so much
is still possible—
has allowed me to feel.
Happy to be there. Carried away.
"Request" by Lawrence Raab, from Visible Signs. © Penguin, 2003
8. Golden Gate Audubon Society
Online registration is now open for our fall birding classes. Increase your skills or introduce friends to the joys of birding in time to greet our winter migrants!
Fall 2013 classes include:
Beginning Birding - taught by Anne Hoff
Birding by Ear - taught by Denise Wight
Birds of the Bay Area - taught by Rusty Scalf & Bob Lewis
Classes fill up quickly so don't delay... please register online for fastest and most efficient service.
Beginning Birding — starting October 16
This is a great introduction to birding or a chance to improve your basic birding skills and IDs. Instructor Anne Hoff will familiarize you with the tools of the trade including binoculars, field guides, scopes, and the best local places to find various species. In Wednesday evening classroom sessions, she’ll introduce you to different kinds of birds. Then on the following Saturday, she’ll help you spot them in the field. Sign up and bring a friend who is new to birding!
LTE, The Economist
SIR – Although the goal of providing a path to bring America’s estimated 11m illegal immigrants out of the shadows is laudable and sensible, it is not clear that the other consequences of the immigration bill are as positive as you think. There are different conclusions to be found in the Congressional Budget Office study that you quoted. GNP per person would increase only after 2031. Wages would be slightly lower until the end of 2024. And unemployment would increase until 2020.
With the unemployment rate at 14% today (using the alternative U6 government measure) these facts would make an already tenuous life for many Americans even less secure.
LTEs, Guardian Weekly
• The problem with religious democracies, be they Christian, Islamist, capitalist or communist, is that there is a prior idea – God, money or class- which trumps human rights. A functional democracy is secular and requires an inviolate constitution, one you cannot go behind, to protect the rights of the minority. Otherwise, there will be repression and corruption on the one hand and revolt on the other. This was the gift to the world of those who drafted the constitution of the United States in the 1780s.
New Hamburg, Ontario, Canada
Can political Islam ever work? brought to mind Jesus's Sermon on the Mount, concerning hypocrites, eyes, motes, and beams. I look forward to the GW headline Can capitalist democracy ever work?
Outremont Quebec, Canada
Portugal's people problem
The fall in the birthrate in European countries, which may lead to the populations of some falling, is often described as though it is a disaster, and this is what Anthony Faiola's article on Portugal does (Portugal suffers as birthrate plummets, 5 July). The problem is that there will be a growing percentage of elderly people to be supported by a young working population, according to this line of reasoning.
Portugal has an unemployment rate of 18%. Most other European countries suffer from high unemployment rates, particularly among young people. As long as this continues, not only will the young unemployed be in no position to support the elderly financially, but they will need support themselves. Trying to encourage people to have more children will only make things worse.
A fall in population should be grasped as an opportunity: it is a chance to counter urban sprawl, cut the production of greenhouse gases by reducing demand for road vehicles and consumer goods whose production pollutes air and land, ease the problem of responding to the threat of rising sea levels, ensure adequate water supplies, and protect the natural environment.
If a labour shortage eventually results, it may also allow workers to press for improved wages and secure a redistribution of wealth, in a system in which the few prosper at the expense of the many when there is a plentiful supply of labour.
In short, many of the ills of the modern world might be countered more effectively with a falling population than one that is growing and putting an ever-increasing strain on the environment.
• On 15 July my credit card company called to tell me that my account had been blocked because of a recent payment to The Guardian Weekly (28 June). It was for renewal of my subscription, which I confirmed. The block was removed. I suppose that anyone having any contact with the Guardian is now in the US government's Prism or whatever they call it because it published the Snowden secrets.
Aaron M Fine
Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, US
10. So you want to be a writer?
It's the birthday of Chester Himes, born in Jefferson City, Missouri (1909). Himes was serving a 20-year sentence for grand larceny when he published his first short stories in Esquire. They brought him only temporary fame; he was still forced to work as a ditchdigger when he was released. He published If He Hollers Let Him Go in 1945 to warm reviews, but the book didn't sell well. His second novel, Lonely Crusade, received universally bad reviews. In despair, Himes followed other black expatriates to Paris. There he met an editor from the French publishing house Gallimard. They had started a series of dark detective novels, and the editor told Himes: "Get an idea, start with action, somebody does something — man reaches out a hand and opens a door, light shines in his eyes, a body lies on the floor [...] We don't give a damn who's thinking what — only what they're doing [...] Don't worry about it making sense. That's for the end. Give me 220 typed pages.” Writer's Almanac
Literature is the art of writing something that will be read twice; journalism what will be grasped at once. -Cyril Connolly, critic and editor (1903-1974)
JS: History is littered with creations which caught the public's fancy to such an extent that it served to make the creators' other works overwhelmed--or disappear--so much so that the creator came to regret producing it in the first place. Such were Rossini's Barber of Seville, Elgar's Pomp & Circumstance #1 (played at all graduations and coronations), Bizet's Carmen, and JD Salinger's Catcher in the Rye. Here's another:
Purple cow by Gelett Burgess
I never saw a Purple Cow,
I never hope to see one;
But I can tell you, anyhow,
I'd rather see than be one.
Burgess became somewhat exasperated with the success of his poem, of which he was constantly reminded. A few years later, he penned a riposte that became almost as well known as the original. It was titled "Confession: and a Portrait Too, Upon a Background that I Rue" and appeared in The Lark.
Ah, yes, I wrote the "Purple Cow"—
I'm Sorry, now, I wrote it;
But I can tell you Anyhow
I'll Kill you if you Quote it!
This newsletter is posted at http://naturenewssf.blogspot.com/ the same day it is emailed to recipients--but without provision for feedback.