Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Another One Bites the Dust

Vermont Yankee to close!


Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Joys of Mutation: How to Survive in a Post-Apocalyptic World

Our naivete during the 50's and 60's when we thought a bomb shelter would protect us from a nuclear holocaust. We'll just stay inside for a few days and then come out... Like, what, we'd be able to grow anything on our land? Like, the seas would produce anything that wasn't lethal?

No, science fact is much scarier than science fiction.

I'm beginning to think our best chances for survival lie in mutating.

Instead of making corn that's Round-Up resistant, hey, Monsanto, how about some human genetic modifications so we can co-exist with Cesium 137 and Strontium 90 and Plutonium and…..


Saturday, August 10, 2013

"Get A Job!" vs "Save Your Future!"

It's was sort of Spinal Tap. I sure thought so when we gathered in front of City Hall in downtown San Luis Obispo early Tuesday morning.

That was the day that The Monk was walking from City Hall to the gates of Diablo Canyon. We had been posting messages for days, encouraging others to join us. I had no idea who might show up.

Activist Chikako and I arrived first. There was no crowd in front of City Hall, but maybe individuals were hiding until it looked like something might be happening.

Maybe that guy over there at the bus station is a "could be" participant. Or that one over there, hanging out on the corner.

They weren't. In fact, the only other people to show up were The Monk, The Artist who was housing The Monk, and The Native American Activist.

This is the reality. Despite Fukushima having nuked half the world forever; despite decades of pain and suffering in all aspects of the nuclear industry from mining to processing to storage of nuclear waste; despite the horrors of HIroshima and Nagasaki, Three Mile Island and Chernobyl; despite generations saddled with birth defects caused directly by the depleted uranium in dirty bombs; despite the fact that our future is so on the edge it's probably over it… Despite all of that, most people just don't care. Many just don't know. Others know some but not much. Still others know (or suspect) but they don't think it's as bad as it is. And there are always the handful who seriously believe that no matter what the source or amount of radiation, it's all a-okay.

That is our reality and it was a tiny kick to my gut. (I am also realizing that there must have been many people who wanted to but couldn't participate because of jobs. But knowing how many retirees are in our community…hmmm.)

We were all a bit disappointed but that didn't dampen our conviction or our commitment. The struggle is a long one and those who have been fighting for decades have been able to find their own motivation for what they do.

The Native Activist performed a prayer, burning cedar instead of sage. "Cedar represents the east, so for Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I am using cedar instead of sage," she explained, 

Our tiny, motley crew was joined by another activist a few miles down. I love these women! They are not your ordinary mothers and grandmothers. They are FIERCE and FEARLESS, yet seem to be such spectacular peacemakers. I am so curious about who they are, it's all I can do to hold back from poking and prodding out all their past details. But that's a whole 'nuther story.

We took turns walking and driving.
We stopped at a local charter school (closed for the summer) for lunch and were joined by our German nuclear waste expert and his lovely wife.
We all walked the last mile or so to the gates of hell. I mean, gates of Diablo Canyon. We had grown to the magical number 7, the exact number of syllables in The Monk's chant: Na-mu-myo-ho-ren-ge-kyo.

Avila Beach was hopping with tourists and campers, the entire stretch of road lined with huge, expensive RVs.

In a small space between the monster RVs, The Monk stood, banging his drum, chanting his chant. Most people hadn't a clue why we were there. Nor did they care.

One guy saw our No Nukes sign and said incredulously, "No nukes? What? You mean there're nukes here???"

Another man rode by and yelled "Get a job!" It was both sad and funny. It was funny because most of us were retired. We all had jobs. Most of us had wonderful careers. For The Monk, this was his job. It was sad because a job is nothing when there is no future. It was also sad thinking that this man probably would not have yelled that to someone who looked like a member of a Christian group (I am thinking, Catholic priest, Presbyterian minister, Baptist preacher and so on.) Sad, too, how there is a huge bias against religions other than Christianity. How many times have you snickered at a Hare Krishna group?

Humankind is such a dysfunctional group. It's no wonder we have the problems we have. Without changing who we are, collectively, can we really change the world? Can we really hope for a nuclear free future? Can we hope for world peace?

I have no answers, but I do know this. No matter how far away the goal, the only way towards it is step by step. And that's the prayer and lesson of a Peace Walk.

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Thursday, August 01, 2013

The Activist Me

It's been several weeks of being Farm Woman. Canning, freezing, drying stone fruit. Harvesting peppers and tomatoes and corn and greens. Making my weekly homemade pasta dishes -- I finally got a manual pasta maker! Ravioli are not too bad, tortellinis are a bitch, spaghetti and tagliatelle are a cinch -- on top of my weekly sourdough loaves. Tending all the living and growing things. Trying to avoid dealing with gophers and squirrels. (That's Farm Man's job but there is no Farm Man here. Only Big Dog and he does not think he lives on a farm. "It's a RANCH," he'll correct anyone who might call our place a "farm." When they ask what the difference is, all he says is "A ranch is more macho.")

But somewhere along the way, I got way in over my head on an anti-nuke event.

I was already preparing for another tv program that our local anti-nukers make for public access tv when email traffic brings the issue of a Buddhist monk my way. He's been living in the US for nearly 2 decades but his English is hard for Americans to understand and the other member of my group wanted to help but were not quite sure what is what he wanted to do.

"I'll contact him in Japanese," I volunteer.

Everyone let go. 

Don't let go! Don't trust me to deal with this properly!

As I communicated with him, I began to realize that I was the head and focal point. Oh my god. What am I doing? I hadn't a clue.

The Monk wanted to do a "Peace Walk" from Vandenberg Air Force base to San Luis Obispo, then a 3-day fast and prayer session in front of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant.

How does this whole thing work? What is the route of The Walk? Where does he stay? Who drives him? Accommodations, food, transportation... There were so many logistical matters.

While I am trying to figure all of this out, a new email comes in. An activist from Fukushima will be on the West Coast around the same time. How about having her and The Monk as speakers for our Hiroshima/Nagasaki Anniversary Event? The logistical details grow both in size and complexity.

I haven't figured anything out and ANOTHER email arrives. The author of Devil's Tango: How I Learned The Fukushima Step by Step also wants to be here around the same time. Cool! Three guest speakers! But now, the planning gets even more complicated.

Hey, this is not the first time I've had to quickly put something together. It's not the first time I've been in charge of a project, I tell myself. But I realize quickly that this is different. In my past life, I've always done things as a JOB. Meaning there was someone with a lot of money and usually it was my job to do it under budget. I had different parameters. I never had to figure out how to organize events with NO MONEY. I never had to go around asking so many people to donate their time, energy, space, etc.

I started freaking out. I started imagining the entire thing unraveling into a huge, un-laughable Spinal Tap sort of nightmare.

I am a terrible planner. I seem to be better at going with the flow. So for tonight, I will just breathe deeply and hope for the best. The Monk arrives tomorrow and the whole Peace Week will begin and then, what happens, happens. If it turns into a disaster, well, I guess I won't ever be doing this again.

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