The Framers of the Bill of Rights did not purport to “create” rights. Rather, they designed the Bill of Rights to prohibit our Government from infringing rights and liberties presumed to be preexisting. -Justice William Brennan, 1982

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. -First Amendment

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.

(from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

Below is my reprint of the Democracy Now! account of how Amy Goodman and her producers were unlawfully arrested at the Republican National Convention:

Amy Goodman & Two Democracy Now! Producers Arrested at RNC Protest

More than 280 people were arrested here in St. Paul Monday, the opening day of the Republican National Convention. Among them were several journalists covering the protests in the streets, including three of us at Democracy Now! Amy was detained trying to question police officers about the arrests of Democracy Now! producers Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar. [includes rush transcript]


Sharif Abdel Kouddous, Democracy Now! producer, arrested and charged on Monday while covering the anti-RNC protests in the streets of St. Paul.

Nicole Salazar, Democracy Now! producer, arrested and charged on Monday while covering the anti-RNC protests in the streets of St. Paul.

Rush Transcript

AMY GOODMAN: More than 280 people were arrested here in St. Paul on Monday, the opening day of the Republican National Convention. Among them were several journalists covering the protests in the streets, including three of us at Democracy Now! I was detained trying to question police officers about the arrests of Democracy Now! producers Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar. Nicole and Sharif were covering a police crackdown on a street protest against the Republican National Convention.

Nicole’s camera captured her arrest and assault by the officers.

    NICOLE SALAZAR: Watch out! Watch out! Press!

    POLICE OFFICER: Get out of here! Move!

    NICOLE SALAZAR: Where are we supposed to go? Where are we supposed to go?

    POLICE OFFICER: Get out of here!

    NICOLE SALAZAR: Dude, I can’t see! Ow! Press! Press! Press!

    POLICE OFFICER: Get down! Get down on your face! On your face!

    NICOLE SALAZAR: I’m on my face!

    POLICE OFFICER: Get down on your face!

    NICOLE SALAZAR: Ow! Press! Press!

AMY GOODMAN: Shortly after, I arrived and was arrested while questioning the officers about Sharif and Nicole’s arrest.

    DENIS MOYNIHAN: Release the accredited journalists!

    AMY GOODMAN: Where’s the reporters? Sir?

    POLICE OFFICER: Ma’am, get back to the sidewalk.

    DENIS MOYNIHAN: Release the accredited journalists now!

    AMY GOODMAN: Sir, just one second. I was just running from the convention floor.

    DENIS MOYNIHAN: You are violating my constitutional rights. You are violating their constitutional rights.

    POLICE OFFICER: Sidewalk now!

    AMY GOODMAN: Sir, I want to talk to your superior—

    POLICE OFFICER: Arrest her?

    AMY GOODMAN: Do not arrest me!

    POLICE OFFICER: You’re under arrest.

    POLICE OFFICER: Hold it right there. You’re under arrest. Stay right there. Back up. Back up.

    POLICE OFFICER: Everybody, you cross this line, you’ll be under arrest, so don’t do it.

    CROWD: Let her go!

    DENIS MOYNIHAN: Amy, we are going to get you out of here very soon.

    AMY GOODMAN: This is outrageous.

    DENIS MOYNIHAN: Yes, we have people working on it.

    AMY GOODMAN: Nicole has a bloody nose. And I think that Sergeant McKinty said he—they won’t put me on [inaudible] if Nicole’s not there.

AMY GOODMAN: Before I arrived, Democracy Now! producer Mike Burke spoke to Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher about Nicole and Sharif’s arrest. Fletcher was also questioned by a journalist seeking the release of his colleague, Associated Press photographer Matt Rourke.

    AP JOURNALIST: …get his gear or get him out?

    SHERIFF BOB FLETCHER: Yeah, well, we can talk – I mean, after everything—look, I couldn’t tell you which one he is, and obviously there’s three different mobile field [inaudible].

    MIKE BURKE: We have two journalists in there, as well. I’m from the national radio and TV show Democracy Now!

    SHERIFF BOB FLETCHER: I don’t doubt you are, and I want to help you in any way we can. But—

    MIKE BURKE: One of them, you can see. She—Nicole Salazar is sitting right there.

    Are there any protections for journalists who are covering [inaudible]?

    SHERIFF BOB FLETCHER: Yeah, I think it will all sort out, if, in fact, there was a journalist in the middle of there.

    MIKE BURKE: She’s been covering—we just came from Denver. We covered the Democratic convention.

    SHERIFF BOB FLETCHER: I’m sure that we’ll be able to work it all out.

    MIKE BURKE: I know, but she’s being detained right now.

    SHERIFF BOB FLETCHER: She is, that’s right. And the Minneapolis police officers have detained her, and so I can’t undetain her.

    MIKE BURKE: I mean, you are the sheriff?

    SHERIFF BOB FLETCHER: I am, and once you get to the jail, it’ll be under my control. Right now it’s under the Minneapolis Police Department.

    MIKE BURKE: What jail is she being taken to?

    SHERIFF BOB FLETCHER: Ramsey County Law Enforcement Center. It’s right over here. 425 Grove.

    MIKE BURKE: OK. And how long do you think she’ll be detained for?

    SHERIFF BOB FLETCHER: It all depends on the nature of the charge, etc. It could be anywhere from a couple hours to a day and a half.

    MIKE BURKE: Now, if the charge is riot, what is that?

    SHERIFF BOB FLETCHER: Generally, we…

AMY GOODMAN: Most of the arrests took place within hours of a 10,000-strong peace march organized by the Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War. After the rally ended, several splinter groups broke off for spontaneous actions in the streets of St. Paul.

While most protesters demonstrated peacefully, some engaged in property damage, slashing car tires, throwing bottles, tipping trash bins and breaking windows of cars and buildings. One of the broken windows came in the building that houses Saint Paul Neighborhood Network—that’s SPNN —where Democracy Now! is broadcasting from this week.

But police used harsh tactics, including chemical irritants, to disperse everyone, even those protesters who remained peaceful. Officers in riot gear fired teargas, pepper spray, rubber bullets in a series of standoffs around the downtown St. Paul area.

Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar were covering one of those standoffs before their arrest. They were released last night but now face pending charges on suspicion of committing a felony riot. It’s called “PC riot,” probable cause riot. I’ve been charged with obstruction of legal process and interference with a, quote, “peace” officer. Overall, police say some 120 people face pending charges.

Sharif and Nicole join me now here in St. Paul. Welcome to Democracy Now! I don’t think we expected to be in jail last night, but Nicole, let’s start with you. That was very dramatic footage. Explain what happened. This was actually just outside SPNN, Saint Paul Neighborhood Network, public access TV offices here on Jackson and 7th in downtown St. Paul.

NICOLE SALAZAR: Well, basically, Sharif and I had been out that morning filming the antiwar protest, which was mostly peaceful. We were out for three hours, four hours filming that. Eventually, we left the main protest. We went back to the office. We were going to digitize our tapes.

And then, from the offices, which, like you said, are here in SPNN, we saw that there was some activity down on the street, so we grabbed our camera. Basically, what we saw then was just police in riot gear moving down the street. We didn’t see any crowds. So I grabbed my camera, and I ran out the door and just basically followed the police.

I saw that they were preparing to put on teargas masks, and I was just filming them. Shortly after, Sharif came down, and, you know, he brought my press pass down and put that around my neck. So we followed the crowd for a few blocks, and very quickly we saw that there were police coming from all directions. There were police on horseback. There were police on bicycles. And there were police officers in riot gear.

So, that moment that you saw, that was after we had moved into an intersection where police were coming from three different directions. They were telling us to move back, and that’s what we were trying to do. That’s what I was trying to do in the video. I was trying to move back, but I was in a parking lot, and I wasn’t able to get back. And one—

AMY GOODMAN: A car was behind you, a parked car?

NICOLE SALAZAR: Cars were behind me. We were in a parking lot. And, you know, I was telling them that “I’m press. I’m press. Please, you know, don’t—you know, let me pass.” But I couldn’t turn around. And I tried to move in between the—between two cars, and instead of, you know, letting me pass and following the crowd, they instead came right after me and slammed me into the car, at which point I think my camera came back and hit me in the face. And two cops were also behind me, and they pushed me through that row of cars into the next area of the parking lot and slammed me to the ground and said, “Get your face on the ground! Get your face on the ground!” And I was, you know, at that point—

AMY GOODMAN: So you were on your stomach, on your face, on the ground.

NICOLE SALAZAR: I was on my stomach on the ground. And one of the officers, I think he was trying to grab me. He was trying to drag me. He was grabbing my leg. And another officer put his boot on my back and was pressing me to the ground.

AMY GOODMAN: And he was pulling you with your leg, the other officer.

NICOLE SALAZAR: He was trying to pull me. They weren’t very well coordinated, I guess, because one of them was, you know, pushing me to the ground with his foot, and I was stomped on, so I had to stay where I was, but the other one was pulling on my leg.

AMY GOODMAN: So if he was dragging you, and they told you, “Put your face”—we heard him say, “Put your face on the ground,” then they would drag your face along the ground.

NICOLE SALAZAR: I guess so. I was trying—I was trying to keep my face up, because I kept trying to tell them I’m press and show them my pass. And I had my camera in my hand, and I was trying to protect that.

AMY GOODMAN: We heard you shouting, “Press! Press!”

NICOLE SALAZAR: Right. So I guess they were, you know, trying to drag me and get me into this area, and I was surrounded by maybe five or six cops at that point. And eventually, I just had to, you know, acquiesce, and I just laid there and put my head on the ground. And I could see that my nose was bleeding onto the pavement.

AMY GOODMAN: Were there medics around?

NICOLE SALAZAR: Shortly thereafter, a medic did come over, and, you know, he asked me if my teeth were hurting, what had happened. And I was like, “You saw what happened. You know these police officers knocked me down.” And he, you know, wiped my face with a towel. But I kept just saying, “I’m with the press. I’m with Democracy Now!” You know, “I want to be released.”

AMY GOODMAN: Had they handcuffed you by now?

NICOLE SALAZAR: Yes, they had put me in those plastic cuffs, and my hands were behind my back. And my camera was, you know, two feet away from my face, lying on the ground. And I think shortly thereafter one officer came over and picked up the camera and took out the battery. And at that point I was worried that they were going to take my tape, but I don’t think—I mean, they didn’t, because now we have the tape, but he did take the battery out, I guess so the camera wouldn’t be recording.

AMY GOODMAN: Sharif, where were you when all of this was happening?

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Well, I was with Nicole the entire time while we were following the protesters and the cops in the streets. And Nicole gave a very good description of what happened. But basically, it seemed like the police were—they formed a perpendicular line and were pushing back most of the protesters, and on a perpendicular street were doing the same, and basically corralled everyone on that parking lot, which is on Jackson between 7th and 9th. And once they had most people in the parking lot, they just rushed it.

AMY GOODMAN: So it was like a pincer move, where they came in from all directions.


AMY GOODMAN: You couldn’t escape.


AMY GOODMAN: You asked one of the police officers, by the way, Nicole, how can you get out?

NICOLE SALAZAR: Right, right.

AMY GOODMAN: And what did he say?

NICOLE SALAZAR: He didn’t—he didn’t respond to me. I just said, “How can I get out?” because I was moving backwards into those cars, and I said, you know, “Where am I supposed to go?” And at that point, they just, you know, totally rushed me and knocked me down.

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: And, I mean, this isn’t like a, you know, a conversation you’re having with just a person. This is a cop in full riot gear. These are pretty big guys, generally, and they’re screaming at you to move.

And so, what happened was, they rushed the parking lot. Everyone in the parking lot was subject to arrest. They just rushed in. And Nicole very bravely was there filming the protesters. And you see that she gets tackled down very violently.

I was just on the outskirts of that, and I saw what had happened. So I ran in. I was holding a microphone. So I held it, you know, above my head with my left hand high to pose no threat. I held—I had a Democracy Now! press pass, as well as an RNC press pass, which gave me access to inside the convention, which is a hard one to get. You know, you have to get vetted through your Social Security number to get that one, so it’s a higher-degree press pass, as well. Anyway, I was holding my Democracy Now! one and screaming, “She’s press! She’s my co-worker! Let her go!”

And then, when I was doing that, three—two or three police officers tackled me. They threw me very violently against a wall. Then they threw me to the ground. I was kicked in the chest several times. A police officer ground his knee into my back. And I was handcuffed with plastic handcuffs. And I was also, the entire time, telling them, “I’m media. I’m press. I’m credentialed. I’m an accredited journalist.” But there was no—that didn’t seem to matter at all.

I looked over, saw Nicole on the floor on her stomach with her hands cuffed behind her back. I yelled over to her, and I saw her face was completely bloodied. This entire time, I kept telling them to let us go.

There was a photographer right next to me who was also taken down pretty violently. He was screaming he was press, as well. He had credentials. He kept saying he was a photographer for the New York Post. And quite funnily, he said, “For Christ’s sake, it’s a Republican paper!” But that didn’t seem to matter.

And then, that was it. You know, we were—we slowly got processed. We all got pushed over to the other wall opposite. They lined us up. I kept asking for them to bring Nicole to me, but they refused. And then I looked up, and I saw you walking towards me in handcuffs.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, I had gotten the call—I was—I had just been interviewing someone in the Alaska delegation on the floor of the convention at the Xcel Energy Center and making my way over to Minnesota, where we are now, the Minnesota delegation. And as I was talking to someone, I got the call from Mike Burke, from Mike, who was also on the scene, said, “I believe that Sharif and Nicole have just been arrested.” So I was with Rick Rowley of Big Noise Films. We were filming delegate interviews. I had just talked to a veteran from Virginia.

We raced out and just ran down the street. I even stopped a police officer. I said, “Get me to that site. Our reporters have been arrested.” But he didn’t comply. But we were running as fast as we could, and the police had blocked off different areas of St. Paul, so we had to even run more of a detour. We kept running down the street. Finally, we made our way. I had, of course, my credentials flying, because you have the top security credential to be on the convention floor, then our Democracy Now! credential.

Finally, I made it to the police line, where the police in riot gear were lined up. I asked to speak to a commanding officer. They immediately grabbed me. I said, “Sir, I just want to speak to a commanding officer. My reporters are inside.” They’ve got their ID. I mean, we’ve done this in New York, as well, when there is confusion about a reporter. They immediately grabbed me, handcuffed me—and as you haven’t quite talked about, those plastic handcuffs cut right into your wrist, and they make those tight—pushed me to the ground.

I kept demanding—I saw you across the way, Sharif. I was looking for you, Nicole. They said you were bloodied. I demanded to be able to see you. I couldn’t find you. I demanded to be brought over to Sharif. I did go over to be with Sharif. They took my picture. They put the big white plaque under me with all my information, and an officer stands there with the picture. I kept demanding to see the reporters asking why we were being arrested. They finally—when they put me into the police wagon, they said that Nicole, you would be there. You were one of the first arrested. And that’s where I saw you with your Democracy Now! credentials hanging around your neck.

And then we were brought off to the jail. That’s where we were separated. They have these—those who are charged with misdemeanor are put in the—they have these pens inside the police garage. So I was brought there.

As I came in and I was speaking to the corrections officers, who did identify themselves—I kept asking every officer to identify themselves—a St. Paul cop behind them kept screaming, “Shut up! You, shut up!” And I asked—I said, “I want to know what your name is or your badge.” “Shut up! Shut up!” he said, I think to the chagrin of the corrections officers. One of the head guys in the jail came over and said, “He’s not ours. We can’t force him to identify himself. Our policy is that they identify themselves.” And stayed there for several hours.

Ultimately, they released me, interference with, I think they said, the judicial process or with a peace officer. They had—I thought you were going to come in with me, but they said you were brought to jail. So where were you, Nicole?

NICOLE SALAZAR: Well, first of all, one thing that you just left out from the paddy wagon that I just want to recall is when you and I were both banging on the glass, and we said, you know, “We’re press! We’re press!” Their response to that was, you know, to tell each other the two people in there were not being cooperative. So I just wanted to—

AMY GOODMAN: That’s right. He said, “We’ve got to get out of here, because two people are getting increasingly uncooperative.”

I also said to an officer, “I demand to see Nicole Salazar, because her face is bloodied.” And he said, “Listen, I’ve been knifed in my life.” I said, “Yes, but we’re not responsible for that, though I’m sorry that that happened to you. But this happened because of you, sir.”

NICOLE SALAZAR: Right. So then, in the prison, after I came out of the wagon—I came after, right after you—there was one officer who was videotaping all of us coming down off the stairs. And I asked him for his badge number, and he said he didn’t have a badge. And I asked him for his name, and he wouldn’t give it to me.

But I saw you go through the double doors, and, you know, I was thinking I would be right behind you. But when I got inside the main area of the prison, I didn’t see you. You know, instead, they sort of search you, just, you know, a regular search. And then they make you go through a metal detector. And at that point I was put into a cell, which I later measured to be about nine by eleven paces. And I was in there with seventeen other—seventeen protesters who had been also arrested that day. Some of them were still soaked with, you know, pepper spray, and their skin was burning, and they were asking for a nurse. But in the time that I was in there with them, they didn’t get to see anybody.

AMY GOODMAN: Sharif, where were you put?

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: I was taken to prison, as well. But I think one thing that was left out also in the story, and I think this happened to you, as well, Amy, was that while we were standing waiting to be processed and put on the bus, I was standing there with three credentials around my neck: my Democracy Now! press pass, which has my picture; the RNC press one, which gets you inside the convention; and a separate one, which I was supposed to put on Nicole, but I never actually did, was a limited RNC press one. A man walked up to me, who was not in uniform of St. Paul or Minneapolis police—I was later told he was Secret Service—came up and looked at my RNC press badge, said, “What is this?” I said, “It’s my pass to get inside the Xcel Center.” He said, “Well, you won’t be needing that to go—you’re not going to be going inside the convention center today,” and took it and walked off. I immediately protested. I said, “I want this around my neck to prove I’m an accredited journalist to go inside the convention center.” And he said, “You won’t be needing it today,” walked off.

I asked my arresting officer, who incidentally was not my arresting officer—they just assigned some guy to take the picture of me and process me—he said, “I don’t know who that guy is. He looks like Secret Service.” I said, “Well, why don’t you acknowledge that this was taken, witness it somehow?” And he refused to do so. And I believe they did the same to you. They took that pass off your neck.

AMY GOODMAN: Right. The Secret Service came up, and they—he ripped it off of my neck.


AMY GOODMAN: And I said, “That is my pass. I want a receipt that you have taken that.” But of course, they didn’t give it.

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: And then, once I was put on the bus, as well—and just to reiterate what you were saying, while I was being arrested, I was, you know, slammed violently. I got scratches on my elbow and bruises on my chest and back. But the most painful part of it was these plastic handcuffs. They were extremely tight. Getting onto the bus, I asked one of the officers, I said, “Can you just cut these off and put on new ones?” because you can’t loosen those. And his response to that was to grab them and tighten them. So it was very painful on the way. I actually still don’t have feeling in part of my hand. So—

AMY GOODMAN: The same with mine. In fact, when they took mine off and put on new ones, they also were tighter.


AMY GOODMAN: And they kept saying they’re not tight. And I kept saying, “No, they’re digging in.”

And so, I think the other major issue is the level of harassment of the press, and we’re seeing it increasingly. Of course, we just came out of Saturday, where we raced from the airport, got a text that I-Witness Video, which did such a remarkable job as the New York Police Department will also admit, documenting what happened in 2004 at the RNC, the I-Witness Video collective was in a house in St. Paul. They just arrived, beginning to organize their week of documenting what was happening here. And there was a preemptive raid in the house. They didn’t even have a warrant for this house. They had a warrant for the house next door. And the police moved in, and we documented all of that. I have to say, when I was inside the jail next to the pens, I asked one of the St. Paul cops what he thought about these preemptive raids. He said, “Awesome! Awesome!”

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Well, that’s another thing. And I said—I kept saying—they kept asking me, “What are you doing here? Why are you here?” I said, “We’re press. We’re here to bear witness to what’s going on, and that’s why we’re in the streets.” And he kept saying, “Oh, you should use a telescopic lens,” or, “You know, when it gets rowdy, you should just stay behind the corner.” I said, “No, that’s not what we’re here to do. You need to respect the fact that we’re media. If someone’s carrying a camera, you don’t tackle them to the floor.” And this is respected widely in most of the world, but there seems to have been, in this country, a violation of that separation, and media are treated very badly, frankly. And this—it seems to be getting worse, especially in this RNC, with these preemptive raids, as well.

AMY GOODMAN: And what they call these, quote, “national security events.” Well, I’m very glad you’re out of jail. Nicole went to the hospital last night. Nicole Salazar and Sharif Abdel Kouddous, for being there, doing your job. Sharif?

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: I’d just like to thank all the producers here who helped us while we were inside, putting out the word to all the media—they were constantly doing interviews, they put out a press release—and just to thank everyone who called in. Apparently the jail got many, many calls, they said over a thousand, and I’m sure that helped secure our release. We both have pending felony charges and were released that night. So, just a big thank you to everyone.

AMY GOODMAN: One of those who weighed in was Congress member Keith Ellison of Minneapolis. He’s going to join us in a minute, and then we’re going to talk about what happened in New Orleans. Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar, thanks so much for doing your job.



Not My Bag

Most Seattle people know that in January 2009, the city-mandated .20 cent customer fee for each plastic bag used at a grocery store will begin. The usual love it/hate it arguments have begun, with some of those who oppose the fee appearing at local grocery stores asking people to sign petitions in opposition of the fee. I don’t know who these people are, and I haven’t looked into that.

What I do know is that one of the arguments against the fee is “poor people can’t afford this fee”. Although I support the fee because it will reduce the amount of plastic bags being put into landfills and polluting the environment, I had to think about this argument, about tight budgets and not enough to go around for many families trying to figure out how many extra dollars it will take to pay the new fees for bags over a month’s grocery trips.

Then I thought, wait just a minute here. This argument is valid, it is a cost that is unfair to put on people who already don’t have enough money to meet their needs.

But the reactions and logic surrounding arguments are not always as valid. One common stream of thinking seems to be:

Poor people cannot afford this fee…therefore the fee is unfair, we should not charge a fee and let’s also keep the plastic bags, free.

First-has anyone said poor people, or consumers in general, have to pay this fee and not get anything for it?

Second-all I’ve heard is the fee on plastic bags, not on paper bags. Do we really need free plastic bags, when it seems there is another viable free option?

Here are my brainstorms:

Grocery stores, who have been happy to pay the cost of billions upon billions of plastic bags in the past in return for massive grocery profits, could credit each plastic bag fee as rebate points, and once consumers had enough plastic bag fee rebate points, they could trade them in for the tough cloth grocery bags that are selling at practically every grocery store now for a dollar each.

By the way, since grocery stores have for years footed the bill for plastic bags, why haven’t they just offered the cloth bags free too? It makes more sense to offer these, a bag that can be used for a very long time, than plastic bags, which can be used once, maybe twice before they are ripped, dirty, or stretched and have to be recycled or thrown away.

Why the $1 or so charge on cloth bags, yet none for plastic until mandated by city government?

Who said that the grocery stores, in order to discourage the plastic bag use they previously encouraged by making it a free supply to shoppers, couldn’t, for some time, offer families 2-5 free cloth grocery bags for every $50, $100, or $200 dollars spent?

It is ultimately the grocery stores who will save by having to pay less to buy huge amounts of plastic bags in the future, because less are being used, right? -And the ones that are being used will be more than payed for by the .20 fee as it stands.

Where is the .20 fee going? I don’t know the answer to this question either, but since it’s a city-mandated fee, it seems like it might be going to the city, and they could offer a lot of free cloth bags to poor families and individuals with the amount of people overall who will be paying this fee.

I like the cloth bags I bought, over time and one at a time, to carry my groceries. Unlike paper or plastic bags, I don’t have to worry about them leaking or ripping and my groceries dropping out. They carry slightly more than paper or plastic, and are sturdy and washable.
I also like the fact that I don’t have to figure out what to do with all those plastic or paper bags from grocery shopping-in the past I’ve recycled them or use them for trash bags, but I like it much better now that I’m contributing that much less to the waste stream, and it’s not much more work for me other than remembering to bring bags when I go to the store.


It’s been a while! My subject today is lists.

I like lists, especially when planning or trying to work through problems. Since I’ve been working in different areas recently, my cumulative lists are getting interesting. If I were an installation artist with a taproot into funding, I could probably make a huge interactive exhibit of list modules in some expensive pseudo-industrial downtown space where people could get clobbered by lists of gigantic proportions,

but I’m not, so here I am blogging about them.

Here’s an example, in list form, of things I’ve been thinking about or actively working on:

Community food issues

Elitism and exclusivity in social and environmental organizations

Communications, good, bad, blocked, inspiring, strange…


Time-facets and dimensions of

Excuses, here there everywhere


Money seemingly neither here nor there but everywhere else

Poverty too much

Education too much of some, not enough of the other

Ignorance too much

Public transportation catching on fire??


More Clutter


Growing things

Living with coyotes and other large creatures harmoniously

Local air and water pollution, accompanying denial and blustering

Well, that’s a start anyway.

At a conference I recently attended, I realized the common next step after creating working lists-meaning things that require effective action to be taken-is procrastination and excuses, which I am now naming

“But Amendments”.

For every problem, it seems like there are instantly 10+ But Amendments globbed on, a serious problem that diverts energy better spent on actually dealing with the original list item.

Is this where the phrase “No but’s about it!” comes from? A brief search for the phrase history didn’t turn up any clues; I’ll have to check into this further, adding yet another item to my list.

Well, it’s officially Saturday night. Having made an appearance at a lovely party earlier this evening, I am now settled onto my comfortable couch watching some British drama on KCTS9. Why is this more enjoyable? I can appreciate parties much more in theory than in practice nowadays-there’s just too much talking going on at those things. Plus social drama is far more entertaining to me when I hear it performed by British actors dressed up for tea.

Yay for public television and StumbleUpon! These things give the introverts of the world fascinating alternatives to going to parties and other such public events on boisterous weekends, like the upcoming SeaFair nightmare that will soon descend upon my neighborhood and countless others. See The Big Green House’s corroborating opinion here, and a brief article from the Rainier Valley Post. And here for your enjoyment, a related This Modern World cartoon and Youtube video from Seafair 2007. Brilliant.

I was just re-reading some old writing from some years back about human nature, and was mildly surprised to find how those writings captured what I was thinking about and wrestling with at the time. It was also bittersweet to see how relevant some things remain, even with hindsight.
I once had an infatuation for a young man, a fellow classmate. It was one of those crushes where you have to find out everything you can about the person, and at the same time everything about them is a delicious mystery to be revealed. Each of us is sometimes generic and sometimes very particular in what turns us on to another person; in my case, one of those particulars was Sick Guy Tea.
My crush showed up unapologetically late to class one day, sniffling and carrying a paper cup full of fragrant, hot herbal tea. Perhaps it was fond memories of past affairs with similar tea-drinking, kind of hippie-ish men, or maybe it was the strange wounded-person-who-heals-themselves-through-tea appeal, but that clinched it for me. From then on I was truly hooked.
Recently though, life pulled one of those funny loop-around time-knotting but not quite repeating itself things, in which I revisited the Sick Guy Tea situation from another perspective and found it utterly unattractive. Illicit text messages often have that effect, not really much more to say there.
New neighbors apparently had a falling out with a guest tonight at the same time I was mulling all of this over. Voices rose, and a loud voice said “Okay! Okay! I’ll leave!” Several minutes passed and I wasn’t paying too much attention, then-, loudly, again- “OKAY! I’m Leaving!” Swift steps walking down to the road, and then the sound of a smaller car starting and zooming away.
Apparently there was no Sick Guy Tea magic happening next door tonight, either.

By the way, I do have to add an additional endorsement for Flower Confidential, Great Book!
Also, The Wild Trees was fantastic. More on this later though. Blessed Be!

Today I had a curious insight on duality and conflict in human nature. When I see something on the floor, two of the first thoughts that go through my head are I hope it doesn’t move! and Is it edible?

Now, I wouldn’t squash It if it did move nor would I eat It if It was edible, unless maybe the 5-10 second rule still applied, but those are the first two things that flit through my mind.

Onto my Summer Reads: I am currently reading Flower Confidential: the Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful in the Business of Flowers by the wonderful Amy Stewart. I’m still reading it, but I love her take on how we manipulate the natural world, and how weird that is sometimes. Like the multitude of flower oils in perfume and why it’s not recommended in areas with large populations of Africanized bees, because, as Stewart writes, “The signal it sends to a bee  would be irresistable: it would suggest the presence of a garden in which every flower it loves is in bloom at once. ” p52


Speaking of ground-level things that move, she also wrote The Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms, a fascinating book about earthworms that I highly recommend, especially if you don’t consider these fine creatures all that interesting. Amy Stewart has a great perspective, and her narrative style makes even really technical scientific processes and facts sound interesting and cool. Which they are, but if you’re like me and have plowed through loads of really dry scientific research papers and reports hoping in vain to find some kernel of what interested you about the subject in the first place, then you will find Stewart’s works a refreshing read.

Future summer reads, in no particular order, are:

Pacific States Wildflowers, of the Peterson Field Guides Series, written by Theodore F. Niehaus and illustrated by Charles L. Ripper

Trees of Seattle; The Complete Tree-finder’s Guide to the City’s 740 Varieties, by Arthur Lee Jacobson

Mothers & Other Monsters, by Maureen F. McHugh

The Wild Trees, by Richard Preston

If I have anything to write about them after I’ve read them I’ll include links to stuff about these books in the future.

You know how sometimes life gets really busy and it’s like some supernatural presence gleefully hits the fast forward button to your life? If you don’t, then count yourself lucky. If you do then you know what I’m talking about. Good times, bad times, saying goodbye to a few hundred people, moving once again, job hunting; all that great stuff packed into the last month.

I came home yesterday after a long week to find my significant other kicked back and shirtless, enjoying a siesta. As he woke up and we began to talk, I stared at what appeared to be a strange new blob on his belly, about the size of a tennis ball. As I started to ask “What’s that…” He rolled over further, revealing a large orangey-brown smiley face stained across his belly. “What’s up with that tanning spray?” he asked, grinning. I knew I shouldn’t leave that stuff just lying around. Then I noticed his armpits. Yes, they were also orangey-brown. “I figured my armpits never get tan, so I tried it there too; can I have a beer?” This is only one of the many reasons why I love him.

We’re well into another lovely Seattle summer full of great food and fun, and hopefully more frequent posts by me. Give me some time to unpack and get settled!

Things to remember:

Did you know that before the Seattle area became developed by Europeans, it was inhabited by a number of Native American tribes, including those of Chief Sealth (Duwamish and Suquamish), who Seattle was named after, along with old growth forests of up to 2000 years old? The oldest old growth forest in the area now is apparently in Seward Park, topping out at about 200 years of growth. It’s difficult for me to understand how 2000 years of old growth forests are completely cut down, obliterated, but that’s what people did and are still doing.

Pictures of Seward Park’s remaining old growth to appear here soon.


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