July 2006

The beauty of the Rainbow Gathering

By Art Goodtimes

RAINBOW GATHERING … It’s hard to explain an event of this size held in the woods where people can be as close or as far away from others as they please. It’s about freedom. But it’s also about peace, light and responsibility. And at heart it’s a giveaway. Free food at dozens of kitchens. A central dinner circle where everyone who comes gets fed. No alcohol. No combustion engines (we walk, carry or roll everything into the site). Sometimes no personal fires. Leave no trace. Everyone takes responsibility. Total silence on the morning of the 4th. These are some of the rules of the Rainbow … But more than rules, it’s really about a ring of power held by thousands of people — where love and trust and sharing are expected, and anything other outré … The gathering’s north of Steamboat this yearKi;u 1-7. Check online for directions, www.welcomehome.org and read up on Rainbow 101, if you are planning on coming. I’ll be up by Yoga Camp. With Mary and Sara and Gorio and our friend Seven. Come and visit.

ALTA CASSIETTO … Patient, with a twinkle in her eye … That’s how I remember one of Telluride’s Greatest Ladies. Editor of Dad Painter’s Daily Journal. U.S. Postmaster. Local historian- par-excellance. I’d visit her duplex apartment in Montrose. Always neat. With old pictures, scrapbooks, a lifetime of collected objects set on lace. What the Japanese call netsuke … She’d receive me politely, with a little laugh. Make tea. We’d talk history. Telluride’s past. Where this building had been before it burnt, and some anecdote of personality Alta would invoke … She is being honored on the 4th of July in Telluride, having passed away earlier this year. And well she should be honored. One of the most interesting women I’ve ever met. May she rest in peace.

NAVAJO SAM … Visiting New Mexico earlier this spring, I made a quick stop at the southern hideout of one of San Miguel County’s most famous outlaws, the Woods Lake bandit who spent a summer alternately delighting and terrorizing backpackers on the trail to Navajo Lake, haranguing them about a government gone corporate and awry and soliciting food from their backpacks, his rifle or pearl-handled revolver in plain sight … Sam had befriended me when I first moved to the county back in 1980, helping my wife and me find wood for our ramshackle Placerville rental in the middle of winter. When he decided to live out in the woods, I was a bit of an accomplice, bringing him groceries at an assigned spot every couple weeks. When he was finally apprehended, I visited him in the old courthouse jail cell they now use to store records in Telluride … These days, all charges against him having been dropped, he slips back up to San Miguel County on occasion. Age has caught up with him, his left knee is a wreck, cancer mars his face, but his spirit is indomitable. And he continues to harangue us about corporate shenanigans and a nation gone awry. A Colorado original. Navajo Sam.

NET METERING … San Miguel Power Association has moved to make net metering (or reverse metering, as some call it) a reality in its service area, thanks to an advisory committee headed by Kelvin Verity of Veritas Solar in Norwood. Net metering allows folks who generate solar or wind or microhydro power for their own homes to feed that power back into the grid when they’re not using it. It is a form of distributed generation, saves the homeowner on her electric bill, and helps increase the stability of the local grid … SMPA’s program isn’t as extensive or visionary as the program set up by the Office for Resource Efficiency in Crested Butte [www.resourceefficiency.org], but it’s a step forward. Maybe our regional Intergovernmental Sustainability effort can broker a partnership similar to the one ORE has created in Gunnison … For more info call SMPA at 800-864-7256 and ask for Hart Gleason.

KRIS DEAN … If you attended the Telluride Mushroom Festival, you knew Kris. He was the wild man from Tonopah, Nev., with a big Buddha belly and multiple piercings. The one who opened the fungal festivities with a strike at his brass bowl gong … He passed on last month. And many fungophiles are in mourning.

NO CANCER FOR POT-SMOKERS … A study presented at a meeting of the American Thoracic Society last month found that smoking Cannabis species, even heavily, does not increase the risk of cancer. The study was headed by Dr. Donald Tashkin of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. Tashkin, who has studied the effects of Cannabis on the lungs for years, had expected the study to reveal that heavy marijuana use results in elevated cancer risk. Past studies have yielded varied results, but most were small-scale and possibly affected by bias. The large-scale UCLA study focused on 2,200 people, about 1,200 of whom had lung, oral, laryngeal or esophageal cancer. The study used personal interviews to collect information about lifetime Cannabis, tobacco and other drug use, as well as information about family history of cancer, diet and other possible factors. The result was that people who smoked Cannabis, even those who smoked heavily for years, had no greater risk of developing cancer than those who did not smoke. In contrast, people who smoked more than two packs of cigarettes a day were 20 times more likely to develop cancer than those who smoked nothing … Tashkin said studies have shown Cannabis smoke to contain many of the same carcinogens in cigarette smoke (minus the lethal additives used in commercial cigarettes). These recent findings have researchers considering whether Cannabis may have a protective effect against cancer.

FRANCISCO JAVIER CORTES SANTIAGO… Another working-class hero. 14 years old. Shot and killed by Mexican state and federal police as, some 500 strong, they stormed a house in Texcoco this May to arrest dozens of street vendors, including women and children, who’d holed up after a police sweep of Belisario Dominguez market the day before, all members of the Front of the People united in Defense of the Land. FPDT grew out of the neighboring village of San Salvador Atenco’s successful militant struggle against plans to build a new international airport for Mexico City on local farmland in 2002. Outraged at the Texcoco vendor crackdown, Atenco campesinos blockaded nearby highways … In what was clearly government retaliation for their earlier successful struggle, state and federal troops arrested and savagely beat FPDT leader Ignacio del Valle and made a brutal house-to-house sweep of San Salvador Atenco – with more killings, public beatings and even rapes, as hundreds of FPDT campesinos were arrested and driven away … Will Vicente Fox’s gringo buddy start employing similar tactics when the mid-term elections go the wrong way (in spite of continuing scandals over rigged voting machines)?

SCIENCE IDOL … The Union of Concerned Scientists is hosting an editorial- cartoon contest. They’re looking for a creative take on political interference in science. Submit print cartoons that address the misuse of science on a specific issue or in general. Entries are due by July 31. See www.ucsusa.org/ scientific_ integrity/science_idol ... A cartoon on the recent sage-grouse non-listing might be the perfect topic.

HUMBOLDT COUNTY … Measure T, a county ordinance that prohibits nonlocal corporations from donating to county election campaigns, passed muster with Humboldt County, Calif., electors two weeks ago. “I'd liken it to what the early abolitionists did, to the early steps in the struggle for women's suffrage,” said Humboldt County’s David Cobb, the 2004 Green Party presidential candidate. “It would be the beginning of a populist progressive revolution at the ballot box.” … Let’s hope so. Colorado doesn’t allow statutory counties to consider initiatives, nor to limit contributions at elections. So, those will have to be state issues we lobby for. But with a Dem governor and legislature, who knows what’s possible?

Art Goodtimes is a San Miguel County commissioner.