Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Howard Dean in Idaho

Sharon Solomon and Howard Dean
This photo is our past, our present, and our future.  It was taken on April 16, 2011, at the North Idaho Democracy Luncheon at the Coeur d'Alene Resort and Casino in Worley, Idaho.  I was there.  It was exciting, inspirational, and educational.  And I had the proud opportunity to hear, and even meet, Gov/Dr. Howard Dean.

In the photo above is Howard Dean, Governor, Doctor, Democratic National Committee Chair, past Democratic candidate for President, and one of the founders of Democracy For America.  Dr. Dean represents both out present and our past.  He represents our past because he has a history of engagement in Democratic, Progressive, and Populist politics.  He also was one of the first politicians to make large scale use of the internet in the 2004 primary run for presidential candidacy.   As president of the DNC, he implemented the 50-state strategy which was very beneficial to the Democrats in many states, including Idaho.  Dr. Dean also represents our present because he is still a prominent political figure in Democratic circles and because his organization, Democracy For America,  has become a primary part of Democratic training and education.  He is also a dynamic speaker who doesn't shroud his speech in euphemisms, ambiguity, and hyperbole; instead, he goes straight to the heart of the matter and states the truth.

The other person in the photo is Sharon Solomon.  She is our future.  She is one of the "younger than thirty" generation who holds the fate of our country and possible even our world in her hands.  Currently, Sharon is a student in north Idaho.  She jumped at the opportunity to not just attend the luncheon/speaking engagement with Howard Dean, but she also attended the DFA training sessions as well. Sharon is part of the Millennial Generation and she is our future.  And Sharon wasn't the only student there listening to Howard Dean.  Students came from the University of Idaho, Lewis and Clark State College, North Idaho College, and as far away as the College of Southern Idaho.

Dr. Dean pointed out that polling during the 50-state strategy showed that Sharon's generation is the first multi-cultural generation.  Also, it's a generation that is neither liberal nor conservative.  Even President Obama, stated Dr. Dean, wants to work with both Republicans and Democrats because "he wants to get things done."  He added that we should always listen to young people or we leave them behind.  Actually, I think that if we don't listen, they leave us behind.

The anthropologist, Michael Wesch, made very clear in his video A Portal to Media Literacy, that students learn differently today.  Technology makes a big difference, from cell phones to laptops, and to all the different ways this technology can be used.  Furthermore, social networks like Facebook and even youtube are important aspects of these students' lives.  Young people are not just our future, but it's a very different future than that of the baby boomers.

Republicans were not spared by Dr. Dean.  He pointed out the obvious, but in a way that made me want to ponder these blatant facts.  He said that Republicans don't care about facts and that Democrats allow Republicans to say anything they want.  It's about time for Democrats to emphasize that we work for the working class, the middle class, the lower class, and all those who are not in the top 2% of the tax bracket.  Dr. Dean pointed out that "we manage money fairly."  Indeed, he said, we are fair and we want everyone to have opportunities.  He added that as much as Republicans focus on social issues, "ideology doesn't put food on the table."

I am still amazed that Howard Dean came to Idaho.  Usually we're the state that nobody wants to visit because we're so unimportant politically and we're also so Republican.  That's changing.  The number of Democratic votes is rising.  Slowly.  But as Dr. Dean said, we cannot just look to the next election, we have to look to the fifth election.  Democrats from all around the state and even from out of state attended the luncheon.  They came from the east and southeast, Lemhi to Twin Falls; from the southwest heading north, Ada to Benewah; and from the north to the south, from Boundary to Kootenai.  They even came from Washington and Montana.  Idaho, like a number of western states, are all too beautiful with too many good folks, to remain Republican.   We share values about health care, education, social security, veterans, and privacy. 

And we care as much about the future of our country as the generation who carries that future in their hands.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Ten Mile Diet Dessert

Last Sunday I had a 300-0 mile diet dinner at my house. Everyone brought pot-luck dishes, made from ingredients grown within 300-0 miles from our county in north Idaho. I felt bad when the first thing my friends said was that thinking about their dish was very stressful. But, as we talked some more, they were all up for the challenge of creating the best dish. The number one problem with cooking locally and sustainably turned out to be salt! How do you make a dish taste really good without salt? Good question. None of us were able to identify a source of local (within 300 miles) salt, unless, of course, we made some from sea water. The second toughest ingredient turned out to be oil. We do live in an agricultural area, and many farmers grow canola, but it just isn't made here. However, thinking about all of this made us aware of what we have, what we could be making, and what we can live without. And we all enjoyed the party!

In spite of the lack of salt, the dishes were creative and delicious: leek and potato soup, adding fresh Cougar Gold cheese for some saltiness; zucchini "pasta" ribbons with a fresh tomato sauce including local garlic, tomatoes, and basil; locally raised Scottish Highland beef meatballs with Priest River cheese; Montana feta; salad from the garden; vegetable casserole; and my apple wine zabaglione with hazelnut meringue cookies.

Yeah, I won with best dessert. I have to confess I searched for salt, but in my pastry-loving heart I knew dessert would be my entry. A friend around the corner gave me some cream from her cow. I whipped most of it but saved some to turn into butter. With the butter I sauteed some apples slices (from my tree), sweetened with some local wildflower honey. This went on the bottom of a teacup. Then I made my "zabaglione" with local egg yolks, the wildflower honey, and some apple wine that my neighbor had made from local apples. I stabilized this with the whipped cream and put it on top of the apple slices. Finally, earlier in the day I had made local hazelnut, meringue cookies (using the local egg whites), sweetened with the honey. The cookies topped off the custard. It was really good. Frankly, I think it was the wildflower honey that put the dessert over the edge. It's so flavorful.

So, I throw down the gauntlet and challenge all readers to try a locally sustainable dinner. It might give you pause to think about what you eat and how far the ingredients must travel before arriving at your table....

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I Think I Love This Judge

Nothing tickles me more than reading about a well-deserved and eloquent delivery of both summary and insult in one sentence. The Fine Books and Collections blog has captured such a moment. Some corporate schemer, involved in a proxy lawsuit against the giant book chain Barnes and Noble, received this verbal swat from a Delaware judge:

"At bottom, Yucaipa is simply positioning an absurd scenario at best fit for a discussion by a Red Bull fueled group of nerdy second year law school corporate law junkies, who find themselves dateless (big surprise) on yet another Saturday night."

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Just The Energy Bill

I received an email this morning which I found enlightening because it made me wonder to what extent either ignorance or greed, or perhaps both, influenced the Department of Energy's Advanced Research Project Agency decision to provide monies for energy research into projects that do nothing to help prevent global climate change. As the Google Spreadsheet demonstrates, the biggest slice of the $150+ million money pie went to energy storage and biomass energy technologies. Carbon capture? Isn't that a way to give tons of money to polluting industries? Waste-heat capture? Energy storage? If we didn't produce toxic waste, we wouldn't have to be spending millions of dollars trying to figure out what to do with it.... (download The Story of Stuff for Annie Leonard's pointed and entertaining video about our ability to produce too much stuff!!).

And don't even get me started on biomass....that incredible brainstorm of the waste industry that burns our carbon sequestering resources (wood), contributes to the the biofuel rape of the earth, and promotes cultural ethnocide on a scale that simply takes their breath away.

I mean, even Scientific American has figured out that renewable has to stop after wind, solar, geothermal, and tidal because we don't really need to depend on fossil fuels. We have enough to do the job. It just takes money being delivered into the direction of real care and concern rather than never-ending pockets.

Of course, organizations like Friends of the Earth have had it figured out for some time. Just check out their latest video Just the Energy Bill.

How much of a "Suck it, Santa" meltdown will it take before we stop the corporations and other foolhardy greedmasters from destroying our earth, our cultures, our diversity, our lives....

Monday, July 6, 2009

I Love Rain In July

And that's exactly what it did today: rain. I awoke around 5am to a real cloudburst with a bit of thunder and lightening to boot. Now that's the way I like to greet the day. Water for my garden (which is way too big and too much work, but Lordy, how I love to reap the rewards), a crisp, moist smell in the air, and thankfulness for the moisture and escape from dry heat. Now all of that makes me happy.

I really didn't do much today.... although my son and mother will be very happy to hear that I did make raspberry jam. With three days off, I really should have done more but hey, it was the 4th of July, and I needed to celebrate with friends. My friends, Diana and Steve, have a small house/cabin (too big for a cabin imo) on the Moyie River. I arrived too late to join the float-down-the-river gang, but still enjoyed the breeze, the shade and some nice, cold beer. As a potluck, I thoroughly enjoyed all the wonderful dishes that everyone brought, especially Fred's Scottish Highland beef burgers and Michael's spicy, hot venison/goose smokies. I also loved all the various salads and desserts. Me, I brought homemade vanilla ice cream. It was all delicious.

It thrilled me to announce, to many who had not heard, the news about Sarah's resignation as governor of Alaska. And like everyone else, I await the "true" reason for her resignation. I just hope to God it doesn't mean she plans on moving back to Idaho and running for governor. Horror of horrors!

Now, several days later, with Sarah's resignation still a topic of speculation, with more rain and thunderstorms and lightening, and with a full week of producing grub for hungry tourists awaiting me, I'm still feeling rather happy. It must me the cool weather and Mother Nature fulfilling my rain wishes. And to top it all off, I'm eating out of my garden: spinach, baby turnips, baby beets, lettuce, peas, omg peas, herbs, peppers, zucchini, and yes, I immediately stuffed into my mouth the first two orange mini tomatoes. Such a glutton! I really should upload some photos one of these days.

I bask in the luxuriousness of it all, knowing that global warming is not a vast left wing conspiracy and that very hot weather lies ahead.....

Friday, June 5, 2009

"Nice People Take Drugs"

Nice People Take Drugs, is a new, British campaign by Release, "...the national centre of expertise on drugs and drug law...." In consideration of current laws, and specifically the "War on Drugs" as criminal offenses that require punishment, Release calls for a new paradigm, a new way of thinking about current drug problems. Instead of focusing on drug users as "bad" or seeing drug use as "evil," Release calls for a discussion about what is really needed to reduce drug use in society, specifically in Britain but with ramifications around the world.

Release is not the only group that approaches drug problems with a call for a renewed discussion about treatment instead of imprisonment. is an international organization that "...calls for an end to drug prohibition (e.g. some form of legalization), and its replacement with some sensible framework in which drugs can be regulated and controlled instead." This is neither unreasonable nor surprising given that the criminalization of drug users is not working to reduce drug use. Senator Jim Webb of Virginia introduced the National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2009 which addresses the overall problems of incarceration, including reform of U.S. drug policy. For many years, Congressman Ron Paul has addressed the issues of drug policy and drug legalization. The Swiss have long realized that maintenance programs work while criminalization does not. Studies and policies from around the world demonstrate that a new discussion and perhaps a new paradigm is needed in order to address the problem of illegal drugs.

What I find most ironic about this, is, that "scheduled drugs" are routinely prescribed by doctors as well as being promoted by drug companies in magazines, on the web, and on television. I think it's about time that we realize that nice people do, in fact, take drugs. Once we truly grasp that idea, we may be able to actually have a discussion about drugs, addiction, criminalization, and treatment that offers workable solutions for all societies.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Human Rights, North Idaho Style

On Monday, March 16th, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the Human Rights Education Institute and the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations dinner/fundraiser/awards banquet. Four hundred and fifteen people, count them, 4 1 5, attended the dinner. Of course a thousand would have been better, but this is north Idaho, and getting that many people out on a Monday night impressed me.

Thanks to Jeanne Buell, Idaho Democratic Party Vice-Chair, both Laura Bry, Bonner County Democratic Central Committee Chair, and myself, received invitations to sit at Jeanne's table. Of course, friends from around north Idaho also sat at the table and it's always nice to reconnect with others in the north Idaho community.

The Coeur d'Alene Press provided a good overview of the events, including the exciting announcement of the Civil Rights Award to Scott and Mary Lou Reed. Having known Scott for almost twenty years, and Mary Lou for almost as many, it pleased me to no end to see them awarded for the many contributions they consistently make to the people of north Idaho. You guys are the best! We should all try to follow your example.

Nontombi Naomi Tutu gave an inspired, heartfelt, pointedly truthful speech about racism. She said that in order to heal the wounds of racism, we have to recognize that racism in each and every one of us. Pointing out that although people may say we don't see differences, we do, as is so evident when we look at what children say ("out of the mouths of babes and sucklings"). Through their words, we can all see that children see differences, and they see these differences as opportunities to learn, but as adults we try to shush the children in order to be polite or whatever. Nonbombi Tutu suggested that, like children, we should see differences as truth, talk about those differences, and respond to, and appreciate them.

She gave the example of white people saying, "I don't think of you as black," meaning black has a stigma or story for the rest of the community. So when a white woman can finally make that statement, what it really means is that she now trusts and respects the black person. Prejudices exist, and until we know and recognize them, we cannot begin to come together. She gave us, a room full of white people, a glimpse into the causes of racism and asked us to recognize difference as opportunity. I think her point was well taken.

I felt honored to be there, and proud as well, to be a member of a community that seeks to educate about racism, prejudice, and human rights. I am so thankful for all the Human Rights activists, in Idaho in particular, and around the world. It takes all colors to make a rainbow.