Lionel Webb (1947-2020)

September 21st, 2020

Lionel, I think of you

as an old grizzly bear
all burly and tough
but also a teddy bear
full of cuddly stuff

or as my grandfather,
all seasoned and wise
but also my grandson
full of awe and surprise

 

On the Edge

July 22nd, 2020

July 21

I hear the toilet flush every few minutes.

At dinner tonight, Jan seemed out of sorts and only picked at the meal I’d prepared. She said she’d been having intestinal discomfort all afternoon. When I’d finished, she asked if I could clean up the kitchen so she could lie down.

I went back to the bedroom after I was done and she told me she had bad diarrhea and that she’d looked it up.  That was an initial symptom of Covid 19.  Of course it could be just a stomach flu or food poisoning, since she’d had so little contact with people and was always masked and distant, but who knows.  It was best for me to sleep in my study.

I went back there and read that though not well known, this is a relatively frequent first symptom, especially among the elderly, and that  sometimes it signals a very mild case though sometimes its a prelude to the more serious respiratory symptoms. We will call Dr. Hanson in the morning and try to set up a test.

In the morning I have an appointment to meet Jeff W. at the farm and receive a check for $25,000, the first of two installments of a donation to City Farm by Larry C., whose promise has made the last two weeks some of the most joyful in my life.  They have been filled with plans and prospects and exchanges with all the people associated with the Farm about how this donation, and the possible additional support it can leverage will allow for a campaign to make the place live up to its vast potential within the next two years.  During the same time we have taken on a dynamic new tenant and received word from another quarter of a donation of the money and work to add a 40 tree orchard, along with promises of weed abatement from our neighbors and the City, the commitment of Jen, a highly capable consultant to lead business plan strategizing and a commitment from Josh to help organize a charette for ambitious site development. Also the announcement we were  awarded a  grant from the City Human Relations Commission and the submission of an application for a renewal of our Sprouts Foundation grant.  Also contact from Cheryl at NRCS indicating that she will put in for several EQIP grants for appropriate Farm Projects.  As a result of the concerted efforts of Tree, Shane and me, the vegetable garden has come to full fruit and blossom such that everyone who shows up is astounded. The closest to this I can compare was the news in 1988 that I was hired for the tenure-track job at Cal Poly, a logical, wished-for and seven-year-deferred opportunity to take control of my future and build some long term accomplishments. I’ve been working full time as a volunteer at the Farm an equal amount of time hoping just for this to happen.

But accompanying the excitement has been a  undertone of foreboding.  With the sadness and fear that’s come over the world since last February, how is it possible that I could be so blessed?  With the  powerlessness felt by so many, how can I dare to feel so empowered?

It’s still possible that Jan’s condition could be a false alarm. But unlikely. If not, the grand new changes will be overshadowed by others.

I remain in this space: http://www.stevenmarx.net/2012/06/biopsy/

July 22

Jan sleeps all day and doesnt eat. I make an appointment for COVID test for both of us, for the next day at the Vet’s Hall.  Last time our results were negative.

I’m at Farm on and off.

July 23

Jan wakes up feeling better, but still strange.  We drives separately to the Vets hall for the test. No results available for 4-6 days.  Neither our primary physician nor her nurse is available. Jan sets up protocol whereby we approach only at 6 foot distance, both masked.  She has me set up table beside bedroom door where I leave her food and other stuff.  We communicate mostly by text and email.

I write a thank you letter to Larry outlining plans for use of his donation, ready to send as soon as the check is deposited. Jeff meets me at the farm with the check, I deposit it and send letter, and correspond with Connor about the Tuffshed barn. Jan’s students are submitting their masters’ theses about which she and they have fretted for months. She’s deeply gratified by the results.

July 24

I finalize the Tuffshed order–alot of poor communication with the salesperson. Corey gives me a hard time when I tell him we’ll need his front acre starting January 2021.

I pick 12lbs of peaches at Cal Poly.

I experience slight dizziness, which get me scared.

July 26 8:00 a.m.

Jan organized a Zoom birthday party for herself yesterday and led it from the bedroom, still in quarantine.  Attended by Joe, Amy, Abel, Ethan, Mark, Sonia, Travis, Hana, Dahlia, Claire, Lucas, Gregg and me.  Claire supplied balloons, bday cake and banner.  A lovely time, but a little anxious.

I woke this morning to an email with my test results: negative.  Big relief, especially after hearing yesterday’s Sci-Fri podcast about the long term after-effects of infection.  I’m impatient to hear Jan’s.  She sleeps for another two hours, gets up but her results not sent. We maintain distance.

July 27

At my bathroom run at 2:30 A.M. I see light under the bedroom door where Jan is quarantined.  I dont knock but wonder what’s happening. When I come out at 5:00 she’s still asleep, but as I drink my coffee in the arm chair her door opens and hear her glittering voice: “I got the results.  They’re negative.”

This Changes Everything

July 11th, 2020

Dear Larry

Your visit to City Farm SLO yesterday and commitment of funds to enable us to “Think Big” marks a momentous occasion.  This changes everything.

Along with that, your bringing along Jerry  to help with farm issues and our discussions of specific strategies signals more support than the essential contribution of real money.

Your offer has already released a cascade of pent-up dreams and impending tasks. It allows for the kind of long-term planning we’ve needed for years that’s been hampered by our limited and unpredictable finances.

On the other hand, for me it highlights a need for caution and deliberation. We now face a myriad of decisions that need to balance need, opportunity and constraint. Before our Board meeting on Tuesday, I will propose a process to formulate goals, means, procedures, schedules and budgets that includes City Farm’s diverse stakeholders.

Our discussions yesterday already produced a first pass at such a plan:

·      Proceed immediately with development of entry  area to build a cooler and wash/packing station for use of all tenants

·      Begin beautification program to include elimination of all eyesores and add designed signage, fence upgrades, and landscaping improvements and maintenance.

·      Begin engagement with other urban educational farms, (e.g. Coastal Roots Farm, https://www.farmbasededucation.org/members, https://fairviewgardens.org/, https://soilborn.org/

·      Step up efforts to engage the school district in long term predictable scheduling and funding of our  educational programs .  I mentioned that I expect Jen (https://www.jenerator.me/ and httpss://steamaheadcamp.com) to join in that effort.

Since our meeting at the farm, one model has already emerged: the back and forth among several players about the infrastructure and design of the well/pump area.  I hope that within the week we can to move on that so as to have tangible evidence of where we are going in place by the Fall, but it’s also important to keep entertaining alternatives.

I believe “thinking big” at City Farm warrants a name that gives notice that we are embarking on a program to more fully realize the potential of the land entrusted to us, for example,   “Harvest 2022” or  “City Farm Growth Initiative.” I’m not satisfied with either of those and hope you and the Board will come up with others.

In partnership,

Steven

Police Report

June 27th, 2020

Dear Chief …

We asked to meet you to briefly discuss an encounter that I had with the SLOPD back in October 2019. I didn’t think it was serious enough to bring to your attention until events of the last few weeks started a national conversation about police policy and culture in general.

On the afternoon of October 13 Jan hosted a potluck dinner at our home at 265 Albert Drive for a group of people she’s been working with on San Luis Obispo’s time-honored youth exchange program with a school in Stuttgart Germany.  After the event, around 7:00 (?) p.m. I got into my Chevy Volt and headed for City Farm SLO at 1221 Calle Joaquin, where I am the Director, to carry out my regular duty of feeding the chickens and putting them away for the night.

I remember stopping at the corner of McCollum and Grand Avenue to turn right and then suddenly feeling the bottom of the car forcefully bumping on the rocks in the median on Grand.   I came to a stop, slowly pulled over to the right lane, got out, realized that the car was damaged but still driveable, and pulled ahead to Fredericks St., turned right and found a place to park, planning to walk the two blocks back home and have the car towed in the morning.  Not knowing what had caused the accident, but considering that it might possibly have resulted from my thinking about the chickens or from my having had a glass of wine in the course of the afternoon, I was somewhat disoriented and eager to get back home.

As I walked up Fredericks toward the corner of Albert Drive, three SLOPD cars pulled up around me and several officers got out.  They looked at my registration and insurance and took my driver’s license. I told them what happened and they escorted me up to Albert and partway up the steep hill to a driveway on the right. There they had me walk a straight line, stand on one foot and inspected my eyes with a flashlight. The tone was not hostile, but it was quite intimidating.  I said nothing except to answer the questions posed. When asked whether I wanted to take a breathalyzer test, I said no.  At that moment, the interrogating officer took me by the shoulders, turned me around and snapped handcuffs on my wrists behind my back.  Having some shoulder arthritis, I was uncomfortable but said nothing and then was ushered into the hard low back seat of one of the police cars, still more uncomfortable, and driven to the police station on Walnut Street.

Once inside I was told that I was required to take the breathalyzer test, which I did, and then was placed in the holding cell.  My phone was not taken from me, and from there I texted Jan and told her what was happening.

At first she thought I was pranking her, but when I sent a picture of the inside of the cell, she saw I was for real.

Before long, I was taken out of the cell and told by the officer that I had blown .02 and would be taken home.  She explained to the other officers that she had called the watch commander who asked if I was on heart medication, which I was, and who explained that it was this that accounted for results of her eye inspection.  She apologized for the inconvenience and I was then driven home.

Once I got there and discussed the situation with Jan, I realized what had happened. Between making the right turn and ending up on the median, I must have briefly blacked out.  Although this was of concern, I was relieved to understand.  Next morning I phoned the cardiologist, Dr. Sada, and told him of the event. He arranged for an appointment the same day.  After a quick examination and looking at the monitor records following a very slight stroke I’d had in August, he concluded that I’d had a “syncope” or heartbeat irregularity that caused the blackout.  He scheduled me for surgery the next day and installed a pacemaker, and I’ve had no problem since.

In retrospect I realized I was somewhat frightened during this encounter. My strongest impression, however, was if a 77 year old white man a couple of blocks from home was treated like this, what would it have been like for someone with a different profile.

However, since I never had any other negative experiences with SLOPD, was acquainted with and admired the Chief, and in fact several years ago had two amazing experiences with an officer helping us to deal with a serious family problem with our custodial grandson, I felt no need to pursue it further. But, in view of both local and national events lately, I thought bringing this to your attention could possibly reinforce the value of avoiding heavy-handed treatment of citizens whenever possible.

Sincerely,