Category Archives: business

An Open Letter to Willie Nelson

Dear Willie,

willie nelson norml

I write to you today on behalf of marijuana smokers across the US, of which I am one, and on behalf of my community here in Humboldt County, California. I write to you because I read recently that you intend to market, or at least license your name to, a brand of cannabis products. I’m glad to hear it. I wish you enormous success on your new endeavor, and look forward to trying your weed.

WilliesReserve-

I know that you’ve been working for legalization since at least the Carter administration.

willie nelson jimmy carter

I’ve been working for it for a long time too.

me

Now that it looks like we have finally done it, here in California, the people who profited so much from marijuana prohibition, politicians and black market drug dealers, are working together to keep marijuana expensive through excessive regulation and taxation.

babylon bucks

This policy of high taxes and anti-competitive regulation insures that the black market for cannabis remains strong because cannabis in the legal market stills costs more than it does on the street. The black market for cannabis is destroying my community, not to mention some of the last great forests in the lower 48. We have grown pot for a long time here in Humboldt County. However, the recent dramatic expansion in cannabis cultivation here, has had serious impacts on spotted owl habitat, endangered Coho salmon and the Pacific fisher, not to mention the quality of life for the people who live here.

endangered in Humboldt County

The black market economy has had a corrosive effect on my community. The black market for marijuana has the effect of devaluing all other forms of work. Kids here expect to grow up to become drug dealers, like their parents, and they start young. This creates special challenges for our public school systems. Violent crimes, like home invasion robbery, murder, and violent assault have become commonplace in our small rural community, and we have some of the highest suicide and drug overdose rates in the state. Despite the supposed “economic benefit”of the black market marijuana industry, it produces a very deep kind of poverty in this community.

get the fuck out

Sure, there’s more money around town, thanks to the black market, but that money mostly goes into the pockets of the very worst people, and the promise of black market money brings more of these greedy bottom-feeders to Humboldt County every day, where they chop down trees, poison wildlife and convert local housing into grow operations in order to coldly exploit marijuana prohibition in the rest of the country. Believe me, the money that the War on Drugs has brought to Humboldt County has done more harm than good, and the harm the black market marijuana industry does to this community is expanding at an astronomical rate.

pot farms destroys forest

 

Humboldt County became a popular place to grow marijuana because of its remoteness, and because of the cover the forest provided. Today, drug dealers from all over the country come here to grow weed, but thanks to our work to legalize cannabis, they no longer need to hide under the forest canopy. They know that here, the county government loves their money, the Sheriff will ignore them, and that we have the infrastructure to supply them with all of the soil, fertilizer and grow supplies they need. However, the land here is steep, heavily forested and very poorly suited to agriculture. Marijuana farmers use incredibly wasteful production methods, and our remote location makes everything here more expensive. There’s no reason you couldn’t grow pot that was every bit as good as we grow here, for a hell of a lot less money, somewhere else.

cannabis-farm

That’s why I’m writing to you today, Willie. We have turned the tide in the War on Drugs, and we have forced the politicians to change the laws, but politicians and drug dealers remain as greedy as ever. We can’t let them continue to rip-off pot smokers. Pot smokers deserve deserve a break after all of these years, and it’s time for the legal business community to serve cannabis consumers with safe, reliable cannabis products at prices that put black market dealers out-of-business.

drug-prohibition

Pot is not difficult to grow. I’ll bet you could grow a hell of a lot of it in Texas, and I’ll bet you could grow it cheaper there, than we can here, even if you have to haul your water all the way from Louisiana. This nation needs weed, Willie, and Americans need reliable cannabis that they can afford. Thus far, the licensed legal growers in Washington, Colorado and Oregon have not begun to quench this nations’ thirst for cannabis. As cannabis becomes more reliable and accepted, the demand will likely rise as well. Also, as the price of cannabis falls, the demand will increase as people devise imaginative new ways to use cannabis. What that means, Mr. Nelson, is that this nation needs an enormous amount of weed, and we are counting on you and your company to produce it for us.

willie_nelson_better america

I know that you might feel tempted to smoke another joint and think about this for a while, but my community needs relief today. We need to stop this disease now, before it wipes out the last wild salmon, before it drives the spotted owl to extinction and before the last Pacific fisher dies of rodenticide poison. What’s more, we need to drive this insatiable greed out of our midst before we lose any more of our community to the War on Drugs.

no drug causes the fundamental ills of society

You have the opportunity to make a LOT of money for you and your investors, create jobs for American workers, and make marijuana affordable for the people who need it most. At the same time, you would save our environment, my community, and put violent drug cartels and greedy criminal gangs out of business. We should have done this back when Carter was president, but we absolutely need this ASAP, PDQ and NOW!

asap pdq now

It shouldn’t cost as much to sit on the front porch and smoke a doobie while you strum your old guitar, as it does to go out to a bar and have a couple of beers. American workers should not have to work an extra day each week, just to pay for the pot it takes for them to enjoy a joint at the end of a long day at work. Americans need the stress relief that cannabis provides, and they don’t need the extra stress of ridiculously high, prohibition-era prices, when they can barely keep a roof over their head and food on their plate as it is.

american workers struggle

When we started fighting for the legalization of marijuana, it wasn’t because we wanted drug dealers to be able to legitimize their illegal profits. We worked to legalize marijuana because we love marijuana and we don’t think that anyone should go to jail for it. The American people deserve marijuana, and after all that marijuana smokers have been through because of prohibition, we deserve safe, reliable, high-quality marijuana at a price we can afford. I hope you can make that happen, Willie, before it’s too late for my community.

Make-it-happen-

Sincerely, John Hardin

jh at bfr crop

 


SoHum, It’s More of a Casino Than a Community

casino

Now that the weather has turned cold and rainy, I worry about my friends here in SoHum who lack adequate housing. I know it looks like we have a bunch of houses and a few trailer courts around here, but most of those structures have been at least partially, if not entirely, converted to indoor cannabis cultivation. Nobody lives there. Because of that, a lot of the people who work at the restaurants, stores and hotels in town, and on the pot farms in the hills, live in their cars, or camp in the woods.

camp in the woods

They really don’t have a choice. There’s just not enough housing available for the number of people who work here, so people make do. The cannabis industry, by nature, does not create a lot of steady, reliable jobs. Instead, it suckers people in with the promise of big profits, which rarely turn out as planned. It’s a gamblers game, and everyone has their ups and downs.

gamblers

Our corrupt Sheriff sees thousands and thousands of illegal, habitat destroying, salmon killing dope farms on “google earth,” but sends his deputies out to harass poor people for talking to their friends on the sidewalk in Garberville. We have dozens of unsolved murders, countless other violent crimes occur here daily, and multiple global organized crime networks operate here with impunity, but Sheriff Downey sends his Deputies down here to act as bouncers for the merchants in the Garberville business district, and to evict people from their makeshift shelters.

sheriff-in-gville

 

A lot of people see no problem with this. They think the sheriff shouldn’t worry so much about crime, and should instead focus on sweeping poor people out of town. Really, we don’t care about crime. We like crime. We are crime. We take pride in our outlaw status, but we prefer to cater to more upscale felons, and we expect the Sheriff’s Department to rid us of the riff-raff, whether they’ve committed any crime or not.

riff raff rocky horror

It’s a strange attitude, considering how much Southern Humboldt relies on, and takes advantage of poor people. Poor working people grow, process and sell almost all of the millions of pounds of cannabis grown in SoHum. Besides doing most of the hard labor and taking most of the risks, they pay most of the hotel bed tax. Poor working people, who can’t find a place to live, often rent hotel rooms to avoid inclement weather, shower, do laundry, charge cell phones etc. Poor local homeless people keep our SoHum’s hotels in business, and clean the rooms every day, besides.

hotel maid Change-Sheets

Last year, the county passed another tax, specifically targeting the poorest taxpayers in Humboldt County, Measure Z. The new sales tax, targets the poor in more ways than one. First, it taxes the poor when they buy necessities, like clothing and toiletries. Then it gives that money to the sheriff, who uses it to harass them, evict them from their makeshift shelters, and drive them out of town. I know Measure Z is a county-wide tax, but folks in SoHum loved the idea and pushed it hard. I’ve never known people to work harder to screw poor people than they do here in SoHum.

measure z homeless-family

You will hear a lot of rhetorical references to “community” in Southern Humboldt. We have the world famous Mateel “Community” Center, the equally famous Redwood “Community” Radio, and we talk about “this community” a lot, but we use the term euphemistically. What happens here in SoHum is something else entirely.

something else

SoHum has become a “Mecca” for greedy, self-absorbed drug-dealers who make their money by destroying communities all over America. Ordinarily, drug dealers lead secret lives, alienated from the community around them by the clandestine nature of their occupation. They tell lies to avoid arousing suspicion and keep a low profile, while they undermine community values and enrich themselves.

hey-kids-wanna-buy-some-weed_

Drug dealers parasitize communities the way ticks parasitize dogs. Here, however, we have thousands upon thousands of ticks, piled on top of each other, posing as a dog. From a distance, it looks like a dog, but when you get close enough to touch it, you’ll find nothing but a mass of blood-suckers eager to feast on you.

tick bite

Sure, drug dealers feel a camaraderie with each other, here, that they don’t often find elsewhere, and they are always eager to make connections, especially profitable ones, but that doesn’t make them a community. Instead, think of them as card players in a poker game. On the surface, they maintain a “poker face,” and appear friendly and cordial, but beneath the calm exterior, they are all scheming to take advantage of each other.

poker players

That’s not really what you call “community.” Communities work together to take care of each other. That’s not what goes on here in SoHum. People come here to play “the game” and make money. They’re not interested in any “seventh generation” bullshit, and they don’t give a damn about the “common good.”

common good

“The game”, of course, is the cannabis industry. Some people win at this game, but a lot of people lose. Merchants and non-profits create lots of opportunities for “high-rollers” to get drunk and blow their winnings, and, of course, we kick the penniless losers out on the street. Doesn’t that sound like a casino to you? If you ignore all of the hollow talk about “community” and think of SoHum as a gambling casino it becomes easier to understand the dynamics of this place.

understanding-power-dynamics

For instance:

for instance

We don’t do charity here. No one wants to help the less fortunate. Everyone here wants more for themselves, and the people who have the most, want more still. Instead of charity, we have “community non-profits” where the richest people in this community decide what ridiculously expensive luxury they would enjoy most, and then convince everyone else to donate time, money and energy to make it happen.

socialism for the rich

You might have noticed that we have a top-shelf concert hall, a high-powered radio station, a fancy new town square, and a huge new community park with an organic farm and soon an athletic field infested with soccer moms. Imagine those things as crystal chandeliers suspended over the gaming floor of a huge casino. You know how casinos are. Casinos overdo the luxuries, until everything reeks of too much money and not enough taste. Casinos spend money on extravagant luxuries, like crystal chandeliers, in a futile attempt to conceal the general sleaziness of the place. We do the same thing here in SoHum.

chandelier in casino

Those chandeliers do nothing to dignify the activity going on beneath them, but that’s why so many people around here can find money for a new “chandelier,” but have nothing but contempt for the people who do most of the work around here, pay most of the taxes, and still have no place to live.   Clearly, the people who live here, have the resources to solve SoHum’s housing crisis, but in the casino we call “SoHum” people obviously have other priorities.

other priorites cheney


Humboldt Pot, a Petroleum Product

sour diesel skull

I don’t know why we worry so much about Big Tobacco getting into the marijuana industry when the industry has already sold out to Big Oil. When you consider all of the hash labs littered with thousands of empty butane canisters,

butane-lab-pollution

all of the lit-up greenhouses and the indoor grows,

grow room big

the big generators,

diesel generator exhaust

the earth moving equipment,

excavator digs

the quads,

quad atv

the giant 4×4 vanity trucks

4x4 truck

and the endless snorting, stench-spewing caravan of soil and water trucks crisscrossing our watersheds,

Image of red colored truck with very dark exhaust, possibly polluting the environment.

it’s no wonder all of the weed we grow around here stinks of diesel fuel. Truth be known, Humboldt weed is primarily a petroleum product, and the industry becomes more oil intensive every day.

oil-well-

The cannabis industry’s thirst for fossil fuel has only grown since coming out of the closet, at least judging by auditory evidence. I’ve never heard so much racket coming out of these hills as I have in the past year, and it’s not just my neighborhood. Yesterday, in town, I heard three different people, independently, complain about loud generators disturbing their peace and quiet in three separate watersheds.

diesel generator camo

In the Redway Post Office, I saw a flier posted by yet another angry forest dweller encouraging people who value their peace and quiet to to report their noisy neighbors to the CA Air Quality Management Board. The flier also reminds people of the health risks associated with noise pollution, like tinnitus, ear damage and hearing loss. I doubt the bureaucrats at CAAQMB want any more than to collect a fee from the offenders, but why not make them pay any way you can.

make them pay

Now that the marijuana industry has come out in the open, apparently, so has the greed. The sun just can’t shine bright or long enough to satisfy our dope yuppies anymore, so they flood the forest with noise pollution and air pollution so they can make light pollution. Besides annoying neighbors, stressing wildlife, degrading the environment and creating a public health threat, every year, a few of these generators blow up and start forest fires. Dope yuppies don’t care, unless it’s their house that burns.

forest fire

Dope yuppies don’t care about anyone but themselves and their own greedy scheme to get rich off of prohibition. All Summer, their soil and water trucks pounded the county roads out in the hills, to rubble, in yet another sacrifice to their insatiable greed. Humboldt’s marijuana industry destroys roads because, every year, all new “farmland” has to be trucked in, as well as a substantial portion of the water needed to grow the crop. Thanks to prohibition, and the massive taxpayer subsidies that go along with it, Humboldt’s dope yuppies make so much money from marijuana that they still turn a profit despite their disgracefully wasteful farming practices.

HOOPA, CA - NOVEMBER 15, 2012 --  Aaron Pole, a wildlife technician with the Hoopa Tribal Forestry, walks inside the forest where marijuana growers left piles of trash after vacating the area on the Hoopa Indian Reservation in eastern Humboldt county on November 15, 2012.  The grow was raided by the sheriff in August and deputies cut down 26,600 plants in eight interconnected clearings along Mill Creek.  Pole and Mark Higley, a wildlife biologist on the Hoopa Indian Reservation, suspect that the huge marijuana grows are killing wildlife in the area. (Photo by Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times)

Meanwhile, Supervisor Estelle Fennell has the nerve to remind us that homeless people and working single mothers who shop in town, will pay to fix those roads, so that dope yuppies can continue to have Amazon deliver everything they need, right to their door, avoiding the Measure Z sales tax completely, and effectively externalizing yet another business expense to the poorest taxpayers. Way to go Estelle! That’s how you steal from the poor and give to the rich, and that’s why the dope yuppies love her.

estelle fennell quote

Yes the weed around here depends heavily on Big Oil, but it’s not just a matter of contamination, I believe there’s also an element of imitation. I think that cannabis itself responds to our obsession with fossil fuels. Think about it. We know that cannabis responds to its environment. When hippie gardeners grew marijuana by hand, it smelled like fruit and sage, because hippie gardeners love fruit and burn sage,

hippie gardeners

but now, the people who grow pot around here love their big trucks and their quads and their generators. The weed can smell the trucks, and the generators, and all of the exhaust fumes, and the weed thinks we like those smells, so the weed expresses those aromas in its attempt to please us. That’s why so much of the pot around here smells like diesel fuel. How apropos!

this stinks skunk

 

Cannabis can be a lot of things, but right now cannabis thinks we want a stupefying anesthetic that stinks like diesel fuel, and she is doing her level best to satisfy us. How long do you think it will be before cannabis realizes that we don’t really care about anything but money, and starts to smell like that? Unfortunately, marijuana already smells like money to too many people. That’s the problem.

smelling money


Class, or Class War

class_war___fight_the_power_

In recent weeks, I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to vent my spleen about the people who cause the most problems in my community, especially because I hear so much poisonous rhetoric on the other side, targeting the poor. I’m not a fan of class warfare, but when served, I will answer. It’s always shameful and small to pick on someone weaker than you, and it’s always heroic to stand up to a bully. The way I see it, in this current class war, unless you are squarely allied with the poor, you work for the rich.

join the elite

If you take sides with the rich, in this war, you deserve a punishment a thousand times worse than my stinging words. In this war between the rich and the poor, the middle-class becomes the battlefield, and no one deserves to be pounded into a smoking heap of rubble and ash more than the American middle-class, because the middle-class acts as the mercenary army of the super-rich.

oligarchy-of-america-0

The poor have nothing to lose, and everything to gain by standing up to their oppressors, while the middle-class face trauma and disillusionment, as they slowly wake up to the fact that, in this war, they were the bad guys all along, who wasted their lives, and the planet, on a fantasy lifestyle, that became an economic and environmental monstrosity beyond their darkest nightmares.

game over

When you’ve sold your life for trinkets and find yourself on the wrong side of history, denial becomes a coping mechanism For the rich, losing the class war compares to losing the civil war. Resentments and prejudice will linger, as today’s middle-class conservatives becomes the bitter poor white crackers of the future.

teabagger

But it doesn’t have to be that way for us here in SoHum. Here in SoHum we have no class, and that’s a kind of poverty that unites us all, from the richest dope yuppie, to the most wretched street urchin, so why should we let class war divide us? We shouldn’t! We should recognize that we’re all poor. Really, I pity us all.

pity us all quote

Why do we work so goddamn hard? Why do we break laws and sell our weed to out of state drug dealers? We do it because we don’t have enough money, right. If we don’t have enough money, it means that some of our wants and needs will go unmet. Am I wrong? Unmet needs equals poverty, and poverty means you’re poor. So face it! We’re all poor. It’s really true. I don’t care how entranced you are with your trinkets, or how jealous you are of anyone else’, we all live in poverty, and our lives are being stolen from us right before our eyes.

a ztolen life

That said, everything we do to make life easier for poor people, makes life easier for us. Think about it. What are the chances that you, or any of your progeny will find yourselves counted among the nations wealthiest one-tenth of one percent? It could happen. You could hit the lottery. Your new cannabis start-up could blow-up big, or your daughter could marry a rich old guy with a heart condition, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

hold your breath

On the other hand, what are the chances that you, or any of your kids or grandchildren might find yourself short on cash with no place to crash, or be blessed with a personality ill-suited for gainful employment, or fall victim to alcoholism, or become addicted to drugs, or for some other reason, fail to thrive, economically? I don’t know the exact odds, but I’d bet on it, if I were you.

safe bet

That’s why it always makes sense to make life easier for poor people. When you make life easier for poor people, you make life easier for yourself. I’m not saying we have to spend a lot of money to help the poor, but if we at least stop paying people to punish, harass, and humiliate them, we’d all be ahead. If we could recognize that a lot of people who live here will never earn enough to money to afford a place to live under our current system of building codes and zoning ordinances, we could begin to solve a lot of problems by changing the system, instead of trying to change people. People don’t need more money; people need a place to be. Life is hard enough, let’s not make it any harder.

life is hard enough

When you make life easier for poor people, you make life easier for your self, and you make the world richer for everyone, because making it easier to be poor, lowers everyone’s stress level, which benefits everyone, and makes it easier to be an artist, craftsman, musician, poet or writer; you make it possible for the people who don’t care so much about making money, to put their energy into the things that really matter to them. When you make life easier for poor people, you make life better for everyone, and you encourage a flourishing culture. That’s why they call New Orleans “The Big Easy.” and that’s why people love it.

the big easy

People who appreciate an easy life and a flourishing culture, have class. Punishing the poor for their poverty only fuels their resentment, and perpetuates class war. So, we have a choice: We can have some class, or we can have class war. We’re all poor, and we all need somewhere to get out of the weather this winter. We can solve this problem together, or we can make more problems for each other. It’s up to us.

buy some class trump


Columbus’ People Rule

christopher-columbus

Today we remember the most horrific genocide ever perpetrated, the most virulent epidemiological event in the history of mankind, and the radical transformation of an entire continent.

Columbus lands

We named the day for the man who started it all, Christopher Columbus. Columbus and his crew brought a plethora of diseases with them on their long, perilous journey across the ocean, diseases of the body, as well as diseases of the mind, notable among them, syphilis, influenza, and the concept of private property.

columbus day hanging

Unfortunately, penicillin only cured one of them. The flu, and private property plague us to this day. The flu sickens millions, and kills thousands, in this country alone, every year, but private property has done far worse. The concept of private property has destroyed more than 95% of the natural habitat in North America, and it impoverishes billions of people all over the world, who starve, sicken and die in squalid, dangerous and abhorrent conditions. Whether you own it or not, we all pay a high price for the concept of private property, and in some way, it enslaves us all.

houses on coins

I realize that this seems like kind of a bummer of a holiday, but not everyone thinks about it this way. For bankers and government workers, Columbus Day is a very important holiday. That’s why bankers and government workers get the day off. To them, Columbus Day represents the epitome of what is possible when banks and governments work together. Only when banks and government work together, is private property even possible. Without banks and government, private property amounts to nothing more than an enormous pile of meaningless paper.

mortgage industry

Private property has no basis in reality. It is a contrivance, an artificial, arbitrary system rooted in violence and oppression, and only through violence and oppression can the system of private property continue. That’s why we have a sheriff’s department, and that’s what sheriffs do: They evict people, and they arrest trespassers. You can’t have private property without lots of well armed, and well paid thugs, and lots of violence. Private property is a complex system of greed and thuggery, that, if stripped of it’s longstanding illusion of legitimacy, could only be described as organized crime.

organized-crime-career-

Here in Humboldt County, however, we talk about property rights like they were sacred, and as though there were some principled reason to support them. There isn’t. Property Rights! Is just the rallying cry of greedy land owners complaining that government doesn’t kiss their ass enough. Calling them “rights” doesn’t make it any less wrong.

humcpr wrong

I could understand people being pissed off about human rights violations. I see plenty of those around here. I can certainly understand why patriotic Americans would be outraged by the civil rights violations I see, especially on the streets of Garberville. Believe it or not, all people have the right to peaceably assemble in all public places, including sidewalks, malls and shopping centers. Everyone has the right to carry a sign, to engage you in conversation, and to ask for your help, even persistently. Those are clearly established civil rights, that this country was founded on, and that veterans fought and died for. Make damn sure you respect them, and that your neighbors respect them too, before you come whining to me about your goddamned property rights.

buy me a pizza

When you think of “property rights” it should remind you that in addition to the high-minded ideals, like democracy, the separation of church and state, and inalienable human rights, for which the Founding Fathers are so rightly famous, their thinking was ultimately, firmly rooted in the same disease that afflicted Christopher Columbus, namely, the system of institutionalized violence known as private property.

private-property

We learn a lot about civil rights, human rights, and the Bill of Rights, in public school, but they mostly gloss over the implications of property rights, until you get to college, and take economics. That way, by the time you learn that property rights ain’t right, you’re already too far in debt, and too deeply invested in the system to oppose it, and/or you’ve already returned from some bloody hell-hole where you saw what happens to those who do oppose it. The fact remains that the concept of private property may be the most deeply flawed and most destructive ideas ever forged by the human mind, and we all suffer enormously for it.

teacher from the wall

This Columbus Day, let’s recognize Columbus’ legacy for what it is, a disease, a terrible disease, and by all indications, a terminal disease, and that the concept of private property forms the nucleus of this pathogen. The “CPR” in HumCPR might as well stand for Columbus’ People Rule, and it’s time we brought their reign to an end.

slavery goethe quote


Welcome, Willcommen, Bienvenida, to SoHum

welcome languages

As the days grow shorter, and the pervasive aroma of ripening cannabis flowers fills the air, young travelers from all over the world descend on Southern Humboldt to remind us how provincial we are by comparison. What we lack in culture, class and common courtesy, we make up for with money and marijuana. Believe me, if it weren’t for the money and the weed, these adventurous world travelers wouldn’t waste one minute of their precious time on us, but here they come, again.

here they come again

Sure, lots of interesting people come from all over the world to see the giant redwoods, but only marijuana and money brings interesting people here to see us, mainly in search of boring work. I’d think the opportunity to have a crew of people from far flung places like France, Brazil and New Zealand, sharing their diverse backgrounds, as well as their travel stories, as they trim your weed, must be one of the best things about the life of a Humboldt Dope Yuppie. Of course, I don’t think like a Dope Yuppie.

too much weed

Dope Yuppies don’t care about cultural exchange. Still, trimmigrants often advertise their cultural diversity to entice would-be employers. “Two Germans looking for work.” one sign I saw recently read. “For hire: Spanish couple, from Amsterdam…” began the classified ad I heard on KMUD.

get a job in marijuana fields

They have no idea. Ideally the ad should read: “White woman, under 30, with two breasts, seeks employment. Willing to work, ogling tolerated.” Face it. No guy, who has been stuck on a hill in the middle of the forest all by himself for the last six months wants to hear another guy tell him about how hot the women in Berlin are, or about the club scene in Brazil, or even about farming on a Kibbutz in Israel. He knows that he is not getting off of that hill until all of that weed gets clipped. He wants to see pounds of marketable product, and tits. That’s it.

woman with weed

Growers generally don’t maintain facilities for these seasonal workers, and at the time when growers need them, every square foot of indoor space is usually full of freshly harvested cannabis. Often, trimmigrants sleep on the floor of the drying shed, in the crawl space beneath the hanging herb, usually just a few feet away from a folding chair in which they will spend almost every waking minute of their entire two week, or month long stay. That is the life of a trimmigrant.

trimming pot

Yes, people from all over, come here, to one of the most beautiful places in the whole world, to spend 16 hours a day locked in a windowless room full of weed, operating a pair of scissors under unchanging artificial light. The work is not difficult, but it is extremely dull, and it demands long hours. If you can tolerate the boredom, muscle cramps and eye-strain, don’t mind watching a few weeks of your life evaporate, and don’t have a life to lead that you can’t just disappear from for a month or so, trimming weed can seem like a decent gig. A good trimmer can earn $1000 or more per week, and sometimes they even get paid.

not getting paid

Local merchants should celebrate this influx of foreign tourists. I’ve seen these kids eat at all of the local restaurants and cafes. I see them buy groceries and beer, and I’m sure they’d even pay for a place to camp, if they could find a reasonably priced campground. They spend money, but a lot of them come from places where they just naturally expect to be treated like human beings by the businesses they patronize. I guess that’s kind of a European thing, but, you know, we could give it a shot.

give it a shot

I haven’t seen much by way of hospitality extended to these people who have come such a long way to visit our little community. I mean, we put out porta-potties and throw a barbeque for the bikers when they come here to get drunk and loud at the Harley Run. I’ll bet we could get trimmigrants to spend more money here, if we treated them like we were glad to see them, and offered them things they needed and wanted.

give them what they want

They couldn’t be any scummier than the bikers; there’s more of them, and they stay longer. Really, these are some the nicest, most interesting people you are likely to meet in Humboldt County at any time of year. We should all make the most of our time with them while they are here. In that spirit, I say: “Welcome to SoHum. How may I be of service?” and “Wir sprechen Deutsch”

wir sprechen deutsch

(not really, but I’ll do my best to dredge up what I can remember from watching Hogan’s Heroes)

hogans heroes


Choice and Change in Humboldt County

choose-change

People talk about homelessness as though it were a choice. How many times have you heard someone say, “If that’s how they choose to live…” when talking about homeless people? What a ludicrous idea! Homelessness happens to people. They don’t aspire to it. They don’t plan it, and few are well prepared for it when it happens to them. People don’t choose homelessness. Homelessness is what happens to people who run out of options.

no_equity_no_options

On the other hand, people do choose to become middle-class. The aspiration to become middle-class is so pervasive that it has acquired a nickname. We call it the American Dream. Yes, people choose to become middle-class. They aspire to join the middle-class. They work to achieve middle-class status, and even after they’ve established themselves within the middle-class, they never quite feel middle-class enough.

not middle class enough

A lot of people choose to live a middle-class lifestyle, and it’s a choice most people make without giving it a lot of thought. It’s an expensive choice. The middle-class lifestyle consumes people’s lives as greedily as it consumes the earth’s resources. The middle-class lifestyle doesn’t happen by accident. It takes dedication and lifelong commitment to join the ranks of the middle-class.

chance of middle class

At the same time, the middle-class lifestyle has a very poor record of making people happy. As anyone raised in a middle-class home can tell you, the middle-class lifestyle ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. Still, people throw themselves at the middle-class, like proverbial lemmings over a cliff. Even real lemmings aren’t that stupid. What gives?

another way to go

You see, most people don’t choose a middle-class lifestyle because it looks particularly attractive. Most people choose to become middle-class because the prospect of homelessness frightens them so much. In this way, the middle-class are a lot like Christians, who abstain from earthly pleasures, not so much because they dream of someday flying through the clouds playing a harp, but because they fear the fires of Hell.

hell fear

This kind of fear grows into resentment. In the same way that deeply frustrated Christians vent their resentment at gay people and women seeking abortions, the middle-class vent their resentment at the poor and homeless. In both cases it’s a gross display of stupidity, gullibility and cowardice aimed at the most vulnerable. Like Christians, the middle-class have been frightened into believing a fairy tale that controls their lives and makes them resentful of non-believers.

angry-and-resentful

No one forces them to become middle-class. I’m sure they feel a lot of pressure from family and friends, not to mention the media, and society at large. Even the government tries to enforce a middle-class lifestyle through policy, sanction, and ordinance. However, the decision to pursue a middle-class lifestyle remains a personal choice, and one that can only be realized through dedication and hard work. Still, it’s a choice most people make without much serious thought.

choice consequences quote

We know that most of the serious crises we face today, like global climate change, habitat loss and the extinction crisis, result directly from too many people choosing a conventional American middle-class lifestyle. From a scientific perspective, it seems clear that the single biggest threat to our long-term survival, is our global infatuation with becoming middle-class. If we actually thought about it, we’d realize what a destructive, high-maintenance, low-satisfaction lifestyle the middle-class have chosen. Few of us would eagerly repeat their mistakes. But instead of thinking, we blindly perpetuate a culture of fear and oppression that serves only the super-rich, while it pushes us all relentlessly towards extinction.

extinction c n h

Who do we blame for this? Invariably, we blame the poor. We blame the poor for not pulling their weight. We blame the poor for frightening children, driving off tourists, blocking sidewalks, and especially for not going away. Then, when they finally crack, under the pressure of poverty, lack of sleep, poor diet, constant harassment and social isolation, we blame their poverty on mental illness. How does this make sense?

no logic exists

If you ask me, I say, “Blame the middle-class.” Blame the sniveling cowards who turned their backs on humanity and stuck their tongues deep into the rectum of the super-rich, just for the chance to spend the future, today. Blame the middle-class for their greed, stupidity, and cowardice. Blame them for their choices, because the choices were all theirs to make.

thats so middle class

Whether it was their lack of imagination, their gullibility, or their infatuation with bright shiny objects that lead middle-class people to make the dreadful decisions that define their lives and shape our world, ultimately, blaming people doesn’t solve the problem. To solve this problem, people have to learn to live differently.

learn to live differently

I realize that you’ve heard this before. “Create a sustainable lifestyle” has been a mantra of environmental organizations for decades, environmental groups that rely mainly on the middle-class
for their support. Still, if we manage to survive this century as a species, it won’t be because we developed some new clean energy source, it will be because we learned to live differently.

l2ld

Do you remember that part of our Humboldt County heritage? You’ve seen the experimental houses, the strawbale, cobb, ferro-cement, and wattle-and-daub buildings, the yurts, tepees, wikiups, and benders, the domes, tree-houses, house-trees, and the thousands of funky, idiosyncratic little wooden dwellings that grace our Humboldt County hillsides. Those houses exist because a lot of people came to Humboldt County to experiment with different ways of living, not to become middle-class yuppies by growing dope.

funky tree home humboldt

We’ve seen how these experiments pay off economically. The Solar Living Center in Hopland, and the Schottz energy lab in Arcata come to mind immediately, as examples of how a modest cultural experiment can catalyze change and create real economic opportunities.

solar living center

We have a long history of experimental, owner-built housing in Humboldt County. We need housing now more than ever, and we need housing that works for people, rather than vice-versa. We need to learn to live differently, and few things reflect the way we live more than the homes we live in.

tiny home-tile

Here in Humboldt County, we have the opportunity to take a humane approach to our housing shortage, and open a door to the future, or not. People need a place to live. We can continue to deny our neighbors the dignity of privacy and a place to escape the elements, or we can create the kind of cultural incubator that solves problems, sets trends, and creates the economic opportunities of the future.

Future-is-full-of-opportunities

Class War against the poor will never succeed, and the middle-class will never be happy with what they have. We need to find another way to live, and if we want to know what that looks like, we need to allow the people who need it the most, an opportunity to build it for themselves.

build it yourself1


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