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It’s Blatantly Simple-But Really Hard To Get Rid Of

Lately, the world seems very easy to explain. White men have , for hundreds of years, done everything that they can to keep POC from owning, benefiting from or enjoying what our society has to offer. At first, they blocked the way by thinking that they owned African Americans. That they are merely possessions, and thought of as sub human. When slavery ended, Southern White land owners had several methods to keep African Americans from benefiting from the system. Because these whites saw a danger from the black vote, whereby African Americans could help improve schools,, roads, and medical infa-structure – they invented the Jim Crow laws that kept most if not all POC from being able to vote. Additionally, the KKK was used as a scare and intimidation tactic. Dressed in white robes and evoking the ghost of dead confederate soldiers, it caused a continuation of the trauma that African Americans had already suffered for the past 400 years. And as a side note here, it is essential to point out that trauma such as this is passed on from generation to generation. In other words, it is true that a modern day African American man or woman has “inherited” the trauma that their ancestors suffered previously. But back to the Jim Crow era, it was obvious that white people (mostly men, I would assume) did not want “their” money being spent to improve the lives of this whole class of people who’s lives have already been limited by the power of these men.

Tracing this behavior to later years, we already know a lot. During the world wars, African American served fiercely in defending the country, however this was only rewarded with “Red lining”. Red lining was an insidious system that prevented everyone except whites from enjoying the benefits of home ownership. It helped create whole areas of cities and towns that were just off limit to POC. Additionally, loans were close to impossible to get unless one was white. Again, a “legal” effort to prevent African American people to gain material assets.

In reality, whole books have been written on this subject, so I don’t pretend to be able to get it all down. However, one last thing. Red lining, lead to making specific areas of a city into zones of intolerable air quality-air that could shorten or hamper the lives of those that lived in these areas. This would be in the form of power plants or perhaps meat processing. Asthma is, sadly, all to common in these areas. And length of lives is statistically much shorter. This is yet another way that the racist system works to keep the wealth with whites.

Ok. I know I said one last thing but sorry, this also needs to be said. How often do you hear people complain about “welfare queens”? Do these people not realize that welfare is no easy ride? With real affordable daycare and decent well paying jobs many of these woman would gratefully look at these alternatives. And besides, there are more white “welfare queens”, anyway.

But lets switch gear and talk carrots. Yes, I know that I hyped them last week, but since then I’ve had carrots almost every day of the week. As a result, my mind is sharper, more witty and also my memory has vastly improved. Its hard to believe that just one week could bring up such a change and yet…. So, its not like we’re going to run out of carrots shortly, its just that these carrots have benefited from wintering over, having been planted last November. The biggest benefit would be their memorable sweet flavor. Its also true that we’re (as far as I know. So tell me, if I”m wrong), the only farm offering fresh carrots at this time. Just saying…..

For those who’ve asked- my recovery has been only positive. Jen and Joel have run the farm with little if any help from me. Occasionally, Joel will ask me a question about something, but largely, I think that’s just to make me feel wanted. Good move, Joel.

Our farm flourishes. Just a quick look around and one can see the benefits of these two very hard working farmers. Thank you, both.

Namaste,

David

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Liz Cheney: “I’m SO sorry!”

What can one do with a country that has turned truth inside out? The election, which Biden won clearly, has now been cleverly named”THE BIG LIE”. This term, of course, was originally pulled out of WWll vintage and used correctly by the Dems to describe how Republicans mutilated truth. With not a shred of evidence and over 60 thrown out lawsuits, with the Ex-President in the lead (trying to avoid using his name), the Republicans insisted that they had won and by a landslide. And after that, of course came the absolutely embarrassing moment when the Republicans refused to accept the official results from certain states. If I was a Republican, I’d be red faced beyond all recognition. And that event came upon the heels of the storming of the capitol. But you all know this. What fascinates and horrifies me is how DJT took (or grabbed) the phrase “The Big Lie” and folded it into his own language. Now, to the Republicans, they refer to TBL as what the Dems have done. There’s no evidence here, my friends. None. I’ll give DJT credit for figuring out a great way for this all to work in his favor. He’s good at that. One can only assume that at this point, he relishes the fight more than the principle. This maybe what he gets his most thrills from. Just a theory, but I like it.

Now, after several weeks we’re seeing the fallout from these positions. Republicans are circling up and trying not to leave holes in their vulnerability. And this is where Liz Cheney gets caught. Let me be clear about her- this is not a politician who’s views on things I embrace. Her percentage of voting in accord with Trump is in the 95% range. She’s been loyal to him in most things. But her integrity hit a wall when it came to the election and the January 6th Insurrection. Cheney believed that DJT’s role in he January 6th event deserved consequences. Soon after that, she was one of just a handful of Republicans who voted to impeach the President. And, subsequent to that, she endured a four hour meeting of legislatures (all men) who tried to get her to apologize for her position-which she refused. Liz Cheney will surely lose her position of third most powerful Republican in the House because of her views. I admire her for standing her moral ground. That is more than I can say for the rest of the party. They are the ones who are perpetuating TBL. All of them have betrayed their oath of allegiance to our country over party. They should be ashamed, but I know they are not.

With the last President, we came so close to losing our democracy. Now, between the political assassination of Liz Cheney and the recent onslaught of voter suppression laws in at least five states, I find myself more worried than ever. When Biden beat the former president, a big relief was felt by so many of us. Political situations never just stay stagnant, and so now, just a few days north of Biden’s first hundred days, we find ourselves looking at a Republican Party who’s main goal is to protected the rich, make it harder than ever for people of color to vote, and turn their back on the needy. In other words, a plunge back into Reaganism. This is all with the backdrop of the majority of the American people being in favor of Biden’s direction. Republicans just do what’s best for Republicans.

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It All Seems Simple, But Scary

Greetings,

Thank you to those of you who responded to my question from last week. Everything took a small turn when my friend was advised to do nothing for her own safety. I get that. So we’re going to leave the question alone for a while.

This week, you’ll have a chance to join our 2nd Annual Mother’s Day Carrot Raffle. All proceeds will go to Unidad Latina en Acción from New Haven. This organization is fighting hard to get benefits to undocumented immigrants. For me, its shocking that our government can turn their backs on whole families who are in dire need of real help.

Let’s briefly talk about the quality of the carrots you’ll be winning. These are the carrots that we started way back in November of 2020. Before the year was up, they germinated and grew at an incredibly slow pace. With great determination, we cultivated them, weeded them and watered them since then. Now, over 5 months later, the first bunch will be harvest. You can count on there being a good supply of our carrots starting next week. There are a few things that you should know about these carrots. First off, crunchy and sweet. Very, in both instances. But most importantly, they come with an iron clad guaranteed to make you jump up in the air with delight. Its that simple. I should know because one of my other names is The Carrot Scientist-a term given to me by a young lad who couldn’t understand how we could make a carrot taste that good. (Ok, full disclosure, he was talking about Tomatoes, but it seemed ok to adapt the phrase for carrots, too. If anyone objects to my poetic license here, write me and we’ll discuss the matter.) Remember, this raffle is designed to raise money (all proceeds to ULA) for an extremely important cause-people who are living 20-30 minutes from you who are hoping for the same benefits as all the other citizens.

The title of this page says it all. I’m beginning to see the world in a much more basic , simplistic way. And I’m hoping that I can explain this idea to you with brevity. It use to be during Lincoln’s time that the Republican Party was interested in helping individuals. That government’s role is to help and assist whenever needed. This idea got lost on Republicans soon after that and it wasn’t until FDR came alone that we see a return to this philosophy. And this was in a big way. In his first 100 days in office, he passed 76 bills, all aimed at helping a shaken and needing American people. His programs provided a sense of purpose to the many who found themselves out of work (25% or more). The purpose was for government to be the helping hand when it was so needed.

Several decades later, Reagan took things way around to the other side and declared that the problem was big government. His 8 years in office were marked with deliberate dismantlings of any program that would help common people. The general idea was that Americans can do anything they want if they try hard enough and that there were too many programs who were designed to create “welfare queens”. Bill Clinton didn’t help much in this score either.

Trump embraced everything that Reagan stood for and upped the ante 3 or 4 times. I’ll just leave you with one aspect of Trumps tomfoolery. When the pandemic struck hard (and he minimized the severity of it because he didn’t want to look bad), instead of creating a viable way for all states to get what they needed, he put them all at odds with each other. No cooperation, no sense of the welfare of nation as a whole-none of that. It was kind of an extension of American First, but instead it was each state first.

President Biden has returned us to the philosophy of FDR-government needs to help the people when they need help. His packages should work well to restore an economic balance to our country. He’ll surely make mistakes, but I believe we are looking at the first transformative President in over 75 years. I’m hoping that the Dems can hold onto the House and Senate for the mid terms. The Republican Party does not listen to the majority of the people and in fact are the minority but have learned how to control things anyways.

Have a great week. Our choices are getting wider and wider every week. Check out the whole store and enjoy what you see.

Namaste,

David

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We Shouldn’t Be Quiet

My friend from across the river presented me with a problem that on some level we’ve all been faced with. She lives in a somewhat congested area, where one’s neighbor’s house is right on top of the next person’s. In other words, everyone knows what everyone else is up to. My friend knows that I’ve been reading incessantly about race, racism and equity, so this particular problem seemed like something that I’d have an immediate reaction to it. Her next door neighbor recently hung a confederate flag across his front door for all the world to see. Now , of course, he legally has a right to do so,but a few thing jumped out at me. First of all, it is a reasonable assumption that the guys is an enthusiastic racist. Second, he probably hates Jews(my friend is Jewish) as well. Thirdly, he has no sense of the horror and pain that the image of the confederate flag causes when displayed in public. In other words, this is an individual that has racist views that are more important to him then any pain he might be inflicting elsewhere.

My friend’s question was simply “what to do, here?”. This was my response. Of utmost important is to be safe. People like my friend’s neighbor could be volatile. In fact, she has evidence that this is the case based on his reactions to other goings on in the neighborhood in the past. Having said that, there’s also the important fact that we can not remain silent when faced with such blatant symbols of racism. We can’t. Another important factor, my friend will never convince this person to think otherwise. Ok. Putting all that together, it is my opinion that she, my friend could tell this guy how his display of the confederate flag makes her feel and that she’d be open to talk to him about it, if the conversation could remain civil. Otherwise, there’s her opinion-take it or leave it.

There’s bravery in speaking up. And sometimes, the circumstances that require one to speak out will surprise you. This is, of course is just one of many confrontations with racism that we are met with. If you’re a POC, the rate of that confrontation is unquestionably that much higher. Work situations, family gatherings etc. all are places of challenge.

Write me back and let me know what you’d do. These small situations can become building blocks to bigger solutions. I’ll publish some of your ideas the following week.

In other news, next week, we’ll be auctioning off the first bunch of carrots of the season. As I’ve said before, we are very very proud of our successful early carrot campaign. These carrots are literally crawling with sweet flavor and crunchy texture. Guaranteed to make you leap in the air with delight. Guaranteed. The proceeds of the raffle will go again to Unitad Latina de Accion from New Haven. This mighty organization is trying to help the undocumented in CT enjoy the same benefits as our other citizens. So, that’s next week.

Lastly, recovery is the word for me. Its going to take a while, but everything is going in the right direction. Thank you for your well wishes.

Namaste,

David

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Affordable? I Sincerely Doubt It

We are (and I’m just reporting here, not bragging) kicking butt. Spring, as you know, has a way of exploding onto the scene-literally an avalanche of bursting buds, new flowering trees and radishes. Let’s not forget the radishes! Its hard to keep up with how exciting this time of year is. And to add to, we’ve now got way over a hundred tomato plants in the ground in Sven (named after grandchild number 3). For the next several weeks, we’ll slowly be filling it up with both cherry tomato plants and Juliets (the famous ones). And in between the rows, we’ll do lettuce, turnips and radishes. Kind of making the soil do double time work. But as long as we are respectful to the soil (and we are), I’ve never seen it refuse to come thru for us. Soil, is like an engine- needs fuel in order to operate. We are constantly loosening soil, adding compost, alfalfa and organic fertilizer. Come to think of it, soil is just like a border collie, loves to and needs to work and gets despondent if it can’t do its job. And that’s what’s so beautiful about organic farming. Its sustainable beyond ones wildest imagination, just feed the soil and the soil will feed us. Its a beautiful relationship- so lets not messed it up.

Both Middlefield and Durham have begun looking at the issue of affordable housing. Its a state mandate. But the mandate is only to “look at the issue”. It doesn’t say that both towns will come up with action on this. Let’s be candid here, affordable housing to some people means that figuring out a way for more people of lesser means to be able to live in each town. And to be even more candid, it sounds to a lot of people that this is an effort to have those people of lesser means to be POC. Along with this line of thinking is a common theme that allowing certain people in the town would alter the “character of the town”. The zoning in both towns is 2 acres. Obviously, 2 acre zoning puts the purchase price out of many people,including POC. This can be tricky because maybe the 2 acres zoning is about the proper square footage for septic fields and drilled wells. That, I can’t comment on with any authority. And, if this was the case, then there are ways to design existing homes to include an affordable rental apartment, or duplexes. It can be done but only if there’s a will for it. At the informational meeting for Durham a few weeks back, I actually heard someone on the zoom say that they didn’t understand why people of lesser means had to look in Durham, when there are so many other options out there. Going to go out on a limb here and speculate that there are many of our fellow citizens who are feeling threatened by the prospect of people who are not white moving into our town and “changing the character”. There’s that phrase again. I, for one would welcome a change from an all white (or nearly so) town. This subject is not going to just go away and when we’re faced with figuring out how to provide real affordable housing here, we need to assume that there are ways to make this work, we just need to work hard to arrive there. I recommend reading the report that the consulting agency wrote about affordable housing which debunked all the common myths that people hold. Property values do not go down, duplexes can look and function great. Apartments in existing buildings are also great ways to make our towns more affordable. Our towns would be richer and more rewarding for everyone. Our children (who are mostly white) would also benefit from diversity. I’m guessing that it wouldn’t be impossible that these notions that have I’ve written about might offend some people, while others will hopefully agree. My intention is only to help move the conversation along, so that when there’s an opportunity to diversify our town, we might be able to do so. I hope so.

Thank you to all of you who joined our raffle last week to benefit Unidad Latina en Acción New Haven. This amazing organization is dedicated to helping the undocumented Latino population with both day to day situations and legal problems. We are, thru this raffle support those among us who need that extra help. You are all wonderful.

Please stay safe. The pandemic is still alive and dangerous for many of us. Consider, if you haven’t already, to get the shot. Dr. Faucci recommends it.

Namaste,

David

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Seeing Is More Than Believing

We’re doing a raffle this week of a small jar (8oz) of maple syrup that we made right here on the farm. Homemade syrup is so much flavorful than stuff you buy at the store! Our syrup takes on a smokey quality, which I find close to heaven. All proceeds will go towards helping our Undocumented friends get through the pandemic. Please consider taking a small chance and buying a ticket.

I’m going to forewarn you that this blog will again be about voter suppression. But before diving into that, let’s talk about the farm. I’m not bragging, but reporting when I write that we’re already on the top of our game. Remarkable, considering that it isn’t yet April. Except for recent years, we’d start making the ground ready for seeds around the beginning of April. And yet, this year, we’ve already planted so much over the past few weeks. This is largely due to two things. First, would be Joel and Jen’s aggressive approach to early planting. Second, having low tunnels outside really pays off. Because they’re protected from continual rains, it is substaintially drier, earlier under the low tunnels, making the ground ready to receive either plants or seeds so much faster than unprotected ground. The result is that we are now even more loaded with greens, both salad, braising greens, kale, and spinach than we were last week. Which means more supply for all of you. Hopefully, there were few disappointments in the “sold out” department last week.

In a few weeks, we’ll be making available vegetable, flower and herb starts for your own gardens. I’m not sure exactly what we do to make the tomato plants work out so well, but consistently, people are telling me at market that ours has worked out so much better than anything else they’ve tried. Again, just reporting, not bragging. (well, sort of!)

Our stand of carrots in the High Tunnel is really starting to “root” up. I’ll go down there to pull a few, because they need a bit of thinning and am surprised by how big the carrots already are. If you’re looking for the perfect Mother’s Day present, a bunch of our carrots is perfect and so welcomed. Better in some ways than a bouquet of flowers, which you can’t eat.

I bought a new toy for Star Light last week. Its a temperature sensor that will alert me (or Joel) by a phone call if the furnace fails in either the tomato house or the nursery. There’s a sensor that will send a signal to my phone if the furnace breaks,putting our plants in jeopardy. Although somewhat expensive, it is also true that a broken furnace can cause the death of hundreds of our tomato plants. With a quick alert , we’re in a great position to fix the furnace problem on the spot. In the past, I’ve had the awful experience of getting up some cold morning in April and go out to the house and find that for one reason or another, the furnace had quit, leaving rows of frozen toms. That’s a sickening feeling. I felt that the world had ended. Luckily, tom plants are resilient and eventually new leaves would come out of the main stalk. However, now we’ve lost weeks of great growth. This system will help prevent that.

Ok. About Voter Suppression. This note will only mean something to you if you believe that every person registered to vote should be able to easily vote without tremendous hardship. Recently, Governor Kemp of Georgia has passed a “Voter Reform” law that limits the days, hours and places where one can over. Mail in balloting, something that is a boon to older or limited financial means voters, has become even more difficult. There’s also a provision to limit a person’s ability to vote based on their literacy ability. And most curious, there’s a penalty to anyone bringing food and water to people waiting in the voting lines. Does anyone have a plausible reason for such laws? If I was a legislature , I’d be thinking of good ways to help people get to the polls, rather than a million ways to prevent people from voting. Georgia is just one of several states that are trying to churn out ways to keep people away from the polls. And let me be clear here, the people that they’re targeting are POC. Essentially, this is a Republican move to keep non white people away from voting. For me, a reality is that Republicans are in the minority. The former President (you know who) lost both elections in the popular vote by an impressive margin. Its as if, if you’re the minority, you’ve got the power to make your voice be the one that’s heard. Republicans can see the writing on the wall. Largely a party of whites looking at a change is what’s the majority. A scary thought for them. So therefore, they’ve loaded the courts with their kind of judges and pushing for more and more restrictive voting practices throughout the US.

H.R. 1, or the John Lewis Voting Act is crafted in such a way to get the laws back to the historic Civil Rights Voting Act of 1964, a law that has been gradually shrunk down till it almost means nothing. Earlier in 2013 , the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision gutted section 4 of the Civil Rights Act which would eliminate the need for states to have voting rules ok’d by the federal courts. Southern states particularly had shown themselves unable to leave the voting rights alone in their respective states, making voting more and more impossible for POC. As Ruth Bader Ginsburg said: “Throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you’re not getting wet.”

This kind of behavior is pretty easy to understand. Republicans feel like their way of life is being challenged. If they can’t beat the new wave of progressive thoughts at the polls, then they’ll simply try to keep the people away who are going to vote them out. One very direct way to help defend ourselves from this onslaught of legislation is to donate to the ACLU. They are working to combat this way of terrible legislation. And yes , I know that I said I’d touch on affordable housing, but without good voting laws, we’ve got nothing.

I hope you have a great week. Remember to stay safe and continue to practice social distancing. We’re not done yet. But we will be.

Namaste,

David

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Covid Covid Covid

Not too long along, when we had the former President in the news all day every day, he was quoted as saying something like “covid covid covid, that’s all I heard about these days” as if it was a nasty mosquito that never quits and is always around. The context, in my opinion, implied that why aren’t people talking about me (the President). This was, of course, a misdirected and dangerous view of the priorities at that moment. The trouble was that the President thought that if the press isn’t talking about him, then its wasting its time. We now see so clearly that this was an abuse of power. His insane drive to keep the news feed about him cost lives simply because he minimized the threat and danger of the virus. Weak and pathetic. Oh and transparent, too. And yet, not everyone saw it that way. Think of all the masses of people who attended “unmasked” rallies and other super spreader events, headless of the obvious danger of such behaviors. Truly, there are times when I contemplate what this period is going to look like to subsequent generations and know that they’ll say “What were they thinking?”

The former President (and you’ll note my reluctance to actually put a name to him-mostly because I don’t want to contribute to any more press time for him) had, as his guiding principle, the notion that politics aren’t nearly as important as making sure of taking care of Number One. Allegiance to him was imperative. Looking out for the welfare of the planet was not on his radar screen. We’ll be feeling the effects of his “me first” attitude for generations to come, I fear.

Which brings me around to my experience yesterday at a rally in New Britain in support of making sure the undocumented are being taken care of in the same manner as US citizens. CIRC (Connecticut Immigrant and Refugee Coalition ) sponsored the event. There, I heard sad, tragic and unfathomably unfair stories about Undocumented Immigrants being refused medical treatment because of their status. The situations just boiled my core. After all, most of us are either immigrants or children (or grandchildren) of immigrants. We got our place in the sun, so does that mean done and finished? By the way, economist have shown over and over again that the value that the economy gets from people who are undocumented is essential and of real worth.

Seeing those among us who believe that its important to supportour Undocumented brothers and sisters, stands in deep deep contrast to the former President (well, at least I’m capitalizing the name of the office!). The list of his “me first” items is long and deep. We need more people who think that its imperative to work for the greater good.

So, I will leave this thread for now, and at the same time tell you that I look forward to talking about affordable housing in our town. Soon. This, I promise, will be a flashpoint for those among us, who feel threaten by the idea that we, as a town, could have people of lesser means (meaning potentially POC) live on our street or around the corner. More to come. Just a thread about many of us who wish for our actions to translate to a bigger good. I’ve developed a theory- anything that we do that wasn’t in the former Presidents repertoire is probably a good thing. Right. A bold and easily refuted statement. I could probably blow holes in it myself. Still, I’ll let it stand as something to think about.

And then there’s our beautiful farm. Check out our Instagram Page, lots of great pictures, including sugaring season video and a planting video with our paper pot planter that will knock your socks off. Well, it does for me. It would only take one quick afternoon of transplanting the old fashion way to know that the paper pot planter has revolutionized the world of transplanting on the small sustainably run farm. Check it out.

Supplies are almost perfect. My prediction is that the sold out label is much less likely to show up now. And think ahead to your own gardens, where we can supply you with vegetable and herb starts. Our nursery is teaming with potential right now. Teaming.

Oh, two last thoughts. One, we’re on the edge of planting our first tomatoes in Sven Greenhouse (named after my grandson number 3). Early early April is how it looks from here. Oh happy day. The second thing is Big Bad Truck. We’ve really stepped up our game by this new purchase. On market days, I’ve watched how Joel somehow figures out how to fit more than is imaginable in our Red Ford Transit. And even then, we’ve had to send Jen is a second car. No more. Big Bad Truck is at least twice the size of the RFT. By the way, Bad, in this case, is a good thing.

Oh, another thing. (They just keep popping up!). Carrots. For dinner last night, I included carrot thinnings. Sure, the carrots themselves were a tad small, but the greens were delicious as were the carrots themselves. They’re going to be ready for Mother’s Day. I’ll wager that there aren’t going to be an earlier carrot in all of New England. We are ok with being first.

Have a great week. Enjoy our food-its so easy.

Namaste,

David

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If We Don’t Do Something Quick We’re ___(fill in your own expletive)!

It was all I could do, to not actually spell the f word in the title. There was a moment’s hesitation where I debated the wisdom of even remotely making a suggestion of the word, but realized that we can’t close our eyes to voter suppression in the country. Ever

I’m going to start with something basic. Joe Biden won the presidential election. The former president lost by a considerable margin. There was never any evidence of widespread fraud or deceit. The Republicans disputed votes only in Democratic states and specifically in areas that are composed mostly by POC. The fact that so many people have embraced the myth that this election was rigged to me is frightening. Absolutely frightening. But, also it should be noted that we spent 4 years with so many lies coming out of the past administration that people became use to an “alternative truth”. This is a dystopian situation, dangerous to our democracy-a place where many voices are suppressed in heinous, insidious ways. This is democracy slipping out of our grasp.

And as a side note, for any of you who don’t agree that January 6th was a dangerous and near miss attack on our way of life-considerate this. The election would have turned out differely if the former president was able to talk the former vice president to exercise a right (that he didn’t have) to throw the election back to the states, whereby each state had one vote. And from an arithmetic point of view, there’s more Republican states than Democratic. In other words, a home run for Trump. And that scenario looked like the end of the great Democratic experiment to me.

Republicans are doing every thing they possibly can to legislate new and restrictive laws that are specifically designed to make it harder and harder for POC to vote. The list of strategies include closing convenient poling stations, making mail in ballots harder if not impossible to do, changing the times of when you can vote, strict and sometimes arbitrary i.d. requirements. These are the new Jim Crow rules. Same ideas, but a slightly different look. Republicans see that there are more and more POC who are eligible to vote and are typically Dems. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see that they’re seizing power on the state level in order to have a Republican result in these states. Between that and the filabuster rule, its becoming a fact- the minority has a clear path to call the shots. That’s not a democracy.

Things to do, in my opinion: talk to everyone you know and get them thinking about how they want their democracy to work. Do they want a voting system that suppresses legitimate voters? Support financially institutions that are actively trying to loosen rather than tighten the voting rules. Two examples of this are the ACLU and the Southern Poverty Law Center. There are many others. Let’s make sure that every legal voice gets heard.

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You’ve Got To Be Taught Before Its Too Late

I was exposed to musicals pretty early. Growing up, The Schubert in New Haven was the testing grounds and world premier for most the classic musicals you can think of. I would go a few times. The most memorable show was “The Sound of Music” staring Mary Martin and Theordore Bikel. Breathtaking. But there was also the Oakdale, which at that time was a huge tent with seating around a rotating stage. Now, of course, both venues have changed radically. The Oakdale is a fancy indoor auditorium, and The Schubert host traveling Broadway shows rather than premier them. I don’t remember when I first saw South Pacific, the epic show based on James Michener’s novel about life on a Polynesian Island during WW2. But what I do remember is my father explaining to me the prejudice that the American military showed to the natives of the island. There was one song in particular that still haunts me to this day. It was called “You’ve Got To Be Taught”. The substance of it was sung by an officer who has had his heart smitten by a young, beautiful native woman of the island. He explains thru the song that even prejudice begins right at birth. People are taught to “hate all the people, your relatives hate.” Here’s a link to the segment from the movie where it is being sung. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VPf6ITsjsg It has always sent goose bumps down my spine because of the cold hard truth that its conveying. Yes, it is true that right from the beginning, parents give their children messages about race and who to trust and who to be with, so that by the time of adolescence, children find themselves leary of people who don’t exactly look like them.

My big takeaway from all this is that its hard to not find myself thinking my own racist thoughts. I’m not proud of knowing this about myself, but am working hard to eliminate prejudice where and when I can. This is no easy task. Reading, thinking, being a member of our local Social Justice Committee, working for Immigrant Rights. All important and difficult. The point is that we live in society that supports a white world having the upper hand over POC. Like many white folks, my eyes opened up to how rampant racism is in my world after the murder of George Floyd. Sure, I knew a lot about how the world worked before that, but this event has permanently catapulted me to a place where my goal is to become an Anti-Racist. Not being racist is not good enough. I don’t see every future twist and turn in front of me, but will embrace what’s ahead. I wonder what comes up for you about this? Did you receive suptle messages from school or parents or other relatives that had to do with race and your place in it? At my earliest moment, I”m going to ask my own grown up children what kinds of suptle messages we might have given them, as they were growing up.

I’ll leave you with a more or less accurate lyrics to the song mentioned above in hopes that you’ll see the actual performance of it: You’ve got to be taught before its too late/ before you are six or seven or eight, /to hate all the people your relatives hate/ you’ve got to be carefully taught.

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Reparations: A Really Unpopular Subject

HR 40 is a bill before Congress to address the question of reparations for ancestors of slaves. I remember the first time that I heard about this concept, I thought it was a very long shot. Further, it seemed that this was something that happened a long time ago and had nothing to do with present day African-American people. Besides, the expense of such an endeavour, it seemed that it was time to “move on” for everyone’s sake. After thoroughly immersing myself in learning more about the history of enslaved people over the past year, the subject was not so clear cut as I had originally thought. Because POC have been held back from gaining monetary wealth since the moment they were captured in Africa, they find themselves as a race far behind whites. Subsequent to that were the Jim Crow laws, the Great Migration, Red Lining and their being cut out of the GI Bill, which sent countless white GI’s to college and a better chance at more lucrative jobs. And lets not forget the less than average educational experience for a typical Black child, whether its in the rural south or some large city: it puts these children at an even further disadvantage than most white children. I might also add here that a Texas congress person in the early 1800’s just flat out said ,”This country exist souly to benefit white people only.” He was honest, anyway. All of this means that beginning from day one and up until today, African Americans have had to work harder than almost any white person for each and every dollar that they earned-not to mention all the obstacles that white society has put in their way. This is not a popular notion for a lot of white people, particularly for white people who have admirably scratched their own way out of their own poverty, and overcome incredible obstacles. I can’t and won’t argue with them about this experience, but rather remind you that as a race, Black people have been held back from gaining assets and education for over 400 years.

Reparations are not a new concept , nor is it a concept that hasn’t already been put in place by the US government in the past. I’ll mention three examples. Japanese-Americans who were interred during WWll were awarded $20,000 each for compensation. Along with the monetary grant to each of them, came a formal apology from the government. And although the 40 Acres and a Mule plan put forth my General William Tecumseh Sherman never came to pass, there was actually reparations paid in the South-to Southern Plantation owners to help to rebuild their dynasties that had been built on the backs of “their” unpaid slaves. In 1862, before the Emancipation Proclaimation, President Lincoln ‘s”Compensated Emancipation Act” was pushed thru congress. Over a million dollars (value at that time) was paid to slave owners as compensation for the loss of their slaves. Again, in 1862, the Homestead Act gave away to white settlers 80 million acres of land for virtually nothing . To quote the language of the act, it serves to “undergird its White peasants.” All this was happening at the same time that the government refused to doing anything for the Black population. Whenever a race of people are faced with a destruction of life, spirit, their culture and their identity, they are due for reparation-meaning the repair for damages inflicted.

This is not a new issue. Not by a long short. Back in the late 19th century, there were a few cases of former slaves that had been kidnapped back into servitude that later sued and won compensation for their sufferings. In modern days I refer you to the very eloguent and powerful article by Ta-Nahesi Coates that was published in the Atlantic 2014. Here is the link. This is not an easy or short article to read, but it should at the least give you something to think about. This issue will never go away. And it shouldn’t. Here’s the link

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/06/the-case-for-reparations/361631/

This is not by an stretch of the imagination an easy subject for the American people to address. I will admit that I do not see or understand all the factors here. What I do know is that it needs to be looked at with empathy and real compassion for those among us who have been subject to racism. As I said a few lines up, this issue will not be going away.

Before leaving you this week, I’d like to briefly touch on how we’re able to provide you with real food without the use of extra heat or artificial light. The short story is that some plants, like kale and spinach have a special antifreeze system that concentrates the liquid within the plant cells thus changing the freezing point of the moisture. Here’s a link that I use every Winter that can explain it all better than me.

Please stay safe. While it looks like we’re gaining on the virus, now more than ever its imperative to keep wearing mask and maintaining social distance. Many of us are going to refuse the vaccine, which means that the danger will exist for a while (I’m not in a position to say how long, of course).

Namaste,

David