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Mendocino County Today: Friday, July 13, 2018

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Jose Martinez was last seen by his family on June 29 as he went to bed.

Jose Martinez was last seen by family on 6/29/18 around midnight. Jose was gone in the morning and thought to be fishing. He has not contacted anyone since and did not show up to work on Monday 7/2/18. Jose Martinez is described as a 46-year-old Hispanic Male, 5'6" tall, 150 lbs, black hair, and brown eyes. he might be driving a white Toyota Tacoma CA LIc.#62054E2.

If located please contact Officer Dave Hass of the Cloverdale Police Department at 707-894-2150 or

(Cloverdale Police Department)

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Authorities are asking for the public’s help in locating a 46-year-old Cloverdale man last seen on June 29.

Jose Martinez was last seen by his family on midnight as he went to bed, said Cloverdale Sgt. Chris Parker. He was gone by the following morning and his family thought he went fishing by himself, Parker said.

Martinez did not show up for work on Monday and police do not believe that foul play is responsible for his disappearance, Parker said.

He is 5 feet 6 inches tall, weighs 150 pounds with black hair and brown eyes. He might be driving his car — a white Toyota Tacoma — which also has not been found.

Anyone who sees Martinez should contact the Cloverdale Police Department at 707-894-2150.

(Press Democrat)

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(Art by Annie Kalantarian)

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On July 8th, 2018 the Lake County Sheriff’s Office recovered the remains of a deceased male from Cache Creek in Lower Lake. The deceased has been identified as 18 year old Noe Figueroa from Southern California. Through the investigation into Figueroa’s death, detectives have learned that he came to the Ukiah area recently to visit family and made his way to the Lower Lake area where he had been staying for the past week at an unknown location. Detectives are continuing to investigate the circumstances surrounding Figueroa’s death.

The preliminary cause of death is drowning pending toxicology results. Sheriff’s detectives are asking anyone with information about Figueroa’s activities in Lake County from July 1st-8th or anyone who may know where Figueroa was living, to contact Detective Richard Kreutzer at 707-262-4233, or email at

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COME CELEBRATE AND SUPPORT the Albion Little River Volunteer Fire Department at the 57th Annual BBQ Fundraiser July 14th, 12-5 PM.

Prepare those bellies for Delicious Tri-Tip, Chicken and a Vegetarian option along with Garlic Bread, Salad, Beans, Coffee and Dessert.

Beer, Wine, Soft Drinks and Extra Desserts available for sale at the bar!

Live Music with Local Bands: Dirt Rooster, Wayfinders, and Random Holler Jug Band

Raffle drawing for local prizes (tickets $1 each) and an Auction with fun treats, wines from Anderson Valley, and Beautiful Woodworking and Glass art pieces!

Children's Area with a Bounce House to boot!

Dunk Tank: Dunk The Chief!

Fire Department T-shirts for sale

Firefighter Demonstrations Including Car Extrication. New Engines Display, and the Smoke Tent!

$20 for adults, $10 for children 7-12, Under 7 free.

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SKYHAWK’S STROKE, an update (according to their gofundme page):

“Chris Skyhawk, during a challenging campaign for Supervisor, was felled by a hemorrhagic stroke on Tuesday June 26th and was flown out of Fort Bragg to a Bay Area hospital with a top notch neuro unit. He underwent surgery to remove excess blood from his brain as he was at risk of losing his life. The surgery went well but we do not yet know the extent of the damage. A week later, he has been released from any emergency support and is slowly recovering speech and use of his left side. The recovery will be slow but the family and doctors are optimistic. Meanwhile the family needs a bit of support for travel and daily needs while Chris is in the hospital in Castro Valley, and eventually in a rehab facility. Insurance is covering some of the hospital bills, but family and home maintenance is ongoing while the family cares for Chris. Any contributions to help this local family weather the expenses of emergency illness and recovery are immensely appreciated. Tell your friends and stay tuned for more updates. Many thanks for the words and deeds of support.”

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LITTLE DOG SAYS, “Not to be an ageist about it, but it's kinda hard to work with these old guys here. They're always yelling: ‘Huh? What? Wrong! Say it again!’ Tiresome to be repeating myself all the time, no?”

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MendocinoSportsPlus saw this Thursday on the "Help find Khadijah Britton" page. As you might imagine, not many people feel he & his family are the victims...

Britton, Fallis

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Farm Stands:

Blue Meadow Farm - at the base of Holmes Ranch Road - 895-2071

Brock Farms - on Goodacre off the base of Peachland - 895-3407

Velma's (Filigreen Farm) - on AV Way - 895-2111

Gowan's Oak Tree - on Hwy 128 between Philo and Navarro - 895-3353

Pennyroyal Creamery - on Hwy 128 in Boonville - 895-2410

Petit Teton - on Hwy 128 between Boonville and Yorkville - 684-4146

The Apple Farm - on Philo/Greenwood Road just before the bridge - 895-2333

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AV Products you can access by contacting:

4 Bar K Ranch (beef) -, 895-2325

Anderson Valley Community Farm CSA (variety of products) -, (831) 332-5131

Bramble Family Farm (olive oil) -, 272-8487

Bucket Ranch (variety of products) - 845-3851

McEwen Family Farm (variety of products) - - 472-9009

Mendocino Sea Vegetable Company (seaweed) -, 895-2996

Natural Products of Boonville (mushrooms & more) -, 684-0182

Pomo Tierra Orchard (apple products) -

The Forest People (mushrooms & more) - (208) 371-7727

Yorkville Olive Ranch (olive oil) -, 894-0530

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Happenings at the Buckhorn:

Brunch on Sunday July 29th will be extra special due to new, live music in the garden. The San Francisco-based, six-piece funk rock/jazz band, Night Animals, will be playing starting around 11 or 12. "Live performance is the pinnacle of Night Animal's music, combined with a love of improvisation. Seductive vocals, serpentine horn lines, hypnotic rhythms, and hook-laden guitar licks all conspire to put you under their spell."

So, hear some new music and kick back with one of our famous Bloody Marys or our Summer Key Lime cocktail, over brunch.

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JERRY KARABENSH, is a retired millionaire and president of the Mendocino Coast Humane Society Board of Directors, a position he achieved via a board of directors coup back in the early 2000s. Tuesday, Karabensh appeared before the Board of Supervisors dressed as Uncle Sam to lobby them to waive development fees for some proposed improvements at the Rotary Park in the Village of Mendocino, citing a couple of early-80s Board decisions about Rotary Park as precedent.

Jer the K probably has a point; the County is tardy with their review/approval of the Rotarians’ improvement plans, but millionaires suited up as Uncle Sam to beg a few public bucks?

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THERE’S A BIT OF A CONTRADICTION in the statements coming out of the Board of Supervisors and the Measure B Advisory Committee. On the one hand, they talk about how no decision has been made on the conversion of the Old Howard Hospital into a locked Psychiatric Health Facility (PHF) and the objections outlined in a unanimous Willits City Council resolution are premature or incorrect. But on the other Sheriff Allman, Chair of the Measure B Advisory Committee, repeated several times at last Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting that he wants to “fast-track” the Kemper report in the obvious hope that Howard Hospital will be converted into a PHF.

FURTHER complicating the time-line is the lack of any completion date for Kemper’s allegedly fast-tracked “Needs Assessment” report. Meanwhile, although the Measure B Committee and the Supes call for “better communication” with the City of Willits, they don’t offer the City even the courtesy of a written response to their unanimous resolution. The City of Willits did NOT ask for “better communications,” they specifically asked for assurance that City regs will be followed in any effort to convert Old Howard Hospital into a PHF. With the “fast tracking,” and the Supes and the Measure B Advisory Committee’s conspicuous failure to answer the City’s question about following local rules, nobody should be surprised if the City of Willits remains unconvinced by the “better communications.”

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SUPERVISOR GEORGEANNE CROSKEY, who is the Supes rep on the Behavioral Health Advisory Board, introduced their presentation last Tuesday by saying that for months now they have been asking for “a chance to discuss their role.” Croskey added, “There seems to be a theme among many of the advisory boards and councils that they are not able to provide timely and useful input … and what do we need from them to make them an effective board.”

DEPARTING FROM THEIR USUAL platitudes, internal Board issues and bland generalities, BHAB chair Jan McGourty said her Board needed a way to provide input to the Board of Supervisors besides the limited and assiduously ignored occasional three-minute public comments.

McGOURTY admitted that her Board had also failed to communicate: “We finally figured out we need to make recommendations as part of our job,” McGourty said with no sense of irony or humor. “But would they just go into a black hole or what? Where do we go with these?”

But at least McGourty mentioned several specifics:

Development of a flow chart for Mental Health Services “because it’s a maze.”

How to deal with addicts who, because of their addiction, don’t qualify for any mental health services.

Establish a credit clearing site in the Social Services department. “Poor people have trouble with the cost of applying for a place to live,” noted McGourty. “Credit search fees are required for rental applications and sometimes a fee for each individual to be living in that residence which is non-refundable and there’s no guarantee of acceptance which quickly adds up and greatly imposes on people’s limited income.”

Crisis stabilization units in Fort Bragg, Willits and Ukiah for immediate care of patients while longer-term solutions are arranged. McGourty added that this “would also relieve emergency rooms and make staffing easier. (McGourty suggested that this topic could also be shifted to Measure B although she’s been on that committee for months now and hasn’t raised it.)

Establish a process and procedure for people returning from 5150 holds at out of county psychiatric facilities. Specifically for those on Medi-Cal and those not on Medi-Cal. McGourty mentioned a case study in their earlier report describing a person who was dropped off on a street corner with no medication and no contacts.

Crisis intervention training for first-responders. The $150k of “Stepping Up” money approved a few years ago for this evaporated somehow and now has to be revisited.

McGourty also had some “concerns”:

Lack of communication from the County, “which is really a systemic problem. I think you’re aware of that.”

Lack of (Mental Health) department support, short staffing, burn out, and financial audits that take too much time.

There needs to be a method to train new mental health department employees for new tasks.

A general lack of services, especially psychiatrists, for “private pay” (i.e., uninsured) people.

It takes too long for innovative mental health service plans to get approved by the state under Prop 63 (the Millionaire Tax for new Mental Health programs). And the Prop 63 statewide commission has no reps from small counties so they have no interest in our problems or proposed services.

Supervisor Hamburg responded: “Some of these things have been around for a long time.”

Mental Health Department Director Jenine Miller said she “hoped that [consultant] Kemper will look at mobile psychiatric response units. Can it be funded and is it reimburseable?” (Not mentioning that it is a good idea and would it save more money than it costs.) Miller also said that mild and moderately mentally ill and disabled people “don’t get the services they need. We only serve the seriously mentally ill.”

Supervisor John McCowen suggested they put their concerns in writing (they already had, many times before) and have them put on the next Board agenda, adding, “hopefully, you can get a response from the Board.” (But not promising anything.) McCowen added that the Board ought to discuss them and provide answers. “It’s one thing for us to decide,” said McCowen, “but it’s another for them to just sit out there in limbo,” — like they always do.

In the end the Board agreed to put McGourty and Company’s recommendations on the next Board agenda in two weeks. Supervisor Croskey volunteered to help repackage the recommendations with more specifics and “some steps for those recommendations.”

Will anything happen? Or will they again go down McGourty’s “black hole”?

(Mark Scaramella)

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Two wildfire survivors joined elected supervisors from three counties and a local government advocate Wednesday in calling on state lawmakers to withhold action this year on changes in the law governing public utility liability for fire damage to private property.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, July 12, 2018

Auman, Bengton, Cardenas, Cook

JEREMY AUMAN, Laytonville. False imprisonment, probation revocation.

BRET BENGSTON, Ukiah. Parole violation. (Frequent flyer.)

ESTABAN CARDENAS, Ukiah. Probation revocation.

THOMAS COOK, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

Flinton, Gutierrez, Kelsay, Ruiz

SEAN FLINTON, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, resisting. (Frequent flyer.)

GUADALUPE GUTIERREZ, Ukiah. Probation revocation.

JEREMY KELSAY, Cloverdale/Willits. Burglary, stolen property.

FELIPE RUIZ, Santa Rosa/Ukiah. Failure to appear.

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The cave divers who risked their lives to save other people’s children stand in stark and heartbreaking contrast to our leaders who rip other people’s children from their parents and destroy the quality of their lives.

Ann O’Brien

Santa Rosa

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I’ve listened to preachers

I’ve listened to fools

I’ve watched all the dropouts

Who make their own rules

One person conditioned to rule and control

The media sells it and you live the role

Mental wounds still screaming

Driving me insane

I’m going off the rails on a crazy train

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“Everything is horrible — worse than we ever imagined — and there’s not a damn thing we can do about any of it. But whatever happens, we can’t give in to despair.”

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Don't miss your chance to see the Mendocino Theatre Company's production of Bryna Turner's Bull in a China Shop, directed by Stephanie C. Cunningham A fast-paced and thoroughly modern comedy, *Bull in a China Shop* follows real-life academics and lovers Mary Woolley and Jeannette Marks as they revolutionize education for women at the turn of the twentieth century. We suggest you purchase your tickets to this popular show, which closes July 15th, well in advance! For information and tickets, call 707-937-4477 or go to our website,

Watch the video trailer:

Find out more about Mendocino coast native playwright Bryna Turner:

Bull in a China Shop is sponsored by FloBeds.

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WHEN RESISTANCE BECOMES CAPITULATION: A Response to an Open Letter in The Nation

by Robert Scheer

While The Nation deserves credit for this important effort, and I am a huge fan of the magazine’s editor, Katrina vanden Heuvel, I find this statement to be an inadequate response to the jingoistic blather of the Democratic Party, and of course the GOP leadership.

What the statement’s opening paragraph woefully ignores is the harsh reality that the U.S. political system is far less vulnerable to hacking attacks from any foreign source than the rest of the world’s nations are from such attacks by the United States — including surveillance of world leaders, such as the Obama administration’s tapping of Angela Merkel’s personal cellphone. The NSA probably gets an alert every time Putin snores.

You can go back to the post-World War II elections in Italy and France in the 1940s for the start of our modern era of imperial meddling in free elections. There was the toppling of Mohammad Mossadegh in Iran in 1953, the prevention of agreed-upon elections to unify Vietnam in 1956, the overthrowing of Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973 — the list goes on and on.

When it comes to meddling in other nations’ histories, we wrote the book. Surely, the Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee know that. Ask some of the experts who signed this letter about the U.S. attempts to undermine Mikhail Gorbachev’s reform efforts that led to the coming to power of the ever-drunk Boris Yeltsin, who in desperation later picked Vladimir Putin to be his vice president and then to succeed him.

Yes, Putin — who had the startling virtue of being a teetotaler in a nation drowning in vodka even more than in crony socialism — was back then the preferred alternative frontman for the army of liberal American advisers preaching the virtues of a crony capitalism that savaged what remained of the Russian economy.

The rape of Russian resources by a new class of billionaires was an American export conflating virulent capitalism with freedom, and it proved once again to be the devil’s bargain. Most ordinary Russians seem to think that Putin has played that bad hand as well as could be expected.

Not so the ever-self-righteous leaders of the Democratic Party, who offer Putin-bashing as an alternative to coming to grips with their own failure to provide sound leadership to our country.

Instead of acknowledging their own responsibility for the angst in America, the Democrats have countered the demagogue in chief’s long list of scapegoats to blame for our problems, beginning with immigrants, with an even more absurd and much shorter “list” of their own: Putin did it!

Thus was born the red-baiting revival of the Cold War — but without a Red to attack, desperately offering up Putin, a born-again Russian Orthodox and Peter the Great clone, to explain away the Democratic leadership’s own well-deserved repudiation in the last election. Trump ruthlessly exploited the pain in America; the Clintonistas blindly ignored it. End of story.

Except it isn’t. The Democrats are now the party of warmongers, and no clearer evidence is needed than the tweet from their Senate leader, Charles Schumer, issued as Donald Trump was en route for his eventual meeting with Putin, saying Trump “is more loyal to President Putin than to our NATO allies … his duty is to protect the American people from foreign threats, not to sell out our democracy to Putin.” This is bizarre behavior on the part of the top Democrat in the Senate and reason enough never to trust the Democrats to be a “lesser evil” restraining force. Not back when Truman dropped those bombs, or when Johnson killed millions in Vietnam, or when both senators from New York endorsed George Bush’s regime change orgy. The same two senators — Schumer and Hillary Clinton — confused Wall Street with Main Street, ending the progressive tradition of their party and leaving aspiring neofascist Trump to harvest the populist discontent that resulted.

Yes, it is a wickedly dangerous development when these enablers of the unleashing of Wall Street greed and the wild neocon and neoliberal schemes for worldwide regime change now blame Putin for our nation’s political instability. But how can the signers of The Nation statement in good conscience issue a warning about this turn of events that omits any reference to the overwhelming intrusive power of the greatest empire the world has ever experienced — our own — or pathetically plead for the old guard politicians of both parties to come to their senses? Predictably, the GOP is proving that it can always be better at playing the red-baiting card than the Democrats, as Trump just demonstrated by declaring that Germany is “captive to Russia” because of their natural gas pipeline deal. Once again, Democratic Party “resistance” will prove to be abject capitulation.

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(Original Open Letter:

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Big bands, triple pianos, and Romantic masters: 2018-19 Ukiah Symphony season sets forth in style

by Roberta Werdinger

"New Traditions, Old Traditions," the 2018-19 season of the Ukiah Symphony under the direction of Les Pfutzenreuter, debuts on September 8 of this year and concludes in May of 2019. The four concerts in the series will show the orchestra undergoing a marvelous series of transformations--from the brassy instrumentation of the Big Band sound to the yearning moods and chords of Tchaikovsky--in this beloved local institution's never-ending quest for musical excellence.

The first concert of the series, scheduled for September 8 and 9, is playfully titled "Kick Off Your Shoes!" The Big Band concert that the orchestra offered last spring was so popular that Pfutzenreuter decided to bring it back. Featuring songstress Roseanne Wetzel and crooner Pedro Rodelas, the orchestra will once again outfit itself with extra saxophone, trumpet and trombone parts to bring back 1940s and 50s favorites such as Tommy Dorsey, Ella Fitzgerald, and Frank Sinatra. With Wetzel and Rodelas singing duets and the orchestra rounded out with a rhythm section, this will be a delightful extension of the Ukiah Symphony's classical repertoire.

"Vienna's Masters" will follow on December 1 and 2, featuring the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Joseph Haydn, who all converged on the cultural capital of Vienna in the second half of the 18th century. The orchestra will perform Mozart's Overture to Don Giovanni, followed by Beethoven's Triple Concerto for Violin, Cello and Piano in C major performed by the Milou Trio of San Francisco. The Mendocino College Choir under the direction of Janice Timm will conclude with Haydn's Timpani Mass, also known as the Paukenmesse. Pfutzenreuter comments that the three great composers "used a universal musical vocabulary" that has kept their music fresh and relevant to this day.

"Triple Piano Concertos!!!"--exclamation points needed--will take place on January 26 and 27, 2019. Circumstances have finally allowed the orchestra to secure three grand pianos for the College's Center Theatre stage. They will be ably staffed by pianists Carolyn Steinbuck, Elena Casanova, and Elizabeth MacDougall. The concert will start with Tchaikovsky's Serenade for Strings, after which the pianists along with the orchestra will perform Mozart's Triple Piano Concerto--composed specifically for three pianos--as well as Bach's Triple Concerto in D minor. The interplay between the pianists, playing with and in counterpoint to each other and to the orchestra as a whole, is not to be missed.

The season will conclude on May 18 and 19 of 2019 with "Roy Malan In Concert." Malan, former concertmaster of the San Francisco Ballet, will serve as guest concertmaster for the Symphony--playing lead violin and overseeing the bowing of the string section. The program consists of two Tchaikovsky pieces as well as Alexander Glazunov's Violin Concerto in A minor. Glazunov, a Russian composer of the late Romantic period, wrote the concerto in 1904. Pfutzenreuter finds it "very romantic and western-sounding"--romantic in the other sense of the word, that is. And he calls the concluding piece, Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5 in E minor, "a glorious work, serving as the crescendo for the whole season."

And quite a season it will be, Pfutzenreuter's 29th with the orchestra. Asked about his position, he replies, "It's the conductor's job to be the link between the soloist and the orchestra. The conductor watches and listens to the orchestra, pays attention to the tempo, and makes sure the players speed down and slow up at same time." Because of its large and complex nature, "an orchestra needs a translator; no one person can see it all. I am like a translator in time."

Although officially retired from his teaching position at the college, Pfutzenreuter comments that "I don't really feel like I'm retired, because I'm still doing a lot of the things I was doing before." Without the day to day responsibilities of a professor, "I can just do the fun stuff. This doesn’t seem like work to me." All those who are fortunate enough to work with Pfutzenreuter would tend to agree.

Season tickets for the 2018-19 Ukiah Symphony Season are $90 for ages 18 to 64, and $30 for a single concert; $75 for age 65 and up and $25 for a single concert; and free for ASB card holders and everyone under 18. (Buying a season ticket is like hearing four concerts for the cost of three.) Season tickets and single tickets are available at; single tickets are also sold one month prior to each concert at the Mendocino Book Company at 102 S. School St. in Ukiah. All concerts take place at the Mendocino College Center Theatre in Ukiah, with free parking and wheelchair access. For further information please call the Ukiah Symphony hotline at 707 462-0236.

The Ukiah Symphony’s sponsors, program advertisers and donors make it possible to bridge the gap between ticket sales and concert expenses, which average $15,000-18,000 per concert. Those interested in helping to support the Symphony may now make a donation online at

Sponsors for the 2018-19 season are Adventist Health Ukiah Valley; Drs. Larry Falk and Margaret Arner; Robert Axt; Dr. Andrew I. Corbett, D.D.S., MS, Inc.; Conrad and Joan Cox; Rich and Jean Craig; “In Memory of Dr. Hugh Curtis”; Guilford and Gudrun Dye; Dr. Herschel and Susan Gordon; Monte and Kay Hill; Charles and Wanda Mannon; Pacific Redwood Medical Group; Realty World/Selzer Realty; Savings Bank of Mendocino County; Jaye Alison Moscariello and Bill Taylor; and Tommy and Ann Thornhill.

Sponsors for the 2018-19 season are Adventist Health Ukiah Valley; Drs. Larry Falk and Margaret Arner; Robert Axt; Dr. Andrew I. Corbett, D.D.S., MS, Inc.; Conrad and Joan Cox; Rich and Jean Craig; “In Memory of Dr. Hugh Curtis”; Guilford and Gudrun Dye; Dr. Herschel and Susan Gordon; Monte and Kay Hill; Charles and Wanda Mannon; Pacific Redwood Medical Group; Realty World/Selzer Realty; Savings Bank of Mendocino County; Jaye Alison Moscariello and Bill Taylor; and Tommy and Ann Thornhill.

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HEROES AND PATRIOTS, Monday, July 16, 2018, 1 p.m. PST, KMEC RADIO/Ukiah.

I am hoping that the focus of our discussion will be the missing story of American politics - the stories of grass roots citizens movements winning political reforms at the state and local level - the topic of my forthcoming one-hour documentary on MSNBC - THE PEOPLE vs THE POLITICIANS.

One of the strongest stories is the expose of the Koch Dark Money network by the California Fair Political Practices Commission under Ann Ravel. But there’s success of public funding for campaigns in Connecticut, battle over voting rights and vs voter suppression in North Carolina, Great gerrymander reform in Florida (much different strategy that you use in California), a surprising populist revolt in South Dakota, the’push to rollback Citizens United decision in multiple states

Hedrick Smith: For a blog describing our documentary, you can get a quick read at “Our TV Doc - Rebellion at the Grass Roots, the Url is

To see some short videos, the companion Youtube channel, “The People Vs the Politicians,”:the URL is

John Sakowicz

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I know you have an interest, as do I, in economic inequality, based on my book “Who Stole the American Dream?” but in this political year, Let’s talk about how we can fix our broken democracy. This year public funding of campaigns is expanding...states like Michigan, Missouri, Colorado and even Utah are pushing gerrymander reform. there is lots going on out there that is not being very actively covered by the mainstream media.

Hedrick Smith

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by Will Parrish

A historic effort to repatriate East Bay land to Ohlone descendants marks a turning point for indigenous cultural renewal and prompts the question: What does it mean to live on indigenous land?

At the back end of a two-acre nursery lot in Oakland’s Sobrante Park neighborhood, where 105th Avenue dead-ends into Highway 880 and Lisjan Creek (otherwise known as San Lorenzo Creek) twists north on its path to the Bay, Corrina Gould and Johnella LaRose stand alongside a collection of twigs arranged in a small circle: a miniature rendering of a traditional Ohlone dance arbor. Elsewhere on the property, workers coax tender fruit trees into pots filled with organic soil. Only a year ago, this space was covered with trash and debris piles. But to Gould and LaRose, it’s become an incredibly significant patch of earth.

“This gives us a place to call our own,” said Gould, an indigenous Chochenyo/Karkin Ohlone who lives in Oakland. “That’s something that’s hard to come by for a lot of people in this world, especially for indigenous people who have had everything taken away.”

Lithograph by Louis Choris

As with nearly the entirety of the East Bay, this fringe of land in deep East Oakland has been part of the ancestral homeland of the Chochenyo-speaking Ohlone people for several thousand years. Starting in the late-1760s, Spanish missionaries and soldiers attempted to erase California indigenous people’s identities by forcing them into filthy, disease-ridden labor camps at missions from San Diego to Sonoma and baptizing them in the Catholic faith. In the late-1840s, U.S. soldiers and vigilantes arrived like a steamroller to these lands, virtually exterminating numerous indigenous nations and forcing others into hiding or on long marches at gun-point to far-flung reservations.

Until now, the descendants of the Chochenyo Ohlone people who survived were left without a secure place on which to practice many of their ceremonies and traditions. Because they aren’t federally recognized tribes, contemporary Ohlone communities have no reservations or protected land base.

But last year, the nonprofit food sovereignty group Planting Justice established a first-of-its-kind partnership with the Sogorea Te Land Trust, an urban indigenous, women-led land trust founded by Gould and LaRose in 2015. Planting Justice is paying off $600,000 on a loan to acquire the rectangular parcel on 105th Avenue, which features rows of potted fruit trees ringed by sheds and greenhouses. Currently, Planting Justice provides Sogorea Te with a cultural easement on the property’s northern quarter-acre, allowing it to hold ceremonies and for other cultural uses, but after paying off the loan, Planting Justice will deed the entire parcel to the land trust.

The agreement with Planting Justice is a first step in a far more ambitious effort to repatriate East Bay land to Ohlone people. The Sogorea Te Land Trust intends to acquire dozens or even hundreds of parcels in a patchwork throughout the East Bay, partly using funds generated by the “Shummi Land Tax” — a voluntary way for non-indigenous Bay Area residents to acknowledge the theft of Ohlone land and work toward its healing.

These lands will serve as focal points for the revival of Chochenyo Ohlone cultural traditions and their language. They could also enable local indigenous people to re-inter thousands of their ancestors currently piled on shelves at UC Berkeley and in museums across the Bay Area, Gould said. And the land trust will be a vehicle to protect indigenous sacred sites.

In the last two years, Chochenyo Ohlone people and their supporters have been locked in a campaign to protect a portion of one of the oldest sites of human habitation and an important Ohlone ceremonial place along San Francisco Bay. Located where Strawberry Creek meets the saltwater near what is now the Berkeley Marina, the West Berkeley Shellmound and Village Site is estimated to be roughly 5,700 years old, according to radiocarbon dating. The sacred mound, a pyramid of shell and earth, was roughly 30 feet high and covered the area of about two or three football fields. Indigenous people lived there for several millennia.

In 2002, the Berkeley Landmarks Preservation Commission designated a two-block area of the shellmound and village site that stretches from Hearst Avenue to University Avenue and from Fourth Street to Second Street as a city landmark, eligible for listing on the National Registry of Historic Places.

Currently, only one portion of the site remains as undeveloped — a 2.2-acre parking lot located on the southwestern portion of Berkeley’s Fourth Street shopping district. In what has become one of Berkeley’s most heated development battles in recent memory, a proposed housing and retail development there would involve digging to depths of eight to ten feet across the property. (The ground beneath the parking lot has never been extensively excavated.) Ohlone people have stood firm against any effort to develop the site, and they have called attention to the possibility that their ancestors’ remains will be disturbed by the excavation. They have instead proposed a memorial park honoring their history and culture to the present.

In March, the developer, West Berkeley Investors, a subsidiary of Danville-based Blake|Griggs Properties, raised the stakes in the fight by becoming the first company in California to invoke a new state law, Senate Bill 35, that streamlines the approval process of building projects that provide certain levels of housing designated as affordable. In a thorough re-design of the company’s original proposal, it is proposing to construct 260 apartment units, half of which would be set aside for households earning 80 percent of the area median income — $80,400 for a family of four.

SB 35 requires that eligible projects be approved within 180 days of its new permit application, which West Berkeley Investors submitted on March 8. But on June 5th, the City of Berkeley rejected fast-track approval for the project, saying it did not qualify under SB35 because it is on a designated city landmark. Blake|Griggs Properties has responded with a letter pressuring the city to reverse that ruling.

The Sogorea Te Land Trust is not affiliated with the struggle over the West Berkeley Shellmound and Village Site, which is being spearheaded by a group founded by LaRose and Gould in the mid-’90s called Indian People Organizing for Change. Each, however, is part of a broader effort to re-imagine what it means to live, work, and build on Ohlone land. And both the land trust and the shellmound campaign have drawn passionate support from hundreds of non-indigenous allies.

Many who have made common cause with the Chochenyo Ohlone struggle view the colonization of land and the genocide of its original inhabitants as fundamental injustices that must be repaired if true justice and lasting environmental protection are to be achieved. The struggle for indigenous cultural renewal has offered a radical and generally inclusive vision for meeting people’s material and spiritual needs, which centers on reinvigorating both indigenous and non-indigenous people’s relationship to the land itself.

“The taking of the land — the heart of the people — has been the cause of a lot of problems,” said LaRose, who is Shoshone Bannock of the northern Great Basin and moved to the Bay Area as a young adult, raising her family here. “I believe that with the land trust, and with a renewed relationship to the land itself, I think that’s really going to help us to find our way back.”

In the mid 1700s, Ohlone people lived in a world of dizzying abundance. In the East Bay, there were vast marshes and lush meadows, wild salmon that swam up the creeks veining the hills to spawn and die, and grizzly bears that inhabited endless oak forests. Partly owing to the temperate climate and easy access to food sources, approximately one-third of all Native Americans in the United States were living in the area now known as California prior to contact with Europeans. In an area spanning from San Francisco to Big Sur, there were 50 documented villages and extended family groups who spoke at least eight distinct dialects and were loosely united by a similar language, often referred to as “Costanoan” but now more commonly known as “Ohlone.”

The arrival of Euro-American soldiers and missionaries, who commodified these lands by gridding and platting them with farms and ranches, marked the beginning of a period of gut-wrenching violence, dislocation, and erasure. Tens of thousands of indigenous people in coastal areas were brought to Catholic missions (that were essentially concentration camps), where they were beaten, whipped, burned, maimed, tortured, and killed. Within the missions, many of the so-called religious “converts” continued to worship their deities surreptitiously as well as conduct native dances and rituals in secret, and in some cases became fugitives who allied with the indigenous people of the state’s interior to fight back in armed uprisings.

The United States’ conquest of California in the Mexican-American War greatly hastened indigenous people’s destruction. “The handiwork of … well armed death squads combined with the widespread random killing of Indians by individual miners resulted in the death of 100,000 Indians in the first two years of the gold rush,” retired Sonoma State University Native American Studies Professor Edward Castillo has written of the initial years of the California Gold Rush. “Nothing in American Indian history is even remotely comparable to this massive orgy of theft and mass murder.”

Under the laws of the new state, native people were denied rights such as the ability to vote or testify in court. Many indigenous people became migrant farmworkers. Others, including Ohlone people, survived by hiding out and concealing their identities. Corrina Gould said her relatives survived by hiding out at a Pleasanton ranch and pretending to be Mexican.

Part of what enabled indigenous people to survive was the depth of their spiritual connection to their homeland, notes Chochenyo Ohlone Berkeley resident Vince Medina.

“An intense and undeniable love for homeland is among the reasons our identity was able to survive in the East Bay,” Medina wrote in a 2017 letter to the Berkeley Zoning Adjustments Board concerning the proposed 1900 Fourth St. development, on behalf of 19 other Chochenyo Ohlone individuals. “In this very small geographic space, every moment in our Chochenyo Ohlone history has occurred; in this place our very world began on the peak of tuuštak (Mt. Diablo) during the Great Flood that covered the whole of the world.”

Ohlone people have continuously fought to protect their cultural connection to that homeland whenever circumstances have allowed. The late-1960s brought a nationwide resurgence of indigenous cultural pride, including in 1969, when “Indians of All Tribes” initiated a nearly 19-month occupation of Alcatraz Island to demand that the U.S. honor its treaties with indigenous nations. During this period of increased indigenous political struggle, Ohlone people made several stands to protect sacred places. In a little-known 1975 stand-off in Watsonville, Calif., for example, dozens of indigenous people established an armed fortification within a partially bulldozed Ohlone cemetery where a warehouse was to be built, and successfully negotiated to preserve the half that had not yet been destroyed.

Much of Johnella LaRose’s early cultural and political education was also rooted in the Red Power movement of the 1970s. In the late-1970s, she was living at the now-defunct American Indian Movement Freedom and Survival School in Oakland when she became involved in organizing for the Longest Walk, a spiritual walk across the country to rally opposition to numerous pieces of anti-Indian legislation in Congress.

Born and raised in Oakland, Corrina Gould grew up knowing she is Ohlone because her mother, also a lifelong Oakland resident, regularly talked about their family’s history. Her great-grandfather, Jose Guzman, had been one of the last documented fluent speakers of the Chochenyo Ohlone language. As an adult, she became involved in organizations focused on providing resources and support to indigenous women.

In the mid-1990s, LaRose and Gould cofounded Indian People Organizing for Change (IPOC) as a vehicle to call attention to the protection of sacred sites. Despite the prior decades of indigenous activism, Ohlone people still faced an uphill battle for recognition. “Twenty years ago, almost nobody in the San Francisco Bay Area even knew that Ohlone people still existed here,” Gould recalled.

In the late-1990s, the construction of Emeryville’s Bay Street mall rallied people around the protection of one of Chochenyo Ohlone people’s sacred places — the Emeryville Shellmound, the largest documented Ohlone shellmound, located at the mouth of Temescal Creek. Ohlone people regard shellmounds as living cemeteries and places of intense connection with their ancestors. Yet, the remains of numerous Ohlone ancestors were unearthed in the construction and removed from the site. For Gould, LaRose, and other indigenous people, it was a heartbreaking event that spurred them to call greater attention to the shellmounds around the bay.

Partly drawing on a map of 425 shellmound sites developed by the UC Berkeley archeologist Nels Nelson in 1909, Gould and LaRose teamed up with Wounded Knee DeOcampo, a Plains Miwok tribal member, on a 280-mile walk from Vallejo to San Jose, and then up the western shore of the bay to San Francisco in 2005, visiting the sites of dozens of Ohlone shellmounds, some of which are intact or partially intact. “The initial thing we wanted was just to lay down prayers at these places,” LaRose said. Expecting only a few dozen people to take part, they were instead joined by hundreds of people hailing from all parts of the world.

The walks took place in five successive years, bringing together a large, new constituency of Bay Area residents who understood the importance of the shellmounds and other sacred indigenous sites, and were willing to fight to protect them. For Gould and LaRose, the walks reflected the importance of following the spiritual guidance and teachings of the ancestors who were buried on these lands. “We’re pretty damn obedient to the ancestors,” Gould said. “And that’s how we got here.”

Because indigenous cultures are inextricably linked to the lands they have historically inhabited, their survival necessarily depends on preserving those lands, which face countless threats at any given time. In California and beyond, contemporary indigenous people are engaged in battles over mineral rights, water rights, federal recognition, honoring of treaties, repatriation or honorable treatment of sacred sites, health care, language preservation, and more.

One of the sacred places the Bay Area’s indigenous people fought hardest to protect for several years is a large, shallow recess in the Carquinez Strait known as Sogorea Te. In May 2011, the Greater Vallejo Recreation District planned to break ground on a new park on a 15-acre portion of this site, which has been a sacred gathering place and burial ground for Native American people for at least 3,500 years. Development of a park on top of it would have entailed re-grading several acres, which would have disturbed graves and sacred objects.

On the day that park construction would have begun, close to 100 people gathered at Sogorea Te and lit a ceremonial fire.

The protest flowered into an ad-hoc experiment in communal living. Elementary and middle school teachers brought their classes there. Homeless single mothers found sanctuary for themselves and their children. People from all walks of life found a niche, whether by growing food, chopping wood, or partaking in decision-making councils.

The 109-day occupation ended in a political victory — sort of. The Vallejo City Council unanimously authorized a first-of-its-kind Cultural Easement and Settlement Agreement with the Yolo County-based Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, the closest federally recognized tribe. Under the agreement, the tribe gained the legal right to oversee and protect the area. Yocha Dehe officials, however, had little connection to the struggle. Within months, they made concessions to the Greater Vallejo Recreation District, allowing park planners to grade much of the site and even install part of the contentious parking lot.

But the struggle to protect Sogorea Te provided something more lasting — an experience for many who participated of communion with land and mutual aid with other people unlike any they had previously known. “A question we began asking ourselves was — how do we bring that feeling of Sogorea Te back to the places where we live?” said Corrina Gould.

Gould and LaRose were also seeking a means of protecting land in future struggles despite the Chochenyo Ohlone’s lack of federal recognition. The idea of the Sogorea Te Land Trust was born.

In part, the Land Trust draws from and reinforces the work of other indigenous land trusts, such as the land trust of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band, whose traditional territory encompassed all or portions of the present-day counties of San Benito, Monterey, Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, and San Mateo. In contrast to many conservation land trusts, which prioritize species conservation that diminishes human contact with land, these Native American-led projects focus on restoring humans’ historical role as land stewards.

For the Sogorea Te Land Trust, Gould and LaRose explored how to implement this model in one of the world’s most urbanized, cosmopolitan — and least-affordable — regions. Among those who have built the strongest connections to the project are low-income people and people of color who have built solidarity with the Ohlone around a broadly shared experience of historical dispossession and forced displacement.

In 2016, the struggle against the Dakota Access Pipeline based at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in southern North Dakota had given people throughout the country the experience of a spiritually- centered struggle in solidarity with indigenous people. Among them were Haleh Zandi and Gavin Raders, cofounders of Planting Justice, a 10-year-old nonprofit with numerous programs to address inequities in the food system, including urban farms in El Sobrante and Oakland’s Sobrante Park neighborhood. After traveling to Standing Rock, they returned with a clear vision of ultimately donating the Sobrante Park land to the Sogorea Te Land Trust.

“No matter where you’re standing in the United States of America, it’s all on stolen land,” Raders said. “And here we are with the legal right and ability to give this land to the Sogorea Te Land Trust once we pay it off.”

Other opportunities are emerging. The Northern California Community Land Trust purchased a 99-year lease on an empty lot in a historically Black neighborhood of West Oakland. After its original plan for the land fell through, the organization approached the Sogorea Te Land Trust and the Butterfly Movement, an Oakland-based group that supports the personal development of young women of color by teaching them ecological design, about taking over the land. The two groups are eager to work together. Brandi Mack, a founder of The Butterfly Movement, said they have previously developed six community gardens, all of which were eventually paved over because the group lacked the ability to fund them.

“Our work with Sogorea Te is about forging more permanency in the communities where our families live, period,” Mack said.

Indigenous people’s effort to take back land block-by-block in the East Bay is occurring amid an unprecedented housing affordability crisis, which has led to increased support for the construction of new low-income and affordable housing units. In 2015, West Berkeley Investments applied to the Berkeley Board of Zoning Adjustments to build a cluster of three buildings, including 33,000 square feet of ground floor retail and restaurant space and a mix of 155 studio and one- and two-bedroom apartments above, on the 1900 Fourth St. parking lot. Ten percent of the units would have been affordable for those considered “very low-income.”

Blake|Griggs has “quietly become one of the busiest developers in the Bay Area,” the San Francisco Business Times noted in 2017. The company currently has roughly $1 billion worth of projects in the pipeline from Fremont to Berkeley, including the proposed 1900 Fourth St. development in the Berkeley-designated Ohlone shellmound and village site.

The site provides an unparalleled link to the human and environmental history of the East Bay. The 2000 application to designate the site as a City of Berkeley landmark noted that “designation of the site would do more in the way of educating the community about its ancient past, native history, and Victorian times than any other place in Berkeley.” With its access to fresh water and abundant food sources, the site supported around 4,000 years of human habitation. It also generated at least two shellmound burial structures, as evidenced by an 1856 Coast Survey map of the region.

“You can imagine this really busy place here in San Francisco Bay Area,” said UC Berkeley anthropology professor Kent G. Lightfoot, who has conducted pioneering research on Bay Area shellmounds. It was a place where Ohlone people kept tule reed canoes and lived off abundant shellfish, surf fish, salmon, and smelt, he said. “There were hundreds of these mound and village sites recorded around the San Francisco Bay, and at night, people would have been able to look out and see the twinkling lights of the fires in all of these different places.”

In the last two years, the Fourth Street project went through most of Berkeley’s approval process, including doing a draft environmental impact report and appearing before the Landmarks Preservation Commission, Design Review Commission, and the Zoning Adjustments Board. That environmental impact review is now on hold as the developer attempts to gain approval through the process established by California’s new housing bill, Senate Bill 35.

The Ohlone and their allies have countered that an exemption in SB 35 allows localities to deny an application if a project would “require the demolition of a historic structure that was placed on a national, state, or local historic register.”

* * *

The co-author of SB 35, state Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, said in an interview that a recent meeting with Ohlone people and their representatives — which came after dozens of people had called his office to complain about the 1900 Fourth St. project — convinced him to look at a possible amendment to the bill to ensure stronger protections for indigenous sacred sites. “I told them I would be open to be considering that,” he said. But he noted the amendment could not take effect until early-2019, and thus would be irrelevant to the struggle concerning the West Berkeley Shellmound.

Wiener declined to say whether he believes the West Berkeley Shellmound and Village Complex qualifies as a “structure.” “It would not surprise me if there were litigation, and then the court would interpret that part of the bill,” he said.

The project is also playing out in the court of public opinion. More than 1,800 people submitted comments opposing the project as part of the Berkeley environmental impact review process. Only five submitted letters in support. Several hundred of the letters raised concerns about noise, traffic, and congestion, though the heart of the opposition to the project and nearly all of its energy has come from supporters of protecting the shellmound.

In 2014, the parking lot’s owners — the Spenger family and real estate investor Dana Ellsworth — hired an archeologist to conduct a trenching study on the parking lot that found no evidence of a shellmound. Partly owing to this study, Blake|Griggs Properties contend that the exact 2.2-acre area of the development was not part of the shellmound, asserting that Strawberry Creek and a willow grove marshland instead covered most of the lot. Their research found two shellmounds located to the west/northwest and to the northeast of the parking lot — but not at the parking lot itself.

“It should be noted that although the project was designated a city landmark due to the belief that the West Berkeley Shellmound is located on the site, extensive testing and undisputed expert analysis have shown that the shellmound does not actually exist on the project site and never did,” the company stated as part of its application to build the housing and retail complex.

But opponents of the development dispute the findings of the archeologist hired by the developer, saying the mid-19th-century Coast Survey Map and a previous archeological study serve as significant evidence that one of the shellmounds overlapped the Spenger’s parking lot. But they also say the focus on the exact location of the shellmounds is a diversionary tactic. In a blog post, project opponent Toby McLeod, of the Sacred Land Film Project in Berkeley, noted that the struggle is “not about the exact location of the shellmound — or shellmounds — since Ohlone villages were often composed of a mound complex, with one large mound and satellite mounds.”

In a comment letter on the draft environmental impact report, archaeologist Christopher Dore, who has extensively studied the site, wrote that the shellmound is one archaeological feature within the boundaries of the site, which has been designated as a significant archeological site by the state of California, known as CA-ALA-307. “There are significant, undisturbed, cultural and natural deposits within CA-ALA-307 that are not directly related to the shellmound…. One of the names for CA-ALA-307 that has been used historically is West Berkeley Shellmound. This is just a ‘shortcut’ name for this entire historical resource; both the parts that relate to the actual shellmound (the archaeological feature) and other archaeological components of the site within the site boundary.”

Blake Griggs offered to deed about half an acre along Hearst Avenue to a nonprofit that would have included an Ohlone educational and cultural community center and park, and a new Ohlone Cultural Trust would own the land and the building after 99 years. But Gould said representatives of two other Ohlone family groups rejected the offer because it would still allow excavation of the rest of the site and would diminish Ohlone people’s ability to perform ceremonies at one of their most revered places.

The Ohlone maintain a ceremonial connection with the shellmound and village site to the present day. The parking lot, for example, is one of the places they visited during the Bay Area shellmound walks from 2005 to 2009. “Our ancestors put that ceremonial place there,” Gould said. “It’s the first place along the bay where our ancestors had their bodies laid to rest and the first place where they heard a newborn baby’s cry. It’s really important that we keep that alive.”

On April 4, more than 50 people attended a Berkeley Landmarks Commission meeting both to reaffirm their opposition to the project and again put forth their vision for a park honoring Ohlone history to be constructed.

At the meeting, landmarks Commission Chairman Steven Finacom raised further questions about the legality of the project. Once a site is landmarked, he noted, there is no way to take away the designation without coming before the Landmarks Commission, which Blake|Griggs Properties has yet to do. (Finacom also supports landmarking the view from UC Berkeley’s Campanile, which opponents say is a way to block high-rise housing development in downtown Berkeley.)

“A lot of people who visit this part of the world do not even know we live here,” Ruth Orta, an 83-year-old member of the Him’re-n Ohlone tribe, said at the meeting. “We’re supposed to be extinct. But we’re not, and we’re not going anywhere.”

The name of Berkeley itself is a provocative reference to the historical drive to exterminate indigenous identity. In 1866, as legend has it, University of California trustee and railroad magnate Frederick Billings stood on the corner of Hearst Avenue and Gayley Road in the Berkeley hills and looked out across the western gate of the bay now spanned by the Golden Gate Bridge. The view inspired him to suggest naming the town after a line in an 18th-century poem by British philosopher and cleric George Berkeley: “Westward the course of empire takes its way.”

At the time, this line was a popular expression of American exceptionalism and the realization of “Manifest Destiny,” the belief that the United States was destined for Western expansion originating from the initial colonies along the Atlantic seaboard to the Pacific Ocean. In practice, this expansion meant the destruction or near-destruction of a diverse array of indigenous people. And this process of cultural erasure did not end with the Gold Rush and its immediate aftermath.

Soon after the establishment of the city of Berkeley in the mid-19th century, the West Berkeley Shellmound began to be removed and sold as garden fertilizer, chicken feed, material for grading dirt roads, and surfacing tennis courts. It suffered further damage with the construction of Southern Pacific railroad tracks in 1877 and the creation of various factories along the bayshore.

In 1909, the top of the mound was still one to one-and-a-half meters above the high tide line when Berkeley archeologist Nels Nelson completed his study documenting 425 shellmounds in the Bay Area, showing the West Berkeley mound spread out in a wide ellipse along Strawberry Creek. By the 1950s, the top was flattened to be used as a base for a water tank.

But the remains of the shellmound and village site are still a vital part of contemporary Chochenyo Ohlone culture. And as they fight to protect the remaining sacred sites that help define that culture, they are also working toward its restoration.

Part of the Sogorea Te Land Trust’s work necessarily involves restoring old names for the lands, waterways, and territories in the East Bay — and also generating new ones that express renewed cultural vibrancy. The names of places and people can reflect entire worldviews. And, in contrast to the society of which Frederick Billings was a part, the Chochenyo Ohlone’s world is historically an animistic one, in which every place, creature, and thing carries spiritual and cultural significance.

Standing in front of the miniature model of an Ohlone dance arbor at the back end of the 105th Ave. property, Corrina Gould points to where San Leandro Creek meanders under the roaring traffic of Highway 880. Her relatives on her maternal side come from a village known as Lisjan (pronounced Lih-Shawn), she explained, which likely overlapped the Planting Justice land or was located near it.

“We are directly in alignment with where my family comes from,” she said. “And we didn’t plan that. The ancestors arranged it to happen this way.”

Lisjan is also the original name given by Ohlone people to San Leandro Creek, a name Gould and other Ohlone people from the Confederated Villages of Lisjan have now reasserted. The creek formed a marker between two different territories. On one side is Huichin, which now includes Oakland, Alameda, Berkeley, Albany, and Emeryville. On the other is Yrgin, which encompasses modern-day San Leandro, San Lorenzo, Hayward, and Castro Valley.

The 105th Avenue project is an expression of the Sogorea Te Land Trust’s vision of re-invigorating indigenous culture, while also in many cases offering non-indigenous people a place of safety where they can remember and practice different ways of living. The land trust will emphasize providing access to land in neighborhoods where such connections are hard to come by, often due to economic circumstances, Johnella LaRose explained.

“We call this the ‘land of the forgotten,'” she said.

Built shortly after World War II, first as a whites-only neighborhood and then gradually becoming a white-flight red-zone in the mid-to-late ’50s, Sobrante Park is now a working-class Black neighborhood that has seen massive disinvestment and historic red-lining. The neighborhood has few employment opportunities. The closest food store to the Planting Justice nursery is a Food Maxx, located a half-hour away by foot.

The nursery markedly contrasts with its surroundings while also seeming comfortably at home in them. Known as Rolling River Nursery, it features nationwide clientele and has one of the most biodiverse selections of fruit trees in the country. It has 15 full-time employees, Planting Justice’s Raders said, the majority of whom live within two blocks of the site. And the arrival of the Sogorea Te Land Trust has had an immediate uplifting impact both on the nursery and the neighborhood as a whole, he said. “It’s helped people here see the sacredness of their work.”

“Traditionally, when people came to our lands, it was our responsibility to take care of them,” Gould said. “So, of course, we want to have spaces for folks to be a part of.”

Underlying the land trust’s ambitions is the question of funding. In the case of the 105th Ave. parcel, Planting Justice needs to raise an additional $600,000 before it owns the land outright and can deed it to the land trust. At that point, it will lease the land back from the land trust to continue operating the nursery. Planting Justice is also seeking to raise $2 million to acquire and renovate an additional three-acre nursery site two parcels east of the existing nursery, which has been contaminated with chemical run-off, where they hope to establish an aquaponics farm capable of growing 500,000 pounds of food per year. This land would also be donated to the Sogorea Te Land Trust.

Part of the goal is to provide people access to food outside of a market exchange relationship, LaRose explained. “People talk about the spiritual connection as well as physical connection to the land,” she said. “How we used to live off land. How we could just go outside and find food. The idea here is to bring that back.”

In the meantime, Gould said her adult daughter has begun to have dreams in the traditional Chochenyo Ohlone language. Some of the old ceremonies that have been dormant are beginning to return. This year, on the autumn equinox, the 105th Ave. land will host the first traditional dance arbor ceremony in Chochenyo Ohlone territory in more than 200 years.

(Will Parrish is a freelance investigative journalist based in Northern California. His web site is Follow him on Twitter @willparrishca. This story first appeared in the East Bay Express.)


  1. Kathy Janes July 13, 2018

    Annie Kalantarian’s beautiful drawing reminds me of the Catwings books by Ursula LeGuin.

  2. james marmon July 13, 2018


    Sheriff Allman still wants to fast track a locked facility at the Old Howard Memorial in Willits because his 30 million dollar Mental Health Jail isn’t scheduled to completed until 2023 now. He also wants Kemper to focus his needs assessment on what the county may need 20 years from now, not on our present needs (I shit you not). Our present needs are exactly what the Behavioral Advisory Board recommends.

    “Crisis stabilization units in Fort Bragg, Willits and Ukiah for immediate care of patients while longer-term solutions are arranged. McGourty added that this “would also relieve emergency rooms and make staffing easier.

    I don’t know what kind of tools Kemper would use to make the kind of projection Allman wants, but we surely don’t want to have a bunch of empty beds and jail cells 20 years from now. The current half empty Juvenile Hall comes to mind at the moment as an example.

    “It takes too long for innovative mental health service plans to get approved by the state under Prop 63 (the Millionaire Tax for new Mental Health programs).”

    Jan McGourty also made reference to the fact that the State does not like the County’s innovative mental health service plan and may not approve it. That really puts the County in a bad place with all the retroactive payments they gave Camille a few months ago. The county had to spend those innovative funds or lose them. If the state doesn’t approve the plans then they not only spent the money, they’ll also lose it to reversion back to the State.

    More will be revealed

    James Marmon MSW

    • james marmon July 13, 2018

      Carmel Angelo’s and Dan Hamburg’s love child, Dan Gjerde, made the statement “mental health services are light years ahead of where they were 2 years ago” (post Ortner). Oh, we need to take his word for that I guess, show some real numbers Danny boy. Real numbers will indicate that ER 5150 assessments have tripled since RQMC took over adult mental health services. We went from 407 in 2015 to over 1200 in 2017.

      “And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff – I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I’d do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it’s crazy, but that’s the only thing I’d really like to be. I know it’s crazy.”

      -Catcher in the Rye

      • james marmon July 13, 2018

        P.S. having more ER 5150 assessments a year is not a number you want, it means something else isn’t working. It means that we’re light years behind where we were 2 years ago, if you ask me. Mental-cino needs to re-visit what was working pre-privatization (2012) when we were averaging just about 100 ER assessments a year. We could use Measure B money to rebuild and operate that infrastructure.

        James Marmon MSW

  3. Harvey Reading July 13, 2018

    A good description of the so-called democracy liberal phonies are always wanting to “take back”. It never existed, you fools. This country was founded by, and for, the wealthy. The rest of us are merely slaves and cannon fodder. And Hillary aint gonna save you in 2020 either. Hopefully she will have died before then, along with Bernie the babbler.

    • Mike Williams July 13, 2018

      Really? You hope Hillary and Bernie die before 2020? Harsh words for the comment section.

      • Harvey Reading July 13, 2018

        Interesting response from someone who lives in a country that has been, without compunction, and often under the false banner of “spreading democracy”, slaughtering people — men, women and children — around the world, throughout its existence. My, my, my, your “sensitivity” over someone wishing a couple of warmongering politicians would die is positively astounding.

    • Jeff Costello July 13, 2018

      There’s only one political figure I’d like to see die. The rest ain’t worth the bother.

  4. chuck dunbar July 13, 2018

    Hey, Little Dog, have some respect for those old guys! Maybe they can’t hear so well, but they have hard-earned wisdom from all those years of hard living, as well as historical perspective that young folks like you lack. I know old guys tend to wander a bit so help them out. Maybe you can be Catcher (Dog) in the Rye and save them “if they start to go over the cliff”–take ’em back to the house for an old guy nap and they’ll be fine.

    • George Hollister July 13, 2018

      The old guys can’t hear, and on top of it, they keep muttering the same stories over, and over again. Listening to that hard-earned wisdom gets old. Poor Little Dog. But hey, LD, it builds character. Good experience for you.

  5. james marmon July 13, 2018

    Humboldt County Sheriff’s Drug Enforcement Unit and Fish and Wildlife have been out busting gardens all week. Even gardens that have permit applications in process. The State’s July 1st deadline has come and gone. HCSO has even posted a video promo on their website.

    No Permit = No Plants

    You’re next Mendocino

  6. Jim Updegraff July 13, 2018

    Bruce: Bumgarner is the starter tonight – think he can make it to the 7th inning?

  7. james marmon July 13, 2018

    How adoption and support systems failed the Hart siblings, presumed dead in Mendocino Coast crash

    “It was a story that shook the country for a news cycle and then was mostly forgotten. But troubling questions reverberate about the system that put their adoptions in motion and then failed the children repeatedly for years.

    The children were ushered into a family where they would spend more than a decade reaching out to teachers, law enforcement and neighbors about physical harm, mental anguish and food deprivation.”

    Where’s our children Camille?

    James Marmon MSW
    Former Social Worker V
    Family and Children’s Services
    Del Norte and Mendocino Counties

    • james marmon July 13, 2018

      “In our system, once a child is adopted, we equate it with success and there is very little follow-up,” said University of Michigan law professor Vivek Sankaram, who advocates for children’s rights. “We actually know very little about the well-being of how kids from foster care do after they are adopted.”

      Some are sold as sex slaves or worse, in what they call the re-homing process. I know Mendocino County parents who cry themselves to sleep each night wondering if their child is dead or alive. There is no track and trace system on children once they are adopted out.

      Where’s our children Camille?

      James Marmon MSW

  8. Eric Sunswheat July 13, 2018

    By manipulating their DNA, yeast can produce CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids or terpenes that would naturally be found in the cannabis plant. And they do it for far cheaper than traditional cultivation methods.
    It’s a one-step process: add sugar and let the bioengineered yeast do the rest. Liberte estimates that they’ll be able to create a gram of CBD for 20 cents, far less than cultivation and extraction of CBD from cannabis or hemp plants.
    Plus, there’s the added benefit of a lower environmental impact. Cannabis and hemp plants require a substantial amount of water and energy (especially for indoor grow operations).

  9. Eric Sunswheat July 13, 2018

    Re: Sheriff Allman… wants Kemper to focus his needs assessment on what the county may need 20 years from now, not on our present needs…
    —-> Makes a lot of sense. By then, apartheidic chemical life diminishing pharmaceutical psychiatric patent prescription drugs, will possibly be phased out for the healing fraud that they are in most cases, with no supportive clinical studies for valid use. Organic psychological soma substance such as psilocybin will gain widespread institutional acceptance. It’s necessary to create healing garden companion planted agricultural lands, adjacent and as a part of the triage psychiatric recovery facility estate. Well done, Sheriff! Finally, Allman may have realized chemical zombies is not the long term solution in his jail. Hats off to law enforcement.

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