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,

Old Man Ouchies

April 28th, 2020

After weeks of feeling grotesquely privileged by April days of growing gardens, walks on the beach, leisurely prepared meals, low anxiety about getting stuff done, luxurious entertainment by TV, music and books, against a backdrop of news offering suspense and amusement, last night and early this morning provided a brief dose of the darker reality.

A phone conversation with Peter, my  younger brother stand-in, detailed his excruciating post-operative condition after successful surgery removing slow-growing tumors from his kidneys.  He’s had four botched catheterizations and is now sending urine to a bag, since his urethra is blocked.  This makes for continuing pain that the painkillers cant control and required an emergency trip to a urologist in Courtney from which he’d just returned after several days in a Vancouver hospital.  Prognosis uncertain.

My last night brought repeated awakenings with more pain than usual in hands, shoulders, back and knees.  I applied Jan’s cream, took more Tylenol, tried cannabis oil, and went back to bed exhausted after morning bath.  There I  half-dreamt that these were early symptoms of infection with the virus and visualized being set up in our guest room, wondering which exposure–Costco to get the Mac and Cheese for the Homeless Shelter or not wearing  a mask when seeing Claire and Greg–had led to it.  It was only after a third cup of coffee and two more Tylenols that I returned to a semblance of the new normal–readiness to go to the farm to carry out today’s ambitious plans for harvest and planting with Shane and Tree and meeting with Josh and Shea to measure the layout for her planned outdoor farm school.

Digital Legacy

April 16th, 2020

I’ve embarked on the effort to create a digital legacy with Jake Smallwood from Fertile Minds, a protege of Dusty who got this blog started.  If it can work it will cost about $400 to create a setup with wordpress that approximates the setup I had with Dreamweaver in the 20th century.  Back to the future.  Corresponding and speaking with them brings back memories of Dusty and grief for his loss.  But also emphasizes the relevance of the project.  Creating a digital legacy.  Moving forward on the effort initiated with this.

A life as a project, coming further into focus as the ratio of past to future increases, or alternately, the ratio of future to past decreases.

The project enhanced by current reading a biography of Leonard Bernstein. Fascinating information in immense detail, but all of it external from interviews with his acquaintances and public records–nothing about his own perspective and inner life, since sadly the authoritative author was denied access to the vast archive in his estate by the executors.

The blog form–a dynamic record, allowing for the additions of data created by an ongoing life and of changing of perspective provided by reconsideration of old snapshots, combining immediacy and distance.